Baseball season is only 3 days away... Yesterday, Bianco had his media day. I watched over it and gleaned as much information as I could about who would be playing which position. Bianco feels like he has a number of options at each position. Also of note, it is the first time in Bianco's tenure that new players outnumber the veteran players. Check out the position players after the jump.
LF- Zach Kirksey (L/R)- Zach is the strongest and fastest guy on the team. He is JUCO transfer from LSU-Eunice. Last year, he set the single-season triples record with 13. He will be the first legitimate triple threat that we have had since Justin Henry and Alex Presley. Not only did he hit triples, he smacked 19 homeruns and averaged .356 over the past two seasons.
CF-Tanner Mathis (L/L)- Tanner had a great debut as a freshman last season hitting .330. He became a role player as the year wore on, but he is ready for full time duty this year. Tanner led the hitters in the fall statistically. Also playing center is senior Jordan King (R/R). Jordan is in his second year with the program, and he played sparingly last season. He was an infielder but has moved to the outfield for his athleticism. He has good speed, and Bianco will certainly use him.
RF-Matt Smith (R/R)- Matt is in his 5th year with the program. He has been a fun player to watch since his debut in 2008. That season, he hit .283 with a freshman-record 13 homeruns. In 2009, he cut-down on his strikeouts and became a better player defensively. He hit .336 with 8 homeruns. Last season, he began to put the whole package together with a .356 average and 12 dingers. This season, he will alternate between first base and right field.
OF-Matt Tracy (L/L)- Last year, Matt batted sparingly and had a .207 average and one HR. Bianco has said that he regretted not playing him more. This year, he will hit more and serve in a dual role between outfield and pitching. I would not look for him to start.
3B-Preston Overbey (R/R)- If there is one player that Bianco really loves, it has to be Preston Overby. Coach raved about his athleticism and how solid he is defensively. Bianco claims that he is the best defensive third baseman as a freshman ever on opening day. And yes, Bianco went out of his way to compare him to Chris Coghlan. He has a big time arm. As far as his batting is concerned, he holds the single season and career home run records at his high school University School of Jackson, Tennessee.
SS-Blake Newalu (R/R)- Newalu is a JUCO transfer from Chipola Community College. He was teammates there with pitcher and fellow Rebel Austin Wright. Austin Anderson (L/R) will be his true freshman back-up.
2B-Alex Yarbrough (R/R)- A "veteran" who will probably bat second in the order. Last season as a freshman, Alex batted .283 with 4 homers.
1B-Miles Hamblin (L/R)- Hamblin had his debut last season with the Rebels. He struggled offensively (.226 avg) for the entire season, but Bianco stood behind him. He started smacking long balls in the postseason, and I hope he still has that power this year. He will also play catcher.
C-Look for junior Taylor Hightower and freshman Will Allen to split time at catcher as well. Allen can also play some first base.
DH-Matt Snyder (L/R)- Snyder has been an exciting player to watch in his short career. As a freshman, he hit .298 with 8 long balls. In 2010, he hit .347 with 12 home runs. Last season, he showed flashes of excellence that were sadly marred by injury. This year, he looks to put it all together. He will work from the DH slot for at least the first month of the season. If his shoulder gets better, look for Bianco to experiment with the line-up and give other guys a shot at the DH spot.
Instead of me setting up the line-up, why don't you, faithful reader, come up with your preferred 1-9?