PSB: After what you saw in fall workouts, what are your team's prospects for the 2017 season?
JB: After concluding the fall workouts I believe that we will have a strong club this year. Being my first year here and not knowing the exact level of competition that we will see it is difficult for me to say how we will stack up to others in the area and the Peach Belt. We will be young in terms of returning college at-bats, but not young as far as age. On the mound we return a lot of good pieces and a quality amount of innings. I really like a few of the new pieces that have been added to the roster.
PSB: What are your biggest areas of concern entering the 2017 season?
JB: My biggest area of concern is the amount of returning college at-bats that we have. I like our offense and think that we have talent in this area; just not a lot of in game experience.
PSB: In what areas does your team appear to be improved from the 2016 season?
JB: I cannot answer this questions; because I was not here in 2016, but I can tell you we will be different. They hit 95 HR’s last year, and we are not built like that this year. I believe that we will hit our fair share of extra base hits, but we will run the bases very well and steal a lot of bases.
PSB: Based on fall workouts, which returnees from 2016 (including redshirts) look best prepared to play a bigger role in 2017?
JB: The returners that look best prepared to play a big role this year that did not last year are: Carson Jones should be a very good bat in our line up and missed last season due to injury. He will play at one of the infield spots and should provide some power to the lineup. Zach Giczewski missed last year due to injury as well and should occupy 1B for us this year while providing a stead switch hitting bat in our lineup. On the mound Cameron Tekker was injured last season and looks to be able to be a key piece in the back end of the bullpen. Joseph Whitt was a Freshman last season and should be a key left handed option in a variety of roles for us. Last Erik Holton redshirted last season and had a great fall for us. He has shown that he should be a key weapon out of the bullpen as well.
PSB : Based on fall workouts, which newcomers are most likely to contend for major roles in 2017?
JB: We have a lot of new faces that should be able to help us out as well. Transfer JD Cook should be a staple in the weekend rotation as a very good LHP. Outfield transfer Alec Dowell should man CF for us and has shown good power and speed. Charleston Southern transfer Jacob Childress should be able to help the team both on the mound and in the field. Wingate transfer Bailey Connell looks to start on the field for us and be at the top of the batting order. Clemson Transfer Garrett Lovorn should have a big role on the pitching staff as well. As for the freshmen Colton Yeager is really pushing for time on the infield and has shown that he can help the club this year. Nathan Schreckengost should compete for time at 1B and the DH spot right away as well.