Virginia Tech Baseball has received lots of good news over the past few days including the fact that starting 2B Eduardo Malinowski and reliever Kiernan Higgins will be returning for a fifth year of college baseball thanks to the free COVID year as reported by Chris Hirons of Tech Sideline.
While I still have your attention: Eduardo Malinowski confirmed that he’ll be back in the spring, too.— Chris Hirons (@chrishironsVT) August 2, 2022
The transfer has another year of eligibility after the Ivy League canceled its season in 2020 and played an abbreviated 2021 campaign. https://t.co/YRQ4DjYCL7
Oh, and, the plan for Kiernan Higgins right now is to come back to campus this fall. The grad transfer is pitching in the MLB Draft League this summer, but hasn’t signed a contract yet.— Chris Hirons (@chrishironsVT) August 1, 2022
The 23-year-old led Tech in saves (5) with a 1.99 ERA in 21 appearances in the spring. https://t.co/51vQ1R1Wup
It was unclear if Malinowski and Higgins would return for an extra year with it also being surprising that Higgins didn't end up being drafted in the 20 rounds of the 2022 MLB Draft despite his strong 2022 season for the Hokies. TSL's Chris Hirons deserves tons of credit for being up to date with the fact that both Malinowski and Higgins did have an extra year of eligibility along with the reporting on their returns.
Malinowski should slide right back in to starting at second base after a 2022 season defined by a strong start before getting into a funk to end the season. Overall, Malinowski was solid for the Hokies batting .252 with a .341 on-base percentage and .514 slugging percentage while hitting 12 home runs, 48 RBIs, 13 doubles, and 3 triples. He also had 6 stolen bases plus a .985 fielding percentage with 3 errors.
With Malinowski returning at second base, this may slide Christian Martin into the DH role with Radford transfer David Bryant likely at shortstop. Carson DeMartini may get a chance at shortstop as well after a strong freshman season at 3B though having this trio of talented middle infielders may lead to Tech keeping DeMartini at 3B where he was sharp defensively this past season.
Meanwhile, Higgins was arguably Tech's best reliever this past season with a team-best 1.99 ERA plus a 1.14 WHIP, 3-0 record, 5 saves, .202 opposing batting average, and 38 strikeouts compared to only 14 walks in 31.2 innings over 21 appearances. Higgins should slide right back in to being Tech's first choice closer and joins what should be a strong bullpen with Jonah Hurney, Henry Weycker, Christian Worley, and Miami transfer Anthony Arguelles.
Overall, these are two strong returns for a Virginia Tech Baseball team that should easily be a top 25 team and may be better built for the postseason due to having a strong, now-postseason experienced bullpen plus more experience starting pitchers.