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Top 50 JUCO Team Breakdowns

Juco : : Rankings
Allan Simpson        
Published: Thursday, January 30, 2014

2014 Top 50 Preseason Junior College Teams | 2014 Top 200 Junior College Prospects

1. State College of Florida-Manatee | 2013 Record: 45-13

Still searching for elusive national title despite a long history of success, Manatees suffered a key setback over Christmas break when SS
Kevin Bradley, a transfer from Clemson and Oklahoma State recruit, was lost for season with a torn labrum. Missouri-bound RHP Reggie McClain (9-2, 2.83) returns to anchor pitching staff, ex-Florida OF Sean Trent (.287-4-29) is top returning position player, and team is bolstered by addition of freshman RHP Dustin Hagy (Red Sox/31st round), along with key transfers like ex-Virginia C Scott Williams, ex-Hight Point 3B Ryne Rush, ex-Florida State SS/closer Ryan Valdes and ex-Florida OF Cory Reid.

Grayson (Texas) | 2013 Record: 40-18

Vikings won Junior College World Series titles in 1999, 2000 and 2008, and began 2013 season in this same No. 2 position, so easily rank among elite junior-college programs nationally. Arkansas-Little
Rock-bound 1B Chris Gittens (.400-3-43), who has emerged as a significant prospect after losing upwards of 50 pounds, is one of six returning regulars in the field, and he'll also take a regular turn in rotation with his 92-94 mph fastball. Former Texas Tech OF Zach Reding (.409-3-30, 11 SB), team's leading hitter and base stealer a year ago, is also back. Among key additions are two premium Arkansas transfers, 3B/RHP Willie Schwanke, who will head up rotation while holding down a regular job at hot corner, and C Jean Ramirez, a defensive specialist, plus two players who transferred in at Christmas break, ex-Eastern Michigan SS Mason Eng and ex-Dallas Baptist LHP Landon Wilson.

3. San Jacinto (Texas) |
2013 Record: 35-21

Gators won five national titles from 1985-90, and have been shut out since--though have finished second on six occasions, most recently as 2012. With a deep pitching staff and six returning regulars, the
Gators will be legitimate contenders again this year. OF Brandon Sonnenberg (.336-0-28), who led team in hitting a year ago, 3B Geonte Jackson (.317-2-37), who led in RBIs and 2B Kelvin Ramos (.311-0-11, 27 SB), who led in steals, are all back. Red-shirt freshman RHP Holden Helmink, a 22nd-round draft pick in 2012, transferred in from Texas at Christmas break, but may have a tough time cracking a rotation led by New Mexico-bound LHP Toller Boardman, another ex-Texas pitcher, sophomore LHP Clayton Isherwood (4-1, 2.84) and sophomore RHP Dustin Cook (3-1, 3.60). Freshman RHP Bryce Welborn, the hardest thrower on staff with a 93-96 mph fastball, is the projected closer, while several other arms capable of reaching the low-90s are also available.

4. Walters State (Tenn.) | 2013 Record: 37-18

David Shelton takes over Senators coaching duties in wake of retirement of long-time coach Ken Campbell and departure of veteran pitching coach Joey Seaver to pro ranks, and inherits a roster with 10
four-year transfers, including five from Southeastern Conference. Sophomores are projected to start at every position in field, led by North Carolina-bound SS Elijah Sutherland (.384-3-31, 25 2B), the team's top returning player. But Senators real strength may be a young pitching staff that features freshman RHP Brent Honeywell and ex-Tennessee RHP Aaron Quillen at front of rotation, and ex-Kentucky RHP Matt Pope, as the closer.

5. Chipola (Fla.)
| 2013 Record: 38-21

Perennial national power/2007 JUCO World Series champs have strong 1-2 pitching punch in Florida-bound RHP
Taylor Lewis (2-1, 3.54, 53 IP/55 SO) and Florida State-bound LHP Michael Mader (3-1, 2.62, 79 IP/66 SO), and staff bolstered by addition of ex-Florida RHP Tucker Simpson, ex-Florida State RHP M.T. Minacci, ex-Georgia RHP Palmer Betts. Betts set to close with mid-90s fastball, all other arms in low-to-mid 90s. Houston-bound C Ian Rice (.323-1-19), ex-Florida State 3B Bert Givens (.340-2-28) and Troy-bound SS Chase Nyman (.284-0-28) are key returnees in field, while Middle Georgia State CC transfer Cody Lanford (.320-3-20, 43 SB) should add spark at top of batting order.

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