'Jacks 2008 Preview:Catchers
Feb. 11, 2008
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - One of the biggest challenges facing head coach Donnie Watson and his coaching staff this season will be to find ample playing time for a surplus of talented catchers. Incumbent starter Kevin Croft had a breakout season in 2007, but Ryan Sinclair and Matt Whatley will each find their fair share of playing time at the backside of the dish.
Croft spent most of his time hitting out of the No. 9 slot in the lineup last year and proved Watson's claim of "the most dangerous No. 9 hitter in the country" true by cranking out 11 home runs and hitting at a .301 clip. His .575 slugging percentage trailed only that of Steven Hill's .818 mark at the top of the 'Jacks' lineup.
This year, however, Watson has several options to choose from behind the plate that will provide him with flexibility in the lineup throughout the season.
Sinclair has seem spot playing time in his first two years after being behind both Croft and Hill in that time span, but this year could be his turn for an extended viewing. An accomplished defensive specialist with a strong arm, he threw out 31 percent of attempted base stealers in 2007.
"If Ryan can hit this season, it is going to be hard to keep him out of the lineup with what be brings defensively," Watson said.
Whatley, on the other hand, is an accomplished offensive threat who hit .308 with five home runs for Arkansas-Monticello last year. His efforts during fall workouts earned him Team MVP honors for the fall season and with his ability to play not only catcher, but also third base, along with his left-handed bat will almost certainly find its way into the lineup more often than not.
Another option will be Alex Moshier, a freshman from Nederland, Texas. Moshier could be the catcher of the future for the 'Jacks, but he should give Watson another right-handed pitching option with his abilities on the hill.
The 'Jacks open up the season Feb. 22 in Edinburg, Texas, at the UT-Pan American Tournament against Texas State. They will follow that up with games against UTPA and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi before taking part in the Baylor Tournament the following week.
Check back with sfajacks.com for more updates on Lumberjack baseball.
Feb. 4 - Starting Pitching
Feb. 7 - Relief Pitching
Feb. 11 - Catchers
Feb. 13 - Infielders
Feb. 18 - Outfielders