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Mountaineer Baseball 2020 Preview: Infield

Cody Nespor

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Part 2 of our preview series on the 2020 Mountaineers baseball team. Check out the rest of the series below as we countdown to opening day this Friday. You can see their entire schedule here.

Part 1: Pitchers
Part 2: Infield
Part 3: Outfield

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – On a team depleted by graduations and the MLB draft, the infield is one of the few areas with returning starters for West Virginia baseball in 2020.

The Mountaineers lost last season’s starting catcher, Ivan Gonzalez (drafted), and starting first baseman, Marques Inman (graduation), but return three other starters. Second baseman Tyler Doanes, shortstop Tevin Tucker and third baseman Kevin Brophey will all be back with last season’s designated hitter, Paul McIntosh, moving to catcher this year.

Doanes, a junior, was one of WVU’s best offensive players a year ago, slashing .316/.398/.500 with 29 extra-base hits, 32 RBI, 20 stolen bases and 40 runs scored. Doanes returning solidifies the top of WVU’s batting order and puts two veterans in the middle infield. He was named an All-Big 12 honorable mention player after last season and was named to the All-Big 12 preseason team this year.

Doanes’s double-play partner in the infield will be the sophomore shortstop Tucker. Tucker started all 60 games at shortstop last season, hitting .199 with 10 doubles, 19 stolen bases and 37 runs scored. Despite his low batting average, Tucker’s on-base percentage was .365 thanks to Tucker taking a team-leading 39 walks. Doanes and Tucker were both credited with 14 fielding errors, but they led the team with 132 and 107 assists, respectively.

Brophy, a senior, is the lone returner on the corner infield. Brophy played mainly at third base last season but also has experience at first, where he’s made 15 career starts. He started 42 games last season, slashing .204/.267/.401 with 53 runs batted in. He also had 15 extra-base hits, with nine leaving the ballpark. Brophy has played 100 games in his career, hitting .233 with 15 home runs. He could feasibly fill the hole at either corner infield position or be the team’s designated hitter.

Last season’s designated hitter, Paul McIntosh, will be moving to catcher full-time in 2020. Mcintosh lead the team with 10 home runs last season, slashing .277/.359/.497 with 34 RBI.  McIntosh was named to the All-Big 12 second team after last season and was named to the All-Big 12 preseason team along with Doanes. He started nine games at catcher last season.

McIntosh said making the switch to full-time catching will require a bigger focus on rest and recovery.

“Preparation’s still going to be big, obviously, but I’m still going to keep going about my business the same way that I did last year,” McIntosh said. “It’s going to be more recovery, nutrition, stuff like that that’s going to help me stay where I’m supposed to stay at through the course of the season.”

Candidates to fill in at either corner infield spot or DH are first-year Mountaineers Ryan Archibald and Matt McCormick.

An Arizona transfer, Archibald is likely to see time at first base this year. He played in both of the team’s fall exhibition games, starting one at first base and the other at DH. A sophomore, Archibald went 2-4 with a home run and 2 RBI at Arizona last season. As a senior at The John Carroll School, he hit .538 with seven home runs and 30 runs batted in. A Churchville, Md native, Archibald was the 2018 Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year.

A true freshman, McCormick started both of WVU’s fall exhibitions, one at third base and the other at DH. McCormick hit .419 with nine home runs and 51 RBI as a senior at St. Laurence High School in Orland Park, Ill. McCormick was selected in the 40th round of the MLB draft by the Cincinnati Reds.

The 2020 WVU baseball season starts on Feb. 14 with a three-game series against Jacksonville in Florida. The Mountaineers will play the earliest home game in program history this season with a game against Canisius at Monongalia County Ballpark on Feb. 18.

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Cody is currently a second-year graduate student at West Virginia University studying journalism. His graduate research focuses on the effects newspaper closures have on local communities. He graduated from Slippery Rock University in 2018 with a degree in digital media production. He was born and raised in Mercer, Pennsylvania.

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