BOISE — The projected starting lineup for the Boise State baseball team’s first game in 40 years Friday night at Texas features five transfers, four freshmen and a ton of unknowns.
They’ve got speed at the top and bottom of the order, with four players capable of stealing 10-plus bases. And they’ve got power in the middle, with three players capable of hitting 10-plus home runs, including two that have already been drafted by MLB teams.
They found the starting nine from every level possible — high school, junior college and other Division I programs. Four redshirted with the Broncos last year, while the other five came in after playing either in high school or at a different college program last season. Four of them bat left-handed while five are right-handed.
But will the collection of players coach Gary Van Tol pieced together be able to score enough runs to stay competitive this spring? The Broncos will start to find out in a few days.
“We have lots of young guys, a lot of guys (who) have never played a Division I game including me, so I couldn’t really tell you,” said second baseman and the projected No. 2 hitter Christian Padilla. “But we look good. Guys can hit. We’ll just have to wait and see.”
The rest of the Mountain West is not expecting much from the Broncos this spring, and rightfully so. The other seven Mountain West head coaches who voted in the preseason poll all predicted the Broncos to come in dead last in the standings.
Van Tol said a number of scouts he trusts from his days with the Chicago Cubs organization have watched the Broncos practice in recent months and left him with reason for optimism.
“Take it with a grain of salt, but they told me where we are at offensively and position player wise, we’re right there (with the other Division I teams they’ve seen in the Northwest),” Van Tol said. “Some guys came in and did some testing on our guys and offensively, they left going, ‘You guys have had some of the highest numbers we’ve had on the West Coast. And that’s good to know because they are guys I go back a long time with.”
The lineup could change some against a left-handed starter, but here’s a closer look at the projected batting order against a right-handed starter in Friday’s season opener at Texas:
1. Geon Hyoung Kim, CF
(6-foot-1, 176 pounds, bats left, throws right)
Originally from Jeonju, South Korea, Kim moved to Boise and graduated from Timberline High School. He then played two years at the University of Portland in 2017 and 2018 before transferring to Boise State. He started 44 games as a sophomore at Portland and was third on the team with a .366 on-base percentage. He hit .268 and had three home runs and 17 RBIs. He was one of the 12 players to spend a redshirt year at Boise State during the 2018-19 season. Kim was 15 for 16 in stolen bases while playing in the West Coast League over the summer.
2. Christian Padilla, 2B
(6-0, 183, bats right, throws right)
The Eagle High School graduate returns home to play at Boise State after two years at Spokane Falls Community College. Padilla played at Eagle from 2015-18 and was an All-5A Southern Idaho Conference first-team pick as a senior. He hit .278 and had eight home runs as a sophomore at Spokane Falls as a freshman, and .297 with five home runs as a sophomore. He was named All-Region both years. Padilla can play both the outfield and infield and was recruited as a utility player, but will open the season as the starting second baseman.
3. Michael Hicks, LF
(6-7, 251, bats left, throws right)
The slugger got drafted by the New York Yankees in the 27th round of the 2015 MLB Draft out of Coeur d’Alene High School, but instead, elected to play college baseball. He played one season at Yavapai College before transferring to the University of Portland. He started 32 games for the Pilots as a sophomore in 2017, but saw action in just seven games as a junior. He wanted a change of scenery and the opportunity for more playing time for his final college season, and he found that at Boise State. He redshirted as part of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ last year after his transfer, and will be the key power hitter for the Broncos. He won the West Coast League All-Star Game Home Run Derby over the summer, and had a league-leading 50 RBIs while hitting .320 in the WCL.
4. Torin Montgomery, 3B
(6-5, 237, bats right, throws right)
The job of protecting Hicks in the lineup falls to the freshman Montgomery, a 35th-round pick by the Miami Marlins in last year’s MLB Draft. Montgomery spurned the Marlins to honor his commitment to Boise State, and projects as a much higher draft pick when he’s eligible again in three years. As a senior at Lake Washington High School in Kirkland, Washington, he hit .400 and had a .435 on-base percentage while being named a first-team All-State selection. He hit .350 as a junior and had a .415 on-base percentage. He’s only a freshman, but has a chance to be a star for the Broncos over the next few years.
5. Joe Yorke, 1B
(6-4, 293, bats left, throws right)
The slugging first baseman is slated to start as a freshman for the Broncos after hitting .360 as a senior last year and .377 as a junior at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, California. His junior year he also had a on-base percentage of .506 and an OPS of 1.115. Yorke was named to the West Catholic Athletic League First Team as both a junior and senior. The Broncos are hoping he can provide some thump in the middle of the lineup.
6. Cory Meyer, C
(5-11, 179, bats right, throws right)
The Pocatello native will be the veteran presence in Boise State’s lineup. He played a year at Spokane Falls Community College and two years at Washington State before electing to transfer to Boise State for his final season of eligibility. Meyer hit .290 in 45 games at WSU in 2017, but battled a back injury that limited him to just one game in 2018. He was one of the 12 redshirts for the Broncos in 2019, but provides Van Tol an experienced option behind the plate to help guide a young pitching staff.
7. Myles Harris, DH
(6-0, 185, bats left, throws right)
The redshirt junior joins the Broncos after two years at Delta College and most recently a year at Laney College, where he hit .323 with five home runs, 35 RBI and a .509 on-base percentage in 2019. The Moraga, California, native has a strong bat that Boise State will try to get into the lineup as much as possible, both at designated hitter and at catcher. He even could see time in the outfield.
8. Grant Kerry, RF
(6-3, 200, bats right, throws right)
Kerry was born in Wynyard, England, but went to high school in Perth, Australia. He played Australian rules football as a prep before focusing on baseball. Kerry led South Perth Baseball Club with a .393 batting average during the 2017-19 season, and hit .297 and was 15 for 15 in stolen base attempts while playing for the Lethbridge Alberta Bulls of the Western Canadian Baseball League last summer. Kerry, who redshirted last year as part of the ‘Dirty Dozen’, will start the year in the outfield, but also has the athleticism and skills to play the infield.
9. Cole Posey, SS
(5-10, 185, bats right, throws right)
Posey won the starting shortstop job with an impressive fall in which he hit three home runs in the two exhibition games against NNU and Montana-State Billings. The speedster had 87 stolen bases during his final two high school seasons, and hit .431 with a .585 on-base percentage as a senior. Posey was the Texas Sports Writers Association 5A All-State First Team shortstop as a senior. He hails from the Austin suburb of Georgetown, and figures to have plenty of family and friends in the stands when the Broncos open the season at the hometown Texas Longhorns next week.
The Idaho Press will have a detailed look at the pitching staff in Tuesday’s print edition of the Idaho Press.