Riley Silva terrorizes opponents with his speed

LINCOLN, Neb. – Riley Silva loves to steal.

Now it’s not what you think. Silva abides by the law. He just enjoys taking bases from opposing defenders. Now a key cog on the Nebraska Cornhusker baseball team, he’s expected to steal, a lot.

Silva grew up in Ontario, Canada, where he played under former Nebraska player Adam Stern. Stern, a former MLB player, said the talent Silva possessed at the age of 14 already set him apart.

“He was always fast, but ignoring his 40 times, his in-game speed was attractive,” Stern said. “He’s always been a nightmare to control on the bases.”

The first-year Husker is coming off an incredible JUCO season in which he produced a .368 batting average, 17 extra-base hits, and stole a whopping 44 bags. Reiterating his speed is what sets him apart.

Silva has always been a speedster, and for Nebraska to change up the roster build, he was the perfect player to offer.

“We have some high on base, low strikeout guys on this team, but we’ve got some speed,” Nebraska coach Will Bolt said. “I am comfortable knowing that we have a lot of guys that are willing to fulfill a role for the team.”

Silva fit the mold perfectly with Nebraska and Bolt transitioning the roster into a small-ball approach. Baseball as a sport utilized speed more than ever before last year as the major leagues saw the second most stolen bases in a season at 3,503. With speed and stealing bases returning, Silva’s skill set has Stern’s attention.

“His game was so dynamic from a speed element, I knew it would carry him into a new future,” Stern said.

For Silva, in his first two weekends as a Husker, he has reached base a team-high 15 times and has racked up a team-high five stolen bases. Silva’s ability to get on base and terrorize opponents on the bases is his game.

This shouldn’t be a surprise, as this was his recipe for success in high school and junior college. However, doing it against D-I competition is even more impressive.

“It’s definitely been an adjustment,” Silva said. “The pitching is way better. The defense is definitely way better. After the first game and everything got adjusted, it just felt like baseball again.”

Riley Silva 2
Photo of Riley Silva courtesy Kyler Adams.

Silva adjusted quite well, as there haven’t been any signs of an early season slump. He even worked his way up in the lineup, starting the opening weekend as the nine-hole hitter, while against Grand Canyon, he found himself in the two-spot.

Silva possesses an impressive skill set that coaches dream of. A left-handed hitter that gets on base and steals a lot of bags. Stern said his skill set allows Silva to transition seamlessly to any level.

For Silva, however, it’s all about recognizing his talent. Humble and modest are words that can describe him as a person. However, valuable and important are words that can describe him as a player.

“For him, the challenge was for him to see it,” Stern said. “Riley is usually a quiet kid, but I figured Riley would need time to figure out who he could be. It was always in his court. If he wanted to go get it, he would have doors open up for him”

Stern emphasized how bright of a future Silva has if he wants it. Even when coaching him at 14 years old, Stern saw the potential.

“His game was so dynamic from a speed element it was a game changer,” Stern said. “He was a tough out, I hardly ever see it. And I know those games usually last.”

As Silva’s game is rare, Stern compared him to the likes of former 11-year MLB veteran Scott Podsednik. With a similar build and skill set, Podsednik racked up 309 stolen bases, had a career .281 batting average, and tallied 1,096 hits. Speed is valuable and highly sought after, again digging the perfect hole for Silva to fill.

As Silva continues his collegiate career at Nebraska, with the confidence of Stern and his teammates at Nebraska, college may not be the last stage in his baseball career. Watch for Silva to steal your heart this season.

Noah Douglas
Noah Douglas
Noah Douglas is a junior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, majoring in Journalism and Sports Media. He has previously covered high school and collegiate athletics at the Lincoln Journal Star. Follow him on X (Twitter) @DouglasNoha.

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