College Baseball Daily kicks off our 2011 Season Previews today with the ACC Atlantic Division. Last season, saw both Clemson and Florida State make the College World Series. The Clemson Tigers ended up tying with the Florida State Seminoles in the Division with identical 18-12 records. Clemson ended up being named the champion by sweeping the Seminoles in the final series of the season. NC State edged Boston College for the third spot with a 15-15 conference mark while the Eagles finished 14-16. Wake Forest came in fifth with a 8-22 record while Maryland rounded out the division with a 5-25 mark.
Boston College (30-28 overall, 14-16 ACC)
The Boston College Eagles were up and down throughout the 2010 season as they were not able to get back to the NCAA Tournament after qualifying in 2009. They finished the season with a 30-28 overall record with a 14-16 mark in ACC play. After the season was over, head coach Mik Aoki decided to pack his bags and head to South Bend, Indiana to take over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He was replaced by former Virginia Tech assistant coach and Boston College graduate Mike Gambino.
The Eagles hitters finished last season with a .293 batting average which was ninth best in the conference while hitting 70 homers. They return seven out of their top ten hitters from last year’s squad. The losses of leadoff hitter Robbie Anston (.324 BA) while number 3 hitter John Spatola (.316 BA, 17 HR, 61 RBI) and cleanup hitter Mickey Wiswall (.301 BA, 19 HR, 61 RBI) leave the program after graduating or being drafted in the 2010 MLB Draft. Each of these players were main cogs in the everyday lineup for the Eagles and will certainly be missed.
The top returning hitter is junior third baseman Anthony Melchionda who finished last season with a .358 batting average with seven homers and 41 RBI. This past summer, he was a member of the North Shore Navigators where he hit .248 with two homers and 19 RBI helping to lead them to the NECBL Championship. The other top returnee is everyday junior shortstop Brad Zapensas. He had a .318 batting average with five homers and 35 RBI while being sure handed at shortstop making only six errors on the year. He played the summer of 2010 in the Northwoods League with the Green Bay Bullfrogs where he appeared in 61 games. He had a .285 batting average while driving in 28 runs. He continued his strong defense as he made seven errors for a .973 fielding percentage. Sophomore Matt Watson had a good freshman season as he hit .259 with seven homers while driving in 34 runs. His season started to tail off the second half of the season as he seemed to tire in his first collegiate season. He played in the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox where he was named the Top New England Prospect after hitting .239 with four homers and 21 RBI.
The Boston College pitching rotation returns two of the three weekend starter from last season in senior RHP John Leonard and junior RHP Mike Dennhardt. The key loss in the rotation will be Pat Dean who served as the number 1 starter as he went 5-2 with a 4.75 ERA in 77.2 innings as he was able to defeat both Miami and Florida State while giving the Eagles a chance to win in nearly all his starts.
Leonard started the 2010 season dealing with an injury which kept him out for about half the season. He finished the season with a 2-2 record and a 7.53 ERA in eight starts in 34.2 innings of work. He played the summer of 2010 in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox where he went 3-3 with a 1.96 ERA in 36.2 innings. It was his second straight strong summer in the Cape and could be an excellent number two guy in the Eagles rotation. Junior RHP Mike Dennhardt is expected to be the ace of the staff as he has the most electric stuff on the team. He had some outstanding starts in 2010 but also was bombed in some of them as he went 4-7 with a 7.22 ERA. He struggled with his control as he walked 39 batters while striking out 40 in 72.1 innings.
The back of the BC bullpen is back in junior RHP Matt Brazis. He finished the 2010 season with a 1-0 record with a 4.73 ERA in 29 appearances as he accumulated a team high nine saves. Setup man Nate Bayuk was out for most of the 2010 season as he made only seven appearances without recording a decision and accumulating a 3.86 ERA. In 2009, Bayuk also didn’t record a decision but had a 3.14 ERA in 32 appearances totaling 14.1 innings as he was used as a lefty specialist.
