With recruiting coordinator in place, Knights can fill holes
Published: Sunday, July 10, 2011
Updated: Sunday, July 10, 2011 17:07
Although no games are being played, July is a crucial month for college baseball teams. It's a last-minute scurry for recruiters seeking out unsigned, elite high school and junior college talent to fill the holes left from the MLB draft and graduation.
After Knights head coach Terry Rooney picked Joe Mercadante as UCF's new recruiting coordinator, the two immediately got to work recruiting for the Knights, attempting to fill major voids in the infield. UCF has lost starters at catcher, first base, third base and pitcher.
Mercadante is currently on a recruiting trip for the Knights in Georgia, likely looking to build depth in the pitching bullpen and in the infield. Although most of the Knights' replacements will come from players already on the roster and will likely not see many freshmen playing as starters, UCF will have to look to add depth.
Loss: Beau Taylor, fifth round, Oakland A's
Replacement: The Knights recruited local standout Tyler Marlette of Hagerty High School to replace Taylor. However, Marlette was drafted in the fifth round by the Seattle Mariners. If Marlette opts to sign professionally with the Mariners, the Knights will likely look to replace Taylor with Ryan Breen, who has previously seen time behind the plate. Mercadante is a former collegiate catcher and will work with and tutor Breen and Marlette (or any other freshman who comes in).
If Marlette opts to stick with his original commitment to the Knights, he very well likely can be the lone freshman starter for the Knights on the diamond next season.
Loss: Jonathan Griffin, 21st round, Arizona Diamondbacks
Replacement: D.J. Hicks will likely step up and start at first. Hicks was the designated hitter last season and has even seen time on the mound, but he will likely sharpen up at the position over the summer in the Cape Cod Summer League and replace Griffin.
Playing at first base will also greatly improve Hicks' draft stock. Despite being a Dick Howser Award finalist, he went undrafted. Mercadante will have to look to fill Hicks' spot in the lineup at DH.
Loss: Derek Luciano, 44th round, Arizona Diamondbacks
Replacement: Chris Taladay has seen time at third base before and can be a viable option for the Knights if Mercadante and Rooney are unable to scoop up a recruit. If he does not replace Luciano at third, Taladay, a utility player, will either see time behind the plate, in the outfield or at DH.
Losses: Danny Winkler, 20th round, Colorado Rockies
Chase Bradford, 35th round, New York Mets
Nick Cicio, Free agent, Minnesota Twins
Replacements: Along with losing Winkler, Bradford and Cicio to the pros, the Knights also lost four more pitchers to graduation. However, the Knights will be fine at pitcher.
Rooney and Mercadante will heavily recruit the position and have a valuable ace in Chris Matulis to use next year. Matulis, who sat out last year after transferring from LSU, was drafted in the 29th round by the St. Louis Cardinals despite not having played a game. Matulis will likely start on Friday nights.
The Knights pitching staff will look very different next season, but will be headlined by new faces with pro-potential.