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College | Rankings | 1/21/2021

2021 Division II College Preview

Nick Herfordt         Brian Sakowski        
Photo: Mathieu Gauthier (West Texas A&M Athletics)
Listed below are the Preseason Top 25 teams at the NCAA Division II level followed by detailed capsules of each program and a Top-30 prospect list. The rankings and the first capsule are available for free, the rest is available with a College Baseball Ticket (CBT) subscription. To learn more about the College Baseball Ticket and to sign up today please visit this link.

 
2021 College Baseball Preview Index

In 2005 the Angelo State baseball program was revived from its roots as San Angelo College following overwhelming support from students and the community. The 15 years since have been an overwhelming success and testament to the passion of the fans who help build the team.

The Rams have been one of the winningest programs in NCAA D-II baseball since its reintroduction. With Kevin Brooks as the sole head coach in program history, ASU has never suffered a losing season, won nearly 600 games, has reached the D-II Baseball Championships three times, which include a trip in 2007 in just the third year of the program’s existence and back-to-back appearances in 2015 and 2016.

The Rams finished 2019 with a 46-12 record for a .793 winning percentage - the best in school history. ASU was on pace to eclipse that record last season with a 19-3 record when COVID cancelled the season and the Rams’ seemingly destined reservation to Cary.

This season, the Rams return the bulk of players who contributed to the 65-15 record the past two seasons. That includes Josh Elvir, who slashed an incredible .452/.591/.1.000 over the past two seasons.  

There are a number of teams which could understandably be named the preseason favorite, but there is no doubt the Angelo State Rams are Perfect Game’s pick to bring home the title.


Rk. School State Record Final 2020
1 Angelo State Rams TX 19-3 1
2 Central Missouri Mules MO 20-3 2
3 Colorado Mesa Mavericks CO 14-4 7
4 Tampa Spartans FL 15-7 10
5 North Greenville Crusaders SC 19-5-1 5
6 Mount Olive Trojans NC 19-4 6
7 Catawba Indians NC 19-3 3
8 Augustana Vikings SD 9-4 11
9 Columbus St. Cougars GA 18-3 8
10 Minnesota State Mavericks MN 8-5 20
11 Georgia College Bobcats GA 13-2 4
12 West Texas A&M Buffs TX 17-6 NR
13 North Georgia Nighthawks GA 13-6 12
14 Southern Arkansas Muleriders AR 19-4 16
15 Delta State Statesmen MS 13-10 NR
16 Azusa Pacific Cougars CA 10-10 22
17 Texas Tyler Patriots TX 20-3 24
18 Ashland Eagles OH 10-4 21
19 Nova Southeastern Sharks FL 11-11 NR
20 East Stroudsburg Warriors PA 14-1-2 19
21 Newberry Wolves SC 18-6 17
22 UNC Pembroke Braves NC 18-5 23
23 Wingate Bulldogs NC 15-6 25
24 Millersville Marauders PA 14-4 NR
25 Davenport Panters MI 13-2 18


1. Angelo State Rams (19-3)

The Rams spent the entirety of the abbreviated 2020 season as the No. 1 team in the Perfect Game rankings and for good reason. They had returned the bulk of a veteran-heavy lineup which batted .350, slugged .539 and stole 153 bases. Also back are each of their top three pitchers and they added another who throws at the same upper echelon. 

Josh Elvir has been the best player in D-II baseball the last two seasons. He batted .458 with 17 doubles, nine triples and 20 home runs in 2019 and was hitting .438 with 11 home runs in 22 games last season. On almost any other club, Nick Seginowich would be the leading hitter. In 2019 he batted .391 with 18 doubles and 15 home runs and was hitting .310 last season despite not playing at 100%. In addition to his proficiency at the plate, he is a tremendous asset behind it as the team’s catcher. With the extra year of eligibility, Nicholas Novak will be a five-year starter at shortstop. He has excellent range and speed and has batted .327 with 65 stolen bases over his first four years. Alongside Novack at second base is Parker Bramlett. He is another experienced Ram who has played 122 games for ASU. During his time on the diamond he has compiled a robust .347 batting average. Jackson Hardy has earned honors for his defense in centerfield and batted .377 with 21 stolen bases in 2019. He was batting .396 last spring. 