It is expected that freshmen Eric Stevens and Tommy Bourdon to contribute to the Eagles this season. Stevens is listed as a 6’5 215 pound righthanded pitcher out of Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey while Bourdon is a 5-11 175 pound outfielder from Northwest Catholic High School and Simsbury CT. He was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 38th round but decided to head to Chestnut Hill instead.
Clemson (45-25 overall, 18-12 ACC)
The Clemson Tigers are coming off a 2010 season which saw them finish the season with a 45-25 overall record while winning the ACC Atlantic Division with a 18-12 record. They ended up winning the Clemson Regional with victories over Southern Miss and defeating Auburn twice to advance to the Super Regionals to face Alabama. After losing a tough game one to the Crimson Tide 5-4, the Tigers bounced back with a 19-5 thrashing before edging the Crimson Tide 8-6 to advance to the 2010 College World Series. Once in Omaha, the Tigers won their first two games over Arizona State (6-3) and Oklahoma (6-4) before losing to arch-rival South Carolina 5-1 and 4-3 to end their season.
The Clemson offense finished with a .306 batting average which was good enough for sixth in the conference. They also finished fourth in the conference with 93 homers while stealing the most bases with 106 in 132 attempts.
The Tigers return their top two hitters in junior shortstop Brad Miller and red-shirt junior infielder John Hinson but will be missing their biggest power bat in the lineup with Kyle Parker leaving for the minor leagues.
Miller finished the 2010 season with a .357 batting average with eight homers and 49 RBI while stealing nine bases. Miller’s biggest issue is his defense as he made a team-high 32 errors while having a fielding percentage of .894. Early reports out of Clemson’s practices still have Miller at shortstop though to start the season
John Hinson also comes back after hitting .351 with 17 homers (second on the team) and driving in 75 runs. He was the team leader on the bases as he stole 25 in 30 attempts. He did struggle at third base though as he made 11 errors as he had a fielding percentage of .923. Hinson played the summer of 2010 in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Cotuit Kettleers as he hit .246 with a homer and eight RBI in 21 regular season games.
The Clemson pitching staff had a team ERA of 4.69 which was sixth in the ACC last season. The top returning starting pitchers are Scott Weismann and Will Lamb. Number 1 starter Casey Harman ended up being selected by the Chicago Cubs in the 29th round after going 8-4 with a 3.79 ERA in 19 appearances and being a workhorse on the mound pitching a team high 121 innings.
Weismann went 9-2 with a 4.90 ERA in 19 appearances (18 starts). He was able to hold opponents to a .268 batting average while walking 34 batters and striking out 73 in 97.1 innings of work. He pitched in the summer of 2010 in the Cape Cod Baseball League with a 0-3 record with a 3.96 ERA in 25 innings of work. He struggled in the wood bat league as opponents hit at a .311 clip.
Will Lamb and Dominic Leone also return as both of them made ten starts in 2010. Dominic went 3-2 with a 4.78 ERA in 22 appearances while Lamb went 4-4 with a 5.02 ERA as he split time playing the field and on the hill. Saves leader Alex Frederick also comes back as he led the team with four saves last season as he went 7-2 with a 3.75 ERA as the main cog in the bullpen.
Incoming freshmen Jonathan McGibbon, Steve Wilkerson, and Jon Surber are expected to make an impact on the 2011 squad. McGibbon is a 6’1 195 pound first baseman/outfielder from Lindenhurst, New York. Steve Wilkerson is expected to challenge for a spot in the infield as he is 6’1 195 pound infielder from Roswell, Georgia. Jon Surber, a Lisle, Illinois native, is expected to see time both on the mound and potentially in the infield.
Florida State (48-20 overall, 18-12 ACC)
The Florida State Seminoles had another solid season in 2010 as they went 48-20 while tying for the ACC Atlantic Division title with a 18-12 record. They ended up being the only number 1 Regional seed to be sent on the road as they participated in the Norwich (CT) hosted by the Uconn Huskies. The Seminoles defeated Central Connecticut State 11-3 before picking up back to back wins over Oregon by scores of 6-4 and 5-3. FSU then was selected to host the Super Regional against Vanderbilt which they won in three games by winning the first game 9-8, dropping the second one 6-2, before taking a winner take all game 3 7-6 to advance to the College World Series. In the first game in the CWS, the Seminoles lost a 8-1 decision to TCU ace pitcher Matt Purke. FSU bounced back two days later with a 8-5 victory over arch-rival Florida to keep the hopes of a CWS title alive. The hopes would be dashed though as the TCU Horned Frogs eliminated them with a 9-7 win.
