Keith Zuniga (Bethune-Cookman)

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2015 Conference Previews: MEAC

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference 

MEAC Projected Standings

Bold indicates projected regional team, Top 25 ranking in parentheses, and records are from 2014. Teams are listed in order of projected finish.
Northern DivisionConferenceOverall
Norfolk State14-1023-26
Delaware State17-730-17
Coppin State9-1512-34
UMES8-1613-35
Southern DivisionConferenceOverall
Florida A&M14-1027-33
Bethune-Cookman14-1026-26
N.C. Central9-1517-32
Savannah State11-1322-31
North Carolina A&T12-1219-33

Projected Regional Teams (1): Florida A&M

Player of the Year: Charles Sikes, 1b, Savannah State

Pitcher of the Year: Keith Zuniga, rhp, Bethune-Cookman

Freshman of the Year: Alex Mauricio, 2b, Norfolk State

NOTEBOOK

PROJECTED REGIONAL TEAM

• FAMU RattlersFlorida A&M should once again contend in the MEAC for head coach Jamey Shouppe. The Rattlers have some bats returning in first baseman Ryan Kennedy (.303, 8, 40), outfielders Marlon Gibbs (.335, 1, 21) and Jared Walker (.321, 0, 13), and catcher Jeremy Barlow (.274, 3, 22). Brian Davis is a freshman to watch at third base. Righties Chase Jarrell (5-2, 3.42), David Ogilvie (JC transfer), Alex Carrasco (3-6, 4.57), Ryan Anderson (freshman), Kenny McDonald (JC transfer), and Brandon Fleming (5-4, 4.36) lead the pitching staff. Offensively, Walker is an impressive speedster to watch. He flashed elite speed during fall workouts, while also displaying good bat control. Meanwhile, talented freshman Brian Davis is an intriguing player to watch, showing good gap-to-gap stroke during the fall. On the mound, ace starting pitcher Chase Jarrell will sit mid-80s with a sinking fastball, along with a good curveball. Meanwhile, freshman Ryan Anderson could make an immediate impact. Anderson is an athletic, mid-80s fastball guy with good command of a curveball and changeup to go with the fastball. In other news for the Rattlers, the Florida State connection (besides Shouppe) continues with the addition of pitching coach Bryan Henry, who previously was a volunteer assistant on Mike Martin’s coaching staff at FSU. Henry, as well documented, was a decorated college pitcher for the Seminoles.

KEEP AN EYE ON

• Norfolk State logoNorfolk State has a veteran pitching staff with a strong bullpen. That staff is led by Matt Outman (8-2, 2.96), Devin Hemmerich (5-3, 2.49), Stephen Butt (3-3, 4.82), and Josh Vales (3-5, 7.22). Look for Robbie Hiser (JC transfer) and Alex Mauricio (freshman) to pace the bullpen. Offensively shortstop Justin Lee (.228, 0, 20), first baseman Ryan Kilmon (James Madison transfer), DH Ian Horne (.167, 0, 2), and outfielder Andre’ Moore (.3.06, 0, 15) lead the way.

THE REST OF THE PACK

• Delware State Hornets logoDelaware State led the nation in batting last year and was second in scoring. While they lost some of that punch they should still be good offensively. DH Cameron Onderko (.396, 1, 28), outfielder Ron Farley (.336, 2, 33), outfielder Charles Dailey (.356, 0, 34), and shortstop David Kimbrough (.370, 0, 15) all return. Dan Galati (1-0, 6.75), Christopher Gonzalez (2-1, 3.79), Zach Candeloro (2-3, 5.84), and Bob Brown (1-1, 6.21) are the top returning pitchers. Terry Godfrey and Tyler Cullen are freshmen to watch. From the junior college ranks, keep close tabs on catchers Sam Barber and Tyler Ramsey. The duo had strong falls, and the Hornets feel they could make immediate impacts.

• Bethune Cookman Wildcats logoBethune Cookman returned to Regional play last season after a hiatus in 2013 snapped an eight-year streak. This season Keith Zuniga (8-4, 2.70) leads a pitching staff with a lot of holes to fill. Michael Austin (0-5, 3.03) and Riley O’Brien (0-4, 5.40) also return. Outfielder Bryant Munoz (.302, 0, 13) and infielder Austin Garcia (.248, 2, 24) are the top offensive returnees.

