(Photo: Dominic Cotroneo/WCSN)
Arizona State came into the season with holes at all three outfield positions, and after six weeks one of those holes has yet to be filled permanently.
Daniel Williams, Tyler Williams, Brian Serven, Coltin Gerhart, Ryan Lillard and David Greer have all started in left field at some point this season, with none of them being able to hold onto the job for any prolonged period of time. Serven and Greer are obviously better suited at other positions, with Greer being primarily an infielder and Serven only seeing time in the outfield when head coach Tracy Smith wants to give him a break from catching.
Of the four that remain, each one possess the skills to be the everyday left fielder. It just hasn’t clicked for any of them. Let’s take a look at what each of them has done in their opportunities from head coach Tracy Smith to join Andrew Shaps and Gage Canning as regulars in the outfield.
The two-sport athlete out of Murrieta, California, Gerhart has been praised by Smith for his physical condition, but he has missed valuable practice time the previous two fall practices because of his obligations with the ASU football team. While he has appeared in 14 of 21 games this year, he only has five starts and is hitting .179 with two RBI. The bright side is that he has already matched his RBI total from his entire freshman year.
The junior college transfer was the Opening Night left fielder and leadoff hitter for ASU, but his 16 strikeouts in 36 at-bats is a large reason why he has been in and out of the lineup in his first year in Phoenix. The Round Rock, Texas, native understands that the jump from JUCO to the NCAA is massive, but calls himself “…a huge competitor” and expects himself to perform at a level that warrants him getting significant playing time.
The sophomore has had some big moments for ASU this season, with a walk-off single against UC Davis to hang his cap on. He also has the highest average out of this quartet at .286. In his limited sample size, with seven starts and 10 total appearances, he also boasts a 1.000 fielding percentage. He seems to be the most suited to take a stranglehold on the job, being a sophomore who has been fully involved with all baseball activities unlike Gerhart, more experience in the program than newcomers Daniel and Tyler Williams, and a prospect pedigree that only the next candidate usurps.
Ranked the top high school player in Arizona by Perfect Game USA at the conclusion of his senior season at Raymond S. Kellis High School in Glendale, Williams has struggled so far in his introduction to college baseball. He has just four starts, and has only three hits in 15 at bats. It’s not unusual that Smith has kept him mostly as a reserve to allow him time to learn and adapt to the college game, but given his accolades and statistics in high school, it’s likely that Smith will want him to seize the role in the future.
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