UConn baseball wouldn’t have gotten to the lofty heights that it did last year without Erik Stock. The outfielder transferred into the program after one year at Old Dominion and left a Husky legend: Stock’s 99 hits in the 2022 season were a program record, and his .371 career average ranks third on the UConn all-time list. He led the team in hits and doubles and captained the team to a Big East championship and a Super Regional appearance.
Meanwhile, Casey Dana arrived in 2021 with a weight on his shoulders. UConn had snatched away a conference rival’s star player with expectations to contribute immediately, and he delivered. Under high pressure, Dana had one of the best seasons of his career anchoring a stacked UConn lineup, hitting .313 and leading the team with 12 home runs, meeting or exceeding the lofty expectations he set for himself at Seton Hall.
But as Dana and Stock’s big bats were driving in runs and propelling UConn to wins, a homegrown UConn outfielder was coming into his own alongside the transfers. After a breakout 2022, Korey Morton is ready to lead the UConn outfield in the new season.
Morton only appeared in about two-thirds of the available games in 2022, suffering from a hamstring injury that kept him out for much of the early part of the season. When he did play, however, the sophomore was electric, hitting .411 and slugging .661 with 51 hits and 11 doubles. The Norwalk native is one of the fastest players on the team, too, covering a wide area in center field and nabbing nine steals on the season. The one area of improvement to his game is his sometimes over-eagerness at the plate, striking out 26 times and walking just seven.
OVER THE TREES!!— NCAA Baseball (@NCAABaseball) June 12, 2022
Korey Morton's nuke makes it 9-0 Huskies!
ESPNU#RoadToOmaha x @UConnBSB pic.twitter.com/3vqRHPtThv
Morton isn’t the only hyper-athletic outfielder in the squad. T.C. Simmons is back for his second season with the Huskies after transferring in from Grossmont College in California in 2021. Simmons played in all 66 games and made 64 starts in the outfield, showing his range in the outfield with run-saving grabs and a solid arm.
TC flashing the leather to rob a hit during today’s intrasquad! ✈️ pic.twitter.com/Ynz5I86Evv— UConn Baseball (@UConnBSB) October 13, 2022
Like Morton, Simmons is one of the fastest players on the team and a plus defender, but he’s not a liability at the plate, either. He’s one of the most disciplined Huskies with the bat, leading the team with 46 walks, boasting a .283 average and a .440 on-base percentage.
Outside of Simmons and Morton, the third spot on the outfield is seemingly up for grabs. We went over what UNC Asheville transfer Dominic Freeberger can bring to the team in the infield preview, but his versatility would be an asset to the outfield if the coaching staff chooses to utilize him there. Two highly-touted newcomers are also expected to be hungry for playing time, and both have the ability to stake their claim on the starting lineup.
A teammate of projected starter Stephen Quigley at Wheaton College, Jake Studley transferred in from Division III and has a real shot at winning a spot in the outfield according to reports from fall ball. Studley is a career .408 hitter at Wheaton with 174 hits and 98 RBI in 109 games for the Lyons.
Freshman Niko Brini has the raw talent to push Studley for the final outfield spot. Brini was rated the No. 1 outfield recruit in Massachusetts by Perfect Game, and has drawn praise for his speed and outfield defense as a prospect. It requires an exceptional hitter to break into the starting lineup as a freshman at a high level in college baseball, but if Brini’s bat can come alive, the UConn coaching staff’s hands might be forced early.