The Virginia Tech Hokies are already looking like a team that will be on the NCAA Baseball Tournament bubble this season with the Hokies off to a solid 5-4 start in ACC with a 12-12 overall record.
At this point in the season, we are starting to get a feel for the talent the Hokies have on this roster. The biggest question that manager Patrick Mason will probably look at is his batting order and starting lineup.
The weekend pitching rotation seems solid, but there have been some rotating parts in certain positions on the roster. A couple players have been hitting at levels that were unexpected, whether that is good or bad.
Now, let's take a look at what we think the Virginia Tech baseball starting lineup should be.
- CF Saige Jenco
- LF Phil Sciretta
- SS Alex Perez
- 1B Brendon Hayden
- 2B Erik Payne
- C Andrew Mogg
- 3B Ryan Tufts
- DH Sean Keselica/Mac Caples (when Keselica is pitching)
- RF Miguel Ceballos
It all starts with one of the best leadoff hitters in the ACC at the top of the order, Saige Jenco. Jenco hasn't had as strong of a season at the plate this season as he did in 2014, but Jenco still has a .303 batting average and .381 on-base percentage with 5 stolen bases and 12 walks. That type of plate discipline and on-base skills make Jenco a difference maker at the top of the order, and he should play better over the next few weeks.
The first surprise in this lineup may be having Phil Sciretta starting in left field and batting second. Sciretta doesn't bring great power, but he is a solid contact hitter that provides some run production as shown by his 12 hits(11 singles), 4 walks, and 9 RBIs in 45 at-bats. Sciretta has proven that he should get a chance in the second spot in the order with his .267 batting average and .353 on-base percentage.
Sciretta could have been lower in the order, but preserving a middle of the order that includes Erik Payne, Brendon Hayden, and Alex Perez makes sense.
Perez has been the Hokies' best hitter so far with a .337 batting average, .429 on-base percentage, .589 slugging percentage, 3 home runs, 14 RBIs, 5 doubles, 5 triples, and 16 walks. Perez has been excellent this season and has the defensive talent to be the Hokies' shortstop instead of playing second base.
Brendon Hayden is definitely Virginia Tech's best power hitter with 6 home runs so far this season though his .587 slugging percentage is second on the team. Hayden does a great job of driving in runs, and he is also the power hitter that you want hitting in the cleanup spot. Hayden's defense at first base is solid and should be the regular first baseman instead of rotating between first base and the DH spot.
Erik Payne has been a great addition for the Hokies this season with a .323 batting average, 3 home runs, 17 RBIs, and a .404 on-base percentage. Payne has been batted third in some games when Perez has hit second but Payne should stay in the fifth spot in the lineup where he can do a solid job of continuing big rallies or picking up the slack for Hayden.
The sixth spot in the order is where you can see one of the more significant changes with Andrew Mogg hitting there. Mogg has been much better-than expected at the plate with a .271 batting average, .342 on-base percentage, 1 home run, 9 RBIs, 7 walks, and 6 doubles. So far, Patrick Mason has kept him in the eighth spot, but the Hokies should move Mogg up to the sixth spot in the order.
Ryan Tufts has hit fairly well in limited appearances for the Hokies and can provide some solid defense at the hot corner. Tufts has 6 hits and 22 at-bats, and those hits are spread out over multiple games which is a good sign that he can provide a positive impact on the starting lineup.
Sean Keselica is solid hitter that should be in the eighth spot in the order when he isn't pitching while Mac Caples could be a solid replacement for when Keselica is pitching. Caples has been streaky at some points this season, and has a lot of upside if he becomes more consistent.
At the bottom of the order is Miguel Ceballos and while he doesn't provide much offense, Ceballos does provide quality defense. Ricky Surum has struggled this season and while he may have a bright future, he needs to be taken out of the regular starting lineup.
What do you think about our lineup? Tell us more about what you think about who should start for the Hokies.