Aaron Zavala is listed as a possible starter at catcher, outfielder and designated hitter on Oregon’s initial baseball depth chart.
Add in third base too.
“Aaron has really worked his way into third base,” first-year Oregon coach Mark Wasikowski said. “I’d love to see his development in games there as well. He has really gotten better, offensively and defensively, and he runs the bases and brings a lot of leadership. A guy like that I think will be hard to keep out of the lineup.”
The Ducks have a few players with the versatility of Zavala, who spent most of his freshman year as Oregon’s designated hitter while also playing in the outfield. The South Salem High School graduate enters this season as a potential starter in right field or designated hitter while also being Oregon’s back-up third baseman and third-string catcher.
Freshman John Kasevich will be at third base when Oregon opens the season against Minnesota at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Angels College Classic in Tempe, Ariz. He could also move to shortstop where junior-college transfer Gavin Grant will begin the season.
“Between Kasevich and Grant, both are really plus defenders,” Wasikowski said.
Kasevich, a 6-foot-2 freshman from Palo Alto, Calif., is also listed in Oregon’s bullpen, but he’s not the only position player who can pitch.
Two-time all-Pac-12 pitcher Kenyon Yovan, who will begin the season in the bullpen as he builds up his workload after missing almost all of last season due to injury, will be Oregon’s designated hitter in the opener. The redshirt junior was a two-way player during his first two seasons with the Ducks when he hit three home runs.
Freshman Jack Scanlon is UO’s backup catcher who will also pitch in relief. He batted .412 with four homers as a senior at Suffern (N.Y.) High School while going 5-0 with a 1.43 ERA and two saves.
“Scanlon can chuck it off the mound,” Wasikowski said. “Kasevich can pitch and play a lot of places. … Yovan also swings the bat extremely well so look for him to be in the middle of the order.”
Senior Gabe Matthews, a Pac-12 honorable mention all-defensive selection last year at first base, worked at third base in the fall but is back at first for his final season. Sam Novitske spent most of his freshman season at third base, but will open the season at second. Freshman Anthony Hall can play first base and outfield.
“There are a lot of pieces on this club that we can use in a lot of different ways to hopefully help us get some wins,” Wasikowski said.
Sophomore Tanner Smith returns as the starter in left field while Oregon lists junior Evan Williams or Hall as the starter in center with Zavala or sophomore A.J. Miller in right field.
Junior-college transfer Sam Olsson will start the opener at catcher with Scanlon and Zavala behind him on the depth chart.
“I don’t like a lot of transition through pitching rotations and lineups,” Wasikowski said. “I could see a couple different types of lineups, but I don’t see huge wholesale changes in the early going. I want people to play with confidence and the way to do that is to give them a little bit of rope to fail so they are not going up there thinking this will be my last at-bat if I strike out.
"I like to have a little bit of stability and show the players some confidence and that means the coaching staff has to do a good job communicating with guys who aren’t starting so they stay ready to go and if somebody does falter, they can step in there and do well.”