2023 Baseball Players to Watch: Position Players
By Zach Pressnell
Alec Berg, Senior, 3B/1B/P
Alec Berg very well may be the best player on the 2023 Bethany baseball team. He has a tremendous and rare value to himself as a player because of his versatility. Not only could he be the Bison’s most valuable bat in the lineup, he could also make some very important appearances on the mound. Last season, he spent a bit of the middle of the year dealing with a hamstring injury. This caused him to miss some at-bats as well as pitching appearances.
If Berg can stay healthy for the 2023 season and he can tally over 110 ABs, I would not be surprised to see the senior hit over a .300 batting average with 15+ extra base-hits. He was constantly one of the hardest players to get out in the Bison lineup this fall, as he hit multiple balls over a 95 MPH exit velocity. On the mound, his fastball reached into the mid-upper 80s, which shouldn’t come as a surprise, as he hurled an 8-inning game of 1 run baseball against St. Vincent last season. An All-Conference mention, even first team, is definitely not a long shot for him. Watch out for Alec Berg in 2023.
Grant Schaffner, Sophomore, 3B/OF
Grant Schaffner was one of the most developed and physically mature freshmen on the 2022 Bethany baseball team. This offseason, he has done nothing except improve, both on the field and in the weight room. Last season, Schaffner was tasked with switching positions for a bit of the season, as he left 3rd base and moved out to right field. This came with a bit of growing pains, but Schaffner has looked much more comfortable out there as of late. This is important because he will likely split time between 3rd base and left field this year.
Judging based off pure potential; Grant Schaffner will be one of the best players in the Bison lineup this year. He feels he has a lot to prove and he will play the 2023 season with a significant chip on his shoulder. He, as well as all of his teammates, know that he is far better than his freshman campaign would show. In his sophomore year and beyond, Grant Schaffner will make All-Conference teams and he will make a huge impact for the Bison. Count on it.
Nick Roell, Junior, OF
Two seasons ago, the Bison had three freshman make huge contributions for the team, Trey Mantle, Zach Pressnell, and Nick Roell. In that freshman campaign, Nick Roel might have been the best out of the three. He put together an other-worldly slash line of .435/.463/.532 (AVG./OBP./SLG). He led the Bison in all three categories, which is especially impressive if you remember the 2021 Bethany lineup featured 5 seniors and a few other All-Conference names.
Roell had a bit of a hiatus, as he missed the entire 2022 season. Flash forward to two seasons later and Roell is back in the Bethany lineup and hungry to make a mark for the Bison again. His 2021 statistics would be hard to replicate, especially over a full 100-130 ABs (62 in 2021), I expect him to hit above .300 again and to remain a staple at the top of the lineup. Nick Roell will explode on the scene this season, much like he did in 2021.
Josh Speaker, Senior, DH/1B
Josh Speaker is a new name for many Bethany fans, but it won’t be that way for long. While he has yet to take a swing in a Bethany uniform (transfer from La Roche), Speaker looks to be locked into the Bison lineup, for as long as he is healthy. The senior DH has come on this fall and become one of the biggest leaders in the Bison dugout. In the fall, he put together some of the most complete at-bats as well as making some loud contact through the duration of the fall season.
With a 5th year option in play, and likely to be used by Speaker, he is a player that could spend upwards of 200 ABs in the middle of the Bethany lineup. Even if he doesn’t take a 5th year, I fully expect Josh Speaker to make it evident that he is one of the top corner infielder/DHs in the entire conference. He should also make it evident that he has some of the most power in his bat among all players in the conference. 2023 looks to be a good one for Josh Speaker.