The StitchHead Top 299 Rankings for 2017

By Eric Sorenson. Posted on February 15th, 2017 in National Stuff
 

Top299Sale2

Johnny Rosenblatt is my father. Annie Savoy is my mother. And I’m their bastard son.

Happy February StitchHeads. As you know, the season will be here in no time flat and that sweet smell of horsehide will be in the air. Is the adrenaline kicking in for you yet? I hope so.

To get you ready, I’ve prepared a small list of teams to watch for the 2017 season. As you’ve read in the past, I’m not a big fan of Top 25 lists. Or top 40 lists. I like a list that goes to 299. I’m all-inclusive here. So here’s the lay of the land in college baseball for this year, from good to bad, pretty to ugly, soup to nuts. One through 299.

Check the list out. Dig your cleats in. Grip it and rip it.

1- TCU (49-18, 15-9)

Projected Big 12 Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 5

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Jim Schlossnagle has shown that no matter how much experience he lacks returning to his roster, he’ll still formulate a run to Omaha. But this year is different as the Horned Frogs maestro has a team stacked with talent that is a preseason No. 1. Eight starters return including 3B Elliot Barzilli (.339-7-48), C Evan Skoug (.301-9-51), the double-play duo of 2B Cam Warner (.300-6-43) and SS Ryan Merrill (.298, 11SBs) and hulking DH Luken Baker (.379-11-62). The arms staff returns 55 of 67 starts from last year led by RHP Brian Howard (10-2, 3.19) and Jared Janczak (7-4, 2.61). Oh, and how about THIS bonus: incoming LHP Nick Lodolo, was a first round draft pick last June.

 

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2- LOUISIANA STATE (45-21, 19-11)

Projected SEC Finish: 1st, Western Div.

2016 ISR: 12

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

The Tigers have gone from youthful-turned-experienced and now are looking to make amends for a Super Regional collapse vs. Coastal Carolina. SS Kramer Robertson (.324), 2B Cole Freeman (.329) and 1B Greg Deichmann (.288-11-57) all return despite getting drafted last summer. C Michael Papierski (.242) is one of the best defensive catchers in D1. RHP Alex Lange (8-4, 3.79) could be the top pitcher in the country and lock-sure 1st round pick, and LHP Jared Poche (9-4, 3.35) turned down the Padres as a 14th round draftee. Expect big things from Freshman flingers Eric Walker and Todd Peterson, who were part of another top 10 recruiting class.

 

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3- FLORIDA STATE (41-22, 16-10)

Projected ACC Finish: 1st, Atlantic Div.

2016 ISR: 15

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 7

Every year we ask, “Is THIS the year for the Seminoles?” And yes indeed, this could be. Mike Martin has full arsenal of arms back, including LHP Tyler Holton (3-4, 2.79), RHP Drew Carlton (8-3, 3.94) and RHP Cole Sands (6-7, 4.13) who combined for 45 starts a year ago. The bullpen is also expected to be stout with RHP Chase Haney (5-0, 2.78) and LHP Alec Byrd (1-0, 2.20). SS Taylor Walls (.355-6-46) is a dynamic team leader and Brooks Wallace Award candidate, while C Cal Raleigh (.301) and 1B Dylan Busby (.323) combined for 25 HRs and 105 RBI. Freshman 3B Drew Mendoza is a sure-fire future All American.

 

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4- TEXAS TECH (47-20, 19-5)

Projected Big 12 Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 6

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Remember all the talk about the freshman-heavy arms that pitched the Raiders to a Big 12 title on their way to Omaha? Well those greenhorns are a year wiser and better now as Davis Martin (10-1, 2.52), Steven Gingery (4-2, 3.18), Ryan Shetter (4-2, 4.02) and Erikson Lanning (3-4, 5.02) enter year two in Lubbock. There were some big losses in the batting order, but top bat Tanner Gardner (.379) and the middle infield of Orlando Garcia (.265) and Michael Davis (.268) should be outstanding. Frosh OF John McMillon is going to be a college star sooner than you know.

 

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5- CAL STATE FULLERTON (36-23, 17-7)

Projected Big West Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 27

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

As you know, when the Titans have dominating arms coming back to the roster, they have Omaha contention written all over them. The rotation could be the best in the country with All American candidates like LHP John Gavin (6-3, 2.09), RHP Colton Eastman (8-3, 2.24) and RHP Connor Seabold (7-6, 2.48), who helped hold opposing batters to a .212 average. Yikes. A ton of experience is back in the field with SS Timmy Richards (.280-9-31), who was an 18th round draftee last June, C Chris Hudgins (.220) and 3B Taylor Bryant (redshirt). Incoming 2B Dillon Persinger and OF Chris Prescott have MLB tools and should make immediate impacts.

 

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6- VANDERBILT (43-19, 18-12)

Projected SEC Finish: 1st, Eastern Div.

2016 ISR: 11

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The Commodores had a rough end to 2016 and are hoping for smoother seas for 2017 thanks to returnees like starting pitchers Kyle Wright (8-4, 3.09) and Patrick Raby (7-1, 2.61) plus relievers Matt Ruppenthal (5-1, 2.33) and Collin Snider (4-0, 2.57), all righties and all capable of mid-90s heat. OF Jeren Kendall (.332-9-59) spent last summer with Team USA and vets like C Jason Delay (.248), OF Ro Coleman (.236) and 3B Will Toffey (.227) will need to post much better numbers. The 11th-ranked incoming class will fill some holes to keep the machine chugging along.

 

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7- CLEMSON (44-20, 16-14)

Projected ACC Finish: 2nd, Atlantic Div.

2016 ISR: 14

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Monte Lee’s second edition will showcase a pair of legit All Americans in lumberjacking 1B Seth Beer (.370-18-70) and versatile LHP Pat Krall (10-2, 1.67). OF Chase Pinder (.295-11-46) and Presbyterian transfer OF Weston Jackson (3rd-team All American in 2016) will help lead a potent offense. Six of the top seven pitchers return including RHP Alex Eubanks (6-5, 4.09) and LHP Charlie Barnes (6-4, 4.66), who combined for 27 starts a year ago. The bullpen is a bit of a question, so some young arms will have to come through. The 12th-ranked recruiting class features Phillies draftee SS Logan Davidson and fireballing LHP Mitchell Miller.

 

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8- COASTAL CAROLINA (55-18, 21-3 in the Big South)

Projected Sun Belt Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 9

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Well what can we say here? How many superlatives can we throw down about the Chanticleers and their 2016 season? Well our national champions aren’t going away anytime soon. Nearly the entire arms corps returns as the Friday-Saturday combo of Andrew Beckwith (15-1, 1.85) and Alex Cunningham (10-4, 3.62) are joined by mid-90s RHPs Jason Biliuos (3-1, 4.43) and Bobby Holmes (7-2, 4.20) as CWS vets who thrive in big pressure situations. The rebuilt order has CF Billy Cooke (.324, 27SBs) and 3B Seth Lancaster (.326, 15SBs) as leaders, while SS Jordan Gore and 2B Wood Myers are South and North Carolina transfers who will be studs.

 

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9- FLORIDA (52-16, 19-10)

Projected SEC Finish: 2nd, Eastern Div.

2016 ISR: 1

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The Gators lost a lot off the 2016 squad but as a testament to the talent that Coach Kevin O’Sullivan has brought in the last few years, they are still a top 10 squad. Alex Faedo (13-3, 3.18), SS Dalton Guthrie (.305), 3B Jonathan India (.303, 13SBs) and DH JJ Schwarz (.290-7-60) are the next line of All America types and sophomore RHPs Jackson Kowar (3-0, 3.37) and Brady Singer (2-2, 4.95) will move from the ‘pen to the weekend rotation and will probably excel. It’s in their DNA. And worry not, the talent level will remain high as the 6th-ranked recruiting class includes six MLB draftees.

 

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10- UC SANTA BARBARA (43-20-1, 13-11)

Projected Big West Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 16

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

Pfft! And here I was thinking the Gauchos’ best chance of getting to Omaha was in 2015. Silly me. Though they’ll miss staff ace Shane Bieber, the miracle beach boys have Joe Record (6-5, 3.91) and Noah Davis (7-4, 4.46) returning to their weekend posts and relief ace Kyle Nelson (10 saves) heads up a deep bullpen. The middle-infield of SS Clay Fisher (.285, 15SBs) and 2B J.J. Juno (.294, 17SBs) could be the nation’s best and 1B Austin Smith (11HRs) adds some thump. Freshman pitchers Chris Lincoln (13th round), Ben Brecht (36th round) and Jack Dashwood (Area Code Games alum) will contribute right away.

 

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11- OREGON STATE (35-19, 16-14)

Projected Pac 12 Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 20

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Hard to believe the Beavers sat at home last June, but credit a tepid 7-7 finish as the culprit. Worry not, they’ll make amends this time around with a talent-laden roster. OSU will feature LHP Luke Heimlich (7-4, 3.53) and RHP Bryce Fehmel (10-1, 2.31), who are absolute studs. They’ll have LHP Max Engelbrekt (11 saves) to lock down late leads. Sophomore middle infielders Nick Madrigal (.333) and Cadyn Grenier (.240) are former 17th and 21st round draft picks respectively. Expect a big season from 1B K.J. Harrison, who only hit .265 but spent last summer with Team USA.

 

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12- ARIZONA (49-24, 16-14)

Projected Pac 12 Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 8

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

THIS CLOSE… This. Freaking. Close. Jay Johnson and his staff pulled the Cats to within a two-RBI single of winning it all last year. They’ll get JC Cloney (8-4, 2.45) back plus Cameron Ming (3-3, 3.59) and Cody Deacon (1-2, 3.73), who had great fall camps. JJ Matijevic (.287) and Cesar Salazar (.276) return, plus the recruiting class was ranked No. 4 nationally and features transfers in OF Cal Stevenson (.358 at Nevada), 1B Cory Voss (.346 at New Mexico) and 6’8” hurler Tylor Megill (6-3, 3.95 at LMU), all former Freshman All Americans.

 

 

 

13- SOUTH CAROLINA (46-18, 20-9)

Projected SEC Finish: 3rd, Eastern Div.

2016 ISR: 13

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

The Gamecocks have seven position players and five of their top six pitchers back in the fold for this year’s run to Omaha. In the rotation, RHPs Clarke Schmidt (9-5, 3.40) and Adam Hill (7-0, 3.53) return, plus Wil Crowe is back from TJ surgery and is hitting mid-90s again. Closer Tyler Johnson (3-2, 2.42, 9svs) pitched for Team USA last summer and LHP Josh Reagan (3-2, 2.08, 11svs) also returns. SC lost some firepower in the order but OFs Alex Destino (.321-10-59) and TJ Hopkins (.322) are mainstays to build around and the 12th-ranked defense has 2B LT Tolbert (.229) and 3B Jonah Bride (.283) back.

 

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14- MIAMI (50-14, 21-7)

Projected ACC Finish: 1st, Coastal Div.

2016 ISR: 4

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

As usual, this is Miami we’re talking about so Omaha is always a possibility. Two big studs will lead the arms corps in RHP Jesse Lepore (9-0, 2.20) and Michael Mediavilla (11-2, 3.40). Losing saves ace Bryan Garcia is tough to replace but RHP Frankie Bartow (6-0, 2.72) had 43 appearances last year and could be capable. Offensively, Carl Chester (.336) is one of the best leadoff hitters in the country and Johnny Ruiz (342) and Randy Batista (.272) are stout middle-infielders. JC transfers James Davidson and Hunter Tackett will be high-impact outfielders. As usual, there is athleticism all over the field for the Canes.

 

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15- STANFORD (31-23, 15-15)

Projected Pac 12 Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 37

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

It will be the end of a long reign on The Farm in 2017 as Mark Marquess (and his 1,579 wins) is making this his final season. The Cardinal led the nation in defense (.983) and 4/5ths of the infield is back to defend its fielding crown. The team ERA was 3.17 and the 1-2-3 of Tristan Hock (4-5, 2.03), Chris Castellanos (8-2, 3.41) and Brett Hanewich (3-2, 3.92) returns intact. Plus, Tyler Thorne (3-2, 3.38, 3svs) and Colton Hock (4-5, 2.03, 6svs) are back to lock down late leads. The .252 team average just sucks, so improving that is the make-or-break factor.

 

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16- LOUISIANA (43-21, 21-9)

Projected Sun Belt Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 21

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Typical of a Tony Robichaux-coached unit, this is a team made up of players “who like to drink straight from the hose.” Every pitcher of note returns including LHP Gunner Leger (7-3, 2.26) and RHPs Nick Lee (7-1, 3.31), Evan Guillory (5-6, 4.34) and Wyatt Marks (5-7, 4.50), who accounted for 62 of the 64 starts last season. 3B Alex Pinero (.312, 25SBs) and CF Joe Robbins (.286-10-37) lead a group of seven starters back that account for one of the most experienced teams in D1. Catcher Handsome Monica and 1B Tyler Stover have both been drafted and played at Arizona and Kansas State, respectively as freshmen.

 

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17- VIRGINIA (38-22, 19-11)

Projected ACC Finish: 2nd, Coastal Div.

2016 ISR: 30

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

As you guys know, you should never doubt coach Brian O’Conner and his staff, especially when they’ve got tons of pitching coming back. Ace Connor Jones is gone, but LHP Adam Haseley (9-3, 1.73, also .304 as CF) and RHPs Tommy Doyle (2-7, 5.06), Alec Bettinger (3-5, 5.43, 7 saves) and Tyler Shambora (5-1, 3.22) are all old war horses. Robbie Coman returns to his catcher post after missing 2016 and 1B Pavin Smith (.329-8-57), 2B Ernie Clement (.351) and SS Justin Novak (.273) will make for a solid defense. Toss in a dash of post-season experience and this team becomes dangerous in June.

 

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18- MISSISSIPPI (43-19, 18-12)

Projected SEC Finish: 2nd, Western Div.

2016 ISR: 10

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Although there is a good nucleus returning for the Rebels, the future is even brighter  beyond this season as they have brought in the top-ranked recruiting class in the country. Five incoming players were MLB draftees last summer, led by SS Grae Kessinger, C Cooper Johnson and LHP Ryan Rolison, all projected starters. Of the returnees, RHP James McArthur (6-1, 4.26), LHP David Parkinson (5-3, 2.78) and RHP Will Stokes (2-1, 2.93, 7 saves) will lead the pitching staff and 2B Tate Blackman (.322) and 3B Colby Bortles (.270-8-50) will be building blocks for the order.

 

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19- OKLAHOMA STATE (43-22, 16-8)

Projected Big 12 Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 17

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Last year, the Cowboys made it back to Omaha for the first time in 17 years. Now they’re hungry for back-to-back trips and don’t second guess that possibility. A huge reason is because both Tyler Buffett (9-3, 2.81, 7th round pick, Astros) and Trey Cobb (4-7, 3.09, 12th round pick, Cubs) turned down big money from the pros for one more season and will join RHP Jensen Elliott (9-3, 3.50) to form a great core group on the bump. The offense will need some re-tooling but Garrett Benge (.292), Dustin Williams (14 HRs) and Garrett McCain (11 SBs in limited role) will help ratchet up the hit parade.

 

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20- EAST CAROLINA (38-23-1, 15-8-1)

Projected American Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 45

Starters Returning:  7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

To be clear, ECU could finish much higher than I’ve ranked them here, especially since head coach Cliff Godwin says this is “arguably one of the most talented rosters ever” for the program as nearly the entire Super Regional squad is back on campus. CF Dwanya Williams-Sutton (.360-5-27), C Travis Watkins (.326-7-44) and 3B Eric Tyler (.306-5-36) lead what should be a potentially intimidating offense. LHPs Evan Kruczynski (8-1, 2.01) and Jacob Wolfe (6-4, 2.95) are All AAC possibles and will be backed by a very deep bullpen. RHPs Joe Ingle (6-3, 3.69, 12svs) and Matt Bridges (2-1, 2.98) will be instant silencers in helping keep late leads safe.

 

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21- NORTH CAROLINA (34-21, 13-17)

Projected ACC Finish: 3rd, Coastal Div.

2016 ISR: 22

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Oi vey. The Tar Heels set an ignominious record in 2016 as they were the highest ranked RPI team in history to NOT get an NCAA tournament bid. But that 13-17 ACC mark was a huge black eye that kept them home in June. The Heels are steaming for a return to prominence and will have weekenders J.B. Bukauskas (7-2, 3.10) and Jason Morgan (3-3, 4.10) to lead a deep staff with a lot of promise. Eight regulars are back in the field, including top bats in OF Brian Miller (.345, 21 SBs) and SS Logan Warmoth (.337), plus mercurial OF Adam Pate (.285, 17 SBs), who is a good team leader. A top-five recruiting class features RHPs Luca Dalatri and Austin Bergner and C Brandon Martorano, who all turned down serious overtures from the MLB draft.

 

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22- NEBRASKA (37-22, 16-8)

Projected Big 10 Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 54

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

A ton of experience is back for the Big Red in 2017. Nearly every pitcher of note returns, led by weekend starters Matt Waldron (7-3, 2.87) and Derek Burkamper (6-3, 3.09). Also, NU has one of the top two-way players in the country in Jake Meyers, who went 6-1 on the mound and hit .326. Elsewhere, RHPs Chad Luensmann (13 saves) and Reece Eddins (4-3, 1.85) are ace bullpenners and Scott Schreiber (.325-16-55) and Ben Miller (.317-6-46) are power-jacks at the dish. Watch for SS Alex Raburn, a transfer from North Carolina who played in the 2013 CWS.

 

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23- LOUISVILLE (50-14, 22-8)

Projected ACC Finish: 3rd, Atlantic Div.

2016 ISR: 2

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

This could be coach Dan McDonnell’s toughest coaching job, considering the slew of losses off last year’s roster, including three first round draftees and the exit of Friday ace Kyle Funkhouser. But Golden Spikes Award candidate Brendan McKay (.333-6-41 and 12-4, 2.30) will be joined by fellow 12-game winner Kade McClure and reliever Shane Hummel (2-1, 1.99) to help reload the mound corps. All ACC SS Devin Hairston (.361) will be joined by 3B Drew Ellis (.309) and 2B Devin Mann (.303) to form a sound defensive infield and OFs Logan Taylor (.280, 18 SBs) and Colin Lyman (.301, 10 SBs) are flyers.

 

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24- TEXAS (25-32, 10-14)

Projected Big 12 Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 91

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

A changing of the guard has David Pierce taking over for the legendary Augie Garrido, and he inherits a full cupboard in Austin. The pitching staff was all freshman and sophomores last year and RHPs Kyle Johnston (3-2, 3.72) and Morgan Cooper (3-5, 4.03) could be high-round picks in this June’s draft. Seven regulars return to the field/batting order, led by 1B Kacy Clemens (.303-5-31), 2B Zane Gurwitz (.295-5-36) and 3B Bret Boswell (.241). The banner recruiting class will provide quality depth, especially low-90s fireballer Blair Henley (22nd round pick, Yankees) and SS David Hamilton (28th round pick, Angels).

 

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25- MISSISSIPPI STATE (44-18-1, 21-9)

Projected SEC Finish: 3rd, Western Div.

2016 ISR: 7

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Lots of changes in Starkville this off-season, as the highly-successful John Cohen moved on to become the athletic director and youthful Andy Cannizzaro was named his replacement. State also had 11 players drafted off last year’s team, 2nd-most in the country. But All American CF Jake Mangum (.408), All SEC OF Brent Rooker (.324-11-54) and three-year starting SS Ryan Gridley (.284) form a great nucleus. The pitch staff will need to be overhauled due to attrition, but there are some promising recruits, led by 12th-round draftee RHP Graham Ashcraft and JC All American RHP Peyton Plumlee.

 

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26- NORTH CAROLINA STATE (38-22, 15-13)

Projected ACC Finish: 4th, Atlantic Div.

2016 ISR: 18

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

There is a lot of firepower still on hand for fiery Elliott Avent’s 2017 Wolfpack. Six regulars return to the batting order and all six hit .296 or better, led by 3B Evan Mendoza’s .362 and Brock Deatherage’s .319 (and by the way, ain’t that a great name?). Middle infielders Joe Dunand (.297-4-41) and Stephen Pitarra (.291) are steady gloves with a lot of range. Pitching-wise there are plenty of options on a deep staff, especially with LHP Brian Brown (7-3, 3.70) starting Fridays and if Joe O’Donnell (3-2, 4.02) can stay healthy. Keep an eye on RHP Dalton Feeney, a freshman who throws 93-to-96 and could be the Saturday starter.

 

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27- BRIGHAM YOUNG (37-17, 18-9)

Projected WCC Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 34

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

The Cougars should have gotten into the NCAA tournament last June. It’s that simple. This year all seven returnees hit .301 or better, led by LF Keaton Kringlen (369-5-34), DH Tanner Chauncey (.348), 1B Colton Shaver (.335-10-57), 2B Brennon Anderson (.329-6-45) and C Bronson Larsen (.301-8-44). Also keep an eye on Kyle Dean, who was the top-rated OF in California in 2015 but had to redshirt 2016. Staff ace Michael Rucker is gone but nearly every other pitcher of note is back, led by weekenders Maverik Buffo (6-2, 3.63, yes that’s his name) and LHP Hayden Rogers (5-3, 3.50).

 

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28- ARIZONA STATE (36-23, 16-14)

Projected Pac 12 Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 25

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

This will be more of a transition year for the Devils, but in case you didn’t notice Tracy Smith & Co. brought in the 4th-ranked recruiting class. Dear opponents, get your Ws while you can. Plenty of talent abounds, it’s just raw. RHP Eder Erives (6-2, 2.95, 10svs) moves from closer to Friday guy. Frosh pitchers Chaz Montoya and Zane Strand both hit 93mph and take the Saturday and closer spot. Six returnees on the bump had sub-5.00 ERAs. OF Andrew Shaps (.321, 11SBs) and 3B Andrew Snow (.276) will be aided by 2B Jackson Willeford, a former UofA Wildcat and 12th round draftee.

 

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29- DALLAS BAPTIST (44-19, 15-5)

Projected MVC Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 23

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Nearly every year I ask coach Dan Heefer if he is going to move to a big-money program yet he’s still here at the place he loves. He may have lost a pair of 14th round draftees in pitchers Colin Poche and Darick Hall, but six mid-90s arms return, including Dalton Higgins (9-4, 3.79) and stopper Seth Elledge (14svs). The top two hitters are back in OF Jameson Hannah (.332-4-37) and C Matt Duce (.321-4-30), along with a pair of 4-year starters in OF Austin Listi (.292-10-38) and SS Camden Duzenack (.287-6-35). Four of the incoming newbies were either drafted last June or played in the Area Code Games, including INF Luke Bandy (32nd round, K.C.) and DH Jordan Hand, a 2-time MLB draftee.

 

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30- RICE (38-24, 19-10)

Projected Conference USA Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 24

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

How about a 10-day trip to play baseball in Cuba and have Fidel Castro kick the bucket while you’re there? That’s what happened with the Owls in November. But that trip also helped solidify this team and it’ll show this spring. Only two pitchers of note are gone from last year, but those were Jon Duplantier and Blake Fox. RHP Ricardo Salinas (9-2, 3.39) will be a stud and closer Glenn Otto (9-2, 2.26, 8svs) is All American pedigree for sure. The defense will be outstanding, led by SS Ford Proctor (.336-3-41) and 2B Tristan Gray (.295-5-18). OF Charlie Warren (.341) and two-way talent Dane Myers (.264 and 1-2, 6.68, 7svs) will be top 15 round draftees in June. The incoming recruits will contribute huge as well, including RHP Garrett Gayle (low-90s heat) and expected DH Chace Sarchet (12HRs at Weatherford JC).

 

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31- NEW MEXICO (39-23, 20-10)

Projected Mountain West Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 38

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

The likable Ray Birmingham says this “could be the best team” in his 10 years. Having al All American like 3B Carl Stajduhar (.331-18-66) doesn’t hurt, nor does OF Luis Gonzalez (.381-6-48), OF Jared Mang (.291-3-30) and 1B Jack Zellner (.307-8-47). Plus, DH Danny Collier was hitting .405 before suffering an injury early last season. The bullpen will have some greenhorns thrown in but the rotation of RHP Tyler Stevens (8-4, 4.11), LHP Carson Schneider (9-4, 4.68) and RHP James Harrington (7-2, 6.04) is back. 2B Beau Capanna was a 21st round pick of the Red Sox last June.

 

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32- TULANE (41-21, 15-7)

Projected American Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 31

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 1

Former Vanderbilt assistant Travis Jewitt is the new head-honcho in the Crescent City and he should excel. The team he inherits did not hit well (.264) and needs to ramp it up. Four-fifths of the infield are seniors, led by C Jeremy Montalbano (.270-12-45) and 1B Hunter Williams (.294-9-30), so the defense should be steady. LHP Ross Massey (10-3, 2.29) was a Frosh All American and has RHPs Corey Merrill (4-1, 2.05) and J.P. France (6-1, 3.33) to team with on weekends. The bullpen gets a boost with the return of RHP Chris Oakley, who has a cannon for an arm but missed 2016.

