Cajuns baseball: UL preseason position breakdown

Tim Buckley
The Daily Advertiser

A preseason position breakdown for the UL baseball team, which opens its 2019 schedule Friday night against No. 16 Texas on M.L. “Tigue” Moore Field at Russo Park:


After Kole McKinnon started all but the opening game of 2018 due to Handsome Monica’s knee injury, the Ragin’ Cajuns go into this year with three catchers who could all see time: Monica, McKinnon and juco-transfer Sebastian Toro.

UL coach Tony Robichaux says: “I don’t think Handsome’s gonna be able to catch every game. I think he understands that. So Toro and McKinnon are gonna come in to play there.”

More:With UL's Monica back, Cajuns have plan behind plate


Preseason All-Sun Belt Conference selection Daniel Lahare, a starting outfielder and UL’s leading hitter last season at .321, has been moved in play at first due to an excess of quality outfielders and a lingering shoulder injury. But when Monica isn’t behind the plate, he may play at first base — and if Lahare can’t go because of injury, Monica may be more often than not.

Jonathan Windham, who started 46 games as a freshman last season but hit just .171, returns at third. But watch too for O’Neal Lochridge, who also struggled at the plate last season (.121) but is healthier now after coming off a back injury following his transfer from LSU. They’ve been battling to start.  

Robichaux says: “I think that (third) is gonna be moving a little bit from time to time. … (Lochridge) had to knock some rust off because of not playing a long time. He’s a lot better.”

Related:Leading-hitter Lahare makes move for UL baseball team

Jonathan Windham makes a throw from third for UL against Little Rock last season.


The Cajuns return both preseason All-Sun Belt pick Hayden Cantrelle, who started all 59 games at shortstop as a true freshman last season, and Hunter Kasuls at second base. So they’re set there.

Depth behind Cantrelle and Kasuls, however, is both thin and young.

Robichaux says: “The middle of the infield is gonna be the area where it’s gonna be pretty stable, but we have to stay healthy there.”

More:Cajun trio named to preseason All-Sun Belt team


Gavin Bourgeois, UL’s No. 2 hitter last season at .311, returns to start in left. Center and right could be some combination of LSU-transfer Brennan Breaux, University of New Orleans-transfer Orynn Veillon and juco-transfer Jordan Wiley.

Also a possibility to play some in center is Lahare, especially if his shoulder allows and Monica is at first. He had 37 starts there last, plus 16 in right.

Robichaux says: “The outfield, that’s where we have a lot of our depth. So sometimes we can do left-right there if we need to. … (Breaux) gives us a premium outfielder, another guy that can run, a left-handed bat.”


Though coming off an offseason hand injury, Todd Lott — who hit .287 in the Cape Cod League over the summer — may be UL’s best bet at designated hitter. He had three homers in just 65 at-bats last season, and his slugging percentage of .462 was second only to Lahare’s .470.

Robichaux says: “Now he’s back up and running, and he’s swinging the bat really well … and hopefully picking up where he left off.”

Related:DH Lott's approach pays big in UL's 7-6 win over Tulane

Todd Lott works at the plate for UL against UL Monroe last year.


UL will start former Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year Gunner Leger, who missed all of last season following arm and leg surgeries, on Friday night. And juco-transfer Brandon Young is set for Saturday.

But Sunday is a question mark, as is the midweek plan.

Candidates for the Nos. 3 and 4 starter spots include Austin Perrin, who had eight starts last season; Daniel Horton, a transfer from Texas Christian who has been dealing with a shoulder issue that did not require surgery; and Jack Burk, who has been rehabbing an elbow injury that did not require surgery.

Robichaux says: “You’ve got Gunner coming back off an injury. … You have Jack who has been up and down with injuries, and Horton’s been up and down.”

More:Robichaux addresses UL position battles, team health


Depth in the bullpen will be key for a Cajun club whose staff lost Colten Schmidt, Hogan Harris, Nick Lee and Logan Stoelke all to the MLB Draft last year, plus career saves leader Dylan Moore to graduation.

If Burk doesn’t start, he could help juco-transfer Austin Bradford close and keep down his workload int eh process.

Perrin, Brock Batty, Grant Cox and Michael Leaumont all are back with experience. Caleb Armstrong, who throws from underneath, and Logan Savoy, both are coming off offseason surgeries but could help too. And a lot may depend on the development of freshmen including Chance Stone and Connor Cooke.

Robichaux says: “My thing is the ultimate key to everything is … if we can build some depth with the young arms, and not have just one or two step up, but all the ones we’re counting on.”

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