Leading up to the baseball season Rock Chalk Talk will preview the 2007 KU baseball team position-by-position. Today the Catchers.
Entering 2007 the Jayhawks are deep at the backstop position with at least three players capable of stepping up and assuming the role full time. Buck Afenir enters the season as the starter, with both Dylan Parzyk and Joe Servais capable of assuming the role if called upon.
Returning Talent (Batting Average / On Base Percentage / Slugging Average)
Buck Afenir (Soph.) - 108 At Bats - (.278 / .331 / .407) - 4 HR, 16 RBI.
Dylan Parzyk (Sr.) - 81 At Bats - (.160 / .209 / .284) - 2 HR, 8 RBI.
Joe Servais (Jr. Transfer from Garden City CC)
Joe Southers (Jr. Transfer from Phoenix College)
Throughout the first three months of 2006 Dylan Parzyk received the bulk of the work at Catcher. Midway through April Buck Afenir's bat caught fire and he claimed the starting position down the stretch run. Parzyk is considered the better defensive catcher, but unless he improves his offensive numbers his playing time will be limited. Parzyk held opponents running games more in check than did Afenir (he threw out 28% of base stealers vs. 15% by Afenir) and his earlier offensive numbers at Palomar Community College (.354 batting average, led the team with 37 RBI's as an All Pacific Coast Conference selection) indicate that he is capable of much more dangerous work at the plate than demonstrated last year.
Joe Servais is one of the highly regarded newcomers. He hit for average (.354) and power at the Juco level, as well as proving himself to be a dangerous runner by stealing 14 bases. As this is Servais' first season at the NCAA level he comes in as a question mark but he should receive opportunities during the early part of the year to demonstrate his skill set. Joe Southers is another transfer coming in with an impressive Juco past. I am not aware of what role Southers will play at KU, but given that last year he hit .393 with a .516 slugging percentage he certainly looks capable of contributing.
This collection of talent should provide KU with a strong catching corps next year. Afner will open the season as the starter but I am sure he will be pushed. I would not be shocked to see anyone of these players establish themselves in the role by the end of the season.