 

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33- ST. MARY’s (33-25, 18-9)

Projected WCC Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 49

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Eric Valenzuela is making solid strides in the cozy little hamlet of Moraga, leading his third squad to the WCC conference title, while beating teams like UC Santa Barbara, Utah and Washington, while also winning weekend matchups with both Gonzaga and BYU. Weekenders Cameron Neff (6-3, 3.82) and Johnny York (7-5, 3.25) return and reliever Drew Strotman (3-5, 3.96, 2svs) will move to the Sunday spot. The bullpen has a lot of options as well. Top hitters 2B Zach Kirtley (.323-7-43), OF Joey Fiske (.310, 17SBs) and C Nate Nolan (.261-9-36) hope to bring up the .269 team average.

 

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34- TEXAS A&M (49-16, 20-10)

Projected SEC Finish: 4th, Western Div.

2016 ISR: 3

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Only Florida enjoyed more wins than the Aggies last season. Unfortunately, they ended their season with a pair of losses to TCU once again in NCAA play. Thirteen Ags were drafted, most in the country. But this year’s pitching staff should be a strength with RHPs like Brigham Hill (9-2, 2.51), Mitchell Kilkenny (2-0, 1.67) and Turner Larkins (3-0, 2.51), who should form the rotation. Closer Corbin Martin (2-1, 5.47) has big time potential to dominate. Coach Rob Childress thinks newbies like 2B Braden Shewmake, DH Logan Foster, OF Cameron Blake and C Hunter Coleman will all be All-SEC/All American types in their career.

 

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35- MISSOURI STATE (38-21, 7-13)

Projected MVC Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 60

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

All American 3B Jake Burger (.349-21-72) is a Cracker Jack powerhitter. He’ll have the entire infield back with him in 1B Justin Paulsen (.300-7-48), 2B Aaron Meyer (.315) and SS Jeremy Eierman (.296-9-48), a Freshman All American. Speaking of, OF Hunter Steinmetz (.317, 14SBs) was also a first year phenom. Most of the key pitchers return and coach Keith Guttin says they’ll have the best depth in years. Weekenders Dylan Coleman (6-4, 4.98) and Jordan Knutson (7-6, 4.61) will be backed by Bryan Young (1-3, 1.31, 11svs), one of the best closers in the country.

 

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36- INDIANA STATE (35-21, 13-8)

Projected MVC Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 69

Starters Returning: 9

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

ISU could have the most experienced pitching staff in D1. All three weekend starters return and a very capable closer in Jeremy McKinney (6-4, 3.26, 7svs). Also, Cape Cod League Reliever of the Year, RHP Austin Conway (4-2, 2.26, 8svs in ’15) returns from injury. As if that’s not enough, JC transfer and Dodger draft pick RHP Will Kincanon is expected to be the Friday starter. The defense was 4th nationally and features SS Tyler Friis (.293, 10SBs), who coach Mitch Hannahs calls “one of the best in the country.” 2B Clay Dungan (.271) and CF Tony Rosselli (.281-10-34) add good gloves and bats.

 

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37- SOUTHERN MISS (41-20, 20-10)

Projected Conference USA Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 19

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

It was a real treat to see the Eagles win last year’s CUSA tournament title in Hattiesburg. There will be some key elements missing from that team. But the offense won’t be a problem as the Eagle bats led CUSA with a .305 average and return 1B Dylan Burdeaux (.335-11-41), LF Hunter Slater (.314-4-26) and 3B Taylor Braley, who had 10 HRs in 27 games before missing the rest of the season. Friday guy Kirk McCarty (8-1, 3.15) and closer Nick Sandlin (3-3, 2.38) will win some post-season accolades. Keep an eye on freshman RHP Matt Wallner, a draftee of the Twins last June, and RHP Cody Carroll, who is slated to be the Sunday starter.

 

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38- FLORIDA ATLANTIC (39-19, 21-8)

Projected Conference USA Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 35

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Defending CUSA champs have 4/5ths of the returnees in the field as seniors, led by 1B Esteban Puerta (.307-10-52), 3B Austin Langham (.320) and 2B Stephen Kerr (.253, 17SBs), who will help the .977 defense stay solid. DH/LHP Sean Labsan (.268-5-23 and 5-1, 1.95) is a great two-way player. The Owls led the conference in ERA at 3.24 but took some losses on the mound. RHP Cameron Ragsdale (0-1, 1.61, 15svs, .180OBA) is one of the best closers in the country. The coaching staff is raving about OF Jared Shouppe (DNP 2016), the best athlete on the team.

 

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39- GEORGIA TECH (38-25, 13-16)

Projected ACC Finish: 4th, Coastal Div.

2016 ISR: 33

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Head coach Danny Hall is 39 wins away from his 1,000th win on The Flats. Typical of Tech, they’ll have a potent offense with six players hitting .299 or better coming back to the order, led by 3B Trevor Craport (.352-7-31) and DH Kel Johnson (.319-11-54). 1B/RHP Tristin English is a great two-way threat, hitting .315-5-44 and having a mid-90s fastball on the mound. Speaking of mid-90 fastballs, RHP Jonathan Hughes (3-1, 2.45) and Xzavion Curry (Freshman) will complete what should be a good rotation.

 

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40- SAM HOUSTON STATE (42-22, 24-6)

Projected Southland Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 41

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 1

Don’t be surprised to see the Bearkats stalking the 40-win plateau once again with a veteran lineup and a number of key pitchers returning. RHPs Riley Gusset (7-0, 2.64) and Heath Donica (10-4, 3.42) are back on weekends and will join OF Bryce Johnson (.345, 20SBs), 2B Lance Miles (.308) and OF Riley McKnight (.299, 12SBs) on All-SLC lists. Aptly named closer Jordan Cannon (1-0, 5.60) touches the mid-90s and LHP Seth Ballew is back after TJ surgery. Coach Matt Deggs mentioned in the fall that he loves the team chemistry here.

 

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41- LONG BEACH STATE (38-22, 15-9)

Projected Big West Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 32

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Those pesky Dirtbags nearly upended Miami in the Regionals a year ago. This year the Beach will get back All American ace Darren McCaughan (10-1, 2.03, .193OBA) and add JC transfer A.J. Jones, who can fling it into the mid-90s. Ace reliever Chris Rivera (13svs) will be leaned on even more, along with a lot of talented new arms who will have to perform when the lights are turned on. The fielders/batters will be more physical than ever for the Beach, including 1B/C Daniel Jackson (.321-6-34), OF Brock Lundquist (.315-3-36) and DH Luke Rasmussen (.305-5-46). New SS Markus Montelongo is a dynamo.

 

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42- MARYLAND (30-27, 13-11)

Projected Big 10 Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 90

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

The Terps still have 14 players who played in 2015 Super Regionals. They lose ace Mike Shawaryn, but their two most-used starters are back in RHPs Brian Shaffer (8-3, 2.60) and Taylor Bloom (6-5, 2.46), who combined for a miserly 22 walks in their 206 innings last year. SS Kevin Smith (.260-8-34) and 2B Nick Dunn (.300) make a top-flite middle infield. 1B Kevin Biondic (278-5-24) is just plain underrated. The bullpen is a big question as UMd has struggled to find a closer the last few years.

 

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43- NORTH CAROLINA-WILMINGTON (41-19, 16-6)

Projected CAA Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 56

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (20+inns.): 3

The Seahawks made it to the Regional finals in Columbia last June and could be primed for a return. All American 1B Nick Feight (.349-21-91) is joined in the order by 2B Brian Mims (.371-14-64) CF Robbie Thorburn (.364-3-28, 20SBs) and RF Casey Golden (.311-9-31) are part of a heavy junior-senior lineup. Coach Mark Scalf believes his mound staff “runs 12-to-13 arms deep” and will have RHP Alex Royalty (8-2, 4.71) was All CAA Freshman and RHPs Josh Roberson (0-1, 6.04) and relief ace Austin Maestro (5-3, 2.59) both pitched in the Cape League last summer.

 

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44- GONZAGA (36-21, 18-9)

Projected WCC Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 28

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Strong work Zags. Tying for the WCC title and going to the NCAA tournament. A potent offense returns for 2017, led by 2B Justin Jacobs (.333), OF Tyler Frost (.309-7-49) and 3B Jeff Bohling (.298-8-50, 10SBs). The pitching staff will miss Brandon Bailey and Hunter Wells, but the most-used arm on the staff returns in RHP Eli Morgan (10-3, 3.73) and closer Wyatt Mills (3-2, 2.65, 7svs). A lot of bullpenners are back and will have to increase their roles for 2017. RHP Casey Legumina was a 25th round pick in the MLB draft last June.

 

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45- WAKE FOREST (35-27, 13-17)

Projected ACC Finish: 5th, Atlantic Div.

2016 ISR: 50

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

This might be the season Tom Walter & Co. have been pointing to. Despite losing All-World Will Craig the Deacons have a ton of pitching back, led by 10-game winner Parker Dunshee (14th round pick of the Cubs), RHP Chris Farish (2-1, 4.82, 31st round pick of the Indians) and RHP John McCarran (7-3, 3.66). 1B Gavin Sheets (.326-9-45) is a powerbat and OF Stuart Fairchild (.293, 15SBs) has some wheels. Holy crap, somebody in the ACC offices hates the Deacons as they’ll have travel weekends at Miami, Louisville, Clemson and Florida State. Ouch.   

 

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46- FRESNO STATE (36-22, 21-9)

Projected Mountain West Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 62

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

You know coach Mike Batesole LOVES power. I mean in his batting order. And he’ll have it this year as seven of the eight guys who hit .293 or better last year are back in the fold, led by 1B Aaron Arruda (.320-11-44), OF Jake Stone (.312-3-35), OF Austin Guibor (.293-7-36) and DH Scott Silva (.357-4-23). On the mound, Friday ace Ricky Tyler Thomas (9-4, 2.16) is one of the best in D1. RHP Edgar Gonzalez (2-3, 3.97) is back on Sundays and the development of RHP Ricky Ramirez (4-1, 4.54) was huge in fall camp. Big question is the bullpen, otherwise this team is set for another MWC title chase.

 

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47- WASHINGTON (33-23, 17-13)

Projected Pac 12 Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 36

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

So do you think Lindsay Meggs is a good coach or what? Last year he led the Huskies to a Regional final for the first time since 2004. He’ll have the one-two punch of RHPs Noah Bremer (4-5, 2.98) and Joe DeMers (3-5, 6.91) back on Friday-Saturday and LHP Greg Minier (5-1, 3.86) to help build the arms corps. LF John Neff (.301-5-25), 2B Levi Jordan (.316) and OF Jack Meggs (.272) will also be team leaders. A banner recruiting class made waves, ranked 10th nationally. SS Ben Baird (20th round, Indians) and RHP Josh Burgmann (30th round, Cardinals) will make instant impacts.

 

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48- SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA (40-21, 22-8)

Projected Southland Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 43

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Matt Riser’s success train just keeps on rolling, including last year’s 40-win season and NCAA bid. A ton of experience returns for 2017, including eight starters in the order, led by 2015 SLC POY Jacob Seward, who dipped to .270/15SBs last year, and the double-play duo of 2B Carson Crites (.298-8-34, 13SBs) and SS Brennan Breaud (.293, 20SBs). The big thing is the pitching. Sure, the Lions lost two weekend arms, but five of the top six ERAs are back and ace Mac Sceroler (10-4, 2.25) and closer-turned-Saturday starter Kade Granier (5-1, 1.42, 7svs) are both returning All-SLCers.

 

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49- MICHIGAN (36-21, 13-10)

Projected Big 10 Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 47

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Coach Erik Bakich told Collegiate Baseball the 2017 team “is the best combination of talent and depth” in his tenure. The most-used pitcher on the staff, LHP Oliver Jaskie (8-3, 3.19), and top relievers, RHPs Mac Lozar (1-0, 2.37) and Bryan Pall (3-1, 2.81, 4svs), lead a deep staff. Four-fifths of the infield is back and 3B Jake Bivens (.358, 14SBs), 1B Drew Lugbauer (.298-7-47) and C Harrison Wenson (.290-8-56) are all future pros. A solid recruiting class will keep UMich in contention for years.

 

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50- UC IRVINE (31-25, 11-13)

Projected Big West Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 78

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 7

Ugh, 2016 was just not UCI’s year. We’re not used to seeing a Mike Gillespie team sub-.500 in Big West play. Reason for optimism starts with Keston Hiura (.358-7-41) who played for Team USA last summer, and a bevy of returning arms on the mound, led by weekenders Alonzo Garcia (5-5, 4.11) and Cameron Bishop (5-5, 4.61) and relief ace Calvin Faucher (3-1, 0.71, 8svs), who was dominant in the Cape Cod League. Evan Cassolato (.345) and Adam Alcantara (.337) add to an improved offense.

 

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51- LOUISIANA TECH (42-20, 19-11)

Projected Conference USA Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 29

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The good news is that the Bulldogs went from a last place finish in 2015 to an NCAA bid in 2017. But now Greg Goff has moved on to be Alabama’s head coach. Jeff Burroughs inherits a veteran unit in the field/at the plate. 3B Chase Lunceford (.312-11-51) and 1B Cody Dangle (.288-11-42) are powerbats. OF Raphael Gladu (.339) will be their tablesetter. Three Tech pitchers were drafted last June so there will be some re-working here. RHP Casey Sutton (8-1, 1.91) and closer Nate Harris (5-2, 2.93, 5svs) will be building blocks.

 

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52- GEORGIA SOUTHERN (36-24, 16-14)

Projected Sun Belt Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 75

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

GSU could be much better this season as their pitching, which was 4th in the SBC at 3.97, returns Evan Challenger (7-5, 3.05) and sophomores Chase Cohen (4-3, 2.66) and Brian Eichhorn (6-2, 3.74). Senior RHP Landon Hughes (5-2, 2.47, 4svs) leads an experienced bullpen. Oh, and Wofford transfer RHP Jacob Contra-Bogan was a huge addition in the off-season. The Eagles hit an un-Eagle like .257 but do get back the bats of CF Logan Baldwin (.304, 18SBs), LF C.J. Ballard (.288) and 1B Ryan Cleveland (.286-15-55).

 

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53- HOUSTON (36-23, 11-12)

Projected American Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 55

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 1

Todd Whitting’s charges are primed for big things in 2017. The offense has DH Joe Davis (.331-14-58), one of the top fencebusters in the country, team leader Corey Julks (.332, 10SBs) and SS Connor Hollis (.294) to keep things rolling. LHP Seth Romero (6-4, 2.29, 113Ks) is a sure-fire All American. He’ll have second-year phenoms Mitch Ullom (7-4, 2.88) and Trey Cumbie (5-2, 1.29) to form a formidable weekend rotation. The only big issue is in the bullpen where Fred Villareal (22nd round pick, Rays) and John King (6-4, 3.51) will be solid, but the depth is a question.

 

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54- OHIO STATE (44-20-1, 15-9)

Projected Big 10 Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 40

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

What a great 2016 it was for the Buckeyes. But my oh my, there was mass attrition as the top six hitters and two most-used pitchers have hit the bricks. 3B Brady Cherry (.218) and SS Jalen Washington (.250) are sound defenders but must improve their numbers at the dish. RHPs Ryan Feltner (3-4, 4.06) and Adam Niemeyer (4-2, 4.31) had 25 starts between them and RHPs Seth Kinker (6-1, 1.65, 2svs), Kyle Michalik (4-1, 1.69) and Yianni Pavlopoulos (14svs) will lead the bullpen. If some JC plug-ins step up, the Buckeyes could stay in contention at the top of the Big 10.

 

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55- WEST  VIRGINIA (36-22, 12-11)

Projected Big 12 Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 42

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Considering how well the Big 12 did in the post-season last year, the ‘Neers probably deserved an NCAA bid. The conference was that good. Coach Randy Mazey and Co. still have plenty returning for a post-season run. Six of the top seven hitters return to the order including catcher Ivan Gonzalez (formerly Vera, .381), RF Darius Hill (.342), 1B Jackson Cramer (.300-9-45) and LF Kyle Davis (.280-10-43), who all provide some power. The questions will be in the rotation where only B.J. Myers (5-3, 4.05) returns, and who will step up into the closer role.

 

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56- OREGON (29-26, 14-16)

Projected Pac 12 Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 48

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

First the bad news: This will be an inexperienced team for 2017. The good news? The Ducks staff brought in the 13th-ranked recruiting class in the country, so the future is still bright. C Tim Susnara (.268), OF Jake Bennett (.312) and 1B A.J. Balta (.219-9-47) should hit better. The pitching staff is deep with LHP David Peterson (4-5, 3.63), RHP Matt Mercer (2-2, 4.28) and Isaiah Carranza (2-1, 3.63). Four of the incoming freshmen were MLB draftees last June. Look for INF Spencer Steer (29th round, Indians) and RHP Cameron Jabara (31st round, Braves) to make an impact.

 

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57- KENT STATE (44-14, 20-4)

Projected MAC Finish: 1st, Eastern Div.

2016 ISR: 53

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

44 wins and no Big Dance bid? Ack. There is plenty of talent back to make the Regionals here, as five of the six returning pitchers had an ERA of 3.69 or better, led by weekender LHP Eli Kraus (9-1, 2.64). Also, the Two Zachs, Zach Spangler (4-1, 2.35, 2svs) and Zach Willeman (1-3, 2.70, 14svs) both spent last summer excelling in the Cape Cod League. OFs Luke Burch (.357, 22SBs) and Mason Mamarella (.303, 12SBs) and C Pete Schuler (.287-3-23) will keep things moving offensively. OF Nick Kanavas, a former Arizona Wildcat, could be a difference-maker.

 

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58- SOUTH ALABAMA (42-22, 21-9)

Projected Sun Belt Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 46

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 0

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (20+inns.): 3

The Jags were a controversial at-large pick for the NCAAs, but 42 wins IS 42 wins. Eight key hurlers, six of which were redshirt seniors, have moved on. So lots of JC transfers on the mound for ’17, including LHP Zach Melton and RHP Jason Lott, who will take Saturday-Sunday spots behind Friday ace Randy Bell (7-1, 2.45). They’ll throw to C Jared Barnes (.292-6-34), who played on the Cape last summer. SS Drew LaBounty (.284, 14SBs) and LF Dylan Hardy (.211, 13SBs) can fly and OFs Travis Swaggerty (.303-4-27, 20SBs) and Adam Wolfe (.215-7-27) provide power. 

 

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59- UTAH (26-29, 19-11)

Projected Pac 12 Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 76

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Don’t wipe your eyes, that WAS indeed the Utes you saw winning the Pac 12 last year despite the losing record. And yes that was also the Utes beating Ole Miss in Oxford in the Regionals. Does Bill Kinneburg and Co. have an encore? Well having aces in LHP Josh Lapiana (4-6, 4.25) and RHP Jayson Rose (8-5, 3.89, All Pac 12) will help and being backed by LHP Dylan Drachler (2.92, 9svs) does as well. CF DaShawn Keirsey (.293, 12SBs), 3B Dallas Carroll (.294-7-32, 10SBs) and 1B Hunter Simmons (.285) lead by example.

 

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60- CONNECTICUT (38-25, 14-9)

Projected American Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 63

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

How good has Jim Penders been at raising the talent level in Storrs? He’s had 42 players drafted since his arrival in 2004. This year, he’ll have potential All AAC talents like 3B Willy Yahn (.319), LF John Toppa (.303), LHP Tim Cate (5-1, 2.73, played on Team USA last summer) and RHP Willis Montgomerie (6-3, 3.04). LHP Doug Domnarski (1-0, 3.00) and RHP John Russell (51Ks in 34 innings at Coastal Plain League) made big jumps this fall and could help raise the bar for this team. RHP Ronnie Rossomando (1-3, 3.93) spent last summer pitching in the Cape Cod League.

 

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61- CAL POLY (32-25, 12-12)

Projected Big West Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 81

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Lots of quality across the board for the Mustangs, particularly the weekend rotation where all three arms are back in RHP Jarred Zill (4-3, 2.79, .205OBA), LHP Kyle Smith (6-6, 3.64) and RHP Erich Uelmen (5-3, 2.68). RHP Spencer Howard (3-1, 2.95) is back to take over the closer role. There’s not a lot of power in the batting order but LF Josh George (.306), C Nick Meyer (.301, Big West Freshman of the Year) and 3B Michael Sanderson (.296) are top quality. Frosh OF Scott Ogrin was a 27th round pick of the Twins and should be a starter.

 

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62- UCLA (25-31, 12-18)

Projected Pac 12 Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 77

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

As is their usual M.O., they’re bottom-feeders one year and world-beaters the next year. Look for an uptick in 2017 as long as they stay out of the MASH unit. If pitching is important, the Bruins have that in spades with RHPs Kyle Molnar (5-5, 3.32) and Griffin Canning (5-8, 3.70) back in the rotation and a slew of relievers, led by Moises Ceja (2-1, 2.60, 4svs) and Brian Gadsby (3-0, 4.54, 5svs). The 16th-ranked recruiting class had three MLB draftees including 1B Michael Toglia (35h round, Rockies) and OF Jeremy Ydens (40th round, Cards).

 

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63- MICHIGAN STATE (36-20, 13-11)

Projected Big 10 Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 64

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Spartan talk has to begin with two-way talent Alex Troop, who was 3-0, 1.64 and hitting .372 last year before an injury. He’ll be the Friday guy and is jointed by RHPs Ethan Landon (8-3, 2.75) and Andrew Gonzalez (3-3, 2.84) for a solid rotation. The bullpen behind them has quality arms to lock down leads. 2B Dan Durkin (.324-6-32) and CF Brandon Hughes (.303, 17SBs) are joined by C Matt Byars (.284-4-26), a stout backstop who returns after being drafted last summer.

 

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64- ALABAMA (32-26, 15-15)

Projected SEC Finish: 5th, Western Div.

2016 ISR: 59

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Wherever Greg Goff has gone, he’s been wildly successful. Whether it’s a 49-win season at Campbell (2013) or a first NCAA bid in eons for Louisiana Tech (2016), the dude’s been a difference-maker. He’ll have a lot of returning talent to work with as starting RHPs Nick Eicholtz (4-3, 2.30, 13th round pick, Marlins) and Jake Walters (5-4, 2.67) are joined by reliever-turned-starter Brock Love (0-0, 3.30) for a good rotation. Six of eight field starters return but OFs Hunter Webb and Keith Holcombe have the best averages at just .283 and .279. Bullpen depth will be a question as well.

 

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65- BOSTON COLLEGE (35-22, 13-15)

Projected ACC Finish: 6th, Atlantic Div.

2016 ISR: 44

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Man, what a year for the Eagles, finishing one game away from Omaha. Unfortunately, now life without RHPs Justin Dunn, Mike King and Jesse Adams begins. RHP Jacob Stevens (4-4, 2.54) is the Friday guy and LHP Zach Stromberg (1-0, 3.49) will see a bigger role as the Saturday starter. The bullpen will be a strength, especially with Bobby Skogsbergh (1-1, 2.61, 4svs) back. The double-play combo of 2B Jake Palomaki (.258, 20SBs) and SS Johnny Adams (.284) will lead a steady and experienced defense.

 

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66- WRIGHT STATE (46-17, 23-6)

Projected Horizon Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 39

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

Man alive, these Raiders know how to win. The 2016 season saw them set a school record in wins and also saw them advance to the Regional Finals for the second straight year. They could be hard-pressed for a third trip that far. But OF J.D. Orr (.346) and 1B Gabe Snyder (.256-10-48) are stout bats and good leaders. RHP Caleb Sampen (9-4, 2.76) and RHP Trevor Swaney (9-2, 3.00) will be anchors for the mound staff. Lots of new blood elsewhere.

 

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67- SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA (28-28, 15-15)

Projected Pac 12 Finish: 9th

2016 ISR: 51

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Be it good or bad, the Trojans had the 2nd-most players drafted by the MLB last June with 12. Now the rebuilding begins for coach Dan Hubbs and his staff. 2B Frankie Rios (.323), CF Corey Dempster (.290-8-46, 10SBs) and 3B Adalbert Carrillo (.246-7-21) are the leading returnees. The coaching staff loved the jump that OF Lars Nootbarr (.238) and incoming freshman CF Christian Moya and C Blake Sabol (33rd round, Indians) took in the fall. RHPs Mitch Hart (2-4, 6.21), Marrick Crouse (3-0, 4.50) and C.J. Stubbs (2-1, 3.86) will be the rotation but are still young.

 

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68- MINNESOTA (36-22, 16-7)

Projected Big 10 Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 57

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

There were some big losses on the mound for the Gophers but they were No. 7 nationally in hitting and defense and should be strong in both areas this year. Talents like 3B Micah Coffey (.335-7-42), OF Jordan Smith (.292-3-34), SS Terrin Vavra (.362) and 1B Toby Hanson (.301-5-37) are big time. LHP Lucas Gilbreath (3-2, 1.36) takes over the Friday role and RHP Toby Anderson (7-1, 3.52) will be a fellow top 10 round draftee with Gilbreath this June. The ‘pen will be rebuilt but closer Brian Glowicki (1-4, 3.29) has an electric arm.

