Position Breakdown: Outfield
The 2021 baseball season is a week away and Utah will enter the season with plenty of depth returning almost everyone from last year's team.
In the outfield, Utah returns two of three starters, but have plenty of guys that can play multiple positions.
"Outfield is crowded," head coach Bill Kinneberg said. "We have some versatility there. The addition of McLaughlin really helps us in center field. Kramer, Zavolta, Thompson and Deveaux have all shown the ability to play and had some success."
Shea Kramer and Isaac Deveaux have the most experience in the outfield. Kramer can play multiple positions, but overall has played in 93 games with 82 starts. He has seen action in right field as well as first base. He hit .280 a season ago with 10 RBI. Deveaux has started in 26 games. He had some troubles at the plate last year, but has been working hard all fall and into the spring.
"Deveaux has had the best offensive fall and early spring, but the other guys are right behind him," Kinneberg said. "We'll mix and match early in the season and see which guys come out on top."
Vinny Zavolta led the team in batting average hitting .400 in 10 games played in 2020. He scored 11 runs and had six RBI. Zavolta led the team by a wide margin with a 1.291 OPS and had two home runs as well.
Another candidate to play center field as well as hit leadoff is Jaylon McLaughlin. He transferred in from Nevada and had a great season in 2019. He had a breakout season for the Wolf Pack in his first year as a center fielder, leading the team with a career-high .339 batting average. McLaughlin was named first-team All-Mountain West after batting .360 in conference, the fifth-best in the MW and led the league with 17 stolen bases. On the season, he had 25 stolen bases on the year ranked as the sixth-most in a single season by a Nevada player.
Tyler Thompson started eight games a season ago in left and center field. He scored three runs and had two RBI.
The other outfielder on the roster is Dakota Duffalo from Mesa, Arizona.
Utah's first series of the year begins Friday, February 19 at UTSA. First pitch is at 3 p.m. MT.