|TOP 5—HOW THEY’LL FINISH|
|1. Southern Indiana||52-14|
|3.Franklin Pierce (N.H.)||43-17|
|4.Mount Olive (N.C.)||41-11|
|5.UC San Diego||54-8|
|PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Jordan Smith, of/3b, St. Cloud (Minn.) State.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Carter Capps, rhp, Mount Olive (N.C.).
CHAMPIONSHIP: Eight regionals, campus sites, May 19-23. Eight regional champions advance to CWS, May 28-June 2, at Cary, N.C. (USA Baseball National Training Complex).
C—Mike Dowd, Jr., Franklin Pierce, N.H. (.306/.368/.451 in wood-bat league). 1B—Nick DeBiasse, Sr., Central Missouri (.406/.520/.758, 17 HR, 78 RBI). 2B—Joe Wendle, Jr., West Chester, Pa. (.389/.443/.635, 18-21 SB). 3B—Shayne Houck, Jr., Kutztown, Pa. (.449/.563/.865, 17 HR, 77 RBI). SS—Alex Todd, Sr., Sonoma State, Calif. (.323/.413/.485 at Centenary). OF—Jason Cisper, Sr., Northern Ky. (.442/.507/.623, 39-43 SB); Jeff Popick, Jr., Mesa State, Colo. (.417/.483/.695, 11 HR); Jordan Smith, So., St. Cloud State, Minn. (.457/.521/.829, 15 HR, 78 RBs, 17 SB). DH—Michael Knox, Jr., Mount Olive, N.C. (.378/.461/.852, 24 HR, 94 RBI). UT—Tony Mueller, Jr., Winona State, Minn. (.439/.476/.725, 10 HR, 19 SB; 6-1, 4.97, 2 SV; 67 IP/75 SO).
|SP—Dave Bartuska, Jr., Dominican, N.Y. (7-2, 2.40, 75 IP/91 SO); Carter Capps, So., Mount Olive, N.C. (10-0, 3.06, 79 IP/63 SO); Gabiel Duran, Sr., Dowling, N.Y. (5-3, 0.74, 61 IP/68 SO); Joe Holtmeyer, Jr., Nebraska-Omaha (9-2, 2.89, 87 IP/152 SO). RP—Jack Leathersich, Jr., Mass.-Lowell (3-2, 4.26, 3 SV, 57 IP/62 SO).|
TOP PROSPECTS, 2011 DRAFT
|1. Carter Capps, rhp, Mount Olive (N.C.)|
|2.Joe Holtmeyer, rhp, Nebraska-Omaha|
|3.Jack Leathersich, lhp, Mass.-Lowell|
|4.Ryan Rua, ss, Lake Erie (Ohio)|
|5.Taylor Wrenn, ss/2b, Tampa|
|6.Jeff Popick, of, Mesa (Colo.) State|
|7.Cody Kulp, of, Shippensburg (Pa.)|
|8.David Bartuska, rhp, Dominican (N.Y.)|
|9.Manny Rodriguez, rhp, Barry (Fla.)|
|10.James Mahler, rhp, Dixie State (Utah)|
• The Division II College World Series, scheduled for May 28-June 2, heads back to USA Baseball’s National Training Complex in Cary, N.C., for the third straight year. The tournament is committed to Cary through 2013. The previous two events have led to low scoring in the spacious ballpark, with last year’s CWS the lowest-scoring event since 1975 (6.79 runs per game). There were just seven home runs hit in the 14 games. The D-II Series hasn’t found a permanent home yet but could draw more fans if local favorite Mount Olive, the 2008 national champion, can make a deep run this year. The Trojans return two key players from last season’s 41-win team in Jr. 1B Michael Knox, who set a school record with 94 RBIs in 2010, and So. RHP Carter Capps, a converted catcher who emerged as the Coastal Plain League’s No. 1 prospect last summer. Capps has a pro frame at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds and touched 96 mph in the CPL all-star game. The Trojans also added a top transfer from the Division III ranks in senior OF Jason Simone, who was a two-time conference player of the year and hit .392 in three seasons for SUNY Cortland. Most impressively, Simone struck out just 19 times in 421 at-bats, and he hit .372 last summer to lead the New York Collegiate League.
