Alabama baseball opens its 2019 season on Friday with a three-game series against Presbyterian. TideSports is examining the team in a four-part series this week before the season.
The new faces in the infield might take you some time, but the outfield is a quicker study. Applying the same standard to the outfield that we used yesterday, there were 168 starts for Alabama baseball in the outfield in 2018. Alabama returns 116 of those.
Chandler Taylor will no longer patrol right field after spending three straight years there, but the other regular contributors all return.
Joe Breaux started slow last season but hit .280 against SEC opponents with a .429 on-base percentage. He’ll be counted on to be more reliable on offense as a senior. You can look for him to hold one of the regular spots, most likely in center.
Keith Holcombe is back for his redshirt senior season. This may be his best chance to take a big step forward after spending the fall with the baseball team instead of at football. Look out for Gene Wood as well. Wood, now a redshirt junior, won a starting job in both 2017 and in 2018 before suffering season-ending injuries both years. Wood can play center but could be more likely to compete in left, where Holcombe played most of last season.
Wallace State transfer Tyler Gentry has a strong chance to step in and play right away. He had 18 homers in his only season of junior college ball, and there aren’t any established power bats to start the season. He could be the starter in right field on opening day. Freshman T.J. Reeves should also have some chances to show what he can do during the nonconference schedule.
Walker McCleney played more than expected as a freshman in 2018. He’s a strong defensive center fielder and has good speed, so he could contribute off the bench even if he doesn’t become a regular starter. There’s still no official word on the status of Tyrell Shavers, the wide receiver who has practiced with the team this spring. He has athleticism in spades but hasn’t swung a bat regularly since his junior year in high school after enrolling early and missing his senior season of baseball.