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Cincinnati Baseball Preview: Outfield

Two of three spots are secure with plenty of options for the third.

GoBearcats.com

The Cincinnati Bearcats are lucky to have the majority of their infield intact from last year, with the exception of catcher Woody Wallace. Their returning talent fortunes carry over into the outfield as well as two 50-game starters return as well as the majority of the depth from a year ago.

Junior center fielder Treg Haberkorn is the anchor of the outfield, both in the batter’s box and in the field. He ranked third on the team in batting average (.264) and put up respectable numbers in slugging (.396) and on-base percentage (.367). Among his 14 extra base hits, four were triples, which tied for the team lead with first baseman Ryan Noda, who coincidentally adds depth to the outfield as well. Haberkorn’s speed also translated to 14 steals on 15 attempts.

For all his work with the lumber, Haberkorn may be more valuable for his artistry on the field. He did not commit a single error last season. Although he didn’t have any assists either, his ability to consistently flag down fly balls is invaluable to a pitching staff that doesn’t strike out a ton of batters and lets a lot of balls go into play.

R.J. Thompson is another player to have started at least 50 games last season. Normally out in left, the senior from Mason, Ohio took a step back as a junior. After slashing .274/.341/.341 in 2015, he managed to bat only .233 last season while recording seven extra-base hits and 12 RBI. However, he did bump up his stolen bases total from four to 10 and played solid defense (.991 fielding percentage).

In right field Vince Augustine and A.J. Bumpass got the bulk of the work in 2016, although both can move over if needed. Neither found much success with a bat in their hand. Augustine played in 42 games, starting 34 times, and slashed .177/.209/.274. Bumpass was no better, accumulating a line of .172/.310/.258 in 26 games (22 starts). Bumpass at least showed some speed (six steals in eight attempts) and was the better fielder, with a .977 fielding percentage compared to Augustine’s .948. Both are entering their sophomore seasons so there is every reason to believe that they will improve.

If they don’t, or if Ty Neal just needs to switch things up or give someone a day off, redshirt freshman Jordan Ramey could step in. A local kid, Ramey won the DI Ohio State Championship with Archbishop Moeller in 2015.

In all, UC isn’t set up too badly in the outfield. Haberkorn is a solid centerfielder and Thompson has shown an ability to be more consistent offensively, he just has to find his stroke again. The competition between Bumpass and Augustine will be something to watch, as whichever player takes a large step forward in his second year will likely be handed a more consistent starting role.