• Sr. RHP Gabriel Duran returns at Dowling (N.Y.) as the school’s career strikeouts leader with 210, and he led Division II in ERA last season at 0.74 (it was 1.30 in 2009). Despite the 5-foot-10 Duran’s amazing numbers, Dowling posted its first losing season since 1997 at 19-24, one year after Duran led them to the CWS. He’ll be joined in the rotation by RHP Nick Albero, a 6-foot, 203-pounder who is coming off a redshirt season due to a shoulder injury. Albero went 6-1, 1.46 in 2009 is the team’s best prospect. Duran may not even be the best D-II pitcher in New York, though, as Dominican’s Dave Bartuska will challenge for that honor. The slender 6-foot, 175-pounder has a quick arm and average fastball that reaches the low 90s and throws strikes with it and his solid slider. Bartuska dominated in 2010 after coming back from a nasty fall ball injury in 2009, when he was hit in the face with a comebacker that left him with a broken eye socket that required 12 screws to repair.
• Tampa added several key transfers to supplement a roster decimated by nine drafted players, all of whom signed. The additions include a pair of middle infielders in Raiko Alfonso, previously at Florida International, and Taylor Wrenn, from Southern California. Alfonso hit .302 in 281 at-bats over two seasons with the Golden Panthers. Wrenn’s father Luke scouts Florida for the Diamondbacks, and the younger Wrenn missed almost all of 2010 after injuries suffered in an auto accident. The Spartans also have added fifth-year senior righthander Josh Thrailkill, whose outstanding high school career did not predict college success, thanks to a series of injuries (including to his hip and shoulder) during his time at Clemson. He logged just 19 2/3 innings for the Tigers, striking out 12 in 12 innings in 2010. He earned his management degree in May from Clemson.
• Two Division II human-interest stories worth watching: St. Cloud State’s Kent Koch, a senior co-captain and infielder who hit .333 with three homers in 2010, was elected mayor of Loretto, Minn., in November 2010. Koch, 23, was sworn in as mayor on Jan. 10 and needs just three credit hours this spring to graduate, so he’ll balance school, baseball and running the small town of roughly 600 residents. Barry (Fla.) has the nation’s tallest newcomer in 7-foot-2 So. Frank Szczepanik, who arrives from Division III Brookdale (N.J.) JC, where he pitched just 12 innings last season, going 1-0, 1.49.
|TOP 5—HOW THEY’LL FINISH|
|1. SUNY Cortland||40-10-1|
|PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Greg Van Horn, ss, Wooster, Ohio.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Brian Rauh, rhp, Chapman, Calif.
CHAMPIONSHIP: Eight teams, May 27-31, Appleton, Wis.
|PLAYERS TO WATCHC—Zak Talis, Sr., Mass.-Dartmouth (.443/.532/.657). 1B—Matt Stahl, Sr., Allegheny, Pa. (.500/.562/.680). 2B—Brandon Ricco, Sr., Birmingham-Southern (.473/.511/.707). 3B—Nick Beaman, Sr., Ripon, Wis. (.430/.515/.737). SS—Greg Van Horn, Sr., Wooster, Ohio (.486/.564/.890). OF—Jimmy Baum, Jr., Penn State-Altoona (.480/.517/.769, 27-30 SB); Zach Boskovich, Jr., Linfield, Ore. (.407/.521/.767, 17 HR); Ricardo Lizcano, Jr., Heidelburg, Ohio (.445/.534/.782, 15 HR, 71 RBI). DH—Justin Franklin, Sr., Ferrum, Va. (.446/.508/.866, 16 HR). UT—Greg Van Sickler, Sr., Shenandoah, Va. (.412/.480/.668; 8-3, 3.49).|
|SP—Sam Eagleson, Jr., Johns Hopkins (12-0, 2.51); Brian Rauh, So., Chapman, Calif. (11-0, 2.83, 4 SV, 83 IP/100 SO); Mike Russo, Jr., Kean, N.J. (Tr.—North Carolina State). RP—Tucker Healy, Jr., Ithaca, N.Y. (2-1, 1.17, 4 SV, 31 IP/47 SO).|
|TOP PROSPECTS, 2011 DRAFT|
|1. Mike Russo, rhp, Kean, N.J.|
|2. Jerry Coleman, c/if/rhp, Clarkson, N.Y.|
|3. Tucker Healy, rhp, Ithaca, N.Y.|
|4. Greg Van Sickler, rhp/dh, Shenandoah|
|5. David Colvin, rhp, Pomona-Pitzer, Calif.|
• Division III announces its regional sites before the start of the season. Seven of the eight regionals already have been chosen, with the South region TBA. Two of the tournaments will be played in minor league parks, with the New York regional set for Auburn, N.Y., (home of the short-season New York-Penn League franchise) and the other for Lakewood, N.J., home of the Phillies’ low Class A South Atlantic League team. The Division III championship is headed back to Appleton, Wis., as it has ever since 2000.
