2013 Southwestern Athletic Conference Preview

  Conference Overall
Alabama State 14 10 20 36
Jackson State 21 3 34 17
Alcorn State 14 10 18 37
Mississippi Valley State 10 14 17 39
Alabama A&M 1 23 8 42
*Prairie View A&M 15 8 28 25
Southern 17 7 33 16
Grambling State 13 11 22 26
Texas Southern 8 15 26 28
Arkansas-Pine Bluff 7 17 8 38
*2012 conference championTeams in bold are 2012 NCAA tournament participants. Teams are listed in predicted order of finish. Records listed are from 2012 season.
Projected NCAA Teams (1): Alabama State.
Conference Schedule: 24 games, begins March 2.
Conference Tournament: Eight teams, May 15-19 at Pearl, Miss.
Player of the Year: Angel Rosa, ss, Alcorn State.
Pitcher of the Year: Jose De Leon, rhp, Southern.


1. Jose De Leon, rhp, Southern
2. Angel Rosa, ss, Alcorn State
3. Dexter Price, 3b/rhp, Alabama State
4. Juan Bueno, ss, Grambling State
5. Leo Rojas, 2b, Alabama State (2014)
6. Richard Gonzalez, c, Alabama State (2014)
7. Marquis Curry, of, Texas Southern
8. Jordan Boston, of, Alcorn State
9. Isias Alcantar, ss, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
10. Michael Pittman, of, Prairie View A&M


1. Dexter Price, 3b/rhp, Alabama State (Tr.—Daytona, Fla., State JC)
2. Juan Bueno, ss, Grambling State (Tr.—Monroe, N.Y., JC.)
3. Branden Castro, ss, Alabama State (HS—Orlando)
4. Felix Gomez, lhp, Texas Southern (Tr.—Alvin, Texas, CC)
5. Ashton Lewis, 1b, Alcorn State (HS—Reserve, La.)




• Major League Baseball’s biggest foray into college baseball is the annual Urban Invitational, which will call Houston’s Minute Maid Park home for the second consecutive year. The Feb. 22-24 weekend event this year will play host to all historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), with SWAC teams Texas Southern (the host) and Prairie View A&M joined by Alabama State and Southern. Coach Roger Cador’s Jaguars have played in all six Urban Invitationals. The weekend also includes a youth baseball clinic at the Houston Urban Youth Academy at Sylvester Turner Park, as well as a college and career fair at the ballpark.

Southern returns two of the league’s top players in Jr. 1B Brian Rowry (.287/.359/.471, 15 2B) and Jr. RHP Jose DeLeon (8-3, 2.62, 82 IP/103 SO). DeLeon, the SWAC strikeout king last year, has been in the Jags’ weekend rotation all three seasons and is the league’s hardest thrower among starting pitchers, often sitting in the 90-93 mph range. He limited opponents to a .191 average last season, and scouts are looking for better development of his below-average secondary stuff to move him higher up draft boards. He ranked second in the league in ERA to Jackson State’s 5-foot-7 RHP/OF Desmond Russell (.277/.350/.370; 10-2, 2.34, 108 IP/86 SO), who lost his rotation mate, Quintavious Drains, to graduation. Russell threw eight complete games for Jackson State last year, second to Drains’ nine.

Alabama State and Alcorn State both have the full 11.7 scholarship allotment and recruit Puerto Rico hard, resulting in several of their top players. Alcorn State won the league tournament in 2011, earning its first regional bid, but slipped to 18-37 last season. The Braves return Jr. SS Angel Rosa (.292/.342/.444), an athletic 6-foot-1, 192-pounder who became the program’s first Cape Cod League player (he went 12-for-57). So. C Edgardo Salas, a potential weapon defensively thanks to a strong arm, also is from Puerto Rico. Alabama State hired Mervyl Melendez, who mined the island successfully while at MEAC member Bethune-Cookman, last season and posted 20 victories for the first time since 2002. The Hornets are still looking for their first winning season since going 19-18 in 2000, and Melendez’s recruits are starting to infiltrate the roster. So. RHP Joel Alvira (4-5, 3.86, 77 IP/65 SO) returns to the front of the rotation, while So. C Richard Gonzalez (.292/.362/.373) leads offensively and defensively (throwing out 32 percent of opposing basestealers). Jr. 3B/RHP Dexter Price brings a power bat to the hot corner after hitting 13 homers in two junior college seasons and has flashed low-90s velocity in the fall, positioning him for a relief role.

• League coaches peg the West Division, with defending league champ Prairie View A&M and Grambling State, as the stronger side of the SWAC. SS Chris Wolfe (Athletics, 30th round) gave Grambling a draftee for the third straight season last year, and his replacement, Dominican-born SS Juan Bueno, gives the Tigers another draft prospect thanks to his plus range and arm strength as well as bat speed. Bueno transfers in from Monroe (N.Y.) CC, where the Tigers also found LHP Edvardas Matusevicius, a veteran of Lithuania’s youth and junior national teams. The 6-foot-2, 160-pound Matusevicius had 58 strikeouts in 43 innings last season despite a 3-3, 5.61 ERA at the JC level. The Grambling roster also includes players from the Bahamas and Canada.

• Houston-based Prairie View, in contrast, draws all but seven of its players from Texas. Coach Waskyla Cullivan returns Sr. RHP/IF Stef Hernandez (6-4, 4.00, 74 IP/50 SO; .258, 11 RBIs) and his entire infield. 2B Andre Oliver (.277/.367/.306, 18 SB) and Jr. SS James Fontenot (.242/.367/.373, 13 SB), a Louisianan, provide the speed. Omaha native Sr. 3B Brad Benes (.306/.413/.398) and Sr. 1B Dominique Harris (.315/.359/.448, 14 2B) provide the power.

Alabama A&M removed the interim tag from head coach Michael Tompkins’ title; he’s the only new head coach.