You can make a good case for Georgia Tech's starting outfield to be the best in the ACC in 2015. Daniel Spingola, Matt Gonzalez and Ryan Peurifoy return 654 at-bats and 204 combined hits, that's a collective .312 average if you're doing the math. The question for the outfield lies in depth, who can step in and produce if one of the aforementioned three fall ill? Let's take a closer look spot-by-spot:
The center field position is locked down like an Alabama team hotel at 11:00 p.m. Spingola turned down the Chicago freaking Cubs to come play one more season in Midtown, just going to show what this team means to the 2nd team All-ACC pick. Last season he led the conference in hits (82) and triples (8), along with leading the team in batting average (.319), OBP (.384), stolen bases (15) and four other offensive categories.
Spingola is sure to be Tech's lead off hitter in 2015 and the catalyst for an offense that won the ACC Tournament a year ago. In addition to his offensive prowess, Spingola has the speed to track down balls from right-center to left-center.
Here's a scary thought: If for some reason Spingola was to go down, who else can play center? My first look would be to Wade Bailey, a speedy freshman from Villa Rica, Georgia. As outlined in the infield preview, you'll find Bailey getting some starting looks at second base this season. Don't be surprised to see him in center field though, he's got plenty of leg to burn out there.
Outside of those two, there isn't really anyone on the roster who can play center. In dire situations Colby Miller could see time, but there's not much more discussion on who gets the starting job (aka the best player on the team).
Projected starter: Daniel Spingola
Here's another rock-solid spot for the Yellow Jackets: junior Matt Gonzalez. Last season, Gonzalez led the team in RBI (37), was second on the team in hitting (.314) and lead the ACC in doubles (21). The Acworth native has always been destined to be a star at Tech, turning down an 11th round offer from Oakland out of high school and starting games since his freshman year. His career batting average is .303 and is looking to build on last year's improvement.
So Tech has two big league prospects in the outfield. No big deal, right? But here's the same question, where in lies the depth? Kel Johnson is a player that's got us very excited and is probably going to see starting time at first base this year, but he played significant time in left field while with Home Plate Capital (home school team).
Grant Wruble is also a possibility here if something were to happen to Gonzalez. Wruble is listed as a catcher but has started in right field before, getting his only hit of 2014 while playing there. Don't expect anyone other than Gonzales playing at this spot in 2015, because his offense if far too valuable in the lineup.
Projected Starter: Matt Gonzalez
Right field is a little more open than left and center, but I have a pretty good idea of who will hold down this spot for the ajority of the year. Ryan Peurifoy stepped in as a true freshman man last year along with fellow frosh Keenan Innis to split time at right field. When Innis went down with a hip injury, Peurifoy shined down the stretch of the season. He would finish the year batting .296 and being named to the Oxford All-Region team.
Peurifoy is a good contact hitter who plays a solid defensive right field. If the end of last season was an indication of anything, he's only going to improve on those offensive numbers. We could see all the of Georgia Tech outfielders hitting in the beginning of the lineup, possibly batting over .300.
Innis made all 23 of his starts in the outfield, mostly in left. The sophomore was having an okay season hitting .248 before his injury. I think it's clear Peurifoy separated himself last year, making him the favorite to start in right field on opening day.
Projected starter: Ryan Peurifoy
How many outfielders can Beesball push to All-ACC status? What're your thoughts on the outfield? Any breakout players or other predictions?