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.
The combination of experience and youth should keep Rutgers in a good position for years to come in the infield.
This season, Chris Brito leads the way for returners. He is one of the biggest offensive weapons for Rutgers, along with Ryan Lasko. Brito previously announced that he would return for his fifth year and this gives the Scarlet Knights a huge boost.
Brito has the ability to play either corner infield spot but thrives at the plate. In 2022, Brito set the Rutgers program record with 74 RBI. He hit .317 and totaled 66 hits and 16 home runs. This marked the second-consecutive year that Brito finished with double-digit home runs.
Brito is one of the top power threats in the Big Ten — something that Rutgers is full of. Jordan Sweeney is one of many Scarlet Knights who had a breakout campaign during a 44-win season.
Sweeney is a large presence at the dish, standing 6-foot-5, and backs it up with his power. He saw a major boost in production, raising his batting average 60 points to .271 from the year before. He slugged .569, finishing with 12 home runs. The pop in Rutgers’ lineup this season begins with the infield.
Tony Santa Maria also broke out a bit in 2022. He proved to be a gap hitter with power of his own. Santa Maria came up with plenty of big hits for Rutgers on his way to a .303 batting average. He totaled 69 hits, including 10 home runs, 16 doubles, and four triples. Santa Maria will likely be the starting second baseman for the Scarlet Knights while also getting some time at third.
This season, there will be plenty of talent in the freshman class. Last season, it was Joshua Kuroda-Grauer who was an impact player in his first year.
The New Jersey native hit .300 in his first season with 59 hits and 39 RBI. Now, Kuroda-Grauer is expected to be one of the top sophomores in the Big Ten.
Maximus Martin and Pablo Santos are two highly-touted recruits for Rutgers. Martin was the 82nd overall player in the class, according to Perfect Game. As for Santos, he brings a strong glove and depth to the Scarlet Knights. He is likely to get plenty of time over the course of the season.
Xavier Vargas spent the first five years of his career at Rhode Island and will spend his final year with Rutgers. Isaiah Pinkney enters with the potential to grow and redshirt to preserve a year of eligibility. Cameron Love rounds out the group as a junior who could take a step forward this year.
Rutgers has plenty of options in the infield. Sweeney and Brito have the ability to man the corners but with a DH needed, it is likely that it comes from the infield.
Santa Maria and Kuroda-Grauer have a chance to be the duo up the middle, with Martin being thrown into the mix. Martin is the first-year player that might get a nod over others, especially if the DH is taken up by one of the big bats from the infield. This would leave a position open for Martin to slide into.
The Scarlet Knights had one of the best offenses in the Big Ten last season and they should be near the top once again.