2014 College Preview: Metro Atlantic Athletic

BA breaks down the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, including our projections for regional teams, player of the year, pitcher of the year and top prospects.

TOP 10 PROSPECTS, 2014-15 DRAFTS
1. Jordan Schwartz, rhp, Niagara
2. T.J. Hunt, rhp, Monmouth
3. Jim Meindl, rhp, Siena
4. Brett Siddall, 1b, Canisius (2015)
5. Zachary Passerelle, c, Marist
6. Anthony Ciavarella, lhp, Monmouth (2015)
7. Rich Vrana, lhp, Marist
8. Eric Strano, c, Rider
9. Devon Stewart, rhp, Canisius
10. Jeff Singer, lhp, Monmouth

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

Baseball Members (First Year): Canisius (1990), Fairfield (1982), Iona (1982), Manhattan (1982), Marist (1998), Monmouth (2014), Niagara (1990), Quinnipiac (2014), Rider (1998), Saint Peter’s (1982), Siena (1990).

Checking out: None.

Conference Tournament: Six teams, double-elimination. May 21-25 at Lakewood, N.J.

Team to Beat: Canisius.

The Golden Griffins return almost every key piece from an offense that was easily the MAAC’s best in 2013, when they set a school record with 42 wins. Sr. 1B Jimmy Luppens, a .368 hitter last season, anchors a lineup composed entirely of juniors and seniors. Canisius will also look for big things from Jr. 3B Connor Panas, a potential power threat, and Sr. OF Jesse Kelso, the son of former NFL player Mark Kelso who’s shown a promising feel for hitting. The pitching staff did lose ace Garret Cortright, but So. LHP Alex Godzak, the 2013 MAAC rookie of the year, should help fill the void.

Player of the Year: Ryan Plourde, of, Fairfield.

The Stags will need a big season from the senior Plourde, a fast, physical right fielder who hit .354/.458/.497 a season ago.

Pitcher of the Year: Matt Gage, lhp, Siena.

Last year’s MAAC strikeout leader can reach the low 90s at times and has a tough cutter as well.

Freshman of the Year: Matt Oestreicher, c, Quinnipiac.

The young backstop should impact the middle of the Bobcats’ order in addition to handling the everyday catching duties.

Projected Regional Team: Canisius.

Connor Panas

Connor Panas (Photo by Tom Wolf Imaging)

Notable Storylines: Monmouth comes over from the Northeast Conference, bringing a veteran squad that won 30 games and finished third in the NEC in 2013. Headlining the group is Sr. LHP Andy McGee, the 2013 NEC pitcher of the year whose funk and command allow his 87-90 mph fastball velocity to play up. Well-rounded Sr. 2B Jake Gronsky leads the offensive attack . . . Despite losing MAAC player of the year OF Mike Fish, Siena should compete on the strength of a deep returning pitching staff fronted by Jr. RHP Matt Gage and Jr. LHP Ed Lewicki. Fr. OF Dan Swain has shown five-tool potential in center field and could develop into a lineup stalwart quickly. . .The MAAC’s other newcomer, Quinnipiac, hasn’t had a winning season since 2007, but the Bobcats have high hopes for a strong freshman class led by C Matt Oestreicher. Fr. RHPs Thomas Jankins and Greg Egan have both hit 90 mph and should be cornerstones of the rotation in the near future. The Bobcats also feature one of the league’s better double-play tandems in Jr. SS Scott Donaghue and Fr. 2B Matt Batten.