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2006 College Preview: Atlantic Coast Conference
2006 College Preview Index

January 19, 2006

HOW THEY'LL FINISH
Conference Overall
W
L
W
L
1. Clemson (2)
21
9
43
23
2. +Georgia Tech (4)
22
8
45
19
3. North Carolina (6)
17
10
41
19
4. Florida State (15)
19
11
53
20
5. North Carolina State (24)
17
13
41
19
6. Miami
19
10
41
19
7. Virginia
14
14
41
20
8. Wake Forest
12
18
28
30
9. Maryland
7
23
25
31
10. Boston College
--
--
37
20
11. Virginia Tech
7
19
23
28
12. Duke
5
25
14
39
(2005 records listed; 2006 national ranking in parentheses)
+ 2005 conference tournament champion; NCAA regional participants in boldface

Projected NCAA Teams (7): Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Miami, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Virginia.
Conference Schedule: 30 games. Schedule begins March 10.
Conference Tournament: Twelve teams, May 23-28 at Jacksonville, Fla.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
* 2005 conference leader

CMatt Wieters, So., Georgia Tech (.366-10-68). 1BAaron Bates, Jr., North Carolina State (.425-12-64). 2BTaylor Harbin, So., Clemson (.343-10-63). 3BWes Hodges, Jr., Georgia Tech (.397-9-51). SSJosh Horton, So., North Carolina (.347-2-35). OFSteven Blackwood, Sr., Georgia Tech (.336-5-65); Jon Jay, Jr., Miami (.408-1-52); Shane Robinson, Jr., Florida State (*.427-6-43, *49 SB). DHMatt Antonelli, Jr., Wake Forest (.332-5-35). UTSean Doolittle, So., Virginia (.313-11-57; 3-2, 1.64, 49 IP/66 SO). P--Daniel Bard, Jr., North Carolina (7-5, 4.22); Andrew Brackman, So., North Carolina State (4-0, 2.09); Andrew Miller, Jr., North Carolina (8-4, 2.98, 97 IP/104 SO). RPChris Perez, Jr., Miami (5-1, 2.56, 7 SV, 46 IP/52 SO).

Player of the Year: Matt Wieters, c/rhp, Georgia Tech.
Pitcher of the Year: Andrew Miller, lhp, North Carolina.
Freshman of the Year: Buster Posey, ss/rhp, Florida State (50th round/Angels 05).

Top Newcomers: 1. Jon Still, c/dh, North Carolina State (Jr., .305-8-48 at Stetson). 2. Buster Posey, ss/rhp, Florida State. 3. Jeremy Farrell, 3b, Virginia (Fr., HSWestlake, Ohio). 4. David Adams, 2b, Virginia (Fr., 21st round/Tigers 05). 5. Steve Richard, rhp, Clemson (Jr., 9-1, 2.07 at Maine).

PROJECTED TOP PROSPECTS, 2006 Draft

1. Andrew Miller, lhp, North Carolina.
2. Daniel Bard, rhp, North Carolina.
3. Wes Hodges, 3b, Georgia Tech.
4. Chris Perez, rhp, Miami.
5. Matt Antonelli, 3b, Wake Forest.
6. Shane Robinson, of, Florida State.
7. Jon Jay, of, Miami.
8. Aaron Bates, 1b, North Carolina State.
9. Jason Berken, rhp, Clemson.
10. Tim Gustafson, rhp, Georgia Tech.

PROJECTED TOP PROSPECTS, 2007 Draft

1. Andrew Brackman, rhp, North Carolina State.
2. Matt Wieters, c/rhp, Georgia Tech.
3. Sean Doolittle, 1b/lhp, Virginia.
4. David Kopp, rhp, Clemson.
5. Josh Horton, ss, North Carolina.