 

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69- OKLAHOMA (30-27-1, 11-13)

Projected Big 12 Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 61

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 7

Bad News: All three weekend starters left.

Good news: They didn’t pitch to potential anyway.

So now, from a gaggle of freshman the Sooners had to rely on, 2nd year guys like mid-90s flingers Jake Irvin (6-2, 4.45) and Dylan Grove (3-1, 3.77) emerged for the 1-2 spots. Watch for Rider transfer Vincenzo Aiello to man the closer role with his flamethrowing. Most of the offense/defense is gone, but regulars like CF Steele Walker (.290-3-32) and SS-2B Jack Flansburg (.278) and Kyle Mendenhall (.183) are ready to step up.

 

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70- CALIFORNIA (32-21, 14-16)

Projected Pac 12 Finish: 10th

2016 ISR: 26

Starters Returning: 1

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

The Bears were hot a commodity early last season but fell off the pace as the season went on and missed the NCAAs. The off-season saw a mass exodus in the roster. SS Preston Grand Pre (.290) is a two-year starter and the lone “elder statesman” returning. RHP Tanner Dodson (4-5, 3.36) and LHP Matt Ladrech (3-4, 4.30) are reliable arms and have RHP Erik Martinez (3-2, 3.13, 8svs) as a veteran closer. Lots of frosh will contribute, including RHP Jared Horn, a 20th round pick of the Brewers and a 96mph fireballer slated for Saturday duty.

 

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71- PEPPERDINE (29-24, 16-11)

Projected WCC Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 66

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

It’ll be the second go-round of head coach Rick Hirtensteiner and should be a smoother season. Plenty of good arms are back beyond staff ace A.J. Puckett. as RHP Ryan Wilson (2-0, 0.63, 6svs) and Chandler Blanchard (3-2, 3.19) will take the Friday-Saturday spots and LHP Easton Lucas (3-4, 4.59) started 13 games a year ago. The offense/defense misses out on the smooth leadership of Manny Jefferson and Brad Anderson, but gets back C Aaron Barnett (.292-3-22), 2B Matt Crowder (.262) and CF Matt Gelalich (.275), all seniors.

 

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72- ORAL ROBERTS (38-21, 22-8)

Projected Summit Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 80

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

If you’re keeping score at home, the Eagles are now two-for-two in winning the league title and going to the NCAA tournament in their two years back in the Summit. A very heavy junior-senior squad ushers in 2017. The 3.91 pitching staff returns RHPs Bryce Howe (6-5, 3.72) and Cale Tims (6-2, 3.71) to weekend duty and Brady Womacks (2-2, 1.22, 14svs) as one of the better closers in D1. The top three hitters are back to wreak havoc in RF Noah Cummings (.364-6-44), C Matt Whatley (.363-8-41) and CF Nick Rotola (.319, 10SBs).

 

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73- DUKE (33-24, 14-15)

Projected ACC Finish: 5th, Coastal Div.

2016 ISR: 52

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 0

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 7

The Devils reached the NCAAs last year as an at-large but may be hard-pressed to make a return. The pitching staff was decimated by losses. LHPs Mitch Stallings (3-2, 3.23), 6’10” James Ziemba (1-1, 3.95) and Adam Laskey (31st round pick, Giants) will be the new rotation. OF Jimmy Herron (.324, 24SBs), 1B Justin Bellinger (.336-7-32) and freshman All American SS Zack Kone (.272) will lead an uber-experienced group of returning starters. The offense hit just .262 last year but fielded a steady .977 defensively.

 

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74- NEVADA (37-24, 20-10)

Projected Mountain West Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 65

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Year two of the TJ Bruce era might be a little more of a challenge considering the talent that hit the bricks in the off-season. But at least three All-MWC studs return in OF Cole Krzmarzick (.368), SS Justin Bridgman (.351, 13SBs) and 3B Jordan Pearce (.332-4-47). The pitching department is pretty barren as Friday ace Trevor Charpie (5-4, 3.74) and relievers Ty Pennington (4-0, 3.89) and Mark Nowaczewski (5-1, 4.04) are of the few who return. The recruiting class is outstanding including OF Otis Statum (Reds draftee) and expected closer Grant Ford, a low-90s fireballer.

 

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75- SEATTLE (37-21, 21-6)

Projected WAC Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 87

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns): 4

The RedHawks had an impressive 2016, winning their first-ever WAC title. A lot of good sticks/gloves are gone from that team, though All-WAC 1B Sean Sutton (.337), SS Griffin Andreychuk (.293, 11SBs) and CF Dalton Hurd (.282, 18SBs) remain. LHP Nick Meservey (7-2, 2.32) is the reigning WAC Pitcher of the Year and is joined by RHP Janson Junk (6-4, 4.21) and LHP Connor Moore (4-0, 2.84), who was stellar in the Cape Cod League. RHP Zach Wolf (0-1, 2.27, 12svs) is a solid low-90s lock down guy and if LHP Tarik Skubal (6-1, 2.11) gets back to 100%, look out.

 

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76- KENTUCKY (32-25, 15-15)

Projected SEC Finish: 4th, Eastern Div.

2016 ISR: 71

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 0

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Troubled times in Big Blue Land. The Bat Cats haven’t had a winning mark in SEC play since 2012. Because of that the Gary Henderson era ended and energetic Nick Mingione takes over. He’ll inherit a ton of fielders/hitters and very little starting pitching. All American 1B Evan White (.376-5-40, 10SBs), OF Zach Reks (.331-7-22) and Riley Mahan (.316-5-32) lead a junior-senior heavy order. Relievers will fill the starting roles, led by 6’11 Sean Hjelle (4-1, 3.74) and 6’7 Justin Lewis (2-0, 2.08) who have power arms and skyscraper bodies. RHP Zach Pop (0-2, 5.21) sports 98mph heat.

 

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77- SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE (39-21, 22-8)

Projected OVC Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 74

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Andy Sawyers comes onboard to lead SEMO and inject a shot of energy into the program. Unfortunately the RedHawks had to say goodbye to Joey Lucchesi, one of the best pitchers in school history. But two other weekenders are back in RHP Clay Chandler (4-5, 3.90, 96Ks) and LHP Robert Beltran (8-1, 4.27), plus ace reliever John Murphy (4-2, 2.97, 5svs) to keep the pitching stout. There is thunder and lightning in the forms of RF Chris Osborne  (.367-15-44), 2B Trevor Ezell (.326-5-31, 23SBs) and CF Dan Holst (.322-8-42, 22SBs).

 

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78- TENNESSEE  (29-28, 9-21)

Projected SEC Finish: 5th, Eastern Div.

2016 RPI: 79

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 3

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Dave Serrano has been a winner no matter where he has been and he needs to make that happen at UT now. Luckily he’s got some experience with him this time. C Benito Santiago (.309) is a solid backstop, 3B Jordan Rodgers (.282-4-56) has pop and CF Brodie Leftridge (.302) is a game-changer. Also, SS Reggie Southall is a grad transfer from USC who will make a big impact. LHPs Zach Warren (5-5, 4.04) and Aaron Soto (6-2, 3.63) were two heavily-used arms. Don’t forget about RHP Kyle Serrano, who should be a high-round draftee but was injured last year.

 

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79- XAVIER (32-30, 14-4)

Projected Big East Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 116

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The X was playing as well as anyone at the end of last season, finishing on an 18-4 sprint while eliminating Vandy and Washington in the post-season. They led the Big East with 59 HRs and 101 SBs, and will return OF Joe Gellenbeck (.285-13-51, 12SBs), 3B Rylan Bannon (.273-8-32) and OF Will LaRue (.253, 31SBs). LHP Zac Lowther (7-5, 3.09) led the Cape Cod League in Ks last summer and RHP Garrett Schilling (4-3, 1.91) will join him as a duo who can both hit mid-90s. Also, Taylor Williams (0-3, 3.91) is another mid-90s flinger who will move to closer role and be a key to the XU season.

 

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80- CAL STATE NORTHRIDGE (33-22, 11-13)

Projected Big West Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 88

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

After years in college baseball purgatory, the Matadors have quietly gone out and won 33 games in back to back seasons. Head coach Greg Moore thinks this could be the best team in his tenure. RHP Joe Ryan (1-2, 3.55) wasn’t 100% last year,  but pitched well in the Cape last summer and will be the ace. RHP Conner O’Neil (5-5, 3.07, drafted by Detroit) and Sam Myers (3-0, 2.00) will make for a strong bullpen. 2B Alvaro Rubalcaba (redshirt), SS Fred Smith (.314) and 3B Nolan Bumstead (.247) are great technique fielders. Watch for the emerging powerstick of Albie Weiss (.219-6-25).

 

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81- LOYOLA MARYMOUNT (26-27, 13-14)

Projected WCC Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 84

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

It’s never a comforting notion to hear a coach say “Pitching will be the biggest question mark” but that’s how Jason Gill responded to his teams concerns for 2017. Two weekend starters return in RHP Blake Redman (6-5, 4.50) and Cory Abbott (5-5, 4.24). RHP Harrison Simon (2-1, 3.68) takes over the closer role, but a lot of newbies will have to come through in the ‘pen. Offensively, the Lions return three of their top four hitters in 2B Phil Caulfield (.309), SS Spencer Edman (.290) and RF Niko Decolati (.306-4-33).

 

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82- NEW ORLEANS (31-26, 14-16)

Projected Southland Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 96

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Blake Dean did an outstanding job of getting the Privateers back to the winning ways, even having them in the top 40 of the RPI in early May. The top four hitters return from a year ago, headed by senior Aaron Palmer, who hit .325 with 20SBs. Jay Robinson (.322, 10SBs), Dakota Dean (.321-5-45) and Hezekiah Randolph (.318-7-45) will join in. The pitching is in good shape with Riley Hodge (4-4, 4.23), Shawn Semple (5-5, 4.50) and Bryan Warzek (2-3, 5.73) combining for 41 starts.

 

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83- SETON HALL (38-20, 10-8)

Projected Big East Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 128

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

The bad news for opponents is that The Hall has all three weekend starters back on the mound and most of the key bullpenners from a staff that was 20th nationally in ERA at 3.21. RHP Shane McCarthy (6-4, 2.38) and LHP Cullen Dana (7-2, 3.97) held opponents to .229 and .201 averages respectively. The offense loses 1-2-3 guys in the order (and their 109 SBs), but expect DH Mike Alescio (.310, 10SBs), Ryan Ramiz (.275, 15SBs) and 3B Joe Poduslenko (.250, 16SBs) to continue the steals onslaught.

 

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84- MERCER (38-23, 16-8)

Projected SoCon Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 101

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Ack! Losing twice in the title round of the SoCon tourney was a bitter end to 2016 but this could be the most experienced team in the country. RF Trey Truitt (.335-17-54), 2B Ryan Hagan (.316-8-55), C Charlie Madden (.287-11-50) and 3B Danny Edgeworth (.265-10-41), are big reasons why the Bears were 2nd nationally in home runs with 93. Get this, 532 of last year’s 540 innings pitched returns to the roster, led by weekenders Ryan Asker (6-3, 3.90) and Kevin Coulter (8-3, 4.41). RHP Robert Broom (4-3, 3.57) led the nation with 41 appearances as a freshman.

 

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85- ARKANSAS (26-29, 7-23)

Projected SEC Finish: 6th, Western Div.

2016 ISR: 107

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

The Hogs swept the Houston College Classic, then the season went kaput. But a well-armed staff will help a turnaround, led by RHPs Isaiah Campbell (3-1, 3.69), Dominic Taccolini (5-5, 5.75) and Blaine Knight (2-1, 2.98), who combined for 152 innings last year. The top two hitters on the roster return in 2B Carson Shaddy (.332-8-35) and LF Luke Bonfield (.304-8-40). Most of the infield needs to be rebuilt but the 26th-ranked recruiting class will help that. Watch for SS Cody Scroggins () and RHP Trevor Stephan (18th round, Red Sox) to be instant stars.

 

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86- CREIGHTON (38-17, 13-5)

Projected Big East Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 68

Starters Returning: 0

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

There will be a lot of new faces in the Creighton lineup this season.

There will be a lot of new faces in the Creighton lineup this season.

 

Man, it’s just tough luck for the Bluejays. The two times I saw them play last year they were completing getting swept at Fresno State on Sunday of opening weekend and then got sugar-blasted by BYU, 13-3, on a Friday opening game. Things didn’t look good from what I had seen. Well other than those two games, the Bluejays played pretty well last year, ending the campaign with 38 wins and staying in striking distance of an at-large NCAA tournament berth the entire time. Unfortunately, they ran into a team named Xavier in Aberdeen, Maryland for the Big East Tournament and lost both games in very close fashion.

 

The Jays finished at No. 49 in the RPI, which normally isn’t too bad for a team from a non-power conference who plays in the snowbelt. But the NCAA selection committee just couldn’t overlook that 6-8 finish and also ending the regular season just a single game out of first place in the Big East. Crud.

 

Now, how do things look for 2017? Well it depends on who you ask. Coach Ed Servais is never one to mince words and would tell you that there is an entire infield/outfield/batting order to replenish. Yes, that is NOT a typo above, the Bluejays need to replace all nine starters. Freakin’ YIKES.

 

But if you ask pitching coach Eric Wordekemper, things are just peachy for the boys from The O. See, he’s got all three weekend starters coming back in RHP Rollie Lacy (9-2, 3.15), LHP Jeff Albrecht (7-1, 2.39) and RHP Keith Rogalla (5-3, 3.21). He’ll also have the services of set-up man Ethan Decanter (1-1, 3.06, just 8 BBs in 32.1 innings) and closer David Gerber (4-3, 1.50, 11svs) to help put the clamps on any opposing offense. Also keep an eye on incoming arms like LHP Grant Springer who was Pitcher of the Year in the Iowa J.C. ranks and freshman Chris Burica, a strapping 6’6” 200-pound lefty from Anaheim Hills, California who can run it up to the 90s on his heater and was a draft pick of the San Diego Padres back in June, but chose to come to CU instead.

 

… and rightly so.

 

Oh, and yes that means that most of the important arms are back for the 12th-rated team ERA in the country (3.15). Not bad.

Sidewinding David Gerber gives Creighton one of the better closing arms in the country.

Sidewinding David Gerber gives Creighton one of the better closing arms in the country.

 

So now, about that all-new infield and outfield. As you guys know, Ed Servais has very high standards from his glove team. That’s why the Jays are consistently in the top five in the nation in fielding year-in, year-out, no matter how many newbies he has to work into the lineup. But all five infield positions being filled at once? Oof.

 

Catcher Michael Emodi had an outstanding summer in the Cal Ripken League and coach Servais says he “looked like a whole different player this fall.” The sophomore backstop should settle in as a team leader. North Dakota dropped its program after last season and the Jays were able to nab 2B Ben Reznicek, who hit .275 for the Fighting Sioux and led the team in runs scored. His expected double-play partner could be JC transfer Thomas Luevano, who hit .315 for Moorpark California CC in 2015. Luevano could also be a bullpen reliever as well. Also watch for Jack Strunc at the SS position as he started 55 games at short for Washington State in 2015 before he transferred to CU.

 

The outfield will be swift but young, so look for some bumps in the road. Jason Allberry took over the CF spot midway through the fall and has excelled. Newbies like Will Robertson, Drew Smith and JC transfer Clark Brinkman will battle for the other outfield spots. Sophomore Riley Landuyt (.103 in limited duty) is also in the mix for a spot.

 

Obviously the key to the Bluejays success this season will lay in how the new players acclimate to D1-level baseball in the field and at the dish. The pitching is set to compete with anyone.

 

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87- GEORGIA (27-30, 11-19)

Projected SEC Finish: 6th, Eastern Div.

2016 ISR: 72

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 0

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Ack! Losing marks in SEC play for the last five straight seasons? It’s GOT to stop sometime, right? It’ll be a double-edge sword for 2017 as coach Scott Stricklin says they’ll be youthful but talented. LHP Kevin Smith (5-1, 3.91) will be followed by JC transfer Chase Adkins and true frosh Tony Locey (93-96 fastball) in the rotation. The bullpen has some quality depth to it. Behind LF Keegan McGovern (.263-6-35) and C Michael Curry (.262-11-34), at least four frosh will start in the lineup. The incoming class was ranked No. 26 nationally.

 

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88- LAMAR (35-19, 20-10)

Projected Southland Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 58

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 0

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

After 39 years at the helm, Jim Gilligan has retired and Will Davis takes the head coaching gig. He’ll inherit potentially one of the best offenses in the country as All-SLC honorees like C Bryndan Arredondo (.314-3-26), LF Reid Russell (.354-18-62), RF Cutter McDowell (.305-5-28) and DH Robin Adames (.297-6-33) all return to the order. The pitch staff lost the entire rotation and is threadbare in the ‘pen. But RHP Jimmy Johnson (7-2, 4.06) is back and transfer Carson Lance is a power-armed flinger with mid-90s heat.

 

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89- BAYLOR (24-29, 10-14)

Projected Big 12 Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 99

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

What? Four straight losing seasons in Waco? Gah! That is just wrong. Here’s hoping year two of the Steve Rodriguez regime goes a little smoother. C Matt Menard (.309-6-25) 3B Steven McLean (.308) and RF Kameron Esthay (.307-3-31) are proven talents. The weekend rotation is up for grabs but JC transfer Montana Parsons (30th round pick, Cubs) should get the Friday starting spot. RHPs Troy Montemayor (14svs, 0.78ERA), Joe Heinemann (3-3, 3.48) and Kyle Ott (4-2, 3.62) form one of the top bullpens.

 

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90- McNEESE STATE (31-25, 15-15)

Projected Southland Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 86

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

A full 34 of 56 starts on the mound have moved on, but Saturday starter Bryan King (6-4, 3.69) and ace reliever Collin Kober (3-4, 2.76, 9svs) are good building blocks for the rebuilt arms corps. SLC Freshman of the Year 2B Joe Provenzano (.271-3-32) will join CF Ricky Ramirez (.292) and DH Matt Gallier (.290-3-31) to lead the offense. Also keep an eye on RF Robby Podorski, a JC transfer who can fly around the bases. Senior SS Will Fox (.258) is one of the better defenders in the Southland.

 

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91- NORTH CAROLINA-GREENSBORO (38-21, 15-9)

Projected SoCon Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 102

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The Spartans led the country in hitting at .346. And that was by a large margin since BYU was second at just .325. Some returning numbers are impressive: CF Andrew Moritz (.400), 1B Ben Spitznagel (.385, 21SBs), DH Cesar Trejo (.363-9-30), SS Tripp Shelton (.357-3-15), LF Dillon Stewart (.335-14-62) and RF Ryne Simon (.329-5-56). The Spartans used primarily nine pitchers last season, six of which return. RHPs Matt Frisbee (5-3, 4.98) and Andrew Wantz (6-1, 2.97, 4svs) will lead the rotation and ‘pen. But ease up on the 307 walks guys.

 

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92- ILLINOIS (28-23, 12-12)

Projected Big 10 Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 83

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 1

As head coach Dan Hartleb says, “We need the veteran hitters to lead the way and the talented incoming class to produce better than last year’s freshman class.” The vets are led by seniors like 1B Pat McInerney (.301-7-27) and DH Anthony Drago (.277-4-20). Only three of the top eight pitchers return, so starters Cole Bellair (2-3, 3.34) and LHP Doug Hayes (6-5, 3.58) are going to need a lot of help from newbies like RHPs Ryan Thompson and Ty Weber.

 

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93- JACKSONVILLE (33-22, 14-7)

Projected A-Sun Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 106

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Lots to like about this year’s Dolphin team, considering all three weekend starters are back, led by expected high-round draftee Michael Baumann (4-4, 4.32), along with Nathan Disch (5-4, 3.74) and Spencer Stockton (5-5, 3.21), all righties.They’ll also have Freshman All American Mike Cassala (1-2, 3.52, 12svs) to back them and lead a deep bullpen. The offense lost the three best bats but does get back 1B Angel Camacho (.321), DH Seth Dewitt (.303) and SS Dakota Julylia (say that three times fast, .285).

 

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94- SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (31-25-1, 11-10)

Projected MVC Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 108

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Coach Ken Henderson says this is “arguably the most anticipated season in the last 25 years.” Should be fun. 1B Logan Blackfan (.296-6-50), 2B Connor Kopach (.287-3-36) and OF Greg Lambert (.312) were All-MVC fielders last year. RHP Michael Baird (9-4, 1.76) will move to the staff ace position. RHP Chad Whitmer (7-4, 2.77) and LHP Joey Marciano (4-7, 3.78) return to the rotation as well. Another All-MVC performer coming back is reliever Ryan Netemeyer (1.95, 12svs).

 

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95- FIU (29-29, 15-15)

Projected Conference USA Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 111

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

FIU administrators made the best off-season move in college baseball hiring Mervyl Melendez. If a dude can win at Bethune-Cookman and Alabama State, he will do wonders here. Of the seven returning pitchers of note, only two of them had an ERA below 5.00; LHPs Dominic LoBrutto (3-2, 1.04) and Alex Demchak (3-3, 2.81). The Panthers committed a conference-high 83 errors last year, but they do return C J.C. Escarra, a former draftee of the Mets who redshirted in 2016, and the double play combo of 2B Irving Lopez (.335) and SS Eddie Silva (.293).

 

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96- UC RIVERSIDE (26-29, 12-12)

Projected Big West Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 109

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

This will be year three of Troy Percival’s tenure at UCR and this could be his best team. Nine of the 11 returnees listed above, nine are seniors. CF Mark Contreras (.333, 10SBs) is a standout and has C Casey Worden (.235), 3B Michael Farris (236, great glove) and SS Colby Shultz (.277-4-17) to pace the offense and defense. Starters Angel Landazuri (5-5, 4.73) and Ricky Delgado (1-8, 5.12) are back, as are bullpen studs like RHPs Jared Morton (1-0, 2.32), Alex Fagalde (3-1, 2.47, 3svs) and Ryan Little (4-3, 4.13, 7svs).

 

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97- NORTHWESTERN STATE (33-24, 20-10)

Projected Southland Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 70

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

New head coach Bobby Barbier must uphold the three straight 30-plus win seasons. There will be plenty of holes to fill as OF Matt Valdez (.273-3-14) and 2B David Fry (.264-7-27) are the top returnees. The 3.01 team ERA may be hard-pressed to match with so much attrition from the staff. Sunday starter Evan Tidwell (5-3, 2.97) is back and saves man Nathan Jones (2-2, 3.10, 5svs) will move from the ‘pen to the Friday starter spot. RHP Austin Reich (3-2, 2.78) could be a special talent.

 

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98- UTAH VALLEY (37-23, 18-9)

Projected WAC Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 97

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

There is lots of new blood here. But there is also lots of talented blood too. A tough early schedule will challenge them. CF Justin Erlandsson (.302), DH Zac Willis (.288-6-36), 2B Trevor Howell (.297) and 1B Stone Ramsey (.324) provide the firepower. LHP Jackson Cofer (6-5, 3.79) and RHP Jake Mayer (8-2, 4.27) will be the Friday-Saturday starters and RHP Logan Hold (2-0, 1.83) will take over the closer role. UVU’s talent level rises a tad for 2017.

 

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99- OLD DOMINION (32-24, 15-15)

Projected Conference USA Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 85

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Oh mercy. There’s plenty of improvement necessary for the Monarchs in 2017. SS Zach Rutherford was a star in the Cape Cod League last summer and will work along-side 3B Nick Walker (.274, 20SBs) and C Kurt Sinnen (.283). The weekend rotation has two returning stars in RHP Sam Sinnen (6-1, 3.81, .225OBA) and LHP Adam Bainbridge (3-5, 4.91). Other than that, most of the pitching corps needs to be rebuilt. RHP Morgan Maguire (2-1, 4.81) will move from closer role to Sunday role. Lots of newbies will be leaned on after that.

 

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100- TEXAS-ARLINGTON (30-28, 15-15)

Projected Sun Belt Finish:  5th

2016 ISR: 92

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The Movin’ Mavs will have a veteran lineup with a lot of upperclassmen, featuring C Brady Cox (.365), OF Quintin Rohrbaugh (.343) and the double-play duo of 2B Christian Hollie (.248) and SS Josh Minjarez (.283), who paced the .971 defense. Staff ace Kadon Simmons (9-4, 3.05) returns for Fridays and will have the top two relievers from a year ago to back him in RHPs Dylan Schneider (1-1, 2.70) and Daniel James (0-4, 3.99). But beyond them the quality drops off. Finding effective Saturday-Sunday starters and a few more bullpenners will be the key to 2017.

 

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101- BRYANT (47-12, 26-4)

Projected NEC Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 67

Starters Returning: 2

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The Bulldogs have reached the 40-plus win mark three of the last four years. But we may have to call this a rebuilding season as BU has many holes, as the numbers above will attest. Having ace James Karinchak (12-3, 2.00) and relief stud Justin Snyder (2.35, 10svs) is a comfort. Another lefty, Steve Theetge, went 9-0, 2.84 in 11 starts. The staff hopes LHP Jack Patterson reverts to his 3-0, 3.41 freshman form. CF Nick Angelini (.353, 10SBs) and 2B Cole Fabio (.287-4-38) are the only returnees. Freshman Chris Wright is a talent, at 1B and a LHP.