Aaron Walters, who started 20 games at Texas A&M in 2019, was hitting .348 in his first year with the Rams. In addition to that already-formidable lineup, the club added the bat of Hunter Townsend. Townsend was initially scheduled to start his college career at Texas A&M out of high school, but rerouted to San Jacinto College. In addition to being an excellent hitter he has tremendous speed and range in the outfield.

The Rams’ starting staff will once again be led by Trent Baker. Baker was a First Team All-Lone Star Conference and All-Region hurler in 2019 with a 2.66 ERA. In six starts last season he had a 3.13 ERA and had stuckout 48 batters in 37 1/3 innings while only allowing 25 hits and eight walks. Ben Elder showed promise in his first year on the staff. The 6-foot-6 California native had received offers from a number of D-I programs and intended on pitching for Western Carolina, but wound up in San Angelo. He got batted around a bit in a couple of outings last spring, but showed the ability to dominate as he struck out 44 batters in only 31 innings. Coaches believe two new arms can help keep ASU on top. Mat Szabo previously pitched at Bowling Green and Young-Harris. At YHC last season he had a 2.67 ERA and struck out 48 batters in 30 1/3 innings. Justin Low should find himself in the rotation as a freshman. He was named a Texas Region All-High School Honorable Mention and has a very high ceiling. Carson Childers pairs a fastball with a changeup well and was excellent out of the bullpen last spring. In nine appearances he had a 1.10 ERA and stuck out 27 batters in 16 1/3 innings.


2. Central Missouri Mules (20-3)

The Mules were placed second each week in the 2020 Perfect Game rankings. While they didn’t overtake the Rams in the positioning, they continually narrowed the gap to the point where, for all intents and purposes, they were the co-No. 1 when the season was called. UCM has a potent offense which got better in the offseason, an upgraded pitching staff and will certainly challenge for the national title.  

While Erik Webb didn't blow the doors off competition last spring, he had put up prolific stats in 2019 when he batted .410 with 26 doubles, five triples and 21 home runs. In four seasons as a starter he has a .360 batting average, 127 extra base hits and 45 stolen bases. He will once again be in the outfield for the Mules. Dusty Stroup transferred from conference rival Missouri Western and was having one of the top seasons of any D-II player. The third baseman was leading the division in total bases as he was hitting .453 with 12 doubles and 10 home runs. In a game against Fort Hays State last spring he hit four home runs. Cole Taylor had an exponential increase in his offensive productivity last season. After batting .259 in 2019, he was hitting .417 with a .893 slugging percentage thanks to five triples and eight home runs. Josh Schumacher, Harrison Schnurbusch and Alex Madera are also back to build on big seasons. Schumacher has batted .399 over 53 games the past two seasons for UCM, primarily as the leadoff hitter. Schnurbusch is in his fourth season as an everyday regular. Although he has been the team’s starting shortstop and third baseman in previous seasons, he was primarily a designated hitter in 2020 when he hit .378 with seven home runs. Madera, a native of Curaçao, has hit .347 as the team’s shortstop the last two seasons. 

The Mules pitching staff will be without some of their top arms from last season. Most notably, Jonathan Sprinkle who fanned 43 in 23 1/3 innings as he signed with the Astros. Nevertheless, the returning pitchers are more than enough to compete with the best. Mason Green is the ace of the staff. In 2019 he had a 2.88 ERA and stuck out 95 batters in 75 innings. Over his career at UCM he has earned a 3.17 ERA, a perfect 11-0 record and 139 strikeouts in 113 2/3 innings on the mound. Connor Dryer and Collin Jones will round out the rotation. Dryer has exclusively been a reliever his first three seasons in Warrensburg. Jones has made 22 starts and amassed 125 total innings as a Mule. Over the past two seasons he looked especially sharp as he has held opposition to a .211 batting average. Ryan Lumpkin hit .316 at Eastern Oklahoma State College, but is penciled in for a pitching role for the Mules. Tyler Kuhlmann and Evan Rathburn combined to go 6-0 with three saves out of the bullpen last spring with 30 strikeouts in 23 innings and a 1.17 ERA.



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