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2012 CBD Season Preview: ACC

The story of the year in the ACC was how much more dominant the ACC Coastal Division was with four teams winning 19 or more games on the year. Virginia ended up tying Georgia Tech for the overall conference and Coastal Division titles with identical 22-8 records. North Carolina finished in third place in the division with a 20-10 record while Miami (FL) went 19-10 for fourth place. Virginia Tech started the conference season with one win in their first nine games but ended up going 10-11 the rest of the year to finish the season with an 11-19 record. Duke finished in last place with a 7-23 mark.

The Atlantic Division was a runaway for most of the year with Clemson and Florida State the head of the division. The Seminoles ended up coming out on top with a 19-11 conference mark, while Clemson finished second at 17-13. NC State finished third at 15-15, while Boston College finished fourth at 7-22. Both Maryland and Wake Forest finished tied for fifth with 5-25 records.

The conference sent seven teams to the postseason with Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami (FL) NC State, North Carolina, and Virginia all participating, and Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Virginia all hosting regionals.

Only three schools would get out of the regionals with Florida State hosting Texas A&M in the super regionals. The Seminoles faced off against Texas A&M in the super regionals but ended up losing the series in three games

North Carolina took on Stanford in the super regionals taking the first two games of the three game series to advance to the College World Series. They went 1-2 losing their opener to Vanderbilt 7-5 before bouncing back with a 3-0 victory over Texas. The Tar Heels then were defeated by Vanderbilt for a second time in the College World Series, this time by a score of 5-1.

Virginia hosted UC-Irvine in the super regionals where the Cavs were taken to the limit before defeating the Anteaters in the bottom of the ninth during the third game of the series. They took on California in their opener in the 2011 College World Series where they picked up a 4-1 win. The next matchup was against the South Carolina Gamecocks where they lost 7-1. They had to take on the Cal Golden Bears for a second time in the CWS as they picked up another dominating 8-1 win. The Cavs matched up against South Carolina in the bracket finale but dropped a 3-2 12 inning deficit to end their campaign

Atlantic Division

Boston College (17-33, 7-22 ACC)
Players to Watch
Thomas Bourdon (.289 BA, HR, 17 RBI)
Matt McGovern (.371, HR, 18 RBI)
Matt Pare (.207, 11 RBI)

Key Losses
Garrett Smith
Mike Dennhardt
John Leonard

Outlook: The Eagles will still be thin on the mound with sophomore RHP Eric Stevens leading the rotation. They will have some big challenges in the other two spots in the rotation with Tyler Lasko and Hunter Gordon filling the other two spots. The lineup will be led by a combination of junior catcher Matt Pare and senior infielder Anthony Melchionda. The key will be how often sophomore Tommy Bourdon and junior Matt McGovern get on base for the Eagles.

Clemson (43-20, 17-13 ACC)
Players to Watch
Kevin Brady (2-0, 3.86 ERA)
Dominic Leone (6-2, 3.70 ERA)
Richie Shaffer (.315 BA, 13 HR, 55 RBI)
Scott Firth (5-1, 3.06 ERA)

Key Losses
John Hinson
Brad Miller
Jeff Schaus
Justin Sarratt

Outlook: The Tigers lost three solid hitters in John Hinson, Brad Miller, and Jeff Schaus to graduation. They will need juniors Richie Shaffer and Spencer Kieboom to step up their game if they expect to host another NCAA Regional. They will also need redshirt junior Kevin Brady and junior Dominic Leone to become forces in the rotation.

Florida State (46-19, 19-11 ACC)
Players to Watch
Jayce Boyd (.343 BA, 8 HR, 60 RBI)
Devon Travis (.329 BA, 6 HR, 33 RBI)
Justin Gonzalez (.264 BA, 8 HR, 40 RBI)
James Ramsey (.364 BA, 10 HR, 67 RBI)

Key Losses
Sean Gilmartin
Mike McGee
Daniel Bennett

Outlook: Pitching is going to be the major issue for the Seminoles. They return a solid offense with Preseason All-Americans Devon Travis and James Ramsey, but who is going to be taking the ball this season on the bump? The Noles made a major change as long time pitching coach Jamey Shouppe was replaced by Oklahoma pitching coach Mike Bell. As of right now, it looks like Hunter Scantling is going to be the number one starter. Last season, he went 3-3 with a 4.45 ERA. The other two spots see Scott Sitz and Robert Benincasa filling in as starters.

Maryland (21-35, 5-25 ACC)
Players to Watch
Brady Kirkpatrick (2-5, 5.71 ERA)
David Carroll (5-5, 4.70 ERA)
Brett Harman (5-8, 4.50 ERA) *2010 stats
Tim Kiene (.279 BA, 3 HR, 18 RBI)
Korey Wacker (.250 BA, 21 RBI) (2-4, 2.73 ERA)

Key Losses
Eric Potter
Brandon Padula

Outlook: The Terps had a difficult season under Erik Bakich, but the talent is there for the Terps to do some damage in the ACC and make it back to the conference tournament in 2012. The pitching rotation is going to be led by Brett Harman. Sophomore Tim Kiene and senior Korey Wacker will lead the lineup. Kiene is the best power hitter on the team, while Wacker is a pest, using his speed to cause problems for defenses.

NC State (35-27, 15-15 ACC)
Players to Watch
Chris Overman (6-3, 2.39 ERA, 7 saves)
Brett Austin (Freshman)
Andrew Ciencin (.257 BA, 5 HR, 35 RBI)

Key Losses
Pratt Maynard
Harold Riggins
Cory Mazzoni

Outlook: The biggest question for the Wolfpack is the change in their starting rotation, with junior RHP Ethan Ogburn slated to get the ball on Friday night and freshman Carlos Rodon on Saturdays. The other spot is totally up in the air right now. The key loss of Cory Mazzoni on the mound will leave a huge hole on Friday nights while Pratt Maynard’s bat being gone is huge. Freshman Brett Austin is expected to make an immediate impact as the starting catcher or DH this season.

Wake Forest (25-31, 15-15 ACC)
Players to Watch
Mac Williamson (.273 BA, 12 HR, 49 RBI)
Tim Cooney (7-3, 3.01 ERA)
Brian Holmes (3-4, 3.00 ERA)
Matt Conway (.256 BA, 6 HR, 38 RBI)

Key Losses
Steven Brooks

Outlook
The Demon Deacons are coming off a seventh place finish in the ACC while returning most of their lineup with Steven Brooks as the only starter not returning. They also return all four starting pitchers from last season, led by Brian Holmes (3-4, 3.00 ERA) and Tim Cooney (7-3, 3.01 ERA).

Prediction
1. Florida State
2. NC State
3. Clemson
4. Wake Forest
5. Maryland
6. Boston College

Coastal Division

Duke (26-30, 7-23 ACC)
Players to Watch
Marcus Stroman (.250, 15 RBI) (3-4, 2.80 ERA)
Will Piwica-Worms (.264, 2 HR, 31 RBI)
David Putman (0-1, 9.00 ERA)

Key Losses
Dennis O’Grady
Eric Pfisterer

Outlook
The Blue Devils are moving last year’s closer Marcus Stroman into the number one starter role this season. He leads a talented group of returnees as Duke is looking to make their first appearance in the NCAA tournament since the 1961 season.

Georgia Tech (42-21, 22-8 ACC)
Players to Watch
Buck Farmer (11-3, 2.82 ERA)
Daniel Palka (.297 BA, 12 HR, 52 RBI)
Kyle Wren (.340 BA, 1 HR, 32 RBI)

Key Losses
Jed Bradley
Mark Pope
Matt Skole

Outlook
The Yellow Jackets had one of the youngest lineups in the country last season while finishing in a tie for first place with Virginia. They return a strong number one starter in RHP Buck Farmer who went 11-3 with a 2.91 ERA last season, while centerfielder Kyle Wren comes back after sporting a .340 batting average as a freshman last season. Top power hitter Daniel Palka returns after jacking 12 homers.

Miami (FL) (38-23, 19-10 ACC)
Players to Watch
Peter O’Brien (.304 BA, 14 HR, 69 RBI) *Bethune-Cookman Stats
Eric Whaley (7-5, 2.70 ERA)
Bryan Radziewski (9-2, 3.35 ERA)

Key Losses
Zeke Devoss
Harold Martinez

Outlook
The Canes have one of the deepest staff’s in the entire country, led by Erik Erickson who returns to school after taking last season off due to an arm injury. They also return their entire starting rotation from last year, including Eric Whaley, Bryan Radziewski, and EJ Encinosa. It is expected that Encinosa will move to the bullpen to become the Canes’ closer. Peter O’Brien transferred from Bethune-Cookman to fill the huge hole at the catching position. He is considered the top catcher in the entire ACC this season.

North Carolina (51-16, 20-10)
Players to Watch
Colin Moran (.335 BA, 9 HR, 71 RBI)
Kent Emanuel (9-1, 2.33 ERA)
Tommy Coyle (.311 BA, 2 HR, 36 RBI)

Key Losses
Patrick Johnson
Levi Michael

Outlook
The Tar Heels have some question marks in the starting rotation after sophomore LHP Kent Emanuel. Junior RHP Chris Munnelly who started 14 games last year and eight as a freshman is expected to get one of the weekend spots. Last season, he went 6-5 with a 4.09 ERA in 70.1 innings pitched. Sophomore Andrew Smith is expected to get the other weekend starter spot after making 24 appearances (one start) as a freshman while going 3-1 with a 2.77. Freshman Benton Moss could get into the weekend rotation if someone struggles in the early portion of the season. Colin Moran had one of the best freshmen seasons in conference history hitting .335 with nine homers and 71 RBI. Another bat to watch is junior middle infielder Tommy Coyle who hit .311 last season. The Tar Heels lost Seth Baldwin for the year as he will focus on his studies this spring.

