Two of the more dependable pieces of last year’s lineup are back to shore up the outfield in junior Gage Canning and sophomore Hunter Bishop.
Canning was a mainstay, starting all 55 games and leading the Sun Devils in batting average, doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases.
Bishop, who started 49 of his 51 games played, finished the year hitting .301 with five home runs and 25 runs batted in.
But next to them remains an open slot in left field that not even manager Tracy Smith is sure who will fill it.
Skip talking about who may get the outfield nod: “Left field is going to be interesting. You’ve got about five guys.”— Jordan Kaye (@jordankaye_23) February 6, 2018
The most experienced of those vying for the final outfield slot is sophomore Myles Denson. He received irregular playing time as a freshman, appearing in 27 games, of which 16 were starts. In 62 at-bats, Denson hit .210 with five runs batted in and committing one fielding error with no outfield assists.
The remaining three outfielders on the roster are all freshman that come in as part of the No. 6 recruiting class in the nation, according to Perfect Game.
Scott Mehan never hit below .380 in any of his three varsity seasons at Cactus Shadows High School in Cave Creek and finished his senior season reaching base in half of his plate appearances.
Zach Hogueisson has the most power of the bunch, as he mashed 11 home runs in his senior campaign at Christian High School in El Cajon, California. It was an outlier from the rest of his high school career, but concluded an upward trajectory through three full sesons.
Hunter Jump saw a regression in his numbers from his junior season at Aliso Niguel High School (CA). As a senior, Jump hit .277 with seven doubles, but in his junior year, he hit .388 with 13 doubles, driving in 24 runs.
Each will likely get their turn to start the year, as Smith said playing time in left, at least early, will depend a lot on matchups until someone emerges as the true starter.