• Illinois Wesleyan, one of the seven confirmed regional hosts, will try to become the first Division III champion to repeat since 1979-80. Wesleyan was a stunning champion as a 20-20 team at one point that finished fourth in its conference but caught fire in the postseason. The Titans return several key contributors to that run, none more important than Sr. RHP Jason Pankau, who went 11-2, 2.60 and won four postseason games in 2010, including the national championship game. His top batterymate returns in junior C Mark McDermott, who hit safely in his last eight postseason games, going 28-for-55 (.509) in the postseason (conference and NCAA tournaments) overall.
• Centenary had a successful run in Division I in recent years under coach Ed McCann, with three straight winning seasons. But the economy helped force the Gents to drop their D-I athletics program in favor of Division III. McCann left to become coach at Alabama A&M, while Mike Diaz, an assistant for the Gents the last six seasons, became head coach. Most of the team’s roster turned over, with just two holdover seniors in RHP Justin Kraft (4-5, 6.82) and RHP/MIF Derek Dalzell (4-2, 4.58), joined by RHP Seth Lugo (2-3, 4.75, 2 SV) and just three other returnees.
• Birmingham-Southern, which moved to D-III from Division I four years ago, went 34-5 last season at its new level and should serve as a model for Centenary and New Orleans, which will make the move after this season. Coach Jan Weisberg has rebuilt the program in short order and has a star on his hands in So. 1B Bruce Maxwell, who hit .427/.503/.860 with 15 homers as a freshman.
|TOP 5—HOW THEY’LL FINISH|
|1. Cal Baptist||49-15|
|4.Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)||48-5|
|PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Matt Presley, of/dh, Oklahoma City.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Aaron Wilkerson, rhp, Cumberland, Tenn.br/>CHAMPIONSHIP: May 27-June 3, Lewiston, Idaho (Lewis-Clark State).
|C—Sharif Othman, Sr., Cal Baptist (.386/.474/.671, 16 HR). 1B—Kevin Smith, Sr., LSU-Shreveport (.391/.508/.875, 19 HR, 89 RBI). 2B—Tyler Kuehl, Jr., Point Loma Nazarene, Calif. (.359/.405/.605, 11 HR). 3B—Brian Sharp, Jr., Cal Baptist (.395/.488/.657, 11 HR, 35-43 SB). SS—Justin Medeiros, Sr., Indiana Tech (.408/.492/.680, 13 HR). OF—George Ban, Sr., Missouri Valley (.426/.484/.853, 14 HR); Danny Gesick, Jr., Shawnee State, Ohio (.385/.469/.638); Rashad Taylor, Sr., Point Loma Nazarene, Calif. (.322/.412/.584, 16 HR). DH—Matt Presley, Sr., Oklahoma City (.370/.457/.804, 25 HR, 86 RBI).|
|SP—Shay Crawford, Sr., Lee, Tenn. (2-4, 5.92 at Ala.-Birmingham); Taylor Siemens, Jr., Cal Baptist (12-1, 2.62, 113 IP/84 SO); Aaron Wilkerson, Sr., Cumberland, Tenn. (14-1, 2.13). RP—Phillip Reamy, Sr., Embry-Riddle, Fla. (5-0, 0.24, 10 SV, 37 IP/33 SO).|
|TOP PROSPECTS, 2011 DRAFT|
|1. Ryan O’Sullivan, rhp/ss, Oklahoma City|
|2. Zach Arneson, rhp, Lewis-Clark State, Idaho|
|3. DeMarcus Tidwell, of, Southern Poly, Ga.|
|4. Brett Blaise, lhp, Belhaven, Miss.|
|5. Blake Carruthers, of, British Columbia|
|6. Rashad Taylor, of, Point Loma Nazarene|
|7. Will Rankin, rhp, Southern Poly, Ga.|
|8. Anthony Angulo, c, St. Thomas, Fla.|
|9. Matt Presley, of, Oklahoma City|
|10. Brent Warren, of, Azusa Pacific, Calif.|
