The Virginia Tech Hokies baseball program kicks off their 2019 season this Friday in the Stetson Tournament against their host, the Stetson Hatters. In the first of a three-part roster series, we take a look at the position players for the 2019 Hokies.
Luke Horanski - R-Sr.
Carson Taylor - Fr.
The Hokies are relatively thin at catcher after sophomore catcher Nolan Wilson left the program. With that being said, Luke Horanski comes in as a fifth-year senior looking to build on a 2018 in which he led the Hokies with 44 hits and a .314 batting average. On days that he is not behind the plate, expect freshman Carson Taylor to receive some playing time in a pinch in his first year with the program. It’s Horanski’s show though, and the Hokies will rely on his productivity to score runs this spring.
Jack Owens - R-Sr.
Nick Owens - R-Sr.
Reagan Teegarden - Jr.
Tanner Thomas - Jr.
Michael Fernandez - So.
Matt Balance - Fr.
Nick Biddison - Fr.
Cam Grimes - Fr.
Kevin Madden - Fr.
Nick Holesa - Fr.
Jonah Seagears - Fr.
August Haymaker - Fr.
The good news here? The infield has a good bit of depth. The bad news is that most of that depth consists of freshmen. With that being said, there is some veteran talent in this group that should be more than capable of carry the load.
Fifth-year senior Jack Owens projects as the starting second baseman after making 51 starts at second base last season and one start at shortstop. He hit .266 and more often than not sits atop the batting order. Fifth-year senior Nick Owens (no relation), is the anticipated starter at shortstop where he played 49 games a year ago while batting a modest .274. His 13 multi-hit games was third on the team.
Reagan Teegarden is a junior transfer who should provide depth in the middle infield behind both Owens kids, with an opportunity to play corner infield as well, especially at first base. If corner infield isn’t in the cards for Teegarden, he could perhaps get some playing time at DH. It’s hard to envision Teegarden not getting an opportunity, as he hit .358 last season at Central Arizona College. Coach Szefc should get his bat in the lineup early and often to get some runs on the board.
Tanner Thomas is another guy transferring into the program who should see some playing time in the early going for the Hokies. He’s listed as an infielder on the Virginia Tech online roster, but was a Second-Team All-Panhandle Conference selection the last two seasons at Tallahassee Community College. He drove in 31 runs a year ago and hit .314. If he’s not projected as a starter, he could provide infield and outfield depth at the very least. He’s another guy whose bat I would expect to be in the early season lineups for the Hokies.
Sophomore Michael Fernandez is looking to build off of a 2018 freshman campaign in which he hit .295 with 23 starts. 18 of his 23 starts last season came at third base, where he is projected to be the starter heading into 2019. Fernandez played in 30 games total a year ago, and is expected to be an everyday player for the Hokies in his second year with the program. He certainly has a bright future.
As far as the freshmen are concerned, all are very highly regarded for their high school achievements on the field, but it is difficult to project who will play out of this group right away and how much, especially given the experience in the infield for the Hokies. If I had to bet on two guys making an early impact as freshmen, I would put my money on Nick Holesa (a Second-Team All-American selection by Perfect Game), as well as Jonah Seagears, who was an all-region wide receiver, defensive back, and punt returner at Battlefield High School. Seagears can bring his speed to the top of the lineup, and Holesa’s potential may help him push for early playing time.
Nick Menken - Sr.
Kerry Carpenter - Jr.
Dalton Harum - Jr.
Nick Menken is the starting center fielder. He made 52 starts out there last season and led the Hokies with six outfield assists. He batted .246 last season but ended the year hot, reaching base in eight straight games to finish the season. He’ll be a regular in the lineup.
Kerry Carpenter is a JUCO transfer who was a two-time All-American at St. John’s River State College. He projects as a corner outfielder for the Hokies and should hit in the middle of the order after notching 14 home runs and 56 RBI last season. His presence as a power hitter in the lineup should give the Hokies offense a boost in 2019.
Like Carpenter, Dalton Harum is also in his first year with the program. He hit .378 with a .512 on-base percentage and a .659 slugging percentage last season with Wenatchee Valley college. His 54 RBI also led the team. Harum seems primed to take one of the corner outfield spots that Carpenter does not occupy heading into 2019. As far as the batting order concerned, he should project in the middle of the lineup, much like his counterpart in Carpenter.
Make sure to stay tuned for part two of our three-part roster series on 2019 Virginia Tech Hokies Baseball. Next up: The Pitching Staff