Baseball Season Preview Day 1: The Outfield

Feb. 14, 2011

Heading into UCSB's season-opener this Friday, Feb. 18, UCSBgauchos.com will perform a four-part series to preview the Gauchos.

Season seats are still available by clicking here. With each season seat purchased, fans will receive the new Sunday hat.

Also, 45 of the Gauchos' 54 games this year will be broadcast live, beginning with opening weekend. Click here to see the full schedule.

Looking through the Gauchos' roster, there is a lot of depth at most every position, something recent UCSB teams have not had the luxury of, where the difference between being the starter one day and a role player the next may be as simple as the opposing pitcher.

With that theme in mind, it only makes sense to open our four-part series by looking at the team's outfielders, a group that head coach Bob Brontsema says "we have five guys playing for three spots."

Therefore, creating a starting outfield for Brontsema will prove a difficult task due to the talent that is wearing blue and gold.

"Outfield is our most competitive position right now," Brontsema said. "Any of those five guys can be an everyday starter. The DH is a likely spot for one of those guys."

The one spot that is a lock is right field, where senior Mark Haddow will start for the third straight season. Haddow, a middle of the order hitter with speed, batted .273 with an on-base percentage of .373 last season. He tied for the team lead in stolen bases with 17 and his six homers were the second-most. Haddow tallied 83 total bases (second on the team) and had 26 RBI, fourth-best on the Gauchos.

"We are pleasantly surprised to have him back and we're looking forward to him having a big year and proving to some people that he shouldn't be here," said Brontsema, who, like many, expected Haddow to be drafted last June.

The daily fun for Brontsema in assembling his lineup starts in center field where Ben Edelstein and Lance Roenicke will battle for playing time.

Edelstein, a senior, is the type of player "that makes things happen," Brontsema said, and the San Carlos, Calif. native proved it last season by hitting .344 and had a .375 batting average in conference play (and a .432 on-base percentage to boot). Edelstein played in 23 games last season, and stole six bases, but showed he can be an everyday player with impressive series' against Cal State Northridge (nine hits, four runs, two RBI, three stolen bases) and Pacific (5-13, six RBI, three runs).

Roenicke, whose family is synonymous with baseball, will be entering his junior season and provides a good blend of power and speed. "He has plus-power," Brontsema said, and at times before an injury cut into his playing time last season, Roenicke was often used as a pinch-runner. Last year he played in 25 games and had a .471 slugging percentage.

"Edelstein was winning the job in the fall," Brontsema said, "but Roenicke has really come on strong and has put himself in the mix, mainly because he got healthy after having a high ankle sprain."

Left field provides another challenge for Brontsema in picking a starter as Derek Eligio and newcomer Joey Wallace will battle for the starting spot.

Wallace is a 6-foot-5, 215-pound middle of the order threat, who batted .420 with eight home runs, 49 RBI and 44 runs scored last year at College of San Mateo. He was the league's MVP, a First Team All-American and won a California Silver Slugger.

"He has been outstanding all fall," Brontsema said.

Eligio, a senior, hit .277 in 22 games last season as a nagging injury cut into his playing time. The Yorba Linda, Calif. native had a seven-game hitting streak in May and this summer was a California Collegiate League All-Star when he batted .300 with 15 RBI.

"Eligio is someone who might be the leading candidate in the battle with whoever doesn't start in center and John Vaccaro for the DH spot," Brontsema said.

Freshman Stephen Lapchak provides depth in the outfield and a left-handed bat off the bench for the Gauchos "and a guy who can execute," according to Brontsema.

Freshmen Kyle Macey and Luke Swenson are likely to redshirt.