2015 Conference Previews: Colonial
Colonial Projected StandingsBold indicates projected regional team, Top 25 ranking in parentheses, and records are from 2014. Teams are listed in order of projected finish.
|College of Charleston||15-6||44-19|
|William & Mary||15-5||34-22|
Projected Regional Teams (1): College of Charleston
Player of the Year: Casey Jones, 2b, Elon
Pitcher of the Year: Bailey Ober, rhp, College of Charleston
Freshman of the Year: Cullen Large, 2b, William & Mary
PROJECTED REGIONAL TEAM
• College of Charleston shocked everyone knocking off No. 2 national seed Florida to win the Gainesville Regional as a No. 4 seed. The Cougars return one of the top pitching staffs in the South. RHPs Taylor Clarke (10-4, 2.51) and Bailey Ober (10-3, 1.52) are back to lead the rotation, and both bring power stuff. Clarke is a bulldog who attacks hitters with three quality pitches, including a fastball that touches 94, while Ober has advanced command of a lively fastball that hits 91, a plus changeup and a good curveball. LHP Eric Bauer (6-2, 2.09) and RHP Nathan Helvey (3-4, 3.78) are competing for starting spots and have good feel for their offspeed stuff and fastball command. Hayden McCutcheon (1-0, 2.08) missed much of last year and could close or start, but his heavy sinker reaches 91 and his slider can be an out pitch. Chase Henry (2-0, 2.27) has similar stuff, with good life on his low-90s fastball and a swing-and-miss power slider, and he could also close. The lineup has some potential but suffered some sizable losses. Starting position players include 3B Carl Wise (.295/3/54), who figures to hit for more power as a junior than he did as a sophomore, 1B Nick Pappas (.269/5/26), and 2B Blake Butler (.282/3/24). Others to keep an eye on are freshman OF Ryan Brown and sophomore C Ervin Roper (.167/0/1), who led the team in batting and home runs in the fall.
KEEP AN EYE ON
• UNC Wilmington has a group of talented pitchers that could propel it into postseason play. RHP Jordan Ramsey (2-4, 5.80) has one of the best arms in the CAA, with a lively 90-94 fastball, but he is still refining his offspeed stuff. He has a chance to be a dominant Friday ace if everything clicks. RHP Nick Monroe (1-4, 4.23) also has a power arm, with an 89-93 fastball with good downward angle and a sharp curveball. RHP Ryan Foster (2-3, 3.47) is a sinkerballer with advanced pitchability, while RHP Evan Phillips flashes electric stuff headlined by a fastball that can bump 95, but he must improve his command. RHP Jared Gesell (1-0, 4.41), an athletic power pitcher with a 90-94 fastball and a swing-and-miss changeup, could anchor the bullpen, with strong-bodied LHP Will Shepley (2-0, 4.44) potentially serving as the setup man. Offensively, 1B Corey Dick (.315/6/38), DH Luke Dunlap (.305/1/22), and OF Casey Golden (.269/4/29) are the top returning hitters. Golden is a premier athlete with good speed who could be a major breakout candidate as a sophomore this year. Catcher Gavin Stupienski (.257/0/5) had a great summer in the Coastal Plain League and could hit cleanup. OF Steven Linkous (.247/0/12), who spent some time at third base last year but can take better advantage of his good speed with a move to left field, could hit leadoff. The Seahawks fell short of high expectations last year, but they have the nucleus in place to make noise in 2015.
THE REST OF THE PACK
• William & Mary won the CAA regular season last year and just missed out on a regional berth. Catcher Ryan Hissey (.313/8/39) is one of the top players in the league, a powerful lefthanded hitter with a strong arm and solid receiving skills behind the plate. OF Josh Smith (.294/2/17), DH Charley Gould (.333/7/42), and SS Tim Hoehn (.262/4/33) all return as well. The Tribe coaches think Smith has a chance to be a dynamic player if he can become a little more consistent, because his athleticism and speed are exciting. Gould, meanwhile, complements Hissey by bringing significant power production from the right side. The Tribe could see three freshmen start in 2B Cullen Large, SS Kyle Wrighte, and OF Ryan Hall. Jason Inghram (10-2, 2.71), a physical lefthander who spots his fastball well and mixes in a 12-to-6 curve and improved changeup, is back to be the staff ace. Mitch Aker (4-1, 4.10), who has a good fastball and is making strides with his offspeed stuff, could be the Saturday starter. Juco transfer Bryson Kauhaahaa (1-3, 5.40) and quick-armed sophomore RHP Nick Brown (5-1/4.27) are also starting candidates. Joe Gaouette (3-1, 1.84), a strong-bodied righty who works downhill and has a wipeout 12-to-6 curve, and sidearm lefty Andrew White (0-0, 1.23) are two solid bullpen options.
