2014 College Preview: Big East

BA breaks down the Big East Conference, including our projections for regional teams, player of the year, pitcher of the year and top prospects.

1. Conor Krauss, rhp, Seton Hall
2. Jake Peter, 2b, Creighton
3. James Lomangino, rhp, St. John's
4. Jose Lopez, rhp, Seton Hall
5. Josh Prevost, rhp, Seton Hall
6. Joe Kuzia, rhp, St. John's
7. Derrick May Jr., of, Villanova (2015)
8. Alex Katz, lhp, St. John's (2015)
9. Adam Hall, rhp, Xavier
10. Mike Gerber, of, Creighton

Big East Conference

Baseball Members (First Year): Butler (2014), Creighton (2014), Georgetown (1985), St. John’s (1985), Seton Hall (1985), Villanova (1985), Xavier (2014).

Checking out: Cincinnati (to American Athletic), Connecticut (to AAC), Louisville (to AAC), Notre Dame (to Atlantic Coast), Pittsburgh (to ACC), Rutgers (to AAC), South Florida (to AAC).

Conference Tournament: Four teams, modified double-elimination. May 22-25 at Brooklyn, N.Y.

Team to Beat: Creighton.

After back-to-back regional trips in 2011 and 2012 and another 30-win season in 2013, the Bluejays arrive as the favorites in the retooled Big East. Jr. 2B Jake Peter leads a lineup stocked with veterans, especially in its senior-laden outfield. They'll get a boost from the return of center fielder Mike Gerber, an athletic, instinctive player on both sides of the ball. Gerber hit .328 in 33 games last season before being lost to an appendectomy in April. The Bluejays will roll out an all-sophomore weekend rotation, with RHP Tommy Strunc showing the most promise of the group.

Player of the Year: Jake Peter, 2b, Creighton.

The well-rounded Peter finished third in the MVC in batting (.350) last year and has more strength than his numbers will show, playing his home games at TD Ameritrade Park.

Pitcher of the Year: James Lomangino, rhp, St. John's.

The competitive redshirt-senior has a good fastball and solid command; he racked up 85 strikeouts in 90 innings last year, the third-most in the conference.

Freshman of the Year: Donovan May, of, Villanova.

The son of former big leaguer Derrick May, Donovan brings speed and lefthanded power to Villanova, where he'll join forces with older brother Derrick Jr.

Projected Regional Team: Creighton.

James Lomangino

James Lomangino (Photo by Tomasso DeRosa)

Notable Storylines: Coming off a disappointing 23-35 season in 2013, St. John's could be a wild-card in the Big East race after plugging four junior-college transfers into its lineup. The Johnnies will be counting on the steady defense of Jr. SS Jarrod Mederos, from Santa Fe (Fla.) CC, and the big bat of Jr. 1B Matt Harris, previously of Brevard (Fla.) CC  . . . If Xavier is going to be a factor, So. RHP Adam Hall figures to be a big part of it. The 6-foot-6 righty returns after missing 2013 recovering from Tommy John surgery and adds one of the conference's more intriguing arms to Musketeers' rotation. Hall, who will be draft-eligible, reached 94 mph as a freshman in 2012 and was back in the low 90s in the fall . . . Jr. RHP Conor Krauss has thrown just 30 innings over his first two seasons at Seton Hall, but his power arm and 6-foot-5 frame will attract pro teams who can envision him as a future closer. RHP Jose Lopez ranked as the Pirates' best pro prospect after showing mid-90s heat this fall, but his stock took a hit when he had Tommy John surgery this winter.