The FSU offense finished with an even .300 batting average in 2010 which was good enough for seventh in the offense loaded
ACC. They return four out of their top five hitters from last years team. The only losses in the lineup are All-American center fielder and lead off hitter Tyler Holt and shortstop Stephen Cadullo. Holt finished last season with a team high .355 batting average while finishing second on the team with 13 homers and driving in 48 runs. He also stole a team high 30 bases in 33 attempts. Cardullo hit .283 with 11 homers and 53 RBI starting every single game last season at short.
The top returning hitter is junior third baseman Sherman Johnson who hit .337 with ten homers and 58 RBI. All-American two way player Mike McGee who hit a solid .328 with a team high 17 homers and 73 RBI also comes back for his senior season. Sophomore first baseman Jayce Boyd (.326 BA, 8 HR, 39 RBI), junior outfielder James Ramsey (.287, 9 HR, 63 RBI), senior catcher Rafael Lopez (.278 BA, 2 HR, 24 RBI), sophomore second baseman Devon Travis (.276 BA, 3 HR, 22 RBI), and Stuart Tapley (.272 BA, 7 HR, 38 RBI) all return from last year’s everyday starting lineup.
Incoming sophomore Seth Miller from Northwest Florida State College is expected to take over in center field. Last season with the Raiders, he .312 with six home runs and 38 RBIs to go along with eight doubles and 37 runs scored. The other spot in the lineup which needs to be filled is the shortstop spot left vacant by the loss of Stephen Cardullo. sophomore Justin Gonzalez or Devon Travis is expected to step into that spot in the lineup.
The Seminoles finished 2010 with a 4.39 ERA which was fifth place in the conference. Junior LHP Sean Gilmartin led the team with 18 starts serving as the team’s Friday night starter with a 9-8 overall record and a 5.24 ERA in 111.2 innings of work. Hitters did not struggle at all against him as he had a .305 batting average. In the summer of 2010, he spent it as a member for the USA Collegiate National Team where he made four appearances (one start) as he went 2-1 with a 4.35 ERA. He had a team high .286 batting average against him.
Junior LHP Brian Busch who made 21 appearances (10 starts) as he went 6-2 with a 3.94 ERA. He ended up striking out 73 batters and gave up 37 walks while holding opponents to a .223 average against. Sophomore RHP Scott Sitz made 17 appearances (six starts) as he went a perfect 5-0 with a 3.76 ERA in 40.2 innings. He held opponents to a .207 average against. He also struck out 27 batters while walking 15. Senior RHP Mike McGee who was excellent out of the bullpen all season until his final appearance against TCU in which he gave up five runs on three hits and two walks in only 0.1 innings. On the year, McGee had a 4-1 record with a 2.96 ERA in 20 appearances (one start) for a total of 27.1 innings. He was able to hold opponents to a .160 batting average.
Maryland (17-39 overall, 5-25 ACC)
The Maryland Terrapins had a disappointing 17-39 overall record and a 5-25 mark in ACC play under first year head coach Erik Bakich. The Terrapins finished in last place in the Atlantic Division thus not qualifying for the postseason conference tournament or the NCAA Tourney.
The Maryland offense was the worst in the conference with a .258 batting average which was 23 points lower then their nearest competition in Wake Forest. They did lead the conference in stolen bases though with 123 in 174 attempts. The top returning hitter is junior outfielder Brandon Padula as he played in 54 games (51 starts) with a .333 batting average with five homers and 33 RBI. Junior shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez also comes back after hitting .280 with five homers and 30 RBI. Red-shirt sophomore catcher Jack Cleary is also back after hitting .275 with a homer and 20 RBI while playing in 54 games. Sophomore utility player Gary Scheinder had an outstanding season hitting .491 with a homer and 13 RBI in limited playing time 29 games and 13 starts.
