Key returners solidify key positions come opening night for UA baseball
Seniors Cal Stevenson, Mitchell Morimoto and Ryan Haug will be called on for leadership
Year in and year out no matter the sport there is always roster turnover, some players leave and some return. For the Arizona baseball team, the 2018 season is no different.
When the Wildcats take the field for their first game of the 2018 season on Feb.16, they will be without four starters from the previous year. On the flip side, Arizona will have five returning players back in their starting lineup that will play a vital role in contributing and making an impact.
Stevenson along with a few other seniors will be looked upon as a leader in his final year at Arizona. Stevenson, who is the quarterback of the outfield at centerfield, was solid his junior year.
At the plate Stevenson had 11 doubles, 30 RBI, and a .311 batting average while managing to get on base 48 times by working a walk. Stevenson also has a pair of wheels as he went 5-5 at stealing bases. His experience along with his production on the field should play a significant role this season.
Pos: Third base
As a freshman, Quintana made a name for himself right away. The Las Vegas, Nev. native batted .293 overall to go along with 17 doubles, 38 RBI and crossed the plate 42 times. In 2017 Quintana had some pop in his bat as he hit six long balls that cleared the fence.
Like Stevenson, Morimoto will be looked on to be a leader. Playing on the right side of Stevenson, Morimoto sits in left field. The 5-foot-11 senior had an overall batting average of .323 his junior year while tallying up seven doubles, knocking in 24 RBI, and crossing home plate 43 times not to mention he was a perfect 4-4 at stealing bases.
Don’t let the lack of home runs fool you. The Hermosillo, México product managed to produce 50 hits while 10 of those were doubles and two of them resulted as triples. Salazar was credited for 34 RBI and 25 runs to go along with his .284 batting avg.
Pos: First base
Rivas will be taking over first base full time this season after sharing those responsibilities with former Wildcat JJ Matijevic in 2017. Rivas was rewarded for his 2017 performance as he received multiple preseason honors. With a .371 batting average, Rivas hit seven HRs, 13 doubles and dinged in 63 RBI which was the second most behind Matijevic. Rivas’ .483 on-base-percentage was the highest amongst the team, he was hit-by-a-pitch 9 times and was able to draw 39 walks.
Haug, who split time behind the plate and in the outfield managed to produce two triples and three doubles in his 70 plate appearances.
Haug’s .214 avg, eight RBI and 15 hits may not be jaw dropping but his versatility to play multiple positions is what will make him a key contributor in his final year.