BEST TOOLS

Best Pure HitterJon Jay, Miami. Best Raw PowerAaron Bates, North Carolina State. Best Strike-Zone DisciplineShane Robinson, Florida State. Best AthleteAndrew Brackman, North Carolina State. Fastest RunnerShane Robinson, Florida State. Best Baserunner--Shane Robinson, Florida State. Best Defensive CatcherEddy Rodriguez, Miami. Catcher/Best ArmAndy Hawranick, Georgia Tech. Best Defensive First Baseman--Andy D'Alessio, Clemson. Best Defensive Second BasemanTaylor Harbin, Clemson. Best Defensive Third BasemanWes Hodges, Georgia Tech. Best Defensive ShortstopJonathan Diaz, North Carolina State. Infielder/Best ArmJosh Horton, North Carolina. Best Defensive OutfielderShane Robinson, Florida State. Outfielder/Best ArmBrad Chalk, Clemson. Best FastballAndrew Miller, North Carolina. Best Breaking BallTyler Chambliss, Florida State. Best ControlRobert Woodard, North Carolina.

SHORT HOPS

Unlike in football when the conference was split into two divisions with the addition of Boston College, the ACC will have no division alignments in baseball. Teams will play 10 of their 11 opponents in three-game series, for a total of 30 games. Projected front-runners Clemson and North Carolina will have an advantage over their closest pursuers because they wont play each other this year. Meanwhile North Carolina State takes a hit as it misses Duke.

The ACC returns its four leading hitters from 2005 in Florida State OF Shane Robinson (.427), North Carolina State 1B Aaron Bates (.425), Miami OF Jon Jay (.408) and Georgia Tech 3B Wes Hodges (.397). All are projected first- or-second-round picks. Robinson also led the conference with 96 runs, 122 hits and 49 stolen bases.

Clemson is favored to win its first ACC title since 1994, when it won for the third time in four years. The Tigers return junior RHP Stephen Faris (6-4, 2.60) and senior RHP Josh Cribb (8-5, 3.54), two of their three weekend starters from a year ago, but the pitching staffs most significant returnee is junior RHP Jason Berken, who missed the last season and a half with a torn ligament in his right elbow and had Tommy John surgery in June 2004. Berken, whose fastball hit 94 mph in the fall, is a potential first-round pick in June. The Tigers also added yet another transfer from the Northeast (in the programs tradition of past additions Lou Santangelo, Scott Berney and Chris Heck) in junior RHP Steve Richard, who will be used as the closer after leading the America East Conference in wins (9) and ERA (2.07) while striking out 90 in 100 innings as a starter at Maine in 2005.

After setting a school record for wins (37) in its final season in the Big East Conference, ACC newcomer Boston College will be hard pressed to approach that mark in a more competitive league. The task will be even harder to achieve as the Eagles lost five regulars and their two top winners, RHP Joe Martinez (9-3, 2.81) and LHP Mike Wlodarczyk (10-2, 3.07). Sophomore RHP Adam Crabtree, a 15th-round pick of the Angels in the 2004 draft, might have picked up some of the pitching slack but he was lost for the season with an elbow injury. 3B Jared McGuire (.381-6-41, 27 SB), BCs top hitter a year ago, returns.

From a power and pitching standpoint, traditional national power Miami may have trouble overcoming the loss of twin first-round picks Ryan Braun and Cesar Carrillo. Braun (.388-18-76, 23 SB), Milwaukees first-round draft pick, was the only Hurricane to hit more than eight home runs last year while the closest pursuer to Carrillo (13-3, 2.22, 126 IP/127 SO), San Diegos No. 1 selection, had seven wins and less than half as many strikeouts.

Though LHP Andrew Miller (8-4, 2.98) and RHP Daniel Bard (7-5, 4.22) are expected to be early first-round picks in this years draft, both were upstaged as sophomores at North Carolina by control specialist RHP Robert Woodard, who walked 19 in 98 innings on his way to an 8-0, 2.11 record. Bard and Miller combined to walk 95 in 187 innings, while Woodard became the teams Friday starter. Woodard followed his spring by going 5-1, 2.53 in the Cape Cod League with just four walks in 46 innings.

