2014 College Preview: Patriot League

BA breaks down the Patriot League, including our projections for regional teams, player of the year, pitcher of the year and top prospects.

TOP 5 PROSPECTS, 2014-15 DRAFTS
1. Alex Robinett, rhp, Army
2. Anthony Parenti, lhp, Navy
3. Justin Pacchioli, of, Lehigh
4. Mike Garzillo, 2b, Lehigh (2015)
5. Brad Borosak, rhp, Navy

Patriot League

Baseball Members (First Year): Army (1993), Bucknell (1991), Holy Cross (1991), Lafayette (1991), Lehigh (1991), Navy (1993).

Checking out: None.

Conference Tournament: Four teams, May 10-11 and May 17-18 at site of higher seeds.

Team to Beat: Army.

Service academy rivals Army and Navy figure to duke it out for the Patriot title, though the Black Knights will be doing so under unusual circumstances. Head coach Joe Sottolano, who’d led the program since 2001, was relieved of his duties in September for what the school termed a “pattern of behavior.” Matt Reid, the associate head coach under Sottolano, was promoted to the head job on an interim basis for 2014. The good news is Reid does have some pieces to work with, as Army is coming off back-to-back regional trips in 2012 and 2013. The team’s top four hitters are all back, led by all-conference Jr. SS Alex Jensen and Sr. 1B Patrick Mescher, who hit .341 and was the PL’s top RBI man in 2013 with 40 in 52 games.

Player of the Year: Justin Pacchioli, of, Lehigh.

Last season’s Patriot League batting champ (.366) is the best pure athlete to come through the Lehigh program in years.

Pitcher of the Year: Stephen Moore, rhp, Navy.

The Midshipmen’s junior ace ranked in the Patriot’s top five in both ERA (3.24) and opponents’ average (.252) as a sophomore.

Freshman of the Year: Carter Austin, 1b, Bucknell.

An unsigned 28th-round pick out of high school, Austin has an easy lefthanded swing and power potential.

Projected Regional Team: Army.

Alex Jensen

Alex Jensen (Photo by Carl Kline)

Notable Storylines: Navy’s fortunes will rest on its pitching. The Midshipmen owned the Patriot’s best staff last year and will rely on a deep, experienced rotation led by Jr. RHP Stephen Moore and Jr. LHP Anthony Parenti, who’s been clocked up to 92 mph. 1B Kash Manzelli provides smart hitting and senior leadership, but the lineup lacks many sure things beyond him and will need some new faces to step up . . .Holy Cross beat out Army and Navy for last season’s Patriot regular-season title, but the Crusaders will have a tough time defending that crown after losing five regulars from their lineup, most notably 2013 PL player of the year Jordan Enos. If they’re going to compete in 2014, the new-look Crusaders will need Sr. OF Brandon Cipolla and Jr. OF Evan Ocello, who both finished in the top six in the PL batting race a year ago, to be stabilizing forces . . . Lehigh will try to step into the league’s top tier on the strength of a lineup loaded with athleticism. Jr. OF Justin Pacchioli heads the list, but he’s got help from Sr. OF Brandon Wilt and So. 2B Mike Garzillo. However, Lehigh will need more from a pitching staff that ranked fifth out of six Patriot teams in ERA last year at 5.67.