The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Baseball has some holes to fill

Peter Kim
Iowa outfielder Joel Booker talks to the media during the media day at Richard O. Jacobson Athletic Building on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016. (The Daily Iowan/Peter Kim)

After losing four starting position players from last year’s squad, head coach Rick Heller did his best when describing how he’ll fill the vacancies in the Hawkeye lineup at the team’s media day on Feb. 11.

With the Hawkeyes’ first series of the spring coming up this weekend at Dallas Baptist, Heller seems to have a lineup in mind to begin the season.

Filling gaps in the outfield was a main concern for Iowa this off-season after losing starters Eric Toole and Kris Goodman to graduation and the MLB draft. Toole started all 59 games in center field in 2015, and Goodman started 36 in left.

Senior Joel Booker, who also started all 59 games in right field last season, will move over to center.

Taking Booker’s spot in right field will likely be freshman Robert Neustrom, a top-500 national prospect, was named Gatorade Player of the Year in Iowa after his senior high-school season.

“Robert Neustrom from Sioux City North has played very well this fall and early season indoors,” Heller said. “I think you will see Robert get a lot of at-bats and have a pretty big role with this team.”

Senior Eric Schenck-Joblinske will start in left field, replacing Goodman. Schenck-Joblinske started 10 games in left field last season, hitting .140 in 43 at-bats.

RELATED: Transfer seeks to spark Hawkeye baseball

The Hawkeyes have a hole at third base after losing Nick Day to graduation. He started 37 games for Iowa in 2015 and hit .273, while also only committing six errors at the hot corner.

Junior Corbin Woods is slated to start the year at third base. Woods has one start under his belt at third, but he was mostly used as a pinch runner in 2015.

“Last year, I learned what it takes to play at this level,” Woods said. “Nick Day was a great player along with the other seniors, and they taught me what it takes to be a Hawkeye and what it takes to play in the Big Ten and Division-1 level.”

The last position Heller needs to fill will be at second base, which was manned by Jake Mangler a year ago. Mangler recorded 59 starts at second base in 2015 and had a .291 batting average.

Heller said at media day Mason McCoy would be the man for the job, after transferring to Iowa from Illinois Central College. McCoy was the Northwoods League MVP last summer after setting records for hits, total bases, and runs.

McCoy played shortstop at Illinois Central and in high school, but he will move to the other side of the bag to play alongside senior shortstop Nick Roscetti.

Although Heller spoke at length about what his defensive alignment may be, the batting order he will employ was not discussed at media day.

The one big question still remaining is who will be Iowa’s Saturday starter after losing Blake Hickman, who filled that role a year ago.

Heller said three candidates, sophomore Nick Gallagher, senior Ryan Erickson, and sophomore C.J. Eldred, would compete for the job.

More to Discover