As we approach the 2018 NCAA Baseball season, TCR will be previewing the Illinois Fighting Illini Baseball team’s roster. From starting pitchers all the way down to bullpen catchers, we will be providing an in-depth look at what to expect from the team this season.
Arguably the best part of the Illini lineup in 2017 was the experience in the outfield. This season is no different, as the addition of a transfer from the Houston Cougars to an already solid lineup will give Illinois one of its most experienced outfields in program history. Let’s meet ‘em:
Zac Taylor (R-Junior/OF)
Coming from a successful run with the Houston Cougars, Zac Taylor is eligible to play in 2018. He brings an aggressive approach at the plate with a 79 contact rating (balls put in play), along with a .428 on-base percentage and .350 batting average from Northwoods League play last summer.
As Taylor has matured and developed during his NCAA baseball career, he’s seen an increase in both strikeouts and walks at the plate. With speed rated 97 (top 3 in stolen bases per trips to first base), Taylor should have no trouble producing 20-plus extra base hits while protecting the outfield on defense.
Doran Turchin (Junior/OF)
Another player that follows the trend of “improving from last season” is Doran Turchin. Prone to striking out 50-plus times per season, Turchin is a boom-or-bust type of player at the plate. The encouraging thing about Turchin’s progress was his summer season in the Northwoods League, where he hit 13 home runs and knocked in 50 RBI — it’s no surprise he has an 81 power ranking.
Even more impressive, he was able to draw 57 walks in 210 at bats. That type of selection at the plate will only further raise his draft stock, as long has he cuts down on those strikeouts. We expect great things from Doran Turchin in 2018.
Jack Yalowitz (Junior/OF)
There hasn’t been a pitch thrown yet this season, and Jack Yalowitz is already on Perfect Game’s Top 10 Preseason All-Big Ten watch list. One of the eight returning batters to the starting lineup, Yalowitz showcased his power with 12 home runs and 44 RBI in his sophomore campaign. He batted an average of .335, with a 35.82 extra base hit percentage per plate appearance (equals an 87 speed ranking that included 10 stolen bases).
Not only are Illinois fans looking for Yalowitz to continue his stride this season, but he’s a favorite to make his second consecutive All-Big Ten Conference Team at the end of the year. We certainly anticipate him living up to those expectations without any trouble.