• North Carolina Central logoNorth Carolina Central should contend in the MEAC this season. Offensively they are led by catcher Conrad Kovalick (.324, 0, 4),  outfielder Carlos Ortiz (.321, 6, 25), and outfielder Eric Kimber (.243, 1, 18).  Outfielder Ronald Thompson, who was a medical redshirt in 2014, should hit cleanup. Righty Alex Dandridge (2-4, 6.13), Jordan Quinn (Medical RS in ’14), Devin Sweet (freshman), and the two-way player Kimber (2-4, 6.16) are starting options. Andrew Vernon (2-2, 5.31) and Kyle Shields (3-4, 5.65) are top bullpen arms. Kovalick is a surprisingly athletic catcher who should get some power going this spring after slugging five homers in the fall, while Kimber has a chance to really help this team both offensively and on the mound. In addition to his duties as an athletic outfielder, Kimber is 87-90 with his fastball as a RHP. Oh yeah, he’s also a respectable 6.80 60-yard-dash runner. Freshman RHP Devin Sweet is an intriguing player to watch, possessing an 87-89 mph fastball along with a swing-and-miss changeup.

• Coppin State Eagles logoCoppin State finally has some experience in head coach Sherman Reed’s third season. Look for outfielders Jefffrey Fitch (.311, 0, 15), Bobby Dragon (.315, 1, 24), and Jack Kraft (.307, 0, 25), first baseman Lance Montano (JC transfer), and third baseman Randal Mendez (.289, 0, 12) to lead the lineup. Lefties Anderson Burgess (1-4, 6.70), Jhar Devilme (3-5, 5.17), Dillon O’Brien (2-2, 5.06), and righties Yahya Muhammad (0-7, 8.23), Chris Estrada (TJ surgery), and Myles Taylor (shoulder surgery) are the top pitchers. Fitch and Kraft are especially interesting players to watch this season. Fitch is a 6.50 runner who is a good defensive outfielder and continues to emerge as a hitter, while Kraft is a potential five-tool player with a lot of upside. Meanwhile, on the mound, consistency will be the big key for CSU. Burgess sits 86-89 mph with his fastball and sometimes has decent command of his secondary offerings.

• Savannah State logoSavannah State expects to have more depth on the mound and be more dynamic offensively. The pitching is led by starters Austin Denney (5-5, 4.42), Ryan Doyle (2-1, 6.75), Zach McCormack (2-3, 6.16), and Austin Robinson (1-4, 4.74). Freshmen Malik Jones and Kenney Glover will also be factors. Offensively first baseman Charles Sikes (.358, 10, 51) is a dangerous hitter. He will be aided by third baseman Zach Brigham (.271, 2, 24), outfielders Hector Benitez, Mendez Elder, and David Richards. Juco transfer and Jonathan Moore is an intriguing guy to watch this season. Moore hit over .350 as a sophomore at Jefferson Davis CC last season, while Benitez is a 6.60 runner who does a terrific job of covering ground in the outfield.

• University of Maryland Eastern Shore logoUMES feels it has an improved pitching staff and better team speed. Righties Jesse Stinnett (4-5, 4.26), J.P. Black (1-5, 5.23), Phil Berry (1-6, 6.80), Will Turley (1-6, 7.88), Devine Repine (0-3, 10, 06), and Kameron Raison (0-0, 6.16) all return on the mound.  Catcher Troy Anderson (.315, 1, 6), DH Justin Dattilo (.264, 0, 25), first baseman Skylar Murray (.261, 0, 4), outfielder Greg Turlik (.244, 2, 26) and second baseman Mike Escanilla (.289, 0, 16) are the top offensive returnees. In injury news, OF Brock Long will miss the entire 2015 season because of a shoulder injury.

North Carolina A & T North Carolina A&T hired Ben Hall as interim coach to replace Joel Sanchez in October.  Brian Poag (1-3, 6.54) leads the pitching staff. Kyle Clary (.226, 0, 10), Brandon Wilkerson (.257, 0, 18), and Lester Salcedo (.292, 1, 25) are offensive returnees.

MEAC Prospect Watch

Top Prospects, 2015 Draft 
1Anderson BurgessLHPCoppin State
2Yahya MuhammadRHPCoppin State
3Keith ZunigaRHPBethune-Cookman
4Devine RepineRHPUMES
5Robbie HiserRHPNorfolk State
6David RichardsOFSavannah State
7Andrew VernonRHPN.C. Central
8Marlon GibbsOFFlorida A&M
9Jarred WalkerOFFlorida A&M
10Charles Sikes1BSavannah State
Top Prospects, 2016 Draft
1Jesse StinnettRHPUMES
2Barrett ArnoldOFCoppin State
3Jack KraftOFCoppin State
4Robbie HiserRHPNorfolk State
5Bryant MirandaSSCoppin State
Impact Newcomers
1Alex Mauricio2B/RHPNorfolk State
2Brian Davis3BFlorida A&M
3David OgilvieRHPFlorida A&M
4Malik JonesRHPSavannah State
5Mijon CummingsINFBethune-Cookman

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