The College Baseball Blog continues our 2010 Season Previews with the ACC Atlantic Division. The Florida State Seminoles won the division last year with a 19-9 record while Clemson finished in second place with a 19-11 record. Boston College finished in third place with a 13-15 record while Maryland and NC State tied for fourth place with 10-20 records. Wake Forest finished in last place with a 6-24 record. You can check out our Coastal Division preview which was posted yesterday by clicking here.
Boston College (34-26 overall, 14-15 ACC)
Boston College is led by fourth year head coach Mik Aoki who has an overall record with the Eagles of 84-80-1 and 35-53 in ACC play. The Eagles qualified for the ACC Tournament for the first time in school history as they went 2-1 with a loss to Florida State before defeating Georgia Tech and Miami (FL). Boston College was awarded an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament where they picked up a victory over Texas State before losing to Texas in 25 innings and Army.
The Eagles returns six out of the nine position starters from last season with Tony Sanchez, Mike Belfiore, and Barry Butera after being selected in the 2009 MLB Draft. Sanchez was the fourth overall selection by the Pittsburgh Pirates and is the highest draft pick in the history of Boston College Baseball. Belfiore was selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 45th overall selection and Butera was picked by the Houston Astros with the 641st selection.
The top returning hitter for the Eagles is Robbie Anston who finished second on the team with a .344 average while driving in 30 runs from the leadoff spot. He also led the team with a 15 stolen bases in 18 attempts. He was named as a member of the All-ACC second team. Mickey Wiswall finished last season with a .320 average including hitting a team-high 14 homers and having a team high 63 RBI. Wiswall was selected to as a second team All-ACC selection while also being named to the All-ACC Tournament team. Wiswall had a solid summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox where he was named to the All-Star Game and selected the All-League team. BC expects to replace Tony Sanchez behind the plate with either freshman Matt Watson or junior shortstop Garrett Smith who could make the adjustment to the position.
The Eagles return two-thirds of their weekend starters in John Leonard and Pat Dean. J.B. McDonald served last season as the number 1 starter but graduated and has been playing in the minors after being selected by the Houston Astros in the 2009 MLB Draft with the 551st overall selection. The Eagles expect to see Pat Dean to take over the number 1 starter after going 6-4 with a 3.30 ERA in 18 appearances including 15 starts. He ended up striking out 90 batters in his 95.1 innings of work while only allowing 15 walks. Leonard’s spot is up in the air according to head coach Mik Aoki according to his interview with TCBB (click here.) The other open spot in the rotation could be filled by Kevin Moran, Mike Dennhardt, Matt Brazis, and Andrew Del Colle. My early prediction is that Kevin Moran and Mike Dennhardt will take the final two spots. Moran pitched in 27 games last year with one start while going 5-2 with a 2.75 ERA in 52.1 innings of work. Dennhardt went 5-2 with a 4.96 ERA in 15 appearances including 10 starts. The biggest decision is who will serve as the Eagles closer during 2010 as they lost Mike Belfiore who had 9 out of the team’s 11 saves last season. John Leonard and Nate Bayuk are the only two players to have recorded a save last season.
Clemson (44-22 overall, 19-11 ACC)
The Clemson Tigers finished the 2009 season with a 44-22 record while going 19-11 in ACC action. The Tigers are led by Jack Leggett who is entering his 17th season in charge of the program. He has an overall record with the Tigers of 724-331-1 while he has a collegiate coaching record of 1101-621-1 which includes five seasons at Vermont and nine with Western Carolina. Clemson qualified for the ACC Tournament where they had a 1-2 record with a victory over North Carolina and losses to Virginia and Duke. Clemson was selected to the NCAA Tournament where they hosted a regional in which they went 4-1 to qualify for a Super Regional. They went out to Arizona State where they lost by scores of 7-4 and 8-2 to end their season.
The Tigers return eight of the nine everyday starters from the 2009 season with Ben Paulen being the only exception. Paulsen was selected by the Colorado Rockies with the 90th selection in the 2009 MLB Draft. The top returning hitter is Wilson Boyd who finished second on the team with a .341 average with three homers and 46 RBI. He was also perfect on the base paths with five stolen bases in as many attempts. Jeff Schaus is the top returning power hitter with a .320 average, 13 homers and 50 RBI. The real wildcard for the Tigers offense is Kyle Parker who has hit 26 homers over the last two seasons but has struggled to hit for average with a career average of .278.
Clemson returns only two out of their five starting pitchers from last year in Casey Harman and Justin Sarratt. Harman finished last season with a 7-3 record with a 3.95 ERA in 22 appearances including 13 starts. He ended up striking out 89 batters in 86.2 innings of work while only allowing 16 bases on balls. Sarratt made seven starts and 16 appearances last year while going 3-2 with a 5.10 ERA. I expect Will Lamb will see some more time on the mound this year as he appeared in 15 games last year without a record while having an ERA of 2.45.
Florida State (45-18 overall, 19-9 ACC)
The Florida State Seminoles are led by Mike Martin Sr. who is entering his 31st season in charge of the baseball program. He has an career record of 1583-538-4 while leading the Seminoles to the NCAA Tournament in every season. In 2009, FSU won the ACC Atlantic Division with a 19-9 record while going 2-2 in the ACC tournament with victories over Boston College and Miami (FL) while losing to Georgia Tech and Virginia in the ACC Tournament Championship game. They were selected to host an NCAA regional where they went a perfect 3-0 with victories over Marist, Georgia, and Ohio State. They also hosted an NCAA Super Regional but were swept by the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The Florida State Seminoles return four out of their top five hitters from last year’s team with Jason Stidham leaving. Tyler Holt returns to his leadoff spot as he led the Seminoles with a .401 average while hitting five homers and driving in 28 runs. He also led the Noles with 34 stolen bases in 39 attempts. Mike McGee also comes back after finishing second on the team with a .379 average while hitting 19 homers and leading the team with 78 RBI.
