As Opening Day against Maine at Doug Kingsmore Stadium is just days away, Monte Lee and Co. have plenty of options to put together a very solid lineup including multiple outfielders. After losing Steven Duggar to the MLB Draft and Tyler Slaton to graduation, the Tigers look to break in a new starting outfield for the 2016 season.
Chase Pinder (Sophomore) - The sophomore out of Poquoson, Virginia was the primary starting second baseman for the Tigers last season until a shoulder injury ended a promising freshman season. With last year's starter Tyler Slaton gone due to graduation, Pinder is expected to be the starting centerfielder for Monte Lee's squad this coming season. Pinder hit for a .256 batting average last season with three home runs and twenty-six RBI's. He should be a key contributor this season as long as his shoulder injury has completely healed.
Reed Rohlman (Redshirt Sophomore) - The main starter in left field for the Tigers last season, the Moore, South Carolina native led the Tigers' offense with a .356 batting average along with hitting three home runs and fifty-eight RBI's. As a result, Rohlman earned Freshman All-American honors. Rohlman got a long look from the coaching staff as a first baseman this past Fall, but he still has a chance to get playing time in left field as well as at DH.
Seth Beer (Freshman) - Rated as the number 2 overall player and top high school outfielder in the nation by PerfectGame.com, Beer graduated from Lambert High School in Georgia a semester early to play for the Tigers this coming season. The Suwanee, Georgia native will likely be the starting right fielder for the Tigers this coming season and has a chance to be a very special player for the baseball program for the next few years.
Drew Wharton (Sophomore) - The sophomore out of Suwanee, Georgia was one of the top bench contributors for the Tigers last season, hitting .281 with eight RBI's. Has a lot of power potential at the plate and has a chance to be the primary left-fielder for the Tigers this coming season.
Andrew Cox (Redshirt Junior) - Out of Belton, South Carolina, Cox struggled with the bat last year but played overall solid defense as the Tigers' primary starter at first base last season. Cox still has a chance to play plenty of first base this coming season for Monte Lee and Co. but could be used a lot in the outfield especially as a late inning defensive replacement.
Mike Triller (Redshirt Senior) - The fifth year senior out of Rutland, Vermont, has made the most of his limited playing time during his career with the Tigers. Has been used mostly as a reserve outfielder for the Tigers during his career and will probably do the same for Monte Lee and Co. this coming season.
Maleeke Gibson (Redshirt Junior) - While the redshirt junior out of Sumter, South Carolina, has had a disappointing career so far for the Tigers due to injury and inconsistency at the plate but did have a nice fall for the Tigers. While Gibson has failed to meet expectations for the baseball program look for him to get more playing time this coming season in left field and potentially as a pinch-runner late in games to make use of his speed on the base paths. Monte Lee came in with an impressive acumen as a hitting coach so it'll be interesting to see how Gibson has developed under Lee's tutelage.
Jordan Greene (Freshman) - A freshman from Fort Mill, South Carolina Greene impressed the Tiger coaches this past fall. Greene can also play middle infield for the Tigers. While Greene might not get a whole lot of playing time this year look for him to be used as a utility player in the outfield and also at second base as well as shortstop.
KJ Bryant (Redshirt Freshman) - Hailing from Taylors, South Carolina, Bryant was expected to make an impact last year coming as the top high school outfielder in South Carolina but had to redshirt to get more seasoning. A threat on the base paths with a solid bat, look for Bryant to get a decent amount of playing time this coming season especially as a pinch-runner late in games. Bryant still has the talent to be a potential starter and special player down the road for the baseball program.
On paper this group should be fine hitting the ball, especially with the change in philosophy we are likely to see under Coach Lee. The big question here is going to be defense. Last year even the outfield was not immune to defensive lapses. Fix those defensive problems and we wouldn't even need to have the offense improve that much. One thing that will be interesting to see is how Coach Lee moves around his outfielders. Several of them have seen time in the infield and outfield which gives him a lot of opportunities to get the best combination of offense and defense in the field. With so many questions on starting position, maximizing the defensive production from the fielders could be critical to the team's success this year.