Cajuns baseball preview—part two
Louisiana will have plenty of options when it comes to outfield play for the 2011 season.
The big challenge for Tony Robichaux will be finding a way to replace the defense of the departed Kyle Olasin. Olasin (.268, 2, 22, 19 steals) hit leadoff for the Cajuns. But defensively, he was as good as any centerfielder not named John Coker.
Right now, it looks as though New Orleans transfer Mike Petello (.270-12-40) will be the man. Petello is a good athlete with a strong arm. He can run a little and will hit cleanup behind Jordan Porrier. And, while Petello is a good defensive outfielder, he won't cover the same ground that Olasin did.
Alex Fuselier returns in left field and will take over Olasin's leadoff spot. Fuselier (.295-3-39) stole 20 bases a year ago to lead the club. He'll get plenty of opporunity to run again this year. Fuselier struggled against left-handed pitching for most of the year, but seemed to figure it out late in the season. Fuselier isn't great defensively, especially going back on balls over his head. If you see him play a little deeper than most left fielders, that's why.
Team captain Matt Goulas returns for his senior season in right field. Goulas had a solid junior season (.315-3-38) and added 14 stolen bases. He's a solid defensive outfielder and will be counted on to fill the leadership void created with the departure of Justin Robichaux and Zach Osborne.
But the Cajuns have more to offer than just these three. Lance Marvel hit .263 in over 100 at bats last season. He can play left if necessary and is the leader right now to man the DH spot. He's having a solid spring. Marvel will also serve as the Cajuns' third catcher. The Cajuns would love to see Brian Bowman blossom as well. Bowman is another DH candidate. He stole 17 bases last season, despite hitting just .237. Bowman could also be a center field candidate (with Petello moving to right and Goulas to left, Fuselier to DH) if he can overcome his defensive woes. Daniel Nichols will also be in the mix. Nichols was being counted on a year ago before a knee injury ended his season after just six at bats.
And, as part of Robichaux' "freshman seasoning" plan, look for Dom Francia to see some action as well. Francia has great speed and is a very good defensive outfielder. He's behind right now offensively. You may see him get a spot start and could see him as a pinch runner or late inning defensive replacement. He's probaby the Cajuns' center fielder and leadoff man of the future.
In part three of the series, we'll break down the Cajuns' pitching staff.