The Seminoles return the entire rotation which was led last year by sophomore Sean Gilmartin. He went 12-3 with a 3.49 ERA in 18 appearances including 15 starts. We named him the 20th best player in the country during out Top 100 countdown. Brian Busch should serve as the number 2 starter as he went 6-2 with a 3.97 ERA in 19 appearances including 13 starts. Mike McGee does double duty as he pitched in 15 games last season including 13 starts while also going 6-2 with a 4.04 ERA. The biggest loss for the Seminoles pitching staff is Jimmy Marshall who led the team with 10 saves. Jack Posey who was expected to step into that role during 2010 will miss the entire season with an arm injury from fall practice according to multiple sources.
Maryland (27-27 overall, 10-20 ACC)
The Maryland baseball team will be led by first year head coach Erik Bakich who takes over the program after spending the last seven season as an assistant coach with Vanderbilt. The Terps went 27-27 overall while struggling in ACC play with a 10-20 record under former head coach Terry Rupp.
The Maryland offense last season finished with a team batting average of .281 which was 11th in the conference. The Terps return their top hitter from last season in David Poutier but the rest of the starters from last season are not currently listed on the roster. Coach Bakich will need to have some major contributions from his incoming freshmen or from some upperclassmen who haven’t played much yet.
The Maryland pitching staff in the 2009 season finished 11th in the conference with a 5.93 ERA. Brett Harman and Matt Fullerton are the top returning starting pitchers. Harman went 4-5 with a 5.99 ERA in 20 appearances including 11 starts. Matt Fullerton on the other hand had a 4-4 record with a 6.05 ERA in 14 games including 11 starts. Dan Gentzler led the Terps last year with a team high seven saves while going 3-2 with a 3.12 ERA is also returning to the squad and could break into the rotation.
NC State (25-31 overall, 10-20 ACC)
North Carolina State is led by 14th year head coach Elliot Avent. He has a career record of 483-311 with the Wolfpack. They had a tough 2009 season in which they went 25-31 overall while going 10-20 in ACC play. They did not qualify for the ACC Tournament or the NCAA Tourney during the 2009 season after making a Super Regional in 2008.
The North Carolina Wolfpack finished last season with a league low batting average of .265. The Wolfpack return four out of their top six hitters from last season. The top hitter coming back is Drew Poulk who finished with a .266 average with nine homers and 36 RBI. Kyle Wilson finished second on the team with a .265 average with five homers and 30 RBI.
NC State finished last season with a team ERA of 5.16 which was ninth best in the conference. They will need to replace Jimmy Gillheeny who spent most of the 2009 season as the number 1 starter. He made 13 starts while going 6-5 with a 3.86 ERA. The two candidates to fill in Gillheeny’s spot are Jake Buchanan and John Lambert. Buchanan made 16 appearances last year including 10 starts while going 2-6 with a 6.54 ERA. Lambert went 1-5 in 20 appearances including eight starts while having an ERA of 7.04. They will also have to replace closer Joey Cutler who went 0-4 with a 5.50 ERA as he had a team high three saves. Freshmen Felix Rogue and Danny Healey could both make an impact on the back end of the Wolfpack bullpen this season.
Wake Forest (22-30 overall, 6-24 ACC)
The Demon Deacons went a disappointing 22-30 while going 6-24 in the ACC which saw Rick Rembielak replaced with former New Orleans head coach Tom Walter. He spent the last five years with the Privateers accumulating a 153-147 record while bringing them to the NCAA Tourney in 2007 and 2008. Before heading to New Orleans, he spent eight years with George Washington where he went 275-184.
Wake Forest finished last season with a team batting average of .284 which was tenth best in the conference. They return three out of their top four hitters from last year in Steven Brooks, Mike Murray and Austin Stadler. Brooks finished last season with a .313 average including five homers and 30 RBI. Brooks played in the CCBL with the Chatham Anglers where he hit .273 with two homers and nine RBI. Murray had a solid season with a .306 average with six homers and 37 RBI. He also played with the Chatham Anglers where he hit .347 including a homer and five RBI in 27 games. He was named a CCBL All-Star and a member of the CCBL All-League team. Austin Stadler had a .279 average while hitting two homers and 24 RBI.
Wake Forest had a team ERA of 7.30 which was by far the worst in the ACC last season. Austin Stadler and Michael Dimock are the two top returning starting pitchers from last season. Stadler made 13 appearances on the mound last season including making nine starts while going 4-5 including two saves with a 4.13 ERA. Dimock made 21 appearances including eight starts while going 4-4 with a 6.46 ERA. This is one area that Tom Walter will need to improve this season for the Demon Deacons to become a contender in the ACC.
1. Florida State
3. Boston College
4. NC State
6. Wake Forest
Florida State brings back the most talented team all around thus making them the clear cut favorite in the Atlantic Division. The biggest challenge to the Seminoles will be Clemson if the Tigers can figure out who will be the starting rotation after some heavy pitching losses from last season. Boston College returns a solid bunch of players and are clearly better then the rest of the three teams right now. NC State is still going to be a young squad and will need the pitching staff to step up to see them breaking into the top three this season. Maryland and Wake Forest are both in stages of rebuilding right now and each coach needs a little more time to bring their respective program back to the top.