The shortstop position is one of the toughest to evaluate in the game of baseball. Usually, whoever plays the position isn’t the greatest offensive player, but as long as the player gives the team solid defense, the coaches won’t ask for much more.
Ryan Gridley was solid at shortstop in 2017. He committed 11 errors, which is a little higher than you would like, but he gave the team more than most expected from his bat.
Ryan Gridley and Luke Alexander split time at shortstop early in 2016, but when Alexander suffered an injury, the job was exclusively Gridley’s. Alexander came back late in the season and played primarily at second base, so I’m going to consider him a second baseman for the purposes of this preview.
Returning Bulldog Shortstops
- Ryan Gridley - .284 BA, .340 OBP, 32 RBIs, 2 HR
Gridley will likely never be an offensive juggernaut, but he improved his batting average and production from his freshman season to his sophomore season, so that’s encouraging. What’s not encouraging was his time in the Cape Cod League this past summer which looked more like his freshman season. He hit .225 and struck out 10 times in 80 at bats.
- Will Brooks - Madison Central High School (Madison, MS)
- Reed Smith - Russellville High School (Russellville, AL)
How much either of the new guys play in 2017 will likely directly relate to how well Gridley and Alexander perform. If they do well, Andy Cannizaro will probably try to redshirt one, possibly both if Luke Reynolds is still with the team (I haven’t been able to find any information on him up to this point).
I think between Alexander and Gridley, the Bulldogs will be fine up the middle. Neither of them have to be spectacular at the plate, and both have the tools needed to be among the best double play combinations in the SEC.