The first pitch for Rutgers Baseball is right around the corner and the team is gearing up for what it hopes will be another historic campaign.
The Scarlet Knights finished 44-15 last season, 17-7 in the Big Ten. They fell short in the Big Ten Championship Game to Michigan. Coming into the season, Rutgers is ranked 29th in the nation, according to a December College Baseball Preview.
With the season scheduled to begin on Feb. 17 with a three-game set against Campbell in Buies Creek, NC, we will breakdown each position group that Rutgers will go with this year.
We begin with outfielders and the offensive leader that is Ryan Lasko.
Lasko, who was named a Preseason All-American in the aforementioned College Baseball Preview, hit .349 and toted 90 hits, 16 home runs, and 51 RBI. He slugged .643 and got on base at a .431 clip.
Lasko led the Big Ten in hits and runs scored (81). Out of his 16 home runs, 12 came in conference play, which was two shy of the all-time record. He was named ABCA/Rawlings All-America Second Team, All-Big Ten First Team, All-Region First Team, ECAC Player of the Year and Golden Spikes Award Semifinalist.
The Scarlet Knights will return experience in the outfield. It begins with Lasko and continues with Evan Sleight. As a freshman, Sleight appeared in 41 games, making 38 starts. He continued to be a big part of the plan in 2022 and saw his numbers take a big jump. Sleight made 55 starts last season, totaling 66 hits, eight home runs, and 48 RBI. He hit .310 and finished with a .408 OBP. Rutgers will have two outfield spots locked down by two players with great experience to help guide the incoming freshmen.
Trevor Cohen and Xavier Massey will provide depth in the freshmen class. Cohen, a product of Holy Spirit, was a four-year starter and saw his numbers improve year-to-year. While leading his team to a state title as a junior, Cohen hit .410 and improved to .505 as a senior.
Massey comes to Rutgers with a high-ceiling defensively. He possesses a strong arm and this bodes well for his future as a corner outfielder. With Lasko manning centerfield, Massey should get a chance to show what he can do in one of the corners. He started four years at Audubon, hitting .400 as a junior and being named a Top 60 player in the state by PBR.
The Scarlet Knights are expecting to be strong in many ways and the outfield is no exception. Led by Lasko and Sleight, this unit will bring plenty of two-way action from the opening weeks of the year.