|AMERICA EAST CONFERENCE|
|HOW THEY'LL FINISH|
|Projected NCAA Teams (1): Stony Brook.|
|Conference Schedule: 24 games, begins April 6.|
|Conference Tournament: Six teams, May 23-25 at highest seed.|
|Player of the Year: William Carmona, dh, Stony Brook.|
|Pitcher of the Year: Jeff Gibbs, rhp, Maine.
|TOP PROSPECTS, 2012-13 DRAFTS|
|1. Travis Jankowski, of, Stony Brook|
|2. Jeff Gibbs, rhp, Maine|
|3. Pat Cantwell, c, Stony Brook|
|4. Michael Fransoso, ss, Maine|
|5. Lee Sosa, rhp, Binghamton|
|6. Stephen Perakslis, rhp, Maine|
|7. Zach Kraham, rhp, Albany|
|8. William Carmona, 3b, Stony Brook|
|9. Alex Calbick, 3b, Maine (2013)|
|10. Maxx Tissenbaum, 2b, Stony Brook
|1. Cole Peragine, ss, Stony Brook (HS—Staten Island, N.Y.)|
|2. Kevin Krause, dh, Stony Brook (HS—Belle Wart, Ont.)|
|3. Sean Newcomb, lhp, Hartford (HS—Middleboro, Mass.)
• Two of the conference's bottom feeders get new coaches this year, with Hartford hiring Connecticut assistant Justin Blood after firing Jeff Calcaterra, and Maryland-Baltimore County promoting assistant Bob Mumma after John Jancuska resigned. Getting Blood was a coup for Hartford, which has not had a winning season since 1992, as he helped build Connnecticut's back-to-back regional teams as recruiting coordinator and pitching coach and was seen as one of the top up-and-coming coaches in the Northeast. Blood said the talent is better than the new staff expected, but the Hawks are still counting on a lot of freshmen and sophomores and are at least a year from conference contention.
• Maine not only upset Stony Brook in the conference tournament last season, but it also won a game in the Chapel Hill regional against Florida International. The Black Bears return their entire infield from that team and an experienced pitching staff, but they'll have to replace their entire outfield. Leading the staff will be Jr. RHP Jeff Gibbs (8-5, 3.42), who has pro potential because of his arm strength. The best player in the infield is Jr. SS Michael Fransoso (.318/.392/.528).
• Stony Brook should remain at the top of the standings as well. Coming off a dominant regular season, the Seawolves kept that momentum going by bringing in the conference's best recruiting class. C Kevin Krause has good righthanded power and a strong arm, but he'll probably get more time at DH this season in deference to Sr. Pat Cantwell. Canadian middle infielder Cole Peragine is a switch-hitter with a nice line-drive swing, and he should step right in at shortstop. The centerpiece of the team, though, is CF Travis Jankowski, who ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the Cape Cod League and the league MVP last summer, hitting .329 with 15 steals after hitting .355 with 30 steals during the spring. He's a premium athlete who has good at-bats and shows an ability to drive the ball to the gaps.
• It could be a tough year for Binghamton, which has enough talent to compete in the conference but won't play any games on campus this spring. On the field, the team's best players are Jr. RHP Lee Sosa, whose fastball touches 94 mph and Sr. 1B Dave Ciocchi, an all-conference player and career .362 hitter. But the Bearcats will be vagabonds this spring because of the construction of a new on-campus ballpark. They'll play three games at NYSEG Stadium, the home of the Double-A Binghamton Mets, and two other league series at Cornell, in Ithaca, N.Y., about an hour away from Binghamton. Other than those three conference series, the rest of their games will be played on the road.