 

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102- INDIANA (32-24, 15-9)

Projected Big 10 Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 89

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 0

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

It’s year three of the Chris Lemonis era in B’ton and he’ll have a deep and talented roster (eight players will play in Cape Cod in 2017), but the unproven pitching is a problem. OFs Craig Dedlow (.302-5-36) and Logan Sowers (.273-8-25) and 3B Luke Miller (.284) have top 10 round draftability. A full 45 of last year’s 56 starts on the mound have moved on, leaving RHPs Jonathan Stiever (1-1, 2.48) and Luke Stephenson (1-2, 4.50) left to lead a brutally young staff.

 

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103- TROY (32-26, 17-13)

Projected Sun Belt Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 94

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.):

The usually offensive Trojans hit just .266. Ouch. But look for a bounce-back in 2017 as LF Joey Denison (.322-7-36), DH T.J. Binder (.312-3-22) and SS Matt Sanders (.317) lead a resurgence. Four-fifths of the infield are back and should keep the .971 defense stout. Big losses in the pitching staff as aces Grant Bennett and Lucas Brown threw 204 innings combined and have vamoosed. RHP Corey Childress (2-4, 3.12, 10svs) moves to the Friday role and Houston Mabray (5-3, 3.05) joins him in the rotation. RHP Daren Osby, the projected Saturday starter, can run his fastball up to 94mph.

 

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104- IOWA (30-26, 12-12)

Projected Big 10 Finish: 9th

2016 ISR: 93

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Head coach Rick Heller has now posted 32, 41 and 30 win seasons in Iowa City. That’s heady stuff for this Hawkeye program. This might be his toughest coaching job though as the Hawks lost a ton from 2016. However the arms corps brings back six regulars who posted an ERA of 3.44 or better, including C.J. Eldred (3-8, 3.43, 14 starts) and Nick Gallagher (8-3, 2.57). RHP Josh Martsching (2-1, 2.41) and Zach Daniels (1-1, 1.50) combined for eight saves.

 

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105- NEW MEXICO STATE (34-23, 20-7)

Projected WAC Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 115

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

There is a lot to like here for the Aggies. Three All-WAC performers return in C Mason Fishback (.329-4-28), 3B Trey Stine (.281-7-39) and SS L.J. Hatch (.270-5-35). Freshman All American Kyle Bradish (8-3, 4.62) will be joined by Matt McHugh (703, 4.21) and Marcel Renter (5-4, 4.74), combining for 38 starts last year. The bullpen lost Joe Galindo and Tyler Erwin, who combined for 14 saves. Watch for incoming 1B/DH Caleb Henderson (29th round, White Sox) and LHP Jonathan Groff, who was the D3 JC Pitcher of the Year.

 

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106- VIRGINIA COMMONWEALTH (38-19, 16-9)

Projected Atlantic 10 Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 120

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

The last three seasons have seen the Rams win 37, 40 and 38 games. A full 499.1 of the 516.2 innings pitched return to the roster. Of the top seven sub-4.07ERA pitchers back on the roster, five of them are seniors, led by All American reliever Sam Donko (20svs) and setup man Matt Jamer (6-2, 3.91). Friday starter Sean Thompson (6-1, 3.28) and A10 Rookie of the Year Michael Dailey (6-0, 1.57) bolster the mound corps. SS Paul Witt and C Josh Simon are crack-shot freshman who will help rebuild the order.

 

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107- NOTRE DAME (27-27, 11-17)

Projected ACC Finish: 7th, Atlantic Div.

2016 ISR: 95

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 1

There’s lot of holes to fill for the Irish, but the pitching should be set. LHP Michael Hearne (8-2, 2.13), RHP Ryan Smoyer (3-4, 4.26) and RHP Sean Guenther (3-5, 4.62) were weekenders but a pair of power arms in RHPs Pete Soloman (3-6, 4.68) and Brandon Bielak (3-2, 2.10) could take the Friday-Saturday spots. The offense hit just .260 last year and all three .300-plus hitters moved on. Watch for Northwoods League MVP OF Jake Shepski (.270), freshman All American CF Matt Vierling (.258-6-29) and SS Kyle Fiala, who should hit way better than .215.

 

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108- SAN DIEGO (27-29, 13-14)

Projected WCC Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 98

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

The Toreros need to hit the reset button. There will be plenty of new blood this season, and that might be a good thing. The WCC-worst ERA last year (5.42) should get better as LHP Troy Conyers (6-7, 5.17) will move from starter to closer and LHP Nick Sprengel (5-7, 5.92) should have a better sophomore year as the Friday guy. Also keep an eye on LHP Miles Sandum, a low-90s freshman flinger. C Riley Adams (.327-6-37) had a great summer in the Cape but is the only returnee to hit better than .278.

 

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109- COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON (31-26-1, 12-12)

Projected CAA Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 100

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Geez. The list of Cougar victims last year included Coastal Carolina, South Carolina, Nebraska, Florida State, UC Santa Barbara, Clemson, etc. More consistency is needed here for a return to the NCAAs. The offense hit just .255 but has 2B Dupree Hart (.314, 10SBs) and CF Bradley Dixon (.273) to rebuild the offense. RHP Bailey Ober (7-4, 3.53) returns after being drafted by the Dodgers and has RHP Carter Love (10svs) back in a deep bullpen. Lots of JC transfers and freshmen will play big roles.

 

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110- JACKSONVILLE STATE (34-24, 20-10)

Projected OVC Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 114

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Be offensive. That’s the mantra of the Gamecocks for 2017. They led the OVC with a blistering .313 average and return top sticks like All American 2B Clayton Daniel (.372), SS Taylor Hawthorne (.337-5-52), C Hayden White (.313-5-32) and DH A.J. Reynolds (.347). RHPs Joe McGuire (4-0, 5.64) and Garrett Farmer (2-1, 5.66) are slated to move to weekend roles. LHPs Justin Hoyt (1-3, 1.80, 11svs) and Nate Sylvester (1-2, 4.01, 5svs) return to lead a deep bullpen and should help shrink the .304 opponent average.

 

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111- KANSAS STATE (26-31, 8-16)

Projected Big 12 Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 104

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

There is hope for better in 2017, especially when coach Brad Hill looks at his all-senior infield of 1B Jake Scudder (.333-7-45), 2B Josh Ether (.191), SS Jake Wodtke (.301) and 3B Quintin Crandall (.276). LHP Parker Rigler (2-4, 4.22) and RHP Bryce Ward (Big 12 Freshman team 2015, redshirt 2016) will be solid Friday-Saturday guys. Sophomores Brogan Heinen (2-0, 2.60) and Mitch Zubradt (2-1, 3.42) will lead an experienced but unproven bullpen.

 

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112- MARSHALL (34-21, 21-9)

Projected Conference USA Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 73

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 0

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

Oh man, when I talked with MU head coach Jeff Waggoner at the CUSA tourney he bemoaned the fact that his team was better than its RPI. And this year he’ll have very little pitching coming back and most of his offensive firepower hitting the bricks. 3B Tyler Ratliff (.327-12-47) and 1B Tommy Lane (.296-13-48) have plenty of power at the dish but need the newbies to step up. On the mound, the Herd has very little returning but LHP Patrick Murphy (4-3, 1.67) and RHP Wade Martin (1-0, 2.60) are the only pitchers with sub-5.00 ERAs.

 

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113- CINCINNATI (26-30-1, 13-10-1)

Projected American Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 123

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Look for a big jump from the Bearcats. The 3.69 team ERA was the best in 40 years at UC. Nearly every arm of note returns to the roster including the 1-2 punch of RHP Andrew Zellner (7-4, 2.32) and LHP J.T. Perez (6-5, 2.97). The top four sticks return to the offense but the ‘Cats must hit better than that boney-armed .235 team average. Coach Ty Neal calls CF Treg Haberkorn (.264, 14SBs) one of the best outfielders in D1.

 

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114- AUBURN (23-33, 8-22)

Projected SEC Finish: 7th, Western Div.

2016 ISR: 125

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Okay, here’s the deal; Auburn will be good this year. But they’ll be killer in the years ahead. There’s little experience returning as catcher Blake Logan (.274) is the only regular tapped for the starting lineup. The infield is all-new and RF Daniel Robert (.245 in 29 games) will be a key leader. Keegan Thompson went 7-3, 3.10 in 2015 before missing last season and Casey Mize (2-5, 3.52) will join him on weekends. The Tigers had the No. 5-ranked recruiting class, led by RHP Davis Daniel (34th round, Cubs) and 3B Josh Anthony (16th round, Braves).

 

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115- AUSTIN PEAY (34-23, 21-9)

Projected OVC Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 112

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

The Peay could be a team to watch with all three weekend arms back, led by senior RHPs Caleb Powell (7-2, 3.96) and Alex Robles (10-6, 4.67), who also hit .317-4-39 as a DH. APU hit .308 as a team and returns powerbats OF Chase Hamilton (.332-12-47) and 1B Dre Gleason (.320-9-54). Junior OF Cayce Bredlau hit .304 in 2015 but sat out most of 2016 and LHP John Sparks went 1-2, 10.74 but spent last summer in the Cape hitting 95mph on the gun.

 

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116- UCF (26-33, 8-16)

Projected American Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 145

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

An uncharacteristic 2016 led to Greg Lovelady coming over from Wright State to take the reigns. He has a full cupboard to work with featuring a lot of seniors, like SS Brennan Bozeman (.299) and OF Eli Putnam (.287). They will also welcome back LF/P Kyle Marsh who hit .299 and went 0-1, 3.38 on the mound in ’15 and sat out last year. A pair of reliable seniors will lead the arms staff in RHPs Robby Howell (7-4, 1.96) and Juan Pimentel (3-7, 4.08). Also back is DH/RHP Rylan Thomas, who was a 26th round draft pick of the Mets last June.

 

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117- STEPHEN F. AUSTIN (30-30, 14-16)

Projected Southland Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 113

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Last year was the first 30-win season since 2011 for the Lumberjacks. For this year, the pitching will be deep and experienced, but must improve on its 5.52 ERA. The weekend rotation will be all seniors, led by Friday ace LHP Patrick Ledet (6-2, 3.92) and Erik Nouis (4-4, 4.17). They’ll have a bunch of returnees in the bullpen, including saves ace Tyler Starks (3-3, 3.64, 7svs) and Seth Campbell (3-0, 3.24). Conner Fikes (.362, 12SBs), Tyler Kendrick (.338, 10SBs) and Zac Michener (.322-5-33) come back from a team that hit .298.

 

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118- KENNESAW STATE (29-27, 17-4)

Projected A-Sun Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 152

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

The Owls could be primed for a big season. Eight of the top nine pitchers are back and seven are juniors/seniors. LHP Chris Erwin (3-3, 5.76), Gabe Friese (6-2, 4.35) and A.J. Moore (4-3, 4.48) return for weekend duty and could be ready to dominate. RHP Erich Stahl (8svs) and LHP Mason Ward (3-2, 4.34) are solid senior bullpenners. Five returning hitters went .315 or better last year, led by top bat Griffin Helms (.376 in 28 starts) OF Corey Greeson (.356-5-29) and 1B Austin Upshaw (.344-7-36). But the 5.01 team ERA and .962 defense must improve.

 

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119- WESTERN CAROLINA (31-31, 15-9)

Projected SoCon Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 131

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

The Catamounts won three games in a 20-hour span to take the SoCon Tourney title and earn an NCAA bid last year. Lots of returnees signals this should be a return to 30-plus wins again. CF Matt Smith (.388-10-55) has All American potential and RF Bryson Bowman (.326-19-60) turned down the Yankees in last June’s draft. Brett Pope (.323) is quietly one of the better shortstops in the country. The Cats led the SoCon with 512 Ks and feature LHPs Brendan Nail (5-6, 5.08) and Bryan Sammons (8-3, 5.74) along with RHP B.J. Nobles (2-2, 4.07, 5svs).

 

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120- NORTH FLORIDA (39-19, 15-6)

Projected A-Sun Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 82

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Ole Smoke Laval has some mojo going at UNF, but another 39-win season? Not sure this time. Sophomores Austin Drury (6-1, 4.02) and Frank German (2-4, 4.36) look to be the Friday-Saturday guys. The back end of games is set with two lock-down arms in Alex Smith (3-0, 1.11, .190OBA) and Matt Naylor (5-3, 2.52), who was a Cape Cod League All Star last summer. The four returners in the field will man the infield positions led by 2B Chris Thibideau (.344-8-32) and 3B Alex Merritt (.316-7-48). Midland College transfer Yahir Gurrola hit .417 with 18HRs last season.

 

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121- ARKANSAS-LITTLE ROCK (26-28, 17-13)

Projected Sun Belt Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 134

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Things are looking up for the Men of Troy as 426 of last year’s 477 innings pitched are back, led by RHP Matt McDowell (4-3, 4.74) and Preston Oberling (1-0, 2.73). But all those returnees MUST help bring down the 6.20 team ERA. The .302 offense will lose All American Ryan Scott and his .435 average, but Dalton Thomas (.375-9-52), Cameron Knight (.313), Ty Gunter (.302) and Nik Gifford (.295-7-40) return to scare the bejesus out of opposing pitcher.

 

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122- PITTSBURGH (25-26, 10-18)

Projected ACC Finish: 6th, Coastal Div.

2016 ISR: 103

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

There certainly are some big holes to fill for Pitt this year, especially 1st round pick RHP TJ Zeuch and .405 hitter Charles Leblanc. Issac Mattson (2-0, 3.71) and Matt Pidich (DNP) both threw well in the Cape last summer and have bigger roles. CF Frank Maldonado (.330) will be leaned upon as the only returnee to hit better than .277. SS David Yanni (.226) and LF Jacob Wright (.235) need to step up. Coach Joe Jordano calls his freshman class “one of the most talented groups we’ve ever had.”

 

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123- AIR FORCE (30-27, 12-18)

Projected Mountain West Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 136

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+ inns.): 3

Holy cow! A 30-win season? Strong. And… it could happen again. Sure, they’ll miss All American ace Griffin Jax, but nearly everyone else of note is back. LHP Jacob DeVries (6-6, 5.09) can run it up to the mid-90s and RHP Nick Biancalana (3-5, 5.79) will move into the Saturday role. Bullpen depth is a question. Six of the top seven batters return to the order, all of which hit .296-plus. 2B Brad Hallam (.408-3-57) should be getting more accolades, OFs Adam Grosbeak (.378-5-33) and Tyler Jones (.360-19-64) are potent.

 

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124- SAMFORD (35-26, 13-11)

Projected SoCon Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 122

Starters Returning: 2

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 7

The good news-bad news here is tilted in the right way for the Bulldogs. Nearly every pitching arm returns from a squad that led the SoCon with a 4.95 ERA. RHPs Stephen Jones (4-2, 4.11), Jared Brasher (3-4, 4.82) and Mikhail Cazenave (4-1, 5.36). They’ll also get back RHP Wyatt Burns(2-2, 3.61, 8svs) and Josh Rich (1-3, 4.60, 3svs) to lead a deep, experienced bullpen. The bad news is only 1B Austin Edens (.311) and OF T.J. Dixon (.299, 21SBs) are back in the field. Incoming SS Branden Fryman was a Mets draftee last June.

 

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125- SAN DIEGO STATE (21-38, 11-19)

Projected Mountain West Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 153

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

After a 41-win season in 2015, last year was a thud for coach Mark Martinez and Co. Things should turn around quickly with so much experience returning. Justin Wylie (.305-4-39), Alan Trejo (.305) and Tyler Addison (.302, 11SBs) lead an offense that must hit better than last year’s .274. LHPs Dominic Purpura (4-2, 3.25) and Jacob Ericsson (4-6, 3.21) lead the rotation and bullpen respectively. SS Danny Sheehan, who it .307-6-45, returns after missing 2016. Also, incoming OF Avery Tuck was a 26th round draftee last June and is part of the 27th ranked recruiting class.

 

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126- ARKANSAS STATE (29-29, 13-17)

Projected Sun Belt Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 118

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

All-SBC 1B Joe Schrumpf (.299-6-43), 2B Jeremy Brown (.294) and OF Garrett Rucker (.295, 10SBs) are big threats. Three key recruits from New Mexico Military are projected starters in C Justin Felix, 3B Alex Howard and OF Winston Welch. The rotation of RHPs Bryan Ayers (3-3 5.05), Peyton Culbertson (4-0, 5.44) and Tyler Zuber (5-3, 6.59) has a lot of starts between them, but need to lock in more. Closer Tanner Kirby (1-1, 3.09) has the best returning ERA on the team.

 

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127- WILLIAM & MARY (31-31, 14-9)

Projected CAA Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 139

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

A CAA title, NCAA bid? Nice work. But the Tribe needs better quality starts as they allowed 64 first-inning runs a year ago. Yikes. RHP Nick Brown (5-7, 5.53), LHP Bodie Sheehan (5-4, 4.86) and RHP Dan Powers (8-6, 4.69) need to clamp down just a bit more. Closer Robert White (2-3, 3.34) needs to cut down on the walks. Cullen Large (.328-7-46) could be the best 2B in the country. OFs Charles Ameer (.277-8-35) and Ryan Hall (.316-5-33) and DH Ryder Miconi (.314) will help the offense.

 

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128- St. JOHN’s (28-26-1, 9-9)

Projected Big East Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 157

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Nearly the entire squad returns for Ed Blankmeeyer’s 23rd edition of the Redmen/Red Storm. All Big Easters like SS Jesse Berardi (.298-5-40), 2B Josh Shaw (.297-2-42) and OF Michael Donadio (.315-3-31) lead a veteran core. The rotation of RHP Ryan McAuliffe (5-2, 4.32), LHP Kevin Magee (1-5, 4.72) and RHP Michael LoPresti (3-0, 4.81) made 32 starts a year ago. Some bullpen arms will be missed but there are replacements in place, including frosh LHP Jeff Belge, a 32nd round pick of the Red Sox last summer.

 

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129- PENN STATE (28-27, 12-12)

Projected Big 10 Finish: 10th

2016 ISR: 127

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

2016 saw the Lions earn their first winning record in five years. Will there be another step forward for PSU? Well the pitching seems to be loaded and ready with RHP Sal Biasi (5-6, 3.74) and LHP Taylor Lehman (2-9, 4.79), who can both run it up to the low-90s. RHP Justin Hagenman (6-3, 3.84) and reliever Dakota Forsyth (2-3, 2.28) help solidify a team whose ERA was 3.71. OF Nick Riotto (.307) is the only regular back who hit better than .267. LHP Dane Biasi was a 22nd round pick of the Cubs last June.

 

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130- SAN FRANCISCO (22-34, 14-13)

Projected WCC Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 132

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Nino Giarratano likes his 2017 Dons and is hopeful for another trip to the NCAAs. Top hitters 1B Ross Puskarich (.331-5-31), 3B Allen Smoot (.321) and OF Matt Sinatra (.305, 26SBs) will spearhead the offense. If SS Nico Giarratano (.251) can hit to potential, look out. The pitching staff will need to bear down, closer Joey Carney (0-1, 4.70, 5svs) is the only returnee who tossed under 5.00 ERA. RHP Mack Meyer (3-2, 5.13, 3svs) will be a competent set-up man and Friday RHP Thomas Ponticelli (4-6, 5.94) is a star on the rise.

 

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131- MISSOURI (26-30, 9-21)

Projected SEC Finish: 7th, Eastern Div.

2016 ISR: 121

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

The Tigers drooped to a last place finish in 2016. Arrrrgh. 21-year head coach Tim Jamieson, has moved on. Now Steve Bieser takes over and buoys better hopes. He’ll have two of the three weekend starters returning in RHP Tanner Hock (5-6, 2.99) and LHP Michael Plassmeyer (4-7, 5.12). Relievers Cole Bartlett (3-5, 3.90, 3svs) and Brian Sharp (2-2, 4.84, 5svs) will make for quality bullpen arms. Sharp (.252), who also plays 1B, is the top returning bat. Obviously, the Tiger offense (just .249 as a team) needs a shot in the arm. RHP Bryce Montes De Oca has hit 100mph on the gun.

 

 

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132- LIBERTY (31-28, 12-12)

Projected Big South Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 126

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The energetic Scott Jackson comes from North Carolina to take over for the likable Jim Toman as the Eagles head honcho. He will have to fill some gaping holes for a repeat 30-plus win season here. But RHPs Alex Degroat (4-4, 4.02) and Shane Quarterly (6-4, 3.38) are top-quality arms to rebuild around. The top three batters come back in Freshman All American OF D.J. Artis (.369, 23SBs), OF Will Shepherd (.328-8-46, 12SBs) and DH Andrew Yack (.307-7-40)

 

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133- MILWAUKEE (32-26, 17-11)

Projected Horizon Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 129

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

What happens on the mound is going to determine if the Panthers can win 30-plus again. They’ll lose Pitcher of the Year Brian Keller and have some holes to fill in the ‘pen. C Daulton Varsho (.381-8-51) and RHP Jacob Sommers (2-2, 5.80) are projected to be high-round draftees. Weekend starters Jay Peters (4-5, 3.30) and Adam Reuss (2-4, 3.79) are steady seniors while RHP Elijah Goodman (5-1, 2.73) was a freshman All American. If some JUCO guys work out, Milwaukee will be a big threat.

 

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134- EVANSVILLE (29-27, 9-12)

Projected MVC Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 138

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Sr. RHP Connor Strain (3-1, 0.68) is back after pitching in just five games in 2016. LHP Alex Weigand (3-4, 5.16) and RHP Patrick Schnieders (4-6, 4.23) return to their weekend posts as well. Righties Ryan Brady (2-1, 1.99, .189OBA) and Austin Alligner (5-3, 3.82) will lead a strong bullpen. There are not a lot of returnees in the field but the .974 defense was spearheaded by 2B Trey Hair (.341-10-42) and SS Stewart Nelson (.230). OF Korbin Williams (.268-10-29) has fencebusting potential.

 

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135- NAVY (43-16-1, 15-5)

Projected Patriot League Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 141

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

Winning 40-plus games out of the Patriot League is nearly unheard of. Yet, here are the Midshipmen… with 43. Mercy. Remarkable. Though 40-plus again would be unlikely, Coach Paul Kostacopoulos thinks he’s got another special team here too. A full 46 of last year’s 60 starts on the mound return from a team with a 3.20 ERA, led by nine-game winner Noah Song (9-3 2.75) and Kyle Condry (6-1, 3.76). The bullpen will be young. Four .300-plus hitters return, as do middle infielders Travis Blue (.261) and Matthew Wilcox (.246, 37BBs).

 

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136- CENTRAL ARKANSAS (29-27, 16-14)

Projected Southland Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 117

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

There will be a lot of new blood out on the field for the Bears this season, making this Allen Gum’s toughest coaching assignment. But getting mound ace Cody Davenport (6-2, 3.21) back is huge, as is reliever-turned-Sunday starter Jacob Murray (1-2, 6.31, 6svs). Tyler Gray (6-1, 3.34), another righty, will take the Saturday spot. The bullpen will be all rookies. 1B Hunter Strong (.270), DH Justin McCarty (.271-3-28) and SS Brooks Balisterri (.263) will have to be rebuilding blocks.

 

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137- CHARLOTTE (23-32, 12-17)

Projected Conference USA Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 148

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 7

The 49ers should keep the improvement train rolling this season since 404 of last year’s 495 innings pitched return. Unfortunately, all three returning weekend starters had an ERA over 5.00. But on the plus side, bullpen arms like RHP Philip Perry (1-1, 3.29, 4svs) and LHP Matt Horkey (1-3, 4.86, 2svs) will provide relief. The Niners hit .294 as a team and the top five hitters return, led by 2B Brett Netzer (.384-5-35), RF TJ Niching (.358), 1B Logan Sherer (.336-12-52) and CF Reece Hampton (.335, 12SBs)

 

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138- RUTGERS (27-28, 9-15)

Projected Big 10 Finish: 11th

2016 ISR: 143

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

The Knights will be exciting, having stolen 126 bases last season. CF Jawuan Harris (.278, 37SBs) and RF Tom Marcinczyk (.270, 18SBs) will keep that going. They’ll be joined by top bats 1B Mike Carter (.367) and LF Luke Bowerbank (.301). Lefty relievers Ryan Fleming (5-0, 3.56) and Max Herrmann (5svs) are the only arms with sub-5.00 ERAs. Lastly, the Knights have to stop opening their season in Miami, where they’ve gone 0-16 the last five opening weekends.

 

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139- TEXAS STATE (31-28, 16-14)

Projected Sun Belt Finish: 9th

20166 ISR: 110

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 0

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

There will be plenty of new blood in the Bobcat dugout (and especially bullpen) this year. The top two hitters have moved on, but  there shouldn’t be too much drop-off as 1B Ryan Newman (.321-7-24), 3B Jaylen Hubbard (.316) and C Dylan Paul (.306-3-20) are part of six returnees to the order. The pitching staff will be a complete overhaul as only three pitchers with 15.0 innings or more return from a year ago. Brandon Lewis (2-1, 3.60) will assume the Friday role.

