"Offensively, I think he surprised a lot of players. I don't think he got any at-bats last year and he came out during the fall and swung the bat really well. And by the time the fall had ended, I think he had convinced a lot of his teammates that he can hit at this level. Defensively, because he also pitched, he didn't get as many innings at first base as some of the other guys did, but he got dramatically better."
Have you, as a coaching staff, really talked in detail about whether Forrest, who is obviously a dual-position player/pitcher type, can do both for you this year?
"So much of that truly depends on how Forrest comes back. If he comes back in good shape, his arm is healthy, his legs are healthy, he's strong and he can prove to us that he can do it, then yes, he could be a guy who could do that for us."
Will how much he plays in the field depend on whether he is a starting pitcher or a reliever?
"Sure, but it all goes back to his pitching. That is number one. His offense is number two."
What are your thoughts about true freshman Nick Ray at first base?
"I will never forget his first day out there in the four on one. He was kind of feeling his way through it and Coach Cohen had a nice conversation with Nick Ray about attacking and being aggressive. And I think from that very first day Nick realized that he had to be on his toes every second, every day that he is out there. Since then, he has been in attack mode every single day and he gets better every day. He's not a real vocal guy, but he goes about his business in a professional manner, and he's gotten dramatically more vocal. His level of seriously that he takes every day - whether it be offensively, defensively and even from the bunting aspect - he is very focused and very determined. He is going to be a great player for us."
What are your thoughts about Jarrod Parks, a junior college transfer?
"He is a guy who had never played first base, so early in the fall we played him a lot at third base. Then, we gave him a bunch of innings at first base, so he was a guy who was kind of feeling his way there. But by the time the end of fall rolled around he was very comfortable and he could run the show over there."
Hitting-wise, what did you see from Jarrod?
"Jarrod made some adjustments to his stroke throughout the fall and his at-bats got better. And he really made some nice jumps in our four-on-ones (four players work with one coach after the fall practice games are over). And Jarrod is also a guy who is not afraid of the baseball."
How did Connor Powers do at first base?
"Connor does some really nice things defensively. One of the biggest compliments that we can give Connor is that he never gets sped up. The game never gets too fast for him. Speaking for myself, the entire fall I never saw him get out of control, whether it be a ball that might have tipped off his glove and he had to hurry over to pick it up and make a play or some other situation. He just does not get out of control. And that is crucial, especially playing at third base in the Southeastern Conference. And when he played third base, his arm was extremely accurate across the diamond. At first base, he seemed to really fit there really well. He has really good hands.
"Offensively, he did some really nice things for us during the fall. He is definitely going to be a guy that we are going to count on this year. And Connor has become a really solid leader for us. He's a guy the other guys look up to."
Thursday - Lane Burroughs talks about the catchers.
Friday - Lane and Nick talk about the outfielders.
Saturday - Butch Thompson talks about the pitchers.
Sunday - John Cohen talks about the middle infielders and the third basemen.