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Saturday, February 09, 2013

Conference previews: WAC

Kendall Rogers        
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The college baseball season is right around the corner, and as part of our 2013 College Baseball Preview, we take an in-depth look at each conference with predicted order of finish, Preseason All-Conference teams, top prospect lists and a complete team-by-team notes/scouting packet.

ALSO SEE: 2013 College Baseball Preview index




PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
Overall/conference won-loss records from 2012 indicated; expectation level denoted -- College World Series= CWS, NCAA Super Regional= SR, NCAA Regional= R


No Team W L W L
1. *Dallas Baptist - R
X X 41 19
2. *Texas State
X X 32 24
3. New Mexico State
11 7 35 24
4. *Cal State Bakersfield X X 25 30
5. Sacramento State
11 7 31 28
6. Louisiana Tech
7 11 27 28
7. San Jose State
5 13 22 29
8. *Texas-Arlington 19 14 36 25
9. *UTSA
11 21 22 32
10. *Seattle X X 23 30

* New to the conference in 2013





PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

Pos Name Class School Stats/Notes
C Duncan McAlpine Sr.
Dallas Baptist .267-9-42, could be more consistent but has plus raw power
1B Tanner Rust
Jr.
New Mexico State
.326-2-26, consistent hitter, gets on base w/ .431 OBP
2B Andrew Ayers Sr. Sacramento State .336-3-31, good hitter w/ gap power, 16 doubles in '12
SS Parker Hipp Sr. New Mexico State .349-1-49, very good hitter, drew 57 walks (31 strikeouts)
3B Will Soto
Jr. Sacramento State .276-2-32, must be more consistent, 17 doubles
OF Boomer Collins Sr. Dallas Baptist .374-13-58, big-time hitter with outstanding power
OF Rhys Hoskins So. Sacramento State .353-10-53, big-time hitter with good raw power
OF Morgan Mickan
Sr. Texas State .255-0-6, excellent defensive skills, just hit better
DH Ryan Walker
Jr.
Texas-Arlington .360-0-31, very good hitter, speed w/ 14 SB's
UT Jeff McKenzie Sr.
Cal State Bakersfield .333-0-0, 2.67 ERA, 107.2 IP, 69 K, 37 BB, .259 OPP BA
SP Kyle Finnegan
Jr. Texas State 3.28 ERA, 93.1 IP, 75 K, 26 BB, mid 90s FB
SP Jake Johansen
Sr. Dallas Baptist 5.48 ERA, 46 IP, 40 K, 32 BB, .264 AVG, big-time mid 90s FB
SP Jonathan Montoya
Sr. Cal State Bakersfield Missed 2012 because of injury, very solid ace arm
RP Michael Smith Sr. Dallas Baptist 3.51 ERA, 66.2 IP, 57 K, 17 BB, .269 OPP BA

Player of the Year: OF Boomer Collins, Dallas Baptist
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Kyle Finnegan, Texas State
Top Freshman: RHP Joseph Shaw, Dallas Baptist
Top Transfer: 3B Mike Wesolowski, Dallas Baptist (hit .397 w/ four RBIs at Mesa CC last season)





PROSPECT WATCH

2013 Draft Class

1. Kyle Finnegan, Jr., RHP, Texas State

2. Jake Johansen, Jr., RHP, Dallas Baptist

3. John Beck, Jr., RHP, Texas-Arlington

4. Morgan Mickan, Sr., OF, Texas State

5. Tanner Mendonca, Jr., RHP, Sacramento State


2014 Draft Class

1. Bre'Shawn Kimbell, So., OF, Louisiana Tech

2. Jordan Pacheco, So., RHP, Texas-San Antonio

3. Cy Sneed, So., RHP, Dallas Baptist


2015 Draft Class

1. Joseph Shaw, Fr., RHP, Dallas Baptist





WAC NOTEBOOK

* Cal State Bakersfield has been an independent program looking for a new conference home the past few seasons, and the Roadrunners have found a new stomping ground in the WAC. Bakersfield should be very competitive in its first season with the WAC. The 'Runners welcome back an impressive weekend rotation with senior left-handers Jonathan Montoya and Jeff McKenzie and right-hander Scott Brattvet leading the way. Montoya missed last season because of an injury, but is back healthy and expected to continue where he left off two seasons ago. McKenzie is a very talented arm who had a team-best 2.67 ERA in 107 2/3 innings last season. He also struck out 69 and walked 37, while teams hit him at a .259 clip. Also keep an eye on good sophomore right-handed closer James åçBarragan, who is back after tallying a 4.08 ERA in 28 2/3 innings last season. He struck out 24 and walked 14, limiting teams to a .259 clip ... The Roadrunners also have plenty of reasons to be excited about their offense with the return of several key hitters, including their top four of second baseman Oscar Sanay (.312-0-25), Frank Martinez (.294/3/18), outfielder Kevin Younger (.285/2/29) and catcher Cael Brockmeyer (.285/6/32). Also keep an eye on transfer left-handed pitcher Josh Rodriguez and freshman third baseman Mylz Jones, who each put together productive fall workout periods.

* Dallas Baptist has really experienced some impressive success the past few seasons. The Patriots nearly reached the College World Series two seasons ago, and reached yet another NCAA Regional last season. Now, coach Dan Heefner (186-102 overall at DBU) and the Patriots hope to actually host an NCAA Regional in their beautiful new stadium. DBU will have an outstanding weekend rotation with big-time arm, junior right-hander Jake Johansen, leading the charge. Johansen is an elite prospect with a FB up to 98, and is coming off a campaign where he tallied a 5.48 ERA in 48 innings. He's expected to make strides. Sophomore right-handers Cy Sneed and Jay Calhoun will round out the rotation. Sneed has a good CH and command, and tallied a 4.45 ERA in 85 innings last season. He also struck out 71 and walked 27, while Calhoun made nine starts last season with a 3.45 ERA in 47 innings. Also keep an eye on senior right-handed closer Michael Smith, who has good breaking stuff ... Offensively, the Patriots welcome back four key hitters with hard-hitting Boomer Collins (.374-13-58) leading the way. Meanwhile, outfielder Ronnie Mitchell (.296/3/27), catcher Duncan McAlpine (.267/9/42) and second baseman Jaime Garrido (.306/2/17) expect to have solid campaigns. Also keep an eye on newcomer and JUCO transfer third baseman Mike Wesolowski, who hit .397 at Mesa CC last spring. As for freshmen, talented pitcher Cory Taylor will serve as midweek starter.

* Louisiana Tech is looking to finally punch through to the postseason in the WAC after finishing last season with an unimpressive 7-11 conference mark. The Bulldogs have the personnel to take a step forward this season. They finished last season with a .287 batting average, and welcome back at least six key hitters from that team, including All-WAC selection Ryan Gebhardt, who hit .341 with a home run and 27 RBIs last season. Also keep an eye on Austin Hedges (.296/2/26), Taylor Terrasas (.340/3/21), Tyler Qualls (.336/1/20) and Bre'shon Kimbell, who struggled at the plate last season with a .274 average, but is one with the tools to take a significant step forward this spring ... The Bulldogs should be fine from a pitching standpoint if their starting pitchers rise to the occasion. Tech welcomes back senior right-hander Jamie Gilley and senior righty Trevor Petersen. Gilley made six starts (25 appearances) last season with a 4.03 ERA in 67 innings, while Petersen had a 7.13 ERA in 12 starts. Also keep an eye on talented relievers Caleb Dudley and Sam Alvis. Dudley made 29 appearances with a 3.70 ERA in 48 2/3 innings (nine saves) last season, while Alvis made 16 appearances with a 4.56 ERA in 23 2/3 innings of work.

* New Mexico State took a significant step forward last season by reaching the NCAA postseason with a trip to the Tucson Regional. Though the Aggies fell short of advancing to the next round, they set the foundation for the future. The Aggies will enter a season for once with more question marks at the plate than on the mound. Pitching-wise, the Aggies welcome back a crop of starting pitchers in senior left-handed hurler Ryan Beck, senior right-hander Adam Mott, right-hander Casey Collins and senior right-hander Michael Ormseth. Beck was the staff ace last season with a 4.24 ERA in 97 2/3 innings. He struck out 97 and walked 38, while Mott had a 4.80 ERA in 86 1/3 innings, and held teams to a .276 batting average. Meanwhile, Collins had a 5.22 ERA in 60 1/3 innings and Ormseth had a 5.33 ERA in 76 innings, teams hitting him at a .281 clip. NMSU has some tough relievers to replace in Scott Coffman, Randy Montoya and Trey Ross, but welcomes back lefty Trey Higginbotham and the duo (that must improve) of Robert Kraft and Tim Torsney. Higginbotham is the one to watch here after he made 15 appearances last season with a very solid 2.08 ERA. That, of course, was only in 8 2/3 innings of work.

* Sacramento State finished last season with a 31-28 overall record and 11-7 mark in the WAC, and a productive offensive lineup was a big part of that. Though the Hornets have the tough chore of replacing previous hitting coach Tommy Nicholson, who now is an assistant at Texas, they welcome back several key hitters, eight to be exact. The Hornets hit .298 last season and are led this spring by outstanding utility player Rhys Hoskins, who hit .353 with 16 doubles, 10 homers and 53 RBIs last season. Meanwhile, second baseman Andrew Ayers (.336/3/31) is another good bat to watch, while Will Soto (.276/2/32) and Justin Higley (.274/4/26) are good hitters who should be a bit more consistent from a batting average standpoint ... Pitching is what must improve the most for the Hornets to make a huge statement. They finished last season with a 5.25 ERA. And though they welcome back all three weekend starters in right-handers Brennan Leitao, Tanner Mendonca and Ty Nichols, all three finished last season with earned-run averages over 4.50. That must change. Junior right-handed closer Hunter Greenwood also must be better after tallying a 5.54 ERA in 65 innings last season.

