Welcome to The UConn Blog’s 2024 UConn baseball preview. This is our ninth season covering the Huskies on a day-to-day basis and between this site and our newsletter, which will have something new each day leading up to opening day. We’ve already dug into UConn’s weekend and midweek opponents, with an in-depth preview of the Big East.
UConn baseball’s opening day on February 16 against USF is fast approaching, and the Huskies have some questions to answer up and down the lineup, especially on the infield. Between first baseman Ben Huber, David Smith at second and Dominic Freeberger at the hot corner, the Huskies lose a combined 228 hits, 113 walks and 84 extra-base knocks.
UConn has some major holes to fill in just one area of the field, and graduate student Luke Broadhurst will have an expanded role in the team in hopes of replacing them. Broadhurst featured mainly at designated hitter last campaign, but could be called on at first base if need be.
Broadhurst started his college career at UConn, but left for ECSU for more playing time, winning a national championship down the road in Willimantic. He transferred back to Storrs in 2023 and and immediately made a stamp in the lineup, hitting .312/449/.590 with 13 doubles and 14 home runs.
If Broadhurst doesn’t featured at first base and slots into the DH spot, sophomore Maddix Dalena will get his shot as a member of the every-day squad. Dalena appeared in 30 games in 2023, splitting time between first base and DH, providing some left-handed pop to the lineup with five extra-base hits, including three home runs.
Ryan Daniels is set to take over second base after the departure of Smith. The sophomore made 25 starts at the position as the Huskies shuffled around their lineup due to injuries, giving the Meriden native plenty of experience on the Husky infield.
Offering another left-handed option in the lineup, Daniels hit .273 with 30 hits and 20 RBI and utilized his speed to nab 16 stolen bases in 17 attempts. With his solid bat, speed and aggressive baserunning instincts, he’ll be a threat at the top of the lineup again in 2024.
Both in the field and at the plate, Bryan Padilla’s infectious energy was crucial to the Huskies’ successful 2023 season. The Brooklyn shortstop lifted the team with highlight plays on the infield and supplemented that with 58 hits and 42 RBI from the bottom of the order, where he’ll likely feature again in 2024.
Oswego State transfer Paul Tammaro burst onto the scene late in the 2023 season, starting the final 10 games of the year and hitting .389/.504/.589 on the year. Tammaro could slot into his natural shortstop position and push Padilla to the hot corner.
Freshman Tyler Minick is tabbed as one to watch for the future on the left side of the infield, and could push Padilla or Tammaro for their spot as soon as this year. A county player of the year for two years in a row at Governor Mifflin in Reading, Pennsylvania, Minick has serious pop at the plate and speed on the basepaths.
Replacing hitters of Huber, Smith and Freebergers’ caliber won’t be easy, but UConn was able to give their soon-to-be replacements time in the field in 2023 with injuries and further rotation. We’ll get our first glimpse of the new-look UConn baseball infield on February 16 against USF.