2009 Baseball Season Preview: A Look At The Infield

Feb. 13, 2009

The 2009 Oregon State baseball season opens on Feb. 20 when the Beavers visit Tennessee.

With the season a week away, here's a look at the club's infield as it prepares for the upcoming campaign. This is the third of a four-part look at the Beavers.>

Oregon State defensive coach Marty Lees has perhaps on of his best overall groups of infielders this season. He has defensive wizards in Joey Wong and John Tommasini and newcomers in Adalberto Santos, Jared Norris, Max Shupe, Stefen Romero and Carter Bell, among others, who give the Beavers both strong defense in addition to strong bats. In addition, Oregon State returns one of the top players in the Pac-10 in catcher Ryan Ortiz, who is also an All-American candidate this season.

Wong is the unquestioned leader of the team's infield having started all 52 games at shortstop last season. He made the move from second base when Darwin Barney left for the pros and made play after play. Offensively, he also showed flashes of brilliance, finishing tied for second on the team with five home runs. He is expected to start at short after getting a majority of reps there in the fall but can certainly switch back to second when needed.

Tommasini is one of the other returning infielders, although he didn't quite see as much action as Wong last season. Still, the sophomore has perhaps the surest hands on the club and meshed well with Wong. It will be key to see how he plays in the early part of the season before the Beavers get into Pac-10 play.

Tommasini will certainly get challenged by Adalberto Santos, a transfer from New Mexico Junior College who originally hails from New York City. He has the ability to play both middle infield positions and brings a solid bat with him to Corvallis. Kyle Beverley, a freshman from Salt Lake City and a former high school teammate of Tanner Robles', also has the ability to play second base.

The corner infield positions are perhaps the least set spots on the club for the Beavers, who return just three starters overall. Norris and Shupe are expected to battle for the starting spot at first base. Norris is a sophomore transfer from Yavapai College in Arizona and possesses a solid bat with a great eye at the plate. He also proved in the fall to be more then adept with the glove.

Shupe, like Norris, brings a big presence to the plate. The junior transfer from San Jose City College showed the ability to hit for power in the fall. It is conceivable that whomever doesn't start at first could serve as the designated hitter.

The other corner spot, third base, will also be filled by two players new to the club this season. Stefen Romero possesses the most collegiate experience at the position after transferring from Pima Community College in Arizona. He displayed great range and a live bat in the fall.

The other candidate at third base is freshman Carter Bell, a British Columbia native with great defensive skills and an emergeing bat. Bell can also play short, as he did occassionally during the fall, and made both the tough and routine plays at both position.

Behind the plate, the Beavers have full confidence in returning All-Pac-10 player Ryan Ortiz, not only to work with the pitching staff, but to also have a season like last year. In that campaign, Ortiz led Oregon State with a .351 batting average and 55 RBI and was tied for second with five home runs.

Ortiz will be backed up by sophomore transfer Mike Chiarelli, who comes to the Beavers from Skagit Valley Community College in Washington. Gorton and utility player Rob Folsom can also play catcher and fill in when needed.

Head Coach Pat Casey's take on the 2009 Oregon State infield

'The only guy who has really played for two years and has been a two-year starter is Joey Wong. We like the fact we have some flexibility there. Stefen Romero can play more than one position in the field, as can Adalberto Santos. We just feel like we have some guys who are interchangeable there.

'We've always felt like we want to be good defensively in the infield, and therefore it will be a priority to us. Like I've said, in terms of experience, we have Joey Wong, who has started for two years, and John Tommasini, who got a lot of time last year. We do have a little bit of experience there but not much.

'Here again, the emphasis will be that we have positions wide open, and I think that's a good thing. It concerns you a little bit from the fact nobody really went out and took a bunch of positions, but it also means that a lot of guys went out and played well in the fall.

'The obvious guy behind the plate is Ryan Ortiz. He caught for us last year and was All-Pac-10 for us behind the plate. We want to be as strong defensively as we can back there. We have a lot of options as far as who can catch with him. He is a versatile player. He can play first as well as left field.

'Therefore, some other guys will have to step up. We have candidates in Mike Chiarelli, Rob Folsom, Ryan Gorton, some people like that. They are guys who all had time in the fall. Obviously, with the way the schedule is now, someone is going to have to step in and be a guy who can catch and do it at a Pac-10 level. You're just not going to get away with catching one guy all year long. Once again, we have one guy who might be better offensively, and another defensively, so I believe that will all shake out when we work out in the Spring.'

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