We begin our preview of the 2022 Nebraska baseball team with a look at what to expect early on from the infield. Of the 3 overarching position groups that make up the 2022 Huskers, the infield will have the most familiar faces come opening day. So lets go around the horn and see what household names have gone, some new ones that may be in the mix, and what to expect from the position when the Huskers take the field in Texas.
Gone: Luke Roskam, Gunner Hellstrom
New Faces: Josh Caron (Fr.), Nick Wimmers (Jr.)
Griffin Everitt was the number one guy at this position from the time he arrived from the JUCO ranks last year. He would routinely start 2 out of 3 or 3 out of 4 games per series. The exception to that being Luke Roskam catching Chance Hroch, when Hroch was on the mound. Expect to see the same, if not more, of Everitt on the weekends.
Newcomer Nick Wimmers should see some time as well, potentially fulfilling the Roskam role from last year. He has a live bat, hitting over .400 for the majority of his last season before ending up at .346. Plus, Wimmers brings experience in catching Division 1 caliber pitchers, as he had 3 pitchers move onto SEC and Big XII programs this year.
Gone: Luke Roskam
New Faces: Matt Guthmiller (Fr.)
Jack Steil looked like a natural at first base last year, after switching from being a top prospect as a SS in high school. He slides into the number one spot vacated by Roskam. He got off to a hot start in 2021 before cooling off to a .203 avg to end the season. Behind him are a going to be a number of options for the Huskers. The two most recognizable names are Colby Gomes, back from a shoulder injury that wiped out his 2021 season, and Cam Chick.
Gomes seems to be slotted return to the closing role he shined at as a Freshman, so how much he will end up being at first base will be a big question. In his favor, is how well he did his Freshman year, plus the success of last years closer as a position player. Cam Chick will primarily be in the outfield, but has been practicing on the right side of the infield on occasion. Freshmen Will Walsh, himself another highly recruited pitcher that can also play in the field, and Matt Guthmiller may be seen at times as well.
New Faces: Core Jackson (Fr.), Kyler Randazoo (Fr.)
The lone new face projected to be in the starting infield is the freshman from Canada, Core Jackson. He is expected to take over at 2nd base for Brice Matthews, who will slide over to his natural position at SS. Jackson was said to be “one of, if not the, best hitters in Canada” by coach Lance Harville. Jackson was coached by former Husker, MLB alum, and Canadian National team player, Adam Stern in high school. He, along with John Cole, were the last two players from Canada to play for the Huskers, prior to Jackson making the trek down to tropical Lincoln, Nebraska . Fellow Freshman Kyler Randazoo is the definition of utility player, and can potentially be seen at a number of positions in both the infield and outfield.
Gone: Spencer Schwellenbach
New Faces: Gabe Swansen (Fr.), Max Petersen (Fr.)
The man with the biggest shoes to fill, those of Big Ten Player of the Year: Spencer Schwellenbach, is sophomore Brice Matthews. But there are few young men in recent Husker history that you would feel better about not folding under the pressure of succeeding such an all-timer. Matthews shined in his first season in Lincoln, making the Big Ten All-Freshman team, and the All-Regional team in Fayetteville. He came in ready to have the weight of a team on his shoulders, having been a starting quarterback in Texas 6A high school football and playing in front of tens of thousands of fans routinely.
Senior Efry Cervantes will serve as the primary backup again this year, and a plethora of first year players come in with experience at SS in high school. Gabe Swansen may make an appearance on the left side of the infield early on.
New Faces: None
Max Anderson. That’s it. That’s the list.
The Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-American should be written in ink at the third base position for all the meaningful innings Nebraska plays this season. He excelled at the plate like few freshmen in recent Husker history, especially with 2 strike counts, which most first year players routinely struggle with. Other players that could see time include Efry Cervantes in defensive situations, and some of the previously mentioned first year players, being cross-trained at multiple defensive positions.
As a side note, the middle of the week games are back for 2022, which is so important for getting younger guys experience. Being without midweek games in 2021 and having practically no season in 2020, the depth should be on display like we haven’t seen in a long time. This is even more important for catchers and pitchers, because they are harder to sneak in to a meaningful game to get some playing time under their belt.
Check back later this week on Corn Nation as we will continue our position group previews with the outfield and pitchers.