The FIU Panthers 2018 baseball season is a few days away from 1st pitch. The Panthers are the one of the top teams in their conference, as the head into this season. Veterans like Nick MacDonald, Tyler Myrick, Javier Valdez and Christian Khawam will be counted on to be the leaders and top players on the roster. While these guys are very talented, there are a few new incomers who could make an impact this season. FIU’s head coach Mervyl Melendez will need some of the newest Panthers to contribute in 2018 as they will try to compete for a championship. Here are five newcomers who could make an impact for the FIU Panthers in the 2018 season.
LHP/1B Logan Allen
The FIU Panthers will benefit for landing Logan Allen since the star recruit decided to go the college route instead of signing a pro contract. The Panthers have one of the top and most dynamic freshmen in college baseball. Allen was a Perfect Game All-American and now he will be one of the most important players on FIU’s roster. On the mound, Allen will start the season on the weekend rotation probably as the Saturday pitcher. At the plate, Allen is going to be FIU’s starting first baseman and hit in the top of the order. Two-way players in college baseball is very rare and they are even rarer when they are dominate in both hitting and pitching. The Louisville Cardinals star player last season was Brendan McKay and he was their best hitter and pitcher on their team. Allen could have that ty impact for the Panthers this season.
OF Lorenzo Hampton Jr.
It’s not very often that you see players transfer out of a D1 programs to other and not sit out a year. Junior outfielder Lorenzo Hampton Jr. transferred out of California and enrolled at FIU over the summer. Now, he’s going to be their starting centerfielder and one of their top power hitters. He is a big, strong outfielder who has the power to drive the ball to all fields and is also one of their better athletes. Hampton was a big addition to the team and even more important since the NCAA is allowing him to be eligible to play this season. Hampton will most likely hit in the middle of the order with Allen as their top power hitters. The junior outfielder also has a good arm and has solid range for centerfield.
OF Adan Fernandez
Once of the biggest surprises during the fall was the emergence of freshman outfielder Adan Fernandez. The Archbishop McCarthy graduate had a terrific fall showing his power to all fields and defensive abilities. In a loaded freshman class, Fernandez wasn’t getting a ton of attention, but his bat did all the talking and now is expected to be one of the key players. Fernandez will most likely be their starting right fielder and probably hit like fifth or sixth in the lineup. Fernandez has a lot of power potential but he also drives the ball to all fields and is a disciplined hitter. The in-state outfielder should have a very successful college career. Fernandez should surprise a few experts as one of the top freshmen in the conference.
3B Austin Shenton
Another newcomer that could make a big impact during this season is infielder Austin Shenton. The sophomore corner infielder is out of Bellevue College which just a few minutes away from Seattle, Washington. Shenton is a JUCO transfer that has three years of eligibility left. He will also be the starting third baseman to start off the year and be one of the best power hitters in the lineup. He was drafted in the 34th round by the Cleveland Indians but decided to go play JUCO and then sign with FIU. Shenton is a very talented left-handed hitter with terrific bat speed and drive the ball well up the middle. He is also very sound defensive third baseman with a quick transfer and soft hands.
RHP Everett Hurst
Another freshman pitcher who can make an impact out of the bullpen or weekday rotation is Everett Hurst. The 5’9” 157 lb. RHP is a hard throwing pitcher on the Panthers pitching staff. Hurst is a very mature pitcher that does a good job of controlling his pitches and keeping the ball down. The Panthers have one of the top pitching staffs in their conference and the freshman out of Sebring could help the Panthers win some games. Hurst is a small but strong pitcher with a lot of loose arm action. His fastball sits in the high 80s and tops out at 91 mph. He has good control on his fastball and can throw it on both sides on the plate. Hurst does have two other pitches that he has good control of. He should be one of FIU’s top relievers and start a few weekday games.