Fall Report: Wake ForestFall Report
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — No program took a bigger jump in our recent Top 100 Programs rankings than Wake Forest, which vaulted from outside the Top 100 in 2015 to No. 42 this fall. D1Baseball Player of the Year Will Craig and All-American Nate Mondou helped lead the Demon Deacons to their first regional appearance in eight years in 2016, and then the Deacs were even better in 2017 after losing that pair to the draft. Stars like Stuart Fairchild, Gavin Sheets, Ben Breazeale, and Jonathan Pryor led the Deacs to a home regional and their first super regional since 1999.
Now Wake faces more dramatic roster turnover than it did a year ago, as that entire group of players is gone, along with the whole weekend rotation. And while it would be unrealistic to expect Wake Forest to top last year’s 43-win campaign in 2018, we also don’t expect the Deacs to plummet out of postseason contention. The hallmark of a thriving program is the ability to lose talented players but seamlessly reload every year and sustain a consistent level of success. Under ninth-year coach Tom Walter, Wake has recruited at a strong level for a solid half-decade now, and the core that remains in place is very exciting.
Last year, Wake brought in a pitching-heavy recruiting class, and a number of its talented freshman arms were able to gain valuable experience in complementary roles last year. Now that group of arms will step into more prominent jobs as sophomores, while a deep group of physical freshmen provides major reinforcements in the lineup. The Deacs still have significant star power in the junior class thanks to slugging third baseman Johnny Aiello (.328/.417/.643, 20 HR) and electric righthander Griffin Roberts (2.19 ERA, 80-32 K-BB in 53.1 innings of relief) surrounded by a solid supporting cast of quality veterans that look primed to increase their production.
Ultimately, Wake’s fate could rest on the ability of its freshmen to hit the ground running — this lineup will feature plenty of new faces. But this is a balanced roster that should strongly contend for a third straight NCAA tournament appearance.
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