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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Freshman could make immediate impact for Arizona baseball

In less than two weeks, there will be 11 players on Arizona’s baseball roster experiencing a college baseball game for the first time. Last season, Arizona also had 11 true freshmen on the team, and two of them got to make their debut during the season opener. 

This season, while there are some positions still open, Arizona head coach Andy Lopez said there are people who are making the push to be key players in the program. 

“They’re really working hard right now and they’re all fighting for a spot, so I think that’s really good,” Arizona infielder Scott Kingery said. “Having that competition out there is good for us because they’re getting ready to perform in the [Pac-12 Conference].”

Handsome Monica, a catcher from Mandeville, La., is one of the guys who has an opportunity to be in the lineup for Arizona. Lopez said Monica has been making the jump to be a designated hitter or a backup catcher. 

Much like other baseball players, Monica expected to be drafted right out of high school in last year’s draft. 

That plan didn’t work out, however. His name wasn’t called, but now he has the opportunity to be a key contributor for an Arizona team looking to make the postseason for the first time since 2012. 

Joining Monica, some of the other young players who stand out for Lopez are Kale Morton, Cameron Ming and JJ Matijevic. 

On the other hand, Matijevic, who also waited on the draft, was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 22nd round but chose to continue his baseball career at Arizona instead.

After that decision, he has a chance to be a key contributor on offense for the program.

“Monica and Matijevic have the chance for some big bats for us in the lineup,” Kingery said. 

Ming and Morton are both left-handed pitchers and two of the six left-handed batters listed on the roster. Their importance is that much more, considering Tyler Crawford will be out this season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. 

With first base available and the outfield not set, the freshmen have less than two weeks to show who wants the playing time.  

“They’re all in the mix for competing for some spots,” Lopez said. “Those are the ones who stand out right now, but things can change.”

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Follow Rose Aly Valenzuela on Twitter.

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