Position Preview: Infielders and Catchers
Position Preview: Infielders and Catchers
Projected Opening Day Starting Infield/Catcher
C: Alex Bee (Junior)
1B: Shane Conlon (RS Senior)
2B: Jake Wodtke (RS Sophomore)
SS: Tyler Wolfe (Junior)
3B: Carter Yagi (Senior)
Taylor Anderson (INF/OF, RS Junior)
Ethan Klosterboer (INF, Freshman)
Tyler Moore (C, Junior)
Steve Serratore (C/INF, RS Sophomore)
A group that saw a majority of its experience depart after last season either through graduation or the MLB Draft, this year's group is unproven for the most part. However, a familiar face at first base provides ease of mind for the Wildcat infield while the catching position figures to be a two-headed beast.
During media day in early February, head coach Brad Hill mentioned Alex Bee had the slightest of edges over the enterprising Tyler Moore, a transfer from Coffeyville (KS) Community College. Bee, a junior who started 12 of his 16 games played last season, is coming off a 2014 campaign in which he hit .250 (10-for-40) with 10 RBIs and a .455 OBP. Moore, originally from Shawnee, Kansas, was a second team all-conference selection last year in junior college ball, hitting .363 with 15 doubles, 3 triples, 3 home runs and a team-best 55 RBIs. Both backstops are touted for their defensive skills.
Redshirt sophomore Steve Serratore was a catcher defensively at Des Moines Area Community College, but the Minnesota native figures to have his named penciled in the K-State lineup mostly as the designated hitter. The left-handed hitter hit .338 (54-for-160) with 19 extra-base hits, including 5 home runs, and 41 RBIs as a freshman at DMACC. Last year, he played in 11 games, still hitting .343, but he was granted a medical redshirt.
The leader of the team is the man every opposing baserunner has to come across. First baseman Shane Conlon, entering his fifth season in a Wildcat uniform, is ready to bounce back from an injury-shortened 2014 season and return closer to his 2013 numbers. Last year, the Naperville, Illinois native started all 50 of the games he played, hitting .296 with 11 extra-base hits and a career-high 27 RBIs. This was coming off an All-Big 12 year in 2013 when he batted .341 with 13 doubles, 7 home runs and 17 stolen bases. The career .304 hitter is also highly-regarded for his defensive abilities.
Backup options at first base include Ethan Klosterboer and Serratore.
Jake Wodtke, who redshirted last season after playing in 10 games as a true freshman in 2013, won out the vacant starting position job with an impressive fall camp and strong start to the spring. A former Kansas 4A Player of the Year in high school, the product of Shawnee will provide steady defense at second base and build upon his experienced gained as a late-inning substitute during K-State's Big 12 title run two years ago.
Backup options include Carter Yagi.
Tyler Wolfe, a summer signee out of Des Moines Area CC, was arguably the top performer, at least out of the newcomers, during fall camp, which helped him win the open starting shortstop job. The Minnesota native was a two-way player at DMACC but primarily a shortstop. His great defense earned him the team's Gold Glove Award during fall camp. Offensively, he is coming off a sophomore campaign in which he hit .307 (55-for-179) with 7 doubles, 2 home runs, 31 RBIs and a .394 OBP in 58 games. His batting average took an uptick in conference play when he hit .345. As a pitcher, he primarily threw during his freshman season when he had 13 saves in 18 appearances.
Backup options include Jake Wodtke.
Carter Yagi, a senior entering his second season with K-State, played a few games at third base last year for the Wildcats as he was primarily a second baseman and outfielder. Despite the limited action on the hot corner, the Salt Lake City, Utah native impressed during that time and seized the role late in fall camp and early in the spring. At the plate, Yagi has displayed a tremendous approach, hitting .261 in 43 games last season. He was most effective in putting the ball in play, though, as he had just 4 strikeouts in 115 at-bats, the fewest ever by a Wildcat since 1967 with at least 100 at-bats.
Backup options include Klosterboer and Anderson. Klosterboer was a summer signee who has developed well during his freshman fall camp at K-State. Anderson looks to figure into the conversation in the outfield as well as third base. The redshirt junior played third base a little bit last year for the Wildcats while posting a .449 OBP in mostly an off-the-bench role.