Baseball

2018 Texas Tech Baseball Preview: Outfield

Much like the infield, we analyze each outfield position and the designated hitter to see who may get playing time and eventually start there by the end of the season.

After evaluating the baseball schedule and the infield, it’s time to take a look at the outfield and designated hitters of the Red Raiders. If you missed our previous stories, here they are:

TEXAS TECH BASEBALL PREVIEW
Jan. 18 – Texas Tech Baseball Schedule Jan. 25 – Texas Tech Infield Feb. 1 – Texas Tech Outfield Feb. 8 – Texas Tech Pitching Feb. 15 – Texas Tech / Big 12 Predictions

Let’s begin our preview on the outfield. We’ll start like we did with the infield, looking at the easiest position to predict. In this case, the position is center field.

CENTER FIELD
Connor Beck (Sr.) Cody Farhat (Jr.) KC Simonich (Fr.) Cody Masters (Fr.)
.289/.345/.382, 12 runs, 9 RBIs .343/.438/.569, 32 runs, 22 RBIs. .989 FLD % Freshman from Lemont Township (Ill.) Freshman from Coppell

Last Year: Tanner Gardner started the season in center field, but due to injuries, was forced into a DH position late into the season. Who was his replacement? Cody Farhat, who was known for his stellar glove. Farhat exceeded expectations at the plate with his .343 batting average and earned first team All Big-12 honors last season. The junior returns to the outfield this season and should once again play a big role for the Red Raiders.

My Prediction: Cody Farhat starts at center field, with KC Simonich and Cody Masters possibly seeing time.

This Year: Typically when a player earns all-conference honors for a position, he returns to that position. With his speed, sneaky power, outstanding glove and ability to make contact last year, there’s no reason why Farhat shouldn’t be the center fielder. Even if his bat resembles his freshman year, I bet he still starts based on his experience and his great glove, much like Zach Davis or Devon Conley in years past. That being said, I believe the freshmen will get some time at center field to give Farhat a rest. If an injury occurs, however, I would guess Beck replaces Farhat in center.

RIGHT FIELD
Connor Beck (Sr.) Zach Rheams (Sr.) Cameron Warren (Jr.) John McMillon (So.)
.289/.345/.382, 12 runs, 9 RBIs .133, 2 HRs, 6 RBIs, 8 runs 182/.250/.273, 4 RBIs, 3 runs .229/.299/.586, 8 HRs, 14 RBIs, 14 runs

Last Year: Cameron Warren started last year in right field, but was unable to get his bat going early on. Ryan Long, a member of two CWS teams, and Connor Beck split time in right field shortly after before Long eventually took over for the rest of the season. Beck still saw some time in right field and at the DH spot, but wasn’t an everyday starter down the stretch. Now with Long graduated, there is some debate on who will take over in right field.

My Prediction: Connor Beck starts the season in right field, with Rheams seeing time as well.

This Year: With Beck fighting for the right field job last year, I believe he starts out in right field and ends up with the job. He did a fine job at the position last year, but Long had been with the program for years and did well enough to win the job. If Beck can hit around .300 like he did last season and provide a solid glove for the Red Raiders, I’m sure they’ll be satisfied. I see Rheams getting some time here too, as Tadlock tired several times to get Rheams going last season. However, I do see him more as a DH than a right fielder.

LEFT FIELD
Grant Little (So.) John McMillon (So.) Gabe Holt (Fr.) KC Simonich (Fr.)
.335/.405/.476, 34 RBI, 52 runs .229/.299/.586, 8 HRs, 14 RBIs, 14 runs Freshman from Veterans HS, Bonaire (Ga.) Freshman from Lemont Township (Ill.)

Last Year: Grant Little, shockingly to a lot of people, started the season in the outfield, even though he was a freshman infielder. The All Big-12 freshman selection started about 80% of Tech’s games as the left fielder, with Connor Beck and Tanner Gardner also seeing time in left. With the graduation of Garcia, I predicted last preview that Little would take over the shortstop spot. So we need a new left fielder.

My Prediction: McMillon, Holt and Simonich see time early, with Holt ultimately winning the job.

This Year: This may seem a little weird, considering that Holt was playing second base in the Red and Black series, but I think Holt is a lot like Little last year. Both players were infielders out of high school, but with a lot of talent ahead of them, won’t have a lot of room to play. They also both have a ton of speed, which results to an easier time as an outfielder and results in more bases when batting. Holt really impressed me during this fall, and was one of the most talented freshman coming into the season. I don’t see a situation where Tadlock leaves Holt on the bench for long.

DESIGNATED HITTER
Zach Rheams (Sr.) John McMillon (So.) Clay Koelzer (So.) Braxton Fulford (Fr.)
.133, 2 HRs, 6 RBIs, 8 runs .229/.299/.586, 8 HRs, 14 RBIs, 14 runs .263/.333, 4 RBIs, 4 Runs Freshman from Lubbock Monterey

Last Year: There were way too many players at DH to name them all. Zach Rheams started the season, with players like John McMillon seeing time here. Tanner Gardner’s injury forced him to play DH and introduced Cody Farhat at CF to the Big 12. The best combination ended up being with Gardner here.

My Prediction: Multiple players get a chance, with John McMillon playing when he’s not pitching, and Rheams when he is.

This Year: I think all the guys listed above could see time at DH this season, unless one just sticks out right away. Even though McMillon may pitch a lot this year, I believe Tadlock would like to see him bat more. He has ridiculous strength that can change the game in an instant. If he can keep his batting average at a respectable spot, then we could see a lot more of McMillon this year. He would be like Luken Baker was for TCU before he injured his pitching arm. I don’t think Tadlock wants to use him when he pitches,  so I expect Rheams (who also has power) to be here, although it could be one of the talented catchers as well.

Next week we’ll take a look at the starting rotation, weekday starters and possible bullpen pieces.

 

 

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