Baseball America

2014 College Preview: ACC

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

Atlantic Coast Conference

Atlantic Division: Boston College, Clemson, Florida State, Maryland, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Wake Forest.

TOP 20 PROSPECTS, 2014 DRAFT
1. Carlos Rodon, lhp, N.C. State
2. Trea Turner, ss, N.C. State
3. Luke Weaver, rhp, Florida State
4. Derek Fisher, of, Virginia
5. Andrew Suarez, lhp, Miami
6. Pat Connaughton, rhp, Notre Dame
7. Mike Papi, of/1b, Virginia
8. Nick Howard, rhp, Virginia
9. Branden Cogswell, ss/2b, Virginia
10. Brandon Downes, of, Virginia
11. Chris Marconcini, 1b/of, Duke
12. Boo Vazquez, of, Pittsburgh
13. Benton Moss, rhp, North Carolina
14. Logan Jernigan, rhp, N.C. State
15. Daniel Gossett, rhp, Clemson
16. Mark Zagunis, c, Virginia Tech
17. Brett Austin, c, N.C. State
18. Landon Lassiter, 3b, North Carolina
19. Andrew Chin, lhp, Boston College
20. Garrett Boulware, c, Clemson
TOP 10 PROSPECTS, 2015 DRAFT
1. Skye Bolt, of, North Carolina
2. Nathan Kirby, lhp, Virginia
3. Jameis Winston, rhp/of, Florida State
4. Steven Duggar, of, Clemson
5. D.J. Stewart, of, Florida State
6. Trent Thornton, rhp, North Carolina
7. Joe McCarthy, of, Virginia
8. David Thompson, 3b, Miami
9. Korey Dunbar, c, North Carolina
10. Tyler Krieger, ss Clemson

Coastal Division: Duke, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech.

Checking in: Notre Dame (from Big East), Pittsburgh (from Big East).

Checking out: None.

Conference Tournament: Eight teams, group play. May 20-25 at Greensboro, N.C.

Team to Beat: Virginia.

Preseason No. 1 is athletic, deep, powerful, fast and experienced. Pitching is less proven but extremely talented.

Player of the Year: Trea Turner, ss, N.C. State.

With blazing speed, quick hands and rare baseball savvy, Turner is the most exciting player in college baseball.

Pitcher of the Year: Carlos Rodon, lhp, N.C. State.

Already a two-time All-American, Rodon’s premium fastball, premium slider, nasty competitive streak and big-game track record make him the clear favorite to be drafted No. 1 overall.

Freshman of the Year: Chris Okey, c, Clemson.

A gifted defender with an advanced feel for the game, Okey took charge behind the plate this fall, and he also should make an impact with his bat.

Top 25 Teams: (1) Virginia, (5) N.C. State, (6) Florida State, (13) Clemson, (16) Miami, (17) North Carolina.

Other Projected Regional Teams:

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets have plenty of experience on the infield, where 3B Matt Gonzalez and SS Mott Hyde form a very offensive left half. The rotation features plenty of arm strength with veteran RHPs Dusty Isaacs and Cole Pitts along with tenacious LHP Jonathan King, but all three had ERAs above 4 last year and must show they have improved their feel for pitching. If freshman position players like Elliott Barzilli, Keenan Innis and Ryan Peurifoy mature quickly, Georgia Tech should be in regionals for the seventh straight year.

Notable Storylines: The ACC expands from 12 to 14 teams with the additions of Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. Former Boston College coach Mik Aoki returns to the ACC as head coach at Notre Dame, which must replace sluggers Eric Jagielo and Trey Mancini but has a potential ace in righty Pat Connaughton, a basketball player with a fastball that reaches the mid-90s. Pitt, like Notre Dame, competed for a regional last year in the Big East but lost a number of key pieces, led by catcher Elvin Soto and ace Ethan Mildren. The Panthers’ strength is their hard-hitting outfield (upperclassmen Boo Vazquez, Stephen Vranka and Casey Roche) . . . With 11 pitchers who touched 91 or better on scout day, Duke is deeper than ever on the mound and has a dangerous lineup centerpiece in slugger Chris Marconcini. Dogged LHP Trent Swart is a battle-hardened ACC ace, and RHP Mike Matuella is a breakout candidate who touched the mid-90s this fall. It won’t be easy to break a 52-year regional drought, but Duke has a shot . . . Add Virginia Tech to the list of ACC teams that have big shoes to fill. Stalwarts like Chad Pinder and Tyler Horan are gone from a Virginia Tech team that hosted its first regional last year, leaving Mark Zagunis and Sean Keselica as capable anchors of a depleted lineup. Keselica is one of the most important players in the league; the lefthander figures to be the Saturday starter when he’s not at first base. But Zagunis is one of the league’s most well-rounded players, a catcher who hits for average (.341 last year) and power (nine homers) while also providing speed (36 career stolen bases in 46 tries).