 

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140- HAWAI’I (23-30, 12-12)

Projected Big West Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 130

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

Aw man, the Warriors made some waves last year, leading the BWC at the midway point of the conference play. But now they must replace nearly every pitcher of note beyond weekend starter Brendan Horning (4-7, 3.11). The 37th-ranked recruiting class will provide a ton of arms, including expected Saturday-Sunday starters in LHP Dominic DeMiero and RHP Jackson Rees, who both hit the low-90s. They’ll throw to C Kekai Rios (.331) who hit .295 in the Cape this summer. LF Marcus Doi (.273) is an All Big West type if he stays healthy.

 

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141- TENNESSEE TECH (31-24, 17-13)

Projected OVC Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 164

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 7

It’s (nearly) all hands on deck for the Eagles as the numbers above attest. Freshmen All Americans like Kevin Strohschein (.393-15-73) and closer Ethan Roberts (6-1, 2.94) give TTU a good future. There is also C Chris Brown (.330-11-48) and 1B Chase Chambers (.313-8-36) to bash with off a team that hit .301. Every other hurler of note is back, led by the senior trio of Michael Wood (4-3, 3.47), Jake Usher (4-0, 4.07) and Chase Burkett (3-3, 5.81). Put your money on these guys.

 

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142- DELAWARE (32-22, 10-14)

Projected CAA Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 161

Starters Returning: 9

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

There is almost nobody who doesn’t return for the Blue Hens. Coach Jim Sherman could have a special season, especially if Friday LHP Brandon Walter (7-3, 3.53), a freshman All American, can set the tone to each weekend. RHP Ron Marinaccio (7-4, 5.18) will take his low-90s heat to the closers role. Rhode Island transfer RHP Dan Jacobson will be a big addition. The offense hit .296, 50HRs and 80SBs and returns everyone, led by LF Jordan Glover (.360-5-52) and RF Kyle Baker (.346, 13SBs). This team is dangerous.

 

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143- ST. JOSEPH’S (31-23, 17-9)

Projected Atlantic 10 Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 156

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Coming off the second-most wins of any season in SJU history, the Hawks could see more on the way this year if they can stay consistent. A hyper-experienced team features three weekend starters, Tim Brennan, Lucas Rollins and Pat Vanderslice, who all had sub-3.45 ERAs. Stopper Ryan Kelly (8svs) is joined by RHP Justin Aungst (2-0, 2.70) in the ‘pen. They’ll throw to All American C Deon Stafford (.395-18-50), who leads a junior-senior heavy batting order.

 

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144- BELMONT (33-27, 17-13)

Projected OVC Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 155

Starters Returning: 9

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

For the first time since 2013 the Bruins got back to winning 30-plus games last year. This time they are loaded for another run, especially with two-way spark OF/LHP Brennan Washington (.330-15-52 and 0-2, 4.61, 2svs), RHP Tyler Vaughn (7-3, 4.00 and Connor Etheridge (3-2, 4.42). But none of the other arms posted an ERA better than 5.00. 1B Chas Hadden (.370-3-37), 2B Hunter Holland (.327-6-32), C Clay Payne (.278-10-60) and OF Tyler Walsh (.273-9-39) lead a deep, experienced order.

 

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145- RHODE ISLAND (31-27, 21-6)

Projected Atlantic 10 Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 158

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

In 2014 the Rams had 13 wins. Fast forward to 2016 and they’re beating the likes of South Carolina in the Regionals. Well done guys. All American flinger Tyler Wilson (13-1, 2.29) could be a top-round draftee and Ben Wessel (6-4, 4.36) and Tyler Barss (13svs) lead a deep staff. The top three hitters come back in CF Jordan Powell (.354, 13SBs), DH Martin Figueroa (.333-8-33) and 2B Chris Hess (.306, 10 triples).

 

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146- WICHITA STATE (21-37, 9-12)

Projected MVC Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 160

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

The time to turn this ship around is right now. I mean, how weird is it to see the Shockers last in ERA in the MoValley? Much less seeing them ranked at No. 146 here. Ugh. Well they could finish much better as nearly every pitcher worth note returns, led by Will Schwanke (5-3, 3.40) and LHP Cody Tyler (3-5, 4.46). Incoming LHP Alex Segal, a draftee of the Blue Jays, should also contribute big. The top four hitters come back with All MVC OF Greyson Jenista (.326-5-32) and SS Trey Vickers (.306) at the top of the lineup.

 

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147- FLORIDA GULF COAST (27-32, 9-12)

Projected A-Sun Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 150

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The pitching staff will be the biggest barometer to the Eagles season. Lots of returnees and a junior-senior heavy staff but the team ERA was 5.33 last year. RHP Kenton Hering (3-2, 4.62), Mario Leon (4-4, 5.12) and Sterling Koerner (3-6, 4.87) lead the arms corps. 3B Jake Smith (.376) and 2B Matt Reardon (.360) are All ASun types. JC transfers like C Spencer Levine, SS Julio Gonzalez, OF Eli Lovell and RHP Kutter Crawford are part of a stellar 24-member class.

 

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148- WASHINGTON STATE (19-35, 11-19)

Projected Pac 12 Finish: 11th

2016 ISR: 146

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Year two of the Marty Lees tenure should go much smoother. The Cougs finished last in pitching (5.32) and 2nd-to-last in hitting (.248) in the Pac 12 but hopes are buoyed by the pitching staff. LHP Damon Jones (2-2, 5.11) is joined by RHP Ryan Walker (6-3 2.40), who had five saves out of the ‘pen last year but is now the Saturday starter. The recruiting class was one of the best in years for Wazzu, featuring RHP David Wullum and Joe Rosenstein, a pair of JC transfers with big guns and C Cal Waterman.

 

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149- GRAND CANYON (25-28-1, 13-14)

Projected WAC Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 167

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

For starters, the Rockies must hate GCU as both incoming freshmen OF Quoin Cotton and C Cuba Bess decided to come to campus despite getting drafted by Colorado. They’ll bash with Jared McDonald (.362) and OFs Tom Lerouge (.342, 13SBs) Garrison Schwartz (.307-6-37) to help improve the .280 team average. The pitching staff has some depth, beginning with LHP Jake Repavich (3-3, 3.2) and RHP Tyler Wyatt (2-5, 5.58) on weekend duty and RHP A.J. Franks (2-0, 2.73, 2svs) and RHP Mick Vorhof (5-1, 4.15, 3svs) in the ‘pen.

 

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150- MOREHEAD STATE (32-27, 17-13)

Projected OVC Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 140

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

Coach Mike McGuire says this’ll be his “most talented team” yet. The offense may have to carry them at times, but what an offense. Seven of the eight returning starters hit .300-plus, led by SS Reid Leonard (.344, Freshman All-Am.), RF Will Schneider (.343-10-57), CF Kent Ryan (.324, 40BBs) and DH Trevor Snyder (.327-8-48, Freshman All-Am.). The Eagles have some restocking to do but will have LHP Aaron Leacher (5-4, 4.57) and RHP Luke Humphreys (5-5, 5.51), who hopes to return to soph form when he was 2nd team All-OVC.

 

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151- WESTERN KENTUCKY (24-30, 10-20)

Projected Conference USA Finish: 9th

2016 ISR: 133

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Coach John Pawlawski says this year’s Hilltoppers “will be the most talented WKU has fielded in several years.” They’ll be helped by the return of LHP Ryan Thurston (3-5, 4.20), RHP Sam Higgs (3-1, 3.83) and closer Jackson Sowell (1-0, 2.36, 8svs), who can hit the mid-90s. OFs Kaleb Duckworth (.329-4-36) and Steven Kraft (.319-6-33) will be joined by JC All Americans in 1B Nathan Methvin and 2B Tyler Robertson, and CF Colie Currie is a top of the order hitter.

 

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152- LIPSCOMB (31-27, 12-9)

Projected A-Sun Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 172

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

This could be a special season in Nashville for the Bison as they’ll have a pair of potential 1st round draftees in CF Michael Gigliotti (.302, 15SBs) and RHP Brady Puckett (9-2, 2.93), a 6’9” fireballer who excelled in the prestigious Cape Cod League last summer. Fellow junior Jeffrey Passantino (6-5, 3.40) will join Puckett to make for one of the best 1-2 punches in the A-Sun. 2B Lee Solomon (.370, 25SBs), 3B Zeke Dodson (.314) and OF Tevin Symonette (.304-8-47) will supply infectious energy for the Bison lineup.

 

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153- FURMAN (29-30, 14-10)

Projected SoCon Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 166

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns): 4

Lots to like here for the Paladins as they will be experienced and talented. LF Carter Grote (.318-6-28) is a team leader and has lethal bats like 3B Jake Crawford (.308), C Cameron Whitehead (.340-4-20) and 1B Brandon Elmy (.328). Also, Jabari Richards (.343-10-25) was the SoCon Freshman of the Year. RHP Will Gaddis (10-3, 3.45) is a Friday stud and has RHP Matthew Quarrels (7-7, 5.32) and the return of LHP Grant Schuermann (3-2, 6.06 in 2015). RHP Jake Crawford (0-5, 5.77) returns as the closer.

 

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154- SACRAMENTO STATE (30-28, 16-11)

Projected WAC Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 144

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

The Hornets took some losses from last year, leaving a lot of questions. But three of the top four bats in the order come back in DH Kody Reynolds (.295-3-14), OF Matt Smith (.289) and OF Andrew McWilliam (.286-6-36). A pair of seniors will lead the arms corps in returning weekender Max Karnos (7-3, 3.38) and Tanner Olson (3-5, 5.22). The ‘pen lost saves ace Tyler Beardsley, but RHPs Chad Perry (2-1, 3.74), Austin Root (1-2, 3.58) and Jonny Palsha (0-2, 4.50) combined for 74 appearances last year.

 

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155- BALL STATE (32-26, 15-9)

Projected MAC Finish: ,1st Western Div.

2016 ISR: 147

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

A 3-7 finish soiled what was expected to be a great end to the 2016 season, keeping BSU at home in June. Coach Rich Maloney says this’ll be his deepest arms staff of his tenure, including B.J. Butler (6-1, 1.84) moving from the ‘pen to the Friday spot, and 6’8 senior Kevin Marnon (4-6, 4.68) heading the rotation. They’ll throw to C Caleb Stanton (.377-11-71), one of the better power-bats in the country. He’ll be joined by SS Alex Maloney (.305, 12SBs), who is also slated to be the team closer, and 3B Sean Kennedy (.266-4-32).

 

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156- VALPARAISO (30-28, 17-12)

Projected Horizon Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 137

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

The Crusaders are in for a real challenge this season as they lost a mass amount of talent off last year’s squad. CF James Stea (.318, 18SBs) is a dynamo at the dish, on the base paths and in the meadow. 1B Nate Palace (.275-6-40) and 2B Chase Dawson (.253) will be rebuilding blocks as well. Senior arms like Mario Losi (3-6, 4.96) and Ellis Foreman (2-2, 4.12) will be vital to the 2017 success.

 

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157- BRADLEY (29-21, 11-9)

Projected MVC Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 119

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 0

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

After an epic 2015, last year was still a 29-win season, but not enough for coach Elvis and his boys. They want to be more steady than that on a yearly basis. The pitching will be a question mark as all three weekend starters and the closer are gone from last year’s MVC-best staff. New closer Nate Stong (2-0, 5.05) finished 5th in D1 with a 41-4 K-to-BB ratio. Offense will be potent, led by 3B Spencer Gaa (.333-5-31, 3-time All-MVC), OF Evan Gruener (.275-4-30) and OF Andy Shadid (.276-7-34).

 

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158- SAN JOSE STATE (17-39, 7-23)

Projected Mountain West Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 197

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

It’s been a tough ride of late for Sparty Nation, including just 13 wins in MWC play the last two years. There are some encouraging signs, including having four-fifths of the infield back, led by 1B Shane Timmons (.328-4-26) and senior catcher Joe Stefan (.291), the top two hitters in the order. Also, the three most-used arms on the staff are back in RHPs Josh Nashed (0-6, 4.79) and Matt Brown (2-7, 5.18) and southpaw Graham Gomez (2-5, 5.40). RHP Hilario Tovar (3-4, 5.58) needs to clamp down to be the teams’ closer. Heavy-slugging Chris Williams returns to campus after a one-year stint at a JC.

 

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159- ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM (21-34, 12-18)

Projected Conference USA Finish: 10th

2016 ISR: 151

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

The Blazers need a bounce-back season and they are armed for it. All three weekenders come back, led by LHP Adam Lamar (3-4, 2.93) and a trio of bullpenners in LHP Thomas Lowery (1-4, 2.82, 8svs), RHP Garrett Whitlock (4-5, 3.00) and RPH Kyle Davis (2-1, 1.82). Offensively, three of the top four hitters return, led by Carter Pharis (.297) and OF Brewer Hicklen (.289, 22SBs), who is also a receiver on the football team. But oi vey! That .236 team batting average has GOT to change, pronto.

 

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160- PRINCETON (24-21, 13-7)

Projected Ivy League Finish: 1st in Gehrig Div.

2016 ISR: 163

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Holy Toledo! That 9th inning of the Ivy League Playoff, Game Three, was still one of the highlights of my 2016 season. Just a bizarre and exciting finish. The Tigers will still be in the fight for the title again with three senior hurlers in RHP Chad Powers (6-4, 2.45), the Ivy Pitcher of the Year, RHP Chris Gigilo (2-1, 3.10) and LHP Keelan Smithers (4-1, 3.46), an All Ivy flinger. Their Ivy-best pitching staff returns a bunch of arms. CF Jesper Horsted (.326) will be the leadoff hitter and is joined by RF Nick Hernandez (.288-3-33) and SS Asher Lee-Tyson (.268).

 

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161- SOUTH FLORIDA (24-33, 8-16)

Projected American Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 173

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The order/fielders come back nearly intact except for OF Luke Maglich. But only SS Kevin Merrell hit better than .300 (at .320) so some youthful bats will need to step up. CF Garrett Zech just hit .249 but is a burner (20SBs). RHPs Phoenix Sanders (5-5, 4.15) and Joe Cavallari (6-3, 4.27) combined for 29 starts and will get future 1st-round draft pick RHP Shane McClanahan back from TJ surgery. If everyone plays to potential, the Bulls should make a big jump.

 

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162- UT-SAN ANTIONIO (17-34, 8-20)

Projected Conference USA Finish: 11th

2016 ISR: 176

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Let’s just say this, if any team needs an injury-free season it’s the Road Runners. 1B Jesse Baker, CF Kevin Markham and RF Trent Bowles went .330-15-44, .311-8-32 and .283-4-16 in 2015, respectively. All are back to 100%. They’ll joint 2B Bryan Arias (.321-4-20) and SS C.J. Pickering (.289-5-31), who will also be the closer. The flinging corps has a lot of returnees but need to clamp down after a CUSA-worst 5.92 team ERA and allowing opponents to hit .293.

 

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163- UNLV (24-32, 14-16)

Projected Mountain West Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 124

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 0

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

It’s been a strange ride for the Rebels the last few years, culminating in two straight losing seasons. Unfortunately, 2017 has the looks of another down year as there was a lot of losses from last year. But the three top hitters from do return in C Payton Squire (.375), CF Kyle Isbel (.319) and DH Cooper Esmay (.284-4-26). But on the mound? Oof! I ain’t pretty. All three weekend starters and the relief ace have hit the bricks. Then again… maybe a lot of new blood will be a good thing.

 

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164- BINGHAMTON (30-25, 19-5):

Projected AmEast Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 174

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Bully for Bingo! The Bearcats have added field turf and lights to their home facility for more scheduling flexibility. Coach Tim Sinicki will have the luxury of a deep team offensively and pitching-wise (insert coach’s evil grin here). Four of the six returnees hit .306 or better, led by 1B Brendan Skidmore (.307-9-42) and DH Jason Agresti (.280-7-38). Wake Forest transfer 3B Justin Yurchak (.312 in 2015) and 26th round draftee RHP Ben Anderson will make an instant impact. RHPs Jake Wiozczewski (4-0, 3.06) and Jake Cryts (7-4, 5.22) will lead the arms crew.

 

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165- PACIFIC (22-30.12-15)

Projected WCC Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 165

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Year two of the Mike Reu regime should go more smoothly than last year. Having fencebusters like DH Lucas Halstead (.313-5-25) and LF Danny Mayer (.314015040) will certainly help. But around the infield some vital positions will be manned by new blood. Some big time pieces return in the arms corps, including weekend starters Will Lydon (3-9, 4.52) and Ricky Reynoso (3-4, 4.76), who will both need to clamp down more. Saves specialist Vince Arobio (2-1, 3.12, 6svs) leads the bullpen, but some greenhorns will have to emerge.

 

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166- WINTHROP (28-27, 12-12)

Projected Big South Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 187

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Head coach Tom Riginos says this year’s mound staff will be the deepest he will have in his tenure. Seven pitchers throw 90-plus on this staff, led by Friday starter Reece Green (2-1, 4.56) and LHP Thad Harris (6-6, 5.02), who started Sundays last year. RHP Matt Crohan was BSC Pitcher of the Year but pitched only 19 innings last year due to injury. RHP Zach Cook (3-3, 3.48, 9svs) will be one of the better closers in the BSC. C Babe Thomas (.220) needs to revert to soph form where he hit .300-8-34. CF Anthony Paulsen (.352, 12SBs) and LF Matt Mulkey (.286) will key the offense.

 

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167- FLORIDA A&M (31-21, 19-5)

Projected MEAC Finish: 1st, Southern Div.

2016 ISR: 162

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 1

Since 2013’s seven wins, Jamey Shouppe has won 26, 41 and 31 wins. Incredible. There are a lot of losses off last year’s team but seniors like ace LHP JoJo Durden (2-3, 5.06) and do-it-all RHP Chase Jarrell (6-4, 5.05), will lead the staff. Also watch for RHP Ryan Anderson (4-1, 6.04), who should be the Saturday starter. The Rattlers hit a MEAC-best .323 in 2016 and has 3B Ben Ellzey (.388-4-42), 1B Brian Davis (.370-7-44) and C Jacky Miles (.328-4-42) back to lead their offense. Oh, and Aubrey McCarty is an ambidextrous pitcher (88-92 with right hand and 86-88 with left).

 

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168- UC DAVIS (17-36, 5-19)

Projected Big West Finish: 9th

2016 ISR: 184

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

The Aggies had the worst pitching staff in the Big West at 5.09, but there is plenty room for optimism, especially with the top two weekend arms in LHP Robert Garcia (3-5, 2.73) and RHP Justin Mullins (2-4, 4.79), plus the return from injury of a pair of 2015 stars in LHP Orlando Razo (4-2, 3.27) and All Big West closer Zach Stone, who had 13 saves in 2015. Top hitter Mark Cardinalli (.333) will join C Logan Denholm (.280-4-27) and1B Cameron Olson (.273-5-28) to improve the .266 offense from a year ago.

 

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169- MIAMI (27-29, 14-10)

Projected MAC Finish: 2nd, Eastern Div.

2016 ISR: 183

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Loaded. The RedHawks could surprise. A full 65% of their innings pitched were by Freshman a year ago, including weekenders like Cole Gnetz (4-2, 3.75), Nick Ernst (3-1, 3.76) and set-up man Shane Smith (5-3, 2.98). Closer Ryan Marske (2-2, 3.52, 8svs) is a low-90s low-slot slinger. MU was 15th nationally in HRs last year and has 1B Ross Haffey (.355-11-48), OF Tyler Harris (.289-7-25) and 3B Adam Yacek (.262-4-28, but hit .337 in 2014). 2B Steve Sada (.221, 23SBs) is a lead-off type who needs to get on base more.

 

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170- KANSAS (20-35-1, 6-17)

Projected Big 12 Finish: 9th

2016 ISR: 175

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

KU needs a turnaround. There will be some new blood here but it’s got big-time potential. Ritch Price and his staff think incoming C Jaxx Groshans could be a freshman All American. Incoming 1B Luke Bakula was a JC All-Am. in 2016 and 2B James Constantino has outstanding tools. SS Matt McLaughlin (.256) and RHP Stephen Villines (5-2, 2.13, 5svs) excelled in the Cape last summer. RHP Sean Rackoski (2-4, 6.50) returns from injury last year and will be a Friday starter.

 

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171- NICHOLLS STATE (26-30, 14-16)

Projected Southland Finish: 9th

2016 ISR: 170

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

A streaky team a year ago, the Colonels hope to see smoother seas ahead. Some capable pitching returns including weekend starters RHP Cole Stapler (5-6, 3.49) and LHP Alex Ernestine (3-5, 7.58) and key relievers in RHP Daniel Goff (1-1, 4.27, 2svs) and LHP Mike Hanchar (1-4, 6.00). Some of the top hitters from a year ago return as well, led by Gavin Wehby (.310) and Kyle Knauth (.347-3-32). Junior-Senior heavy team, so look for improvement.

 

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172- GARDNER-WEBB (37-21, 24-10)

Projected Big South Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 154

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

There may be a dearth of returnees in the mound corps but head coach Rusty Stroupe and his staff brought in a bunch of high-quality arms in their latest recruiting class to fill some holes. RHP Wil Sellers (12svs) will move into the Friday role. Zach Mosay (JC All-Region) and returnee Brad Hallman (5-5, 5.02) will join him in the rotation. C Justin Kunz (.333-6-23) was a frosh All American, RF Danny Sullivan (.348-9-35) is a difference-maker and Collin Thacker (.394-4-46) may just be the best 2nd baseman in the country.

 

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173- HARTFORD (37-18, 14-9)

Projected AmEast Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 105

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Thirty-seven wins? Damn… well done Hawks. For 2017 the position players will be a strength as head coach Justin Blood thinks he could have three AmEast MVP candidates in C Erik Ostberg (.340), SS Ben Bengston (.316-6-51) and 1B David McKinnon, who led the conference with a .392 average. Offensively, HU led the AmEast with a .302 average, but on the mound, three of the top four pitchers in ERA are gone. RHP David Drouin (3-2, 3.06) should pull some post-season honors.

 

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174- SANTA CLARA (23-29, 10-17)

Projected WCC Finish: 9th

2016 ISR: 135

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

It’s always good news when a coach points out that the strength of his team is in the weekend rotation. RHPs Jacob Steffens (1-1, 5.40), Steven Wilson (5-5, 3.92) and low-90s flinger Eric Lex (TJ surgery in 2016) have a lot to live up to. The bullpen will be young, so the starters must go deep into games. Field/order returnees 1B Jake Brodt (.231-4-22), SS John Cresto (.263-6-20) and LF Tyler Meditz (.284-5-26) all have some gap power. Lots of newbies will need to step up, look for C Jake MacNichols and CF Andre Nnebe to be big time.

 

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175- ALABAMA STATE (38-17, 24-0)

Projected SWAC Finish: 1st, Eastern Div.

2016 ISR: 149

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (13+inns.): 3

Unfortunately, the architect of the greatest turnaround in college baseball has moved on from ASU as Mervyl Melendez took the FIU head coaching post in the off-season. The Hornets out-distanced the SWAC field by 10 games in regular season play before winning the tournament last year. Six of the eight returnees hit .313-plus, led by Eriq White (.346-3-41, 10SBs), Yamil Pagan (.335-5-48, 20SBs), Carlos Ocasio (.330-13-60, 19SBs), Hunter Allen (.319-7-24) and power-hitting Ray Hernandez (.289-16-62). The arms corps will be led by Tyler Howe (10-3, 1.69) and RHP Brandon Caples (3-1, 3.76). But there will be a ton of new faces taking the mound.

 

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176- HOUSTON BAPTIST (24-29, 12-18)

Projected Southland Finish: 10th

2016 ISR: 168

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

The top two pitchers are back on their weekend posts in Christian Thames (3-7, 3.30) and Addison Russ (8-5, 3.44). The Huskies will also get Zach Carter back, though he’ll look to improve on his 2-4, 6.08 numbers. Beyond that, the bullpen is full of transfers and freshmen, so look for some shake-out. They’ll throw to C Blake Thomas (.217), who will be joined by part-timers at 3B, Austin Zellweger (.278), and CF, Zane Otten (.282).

 

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177- MURRAY STATE (27-29, 15-15)

Projected OVC Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 186

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Lots of experience returns, including an all-senior rotation. But RHP Ryan Dills, was the best ERA at 5.20. Clamp down boys. Closer Tyler Anderson (2-1, 3.41) held opponents to a .233 average. The offense hit .304 last year and returns four All-OVC talents in C Tyler Lawrence (.355-8-58), 1B Ramsey Scott (.335-13-63), SS Jaron Robinson (.255, All Frosh) and LF Adam Bauer (.341-5-40). Also look for OF Aaron Bence (.311 in part-time duty) and RF Brandon Gutzler, who hit .385 but was lost for the year after 16 games.

