2010 Rebel Baseball Preview: Outfielders
Posted February 2, 2010
With all the regular starting outfielders from 2009 returning to the Rebels in 2010, the Rebels will once again have a full compliment of fielders to man the pasture.
Although the Rebels will probably end up using Josh Lyons, Corey Epp, Kris Kushneick, and Dustin Solber as the primary outfielders, the competition for playing time and starting jobs is always open to change, especially with guys not always being around due to work and family obligations.
Epp was the Rebels 2009 lead off batter and spent most of the season roaming centre field for the Rebels. Epp played like a true centre fielder in 2009, collecting 30 hits (25 singles) while leading the team with 24 runs scored, 13 walks and 5 stolen bases. He also proved to be a great table setter for the middle of the order and much of the success that they had.
Veteran Rebel Dustin Solberg is also an option in centre field along with his cousin, Josh Lyons, who is also a hold over from the original Ryley Rebels. Both have the ability to cover a large area of the field even though speed isn’t their best attributes. Both are able to make up for a slight lack in speed by taking excellent routes to the ball and being in great pre-pitch location.
Lyons, along with Kushnerick, possess two of the better outfield arms in the Powerline Baseball League, which over the years has turned into a deterrent for the opposition to try and stretch for another base.
The key for Lyons, Epp, Solberg and Kushnerick is to ensure that they can consistently produce defensively and at the plate. With Epp more then likely staying as the Rebels lead off man in 2010, and Kushnerick batting somewhere from third to fifth, it leaves Lyons and Solberg batting in either the two hole or the sixth or seventh spot. A left handed bat in the two hole might be the way Manager Kevin Reinholt goes with Epp’s high on base percentage (.464) and Solberg does have the ability to handle the bat well enough to hit the ball to left field or pull the ball behind the runner at first.
The other options in the outfield for the Rebels in 2010 will be sophomores Travis Jones, and Justin Smith along with super utility man Kevin Reinholt and new comer Jordan Jackson. With the likely hood of Lyons, Kushnerick, Epp, and Solberg being at every game fairly low and the possibility of any of the four having to play in the infield or pitch, the Rebels will have to rely on the bench to fill the holes.
Jones and Smith both saw action in thier first season not only as a Rebel, but in baseball in general during the 2009 campaign. Both will need to refine their skills offensively and defensively during the off-season workouts in order to be key contributors to the Rebels in 2010 and management will be leaning on them to chip in with quality innings and at bats when called upon.
The X-Factor may be Jordan Jackson, who like Brian Tavaroli, is a slo-pitch player being turned into a baseball player. Jackson exploded onto the Rebels scene at the Capt Ayre Lake Tournament by going 4 for 7 with 2 runs scored and 3 RBI’s in his first baseball action. Defensively Jackson gives the Rebels yet another above average outfield arm and the aggressiveness to cut down opposition runners who are careless.
Overall the outfield will once again be solid for the Rebels in 2010, if they can play consistent and smart baseball. General Manager Corey Epp has been preaching more aggressive baseball come summer, which means Rebels outfielders should be attacking the balls hit into the outfield with more ferocity and looking to challenge runners on the base paths with smart throws. The core of the outfield is made up of veteran playes while the rookies showed improvement as 2009 rolled on.
Next week is the final part of our three part series, join us when we take a look at the Rebels re-tooled pitching staff.