I've gone over the starting rotation and I went over the bullpen yesterday, today we have the infield. This is a very talented group with a bunch of experience. Add in some impact newcomers and this could the most talented infield in the Big 12 conference.
Tanner Krietemeier's powerful bat is no longer manning first base, one of two Cowboys with more than 10 home runs in 2014, Zach Fish being the other. Both hitters were taken in the MLB draft, Fish to the White Sox and Krietemeier to the Braves.
Craig McConaughy was a solid contributor as a senior last year, starting 53 games at third base and hitting an even .300. The consistency he brought to the bottom of the lineup was incredibly valuable last season.
Here's how I see the infield shaping up for the 2015 season:
First Base, Dustin Williams, So.
Williams was able to get 102 at-bats last season as a freshman, being used as a pinch-hitter and a DH. He encountered some struggles though, only hitting .216, but I think that average will rise once he starts to get at-bats on a more consistent basis.
I expect the power to develop for Williams, who only had seven extra-base hits last season, as he jumps into the starting lineup as a sophomore.
Freshmen Caleb Eldridge or Mason O'Brien could see time if Williams struggles at the plate in 2015.
Second Base, Tim Arakawa, Sr.
In his first season at OSU, Arakawa started every game at second base, an impressive accomplishment for the junior college transfer from Hawaii. Arakawa started off the season hitting leadoff, but struggled in the role before he was dropped to the bottom part of the order. Overall, Arakawa hit .265 on the season, drawing 47 walks, good for second in the Big 12.
Against Arizona State at home last season, Arakawa not only had the game-tying base hit to send the game into extra-innings, but he also hit a walkoff single that won the series for the Cowboys. It's going to be fun to see him play against the Sun Devils again this weekend.
Shortstop, Donnie Walton, Jr.
It would be fair to say that Donnie Walton has sacrificed a lot for this OSU baseball program, literally. He's the program's all-time leader in sacrifice bunts with 40 on his career. Son of pitching coach Rob Walton, Donnie started all 66 games at shortstop for the Cowboys, just like his double play partner Arakawa
Walton was also one of the Cowboys best performers on offense last season, hitting .310 with an impressive .410 OBP, the only Cowboy over .400. This has potential to be a special year for Walton who was named to the All-Big 12 first team last season. I expect Walton to build off of a great season last year and have an even better one in 2015, launching himself to an elite level.
Third Base, David Petrino, Jr.
Petrino played two seasons of junior college ball at Central Arizona CC before transferring to OSU this year. Last season Petrino hit .426. Much like the man he is replacing, Petrino is definitely a contact hitter, only launching two home runs last season in the dry, desert air. I have no question that he will fit in perfectly to this potent OSU lineup.
Sophomore Andrew Rosa started nine games last season at the hot corner. He could see time if for some reason Petrino does not mesh in the Cowboys lineup.
Catcher, Gage Green, Sr.
One could argue that Green was OSU's offensive MVP last season. He hit .310 and added three home runs with 30 RBI's, hitting at the top of the order for the Cowboys. Green was also named to All-Big 12 first team as a catcher even though he only started 25 games behind the plate last season.
I would like to see Green in the outfield, where he played 37 games last season because that would allow Brian Case to start behind the plate. Case hit .262 last season in his 29 starts, while also showing some power late in the year, hitting two home runs in the Big 12 tournament.