• Tennessee powers Cumberland and Lee squared off for the national championship in Idaho last year, with Cumberland coming away the winner. The Bulldogs have workhorse RHP Aaron Wilkerson back after his 14-1, 2.13 season a year ago, finishing with 14 straight victories. The last one came against Lee in the national championship clincher. Lee reloaded with transfers such as LHP Shay Crawford (UAB) and RHP Maxx Catapano (Bellevue, Neb.), and both Tennessee teams figure to be strong candidates for the title in 2011. However, Cal Baptist returns twin aces LHP Taylor Siemens and RHP Drew Madrigal. Former Purdue and UCLA assistant Gary Adcock has the Lancers returning seven of nine starters to the lineup as well.
• Ed Cheff, one of the most successful coaches in college baseball history, stepped down after the 2010 season, his 35th, so Lewis-Clark State has a new coach in Gary Picone. Cheff’s teams won 16 national championships from 1984-2008—the last three consecutively from ’06-’08—and produced 117 drafted players. Picone played for the Warriors in the early 1970s and has coached at the school in two previous stints, and he adds coach to his assistant athletic director duties. LCSC should have a strong club even after losing Cheff, led by its pitching staff. RHP Zach Arneson, an unsigned 21st-round pick of the Giants, transfers in as a senior from Cal State Bakersfield, with scouts reporting his fastball has reached 96 mph. He’s raw, as his 1-1, 7.80 mark at Division I shows, but the Warriors have plenty of experience to go with him, including senior RHPs Cody Fassold, a physical 6-foot-3, 230-pounder who went 6-0, 3.14 last season, and Tyrell Poggemeyer (4-1, 2.28).
• Oklahoma City remains a consistent NAIA contender, having won 50 games 12 years in a row, and the Stars have two of their top hitters back from 2010 in junior C Chad Carman, a career .414 hitter in two seasons, as well as senior SS Kirk Walker (.392, 30 2B). Transfer IF/RHP Ryan O’Sullivan (San Diego State), younger brother of big league RHP Sean O’Sullivan, arrives to give the team its top prospect. He was limited to DH and infield duty as a sophomore due to an unspecified arm injury. He also had a brief suspension from the Aztecs and transferred for his junior season.
• Georgia’s Southern Poly is a newer program but has become a regular stop for scouts as well as a consistent NAIA winner, as the Hornets went 49-13 last season after winning 53 games and reaching the World Series the year before. Three talented newcomers joined the 2011 roster in RHP Will Rankin, a transfer who struggled at Division II North Alabama after finding success as a teammate of Braves closer Craig Kimbrell at Wallace State (Ala.) JC, and lefthanded-hitting OF DeMarcus Tidwell, an athletic, potential five-tool center fielder out of Yavapai (Ariz.) JC. Tidwell hit .333 in the Northwoods League last summer but didn’t sign as the Indians’ 28th-rounder. The Mississippi native previously played at Bossier Parish (La.) JC. The Hornets also add former Kennesaw State infielder Jon White, who has solid raw power.
|TOP 5—HOW THEY’LL FINISH|
|1. Santa Ana (Calif.)||31-10|
|2.San Jacinto (Texas)||52-17|
|PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Brian Goodwin, of, Miami-Dade.
PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Ian Gardeck, rhp, Angelina, Texas.