The Maryland pitching staff wasn’t much better then the hitters as they finished with a league worst 7.19 ERA. The good news is that they return their entire weekend starting rotation from last season in Brett Harman, Sander Beck and Eric Potter. Junior RHP Brett Harman served as the Friday night starter as he appeared in 14 games (13 starts) while leading the team with a 5-8 record and a team low 4.50 ERA in 86.0 innings of work but will not pitch this season after having surgery on his pitching arm. Junior RHP Sander Beck comes back after going winless last season in 16 appearances (15 starts) with a 0-8 record while pitching 61 innings pitched. Hitters were not fooled by Beck as he allowed them to hit .313 off of him. Eric Potter rounds out the returning starting rotation as he went 2-10 with a 8.80 ERA in 17 appearances (15 starts) for a total of 60.1 innings. He struggled with his control as he walked 56 batters while walking 39.
The biggest loss on the pitching staff is Dan Gentzler who went 1-2 with a 4.94 ERA while having a team high seven saves. He ended up striking out 34 batters while walking only seven in 31.0 innings of work.
The Terrapins will be a much different team in the 2011 season as they have added 22 players which includes nine junior college transfers and 13 freshmen. The class was rated by Baseball America as the 25th best in the nation while Collegiate Baseball ranked them 40th. Incoming freshman Tim Klene and junior Chuck Ghysels both turned down MLB offers to come to College Park.
Klene is expected to contribute right away as the starting first baseman as he is 6-4 240 pounder out of Avon Old Fams High School and South Windsor Connecticut. He was selected by the Washington Nationals in the 30th round but spruned the offer to play under Bakich.
Chuck Ghysels spent last year at Lincoln Trail Community College after transferring from Dayton. He was outstanding with the Statesmen last season as he went 9-1 with a 1.04 ERA while striking out 131 batters in 78 innings. He picked up several honors including All-GRAC, All-Region 24 and All-Northern District honors, while also being named to the NJCAA Honorable Mention All-American Team. The Cincinnati Reds picked him the 36th round but he decided to not sign. After the season was over, he was named to the National Junior College Athletic Association’s All-Star Team that took part in the 2010 Honkbal Week in the Netherlands. He struggled in his two appearances as he didn’t record a decision with a 12.27 ERA in only 3.2 innings of work.
NC State (38-24 overall, 15-15 ACC)
The NC State Wolfpack finished the 2010 season with a 38-24 overall record while going 15-15 in ACC play. They qualified for the ACC Tournament when they went 2-1 in the round robin portion with victories over Clemson (13-8) and Virginia Tech (10-9) sandwiched around a 17-5 defeat against Georgia Tech. The two victories ended up getting them to qualify for the 2010 ACC Championship Game in which they lost 8-3. The were selected to play in the 2010 NCAA Tournament as they were put in the Myrtle Beach Regional hosted by Coastal Carolina. They went a disappointing 0-2 with a 9-6 loss to College of Charleston before dropping a 6-2 decision to America East champion Stony Brook.
They finished last season with a .326 team batting average which was good enough for second best in the ACC behind Virginia. The top returning hitter for the Wolfpack is Andrew Ciencin who hit at a .316 batting clip while hitting ten homers and driving in 77 runs. He played the summer of 2010 with the Forest City Owls in the Coastal Plain League. In 17 games (16 starts) he hit .286 with two homers and 11 RBI.
The Wolfpack return both catchers from last season in Pratt Maynard and Chris Schaeffer. Maynard had a .273 batting average while hitting eleven homers and driving in 49 runs. He spent the summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Harwich Mariners as he hit .241 with seven doubles, two home runs and 20 RBIs in 38 games. He was named to the starting catcher for the Eastern Division in the CCBL All-Star game as he went 0-2 in the game. Last year, Schaeffer hit .315 with eleven homers and 35 RBI in 50 games (43 starts). He played this summer with the Morehead City Marlins in the Coastal Plain League. He hit .245 with three home runs and 24 RBIs. Both players are expected to split time between being a DH and catcher.
