Welcome to the group of guys that we may be seeing for the last time. Of course our red-shirt sophomores are eligible as well, but I have already lumped them in with the true sophomores, so too bad.
The junior group is the smallest of the four "classes" with only six players making up the fold, including red-shirts. We have some real work horses in our junior ranks and then some obvious unknowns.
Again these will be taken by jersey number (information derived from Perfect Game, unless otherwise noted).
6 - Brett Kinneman, LF, Bats left, Throws left, York, PA
Brett has been our LF since coming to us from Pennsylvania and his bat has been his best asset to this team. Brett was ranked the 104th best OF out of high school, the 14th best player from PA and the 2nd best OF. Perfect Game's assessment of Kinneman coming out of high school seems to be exactly what I would still say about him today. His bat has the explosion in it and he can put the ball in play. His arm is something that is still wanting development and he still plays like a freshman OF.
Likelihood to play: High; Kinneman will be our starting LF next Friday. I still have many questions about his defense and his arm, neither inspire true confidence and I still think that is what will hold him back. My real knock on Brett is his lack of development. The bat has not improved, but has stayed consistent, which is not a bad thing. His defense has not improved, but has stayed consistent, which is not a good thing. His stats from the Cape Code league do not paint a much better picture either. Granted this is the best of the summer leagues, but Brett hit .207 and struck out, yet again, once every three at bats.
18 - Evan Edwards, 1B, Bats left, Throws left, Greensboro, NC
One of our community college transfers and one, I think, we are all hoping becomes a fixture in this lineup. I cannot find much on Edwards before his CC circuit so let us start there. This kid was pretty awesome at the plate. How can you not like anyone who walks (39) more than he strikeouts (38) and was HBP 10 times. He did not ground into a double play last year and had a OPS over 1.000. His bat looks awesome. A little bad news, he did have 12 errors in 59 games which would have been 2nd on our team last year.
Likelihood to play: High; we have to hope that he mans 1B from day one. Let us be honest, this is probably our only hope for success at 1B. That is not to say someone else could not play, but this is the guy we need at first. The list gets extremely slim after him, especially of desirable left-handers.
20 - Austin Staley, RHP, North Wilkesboro, NC
Austin came out of high school as the 175th best option for RHP, 14th overall in the state and 5th best RHP in the great State of North Carolina. The red-shirt junior is now in his 4th season in the red and white and has become one of the stalwarts of the bullpen.
Likelihood to play: High; this kid, with Joe O'Donnell, shall anchor our bullpen in 2018. He pitched more than 47 innings last year in 31 appearance and had a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio. His control is generally pretty good, but he does have a tendency to give up the long ball. Opponents hit better than .260 off of him in 2017, but this is still the guy I trust in late innings. I will not be surprised if he gets a few more longer relief opportunities this go round. His previous longest outing was just over 2 innings.
23 - Jack Conley, C, Bats right, Throws, right, Raleigh, NC
Jack was drafted in the much later rounds by the Red Sox out of high school and was rated the 118th best C while being the 39th best overall and 4th best C in NC. He has not gotten much time on the field going into his third year and it is probably now or never for Jack.
Likelihood to play: Medium; knowing Avent the way we do, I, and many others, will not be surprised to see Conley get the start behind the plate next Friday. Defense was not the problem with Conley last year, it was a slow start with the bat that eventually sunk him behind Cosgrove. Still he started 12 games last year, and he played in more than a third of our contests. For the first series, communication with pitchers and comfort will probably dictate who ends up starting at C.
39 - Nolan Clenney, RHP, Novi, MI
Clenney came out of high school as a shortstop and was the 20th best player in Michigan. The past two years in JUCO has transformed him into a pitcher and now into a Wolfpacker. One of two JUCO pitchers we brought in this past year and the only right hander.
Likelihood to play: Medium; we are in desperate need of bullpen pitchers and that is where we will expect to see Clenney. His fastball was mediocre at best and the curveball may be the first true pitch. So you want the good news, or bad news regarding Clenney. Good news, no HRs allowed last year. Bad news, he only pitched in 13 innings last year. He was a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio guy but also committed 6 errors in his very few innings. Hmm.
51 - Josh Jimenez, LHP, Orlando, FL
The last of our JUCO transfers and the only left-hander. Not much found on Josh from Perfect Game but his CC stats are not too bad. He looks like a serviceable pitcher but if I am reading his bio page right, he was a third-year sophomore last year. How is that even possible?
Likelihood to play: High; bottom line, we need left-handed pitching in the bullpen and this kid has... experience. His CC stats are pretty good and he finished each of his last two years with an ERA under 3.00. He also commanded a 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio.
Highs - 4 Mediums - 2 Lows - 0
You would definitely expect this from this group. All these guys are going to get field time, regardless if they are worth it or not. You have a few nice pieces and we will need those that are "questionable" to give us something extra this year to make it special.