Baseball Season Preview: Part II

NORMAN, Okla. – The next part of the series is in, and here are three position players who may not already be household names that you should keep your eyes on in 2011.

1. Cody Reine, junior right fielder: The Yardbirds and other close followers dubbed him as Kung Fu Panda for his size and power. Reine became a regular starter during conference play last year and was an instant contributor. He hit 10 homers and drove in 42 runs, and his most impressive performances came when the Sooners needed him the most. Reine plated the game-winning runs against Kansas during the Big 12 Tournament and UNC during the Regional Round and hit four homers to help lift OU over Virginia and into the College World Series. Although the Panda is not as much of a secret as he was when he first entered the starting lineup last year, he still has a lot of potential to have a big season.

2. Jack Mayfield, sophomore infielder/pitcher: Mayfield has been put on this position-players list even though he should at some point throw some innings on the mound because he's going to start the season at shortstop. Junior Caleb Bushyhead tore his ACL during fall practices and shouldn't be back in the lineup until around conference play. So, Mayfield got the call. The sophomore is best known for pitching a complete game shutout against Oklahoma State last season, but he spent the majority of the season as a backup infielder. He played second base and started three games at third base when Garrett Buechele was suspended during the Missouri series. Mayfield's arm strength and athleticism have made him a more-than-suitable fill-in at short, said head coach Sunny Golloway, so make sure to keep your eyes on him until Bushyhead's return.

3. Casey Johnson, senior left fielder: Anyone who only watched the Sooners when they were nationally televised during the Super Regional and College World Series may only know the senior as an occasional left-handed pinch hitter. But Johnson was one of the team's best hitters before he was sidelined a year with a wrist injury that he sustained in 2009. He posted a batting average of more than .300 during his freshman and sophomore years. The only question is whether Johnson's wrist will hold up in 2011. If it does, then he should put together stats similar to those of his first two years.


Sooners Illustrated Top Stories