NC State finished the 2010 season with the eighth best team ERA in the ACC at 5.39. They return only one of their weekend starting pitchers in junior RHP Cory Mazzoni. He is coming off a 2010 season which saw him have a 7-3 record with a 5.20 ERA in 16 games (15 starts). He ended up pitching in a total of 91.2 innings and striking out 89 batters but ended up walking 40.
The backend of the Wolfpack bullpen is expected to be solid as red-shirt junior LHP Grant Sasser returns. He went 3-4 including five saves with a 3.56 ERA in 26 appearances totaling 48.0 innings. He was able to hold opponents to a .205 batting average against. The other player to watch this season is senior RHP Rob Chamra who pitched in 25 games going 3-1 with a 4.22 ERA. He had a solid summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Falmouth Commodores as he went 2-2 with a 3.45 ERA.
Wake Forest (18-37 overall, 8-22 ACC)
The Wake Forest Demon Deacons finished the 2010 season with a 18-37 overall while going 8-22 under first year head coach Tom Walter. They struggled on the road with a 2-20 mark. The Deacons did not qualify for the ACC Tournament in 2010 and haven’t since the 2008 season.
Wake Forest finished the 2010 season with a team batting average of .281 with 54 homers which was the third lowest in the conference. They return three out of the top five hitters from last year in Matt Conway, Steven Brooks, and Mac Williamson.
Conway is a 6’7 225 pound first baseman who hit a team high .382 with six homers and 32 RBI last season in only 44 games (40 starts). After the season was over, he was named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball. He played the summer of 2010 in the NYCBL with Amsterdam Mohawks. He ended up hitting .275 with three homers and 24 RBI. Baseball America rated him the seventh best prospect in the league.
Senior outfielder Steven Brooks finished second on the team with a .349 average with six homers and 39 RBI. He was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 17th round but did not come to an agreement. He played this past summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League
Redshirt sophomore outfielder Mac Williamson appeared 51 games (46 starts) as he finished with a .279 batting average (fifth on team) with seven homers and 37 RBI. Going into the 2010 season, Walter had called Williamson a real wildcard on the team as he was recovering from Labrum surgery from his freshman year.
Another player to watch this season who could see time on the field is sophomore infielder Pat Blair who started 54 games (53 starts) as he hit .270 with seven homers and 25 RBI. who had a good summer with the Youse Orioles in the Cal-Ripken League as he hit .348 with two homers and 17 RBI.
The Demon Deacons finished with the tenth best ERA in the conference out of 12 teams at 6.29. They return their entire weekend rotation in Austin Stadler, Tim Cooney and Michael Dimock.
Junior LHP Austin Stadler had a 3-4 record with a 5.26 ERA in 13 starts. He pitched a total of 78.2 innings while striking out 70 batters while walking 32 batters. He held opponents to a .278 batting average against. He played this summer with the Bourne Braves of the Cape Cod Baseball League as he went 2-2 with a 2.75 ERA. Opponents struggled against him this summer as they only hit .165 against him.
Sophomore LHP Tim Cooney had 14 appearances (13 starts) while going 4-6 with a 5.49 ERA. He ended up pitching a total of 80.1 innings with 54 strikeouts while walking 24 batters while allowing opponents to hit at a .263 batting average. He pitched this summer in the Cal Ripken League with the Baltimore Redbirds as he went 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA.
Junior RHP Michael Dimock rounds out the returnees to the rotation. He went 3-9 with a 6.32 ERA in 15 appearances (12 starts) as he pitched in a total of 74.0 innings. He spent the summer in the Cape Cod Baseball League with the Bourne Braves. He made eight appearances (three starts) as he went 0-1 with a 2.49 ERA. He held opponents to a .235 batting average.
Wake Forest is in a similar position that Maryland is in where they are under a second year head coach in Tom Walter and are looking to change the momentum. They have one of the top hitters in the conference in Steven Brooks and if the starting rotation can come through then the Deacons will be a much improved team.
Projected Order of Finish
1. Florida State *
2. NC State *
3. Clemson *
4. Maryland *
5. Boston College
6. Wake Forest
* NCAA Tourney Team