College Preview

2012 Atlantic Coast Conference Preview




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See also: Preseason Top 25 Capsules


*2011 automatic qualifier. 2011 NCAA regional participants in bold (2011 records listed; 2012 national rankings in parentheses)

ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE
HOW THEY'LL FINISH

Conf. Overall
ATLANTIC W L W L
Clemson (16) 17 13 43 20
Florida State (20) 19 11 46 19
North Carolina State 15 15 35 27
Wake Forest 15 15 25 31
Boston College 7 22 17 33
Maryland 5 25 21 35
COASTAL W L W L
North Carolina (9) 20 10 51 16
Georgia Tech (12) 22 8 42 21
Miami (18) 19 10 38 23
*Virginia 22 8 56 12
Virginia Tech 11 19 30 25
Duke 7 23 26 30
Projected NCAA Teams (7): North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Miami, Florida State, Virginia, North Carolina State.
Conference Schedule: 30 games; begins March 9.
Conference Tournament: Eight teams, May 23-27 at Greensboro, N.C.
Player of the Year: Richie Shaffer, 3b/1b, Clemson.
Pitcher of the Year: Kent Emanuel, lhp, North Carolina.
 
TOP PROSPECTS, 2012 DRAFT
1. Marcus Stroman, rhp, Duke
2. Richie Shaffer, 3b/1b, Clemson
3. Branden Kline, rhp, Virginia
4. Brandon Thomas, of, Georgia Tech
5. James Ramsey, of, Florida State
6. Chris Taylor, ss, Virginia
7. Kevin Brady, rhp, Clemson
8. Peter O'Brien, c, Miami
9. Buck Farmer, rhp, Georgia Tech
10. Tim Cooney, lhp, Wake Forest
11. Luke Bard, rhp, Georgia Tech
12. Scott Firth, rhp, Clemson
13. Cody Stubbs, 1b, North Carolina
14. Spencer Kieboom, c, Clemson
15. Kyle Wren, of, Georgia Tech
 
TOP PROSPECTS, 2013 DRAFT
1. Colin Moran, 3b, North Carolina
2. Kent Emanuel, lhp, North Carolina
3. Matt Grimes, rhp, Georgia Tech
4. Dale Carey, of Miami
5. Kevin Jordan, of, Wake Forest
6. Daniel Palka, 1b, Georgia Tech
7. Kyle Crockett, rhp, Virginia
8. DeAndre Smelter, rhp/of, Georgia Tech
9. Steve Wilkerson, ss/2b, Clemson
10. Andrew Smith, rhp, North Carolina
 
TOP NEWCOMERS
1. Carlos Rodon, lhp, North Carolina State (HS—Holly Springs, N.C.)
2. Brett Austin, c, North Carolina State (HS—Charlotte, N.C.)
3. Derek Fisher, of, Virginia (HS—Lebanon, Pa.)
4. Peter O'Brien, c, Miami (Tr.—Bethune-Cookman)
5. Cody Stubbs, 1b, North Carolina (Tr.—Walters State, Tenn., JC)
6. Benton Moss, rhp, North Carolina (HS—Rocky Mount, N.C.)
7. Andrew Suarez, lhp, Miami (HS—Miami)
8. Daniel Gossett, rhp, Clemson (HS—Lyman, S.C.)
9. Trea Turner, ss/3b, North Carolina State (HS—Lake Worth, Fla.)
10. K.J. Hockaday, 3b/of, Maryland (HS—Bel Air, Md.)
 
BEST TOOLS
Best Pure Hitter—Colin Moran, North Carolina. Best Raw Power—Richie Shaffer, Clemson. Best Strike-Zone Judgment—Jeff Kremer, Duke. Best Athlete—Kevin Jordan, Wake Forest. Fastest Runner—Kyle Wren, Georgia Tech. Best Baserunner—Wren.
Best Defensive C—Jacob Stallings, North Carolina. Catcher/Best Arm—Stallings. Best Defensive 1B—Jayce Boyd, Florida State. Best Defensive 2B—Keith Werman, Virginia. Best Defensive 3B—Sherman Johnson, Florida State. Best Defensive SS—Chris Taylor, Virginia. Infielder/Best Arm—Jason Stolz, Clemson. Best Defensive OF—Brett Williams, North Carolina State. Outfielder/Best Arm—Mac Williamson, Wake Forest.
Best Fastball—Marcus Stroman, Duke. Best Breaking Ball—Stroman. Best Changeup—Kent Emanuel, North Carolina. Best Control—Emanuel.
 
