Baseball Season Preview: Part I

NORMAN, Okla. – The road back to Omaha begins in a week, and Sooners Illustrated wants to gear you up and get you ready for OU's second straight run toward a national title with this seven-day series. First, here are a few players who should already be household names and a part of everyday conversation for OU fans...

1. Garrett Buechele, junior third baseman: The powerful, goofy righty from Arlington, Texas, may be the most recognizable player to anyone who watched any Sooner baseball last year. He won the team triple crown in 2010 by hitting .359, blasting 17 homers and driving in 65 runs and he wasn't too shabby at the hot corner, either. He made just five errors at third and even took a ground ball off the face during the season's first series. If the stats and leadership aren't enough reason to already know about Buechele, then the captain's big personality should be. Buechele gained national attention for the out-of-style mullet he grew out during the Sooners' run to Rosenblatt. If you don't already know about Buechele, you won't have to pay too close attention to know he's something special.

2. Cameron Seitzer, junior first baseman: Unlike the third baseman, this corner infielder is more of the quiet type who lets his play talk for him. Seitzer is a tall, lanky lefty who patrols the middle of the Sooners' power portion of the lineup. But when he's not hitting balls over the hitter-friendly confines of L. Dale Mitchell Park, his smooth swing shoots balls to the two gaps. He has one of the prettiest swings on the team and the ideal swing from the left side of the plate. And Seitzer is a pretty good fielder, too. He can make most of the plays but has some issues with his range toward the line. But he should be fine if he polished his game during the off-season while he played in the Cape Cod League.

3. Max White, sophomore second baseman: White may have been the biggest surprise of any player last year. He was third on the team in homers (15) and fourth in RBIs (43), and just about any ball he hit in the air was an adventure. Few people outside the locker room knew how talented he was, and he started the season red hot. The only problem was that teams eventually figured White out and put together a scouting report against him. But this is a new year, and White has said he has worked on countering those scouting reports to avoid a sophomore slump. Also, White is trying something else new this year by moving from left field to second base. He played shortstop during his four years at Durant High School, so he's used to playing the infield. The only major difference about moving back to the infield that White has had to deal with is getting used to angle looking in at the batter from second base. But after a while you would assume he'll get used to the angle and should put up a year that will cause spectators to say, "Wow!"

4. Tyler Ogle, junior catcher: Ogle played well throughout the season, but he really emerged as one of the team's big hitters at the end of the season. He had multiple clutch hits during the Kansas series to help the Sooners complete their only series sweep during Big 12 play and he hit two key homers during the College World Series. And the catcher was rewarded by his teammates by being named one of the four team captains. Although Ogle didn't throw out a higher percentage of attempted base stealers last year, he is a solid catcher. He doesn't let too many balls get to the backstop and he knows how to handle every pitcher on OU's staff. Now Sooner fans, don't expect the kind of year former OU catcher J.T. Wise had during his final season in the Crimson and Cream that resulted in being named the Big 12 Player of the Year, but you should expect a pretty big season out of Ogle.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's version of this series.


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