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2015 College Baseball: Virginia Cavaliers Position Players Preview

Similar to the 2011 UVa squad, the 2015 team is going to have its hands full in replacing so much production and experience.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Remember the 2011 Virginia Cavalier baseball team? The one that had to replace Phil Gosselin, Jarrett Parker, Tyler Cannon, Dan Grovatt, Franco Valdez, Robert Morey, and Neal Davis from the year before? I am sure you do, because that 2011 team ended the year in Omaha.

This Cavaliers team is going to have a similar uphill battle replacing Mike Papi, Branden Cogswell, Brandon Downes, Derek Fisher, Whit Mayberry, Artie Lewicki, and Nate Irving to either the draft or graduation (mostly draft).

Fortunately, there is some depth in the upper class. It appears nearly all of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years will compete for time at at least one position. Unfortunately, one of those upperclassmen, Joe McCarthy, has already gone down with an injury that will keep him out for a significant amount of time. TIME TO SEE WHAT THE 1st YEARS ARE MADE OF!

Catcher - Robbie Coman & Matt Thaiss. Both saw a fair amount of time last season even though Nate Irving had the position locked down. Fortunately for Coach Kuhn, both have had at least one season in the program and should know the system pretty well (as well as anyone other than K's can know it). I'll give the nod to Coman to receive a majority of the time. Coman proved himself at the plate down the stretch and even gave Irving some much needed time off. It also doesn't hurt that he's a 3rd year to Thaiss' 2nd year.

First Base - Robbie Coman, Matt Thiass, & Pavin Smith. "One of these things is not like the other," but that doesn't mean that he doesn't belong. Smith enters as a highly regarded recruit that could make a big impact his 1st year. A 32nd rd draft pick by the Colorado Rockies, he likely could have gone much higher had he not been interested in coming to UVa. D1baseball's Kendall Rogers thinks Smith will be in the OF, but I see him more at First. Rogers also thinks he has "plus raw power potential" which could be a valuable asset at 1b and McCarthy out.

Second Base - Justin Novak & Ernie Clement (Possibly LaPrise). Let me tell you what I know about these two:                      . Yea. I can tell you that Ernie Clement appears to have been a sought after recruit, and an excellent hockey player in high school! Novak hails from Japan.

Shortstop: Daniel Pinero. Pinero returns after being named Third Team All-ACC and a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball. His .961 fielding percentage was superb for a shortstop, but the Hoos will need Daniel to produce a little more than a .263 average from him at the top of the lineup. I expect he'll be up to the task just based on the amount of experience he has. That first year out of high school is an eye-opener. The game will slow down for Daniel this season.

Third Base: Kenny Towns. Towns will likely be the only 4th year on the field for much of the season. That leadership is certainly going to be necessary. His numbers took a dip last year from his first two seasons, and the Hoos will be hoping he can rebound.

Outfield: Thomas Woodruff, John La Prise, Charlie Cody, & Adam Haseley (and Joe McCarthy....eventually). 1st Year Adam Haseley is almost a lock to be the starting CF for the next three years. He is supposed to be a talent at the plate and in the field, which bodes well for replacing the lost talent. In LF, I would expect John La Prise to see a bulk of the time. La Prise came on strong towards the end of the season last year and ended up batting .348 and a .421 slugging percentage. The final position could go to either a 4th year or 1st year. Neither have much to go on, but the 4 years of being in the program should certainly help Woodruff.

It is going to be a battle for the Cavaliers to replace all the output they lost from last year. Because of that, this offense comes into the season with a lot of question marks. Luckily, the pitching staff is one of the best in the nation, so the offense won't have to hopefully do too much.