Entering Year 3 under head coach Jose Cruz Jr the Rice baseball roster is starting to take shape. Here are a few names to know at the plate.
The primary lineup for the 2024 Rice baseball season should feature a solid mix of old and new. Veteran players, incoming transfers, up-and-coming home-grown players and everything in between will see action on the diamond at Reckling this season. Here are the key pieces the Owls will have to work with at the plate and in the field this season.
Losing Connor Walsh stands to be the biggest hurdle to overcome at the plate for this team. Walsh led all regulars in average, slugging and on-base percentage last season. Drew Holderbach and Aaron Smigelski re the other two notable contributors at the plate who won’t be with the Owls this coming season.
Fortunately, the list of returning players is longer than those headed out. Jack Riedel flirted with a 300 average last year and showcased a decent amount of power. The plan had been for him to hold down third base, instead, he’ll be moving across the diamond to play first base. That transition is necessary because Guy Garibary suffered an ACL injury in practice and announced this week he will miss the entirety of the 2024 season.
Going around the horn, Pierce Gallo will handle second with Ben Royo, fresh off a fantastic freshman season, holding down shortstop. Max Johnson is a utility guy who could potentially backfill at third in place of Riedel. Manny Garza will be the primary catcher.
Nathan Becker and Ben Dukes are potential reserve bats and designated hitter options, Becker especially, after seeing a more limited role a year ago. As things stand, designated hitter and third base appear to have the greatest amount of uncertainty.
Added to the Mix
The outfield should be flush with new faces. Wichita State transfer Kyte McDonald has the potential to be a middle-off-the-lineup guy in center field. He’ll be sandwiched by Florida State transfer Treyton Rank and Princeton transfer Brendan Cumming. On paper, that trio looks to be one of the most potent outfields the Owls have fielded in quite some time.
Like Royo did last year, someone will undoubtedly emerge and force their way onto the lineup card. Freshman Landon West might be the best bet right now. He’s impressed during his limited sample size and could see some at bats in the near future.
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