USF Senior Writer Tom Zebold is giving GoUSFBulls.com readers a three-part position preview heading into the Bulls' season opener against Louisville on Saturday, Feb. 16 in Clearwater. This week's installment features a veteran group of outfielders that include James Ramsay and Alex Mendez.
By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - The regular season is still weeks away, but if USF head coach Lelo Prado had to post a lineup today he wouldn't worry one bit about which Bulls head to the outfield.
Prado has promised more offense this season and a big reason why he's feeling good about the Bulls' bats is the return of James Ramsay, who led the team with a .328 average last season. The junior will have a permanent spot as USF's starting center fielder after becoming the lone Bull to play all 60 games in 2012. Ramsay's game continued to get better during the summer when he won the Rawlings "Big Stick" award for leading the Northwoods League with a .381 average.
"He's got that talent to be one of the best players in America. I think he's made strides every year," Prado said.
Another returner that produced a lot in 2012 is senior Alex Mendez, who will start in left field when the Bulls take on Louisville on Saturday, Feb. 16 in Clearwater. The senior hit .286 last season and led the team in six hitting categories that included runs (42), RBIs (32) and walks (26) from the leadoff spot.
"A kid like Alex Mendez is what every coach wants on his team," Prado said. "He does everything right off the field. He gives you everything he has on the field and he's a pretty good baseball player."
Right field is a spot that will feature some moving parts because of the versatility USF has on its roster. Chad Taylor will see time in the outfield when he's not helping out in the bullpen after appearing in one game on the mound last season.
"We want to keep Chad in right or left when he's not pitching in some games," Prado said. "I think what you're really going to see is a lot more of him on the mound, which is really going to excite some pro guys with his arm strength."
Jimmy Falla also will see time in the outfield when he's not in the lineup at first base. The senior hit .286 last season and earned All-Big East honors for what he did during the Big East Championships. Falla hit .375 with three homers to help USF make its first-ever appearance in the Big East title game.
"If everything clicks with Jimmy Falla, he's going to have a great impact on our season," Prado said.
Freshmen Luke Maglich and Vincent Leto are two names that are battling for playing time this preseason. Leto is a hometown talent from Jesuit High School, while Maglich is from Riverview High School in Sarasota.
"The good thing about all those guys is they can cover some ground," Prado said. "Those guys can get after some balls and so far what I've seen in practice, they look good out there. I'm not worried about any of them being out there."
Head back to GoUSFBulls.com next week for a look at what USF has to offer in the infield this upcoming season.