College Preview

2006 Missouri Valley Conference Preview




HOW THEY'LL FINISH




Conference

Overall


W
L
W
L
1. +Wichita State
16
8
50
25
2. Southern Illinois
15
9
38
21
3. Missouri State
10
14
26
29
4. Evansville
12
12
36
22
5. Creighton
17
7
48
17
6. Indiana State
10
14
30
28
7. Illinois State
9
15
26
27
8. Bradley
10
14
28
22
9. Northern Iowa
9
15
25
29
(2005 records listed; 2006 national ranking in parentheses)
+ 2005 conference tournament champion; NCAA regional participants in boldface

Projected NCAA Teams (2): Southern Illinois, Wichita State.
Conference Schedule: 24 games. Schedule begins March 24.
Conference Tournament: Six teams, May 24-27 at Wichita (Wichita State).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
* 2005 conference leader

C—Matt Weglarz, Jr., Missouri State (.333-4-49). 1B—Kyle O’Brien, Jr., Illinois State (.311-3-25). 2B—Damon Sublett, So., Wichita State (.314-1-36). 3B—Derek Schermerhorn, Jr., Wichita State (.329-2-60, 34 SB). SS—Ryan Anetsberger, So., Illinois State (.329-2-32). OF—Tim Brewer, Sr., Indiana State (.317-2-22, 29 SB); Grant Gerrard, Sr., Southern Illinois (.333-5-26); Kevin Koski, Jr., Southern Illinois (.380-0-32). DH— Zach Daeges, Sr., Creighton (.350-8-*61). P—Tyler Norrick, Sr., Southern Illinois (5-3, 3.24, 81 IP/89 SO); Brett Sinkbeil, Jr., Missouri State (7-9, 4.84, 87 IP/97 SO); Collin Walker, Sr., Bradley (6-4, 2.60). RP—Scott Reese, Jr., Creighton (12-0, 2.85, 5 SV).

Player of the Year: Derek Schermerhorn, 3b, Wichita State.
Pitcher of the Year: Tyler Norrick, lhp, Southern Illinois.
Freshman of the Year: Aaron Shafer, rhp, Wichita State (Fr., 16th round/Indians ’05).

Top Newcomers: 1. Aaron Shafer, rhp, Wichita State. 2. Jim Viscomi, of, Evansville (Jr., .386-11-58, 74 SB at Parkland, Ill., CC). 3. Scott Carroll, rhp, Missouri State (So., Tr.-Purdue).

PROJECTED TOP PROSPECTS, 2006-07 DRAFTS

1. Brett Sinkbeil, rhp, Missouri State.
2. Kris Johnson, lhp, Wichita State.
3, Tyler Norrick, lhp, Southern Illinois.
4. Grant Gerrard, of, Southern Illinois.
5. #Ryan Anetsberger, ss, Illinois State.

# Not eligible for 2006 draft

BEST TOOLS

Best Pure Hitter—Kevin Koski, Southern Illinois. Best Raw Power—Zach Daeges, Creighton. Best Strike-Zone Discipline--Kevin Koski, Southern Illinois. Best Athlete—Derek Schermerhorn, Wichita State. Fastest Runner—Kevin Koski, Southern Illinois. Best Baserunner--Derek Schermerhorn, Wichita State. Best Defensive Catcher—Nevin Ashley, Indiana State. Catcher/Best Arm—Nevin Ashley, Indiana State. Best Defensive First Baseman—Kyle O’Brien, Illinois State. Best Defensive Second Baseman—Damon Sublett, Wichita State; Kyle Smith, Evansville. Best Defensive Third Baseman—Derek Schermerhorn, Wichita State. Best Defensive Shortstop—Robbie Minor, Evansville. Infielder/Best Arm—Jake Eigsti, Indiana State. Best Defensive Outfielder--Eric Jones, Evansville. Outfielder/Best Arm--Eric Jones, Evansville. Best Fastball—Brett Sinkbeil, Missouri State. Best Breaking Ball—Damon Sublett, Wichita State. Best Control—Collin Walker, Bradley.

