The Cajuns Infield: Lots of Interchangeable Parts – From the Bird’s Nest
Every time I look at the candidates in the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns infield one thing comes to mind.
Abbott and Costello.
Who's on first. What's on second. I don't know is at third.
One of the great things about having talent and depth is, you can match up according to the opposition or who's hot at the time.
And, right now, if you ask any Cajuns' baseball fan to talk about Louisiana's infield you'll probably hear as many as eight, maybe nine names mentioned.
But Louisiana can only play four at a time.
Here's what we know:
We know first baseman Greg Davis is gone. So is All-American shortstop Blake Trahan. We know that Stefan Trosclair is a pre-season All-American as a second baseman but has been working at first. We know Joe Robbins and Brenn Conrad both saw a lot of time in the infield last year, especially early in the season when Trosclair was only available to DH. Toward the end of the season, both saw a lot of action at third base. We know Kennon Fontenot was recruited as an infielder. And, we know the Cajuns have signed three newcomers who are challenging for a starting position: Junior college corner infielder Alex Pinero, junior college middle infielder Brad Antchak and freshman middle infielder Hunter Kasuls.
Now...where to put these guys.
FIRST BASE: Trosclair is the Cajuns' best defensive first baseman. But he's also their best second baseman (don't believe all that labrum issue stuff). Pinero is a third baseman but he's been working at first, where he's been steadily improving defensively. Steven Sensley was recruited as a first baseman, but right now he's more suited to the DH role. Pinero is the kind of streaky hitter that can carry a team on any given weekend, but he hasn't shown that kind of consistency offensively.
SECOND BASE: As I said, Trosclair is their best second baseman. His arm isn't as good as it was before his injury, but he turns the double play better than the others. Conrad played a lot of second base last year while Trosclair was the DH, and for a guy that had been away from the game for a year, he performed well. He's going to hit even better this year. Fontenot had the yips on defense last year but in the words of head coach Tony Robichaux, has "slowed the game down." He can hit. Either Kasuls or Antchak could move to second as well. Both have shown some capability.
SHORTSTOP: Robichaux has been impressed with Kasuls' unflappable nature. He plays with a calmness that belies his age. He doesn't, and may never have, Trahan's range, but he's steady and won't get rattled. Antchak is capable there as well. Kasuls hits from the left side and Antchak from the right side and you may see that play into a lineup on any any given day. With his speed, Kasuls could hit at the top of the lineup.
THIRD BASE: Plenty of options here. Robbins is rock solid defensively and is a line drive hitter. But when Robbins was injured late in the season, Conrad hit the ball hard everywhere and showed himself to be not only solid, but sometimes spectacular on defense. Pinero's natural position is third base and he can work his way into the lineup there if Trosclair stays at first base.
Robichaux has plenty of options available and he'll probably do quite a bit of experimenting early in the season. Sooner or later things will work themselves out. In the meantime, don't be surprised to see all kinds of combinations in the infield. There's a lot of capability here.