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Oregon State Baseball: Infield In Need of A Reload For 2019

The Beavs are set at catcher, but the rest of the infield is a question mark for next season.

College World Series - Arkansas v Oregon State - Game Three Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

Oregon State’s infield turned plenty of heads in the last two seasons, culminating in a national championship in 2018. On the way to that title, they were second in the Pac-12 in fielding percentage with .979 and led the league in fielding double plays with 52. This coming season, they’re in the same boat as the outfield with several big holes to replace.

Three of the five regular infield starters signed MLB contracts following the national championship. That’s the bad news. The good news is that one of the returning starters is a great candidate to be the first overall pick in next year’s MLB draft. This group has a lot to live up to, but they have high skill ceilings and have been learning from some of the best in the program’s history. They should be an interesting group to watch.

Departures: Cadyn Grenier, Nick Madrigal, Michael Gretler

All three are off to the big leagues after countless awards and honors throughout their college careers. Madrigal (2B) and Grenier (SS) in particular were touted as the best middle infield in the nation on more than one occasion over the past few seasons, so eyes will be on their replacements. Gretler also leaves a sizable hole at third base. The trio were huge offensive contributors as well with 233 hits combined in 2017.

Who’s Back: Zach Clayton, Kyler McMahan, Tyler Malone, Andy Armstrong, Ryan Ober, Zak Taylor, Zack Zalesky, Adley Rutschman, Troy Claunch

Adley Rutschman returns for his junior season at catcher to lead the defending national champions. Rutschman’s accolades from the past two years could be the subject of their own post, which we’ll save for another day. Long story short, it’s great that he has another year in orange and black. Zak Taylor earned the majority of the starts at first base and was an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention last year. He’s also a key returner.

Replacing Gretler on the hot corner, keep an eye on either Kyler McMahan or Ryan Ober. In the 2B spot that belonged to Madrigal, Andy Armstrong played very well when Madrigal was injured and will likely take over the spot permanently. The smart money says that the shortstop position will go to a particular new guy. That brings us to this next part...

Who’s New: Gavin Grant, Matthew Gretler, Beau Phillip, Greg Fuchs, Jake Harvey, Andrew Walling

This group would be deeper if shortstop Jayce Easley hadn’t decided to go pro and third baseman Jake Dukart hadn’t decided to focus solely on football at OSU. But alas, here we are. The most likely immediate starter from this group is shortstop Beau Phillip, an incoming junior from JUCO Joaquin Delta College. Also of note here, Matthew Gretler is Michael’s younger brother. With the exception of Phillip, the newcomers will most likely have to wait their turn. Fuchs, Harvey, and Walling all have experience in other positions, so we’ll wait and see if they even remain a part of the infield.

What new infielder are you most excited to see next season? Can Adley Rutschman live up to the ridiculously high expectations? Let us know with a comment or tweet at us.