QUICK HITS
• The Atlantic Coast Conference got caught up in conference expansion but it won't help the league's baseball profile. Syracuse doesn't have a baseball program, while Pittsburgh is a solid Big East baseball contender. The Panthers may not join the league for baseball until 2014.

• Virginia has been to two of the last three College World Series, but the junior class that powered that run—such as No. 2 overall pick Danny Hultzen and 3B Steven Proscia—is mostly gone. Veterans return in the infield with Srs. 1B Jared King (.321/.411/.455) and 2B Keith Werman (.223/.367/.249), and Jrs. SS Chris Taylor (.305/.385/.404) and 3B Reed Gragnani (.272/.391/.338). Last year's closer, Jr. RHP Branden Kline (4-1, 1.88, 18 SV; 43 IP/56 SO), moves into the rotation, where he'll try to fill Hultzen's shoes.

Marcus Stroman (Photo by Alyson Boyer Rode)
• Duke moves RHP Marcus Stroman (3-4, 2.80; 64 IP/90 SO) into the Friday starter role, and will try to keep him out of the lineup. The career .259 hitter means too much on the mound; his 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings ranked second in the nation behind UCLA's Trevor Bauer (13.4). Stroman shined in the bullpen for USA Baseball's Collegiate National Team last summer, recording 17 of his 25 outs by strikeout and gving up no hits or runs.

• North Carolina State returns seven regulars and mixes in the league's best recruiting class, keyed by unsigned supplemental first-round C Brett Austin and unsigned 16th-round LHP Carlos Rodon. Austin combines athleticism with solid strength and switch-hitting ability. Rodon may have even more immediate impact; the 6-foot-4, 230-pounder had an up-and-down spring last year but was oustanding in the fall, touching 96-97 mph. Suspect starting pitching after ace Cory Mazzoni (the Mets' third-round pick) held the Wolfpack back last season, so Rodon will need help from Jr. RHP Ethan Ogburn (6-4, 4.52) and So. RHP D.J. Thomas (2-1, 3.92), who combined for 10 starts last season. The most important returnees include physical closer RHP Chris Overman (6-3, 2.39, 7 SV; 49 IP, 7/45 BB/SO) and team home runs leader Sr. CF Brett Williams (.286/.368/.445, 6 HR), a plus runner and defender who needs to make more consistent contact (40 SO in 238 ABs).

• Virginia Tech returns the ACC's home runs leader in redshirt Jr. OF Andrew Rash (.335/.416/.707, 18 HR) as well as three-year starting 1B/RHP Ronnie Shaban (.292/.362/.475, 52 RBIs; 3 SV, 4.66 ERA in 19 IP). The Hokies will have to pitch better to improve on last season's 11-19 league mark, and an intriguing newcomer could help. RHP Andrew Aizenstadt transfers in as a grad student from Division III Babson (Mass.), where he was 17-4, 2.73 in his career, and the 6-foot-5, 185-pounder threw well in the Cape Cod League for Falmouth (2-1, 2.46, 37 IP, 26 SO). He'll contend for a weekend rotation spot.

• Wake Forest attracted national attention when coach Tom Walter donated a kidney to Fr. OF Kevin Jordan, who needed a transplant. As heartwarming as the story was, Jordan was also Walter's top recruit, and he's back in top shape physically. He ran back-to-back 6.58-second 60s in fall practice, and Walter describes the 6-foot-1, 195-pounder physically as looking like "a safety." His power-speed combination will aid an offense that returns power in the likes of Jr. OF Mac Williamson (.273/.368/.493, 12 HR), who was the Valley League's No. 1 prospect, and DH Carlos Lopez (.270/.355/.528, 11 HR). However, Wake Forest hit just .225 as a team and ranked 10th in the ACC in runs while ranking first in strikeouts. Jr. LHP Tim Cooney (7-3, 3.01, 99 IP, 18/91 BB/SO) makes the Demon Deacons competitive in most any Friday matchup.