 

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178- ILLINOIS-CHICAGO (25-30, 15-12)

Projected Horizon Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 181

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

The Flames look to get back to their winning ways and have most of the pitching coming back, but hope to get a bounce-back season from LHP Jake Dahlberg (6-8, 5.35), who was the Horizon Pitcher of the Year in 2015. RHP Jack Anderson, also looks ready after having TJ surgery last year. RHP Connor Ryan (2-3, 3.78) was a weekend starter last year but may move to the closer role in ’17. 2B David Cronin (.360, 16SBs) is a bolt of energy and teams with SS Cody Bohanek (.286, 15SBs, only two errors).

 

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179- MEMPHIS (22-39, 9-15)

Projected American Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 188

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Coach Daron Schoenrock says this may be his best team in years. The pitching got better as last year went on, so they hope for carry-over to this year. RHP Colton Hathcock (5-8, 3.94) and Connor Alexander (2-7, 5.19) will man two of the weekend spots and Jon Bowlan (2-6, 4.42) is considered the most talented arm. Lots of experience is back in the order, led by 2B Brando Grudzielanek (.292, 10SBs) and OF Chris Carrier (.280-6-38). A big incoming group of newbies should keep the Tigers competitive, led by SS Alec Trela and OF Tyler Webb.

 

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180- FAIRFIELD (32-26, 17-7)

Projected MAAC Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 192

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Speed kills. The Stags will be swift-afoot, hoping to top their 77SBs from a year ago. Coach Bill Currier will have SS Mike Conti (.335, 8SBs), 3B Jack Gethings (.267, 13SBs) and a host of 6.6 to 6.8 runners in the batch of new recruits. The weekend is still stocked with RHPs John Signore (3-2, 2.90), Kyle Dube (6-4, 4.09) and Gavin Wallace (8-5, 5.13). They’ll have bullpen studs like RHP Peter Horn (3-1, 4.01) and LHP Mike Boniauto (4-2, 2.54) behind them for another season. They’ll throw to C Kevin Radziewicz (.330), a block of granite behind the dish.

 

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181- STETSON (29-31, 9-12)

Projected A-Sun Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 169

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

For the first time in 37 years Pete Dunn won’t be the coach of the Hatters, replaced by the highly energetic Steve Trimper from Maine. Unfortunately, there are lots of stars to replace. But LF Kirk Sidwell (.308), RHP Brooks Wilson (5-6, 2.90) and RHP Logan Gilbert (2-1, 2.74) are good rebuilding blocks. The newbies will be relied on a lot so look for freshmen RF Austin Bogart and 3B Jorge Arenas and JC transfer 2B Nico Torino to contribute big.

 

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182- LONGWOOD (32-27, 14-10)

Projected Big South Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 182

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

The pitch staff will lose ace Travis Burnette, but nearly every other pitcher of note is back from the 4.71 team ERA staff. RHP Mitch Kuebbing has made 42 appearances in his career and will take over the Friday spot after missing last season. LHP Michael Catlin (4-0, 3.00) and RHP Devin Gould (2-1, 3.10) are stout bullpenners. DH Alex Lewis (.369-5-45) and SS Michael Osinski (.305) are All Big South candidates. CF Sammy Miller (.260, 20SBs) needs to get on base more.

 

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183- OMAHA (28-28, 18-12)

Projected Summit Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 178

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns): 4

Longtime head coach Bob Herold was (mysteriously) fired after last season and now assistant coach Evan Porter takes over. Talents like top hitters Cole Gruber and Clayton Taylor will be missed but Ryan Cate (.317-5-31), Adam Caniglia (.302-3-24) and Grant Suponchick (.302) will help keep that .292 team average going. Two-Thirds of the rotation is back in LHP Sam Murphy (4-6, 3.86) and Corey Binger (8-3, 4.06). Lots of options in the ‘pen but need to find an arm or two to make a quantum leap forward.

 

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184- OAKLAND (23-27, 11-14)

Projected Horizon Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 180

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Holy smokes! That schedule is going to beat the hell out of the Grizzlies before Horizon play begins. The Grizzlies lose their staff ace, their stud closer and their best hitter. But they improved from 10 wins in 2015 to 23 last year for a reason. 1B Zach Sterry (.301-4-27) and 3B Ben Hart (.305) are stout bats and gloves. RHPs Tyler Palm (4-5, 4.29) and Jake Lee (5-5, 5.31) combined for 122 innings. The bullpen needs to be restocked.

 

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185- CAMPBELL (26-27, 13-11)

Projected Big South Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 177

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

The Camels will play on a brand new All Pro Turf playing surface in 2017. A couple of talented pitchers return after missing 2016. RHP/OF Cole Hallum was a 2015 All American and Big South Player of the Year. Allan Winans (pitched at Bakersfield JC in 2015) and Andrew Witczak (2-0, 2.12 in ’15) are the expected Friday-Saturday guys. Four of the top five hitters are gone, leaving just LF Drew Butler (.301, 14SBs) as the lone returnee to hit better than .255.

 

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186- DAVIDSON (28-26, 12-13)

Projected Atlantic 10 Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 189

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 9

It’s year 27 of the Dick Cooke Era and things should go much better as he’ll have one of his deepest teams ever. Senior RHPs Durin O’Linger (7-5, 3.39) and Westin Whittier (9svs) lead a deep staff. Although they only list four starters back, there were a number of part-timers who will step up this year. 1B Brian Fortier (.327) and Jake Sidwell (.309) are senior leaders and they’ll get CF Cam Johnson back after hitting .297 but missed half of 2016.

 

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187- VIRGINIA TECH (19-36, 6-24)

Projected ACC Finish: 7th, Coastal Div.

2016 ISR: 193

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Last place? Last freakin’ place?! For the second time in three seasons the Hokies finished rock-bottom in the Coastal Division… and by a large margin too. But the good news is, look for a bounce-back season as RHP Aaron McGarity and Luke Scherzer return from injuries to claim the Friday spot and closer role. LHP Packy Naughton (3-7, 3.65) was the Cape Cod Pitcher of the Year. LF Nick Anderson (.339) RF Tom Stoffel (.270) and SS Ryan Tufts (.284) will need to have big seasons.

 

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188- EAST TENNESSEE STATE (27-30, 13-11)

Projected SoCon Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 216

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 7

Boy, do the Pittsburgh Pirates hate ETSU. Last June three Bucs players were drafted but turned them down in C Hagen Owenby (.374-17-60, 14th round), RF Aaron Maher (.315-9-38, 38th round) and SS Chris Cook (30th round), who played only nine games last season due to injury. All three could go in the top 10 rounds this June. There are almost 800 career innings returning to the mound, led by seniors Jamin McCann (8-4, 5.19) and Blake Smith (4-4, 5.58). But nobody with an ERA under 5.00 returns and ETSU had a SoCon-worst 6.28 team ERA.

 

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189- MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE (20-35, 5-24)

Projected Conference USA Finish: 12th

2016 ISR: 179

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

There is an interesting yin and yang to the Raiders the season as the top five bats from the offense return, including SS Riley Delgado (.388) and OFs Brad Jarred (.298-3-27), Austin Dennis (.290) and Blake Benefield (.286-8-32). The State pitching staff issued a CUSA-high 272 free passes a year ago and only LHP Jake Wyrick (3-7, 5.43) returns to the weekend rotation. RHP AJ Spencer (1-1, 4.18, 2svs) and LHP Cody Puckett (3-2, 4.22) are the only other returnees below 5.00 ERA. so improvement is needed.

 

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190- WOFFORD (30-28, 12-12)

Projected SoCon Finish: 7th

2016 iSR: 185

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

The 2016 season marked the third straight 30-plus win campaign for the Terriers. They led the SoCon in steals a year ago and return a pair of burners in RF Bradley McClain (.323, 21SBs) and CF Kody Ruedisili (.280-4-28, 15SBs). 1B Brett Hash (.303-9-51) provides the bash. Two of the three weekend starters are gone, as is their saves ace, so LHP Adam Scott (4-6, 6.48) and RHP reliever-turned-starter Elliot Lance (6-2, 3.60) will be Friday-Saturday starters. Youth will be leaned upon in the pitching corps.

 

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191- CANISIUS (32-27, 16-8)

Projected MAAC Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 195

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Coach Mike McRae feels like his 2017 outfit is a close-knit unit and has the depth on offense and on the mound to win another MAAC title. Friday ace Zach Sloan went just 1-0, 3.00 in 18 innings last year, but was nagged by injuries. RHP Andrew Kneussle (3-3, 4.84) and LHP Nolan Hunt (5-0, 2.90) will man the Sat.-Sun. spots. RHP Tyler Smith (6-3, 4.63) will be a bulldog of a closer. The right side of the infield is spot-on with SS Liam Wilson (.316) and SS Jake Lumley (.339, 12SBs).

 

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192- NORTH DAKOTA STATE (29-25, 12-18)

Projected Summit Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 190

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Coach Tod Brown has to love the fact that there is a ton of pitching back. Five different arms started and four of them return, led by LHP Blake Stockert (2-5, 3.73) and Reed Phannenstein (2-1, 3.56). RHPs Sean Terres (1-3, 3.22, 6svs) and Jordan Harms (1-3, 3.12) lead a deep and capable bullpen. The offense/defense gets All Summit 2B Drew Fearing (.327, 18SBs) and RF Ben Peterson (.275-4-34), while the infield needs to replace three positions, which will be a huge key to NDSU’s season.

 

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193- NORTHERN ILLINOIS (24-32, 14-10)

Projected MAC Finish: 2nd, Western Div.

2016 ISR: 198

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

One thing coach Mike Kunigonis has to like is that most of the returnees are seniors. Four of the five fielders back are fourth-year guys, but Brad Wood’s .277 is the best average of the bunch. Fellow infielder Carl Russell (.266-3-21) offers some gap pop. William Anderson (5-4, 4.08) and Donovin Sims (5-4, 4.32) return to weekend duty and are backed by a bevy of senior bullpenners. But relief ace Ryne Blanton has the best ERA of the relievers at 5.30, meaning the ‘pen must clamp down more this year.

 

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194- JAMES MADISON (24-31, 13-11)

Projected CAA Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 213

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Coach Marlin Ikenberry and his staff were impressed with how hard the Dukes have worked in preparation of this 2017 season and hope to see a jump in the win column. Lots of firepower comes back to the order in C Zach Tondi (.335-7-36), 1B Brett Johnson (.328-7-38), OF Ky Parrott (.318-4-29, 15SBs) and 2B Kyle McPherson (.295-5-43). Returning weekenders RHP Brandon Withers (3-6, 6.27) and LHP Colton Harlow (3-6, 6.220) will be joined by closer LHP Michael Evans (5-1, 2.66, 4svs) as anchors for the arms staff.

 

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195- LOUISIANA-MONROE (20-35, 10-20)

Projected Sun Belt Finish: 10th

2016 ISR: 171

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 0

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Oi vey. The Warhawks finished dead last in batting (.231) and defense (.961) and second-to-last in pitching (5.57) in the SBC. Coach Bruce Peddie will have his work cut out for him with his team’s lack of experience. Then again, a brand new canvas to work with might not be all bad. Nathan Reynolds’ .241 average is the best of the returnees. Saves ace RHP Anthony Herrera (1-4, 1.74, 10svs) is back and Keegan Curtis (2-2, 4.59) and Cole Hendrix (0-1, 3.86) will provide support.

 

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196- STONY BROOK (27-27, 13-9)

Projected AmEast Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 199

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

The Seawolves will return four of their five infield starters who led the AmEast in defense at .980. OFs Andrew Gazzola (.304) and Toby Handley (.288) are burners in the meadow. Only 23 of the teams’ 54 starts are back on the mound but AmEast Freshman of the Year RHP Bret Clarke (6-2, 2.19) and Cam Stone is back as the closer after missing much of last season. INF Michael Wilson was a 15th round draft pick of the Red Sox but chose to come to campus.

 

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197- EASTERN MICHIGAN (10-14, 23-36)

Projected MAC Finish: 3rd, Western Div.

2016 ISR: 194

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The EMU offense hit a boney-armed .249 last year, but stole 127 bases so talents like SS Marquis Gill (.250, 35SBs) and Brennan Williams (.308, 10SBs) should excel. There is also some power in C Jeremy Stidham (.225-8-21, 15SBs) and OF Mike Mioduszewski (.289-9-36). RHP Davis Feldman (2-4, 4.21) is the only returning weekender but the bullpen should be strong, especially Sam Deplane (6-3. 4.50, 3svs) and Matt Beaton (2-2, 4.05, 3svs). Unfortunately, the best weekend starter, Tyler Butzin and his 3.33 ERA, quit the team in the off-season.

 

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198- ST. LOUIS (25-31, 15-11)

Projected Atlantic 10 Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 224

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

The Billikens hope to avoid repeating last year’s 0-9 start and they’ll have a veteran unit to do so. Two-way talent Devin Mahoney led the team in hitting at .339 and went 4-2, 3.55 on the hill. RHPs Miller Hogan (3-8, 3.27) and Nick Vichio (1-4, 4.58. 5svs) both pitched in the prestigious Cape Cod League last summer. The defense, one of the worst in the A10 (.964 fielding, 73 Es), needs to not be a crutch this year.

 

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199- UMBC (28-23, 13-10)

Projected AmEast Finish: 4th

201 ISR: 200

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

The Retrievers have made steady progress the last few years and were third in the AmEast in both hitting (.288) and pitching (4.55) last year. A pair of All Conference talents lead them in C Hunter Dolshun (.345-13-47) and 1B Jamie Switalski (.295-4-40). A pair of senior transfers will be huge additions on the mound in Michael Austin (Bethune-Cookman) and Joe Vanderplas (Tennessee).

 

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200- ELON (25-29, 13-10)

Projected CAA Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 204

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 8

The Phoenix have had a tough time since moving into the Colonial, having back-to-back losing records. They can change that if the injury bug doesn’t hit again. Five of the eight fielders did not play last season due to injury or new to the program. The outfield will be swift with Kyle Jackson (.273-12-43) and Jackson State transfer Zach Evers (6.5/60). Unfortunately, only two returning pitchers (RHPs Danny Crowe and Ryan Conroy) had ERAs below 5.00 last season, so they’ll have to clamp down as a unit.

 

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201- HOLY CROSS (24-26, 12-8)

Projected Patriot League Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 206

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Man alive. Those two one-run losses in the PL playoffs at Navy last May are sticking in the craw of the Crusaders. At least HC is motivated, right? Well the pitching is in place with a trio of seniors in RHPs Brendan King (7-2, 2.84) and Joe Cravero (6-3, 3.24) in the rotation and Jon Escobar (1-1, 2.08) as the ace closer. Top hitter Bill Schlich (.313-5-25) and powersticks like Anthony Critelli (.267-9-41) and Josh Hassell (.252-9-28) will have to get some help to boost the offense.

 

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202- GEORGIA STATE (24-31, 10-20)

Projected Sun Belt Finish: 11th

2016 ISR: 205

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

Coach Greg Frady hopes to turn around that losing mark and he has reason to be excited. He’s geeked to have SS Justin Jones (.290), CF Ryan Blanton (.265-6-20, 10SBs) and 3B Jarrett Hood (.338) back as All-SBC performers. LF Jaylen Woulliard (.313) is a solid tablesetter as well. Pitching-wise there is a lot to replace, but RHP Bryan White (1-4, 5.73) and Bryce Conley (5-4, 5.19) are the top returning ERAs on the staff. RHP Logan Barnette (3-1, 1.38 in 2015) also returns after missing 2016.

 

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203- RICHMOND (28-24, 11-13)

Projected Atlantic 10 Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 201

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Ahhh, there could be good things heading toward picturesque Pitt Field. The Spiders return most of their flingers on the bump, including LHP Zach Grossfeld (4-5, 4.12) and RHP Keenan Bartlett (4-4, 4.43) on weekend duty and RHP Matt Olson (4-2, 2.54) in relief. Two-way threat Daniel Brumbaugh (1-2, 3.10, 6svs and .302) is a valued commodity, as are DH Kurtis Brown (.342) and 1B Kyle Adams (.321). Look for C Brandon Johnson (.238) to take a big step after having a great fall camp.

 

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204- HIGH POINT (32-24, 14-10)

Projected Big South Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 142

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Approaching the 30-plus win mark might be a chore this year as three-fourths of the starting rotation will be incoming freshmen. But RHP Andrew Gottfried (6-5, 2.65) will be the Friday guy and five of the six bullpenners had sub 5.00 ERAs, led by LHP Jeremy Jackson (2.39, 23apps). The Panther coaches hope OF Josh Greene (.221) reverts to his sophomore form where he hit .355. OFs Carson Jackson (.307-6-40) and Austen Zente (.286, 28SBs) will put pressure on opponents.

 

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205- CENTRAL MICHIGAN (24-37, 12-12)

Projected MAC Finish: 4th, Western Div.

2016 ISR: 212

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Fire up Chips! CMU has some firepower back with DH/1B/LF Mick Stokowski (.385-8-52), OF Daniel Jipping (.300-6-42) and will introduce CF Zach Gilles, a freshman that coach Steve Jaksa says “will lead our league in stolen bases every year, 30-plus easy.” Nice confidence. Some of the best news of all is that Friday ace Colton Follett is back after missing 2016 and going 2-6, 3.91 in 2015. Also, reliever Sean Martens (6-1, 3.22 in ’15) is also back after TJ surgery. If those two live up to billing, it could be a banner year.

 

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206- PRESBYTERIAN (27-30, 12-12)

Projected Big South Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 210

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

The Blue Hose still have one of the best nicknames in the country. Of the five returnees in the field and the top six pitchers back, all are juniors and seniors, so leadership shouldn’t be a problem. OF Tyler Weyenberg (.358, 16SBs) and SS/2B Cletis Avery (.270, 15SBs) are great at putting pressure on opposing pitchers. LHP Brian Kehner (5-7, 2.94) and RHP Tanner Chock (3-4, 4.60) each started 15 games a year ago and LHP Hayden Deal (2-1, 6.16) locked down seven saves.

 

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207- BETHUNE-COOKMAN (29-27, 17-7)

Projected MEAC Finish: 2n, Southern Div.

2016 ISR: 191

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Last year’s MEAC tourney title led to their 15th trip to the NCAA tournament. Though only four starters return in the field, 1B Danny Rodriguez (.308-10-46) and 3B Jameel Edney (.274-7-33) are good on the corners and pop at the plate. SS Demetrius Sims (.288, 14SBs) has a chance to be a top five round draftee. Tyler Norris (6-4, 4.52) will be the staff ace and has Donte Lindsay (4-3, 5.80) returning to weekend duty. Coach Jason Beverlin and Co. think that new closer Ivan Coutinho could be a top 10 draft pick this summer.

 

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208- NORTHEASTERN (31-27, 12-11)

Projected CAA Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 159

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 0

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Oh man, as good as 2016 was, 2017 could be tough. All three weekend starters left, including two top 10 round draftees. But don’t shed too many tears for the Huskies, they’ve still got LHP Andrew Misiaszek (5-4, 3.29) and RHP Mike Fitzgerald, last year’s closer with 11svs/3.26 ERA, moving into the Saturday role. Coach Mike Glavine says the mound depth is a strength but experience is thin. Maryland transfer C John Mazza was all the rage in the fall. OF Cam Walsh (.317) and 3B Charlie McConnell (.289, 26SBs) lead a solid offense/defense.

 

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209- TEXAS A&M-CORPUS CHRISTI (19-32, 8-20)

Projected Southland Finish: 11th

2016 ISR: 203

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

The Islanders look to get back to their winning ways for the first time since 2014 and have the horses to do it. Four-year starter Devin Skapura (3-8, 3.64) will be joined by LHP Korey Rasure, a JC transfer who throws into the low 90s. RHPs Nolan Holland (2-1, 2.87) and newcomer Cole Carter, also low-90s flingers, will lock down the back end of games. The offense (.261) and defense (.959) both need improvement, but 1B Dawson Yates (.298-3-13), 2B Brett Burner (.272) and SS Cullen Joswiak (.206) will address those needs.

 

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210- GEORGETOWN (25-29, 8-10)

Projected Big East Finish: 5th

2016 ISR:  215

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

Man alive. I can’t even recall GU’s last winning season, though there is enough back to give hope. RHPs Simon Mathews (5-4, 2.45), Kevin Supreko (0-4, 6.29) and Jack Cushing (3-5, 4.58) will man weekend spots and Jimmy Swad (5-2, 6.28) takes over closing duties. The Hoyas had the 3rd-best offense in the Big East in ’16 and the top three hitters from last year return in OF Michael DeRenzi (.332, 26SBs), DH Jake Kuzbel (.293) and SS Chase Bushor (.287), which forms a good lead-by-example trio.

 

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211- MONMOUTH (30-27, 16-8)

Projected MAAC Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 208

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Head coach Dean Ehehalt likes the grit of this team. Getting MAAC Pitcher of the Year Ricky Dennis (9-5, 3.78) back to the fore is comforting. Some bullpenners will move to starters roles, including RHPs Joe Molettiere (1-2, 4.34) and Jordan McCrum (2-1, 3.22). Three All-MAAC 1st teamers are back in1B Shaine Hughes (.385), 3B Grant Lamberton (.341) and LF Dan Shea (.312-8-53). LHP Justin Andrews (8svs) and DH Pete Papcun (.309-5-22) hope to stay injury-free all season.

 

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212- PORTLAND (17-37, 3-24)

Projected WCC Finish: 10th

2016 ISR: 196

Starters Returning: 2

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Talk about a major makeover, the Pilots will have a team full of transfers and freshmen. In fact, the entire infield is all-new, but look for C Dutton Elske and RF Ryan Kim to be outstanding 1st-year guys and SS Daniel Lopez and 1B Michael Hicks to be impact transfers. RHP Davis Tominaga (4-10, 4.75) and LHP Jordan Horak (1-8, 5.66) are returning weekend starters, though Kevin Baker (0-5, 5.53), a mid-90s flinger, will take the Friday spot.

 

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213- EASTERN KENTUCKY (24-31, 13-17)

Projected OVC Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 214

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

It’s a bit of a strange preseason for the Colonels, they’ve got the three most effective pitchers coming back in RHP Caleb Johnson (3-4, 3.93, 2svs), RHP Eric Nerl (6-4, 5.14) and LHP Alex Hamilton (4-5, 6.34). But oddly, in their preseason questionnaire, Nerl is the only one listed in their projected rotation and relievers. 1B Ben Fisher (.288-8-33) and SS Cole Warrenfeltz (.299-5-26) will be the base for the infield and OF Daniel McFarland (.347) hopes to keep a hot bat.

 

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214- OHIO (23-29, 8-16)

Projected MAC Finish: 3rd, Eastern Div.

2016 ISR: 219

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

After 36 wins in 2015, the Bobcats took a step back last year, dipping to just eight MAC wins. But there is optimism for better as the defense should be stellar as 1B Rudy Rott (.319), 2B Ty Black (.261) and standout SS Tyler Finkler being joined by senior 3B Conner Callery, who has been a career backup but ready for his spotlight. Relievers Jake Roehn (2-2, 2.18, 7svs) and Tom Colette (3-3, 4.11) had the best ERAs in ’16. Weekender Jak Rudnicki (5-3, 5.11) will take his mid-90s heat to the ‘pen this year.

 

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215- IPFW (33-26, 14-16)

Projected Summit Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 202

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 0

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Make way for the Mastadons. Not only one of the coolest nicknames in the country but they have also managed two straight years of winning seasons. There will be more inexperience this season but coach Bobby Pierce says this team will actually be more talented. SS Jackson Boyce (.294, 15SBs) is a lead-by-example type but he’ll be surrounded by newbies. Decent arms return including ERA leader Jordan Martin (3-1, 3.22) and saves ace Jake Weber (3-4, 4.54, 13svs).

 

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216- ST. BONAVENTURE (26-22-1, 11-13)

Projected Atlantic 10 Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 218

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Another winning season should be on the docket for the Bonnies as they’ve got a junior-senior dominated team. The double-play combo of 2B Aaron Phillips (.362) and SS Cole Peterson (.289, 19SBs) will anchor a good defense. OF Taishi Terashima (.296) is a well-rounded talent in the meadow. Last year, St. Bona was 4th in the nation in team ERA at 2.79. RHP Brandon Schlimm (7-5, 2.11) will team with Phillips (2-3, 3.02) on weekends for a great one-two punch, but the bullpen youth is a concern.

 

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217- SOUTH CAROLINA-UPSTATE (22-30, 5-15)

Projected A-Sun Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 220

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

There is a chance the Spartans could be in line to exceed last year’s win total, especially with the senior-heavy pitching staff, led by RHPs Bryan Hathaway (3-1, 1.67, .176OBA) and Eric Birkland (1-3, 3.48), who should lead the bullpen. Three top hitters return in 2B Devon Ortiz (.352), 1B Charlie Carpenter (.306-6-24) and LF J.J. Shimko (.292). Incoming freshman class will be leaned on heavily, including Jake Bourke, the expected 3rd baseman and Sunday starter.

 

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218- TOLEDO (19-38-1, 13-11)

Projected MAC Finish: 5th, Western Div.