* San Jose State finished last season with a tough 22-29 overall record, and an even more surprising 5-13 mark in the WAC. Now, the Spartans hope to return to normalcy with long-time head coach Sam Piraro gone and former Stanford and Washington assistant Dave Nakama in charge. First things first, SJSU should have a solid starting rotation with the return of left-handed hurlers Johnny Melero and David Wayne Russo. Melero tallied an impressive 3.03 ERA in 74 1/3 innings last season, while Russo had a 3.97 ERA in 59 innings. He also struck out 41 and walked 19, while teams hit him at a .252 clip. Bullpen-wise, the Spartans have some holes to fill outside of the return of two talented arms in two-way player Kalei Contrades and Jason Kafka, who each had ERAs below three last season ... From an offensive standpoint, the Spartans, who hit .251 last season, should be improved this spring with the return of six key hitters, including Jon Nelson (.350/0/4), Matt Lopez (.322/0/18), Nick Schulz (.286/4/21) and Contrades (.269/0/7), among others.

* Seattle is on the fast track these days with head coach Donny Harrel leading the way. Just after joining the fray as a Division I baseball program, the Redhawks are now in the WAC, where they'll try to make a statement in their inaugural campaign. Seattle returns just an OK pitching staff with Tacoma CC transfer and junior left-handed pitcher Andrew Olson leading the way. Freshman right-hander Ted Hammond, who has an upper 80's FB with upside will be in the No. 2 spot this spring, while sophomore left-hander Kyle Doyle will finish out the rotation. Doyle must vastly improve after tallying a 5.25 ERA in 24 innings last year. Also keep an eye on closer, junior right-hander Ben Ruff, who has a FB up to 92 with a plus SL. Injury-wise, the Redhawks will be without right-hander Grant Gunning, who will miss the season because of Tommy John surgery ... From an offensive standpoint, the Redhawks have some serious work to do after finishing last year with a .249 batting average. They return four key hitters, including outfielder Ryan Somers (.297/0/13) and Brian Olson (.276/2/18). Olson is a good defensive catcher who is expected to only improve at the plate. Meanwhile, keep an eye on infielder Cullen Hendrickson, who returns from a wrist injury, while Nick Latta is a toolsy guy who can play multiple positions.

* Texas State has been a postseason mainstay in the Southland Conference over the past few seasons, and hopes to continue that trend as a member of the WAC for one season before bolting against to the Sun Belt. The Bobcats have some serious question marks at the plate with catcher Andrew Stumph (.253/3/28) their leading hitter, but also keep an eye on Brooks Orton and Lucas Humpel, whom each showed good tools, raw power and much upside during fall workouts. Meanwhile, senior outfielder Morgan Mickan, who has good defensive tools, needs to have a much more productive offensive campaign ... While the offense is a question mark entering the season, the Bobcats should be very good on the mound with the return of three solid weekend starters in junior right-hander Taylor Black, junior right-hander Kyle Finnegan and senior right-hander Mitchell Pitts. Pitts returns from an injury that sidelined him last season, while Black is a sinker/slider type of pitcher with an 87-90 mph FB. Finnegan is one of the top prospects in Texas this spring with a FB up to 98. He could improve his secondary stuff, but the upside is there. The pitching staff is finished off by closer Hunter Lemke, who made 21 appearances last season with a 1.25 ERA in 21 2/3 innings. He also limited teams to a .205 batting average.

* Texas-Arlington possibly could be set for a rebuilding campaign. The Mavericks put together a solid SLC mark last season and had an impressive 36-25 overall record. However, they have some serious holes to fill this season. The Mavericks don't welcome back a lot of experience in the starting pitching department with No. 1 starter and junior right-hander John Beck the lone returning starter. Beck made just seven starts last season with a 4.30 ERA in 37 2/3 innings of work. He's an intriguing arm to watch with a FB up to 94. Junior righties Brad Vachon and Andy Scott will round out the rotation ... Offensively, the Mavericks have some holes to fill, especially with the loss of outstanding hitter Preston Buck, but have high hopes for shortstop Ryan Walker and Tyler Sibley, who performed at a high level last season in limited action. Walker hit .360 with 31 RBIs last season, while Sibley hit .359 with 14 RBIs in 64 at bats. Also keep an eye on freshman infielder Darien McLemore, who put together a good fall and could be an immediate impact guy, while New Mexico transfer, junior first baseman John Michael Twitchell, is a potential big-time bat to watch.

* Texas-San Antonio certainly could be facing an uphill battle this season. The Roadrunners finished last season with a 22-32 overall record, and have several key cogs to replace from that squad. Starting with the pitching staff, the Roadrunners must vastly improve as a starting rotation with Junior left-hander Michael Kraft, sophomore Jordan Pacheco and junior transfer Ryan Talley rounding things out. Kraft made 14 starts last season and had a 4.91 ERA in 80 2/3 innings of work, while Pacheco had a 5.82 ERA in 51 innings, with teams hitting him at a whopping .339 clip. Meanwhile, closer Matt Sims made 22 appearances last season with a 4.91 ERA and seven saves in 25 2/3 innings of work ... Offensively, the Roadrunners have a lot of work to do with truly only three key hitters back, including shortstop RJ Perucki (.284/0/31), outfielder Daniel Rockett (.266/5/40) and Riley Good (.354/2/9). Also keep an eye on sophomore third baseman Horacio Correa III, who put together an impressive fall.


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