2013 Season Leadoff: Outfielders
Feb. 13, 2013
Maryland opens the 2013 season Friday at No. 10 LSU. In the final installment of this season's preview, we take a look at the outfielders.Season Preview: Pitchers & Catchers | Infielders
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - With the departure of just one positional player in shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez following the 2012 season, the Terrapins knew they would be returning a battle-tested core of experienced players in 2013. There is no area on the field that this is more evident than in the outfield.
Last season, senior Jordan Hagel and junior Michael Montville combined for 79 percent of the starts in right and left field, respectively. With the return of center fielder Charlie White, who started the first 17 games last season before being sidelined the remainder of the year with a hand injury, this group is very familiar with the rigors of ACC baseball.
With Hagel, Montville and White all slated to start opening weekend at LSU, the Terps are hoping their big-game experience will pay dividends in Baton Rouge and throughout the season.
White will serve as the catalyst. The redshirt sophomore is slated to bat leadoff and start in centerfield opening night. White will be looking to build off a strong freshman campaign in 2011 before last season was cut short.
The native of Naperville, Ill., finished second on the team with a .304 batting average in 2011, ranked first with 30 runs scored and stole 17 bases. But it's his ability as a true leadoff hitter that excites the coaching staff and draws comparisons to a former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies all-star.
"I haven't had the luxury of having a true leadoff hitter maybe since I was at Louisiana-Lafayette," said head coach John Szefc. "He might be one of the best drag bunters in terms of placement that I have been around and he is very instinctive in terms of base running.
"I always kid him because, from a baseball perspective, he reminds me of a modern-day version of Lenny Dykstra."
After starting 51 games in right field last season, Hagel should be one of the team's biggest offensive threats in 2013. The senior is slated to be a middle-of-the-lineup bat after leading the team in on-base percentage (.403), slugging percentage (.478), hits (65), doubles (20) and total bases (98).
"He's an experienced, accomplished guy and a good defender," said Szefc. "Definitely the type of guy that should be hitting in the middle of our lineup. There are a lot of things he can do."
Though he did share time in left field with sophomore Matt Bosse and Tomo Delp last season, Montville emerged as an everyday player. The junior hit .234 last season and tied for second on the team with four home runs. After a strong summer in the Cape Cod League, where he finished with a .447 slugging percentage, 14 RBI and seven home runs, Montville is poised to be a major contributor in the middle of the lineup.
"He had a good summer and fall," said Szefc. "He's done a lot of work in the offseason on using the middle of the field and hitting the ball to the right-center gap."
Three players to keep an eye on off the bench are sophomore Matt Bosse, redshirt freshman Anthony Papio and freshman Kyle Moore. Both Papio and Moore swung the bat well in the fall and could see time at the corners, while the power-hitting Bosse could see time in left field.