Nothing new to tell you about FIU football recruiting on this hump day, so let's go back to the diamond with FIU baseball coach Turtle Thomas (right) and take a look at the Panthers on the field 23 days before Opening Night against Jacksonville.
PP: How does the infield shape up going into this month of practice before the season starts?
TT: Steven Stropp is behind the plate. Tim Jobe from Indian River CC, has an unbelievable amount of power. He’s by far our most powerful hitter that we got. We just have to get the consistency of his stroke day in, day out to where it kind of needs to be. Jobe is a 1b/DH and he’s a right-handed pitcher with the best curveball on the team. He’s had a little iffy elbow deal so we just have to make sure he’s OK.
Ryan Mollica (left, Alex J. Hernandez photo) returns at second base. Garrett Wittels from Krop High could be at shortstop/third base. He did a real nice job there in the fall. He is more advanced than a lot of freshmen are. Junior Arrojo could also see some time at shortstop.
Raiko Alfonso from Key West has done a nice job for us at third base. Raiko being a switch-hitter is a nice thing to have. He’s got to keep working on defending, on his range, a little more consistency with his hands, but he’s coming along pretty good.
PP: What about the outfield how does that look and can we expect more speed there than last season?
TT: Pablo Bermudez (right) will definitely be our leadoff guy and starting centerfielder as long as he’s healthy. He is definitely far advanced for most freshmen, a very talented young man.
The team speed is definitely better. We got some guys like Michael Vargas from New Jersey, who played at the national high school champ at Don Bosco Prep (33-0). Vargas is definitely a speedy guy. Bermudez is a runner. We got a couple of guys like that.
You may not realize this, but Junior Arrojo led the Valley League this summer in stolen bases. He has as good a first step in stealing a bag as any Major Leaguer would have. He has a perfect technique. He just has to get the consistency of getting on base where he has that opportunity to steal.
Vargas played 2b in high school, but Ryan Mollica is in that spot so Vargas is going to get some playing time in left field. He’s a speedy guy. You put him and Pablo out there in the outfield and you have a chance to run down a few fly balls that hopefully won’t fall in.
We put Tyler Townsend mostly all fall in right field and he’s taken to it pretty good. It’s either a corner outfield spot or first base for him.
We'll wrap up our preseason talk with Turtle on the next post where he'll tell us what the batting lineup looks like going into the season.
Always open to suggestions for poll questions, so here we go with FIUBlueandGold's question: