In anticipation of the 2012 season, college baseball websites around the country are starting to make predictions and give away pre-season awards. So, I feel compelled to do the same. Not only was I able to look at statistics from 2011, but I also thought back on my personal SoCon battles in order to create Drake Browne’s 2012 watch list. Enjoy!
The Big Three (Victor Roache, Daniel Aldrich, and Ross Heffley)
(Roache was named the Cape Cod Leagues’s “Most Outstanding Pro Prospect”)
(Aldrich defeated Roache in the Finals of the NCAA Home Run Derby in Omaha)
(Heffley has hit over .400 in all three of his seasons at Western Carolina)
Just like the Celtics or Heat, the SoCon has boasted their own “Big Three” this offseason, which includes Georgia Southern’s Victor Roache, College of Charleston’s Daniel Aldrich, and Western Carolina’s Ross Heffley. These three players have maintained a constant presence on every pre-season watch list, and are considered to be top prospects in this year’s draft.
Personally, I am not surprised. After sneaking two strikes by Victor Roache, I thought I was sitting pretty with an 0-2 count in our Sunday game against GASO. I threw a change-up down and away, nowhere near the strike zone, to try to get him to fish for something. He went fishing alright, and laced it for a triple off of the right-center field wall. As for Heffley and Aldrich, our coaches chose to go with a more conservative approach. I intentionally walked both of them.
Justin Mackert (The Citadel)
It might look like your routine 1-3 double play in the scorebook, but I saw my life flash before my eyes as Mackert’s line drive sizzled directly towards my chest in our Friday night game against “The ‘Del.” Luckily, my protective instincts kicked in just in time for the ball to lodge itself into my glove, and I lobbed it to first for the double play. But that is just the beginning; Justin also played a key role in one of the worst relief appearances in Paladin history, which was performed the very next day by none other than yours truly. His base hit was the first of three consecutive RBI singles that came off of my four total pitches thrown. Woof.
While he will not have the joy of facing Drake Browne in 2012, Mackert is still one of the guys to watch out for in the SoCon. And oh yeah, I forgot; he hit the Citadel’s game winning three run bomb in extra innings of our Sunday game.
Andrew Spleth (UNCG)
Spleth returns to UNCG for his senior season, after helping the Spartans to a second place finish in the 2011 regular season. While I was not able to pitch against the powerful first baseman last year, I have had a lot of experience with him on the baseball field. This experience came when we were teammates on the Xenia Scouts in the Great Lakes League, the summer after my freshman year.
When looking at the picture above, you will be able to get a good sense of how my summer went with the Scouts. I spent a lot of time watching Andrew do his thing. He simply out played me, but I do have to thank him (and my constant battle with the Mendoza line) for putting the finishing touches on my transition to the pitcher’s mound. It seems to have worked out for both of us. Spleth is a great player, but an even better guy. I will admit that he is a good friend of mine, but I also really do believe that he will have a stellar year for UNCG.
Will Muzika (Furman)
Muzika burst on the scene in 2010, and was named the SoCon Freshman of the year after an impressive rookie season. While he was a constant force for the Paladins in 2011, the BBCOR bats and a few other slight problems kept my good friend “Z” from having as impressive of a year. One of these slight problems is actually not slight at all, and it is crucial for the game of baseball. It is a little thing called vision. Now that Muzika visited the eye doctor, and found out that his peepers aren’t what it used to be, he will be rocking a variety of prescription Oakleys on the field in 2012.
This improved vision should make him one of the most feared hitters in the SoCon, whose statistics will be just as intimidating as the optical flare.
Those are just a few of the hitters to watch out for in the SoCon this upcoming season. I will be back soon to provide a look at some pitchers to look out for, but until then, make sure you are getting ready for the 2012 season!
#32 in the Media Guide, #1 in your hearts,