College Preview

2006 Independents Preview




HOW THEY'LL FINISH


Overall


W
L
1. *North Florida
48
16
2. Dallas Baptist
32
23
3. *Kennesaw State
37
22
4. *UC Davis
27
29
5. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
31
21
6. New York Tech
24
22
7. *Northern Colorado
22
34
8. Texas-Pan American
15
39
9. Savannah State
22
21
10. *Utah Valley State
17
39
11. IUPU-Fort Wayne
24
25
12. *Longwood
16
32
13. *North Dakota State
10
43
14. *South Dakota State
17
37
15. Hawaii-Hilo
6
34
* Provisional/Reclassifying Division I team (ineligible for NCAA tournament play)

Projected NCAA Teams: None.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Top Player: Cody Montgomery, 3b, Dallas Baptist (.364-7-41).
Top Pitcher: Jacob Dixon, rhp, North Florida (8-3, 3.61).
Top Newcomer: Jordan Meaker, rhp, Dallas Baptist (Fr., 9th round/Astros ’05).

PROJECTED TOP PROSPECTS, 2006-07 DRAFTS
1. Kraig Binick, of, New York Tech.
2. Jacob Dixon, rhp, North Florida.
3. Brennan Garr, rhp, Northern Colorado.
4. John Ray, c, Northern Colorado.
5. #Bubba Blalock, rhp, Kennesaw State.

# Not eligible for 2006 draft

SHORT HOPS

• They’ll have to wait until 2010 to be full-fledged members, but Kennesaw State (Ga.) and North Florida, two former Division II powerhouses, are in the process of reclassifying to Division I. They’ll spend the next four seasons as associate members of the Atlantic Sun Conference after finishing first and second in the Peach Belt Conference a year ago. Both schools will play exclusively D-I teams this year, including a full schedule against Atlantic Sun teams. UC Davis, meanwhile, will continue to play a full, but non-counting Big West Conference schedule, on its way to becoming a full member in 2008.

• North Florida lost to archrival Florida Southern in the NCAA D-II World Series last year and returns most of the pitching staff that led the team to a 48-16 record. The Ospreys return senior RHPs Ryan Amason (7-3, 3.45) and Jake Dixon (8-3, 3.61), who both worked more than 100 innings, and they’ll be supported again by the Papelbon twins, both juniors—LHP Jeremy (3-3, 3.18), who’ll be used as a starter, and RHP Josh (7-3, 1.49, 14 SV), the team’s closer. The Papelbons are the younger brothers of Boston Red Sox prospect Jonathan Papelbon.

• Dallas Baptist finally has full Division I status this year after reclassifying from the NAIA ranks. Dallas Baptist returns most of its players from last year’s 32-23 team, with the notable exception being 1B Daniel Magness (.372-4-45), a San Diego native who returned home to the University of San Diego. Besides losing RHP Lance Broadway to Texas Christian last year, the Patriots also lost three pitchers to Tommy John surgery, though all will return this year. The most notable returnee is senior RHP Michael Gardner, a transfer from Texas-Arlington, where he went 11-3, 2.49 in 2004. Gardner will be joined in the Patriots rotation by freshman RHP Jordan Meaker, an unsigned ninth-round pick of the Astros.

• Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has some big holes to fill after SS Jaime Landin (.427-8-43), OF Chuck Carter (.386-15-59) and RHP Trey Hearne (8-1, 2.00, 108 IP/116 SO) all signed with the St. Louis Cardinals—Carter as a 27th round pick, Hearne as a 28th-rounder and Landin as a free agent.