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UConn baseball 2024 preview: Outfield

The Huskies return plenty of talent in the outfield heading into 2024.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

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 and the infield, with an in-depth preview of the Big East.

Even with the departure of key players detailed in the infield preview, UConn baseball’s lineup is still set to be a formidable force thanks to some firepower from the outfield —Jake Studley, Korey Morton and T.C. Simmons bring experience to the group, while Drew Kron is leading the youth movement to push the incumbent starters.

Jake Studley arrived on campus in 2023 from Wheaton College and became one of the main engines of the Huskies’ offense in 2023, batting .325 with 76 hits—good enough for second on the team—12 doubles and eight home runs on the season.

Studley is projected to start again at right field and set up shop near the middle of the Huskies’ lineup in 2024.

Korey Morton is expected to hold down his spot in left, bringing impressive speed on the basepaths and the outfield.

Morton had 23 stolen bases and added some pop to the lineup with 10 home runs in 2023. He’s one of the best pure athletes on the UConn roster, and the coaching staff will likely deploy him near the top of the order in 2024.

T.C. Simmons leads the race for the starting center fielder spot, with a big leg up on the competition in terms of experience. The junior college transfer played in all 66 games during the 2022 season before missing much of 2023 with a wrist injury after getting hit by a pitch.

Simmons is the Huskies’ best defensive outfielder and comes up with clutch offense when needed, including a 2-for-4 performance in the 2022 Big East title game and a three-hit game in UConn’s 2022 Super Regional win at Stanford.

Behind those incumbent starters, several players are lining up for playing time heading into 2024:

Sophomore Drew Kron made several appearances in a limited role in 2023, playing in 19 games over the course of the season and gathering two hits in four at-bats before having a big summer season, hitting .289 for the Mystic Schooners in the NECBL.

Kron has a big frame at 6-foot-1, and his good glove should see him make plenty more cameos as a defensive replacement at least in 2024.

Niko Brini is another sophomore outfielder who will make an attempt to find his way into the starting lineup on weekends this spring. From Plymouth, Massachusetts, Brini is adept at getting on base and creating RBI opportunities for those behind him in the batting order, and flashes a great glove in center field.

Caleb Shpur is another contender to break through in a crowded outfield position battle. One of the few new transfers looking to make an impact in the UConn lineup, Shpur was a career .371/.458/.620 hitter at Division III Endicott College, gathering 21 home runs and 155 hits in his last two years as a starter in a Gull uniform.

Head coach Jim Penders will have a good type of lineup selection headache with six legit outfield options in the squad when UConn takes on USF in the season opener on Friday.