• Elon makes the transition from the Southern Conference into the Colonial this spring. The Phoenix should have a solid lineup but have some holes to fill on the mound. Infielder Casey Jones (.418/7/53) is one of the top hitters in the conference and will be the centerpiece of the lineup. OF Quinn Bower (.295/0/13), 3B Nick Zammerelli (.284/1/22), DH Tyler McIver (.268/6/27), and OF Ryan Cooper (.266/3/34) all return to form a solid supporting cast. Lucas Bakker (7-3, 3.81), Jake Stalzer (5-4, 3.97) and Michael Elefante (6-3, 5.40) are the top returning pitchers, but the depth of the staff is a significant concern. Joe McGillicuddy returns after missing last season to treat testicular cancer and should have an impact on the staff. The Phoenix will also get Robbie Welhaf back from Tommy John surgery, giving the staff another boost.
• Northeastern should lean on a strong, deep pitching staff this season. Senior RHP Nick Berger (3-6, 3.83) and junior LHP James Mulry (2-3, 4.06) form a nice veteran duo atop the rotation. Sophomore RHP Dustin Hunt (6-1, 2.50) has a fast arm and rates as one of the CAA’s top prospects for the 2016 draft, giving Northeastern a promising Sunday starter. Freshman Brian Christian could hold down the midweek starter spot, while fourth-year juniors Michael Foster (2-1, 2.45) and Mike Fitzgerald (3-3, 2.03) give the Huskies an experienced bullpen core that should give this team a chance in every series. Foster (.299/3/36) closes and will also play shortstop. 3B Cam Hanley (.333/1/9), DH Nick Fanneron (.220/1/16), and C Josh Treff (.208/0/19) are returnees. OF Mason Koppens and INF Max Burt are freshman who should start.
• Delaware has the rotation to surprise in 2015. Adam Davis would have been the top starter last season but was injured. He and Ron Marinaccio are both now healthy after missing 2014. They should be joined in the rotation by Chad Martin (5-5, 5.35), who has the best pure stuff on the team, and freshman Scott Zimmer. Luke Alicknavitch (2-3, 3.64) and John Geffre (1-5, 6.14) are bullpen options. The lineup is led by Norm Donkin (.316/3/30), Zach Lopes (.320/1/29), 2015 redshirt Diaz Nardo. Joe Giacchino (.314/2/23), Doug Trimble (.309/1/14), and Nick Liggett (.308/0/2) are also returning. The Blue Hens lack power, but they have plenty of experience, with just one newcomer projected to start in the everyday lineup.
• James Madison looks to some new faces this season. Three freshmen are expected to start in OF Michael Sciorra, 2B Kyle McPherson (a slick defender), and 3B Bradley McKay (another good defensive player with a developing bat). 1B Kyle Weston (.300/2/14), C Bobby San Martin (.252/2/21), and OFs Josh Wyatt (.261/2/16) and Kevin Husum (.309/0/20) will add some experience to the lineup. Husum has good speed and a rifle arm from right field, and he figures to anchor the lineup in the cleanup spot. SS Chad Carroll (.219/1/11) was injured last season but hit .389 in 2013, and his return gives JMU a major boost. Aaron Hoover (1-8, 5.69), Ben Garner (0-1, 3.00), the two-way player Husum (3-2, 11.81), and transfer Derek Shifflett are top pitching options.
• Hofstra’s roster has about half new faces on it this season. Nick Kozlowski (6-5, 4.45), the staff ace, has good velocity on his heater but must cut down his walk rate after issuing 38 free passes in 62.2 innings last year. Freshman Adam Heidenfelder, a projectable 6-foot-5 righty with a quick arm and developing secondary stuff, and JC transfer Chris Bonk are going to get a chance to fill the rotation along with senior lefty Kevin Weissheier (0-0, 8.03). Brian MacDonald (0-0/3.86) moves into the closer role and will also DH (.318/4/29). 2B Brad Witkowski (.330/0/10) is a breakout candidate as a sophomore this year. 1B Ryan Donovan (.260/4/19) has a long swing but brings some pop and has improved his plate discipline. OF Eric Ferguson (.263/1/14) and SS Dalton Rouleau (.259/0/7) will add experience alongside freshman C Niko Hagerty, freshman OF Matt Annunziata, and TCU transfer OF Brett Johnson, who brings valuable defensive versatility and a mature righthanded bat.
• Towson will look to improve on its 4-13 CAA mark from last season. The Tigers have some holes to fill in the lineup, but they do have some building blocks starting with SS Pete Bowles (.304/3/35), 3B Brendan Butler (.264/1/16), and OF Richie Blosser (injured in ’14). Butler (a 6.6 runner) and 2B Brady Policelli (6.75) bring valuable speed, and Bowles has a chance to be one of the most dangerous offensive players in the conference. On the mound, LHP Bruce Zimmerman (5-5, 5.00) will lead the rotation thanks to his ability to locate his 85-88 fastball with good movement and mix in a quality changeup. Kevin Ross (0-1, 5.68) has seen his fastball velocity jump from the mid-to-upper-80s a year ago to 88-92 this year, and he also features a solid changeup. Lee Lawler (2-3,4.53), an 84-87 righty with a good breaking ball, is the other likely weekend starter, while while RHP Chris Acker (2-3, 3.86) moves to closer. His 88-92 fastball and good slider should play up out of the bullpen.
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