Before the season starts, we're going to take a look at each position and see who will likely be starting and backing up the position. We're going to start by looking at the infield; Catcher, 1st Baseman, 2nd Baseman, Shortstop and 3rd Baseman.
|Tyler Floyd (JR.)||Kholeton Sanchez (JR.)||Nick Marshall (JR.)||Hunter Southernland (SO.)|
|.421 OB%, .993 Fielding%, caught 17% basrunners||Transfer from NMJC||Transfer from Panola College||Transfer from NE TX CC|
Last Year - Hunter Redman started 41 out of the 66 of the games last, taking over the starting position after Mason Randolph started the season at catcher. However, both of them won't be on roster next season. Randolph graduated and Redman left after being drafted in the 8th round of the MLB draft.
My Prediction - Tyler Floyd will start the season, with Nick Marshall being the key back-up
This Year - Tyler Floyd is the only returning catcher from last year. He started 18 games last season as the back-up catcher and played descent when giving Redman rest. Tyler Floyd has a great arm and is a good defensive catcher. My friend and I started referring to him as "Cannon" because of his arm. Tech has a lot of hitters this season and could use a good guy like Floyd at the plate. His batting AVG isn't the greatest, but his AVG is good enough for a defensive catcher.
Now when Floyd isn't playing, my bet is that Nick Marshall will play catcher. He did great in the Red and Black series and has a good bat. During the series, the showed a lot of power and the ability to get on base through walks and hits. He doesn't have the defense Floyd has, but his bat seems like it's better. We could also possibly see Kholeton Sanchez and Hunter Southerland this season if Tech starts to blow by an opponent or someone gets hurt. Floyd will likely be the start though, and likely in the back half of the batting order (8th slot).
|Eric Gutierrez (JR.)||William Hairston (SO.)||Landon Darwin (JR.)||Parker Mushinski (FR.)|
|1st Team Preseason All American||Transfer from Frank Phillips College||Transfer from North Central TX JC||Freshman from Argyle|
Last Year - Freshman Matt Broadbent (who is no longer listed on the roster) started the 1st game as the 1st Baseman, but Gutierrez moved back into the infield and started every game after that. In fact, he became the best 1st baseman undeniably in Big XII play and led the Red Raiders. Luckily for Texas Tech, that was his sophomore year, so he'll be returning for his junior season.
My Projection - Eric Gutierrez starts, getting most (or all) of the playing time. Hairston is the back-up
This Year - "Gute" once again will claim his spot at 1st base and start the whole season unless injury occurs. You just don't take someone with that passion and skill out of a position where he feels comfortable. He has a great bat that any team would want and a good enough glove at the 1st base position. As for his position in the line-up, he'll probably be in the same spot as last year, in the cleanup spot. He'll have opportunities to hit players like Stephen Smith and Tyler Neslony home when they get on base.
Hairston did really well batting in the Red and Black series, but there's no way you're beating out Gute. It may be possible that Gutierrez could move back out to outfield, but with Stephen Smith possibly taking the Right Field spot, I doubt he goes back. However, if Gutierrez goes pro, Hairston would be poised to take the starting job next year. Darwin will likely see a majority of his time in the outfield and I believe that Parker could be a pitcher at the college level (or even possibly be redshirted if there's too much depth in front of him)
|Bryant Burleson (SR.)||Orlando Garcia (FR.)||Michael Davis (FR.)|
|.272 AVG, 37 RBIs, .972 Fielding %||Freshman from Americas||Freshman from Lubbock High|
Last Year - Bryant Burleson started 63 games at 2nd Base, with Alec Humphrys starting the games he doesn't play. Burleson will be back for his senior season, while Alec Humphrys transferred to Tarleton State after retreating to a utility role last season
My Prediction - Bryant Burleson will start at 2B, with Garcia and Davis coming in blowout situations or pinch hitting opportunities
This Year - There's not really any debate on who's going to start the season at 2B. Bryant Burleson is a good defender who has great chemistry with SS Tim Proudfoot and is a respectable hitter, especially for an infielder. He is a double machine (lead the Big XII in doubles with 21) and can fly around the bases. He is one of the better defensive 2B in the league and rarely makes a mistake. I'm not quite sure where he'll bat this year. He could be at the 2-spot (like last year) or move to the 5th or 6th to allow a faster guy into the leadoff spot.
Orlando Garcia and Michael Davis are both incoming freshmen who showed good bats and gloves in the Red and Black Series. They'll likely get a few chances to shine their freshmen year, but I don't expect them to get any significant playing time unless Burleson gets hurt. However, Burleson is a Senior and one of these freshmen could take over next year. The other could possibly take over for Proudfoot when he leaves. Both of these guys will see some time this year in blowout situations and pinch hitting opportunities, but probably won't get a lot of at-bats this year.
|Tim Proudfoot (SR.)||Cory Raley (JR.)|
|.304 AVG, .369 OBP, .990 Fielding %||Transfer from Temple College|
Last Year - Tim Proudfoot started out the season at Shortstop, but missed roughly 22 games last season due to an injury. He returned for the Texas series and was a big part of the Red Raider's CWS run. Ryan Long and Matt Broadbent played Shortstop while Proudfoot was out.
My Prediction - Tim Proudfoot starts and plays almost every game unless injury occurs. Raley comes in for off days and pinch hitting situations.
This Year - No really any debate on who is going to start the season as shortstop. Proudfoot was drafted in the 21st round last year and looks to continue to be a great player for the Red Raiders. Tim has probably the best defense in the Big XII and provides a steady bat in the back of the order. Proudfoot had a .990 Fielding percentage last year, committing only 2 errors. You're more likely to see a our football team win a football game. He has also great chemistry with Burleson, which helps when getting runners out. He also batted over .300% last season, which is good for being near the back of the order. My guess is that he'll bat 7th in the order (maybe 6th).
I believe Cory Raley could see time this year when Proudfoot isn't playing or the game is out of hand. He's a lot like Proudfoot, but doesn't have quite as good defense as Tim. However, he seems to have a little more power than Proudfoot at the plate. I was impressed by what he did in the Red and Black series and think he'll be in position to get in the starting job in 2016 once Proudfoot graduates.
|Ryan Long (SO.)||Tanner Gardner (FR.)|
|.212 AVG, 22 RBIs, .939 Fielding Percentage %||Freshman from Frisco Centennial|
Last Year - Jake Barrios started the season at 3rd Base and played a majority of the season there. Ryan Long and Alec Humphreys played there when Barrios didn't play (or played DH) last season. However, Ryan Long took over 3rd Base during the WVU series became the 3rd baseman throughout the playoffs.
My Prediction - Ryan Long and Tanner Gardner share time in beginning of season with Gardner eventually winning the job
This Year - Ryan Long played well last year. He started off great on the offensive end and had great defense. However, Tech is losing Adam Kirsch, who was 3rd in RBI's and 3rd in HRs in the Big XII, and will need some power in the line-up. From what I've seen in the Red and Black Series (along with highlights and scrimmages), Garnder has a great bat and can bring what Kirsch brought to this team. He doesn't need to be 3rd in RBIs, but provide enough offense to score some runs and keep the offense flowing. Especially with the pitching staff Tadlock has corralled, Tech doesn't need defense as much.
I could be wrong though. Ryan Long could very well start. He came in clutch down the stretch and showed he has potential to be a great player for the Red Raiders. Who knows, maybe Gardner will be DH and keep Long as 3B. Unlike the other 4 positions, there is no obvious starter. I wouldn't be against either guy starting. Luckily, Tadlock will have plenty of time to experiment before Big XII play begins.