Coming into this season, we knew we were going to have to replace some special talents. With Carson Fulmer and Walker Buehler leaving to ply their trade in the minors, we knew Jordan Sheffield and Kyle Wright would have to step up (and were pretty confident one of the freshmen trio of Donny Everett, Chandler Day, and Patrick Raby would rise to the occasion). With Rhett Wiseman's departure, Jeren Kendall and Bryan Reynolds had to shoulder more of the power output load in the middle of the lineup. Whereas no one was going to replace Dansby Swanson, we knew we had a slew of freshman middle infield talent who would be able to learn on the job.
However, perhaps overlooked in all of this was who would replace Zander Wiel at first base. Seeing as first base is the easiest position to learn, defensively, it seemed intuitive that one of our bench thumpers or young guys would take those reigns by default. And yet... over half of the season has passed and we have more questions than answers.
Offensively, Kyle Smith (.240/.367/.387) and Penn Murfee (.290/.351/.377) - the veteran frontrunners to assume the role - have been maddeningly inconsistent (Murfee started the year hot, but has cooled substantially since the start of conference play), and the week-long trial run of freshman middle infielder Ethan "Chili P" Paul evoked comparisons to Chuck Knoblauch. Man Mountain RS So. Tyler Greene (6'6", 230lbs) seemed like a pretty good fall-back option at the beginning of the year, but his swing is still too long, and Corbs likely sees too much swing-and-miss in practice to give him a legitimate chance as of yet.
Through Fall practice, the name I kept hearing as a legitimate competitor for the position was freshman Julian Infante. The top prep third baseman in the state of Florida was reportedly stinging the ball all over the place, and was more than able to handle the defensive rigors of a corner infield position.
However, he broke his right wrist in early February - a little over a week before the Commodores opened their season against the USD Toreros.
Since returning to full health recently, even though he has gotten limited playing time thus far, there has been a lot to like. In 3 games (1 start), "Me and" Julian is batting (.500/.600/1.250), with 2 H, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, and 0 Ks.
Usually with hand and wrist injuries, power is the last thing to return. And yet, he went "down by the school yard" last night in his first start.
With a swing like that, it won't be long until you'll be singing along.
*Writer's note: Hopefully, this was worth the wait. No one but Parlagi is likely to know why this article ends with some Warren G. Regulators, mount up: