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Monday, February 11, 2013

Conference previews: MAC

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

Eastern Division

No Team W L W L
1. Kent State - R
24 3 47 20
2. Miami (OH)
12 15 30 29
3. Ohio
16 11 28 29
4. Bowling Green 9 18 20 33
5. Buffalo
10 16 20 36
6. Akron
10 17 17 38

Western Division

No Team W L W L
1. Toledo
19 8 30 27
2. Eastern Michigan
14 13 25 31
3. Western Michigan
14 12 26 29
4. Central Michigan 17 10 34 29
5. Ball State
9 18 14 36
6. Northern Illinois
7 20 15 40






PRESEASON ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

Pos Name Class School Stats/Notes
C Max Andresen
So. Miami .262-1-15, good overall skills, rising prospect
1B George Roberts
Jr.
Kent State .368-8-64, very consistent hitter w/ big-time power
2B Brian Bien So. Bowling Green
.345-0-19, could improve defensively, but elite hitter
SS Derek Toadvine
Jr. Kent State .255-0-15, very good defensively, must improve offensively
3B Pat Duncan
Sr. Western Michigan .321-3-39, good hitter with gap power, 15 doubles
OF Matt Honchel
Fr. Miami .395-0-26, very good hitter w/ speed, 10 stolen bases
OF Evan Campbell
Sr.
Kent State .327-7-40, versatile athlete with some raw power
OF Matt Pollock
Sr. Buffalo .357-12-44, very good bat w/ outstanding raw power
DH Kevin Bower
Sr.
Miami .352-3-52, consistent RBI machine with good plate awareness
UT River McWilliams
Sr.
Buffalo .293-1-17, 3.61 ERA, 42.1 IP, 40 K, 14 BB
SP Tyler Skulina
Jr. Kent State 3.63 ERA, 101.2 IP, 97 K, 41 BB, FB up to 95
SP Taylor Williams
Jr. Kent State Outstanding JUCO transfer, FB sits 91-94
SP Ryan Wilkinson Jr.
Toledo 2.99 ERA, 78.1 IP, 50 K, 18 BB, excellent command
RP Brian Clark
So. Kent State
1.59 ERA, 28.1 IP, 4 saves, 27 K, 9 BB, FB 89-93

Player of the Year: 1B George Roberts, Kent State
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Tyler Skulina, Kent State
Top Freshman: 3B Justin Wagler, Kent State
Top Transfer: RHP Taylor Williams, Kent State (previously Mount Hood CC)





PROSPECT WATCH

2013 Draft Class

1. Tyler Skulina, Jr., RHP, Kent State

2. Taylor Williams, Jr., RHP/2B, Kent State

3. Eric Dorsch, So., RHP, Kent State

4. Derek Toadvine, Jr., 2B/SS, Kent State

5. Dylan Rheault, So., RHP, Central Michigan

6. Michael Clark, Jr., LHP, Kent State

7. Matt Honchel, So., OF, Miami

8. Adam Tyson, So., RHP, Toledo

9. Jeff Zimmerman, Jr., 1B, Northern Illinois

10. Nick Regnier, So., OF, Central Michigan


2014 Draft Class

1. Brian Clark, So., LHP, Kent State

2. Jordan Foley, So., RHP, Central Michigan

3. Jake Madsen, So., 1B/LHP, Ohio

4. Brian Bien, So., SS, Bowling Green

5. Max Andresen, So., C, Miami


2015 Draft Class

1. Justin Wagler, Fr., 3B, Kent State

2. Tucker Linder, Fr., RHP/1B, Kent State

3. Zach Fields, Fr., 1B, Central Michigan






MID-AMERICAN NOTEBOOK

* Akron finished last season with a dismal 17-38 overall record and might not do much better this season. The Zips have some major holes to fill, particularly when it comes to the pitching staff with the departure of several key arms. The Zips will need a huge campaign from Pat Dyer, who's back after making 11 starts last season and tallying a 4.54 ERA in 69 1/3 innings. He also struck out 33 and walked 24, while teams hit him at a .299 clip. Also keep an eye on right-handed pitcher Andrew Fanning, who made 11 appearances last season with a 7.02 ERA in 16 2/3 innings of work ... Offensively, the Zips welcome back five key hitters, including Tyler Begun (.299/6/24), Jared Turocy (.296/0/13) and Joey Havrilak (.280/1/11), among others. The Zips must increase their power production after only hitting 10 homers as a team last season.

* Ball State could've found a gold mine with its latest hire in former Michigan coach Rich Maloney. Maloney became available after the Wolverines parted ways with the long-time skipper. However, what was Michigan's decision has now become the Cardinals' gain. Maloney brings an impressive resume and much experience to the table for the Cardinals. He does have some tough work to do this season. The Cardinals have some serious work to do when it comes to the pitching staff. This club finished last season with a 5.75 ERA and welcomes back just one reliable arm, senior right-hander Chris Marangon, who had a 3.75 ERA in 69 2/3 innings last season. Meanwhile, fellow starting pitchers Nestor Bautista and Scott Baker must improve after finishing the '12 campaign with earned-run averages of 10.06 and 6.15, respectively. Also keep an eye on junior closer, two-way player T.J. Weir (5.92/73.2 IP) and transfer addition, junior left-hander Clay Manering, who will serve as midweek starter and reliever on the weekends ... While the pitching staff is a huge question mark, the offense should be much improve after ending last year with a .249 batting average. Ball State welcomes back five of its top six hitters, including junior outfielder Sean Godfrey (.328/1/18) and junior first baseman Billy Wellman (.324/4/26), among others. Also keep an eye on freshman second baseman Ryan Spaulding.

* Bowling Green finished last season with an unimpressive 20-33 overall record, but hopes to take a significant step forward this spring with some pluses. The Falcons have some serious question marks when it comes to the pitching staff, but the offense is in great shape with six key returning hitters from a lineup that finished the 2012 campaign with a .290 batting average. Keep an eye on Falcons sluggers such as outfielder Andrew Kubuski (.367/2/30), second baseman Brian Bien (.345/0/19), T.J. Losby (.319/3/37) and outfielder Jesse Rait (.318/0/13) among others. Also keep an eye on utility player Jeremy Shay, who hit five homers last year ... While the offense is in fantastic shape, the pitching staff is a big question mark. The Falcons ended last season with a 5.08 ERA and have a weak returning crop of starting pitchers in Cody Agthorpe, Trevor Blaylock and Ethan McKenney, who each finished '12 with ERA's of 6.50 or higher. The lone bright spot with this pitching staff is the return of key relievers Nick Bruns and Ben Singer, who finished last year with ERAs of 2.53 and 3.27, respectively.

* Buffalo will enter the 2013 campaign without big-time catcher Tom Murphy, but still is in terrific shape with the return of at least six key hitters. The Bisons will have an excellent offensive lineup with Tyler Mautner (.367/0/5), Matt Pollock (.357/12/44), Jason Kanzler (.345/8/40) and Mike Scarcello (.323/2/15) leading the charge. Also keep an eye on Michael Burke and Thomas Richards, who each finished last season with batting averages better than .285 and four homers ... While the offense is in very good shape, the pitching staff has some question marks with UB needing to replace a pair of weekend starting pitchers. Michael Burke, a two-way star, will lead the pitching staff as the ace, tallying a 4.28 ERA in 69 1/3 innings of work last season. Also keep an eye on River McWilliams, who made 18 appearances last season with a 3.61 ERA in 42 2/3 innings of work. He also struck out 40 and walked 14, while teams only hit him at a .225 clip.

* Central Michigan finished the 2012 campaign with a 34-29 overall record, and a rather respectable 17-10 mark in the MAC. However, the Chippewas will need a few things to go their way to emulate that success this spring. CMU has some work to do when it comes to the weekend rotation. Senior right-handed pitcher Pat Kaminska serves as a legitimate ace pitcher, but sophomore right-hander Jordan Foley and senior left-hander Rick Dodridge must improve after finishing last season with ERAs of 8.20 and 5.29, respectively Kaminska is 86-90 with his FB, and also has a solid slider with an average CH. He has above average command with some deception in his delivery. While Foley has much to prove, it's fairly obvious that he has a big-time arm with a FB up to 95. Also keep an eye on sophomore right-handed closer Dylan Rheault, who had a 4.43 ERA in 40 2/3 innings last season with a FB up to 93, including a plus SL and CH. In other news, junior righty Scott Marinier returns from an injury after missing last season ...  The Chips could have some issues scoring runs this spring with just two leading hitters back from last year's club, including sophomore second baseman Pat MacKenzie (.326/0/16) and catcher Tyler Huntey (.271/2/16), among others. Also keep an eye on talented JUCO transfer shortstop Noel Santos, while freshmen Zack Fields and Dylan Goodwin each should be key contributors in their inaugural campaigns. Fields is a physical specimen with outstanding raw power, drawing comparisons to former Georgia Southern star outfielder Victor Roache. In other news, Nick Reignier had an outstanding fall and should take a huge step forward.

* Eastern Michigan finished last season with a 25-31 overall record, but hopes to take a step forward this spring with some key cogs back in the mix. The Eagles return what should be a much improved offensive lineup. EMU ended last year with a .268 batting average, but welcomes back at least five key hitters, including Lee Longo (.2973/30)), Sam Ott (.293/2/35), Tucker Rubino (.266/1/22), Jamie Simpson (.259/1/21) and Adam Dennison (.253/0/6). Also keep an eye on sophomore shortstop John Rubino, who had a fantastic fall, while junior college transfer first baseman Adam Sonabend should be an immediate contributor ... CMU should have a very solid weekend rotation this spring with senior right-handed pitchers Neil Butara and Steve Weber and junior righty Kendal Lewis leading the way. Butara had a 3.84 ERA in 79 2/3 innings of work last season, and has a huge arm with a FB up to 95, while Weber has great command, tallying a 5.08 ERA in 95 2/3 innings last year. Meanwhile, Lewis has good secondary stuff with a good SL and CH combo. Also keep an eye on potential closers, right-handers Kristian Calibuso and Ryan Lavoie. Lewis and Calibuso are returning from injuries this season, along with Brian Hill and Eric Comstock.

* Kent State certainly will have some offensive holes to fill this spring, but still should be solid at the plate as the season progresses. Hard-hitting first baseman George Roberts is back and leads the charge, while shortstop Derek Toadvine, who finished last season with a .255 average and 15 RBIs is expected to be much more productive. Also keep an eye on veteran outfielder Evan Campbell, who batted .327 with seven homers and 40 RBIs last season, while freshman third baseman Justin Wagler will make an instant impact as an athletic player with plus hands and a lot of pop in his bat ... You can't say enough good things about Kent's pitching staff entering the season. Sure, it lost Ryan Bores and David Starn to the MLB draft, but this unit is still very good with junior right-handers Tyler Skulina and Taylor Williams, and senior righty Casey Wilson leading the way. Skulina is a tall and projectable pitcher with a FB sitting 91-95. He also has a plus SL with a combination of CV and CH to complement those two pitches. Meanwhile, Williams is a talented JUCO transfer who's 91-94 with his FB, while also utilizing a CH and SL. Meanwhile, Wilson moves to the weekend rotation after making 28 appearances last season and tallying a 3.74 ERA (seven saves) in 33 2/3 innings of work. Closer-wise, the Flashes will rely on sophomore left-hander Brian Clark, while Eric Dorsch is expected to take a huge step forward with big strides in the fall. Clark is 89-93 with his FB and utilizes a plus SL and developing CH. Dorsch will be a dominant arm out of the pen with a 91-93 FB and sharpened slider. 

* Miami typically competes at a high level in the MAC, but took a small step back last season with a somewhat surprising 12-15 conference finish to go with a 30-29 overall record. The Redhawks should have an improved pitching staff after finishing last season with a 4.68 ERA. The Redhawks welcome back leading reliever and right-hander Nathan Williams, who made 21 appearances with a 1.88 ERA in 24 innings last season, while fellow relievers LHP Brian Thene, RHP Brandon Adkins and RHP Ryan Powers also are back in the mix. As for starting pitchers, the Redhawks welcome back RHP Charles Zubrod, RHP Mac Thoreson and RHP Brooks Fiala. Zubrod had a 4.04 ERA in 64 2/3 innings last season, Thoreson had a 4.77 ERA in 88 2/3 innings and Fiala had a 6.82 ERA in 68 2/3 innings of work. All three must continue to make strides if the Redhawks are to make a statement this spring ... As for the offense, the Redhawks again will be very solid. They hit .292 as a squad last season and welcome back their top five hitters, including outstanding sophomore outfielder Matt Honchel, who hit .395 with 26 RBIs last season. They also return OF Alex Johnson, 1B Kevin Bower, C John Crummy and Nate Bowles. Johnson and Bower are the leaders among the quartet, as they hit .368 and .352, respectively, last season, with Bower smacking 14 doubles and knocking in 52 runs.

