USF BASEBALL PRESEASON POSITION PREVIEW: OUTFIELD
January 18, 2019
By TOM ZEBOLDUSF Senior WriterTAMPA, JAN. 18, 2019 – USF baseball will be swinging for its fourth NCAA Regional trip in a five-season span in 2019 with plenty of bats to choose from."It's great to have depth," head coach Billy Mohl said. "Last year, we had no depth anywhere on the field. Thank God we stayed healthy for a majority of it."
Despite lacking numbers at numerous positions, Mohl's first season as USF head coach was a successful one in 2018. Ranked in multiple polls for the final two months of the season, the Bulls won 36 games and advanced to the semifinals of the conference tournament for the first time since 2012.USF is looking to make deeper conference and NCAA postseason runs this spring with a roster re-stocked with talent, especially in the outfield. Returning seniors include preseason all-conference pick Kyle Phillips, Garrett Zech and Chris Chatfield. Joining the outfield mix are junior Austin Bodrato and instant-impact freshman Brandon Schrepf."It would be hard to be hard to find a better outfield defensively in our conference," said Mohl, who had two players – Phillips and Chatfield – post perfect fielding percentages last season.Rolling five-deep in the outfield also gives Mohl more options at DH this season when it comes time to fill out his first lineup card when the Bulls open the season at home against Samford University on Friday, Feb. 15.In the meantime, let's take a closer look at USF's outfield talent in the first installment of the Bulls' position-by-position preview leading up to the first pitch of 2019.Kyle Phillips
Mohl says it's too early to name starters at the three outfield spots, but there's more than a good chance Bulls fans will see lots of Kyle Phillips again in 2019.The preseason all-conference selection from Orlando finished second on the team with a .333 average in his 2018 debut season with the Bulls. Phillips' production at the plate included 18 extra-base hits and 22 runs batted, mainly from the seventh spot in the order, but that will change in 2019."The addition of Kyle Phillips last year was huge for us," Mohl said. He's going to hit at the top of the order."Garrett Zech and Chris Chatfield
Seniors Garrett Zech and Chris Chatfield have provided the Bulls with a power surge since becoming a part of USF's top-10 recruiting class in 2015. In the past three seasons, the duo have combined for 88 extra-base hits, including 26 homers and 49 doubles."They were good enough to get drafted last year, but unfortunately their cards didn't fall right," Mohl said. "Having their experience on the field is going to be really nice to have."Zech has been trusty for the Bulls in the outfield, starting 167 games since his freshman year in 2016. At the plate, the Naples, Fla., native belted a career-best six homers in 2018 and his six triples led The American.
Chatfield has hit 19 homers since his freshman season and collected 19 extra-base hits last year while splitting time between outfield and DH. Like Zech, Chatfield has made more than 140 starts as a Bull."Chat is left-handed and when he gets it, it goes," Mohl said. "The key for him is to keep his strikeouts down and put the ball in play. When he does, it's fun to watch."Austin BodratoUSF expects to get more power numbers from junior newcomer Austin Bodrato, who is now fully healthy after having Tommy John surgery last spring.
The 210-pound Northvale, N.J., native drove in 12 runs in 19 games for Santa Fe College last season after playing at Florida in 2017. Prior to college, Bodrato was selected in the 24th round by Pittsburgh in the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft."He's going to get some playing time out there," Mohl said. "He's a big, physical left-handed hitter and a really advanced outfielder. We're looking at him as one of our middle-of-the-order, left-handed bats."Brandon SchrepfFreshman Brandon Schrepf jumped on the college scene against tough competition in the fall after hitting .434 as a senior at Gulf Breeze High School in Florida.
"He's a really athletic kid from the Panhandle and he's a gamer," Mohl said. "When the lights turned on when we played Florida Gulf Coast and Florida, what he did as a freshman was pretty impressive."Mohl sees lots of potential in Schrepf, who brings more speed and a strong arm to the Bulls."He's going to have a good career here," Mohl added.
GoUSfBulls.com will be adding the other positions groups in the coming days.