Countdown To Opening Day: Outfielders
Feb. 12, 2014
Ninth-year head coach Billy Godwin has plenty of options when looking at a possible starting three in the outfield. He and the Pirates return four letterwinners, brought in a pair of junior college transfers and have two freshmen that are all expected to see action.
Transfer Ian Townsend will get the Opening Day start in right field. The Brooksville, Fla. native was a two-year starter at St. John's River State College where he was a career .269 hitter with 12 home runs, 52 RBI and 36 extra base hits. As a sophomore he led the Vikings in home runs (nine), RBI (33) and walks (34) on the way to honorable mention Mid-Florida Conference Honorable Mention honors. Townsend, who stands at 6-3", brings a left-handed power bat to the lineup and will hit in the middle of the order, most likely in the five-hole.
Senior Ben Fultz is set to play opposite of Townsend as he mans left field, a spot he has started at 16 times a year ago. The Greensboro, N.C. native, who has started 103 of 154 career games, brings another left-handed bat to the lineup that can hit anywhere from the leadoff spot to the bottom third of the order, depending on matchups. A year ago Fultz batted .292 (31-for106) with three home runs, 24 RBI, nine doubles and a triple. Defensively he is a solid defender with a career .990 fielding percentage having committed just two errors in 203 chances.
Right now the biggest question mark is who will play center when the first pitch is thrown on Friday. Godwin has three guys he can look at in sophomore Garrett Brooks, junior Reid Love and senior Dylan Brown. Brooks, who started all 21 games last year in center, batted .194 with four RBI. A speedster who bats from the left side of the plate, he will be the table-setter atop the lineup.
Brown returns after starting 43 of 54 games a year ago where he batted .216 (37-for-141) with three home runs, 10 doubles, two triples and drove in 18 runs. Another left-handed hitter with speed, Brown swiped a team second-best seven bases and scored 24 runs. A year ago he spent time hitting anywhere between the second and ninth spots in the order.
Reid Love, a Junior College Transfer also from St. John's River State College, is a two-way player for the Pirates. A teammate of Townsend, Love helped the Vikings to a combined 61 wins from 2012-13 and the Mid-Florida Conference title in 2013. A career .316 hitter, Love laced 20 doubles, drove in 40 runs and scored 60 while with the Vikings. A right-handed hitter that can hit in the two-hole, Love will also see action as the designated hitter likely on the day before he toes the rubber.
True freshman Bryce Harman, who was taken in the 27th round of the 2013 MLB Draft (pick 826) by the Washington Nationals, was a two-way player for Lloyd C. Bird High School where he was a two-time Virginia All-State selection. As a four-year starter, Harman was a career .400 hitter with nine home runs and 90 RBI for the Skyhawks During his senior campaign he was an unanimous first-team all-state and all-conference selection where he batted .439 with 11 doubles and 28 walks. Harman can play a variety of positions for the Pirates seeing time at first, in the outfield, as the designated hitter and on the mound. Likely he will start out his Pirate career as the DH on Opening Day.
Check back tomorrow when we take a look at the Pirate bullpen.