Baseball Preview: Breaking down the CSU Infield ahead of the 2018 season

Baseball Preview: Breaking down the CSU Infield ahead of the 2018 season

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern baseball will begin their season hosting Delaware at the CSU Ballpark on February 16-18.

CSU returns 25 players from last season's roster including All-Conference honorees Jason MillerCody SmithDaniel Johnson, and Aaron Miller. The 2018 home schedule includes an opening series with Delaware, as well as home contests with Georgia, Citadel, and the College of Charleston.

The CSU Sports Information Department introduced the outfield on Tuesday (read here). The previews continue Thursday with the infield.

Charleston Southern Infielders

Returners - Aaron Miller, Ryan Stoudemire, Justin Dahill, Jason Miller, Kyle Vesnesky

A freshman in 2017, first baseman Aaron Miller quickly established himself as one of the team's best hitters. He started 46 of the team's 51 games and was second on the team in batting average (.286), slugging percentage (.445), and multi-hit games (17) which earned him a Big South All-Conference Honorable Mention. Ryan Stoudemire will likely also see some time at first base, but the two-way player will mostly be seen on the mound. After redshirting the 2017 season, Justin Dahill will also be competing for time at first as well. In high school, Dahill posted a .392 career batting average and was ranked the 15th best first baseman in Florida by Perfect Game.

The Bucs' leading hitter in 2017, Jason Miller, moves across the diamond from third base to second. After transferring from USC Sumter, Miller put together an outstanding sophomore campaign. Miller started every game, lead the team in six offensive categories, and lead the conference in hits on his way to being named to the Big South All-Conference First Team. Kyle Vesnesky battled injuries this offseason but will compete for a starting spot at third base. Vesnesky played almost exclusively shortstop in 2017 when he became known for his speed. He was a perfect 5-5 on stolen base attempts and tied for the conference lead in doubles (9).

Newcomers - Jackson White, Ryan Rizk, Josh Asbill, Milan Ellerson

True freshmen Ryan Rizk and Josh Asbill both made strong cases to see time at shortstop in the fall. Rizk made the 2017 Perfect Game All-Atlantic Region team was a 2016 Underclass Honorable Mention. Asbill is a product of Lexington High School in South Carolina. He hit .267 and posted an on-base percentage of .340 his senior year as he helped lead the team to a lower state final appearance. Jackson White will likely see time at second base this year but could be used around the infield. He was a shortstop in high school and was ranked the 11th best shortstop in South Carolina by Perfect Game. Milan Ellerson will be used around the infield as well. He was an honorable mention on Perfect Game's 2017 Southeast Region team.

Notes about the CSU Infielders

  • Aaron Miller led the Bucs with 8 home runs and tied for team lead with 5 hit by pitches
  • Aaron Miller hit  6 home runs during conference games tied for 4th best in Big South
  • Dahill led his district in batting average (.443) and slugging percentage (.544) in 2014.
  • Jason Miller   batted .340 with 69 hits, 30 RBIs, and 28 runs scored during redshirt sophomore season
  • Jason Miller's team-leading .340 season batting average ranked 5th in Big South and 212th Nationally
  • Vesnesky was third on team with .350 on-base percentage among starters and fifth among starters with .274 batting average in 2017 

Ward on CSU Infield
"Aaron Miller is returning as our starting first baseman. He had a great year last year, hit eight home runs as a freshman. He's a good defender too. We're moving Jason Miller to second. We feel like that's more of his natural position because he can use his range a little more there. We have several good options at shortstop. Kyle Vesnesky is coming back from a knee injury, but he's a guy that can definitely handle it. But we've got two freshmen (Rizk and Asbill) that have stepped in this fall and showed they can handle it, at least from the defensive side. Rizk was a really good surprise this fall. As a freshman, we expected him to be decent, but we think he's going to be really good."

Q&A with junior infielder Jason Miller
With many returning players and plenty of new talent, what are the expectations for this team?
"We expect to win. I think we're really talented and up there in the top of the conference. There's no reason we shouldn't be. We had a chance last year but just didn't pull it together when we needed to. It's a new year, we've got new faces. We're ready to go."

You're moving over to second base this year. What's been the biggest difference in the transition?
"I feel like I can move more, like I've got more freedom to make the plays I need to. I think overall I can help the team out better from second."

You were one of the key hitters for the team last year. What's your role on the team from the offensive side?
"Being a table setter. Getting on base, trying to steal. Of course, I'm going to do my job with runner on and bring them in. Really whatever the team need me to do.

View: Mobile | Desktop