It's time for College Baseball Preseason All-America teams to take on a different flavor entering the 2013 campaign.
The last two seasons have featured a familiar theme on All-America teams: Several South Carolina Gamecocks. Former South Carolina starting pitcher Michael Roth and reliever Matt Price seemed to be All-American mainstays, but the two, along with other Gamecocks stars, have moved on to the professional ranks.
As we kick off the '13 College Baseball Preview, it begins with an inside look at this year's PG Preseason College All-Americans ... and surprising to some, the teams don't include a single South Carolina player.
Perhaps things will change by season's end. At any rate, the Preseason All-America teams are loaded with many outstanding players and prospects expected to make a huge impact on the college baseball landscape.
Stanford right-handed pitcher Mark Appel is the most decorated All-American. Appel put together an impressive '12 campaign, and it was thought he'd probably sign last summer with the Houston Astros as the eighth overall pick in the MLB draft. However, Appel decided to return to Stanford for his senior season with hopes of capturing a national title.
Appel isn't alone as a Stanford Preseason All-American. First baseman Brian Ragira, who hit .329 with five homers and 50 RBIs last season, also is a first-teamer with expectations present that he will take a significant step forward this spring. The same goes for outstanding prospect and outfielder Austin Wilson, who finished last season with a .285 average, 10 homers and 54 RBIs.
There are many other fantastic players to watch from this group, but specifically two standout in the eyes of coaches and scouts alike:
Player to watch: 3B DJ Peterson, New Mexico
Throughout the '12 campaign, no single player was brought up to me by coaches more than the ultra-talented UNM third baseman. Peterson blossomed for the Lobos last season, earning the label as the nation's "best hitter" by many coaches from big-time programs. Peterson batted .419 with 21 doubles, three triples, 17 homers and 78 RBIs. He also slugged .734 and had a 33-29 advantage in walks-to-strikeouts. Peterson, potentially a first-round pick in this summer's MLB draft, has a smooth, easy and disciplined swing that generates impressive raw power, while he also has more than adequate defensive skills.
Pitcher to watch: LHP Sean Manaea, Indiana State
Of all names to remember this spring, this might just be the one. Manaea has increased his stock more than anyone over the past year. He put together a solid spring for the Sycamores, where he went 5-3 with a 3.34 ERA in 105 innings. He also struck out 115 and walked 37, while teams hit him at a .249 clip. But he took his biggest step forward during his summer at the Cape Cod League. Manaea was simply fantastic, earning PG Summer Player of the Year honors for his performances throughout the summer. There, the imposing 6-foot-5, 235-pounder, was consistently 93-96 (98) with a deceptive baseball, while he had a nasty, hard slider, at 80-83 and a developing 79-81 changeup. Though it's still very early in the process, there's a good chance Manaea is the No. 1 pick in June.