Cajuns’ Outfield Boasts Influx of Talent – From the Bird’s Nest
(This is the second of a three part series previewing Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns baseball team for 2013. Today, the outfielders and DH)
A season ago, Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns struggled to score runs. Their 4.7 runs per game negated the pitching staff's league-leading ERA. The Cajuns were on the wrong side of too many low scoring games. A lack of quality depth was a big concern and the outfield had its offensive struggles.
The numbers, in this case, didn't lie.
Daniel Nichols (.240-1-42) and Brian Bowman (.227-0-17, 57 strikeouts) are the departing starters. Dominic Francia (.271 in 46 at bats), Allman Snowden (.147 in 34 at bats) and Nick Jones (1-16) have transferred elsewhere.
Dylan Butler was the bright light among the Cajuns' outfielders. The now-sophomore hit eight of the 18 home runs the Cajuns managed last season. His 45 RBI led the club and he had 20 extra base hits. But Butler hit only .249 and struck out 42 times. He'll have to hit better, but after a year in Division I, he should.
Ragin' Cajuns recruiters worked hard to land more athleticism, more pop and more overall talent to the outfield corps. They not only found that, they got a couple of pitchers in the process.
Ryan Wilson (6-0, 190, JR) and Seth Harrison (6-0, 200, JR) are both centerfielders who will be counted upon to pitch as well. Wilson is a lefty, Harrison from the right side. But both are vying to be in the lineup on days they aren't pitching. Both are athletic outfielders who could help on the basepaths as well.
Speaking of speed, Dex Kjerstad (6-2, 210, Jr) will probably get the nod in left field. He's a top of the lineup guy who is as fast as anyone on the squad. He played one year at the University of Texas before heading out to Howard Junior College. Caleb Adams (6-0, 185, So.) is right there in the mix as well.
And, there are two other faces to watch out for: Both Ryan Leonards and Brenn Conrad have been working out in the outfield and will give the Cajuns quality depth out there. And, given Leonards' hitting ability a year ago and Conrad's fall performance, you might see more of them out there than you might initially think.
Robichaux will have some versatility when it comes to the DH position. He could DH one of the new outfielders, put Leonards in that position, or fill the outfield with newcomers and put Butler in that spot. Whoever he chooses, the Cajuns will probably be stronger in that lineup slot than they were a year ago.
When fans start talking about the 2013 Cajuns and their improvement, they think of the outfielders and DH being a big part of the strength of the lineup. If that's going to be the case, the newcomers have to show their adjustment to Division I baseball was a quick one.