College Preview

2006 Atlantic Sun Conference Preview




HOW THEY'LL FINISH



Conference Overall


W
L
W
L
1. Florida Atlantic
19
11
37
24
2. Stetson
16
14
35
28
3. Belmont
12
18
28
26
4. Campbell
13
17
25
29
5. East Tennessee State
31
22
6. Jacksonville
13
17
23
31
7. Gardner-Webb
15
15
28
30
8. Mercer
12
18
28
26
9. Lipscomb
8
22
23
33
(2005 records listed; 2006 national ranking in parentheses)
+ 2005 conference tournament champion; NCAA regional participants in boldface

Projected NCAA Teams (2): Florida Atlantic, Stetson.
Conference Schedule: 24 games. Schedule begins March 3.
Conference Tournament: Six teams, May 24-27 at DeLand, Fla. (Stetson).

PLAYERS TO WATCH

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
* 2005 conference leader

C—Blake Lalli, Sr., Gardner-Webb (*.384-5-39, *30 2B). 1B—Mike Priest, Sr., Campbell (.356-14-46). 2B—Ovy Ramirez, Jr., Florida Atlantic (.350-13-62 at St. Petersburg, Fla., JC), 3B—Chris Johnson, So., Stetson (.383-8-52). SS—Brian Bocock, Jr., Stetson (.355-6-37). OF—Shane Byrne, Jr., East Tennessee State (.373-11-45); Shane Jordan, Jr., Stetson (.375-1-32, 25 SB); Mike McBryde, Jr., Florida Atlantic (.370-5-40, 35 SB). DH—Braedyn Pruitt, Jr., Stetson (.328-7-57). P—Mike Ange, Sr., Campbell (6-1, 3.52); Kyle DeVries, Sr., Jacksonville (9-3, 4.15); Mickey Storey, So., Florida Atlantic (10-1, *1.70, 7 SV). RP—Mike McBryde, Jr., Florida Atlantic (2-2, 3.11, 11 SV, 35 IP/49 SO).

Player of the Year: Mike McBryde, of/rhp, Florida Atlantic.
Pitcher of the Year: Mickey Storey, rhp, Florida Atlantic.
Freshman of the Year: Brian Pruitt, of, Stetson (HS—Miami).

Top Newcomers: 1. Ovy Ramirez, 2b, Florida Atlantic. 2. Joel Schmal, rhp, Florida Atlantic (Jr., Tr.—South Suburban, Ill., JC). 3. Blair Waggett, of, Campbell (Jr., .120-0-2 at North Carolina).

PROJECTED TOP PROSPECTS, 2006-07 DRAFTS

1. Mike McBride, of/rhp, Florida Atlantic.
2. #Mickey Storey, rhp, Florida Atlantic.
3. Chris Johnson, 3b, Stetson.
4. Nathan Nery, lhp, Stetson.
5. Brian Bocock, ss, Stetson.

# Not eligible for 2006 draft

BEST TOOLS

Best Pure Hitter—Braedyn Pruitt, Stetson. Best Raw Power—Gordie Gronkowski, Jacksonville. Best Strike-Zone Discipline—Braedyn Pruitt, Stetson. Best Athlete—Mike McBryde, Florida Atlantic. Fastest Runner—Blair Waggett, Campbell. Best Baserunner—Shane Jordan, Stetson. Best Defensive Catcher—David Golliner, Stetson. Catcher/Best Arm—David Forbes, Campbell. Best Defensive First Baseman—Mike Priest, Campbell. Best Defensive Second Baseman—Brandon Parist, Stetson. Best Defensive Third Baseman—Daniel Murphy, Jacksonville. Best Defensive Shortstop—Mike Bocock, Stetson. Infielder/Best Arm—Alex Fonseca, Florida Atlantiic. Best Defensive Outfielder—Mike McBryde, Florida Atlantic. Outfielder/Best Arm—Mike McBryde, Florida Atlantic. Best Fastball—Mike McBryde, Florida Atlantic. Best Breaking Ball—Mickey Storey, Florida Atlantic. Best Control—Mickey Storey, Florida Atlantic.

SHORT HOPS

• The Atlantic Sun Conference experienced a significant makeover from 2005 with the departure of Central Florida (Conference USA), Georgia State (Colonial) and Troy (Sun Belt), and the addition of East Tennessee State (Southern). The conference also added former NCAA Division II national powers Kennesaw State (Ga.) and North Florida, though they won't become full-fledged members and eligible for postseason play until 2010. The two teams will be fully incorporated into the Atlantic Sun schedule, but their games won't count in the official standings.

• Florida Atlantic ranks as the preseason favorite as it returns its everyday lineup almost intact and has the league's best starter, sophomore RHP Mickey Storey (10-1, 1.70), and the league's best closer, junior RHP Mike McBryde (2-2, 3.11). The two combined for 18 saves a year ago, with McBryde (11 saves) eventually taking over as closer when Storey (seven) moved to the rotation. "We have a very deep, talented team," FAU coach Kevin Cooney said. "We have everyone returning with a number of good additions. Our strength is on the mound with Storey anchoring a good rotation with a dominant closer."

• McBryde, the conference's top prospect for this year's draft, also doubles as FAU's center fielder (.370-5-40). "He's a great athlete that can run (6.4 seconds in the 60-yard dash), can throw and play a great center field," Cooney said. "You do not find athletes like him everyday. He has all the tools."

• Stetson has one of the best infields in Division I with the return of junior Braedyn Pruitt (.328-7-57) at first, senior Brandon Paritz (.271-0-30) at second, sophomore Chris Johnson (.383-8-52) at third and junior Brian Bocock (.355-6-37) at shortstop. Sophomore David Golliner (.294-5-31) takes over full-time behind the plate with the transfer of junior Jon Still (.305-8-48) to North Carolina State. Pruitt's younger brother, Brian, steps in as a freshman as the regular right fielder for the Hatters.

• All-conference 3B Blake Lalli, who led the conference with a .384 average and the nation with 30 doubles, has moved to catcher at Gardner-Webb, a move that could boost Lalli's draft stock.

• Stetson's Pete Dunn, with a record of 964-580 in 26 years as head coach, is in line to win his 1,000th game this year. He needs 36 wins; the Hatters won 35 a year ago on their way to capturing the Atlantic Sun tournament championship for the first time in five years.

• Campbell fortified its everyday lineup with transfers from other four-year colleges in North Carolina and Virginia, particularly the Atlantic Coast Conference. Among the Camels' starters are all-conference senior 1B Mike Priest (.365-14-46), formerly of Virginia; senior 3B Tim Holt (.365-6-49), formerly of North Carolina State; senior SS Justin Phillips (.351-4-36), formerly of East Carolina; junior OF Nate Logan (.231-0-2), formerly of ECU and the son of former Pirates football coach Steve Logan; and junior OF Blair Waggett (.120-0-2), formerly of North Carolina.