* Northern Illinois is coming off a rather tough campaign that ended with a 15-40 overall record, 7-20 mark in the MAC last season. And though it seems like things couldn't get worse, the Huskies have some serious holes to fill this spring. The Huskies are without their top three hitters from last year's club, but return four of their top seven hitters, including two-way player Alex Klonowski, Jeff Zimmerman, versatile player Connor Duckhorn and outfielder Jamison Wells. Klonowski and Zimmerman are the main hitters to watch after the duo hit .280 and .267, respectively last season ... From a pitching standpoint, the Huskies will have some shifted roles this season with starting pitchers Jake Hermsen, Taylor Nawrocki and Tony Manville gone. That puts a lot of pressure on someone like junior right-hander Eli Anderson to have a huge campaign. Keep an eye on relievers RHP Zach Badgley and RHP Ben Etcheverry. Badgley made 23 appearances last season and had a 4.24 ERA in 23 1/3 innings while Etcheverry had a 4.50 ERA in 12 innings.

* Ohio might've finished last season with a losing overall record, but it put together a respectable MAC campaign with a 16-11 mark. Now, the Bobcats hope to take another step forward with a good offensive lineup returning and some rather large holes with the pitching staff. Ohio welcomes back five of its top six hitters from last year's club, including first baseman Jake Madsen, who hit .344 with a home run and 32 RBIs last season. Also keep an eye on Cody Gaertner (.338/1/24), Scott White (.327/1/5, limited playing time), Tyler Wells (.315/5/24) and Logan Cozart (.301/3/14) ... As for the pitching staff, the Bobcats have some big-time holes to fill with the departures of several starting pitchers. However, they do welcome back some key arms who served in important relief roles last season, including RHP Brett Barber, LHP Sean Kennedy, LHP Tyler Backstrom and LHP Marck Paliotto, among others.

* Toledo finished the 2012 campaign with a couple of respectable marks, going an impressive 19-8 in the MAC with a 30-27 overall record. The Rockets hope to emulate last season's in-conference success, but will need some things to go their direction. Toledo's starting rotation could improve this spring. The Rockets welcome back junior left-hander Ryan Wilkinson, senior left-hander Kyle Shaw and sophomore right-hander Andrew Marra. Wilkinson is the bell cow of this pitching staff, starting 11 games last season with a 2.99 ERA in 78 1/3 innings of work. He also struck out 50 and walked 18. Marra made 18 appearances last season with a 5.62 ERA in 24 innings. Also keep an eye on potential closer RHP Jared Locke, freshman RHP Kyle Slack, RHP Adam Tyson and junior RHP Cameron Palmer. Locke has a 90-93 FB with heavy sink, and uses a plus SL, Tyson is 89-92 FB, Slack is a big and tall arm who throws three pitches for strikes, while Palmer is 90-94 FB with a plus SL. Also keep an eye on fast-rising freshman right-handed pitcher John Martilotta ... Offensively, the Rockets welcome back four key hitters, including junior third baseman Wes White (.336/2/16), senior first baseman Matt Delewski (.306/0/20) and catcher James Miglin, who smacked five homers last season. Also keep an eye on sophomore infielder Anthony Smith, who continues to make strides after hitting .265 last season.

* Western Michigan finished last season with a 26-29 overall record and a 14-12 mark int he MAC. The Broncos have a chance to take a step forward, but some hitters must rise to the occasion. The Broncos finished last year with a very solid .292 batting average, but return just three of seven key hitters from that club, including senior third baseman Patrick Duncan, who batted .321 with 15 doubles, three homers and 39 RBIs. Also keep an eye on outfielder Vinnie Booker (.296/0/23) and sophomore outfielder Jared Kujawa (.272/1/39). Freshman catcher Brett Sunde is another player to watch. Sunde was drafted by the Oakland A's in the MLB draft last summer, and showed good arm strength and bat control during fall workouts . Meanwhile, fellow catcher Brooks Beilke is back after being sidelined because of Tommy John surgery last season ... Pitching-wise, the Broncos should have a better rotation with the return of junior LHP Steve Laudicina, senior LHP Mike Moyer and sophomore RHP Will Nimke, as well as closer RHP Chris Bossenbery. Laudiciana is 85-88 FB with a good breaking ball and developing CH, Moyer started eight games last season with a 7.07 ERA in 35 2/3 innings, while Nimke had a very solid freshman campaign, starting 12 games and tallying a 3.74 ERA in 67 1/3 innings. He also struck out 31 and walked 20. Bossenbery is a rather interesting arm to watch this spring as he possesses a FB that can get up to 92.

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