Baseball Season Preview: Hitters And Defense
The Washington men's baseball team opens its season this Friday against Cal Poly.
This offseason, head coach Lindsay Meggs added Andy Jenkins to the Husky staff as the hitting coach. Jenkins works with the catchers as well and will coach third base.
At the catcher position, UW returns the experience of Johnny Tincher, who started nine games in 2021 and showcased his elite defensive ability in his action.
The Huskies also added graduate transfer Ben Smith from Biola University. A local player out of Sammamish, Wash., Smith played in 41 games over two season at Biola, hitting four home runs with 22 RBI, while putting together a .742 OPS. Rounding out the catchers are Jake Leitgeb, who did not see action last season and true freshman Colin Blanchard.
Will Simpson returns to the lineup as one of the top first basemen in the Pac-12 and on the west coast. Simpson led UW with a .310 average and had a team-high seven home runs and 35 RBI. Michael Brown gives the Huskies a big-time bat that can either play first base or DH after ranking second behind Simpson in 2021 with four home runs. Another big-time bat in the lineup is Karl Koerper, who has elite power and can also play first base and DH.
Cypress College transfer Coby Morales provides flexibility in the infield and can play either corner infield spot and will be a hard name for Meggs to keep out of the lineup after a strong fall camp.
Michael Snyder came on late last season for Washington and brings a big-time frame to third base, while also displaying advanced hitting tools, as evidenced by his first-career home run against Utah late in the season.
There is additional returning experience in the duo of Dalton Chandler and Christian Dicochea. Both have shown the ability to play second and third base as well as shortstop.
Two new faces that can impact the infield are graduate transfer Josh Urps from Cal State Fullerton and true freshman Cam Clayton. Urps was a two-year starter at shortstop for the Titans and brings a veteran presence to the Husky dugout as well as an advanced feel at the plate as a switch-hitter. Clayton was one of Meggs' top recruits in the 2021 class and has all of the tools to be successful.
A pair of junior college transfers in Nick Hovland and Jarred Mazzaferro bring even more experience to what is a very deep infield unit for UW.
One of the many new faces on the Huskies this season in McKay Barney, who spent the 2020 season at BYU before spending a year at South Mountain CC. Barney is an elite defender in the outfield and has game-changing speed on the basepaths. He provides a dynamic in the lineup that not many teams have.
The Huskies used a number of players in left and right field last season and two of the main returner are Cole Miller and Preston Viltz. After missing the beginning of the season with injury, Miller would go on to start 25 games and rank fourth on the team with 14 RBI. Viltz appeared in 24 games last season and is one of the top athletes on the team who can impact the game on offense and defense.
True freshman A.J. Guerrero (Fife, Wash.) was considered one of the top offensive prospects in the entire region for the 2021 class and is a difference maker with his bat, while showing the ability to play the corner outfield spots.
Luke Rohleder joined the program after a season at Everett CC and brings more elite speed and athleticism to the lineup, going 22-23 in stolen bases in his lone season at Everett.
Colby Wallace and Kyle Fossum are two more highly-regarded freshmen that will compete for playing time as well.