CHAMPIONSHIP: May 28-June 4, Grand Junction, Colo. (does not include California, Oregon or Washington schools).
|TOP 20 PROSPECTS|
|1. Brian Goodwin, of, Miami-Dade|
|2.Ian Gardeck, rhp, Angelina (Texas)|
|3.Damien Magnifico, rhp, Howard (Texas)|
|4.Cody Stubbs, 1b, Walters State (Tenn.)|
|5.Andrew del Colle, rhp, Panola (Texas)|
|6.Jerad Grundy, lhp, Heartland (Ill.)|
|7.Austin Southall, of/1b, Chipola (Fla.)|
|8.Chad Thompson, rhp, Orange Coast (Calif.)|
|9.Derrick Bleeker, rhp, Howard (Texas)|
|10. Corey Spangenberg, 2b/ss, Indian River (Fla.) State|
|11. Chris Joyce, lhp, Santa Barbara (Calif.)|
|12. Jeff Ames, rhp, Lower Columbia (Wash.)|
|13. Hommy Rosado, 1b/c, LSU-Eunice|
|14. Justin Bellez, rhp, Palomar (Calif.)|
|15. Drew Verhagen, rhp, Navarro (Texas)|
|16. Justin James, of, Sacramento City|
|17. Cody Anderson, rhp, Feather River (Calif.)|
|18. Ryan Hornback, c, San Jacinto (Texas)|
|19. Jeff Soptic, rhp, Johnson County (Kan.)|
|20. Miguel Pena, lhp, San Jacinto (Texas)|
• Bryce Harper and Southern Nevada JC were the big story among two-year schools in 2010, with Harper going first overall in the draft and winning USA Baseball’s Golden Spikes Award after a monster season with a wood bat. Nine Coyotes were drafted, and the program also lost its coach when Tim Chambers took the top job at Division I Nevada-Las Vegas. The transition has been messy, as the NJCAA investigated the program and found three rules violations under Chambers’ immediate successor, Chris Sheff, who was fired in November before he ever coached a game. New coach Nick Garritano takes over a program limited for the next two years to 14 scholarships, down 10 per year from the NJCAA maximum. However, the Coyotes avoided a postseason ban.
• The transfer in January of OF Brian Goodwin brought the best prospect to junior college baseball for 2011. Goodwin played one season at North Carolina and hit .291/.409/.511 with 63 RBIs as a freshman, but was suspended for the 2011 season in the fall for violating university rules and subsequently transferred to Miami-Dade. Goodwin ranked as the No. 6 prospect in the Cape Cod League last summer, as the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder showed future plus-plus raw power and 70 speed on the 20-80 scouting scale, as well as patience and the potential to play center field. He’ll play for coach Danny Price, who coached for 28 years at Florida International.
• Challenging Goodwin for the top spot among juco prospects will be a horde of hard-throwing pitchers from Texas, led by Dayton transfer RHP Ian Gardeck. His fastball hit 98 mph this fall according to scouts, though some project him as a future reliever. The Texas JC ranks also have power arms in Howard RHPs Damien Magnifico, a 2009 Mets fifth-round pick, and Arkansas transfer Derrick Bleeker, as well as Navarro RHP Drew Verhagen, a transfer from Oklahoma, and Panola’s RHP Andrew Del Colle, formerly of Boston College.
• Iowa Western became the first team from the NJCAA’s North region to win the Junior College World Series, and the Reivers should be a factor again, having won seven conference titles in the last 10 seasons. Their top talent is freshman 3B/RHP Damek Tomscha, the team’s closer who was a 50th-round pick of the Phillies as a freshman, while the club returns a pair of key sophomore pitchers in Nick Hogue (8-1, 4.03) and Taylor Eikenberry (6-0, 3.73, 41 IP/46 SO).
• Of course Iowa Western can claim a national championship, but JCs in California, Oregon and Washington state are not part of the NJCAA. Ohlone won the California state championship in coach Jordon Twohig’s second season, and Twohig was snapped up as an assistant coach at Washington. Replacing Twohig is former assistant Julian Russell. Longtime power Santa Ana, with coach Don Sneddon entering his 30th season as the winningest coach in California’s storied JC baseball history, is the statewide favorite. Sneddon, a former assistant coach under Augie Garrido at Cal State Fullerton in 1976, has added Oregon transfer Dylan Jones, who redshirted a year ago.