2016 ISR: 223

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 7

This will be an interesting season for the Rockets. They return very little in the offense/defense department, but pitching-wise they are stocked to the gills. The four most-used pitchers are back as ace LHP Ross Achter (7-6, 3.10), RHP Sam Shutes (2-5, 4.43) and LHP Steven Calhoun (6-8, 5.21) make an all-senior rotation. Sophomore relief stud LHP Michael Jacob (2-5, 3.43, 8svs) backs them. The new blood will have to step up as OF Ross Adolph (.268) and 1B Dalton Bollinger (.264) are the top returnees from a team that hit just .246.

 

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219- SACRED HEART (30-28, 18-13)

Projected NEC Finish: 2nd

2016 ISR: 217

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Head coach Nick Giaquinto announced in November that this would be his final season at the helm and assistant Nick Restaino would take over. There will be strength up the middle with C Jake Friar (.288, part-time), SS Ted Shaw (.256, 14SBs) and CF Alex Perry (.277), who is also a reliever (1-0, 2.55). LHP James Taubi (5-3, 2.16) and John Sostarich (4-3, 3.98) lead a solid arms corps. Reliever Baylor Sundahl (3-3, 4.81) will move to the Sunday starter role.

 

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220- WESTERN MICHIGAN (22-34, 11-13)

Projected MAC Finish: 6th, Western Div.

2016 ISR: 225

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Check this out… The Broncos were 4th in the MAC in hitting (.270), last in pitching (5.88) and 1st in defense (.978) last year. WMU used predominantly eight pitchers and five of them return, led by relievers Jacob Piechota (10-4, 3.75, 3svs), Jake Bartels (2-0, 4.46, 6svs) and Kyle Mallwitz (1-2, 5.44), all of whom may be asked to take a weekend role this year. Top bats like Connor Smith (.336, 12SBs) Grant Miller (.321) and Evan Nelson (.278) will need to get help from the bottom of the order.

 

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221- APPALACHIAN STATE (18-36, 9-21)

Projected Sun Belt Finish: 12th

2016 ISR: 228

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Aye caramba. A last place finish can occasionally get the head coach fired, like it did here for the Mountaineers. Kermit Smith comes over after a highly successful run at D2 Lander. The first order will be improving that weak-kitten .232 team average. SS Matt Vernon’s (.317-8-42) return will help. Two weekenders in LHPs Colin Schmid (2-7, 5.33) and Bobby Hampton (1-7, 6.68) and the top two relievers in RHPs Luke Watts (1-1, 2.48) and Reed Howell (6-2, 3.83) lead a deep staff.

 

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222- PENNSYLVANIA (19-22, 10-10)

Projected Ivy League Finish: 2nd in Gehrig Div.

2016 ISR: 235

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

An awful lot of freshmen started last season and now they’re seasoned and primed for bigger things. The Quakers led the Ancient Eight in batting (.282) and C Matt O’Neill (.341-4-26), SS Matt Tola (.301) and 3B Matt McGeagh (.250) were part of that youth movement. But OF/C Tim Graul (.341-4-26) is the bulldog baseballer who was the Ivy Player of the Year. The pitch staff is loaded with a senior-heavy tilt, including lefties like Mike Recheck (2-4, 3.96) and Gabe Kleiman (3-3, 2.24). Soph Jake Nelson (3.12, 5svs) is a reliable closer.

 

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223- MANHATTAN (24-31, 13-11)

Projected MAAC Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 239

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

It’s comforting to have 51 of last year’s 55 starts on the mound back on the roster for 2017, and this from a team that had the second-highest strikeout total (380Ks) in the MAAC. LHPs Joe Jacques (5-4, 4.30) and Tom Cosgrove (5-5, 3.70) and RHP Joey Rocchietti (5-6, 3.87) for a solid one-two-three punch. RHP Shawn Kanwisher (7-3, 2.57, 4svs) will lock down late leads. C Fabian Pena (.350-9-54) was a Freshman All American and teams with 5’2” dynamo SS Jose Carrera (.314, 20SBs), who both hit 22 doubles.

 

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224- CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD (19-37, 12-14)

Projected WAC Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 221

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 7

DRAMA crept into the CSUB program when Bob Macaluso was “relieved of his duties” on Dec. 16th. Pitching coach Jeremy Beard is the interim coach for 2017. He’ll have one of the more unique two-way talents in D1 in DH/3B/RHP Mihlak Jones (.284 and 1-0, 3.42), who moves into the Friday spot. Three seniors man the infield in 1B Max Carter (.285), 2B David Metzgar (.305, 10SBs) and 3B Ryan Grotjohn (.262). Sophomores Andrew Hansen (3-8, 5.38) and Isaiah Moten (3-3, 5.20) were thrown to the wolves early in 2016.

 

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225- GEORGE WASHINGTON (24-33, 13-13)

Projected Atlantic 10 Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 226

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Coach Gregg Ritchie calls this “the best overall talent we’ve had” in his tenure. The Colonials welcome back nearly every glove from a team that fielded a very impressive .973 defensively, 2nd-best in the A10. They will also feature the bats and swift feet of LF Mark Osis (.368, 15SBs) and CF Joey Bartosic (.349, 20SBs). LHP Shane Sweeney (2-3, 4.95) is the lone weekend returnee but RHP Eddie Muhl (11svs) is a solid closer.

 

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226- NORTHWESTERN (15-39, 7-17)

Projected Big 10 Finish: 12th

2016 ISR: 229

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 8

Well if experience carries any weight then Spencer Allen’s second NU unit should be much improved. The top four hitters return, including OF Matt Hopfner (.355), 3B Connor Lind (.289) and OF Joe Hoscheit (.275-8-33). A ton of pitching returns as well as RHP Tommy Bordignon (2-4, 4.84), who should be a top 10 round draftee in June, and RHP Joe Schindler (1-2, 5.09). The pitch staff is experienced but needs to clamp down on the 6.29 team ERA.

 

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227- ABILENE CHRISTIAN (16-37, 8-21)

Projected Southland Finish: 12th

2016 ISR: 209

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 0

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Thankfully this is the final year of transitioning to D1 play, which is always such a silly rule. ACU will still be a young team so there will be plenty of growing pains. But the double-play combo of 2B Aaron Drapper (.253) and SS Mark Pearson (.258) will be joined by top hitter Russell Chippen (.306-3-19). Brothers Austin and Brandon Lambright have had star-crossed careers but can both run it up to the mid-90s as starter and closer roles. LHP Braxton Wilks was an NECL All Star last summer.

 

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228- FORDHAM (29-29, 15-12)

Projected Atlantic 10 Finish: 9th

2016 ISR: 222

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Though the Rams will lose two of their three weekend starters on the mound, nearly every other arm of note is back, led by Kirk Haynes (3-6, 4.19) and relievers Reiss Knehr (2-3, 2.25, .185 OBA) and Ben Greenberg (4-1, 2.83). LF Mark Donadio (.306) is the only returning stick who hit better than .268. But incoming frosh 2B Alvin Melendez and SS Matt Tarabeck are expected to make instant impacts.

 

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229- ILLINOIS STATE (17-37, 7-13)

Projected MVC Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 211

Starters Returning: 2

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

The Redbirds are chomping at the bit to make amends for last year’s 17-win season, but it won’t be easy as the roster took on a ton of attrition in the off-season. RHP Jack Landwehr (4-3, 2.89, 5svs) moves from the ‘pen to the Friday spot and joins returnee David Meade (2-4, 4.84) in the rotation. None of the other bullpen arms had an ERA below 5.66. Top bat Owen Miller (.328-5-44) will lead a bastion of new blood, including catcher Collin Braithwaite, a former BYU product, and OF John Rave, a Red Sox draftee.

 

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230- VILLANOVA (20-32, 5-13)

Projected Big East Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 241

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

An awful lot of experience returns for the Wildcats, who were more competitive their their record shows. They’ll have the comfort of being led by LHP Hunter Schryver (6-4, 2.64), a true diamond in the rough, and RHPRyan Doty (3-4, 4.97) and backed by a host of returnees who held opponents to a .269 average. The leadership will come from All Big East 2B Todd Czinege (.307-6-36) and OF Donovan May (.287). Some greenhorns will be leaned on to fill the position players but the talent has improved.

 

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231- VMI (21-35, 4-20)

Projected SoCon Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 251

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Head coach Jonathan Hadra and his staff will have a hyper-experienced squad that should improve in all areas. The .265 team average must come up and there is some power in LF Matt Pita (.322-11-40), 1B Collin Fletcher (.298-15-46) and C Peyton Maddox (.267-11-35). RHP Josh Winder (4-4, 4.80) should’ve gotten more Freshman All American notice. LHP Brandon Barbery (3-7, 6.23) and RHP Matt Eagle (5-7, 5.74) each had 12 starts in 2016. Finding a closer is the biggest question mark.

 

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232- CHARLESTON SOUTHERN (19-34, 6-18)

Projected Big South Finish: 8th/9th?… maybe

2016 ISR: 232

Starters Returning: ?

Weekend Starters: ?

Mid-Week Starters: ?

Key Relievers (15+inns.): ?

Up until mid-January CSU still didn’t have any stats from the 2016 season nor the roster for 2017 on its website. They also didn’t fill out a preseason questionnaire for D1baseball. So I really have no idea what type of team they’ll have this season.

 

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233- UT RIO GRANDE VALLEY (21-28, 10-14)

Projected WAC Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 236

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns): 3

From Pan American to UT-Pan American to UT Rio Grande Valley, the Broncos have gone through identity changes over the years, though it will never be as old-school cool as “Pan Am.” LF Jose Garcia (.369) and 2B Joe Collazo (.306) will be joined by a host of JC transfers all over the field. Lots of good pitching is back, led by Johnny Gonzalez (5-3, 2.83) and Andrew Garcia (7-5, 3.65). More transfers in former South Florida LHP Josh Witherspoon, Iowa RHP Connor Grant and San Jose State RHP Carter Johnson will make immediate impacts.

 

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234- BUFFALO (21-31, 8-16)

Projected MAC Finish: 4th, Eastern Div.

2016 ISR: 238

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

A 7-2 finish proved that BU has some momentum on its side heading into 2017. And one big Bulls is back in the form of Vinny Mallaro, who hit .351 and 13 HRs as an All-MAC performer. But most of the rest of the team is back, including Chris Kwitzer (.285-3-32) and Andrew Taft (.283-3-28). On the mound, 41 of the 52 starts on the mound are back, led by RHPs Alec Tuohy (7-4, 2.84), Charlie Sobieraski (5-6, 4.50) and reliever Logan Harasta (1-2, 2.33, 3svs).

 

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235- DARTMOUTH (18-25, 11-9)

Projected Ivy League Finish: 1st in Rolfe Div.

2016 ISR: 233

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

What? An Ivy League playoff without the Big Green? Yes, that happened in 2016 thanks to a late blown lead vs. Yale. But 2017 brings hope for a return to glory as the top four pitchers in ERA are back, led by closer Patrick Peterson (3-0, 1.65), Friday man Beau Sulser (4-1, 2.82), Michael Danielak (2-3, 2.95) and reliever Chris Burkholder (2-1, 2.97). Also,  RHP Mike Concato (All Ivy in ’15) returns this season after sitting out 2016. Upperclassmen returning to the order include 2B Dustin Shirley (.301), RF Kyle Holbrook (.280) and 1B Michael Ketchmark (.255-5-28).

 

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236- COLUMBIA (17-24, 10-10)

Projected Ivy League Finish: 3rd in Gehrig Div.

2016 ISR: 207

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

For the first time in four years CU did not make the NCAAs. If they’re going to return they’ll need a lot of input from the incoming freshman, especially on the mound. LHP Josh Simpson (2-4, 6.07) will have closer Harrisen Egly (3-1, 2.60, 5svs) to help lock down wins. RHP Ty Wiest (3-1, 2.25 in 2015) missed last season. Beyond that, it could be a crapshoot. 3B Randall Kanemaru (.340-5-27) hopes to stay injury-free and 2B Kyle Bartelman (.227-3-20) and SS Joe Engel (.163) will be a steady infield.

 

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237- UMASS-LOWELL (20-32, 5-19)

Projected AmEast Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 242

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

The youth of 2016 is a year wiser and a year better. The Friday-Saturday combo of Nick Kuzia (3-6, 5.88) and Andrew Ryan (3-7, 4.11) is a strength. Look for transfer RHP Luke Tomczyk, a 6’6” mid-90s flinger, to make a big impact. The infield features 1B Steve Passatempo (.270-11-46) and 2B Ben Prada (.252, 13SBs) and SS Oscar Marchena (.229, great glove).

 

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238- YOUNGSTOWN STATE (14-38, 5-21)

Projected Horizon Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 249

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Dan Bertolini takes the reigns of the Penguin program and hopes to provide a spark. The good news is he’ll have nearly every important pitcher back from a year ago, led by seniors RHP Jeremy Quinlan (2-8, 5.16), LHP Joe King (2-7, 5.23) and closer Kevin Yarabinec (5-2, 4.15, 3svs). YSU hit just .226 last year (YUCK!) and have OF Alex Larivee (.258-3-15) and speedy OF Lorenzo Arcuri (.225, 12SBs). It’s a junior-senior heavy lineup, but many dudes need to step up.

 

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239- YALE (19-28-1, 11-9)

Projected Ivy League Finish: 2nd in Rolfe Div.

2016 ISR: 243

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Arrrrrgh! The Bulldogs were THISCLOSE to winning the Ivy title, if not for that 9th inning meltdown at Princeton. The questions for this year is the same question for that Ivy championship weekend; Do the Elies have enough pitching to compete? RHP Scott Politz (6-3, 3.64) is an ace and RHP Griffin Dey (3-1, 4.51) made 12 appearances as a freshman. Other than that, every other pitcher had an ERA of 5.79 or higher. 3B Richard Slenker (.342) and DH Harrison White (.293, .328 in Ivy play) were both All-Ivy performers and will be team leaders.

 

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240- MAINE (20-35, 8-15)

Projected AmEast Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 257

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

A last-minute move sent head coach Steve Trimper to Stetson and assistant Nick Derba will settle in as interim head coach for this year. The infield of 3B Danny Casals (.310, 12SBs), SS Jeremy Pena (.283, 11SBs) and 2B Caleb Kerbs (.223) are all sophomores now and should be steadier. Most of the pitching that held opponents to a .256 batting average comes back to the fold, but starters Chris Murphy (0-4, 6.05) and John Arel (2-9, 3.94) need to lock in.

 

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241- MARIST (17-32, 10-14)

Projected MAAC Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 250

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 3

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 1

The Red Foxes return a deep squad with a lot of experience. Nearly all of the pitching is back on campus, led by LHP Charlie Jerla (8-6, 3.83) and RHP Sean Keenan (6-4, 4.55). Despite the weaker numbers, RHP Scott Boches (1-1, 6.75) is considered the best pro prospect on the staff. Watch for JC transfer RHP John Parisi to make a big splash as well. The offense should hit better than last year’s .275 with OF Frank Gregoire (.317), 2B Anthony Lazar (.313-4-22) and C Matt Iantosca (.308).

 

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242- RADFORD (33-23, 17-10)

Projected Big South Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 231

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Oof. Lots of youth here. The Highlanders have a legit two-way talent in junior 2B/RHP Danny Hrbek, who went .329 at the dish and is projected to be the Saturday starter after not pitching a year ago. LHP Zack Ridgely (4-6, 3.34) will be the Friday guy. The remainder of the arms staff is young and untested. They’ll throw to senior backstop Jonathan Gonzalez (.281) and have SS Colby Higgerson (.267) and CF Luke Wise (.220-4-16) to help rebuild around.

 

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243- ALBANY (23-30, 9-14)

Projected AmEast Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 234

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 7

The Great Danes have the luxury of the top four hitters back in the fold, led by 1B Matt Hinchy (.349) and fellow senior OF Kyle Sacks (.311) and SS Kevin Donati (.284) who led the team with 18SBs. Lots of losses in the starting pitching rotation off a team that was last in the AmEast with a 5.04 ERA to begin with. But reliever Dominic Savino (3.05, 9svs) will have to expand his role and has some ‘pen mates to help plug the holes.

 

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244- NORTHERN COLORADO (16-34, 11-12)

Projected WAC Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 237

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

After winning just four WAC games in 2015, the Bears have now won 12 and 11 games the last two years. Got more for us this year guys? All-WAC CF/reliever Nick Tanner (.327 & 4-1, 2.89) and 2B Dean Lawson (.357, 10SBs) will have thumpers like 3B Cole Maltese (.255-6-29) and 1B Brett Minnick (.226-9-34), but please cut down on the strikeouts guys. The starting pitching was so inconsistent, two transfers (Aaron Hamilton and Keenan Lum, formerly of Hawaii) and a freshman (Troy Watson) will take over the weekend roles.

 

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245- HARVARD (17-24, 9-11)

Projected Ivy League Finish: 3rd in Rolfe Div.

2016 iSR: 240

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 0

The Crimson has made baby steps toward a winning season in Ivy play. RHPs Kevin Stone (4-2, 4.22) and Ian Miller (1-6, 6.57) combined for 18 starts last year. Sophomore Simon Rosenblum-Larson (1-2, 6.14) is the only other pitcher of note returning. But four of the top five hitters are back, led by All-New England DH Matt Rothenberg (.363), C Josh Ellis (.304), 1B Patrick McColl (.261) and 3B John Fallon (.284). Incoming INF Quinn Hoffman was a 36th round pick of the Padres last June.

 

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246- CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE (23-34, 15-17)

Projected NEC Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 248

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Give the Devils their due, this could be a big time season… i.e.: much better than No. 246. Lots of experience and quality here, especially with dual-threat RHP/DH Andrew Hinckley, who hit .283-3-17 and went 8-4, 3.73 on the bump. The offense will also get back 2B Dean Lockery (.344), RF Franklin Jennings (.300) and 3B Ryan Costello (.324-3-21). The 2nd-best pitch staff in the NEC also returns Brett Susi (4-6, 4.24) and Mike Appel (2-5, 2.44) as part of a deep staff. BU, expect some pushback from these guys.

 

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247- BROWN (15-24, 9-11)

Projected Ivy League Finish: 4th in Rolfe Div.

2016 ISR: 244

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

I know it doesn’t sound like much but the Bears have hit double-digit win totals for three straight seasons. The goal now is to get to a winning mark in Ivy play. They’ll get two of their top three pitchers back in staff ace RHP Christian Taugner (5-3, 2.79) and RHP Reid Anderson (1-5, 5.36). They’ll also return three of their top four hitters in C Josh Huntley (.313), 1B Marc Sredojevic (.290) and OF Sam Grigo (.280-5-23). Lots of newbies in the field will have to gel early.

 

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248- QUINNIPIAC (21-31, 10-14)

Projected MAAC Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 245

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

There will be some holes to fill, but the Bobcats could have the best defense in the MAAC, with the return of 2B Ryan Nelson (.291), SS Matt Batten (.344-4-25, 20SBs) and 3B Joe Burns (.294-7-38) from the .970 fielding. Top hurler Taylor Luciani (4-3, 3.13) is joined by seniors Alex Vargas (1-2, 4.97) and Matt Osieja (1-2, 2.70). Also look for RHP Robbie Hitt (2-4, 6.18), who had a big off-season and could take the Friday spot.

 

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249- CORNELL (14-24, 7-13)

Projected Ivy League Finish: 4th in Gehrig Div.

2016 ISR: 256

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Nearly the entire team returns as 250 of last year’s 305 innings on the mound is back and the top four returning hitters. Toeing the rubber are RHP Peter Lannoo (3-3, 5.15), Paul Balestrieri (2-6, 5.51) and Tim Willies (2-5, 7.46), all seniors. LHP Justin Lewis (2-1, 3.63, 3svs) will lead the bullpen. The offense should hit much better than last year’s .240, led by 3B Tommy Wagner (.341), OF Dale Wickham (.290-5-21) and 1B Cole Rutherford (.276-6-26), one of the better powerbats in the Ivy League.

 

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250- TOWSON (20-35, 10-14)

Projected CAA Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 246

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Coach Mike Gottlieb says this team has a chance to be upper echelon in the CAA due to “the deepest pitching staff in the last five years.” JC transfer Michael Adams, a 6’5 intimidator, will take over the Friday role. LHP Kyle Stricker (6-2, 3.68) and LHP Matt Golczewski (3-1, 4.08) are two of many pitchers returning but the Tigers really need a dominant arm to emerge. SS Richie Palacios (.329-6-38, 32SBs) was a Freshman All American and the only returnee to hit better than .263.

 

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251- NORTHERN KENTUCKY (20-34, 9-21)

Projected Horizon Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 227

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 0

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

NKU moving into the Horizon League left them with a sixth place finish last season. They’ll be hard-pressed to improve that with all three weekend arms moving on, but Jean Francois Dionne is a good prospect from New Mexico JC and LHP Trey Ganns (3-3, 4.21), who will move into the rotation. Senior Charlie Jerger (2-6, 4.86) will be the closer. 1B Trey Ganns’ .286 is the best returning average, but watch out for OF TJ Alas who hit .378-7-30 in 2015 at Eastern Kentucky.

 

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252- SIENA (25-32, 16-8)

Projected MAAC Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 255

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Youth will be in abundance this season for the Saints as five of the six returning pitchers are sophomores, led by LHP Tommy Miller (6-7, 5.30) and RHP Dylan D’Anna (3-2, 7.40, 4svs). LHP Chris Amorosi (4-5, 6.35) will fill the Sunday role. No matter who is on the mound, the opponents’ .317 average must come down. The top five hitters return to the order, all of which hit .296-plus. OF Dan Swain (.311-6-33) is a five-tool talent and 2B Jordan Bishop (.296-3-43) leads a rebuild defense.

 

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253- FAIRLEIGH DICKINSON (28-28, 16-15)

Projected NEC Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 259

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The Knights earned a winning record in NEC play for just the second time in the last 10 years. Now, RHPs Logan Frati (7-1, 3.43) and Corey Zeller (7-3, 3.74) give them a chance to win each Friday and Saturday. They’ll also welcome back closer Ryan Brennan, who had nine saves but needs to cut down on the 7.43 ERA. The offense hit .288 and stole an NEC-best 101 bases. Brennan hit .342 with 14SBs and joins SS Matt McCann’s .307, 27SBs to lead the offense.

 

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254- WESTERN ILLINOIS (14-36, 11-19)

Projected Summit Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 265

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The Leathernecks need a rebound season and could have the ingredients to do so. They’ll have four of the top six pitchers back to the roster including weekend starters Ian Koch (3-6, 4.72) and Preston Church (0-2, 4.88), along with closer Nate Westfahl (1-1, 4.79, 5svs). Some young arms will need to step in immediately and be difference-makers. The top three hitters in the order return as well in Roman Visintine (.345), Conner Currier (.315) and Chris Tschijda (.296-3-27).

 

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255- THE CITADEL (17-42, 6-18)

Projected SoCon Finish: 9th

2016 ISR: 260

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Gah! The Bulldogs have had three straight losing seasons, including just six wins in SoCon play last year. The .238 offense was probably the biggest culprit and top-hitter Clay Martin (.274-4-18) is the only returnee who hit better than .235. But lots of pitching is back on the roster, led by RHP Jacob Watcher (6-5, 4.86) and Ryan Stamler (1-1, 4.81) who lead the weekend rotation and the bullpen respectively. Look for LHP JP Sears (5-7, 5.27) to make a big jump this season.

 

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256- GEORGE MASON (19-35, 7-17)

Projected Atlantic 10 Finish: 10th

2016 ISR: 271

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

One thing is for sure, coach Bill Brown and his staff will have a ton of experience to work with since nine returnees in the field started 30 games or more last year. Also, OF Brady Acker hit .352 before the injury bug hit last year. RHP Tyler Zombro (4-8, 3.75) is the Friday ace and Zach Mort (3-2, 2.55, 8svs) will move to the Sunday spot. Lots of arms back but the A10-worst 6.13 ERA needs improvement.

 

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257- MASSACHUSETTS (18-27, 11-13)

Projected Atlantic 10 Finish: 11th

2016 ISR: 254

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

Led by OF Mike Hart (.313), the Minutemen will get four of the top five hitters back in the order and get this… all four of them are seniors, which has to bring a smile to coach Mike Stone’s face. Not a lot of the arms staff returns but weekend starters Ryan Moloney (2-6, 3.49) and Justin Lasso (4-1, 4.19) are good leaning posts. The bullpen is a huge question mark, so keep an eye on how they develop.

 

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258- DAYTON (19-36, 8-16)

Projected Atlantic 10 Finish: 12th

2016 ISR: 247

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

It’s been a tough ride for the Flyers lately with the last winning season coming back in 2012. Unfortunately prospects to turn that around aren’t much better this year as many of the 16 newbies in the recruiting class will be leaned upon to play key roles. The top returning hitters are Robbie Doring’s .264 and Nick Ryan’s .259. RHP Austin Cline (4-4, 4.00) and LHP Tyler Henry (4-1, 3.06) will be building blocks for the rebuilding arms staff.

 

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259- BOWLING GREEN (17-37, 7-17)

Projected MAC Finish: 5th, Eastern Div.