SHORT HOPS

• Things are status quo at Wichita State with Gene Stephenson back for his 29th year after he and his entire coaching staff elected not to move on to Oklahoma after initially consenting to do so. Stephenson was an assistant at Oklahoma prior to reviving a defunct program at Wichita State in 1978. The cupboard is hardly bare for Stephenson as the Shockers, coming off a 51-win season, return all but three starters and a starting pitcher—though that pitcher is RHP Mike Pelfrey (12-3, 1.93), who signed in early January with the Mets to a lucrative major league contract. “We are still very young and inexperienced,” Stephenson said, “but we have very talented players. We’ll have very little power at best, but should have very good team speed. If our pitchers are healthy, we could be very good.”

• While Wichita State will miss Pelfrey, who went 23-5, 2.05 with 268 strikeouts in 255 innings as a sophomore and junior, and won’t have the services of junior LHP Kris Johnson, who went 10-0, 1.80 with 85 strikeouts in 90 innings in his first two years, until the end of March, the Shockers have plenty of pitching depth to make a run at another Missouri Valley Conference title. Sophomore RHP Travis Banwart (8-1, 2.09) and senior RHP Jereme Foster (7-5, 3.63) will anchor the rotation; sophomore RHP Damon Sublett (2-0, 0.00, 19 IP/31 SO) and junior LHP Noah Booth (4-6, 2.13, 80 IP/87 SO), who combined for 19 saves, will anchor the bullpen; and promising freshmen LHP Anthony Capra, a 49th-round pick of the Tigers, and RHP Aaron Shafer, a 16th-round pick of the Indians, will earn meaningful innings. Johnson, who could be an early-round selection in June if healthy, had Tommy John surgery last spring after working just 18 innings.

• Southern Illinois should present the stiffest challenge to Wichita State, thanks to the unexpected return of senior OF Grant Gerrard (.333-5-26), who was drafted in the 17th round by the Mariners, and senior LHP Tyler Norrick (5-3, 3.24, 81 IP/89 SO), who was selected in the 17th round by the Blue Jays. Both could elevate their draft worth considerably, particularly Norrick, whose fastball has touched 94 mph on occasion. The Salukis also return junior OF Kevin Koski (.380-0-32), the conference’s top returning hitter who ended the 2005 season on a 35-game hitting streak—the longest in SIU history and the second-longest in MVC history.

• Missouri State experienced its second losing season in 40 years in 2005, but with a new name (the school previously was known as Southwest Missouri State) comes a renewed outlook. The Bears ended last year on a positive note, winning 12 of their last 13 games and 11 in a row, and will pin a lot of their hopes on junior RHP Brett Sinkbeil (7-9, 4.84, 87 IP/97 SO), who rebounded from a poor season to go 5-1, 2.38 with seven walks and 59 strikeouts in 51 innings in the Cape Cod League. Loose and projectable at 6-foot-4 and 185 pounds, Sinkbeil has a 90-94 mph fastball with sink and run and a tight, low 80s slider. Sophomore RHP Scott Carroll, who completed 117 of 195 passes as Missouri State’s starting quarterback in the fall after transferring from Purdue, could also give the Bears rotation a boost. He’s a former Missouri all-state pitcher who went 10-0, 1.17 with 115 strikeouts in 72 innings as a high school senior.

• Creighton made an unexpected run to the MVC regular-season title a year ago and returns 37 of its 48 pitching wins along with leading hitter Zach Daeges (.350-8-61), who led the conference in RBIs and went on to win the Northwoods League triple crown (.366-13-48) during the summer.

• Illinois State SS Ryan Anetsberger (.329-2-32) led the Redbirds in nine offensive categories as a freshman and earned a major award during the summer when he was named MVP of the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita when he led Illinois’ Prairie Gravel to the title. Anetsberger went 19-for-38 and led the NBC tournament with 11 RBIs.

• Parkland (Ill.) JC finished second at the 2005 Division II Junior College World Series and sent two of its most productive offensive players to MVC teams: Jesse Griswold (.332-11-61), who will start at second base for Illinois State, and Jim Viscomi (.386-11-58, 74 SB), who steps into center field at Evansville.