Though he ranks as one of college baseballs top catching prospects, Georgia Tech sophomore Matt Wieters will see only limited service behind the plate for the Yellow Jackets. As one of the nations premier two-way players, Wieters will be used as Georgia Techs closer, where he went 3-3, 2.85 with six saves in 2005, and as the teams DH (.366-10-68). Hell likely spell senior catcher Andy Hawranick (.293-4-36) once per weekend series.

North Carolina State RHP Andrew Brackman (4-0, 2.09), a projected first-round pick in 2007, is expected to miss the first several weeks of the baseball season because of his commitment to the nationally ranked Wolfpack basketball team. Brackmans absence could open a rotation spot for freshman LHP Eric Surkamp, his former teammate at Cincinnatis Moeller High. Surkamp went 10-1, 1.06 with 97 strikeouts in 66 innings a year ago at Moeller, where he replaced Brackman as the teams ace.

N.C. State will miss all-conference closer Joey Devine, who set the school record for career saves on his way to becoming the first player from the 2005 draft to reach the majors. His loss, however, will be softened by the transfer of sophomore RHP Joel Brookens, who went 0-1, 2.53 with 45 strikeouts in 32 innings as a closer at George Washington. His 10 saves led the Atlantic-10 Conference. The Wolfpacks most significant transfer, however, may be junior C/DH Jon Still, who hit .305-8-48 last year at Stetson and will hit in the heart of the N.C. State lineup.

Freshman Jeremy Farrell has some big shoes to fill at third base for Virginia, where hell step in for Ryan Zimmerman, who hit .393-6-59 for the Cavaliers last year on his way to taking over at third base for the Nationals in September. Farrell, the son of former major league pitcher and current Indians farm director John Farrell, auditioned for his role last summer when he earned all-star honors in the Cal Ripken Sr. Collegiate League, where he was a rare high school player in a predominantly college league. The youthful Cavaliers will also start freshman David Adams, one of the nations top high school prospects a year ago, at second base.

Sean McNally, a cornerstone on the 1993 Duke team that set a school record that year for wins with 39, takes over as the new Blue Devils coach after Bill Hillier was fired. McNally, the only new coach in the ACC this season, was managing at Burlington of the Rookie-level Appalachian League last summer when he was given the assignment. Duke hasnt won a conference title since 1961 and went just 121-214 in Hilliers six years as coach.

Redshirt sophomore 1B Sean OBrien, who hit .372-6-45 to finish third in the Big East Conference in batting in 2004, returns to the Virginia Tech lineup after missing last season with a shoulder injury. The Hokies also return their leading hitter, junior 3B Ryan Thomas (.384-1-31), and top pitcher in senior LHP Ryan Kennedy (5-7, 4.05). Chuck Hartman, who at 71 is the oldest active head coach in Division I, has 941 wins in 27 years at Virginia Tech and 1,424 in 46 years of college coaching overall.

Freshman Buster Posey, who was known more for his pitching prowess at a Georgia high school, moves in at shortstop at Florida State for Ryne Jernigan, who transferred to Okaloosa-Walton (Fla.) JC after hitting just .217-6-31 a year ago. The Seminoles hope Posey can elevate the position back to what it was from 2002-04 when first-round pick Stephen Drew manned the position.

RHP Justin Keadle, a fifth-year senior who was drafted in the 44th round last year by the Yankees despite missing the 2005 season because of Tommy John surgery, returns as Wakes No. 1 starter, a role he held in 2003-04. Keadle went just 2-5, 6.22 in 2004 while pitching with a sore elbow, but enjoyed considerable success the previous summer in the Cape Cod League. After slipping from 47 wins in 2002 to 29 in 2003 and just 17 in 2004, the Demon Deacons rebounded to 28 wins last year under first-year coach Rick Rembielak.

 

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