Virginia (56-12, 22-8 ACC)
Players to Watch
Branden Kline (4-1, 1.88 ERA, 18 SV)
Stephen Bruno (.240, 2 RBI)
Chris Taylor (.305 BA, 2 HR, 49 RBI)

Key Losses
Danny Hultzen
David Coleman
Steven Proscia
Tyler Wilson

Outlook
The Cavaliers lost a ton of offense while losing ace Danny Hultzen to the MLB Draft. They have some huge holes to fill with Branden Kline stepping into the number one starter role while Chris Taylor and Stephen Bruno looking to lead the offense.

Virginia Tech (30-25, 11-19 ACC)
Players to Watch
Andrew Rash (.335 BA, 18 HR, 53 RBI)
Ronnie Shaban (.292 BA, 5 HR, 52 RBI) (0-1, 4.66 ERA)
Joe Mantiply (5-8, 4.36 ERA)

Key Losses
Joe Parsons
Tony Ballisteri

Outlook
The Hokies are a sleeper team this year with a couple of key bats returning, including Andrew Rash, who hit 18 homers. The question is whether the pitching is good enough to compete for one of the top four spots in the ACC Coastal Division.

Prediction

Coastal Division
1. Georgia Tech
2. Miami (FL)
3. North Carolina
4. Virginia
5. Virginia Tech
6. Duke

College Baseball Daily’s Preseason All-ACC Team
C- Peter O’Brien (Miami, FL)
1B- Jake Davies (Georgia Tech)
2B- Devon Travis (Florida State)
SS- Chris Taylor (Virginia)
3B- Colin Moran (UNC)
OF- Kyle Wren (Georgia Tech)
OF- Andrew Rash (Virginia Tech)
OF- James Ramsey (Florida State)
DH- Daniel Palka (Georgia Tech)
P- Kent Emanuel (UNC)
P- Buck Farmer (Georgia Tech)
P- Marcus Stroman (Duke)
P- Tim Cooney (Wake Forest)
P- Branden Kline (Virginia)

  • NECBLfan

    NC State ahead of Clemson?!?

    • http://collegebaseballdaily.com Brian Foley

      I am big on NC State this year! Clemson’s pitching doesn’t do it for me!
      Brian Foley
      Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

      • COHAZE

        Oh come on Brian.  Clemson’s pitching was a lot better than N.C. State’s last year (3.32 vs. 4.14 ERA), and State lost their best pitcher in Mazzoni.   I think they also lost a couple of guys to TJ surgery.  Clemson lost one starter and one reliever.  Clemson also played most of last year without Kevin Brady, who is scheduled to be the Friday starter this year.  Clemson pitching will be better than last year, barring injury.  State has a long way to go to catch up in that regard.

        Now, it is possible that State could finish ahead of Clemson, but it won’t be because of pitching.  Clemson lost 5 of their top 7 hitters from last year.  The big issue with them is whether they can score enough runs to support the pitching.

        What, No love for Richie Shaffer?  He’s predicted to be a 1st round pick but he doesn’t make your pre-season team?  Clemson has shifted him to 3rd this year, but he’s really a 1B.  Your 1B, Davies, doesn’t even make Baseball America’s top 100.  

        • http://collegebaseballdaily.com Brian Foley

          I know Shaffer is moving to third base…that is why I didn’t put him on the team. Colin Moran is by far the best overall player in the conference and plays third.
          It was either Davies or Jayce Boyd at first base. BTW, BA lists are always based on draft potential.
          Brian Foley
          Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

          • COHAZE

            Don’t know about “by far the best overall player.”  Shaffer had 13 hrs. vs. 9 for Moran.  Shaffer let in slugging .577 to 540 and OPS (everybody’s favorite stat these days), 1.015 vs. .982, and SB’s, 9 vs. 2.  Moran lead in BA, .335 vs. 315, RBI’s, 77 vs. 55 and OBP, .442 vs. 438.  Moran also had the lowest fielding percentage among the NC starters at .936.  Shaffer fielded at a .994 clip.  (But it is hard to compare 3B and 1B fielding percentages).  You can certainly make the argument that they are similar and, depending on your preferences, choose one over the other.  But is Moran “by far the best overall player?”   Hardly.

          • http://collegebaseballdaily.com Brian Foley

            One was a freshman and the other a sophomore…I just like Moran more! Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

  • Deb

    What’s the pitching like for UVA this year after losing Hultzen.  I know they still have Kline but he was a closer last year, right. Who will be in the starting rotation, anyone exciting?

  • Ari

    For Duke’s players to watch, no mention of their best hitter? Led the team by almost 50 BA points, highest OBP, top 5 in ACC?