2016 ISR: 261

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The infield should be a strength with the return of 2B Riley Minorik (.245), SS Nick Glanzman (.208) and 3B Derek Drewes (.298). Catcher Jeff Scott is a transfer from Coastal Carolina and should take over the three-hole spot in the order. RHP Zac Carey (3-10, 6.69) looks to return to 2015 form when he was a Freshman All American. Tyler Anderson (1-1, 3.63) and CJ Schildt (3-6, 3.07) will form a good Friday-Saturday punch. RHP Tony Landi (1-1, 3.48, 8svs) is an All-MAC closer.

 

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260- ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF (22-25, 16-5)

Projected SWAC Finish: 1st, Western Div.

2016 ISR: 252

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Head coach Carlos James likes the amount of returnees and talented players he has returning for 2017. Infielders like Aderly Perez (.351), Dontrel Brown (.251) helped make the Lions the best defense in the SWAC (.966). OFs Julian Jones (.383) and Jaqueese Moore (.358) will lead the offense. Senior arms Anthony Bowmaker (6-1, 1.97) and C.J. Lexington (1-2, 3.25) have to hope some freshmen and transfers around them to contribute right away.

 

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261- INCARNATE WORD (13-38, 5-22)

Projected Southland Finish: 13th

2016 ISR: 253

Starters Returning: 2

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

The Cardinals struggle continues but should be primed for 2018. Coach Dan Heep says this year’s team will have more talent but will be less experienced. SS Ryan Gonzalez (.204) and CF Mark Whitehead (.230, 11SBs in ’15) will be assets. Keep an eye on OF Garrett Terrell, a JC transfer, and INF Garrett Gonzalez, a 32nd round pick of the Nats. RHP Lance Moszkowicz (1-4, 4.65) and John Shull (2-8, 5.52) are the two biggest arms from a staff that needs much improvement.

 

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262- TEXAS SOUTHERN (24-26, 13-10)

Projected SWAC Finish: 2nd, Western Div.

2016 ISR: 258

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

The Tigers stole 166 bases a year ago and should put pitchers on alert this year with Robert Alamo (.346, 26SBs), Kamren Dukes (.303-4-22, 30) and Olajide Oloruntimilehin (.289-7-39, 12SBs), a freshman All American. Ryan Rios (7-2, 5.44) and Seth Oliver (2-7, 6.18) will pace the weekend rotation. Aaron McIntyre (0-2, 8.36) and Ryan Hankins (2-2, 10.24) will be in charge of reloading the bullpen.

 

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263- SOUTH DAKOTA STATE (22-35, 13-17)

Projected Summit Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 230

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The Jackrabbits have an uber-deep lineup and defense, led by four-fifths of the infield returning. C Luke Ringhofer (.361-3-31) is an All-Summit backstop and 1B Matt Johnson hit .267-8-42 and .990% fielding. The pitching staff (and defense) allowed for a .303 opponents average and took some losses in the off-season. If RHP Ryan Froom (2-8, 6.84) can revert to sophomore form it will bode well. Chris Halbur (1-0, 3.95, 2svs) takes the closer role. Top arm Landon Busch, a 7-game winner, was lost to TJ surgery in the off-season.

 

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264- LEHIGH (25-31, 12-8)

Projected Patriot League Finish: 3rd

2016 ISR: 262

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

The Mountain Hawks have now earned three-straight 25-win seasons. A fourth could be in order Coach Sean Leary says his 2017 offense “is the deepest lineup in my 22 years.” 3B Pat Donnelly (.299-4-50) and OF Jacen Nalesnik (.333-7-36) lead the attack. There is a lot of confidence in the rotation of RHP Mark Washington (6-1, 1.80), LHP Pete Moore (6-3, 4.30) and newbie RHP Levi Stoudt (low-90s mph). Also, Connor Donovan is a great dual threat 1B/closer (.272-5-26 and 0-3, 3.68).

 

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265- HOFSTRA (15-37, 5-18)

Projected CAA Finish: 9th

2016 ISR: 268

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Though they’ll be a young squad overall, good senior leaders like 2B Brad Witkowski (.289-4-29) and 3B David Lederman (.271-7-35) in the field will help and keep an eye on SS Mikey Riesner, a swift, well-gloved JC transfer. Sophomore LHP John Rooney (3-8, 5.02) set the school record with 77Ks. DH/LHP Teddy Cillis (.249-9-20 and 3-2, 5.59) is a really good two-way threat. RHP Jorge Marrero is a transfer from FAU and will step into the closer role.

 

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266- PURDUE (10-44, 2-22)

Projected Big 10 Finish: 13th

2016 ISR: 263

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The Doug Schreiber era came to an end after last year’s 10-win season in West Lafayette. Mark Wasikowski takes the reigns and says he’ll have “a young team with nothing to lose after four straight poor seasons.” Let ‘er rip coach. Players to watch are 1B/Reliever Jacson McGowan (best pure hitter on the team and closer), RHP Tanner Andrews (2-6 3.53, .228OBA) and C Nick Dalesandro (.277, played in Cape League). Also watch for 3B Logan Poisall, a JC All American in 2016.

 

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267- ARMY (21-26, 6-14)

Projected Patriot League Finish: 4th

2016 ISR: 276

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

Prior to 2015 the Black Knights had won either the regular season or PL playoffs title in six of the previous seven years. Now it’s been two straight last place finishes. Aye caramba. Former Rhode Island maestro Jim Foster takes the reigns and brings a winning pedigree. He’ll have nearly the entire roster returning including sophomore RHPs Daniel Burggraaf (3-2, 3.21) and Jacob Carte (2-4, 3.41).

 

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268- NIAGARA (16-37-1, 11-13)

Projected MAAC Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 278

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 2

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Look for the Eagles to fly. I mean, around the base paths, that is. OF Tanner Kirwer (.327, 20SBs), SS/2B Greg Cullen (.305, 10SBs) and OF Julian Gallup (.265-3-25, 12SBs) all can fly. LHP Cody Eckerson (4-4, 3.64) and RHP Zach Kolodziejski (3-8, 4.98) will lead the weekend arms and RHP Matt McCuen (4-4, 2.98, 3svs) is a valuable commodity. The Screamin’ Eagles could be close to their first winning record in MAAC play since 2010.

 

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269- NORFOLK STATE (29-21, 19-5)

Projected MEAC Finish: 1st, Northern Div.

2016 ISR: 267

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Another winning record for the Spartans is certainly in the offing, especially when you consider the rotation of Devin Hemmerich (5-4, 3.86) and the “Two Mauricios” in Jonathan Mauricio (6-2, 2.29) and Alex Mauricio (3-1, 3.23, 5svs), who will move from relief ace to the rotation. RHP Michael Parmentier (1-3, 4.12, 4svs) should have an even more important role. Of the returning five starters above, four of them hit .283 or better, led by 1B Roger Hall (.316) and RF Denathan Dukes (.290, 19SBs).

 

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270- BUCKNELL (24-22, 8-12)

Projected Patriot League Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 270

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

Other than league winning Navy, the Bison were the only other PL team to finish with a winning record overall last season. But a 1-7 finish in league play hurt a lot.  Lots of good pitching is back including top ERAs in Tommy Gamon (0-1, 2.76, .158OBA) and Connor Van Hoose (1-1, 3.86, .239OBA). OFs Brett Smith (343, 13SBs) and Danny Rafferty (.294-4-26) can stoke the fires.

 

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271- LIU-BROOKLYN (19-35, 13-17)

Projected NEC Finish: 5th

2016 ISR: 274

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

Talk about a youth movement, the Blackbirds will have Dan Pirillo as its head coach in 2017. He played at LIU as recently as 2008. He’ll have the top four most-used pitchers returning from last year, including the starting duo of RHPs Baylor LaPointe (7-5, 3.05) and Anthony Rupp (4-3, 5.65). The bullpen will be young but watch for freshmen RHP Jackson Svete and LHP Patrick Clyne. 2B Charles Misiano (.344, 18SBs) and C Harrison Preschel (.282) are the top two returning bats.

 

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272- TENNESSEE-MARTIN (19-35, 9-21)

Projected OVC Finish: 9th

2016 ISR: 264

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 1

Head coach Rick Robinson has a tough gig ahead of him in 2017. On the mound there is hope with RHP Alex Evans (8-5, 6.01) and LHP Dom Bazzani (2-10, 6.67), the two most-used arms from a year ago. Also, RHP Dalton Westfall went 2-1, 4.32 before being lost to injury. Elsewhere there’s a ton of new blood as the senior trio of 1B/3B Ryan Hellgren (.321-6-23), C Daniel Kerwin (.299-4-25) and SS Josh Hauser (.296) are the only returnees.

 

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273- JACKSON STATE (34-26, 14-10)

Projected SWAC Finish: 2nd, Eastern Div.

2016 ISR: 272

Starters Returning:

Weekend Starters:

Mid-Week Starters:

Key Relievers (15+inns.):

Omar Johnson is doing something right at JSU, having won 30+ games in nine of the last 10 seasons. Well done. Of course, an NCAA tournament berth has been hard to wrangle up too. The Tigers led the SWAC in hitting at .322 and return wicked sticks like Cornelius Copeland (.422-5-26), C.J. Newsmen (.351) and Bryce Brown (.360). Some decent arms are back as well in the form of Jonathan Santiago (1-1, 3.29), Jonathan Aponte (1-1, 7.39) and Jesse Anderson (1-3, 7.49).

 

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274- NORTH CAROLINA CENTRAL (25-30, 11-13)

Projected MEAC Finish: 3rd, Southern Div.

2016 ISR: 269

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns): 3

The Eagles continue their ascendence from the depths of the MEAC to contending status, but it won’t be easy this year. They’ll have program HR leader Carlos Ortiz (.305-9-42) back for a fourth year. C Conrad Kovalcik (.243-10-34) has major bash potential too and 3B Ellington Hopkins (.333-3-23, 15SBs) will have to lead a defense full of JC transfers. Frosh All American Devin Sweet (5-2, 6.80) and Chris Gonnelli (3-6, 5.15) will be backed by new closer Justice Sampson (3-3, 4.65, 4svs).

 

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275- EASTERN ILLINOIS (15-39, 8-22)

Projected OVC Finish: 10th

2016 ISR: 266

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 1

So it looks like other than OFs Joe Duncan (.332, 18SBs), Frankie Perrone (.282-4-30) and Tyler Desmond (.248), the entire infield needs replacing. The arms corps is in better shape with RHPs Michael McCormick (2-6, 6.46) and Brendon Allen (2-6, 7.21), who are both weekend starters and seniors. RHP Jake Haberer (1-2, 9.09) is a low-90s flinger who will close this season. Beyond that, it’s a lot of new blood so expect some bumps.

 

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276- BUTLER (14-40, 4-14)

Projected Big East Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 273

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The very likable Dave Schrage comes back to the Hoosier state and takes the reigns of the Bulldogs. Expect the wins to follow. A good nucleus returns in the field, especially with SS Michael Hartnagel (.319) and CF Tyler Houston (.308, 10SBs) leading the charge. Unfortunately, LHP Jeff Schank (2-7, 3.16) is the only returnee on the bump with a sub-5.00 ERA, so look for the arms corps to rely on a bunch of greenhorns, which is never easy.

 

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277- NEW YORK TECH (17-26)

Projected Independents Finish: 1st

2016 ISR: 282

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns): 4

How is it that a team based in New York can have 14 games in February and March, yet get just five home games in April? Joe Daru will be missed after leading the team in average, HRs and SBs. But 3B Louis Mele (.313-5-28) and DH Anthony Caradonna (.270) will help. RHPs Matt Diaz (3-4, 4.44), Frank Valentino (1-4, 5.72) and Elias Martinez (3-4, 5.94) were three of the most-used pitchers a year ago and will man the weekend spots.

 

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278- NORTH CAROLINA-ASHEVILLE (16-38, 5-19)

Projected Big South Finish: 10th

2016 ISR: 284

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 5

The Bulldogs will be experienced and ready for improvement. The three most used starters on the mound return, led by LHP Jordan Carr (1-9, 6.01) and Jordan Fulbright (4-6, 6.50), the two most-used arms on the staff. But 6’8” soph Ryan Tapp is the one slated for Friday duty. The rest of the staff will be young but talented. Top bat Joe Tietjen (.344-10-55, 12SBs) has All American potential and the double-play duo of Derek Smith (.250) and Carmine Pagano (.244) will be stout.

 

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279- WAGNER (19-33, 13-19)

Projected NEC Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 275

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 1

There may be too many holes to fill and youngsters to play for the Seahawks to make a step forward this season. The news is already bad for senior SS Nick Mascelli, a team leader who will miss 2017 with an injury. On top of that, RHP Austin Goeke (6-4, 3.06) and LHP Neil Abbatiello (2-5, 4.82) are the only pitchers of note coming back. OF Kyle Cala (.305-3-17), C Phil Capra (.289-3-38) and 2B/SS Sean Marzio (.271) will be surrounded by a very green lineup.

 

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280- GRAMBLING STATE (22-27, 15-8)

Projected SWAC Finish: 3rd, Western Div.

2016 ISR: 277

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

The G-men could be in line to compete for the SWAC west division with a good amount of returnees. The defense should be a strength with C Johan Mojica (.260-4-25), 1B Tray Bell (.254-3-43), 2B Wesley Drain (.268-6-31, 27SBs) and 3B Daniel Barnett (.410-9-61), an All American candidate. Isaac O’Bear (7-4, 5.10) and Tanner Raiburn (3-6, 5.78) return to their weekend posts. Marlon Pruitt (1-2, 6.41, 2svs) and Devin Washington (0-0, 5.70) will be keys in rebuilding the bullpen.

 

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281- IONA (11-39, 5-19)

Projected MAAC Finish: 9th

2016 ISR: 289

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

Not a lot of good news last year but the good thing is that two of the three pitchers who had an ERA below 6.22 return in the form of RHPs Joe DeRosa (3-3, 2.54) and Vinny Martin (1-2, 4.31). Weekend starters Patrick Ryan (2-6, 6.22) and Bill Maier (0-9, 7.66) also return, but need to bear down more. Infielders Sean Breen (.291), Matt Byrne (285) and Fran Kinsey(.284) will lead an offense which must hit better than .243.

 

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282- NEW JERSEY TECH (17-36, 2-18)

Projected A-Sun Finish: 8th

2016 ISR: 283

Starters Returning: 8

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 7

Man, that 1-13 finish to last season was just… ouch. The news isn’t all bad though as the Highlanders have reason for optimism though as an experienced squad returns for 2017. OFs Evan Pietronico (.304-4-44) and Jesse Uttendorfer (.275, 13SBs) are the best offensive threats and 2B Tom Brady (yes, that’s his name, .257) and SS Justin Etts (.260) will be steady fielders in their second season. Lots of pitching is back but that 6.30 ERA must come down.

 

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283- RIDER (18-33, 10-14)

Projected MAAC Finish: 10th

2016 ISR: 279

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 6

The Broncos took some hits as two of the top three hitters and two of the top three mound starters have moved on. 3B Mike Volaski (.280) is the only returnee who hit better than .265 last year. LHP Nick Margevicius (4-6, 2.57) is the lone weekend mainstay, but he’ll be joined by RHP Paul Scarano (3-2, 4.41, 5svs), a former bullpen ace. Finding more lock down pitching and a dependable middle-infield are the biggest questions going into 2017.

 

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284- LAFAYETTE (14-27-1, 9-11)

Projected Patriot League Finish: 6th

2016 ISR: 280

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Unfortunately the Leopards will be a youthful squad in 2017 as 24 of the players on the squad are freshmen and sophomores. It didn’t help that 6’10 LHP John Cain will miss the season after TJ surgery. The bullpen took many hits, meaning Trevor Hock (1-3, 6.56) and David Giusti (3-1, 6.27) will need to work deeper into games. 2B Steven Cohen (.327, 10SBs) and 3B Dan Beckie (.288) will lead the offense, which needs to hit better than .264.

 

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285- NORTH CAROLINA A&T (25-30, 11-13)

Projected MEAC Finish: 4th, Southern Div.

2016 ISR: 288

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The Aggies will most certainly out-do last year’s team batting average of .272, returning C Adam Ordonez (.332), 1B Kyle Clary (.300), 2B Tim Ravare (.306) and SS Milton Rivera (.349-7-26). Those four also help make this a stout defensive outfit. The pitching staff has a number of holes to fill. Of the top six flingers, four are either freshmen of JC transfers. But it’s telling that RHPs Robert Peck (2-6, 7.26) and Will Greene (1-9, 7.63) are the top returning ERA-men.

 

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286- SIU-EDWARDSVILLE (9-40, 6-24)

Projected OVC Finish: 11th

2016 ISR: 281

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 0

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

So guess who had the best defense in the OVC? Yep, the last place Cougars, at .972. From that defense 1B Keaton Wright (.362), 2B Alec Skender (.280) and C Brock Weimer (.216) are back and joined by Houston transfer 3B Jordan Stading. RF Dustin Woodcock (.286) is All-OVC material. None of the top four starters and top closer were even on the team a year ago but look for RHP Nelson Martz to be “one of the better arms in the OVC” according to coach Sean Lyons.

 

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287- CHICAGO STATE (13-42, 6-21)

Projected WAC Finish: 9th

2016 ISR: 285

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

Head coach Steve Joslyn says this could be the best team he’s had and expects to make his first-ever WAC tourney field. All four dirtbag positions return experience, led by 3B Sanford Hunt (.259) and SS Julian Russell (.200). DH Cody Freund (.259) teams with duel threat Zach Thomas (.252 and 2-0, 3.65, 3svs), who was 3rd in hitting and 1st in ERA on the team last year. LHP Jake Perkins (3-6, 5.97) and RHP Justin Wyant (4-10, 4.85) return to weekend duty. Finding pitching depth will be crucial.

 

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288- SOUTHERN (14-32, 6-14)

Projected SWAC Finish: 4th, Western Div.

2016 ISR: 291

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

The Jaguars went 33-16 in 2012. Since then they have had losing seasons in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Daniel Franklin (3-3, 4.47), Harold Myles (1-6, 9.36) and J’Markus George (4-4, 4.14) will make up a very experienced weekend rotation. Troy Lewis went 1-3, 6.29 on the mound and hit .314 at the dish as well. Robinson Mateo (.273, 16SBs) and Dondrayas Harris (.383-3-29) should keep the offense moving.

 

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289- LaSALLE (15-39, 6-18)

Projected Atlantic 10 Finish: 13th

2016 ISR: 287

Starters Returning: 6

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Viva los Greenhorns! There will be a lot of new blood in this year’s squad, although five of the six returnees are sophomores. The offense hit an incredibly boney-armed .212 as a team. Not a typo. But the Explorers do get back Freshman All American 3B Jared Melone, who hit .321. LHP Luke Reilly (2-4, 3.49) is joined by RHPs Greg Krug (0-0, 2.66) and C.J. Pruitt (2-1, 2.92) as rebuilding blocks on the bump.

 

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290- ALCORN STATE (16-36, 10-14)

Projected SWAC Finish: 3rd, Eastern Div.

2016 ISR: 292

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

The Braves have had five straight losing seasons since making the NCAA tournament in 2011. Yuck. Their win totals have dropped from 27 in 2011 to 18, 15, 11, 16 and last year’s 16. But pitchers like Reggie Johnson (3-7, 9.91), Conrado Skepple (3-5, 7.87) and Jahborus Smith (3-2, 7.59) will help improve things. The top hitters returning are OF Patrick McMahon (.304) and Walter Vives (.318). Other than that, lots of freshman and transfers will dot the lineup.

 

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291- DELAWARE STATE (13-37, 13-10)

Projected MEAC Finish: 2nd, Northern Div.

2016 ISR: 298

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 3

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 3

Coach JP Blandin can appreciate the fact that his young charges were thrown in the fire last year but that should pay dividends this year. LF Austin Bentley (.271), 2B Kwestin Smith (.250, 13SBs) and DH Todd Henry (.329) will have to lead by example. RHP Lane DeLeon (2-5, 3.96) leads the rotation and Cole Davis (0-8, 6.86) and closer Darrien Ragins (2-5, 6.09) both could be top 20-round draft picks.

 

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292- ST. PETER’S (10-42, 5-19)

Projected MAAC Finish: 11th

2016 ISR: 297

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Ahhhh, my Peacocks. This is always one of my favorite write-ups of the preseason. There is some ability coming back to the roster including junior catcher Mike Ionta (.276), OF Nick Ciocco (.242-3-20) and pitchers Anthony Assante (2-8, 5.99), Jake Regina (2-5, 4.84) and Michael Ammerman (0-2, 3.97). The best news of all is that Danny Ramirez is the first full-time head coach in program history. Finally, a full-time gig.

 

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293- MARYLAND-EASTERN SHORE (16-32, 7-16)

Projected MEAC Finish: 3rd, Northern Div.

2016 ISR: 293

Starters Returning: 4

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 1

The Seahawks got a new head honcho in the off-season, Charlie Goens, and hopefully a renewed spirit. They are a little thin on the returnees for 2017 and will miss a lot of key elements. But the two weekend starters on the mound will be important in Chris Melrath (0-6, 5.04) and Toby Hoskins (3-6, 6.49). SS Jordan Martin (.273, 16SBs) is a good leadoff-type bat and C Jessey Valdez (.250), who led the team in RBI last season with 29, can be a capable backstop.

 

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294- PRAIRIE VIEW A&M (10-32, 5-18)

Projected SWAC Finish: 5th, Western Div.

2016 ISR: 294

Starters Returning: 2

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

PV will need to find a lot of new unis to fill for 2017. But on the good side, the rotation returns intact with Edgar Sanchez (2-5, 5.43), Charles Philpott (1-8, 9.20) and Darren Williams (2-8, 9.30), who obviously need to post better numbers. The versatile Corbin Jamison (2-6, 9.00, 3svs) heads up the bullpen. 2B Kevin Macias (.241) and OF Cody Den Beste (.287) are the only returnees in the field. Incoming catcher Tyler Gordon was a 38th round draftee of the White Sox last June.

 

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295- MOUNT ST. MARY’s (11-37, 8-24)

Projected NEC Finish: 7th

2016 ISR: 295

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 0

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 2

Oi vey, this hasn’t been a good decade for the Mountaineers as they’ve won 15, 14, 11, 17, 12 and 11 games overall the last six years, finishing in last place in the NEC four times. Lots of returnees but only 2B Alex Kriss (.263), OF Chris Wessels (.256) and OF Zach Hostetter (256) hit better than .216. Ugh. To make matters worse, only four of last years’ 48 starts are back on the roster.

 

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296- ALABAMA A&M (13-44, 8-16)

Projected SWAC Finish: 5th, Eastern Div.

2016 ISR: 296

Starters Returning: 3

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 1

Ack! The Bulldogs went 21-32 in 2014, 26-30 in 2015 before last year’s kerplunk of a season. And this year looks a little ominous as well since there is very little experience coming back to the roster. SS J.T. O’Reel (.268) is for real and CF Carlton Peppers (.265) should both improve their numbers. LHP Brandon Marsonek (4-12, 7.75) is the only pitcher of note back… I mean on the whole roster.

 

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297- SAVANNAH STATE (12-40, 7-17)

Projected MEAC Finish: 5th, Southern Div.

2016 ISR: 290

Starters Returning: 0

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns): 3

The number of returning starters you see above is not a misprint. Of the top nine starters, none of them return. The Tigers will be full of transfers and redshirts in 2017. 2B Jacob Lightle (.202) had 25 starts last year and will be the best defender for SSU and watch for power-hitting 1B Turner Davis. There is an ace in LHP Trevor McKenna (2-4, 5.55), meanwhile RHP Austin Robinson (2-1, 3.21) will be just about the only other returnee to the roster.

 

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298- COPPIN STATE (14-38, 8-16)

Projected MEAC Finish: 4th, Northern Div.

2016 ISR: 299

Starters Returning: 5

Weekend Starters: 1

Mid-Week Starters: 1

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

The Eagles could have a really solid infield, with 3B Bryant Miranda (.333, 16SBs), who has some MLB looks, 1B Jamar Criss (.336-4-26) and 2B John Bonanca (.304, 14SBs). Clinton Arnold, who is projected 15-20 round draftee, returns to his CF spot after missing 2016. The pitching staff will rely on a bevy of greenhorns but does have Aaron Rea (3-8, 5.79) back for his soph season, and Jahmon Taylor (0-2, 9.32) in the ‘pen. Caleb Duhay, a former Little League World Series star in Hawaii, is a solid two-way talent in RF and as closer.

 

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299- MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE (6-36, 4-20)

Projected SWAC Finish: 4th, Eastern Div.

2016 ISR: 300

Starters Returning: 7

Weekend Starters: 2

Mid-Week Starters: 0

Key Relievers (15+inns.): 4

Well the best thing to say is at least there are some experienced dudes back, including a pair of two-way talents in Arrington Smith (.299-3-19 & 3-11, 5.95) and Chris McWright (.183 & 0-1, 7.96, 22apps). Head coach Aaron Stevens likes his newbies, particularly INF Paul Hamilton, RHP Aaron Barkley and LHP Zach Uecker.

 

 

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