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2017 College Preview: Tampa Should Be In Division II Mix Again

In our small college preview, Baseball America looks at Division II, Division III, NAIA and junior colleges. Below is our Division II preview.
1. Tampa41-10
2. Nova Southeastern (Fla.)44-16
3. Southern New Hampshire50-7
4. Millersville (Pa.)53-7
5. Central Missouri43-15
6. Angelo State (Texas)39-22
7. Mercyhurst (Pa.)43-14
8. California Baptist42-13
9. Dixie State (Utah)40-14
10. Minnesota State36-18
2016 Champion: Nova Southeastern (Fla.)
2017 Player of the Year: Laz Rivera, 2b, Tampa
2017 Pitcher of the Year: Matt Minnick, lhp, Mercyhurst (Pa.)
• For years, Tampa has dominated Division II. Tampa has four titles in the 21st century while only one other school (Southern Indiana) has more than one. And Tampa should once again be in the middle of the fight for the 2017 title thanks to 2B Laz Rivera, hard-throwing RHP Garrett Cave and a slew of talented incoming freshmen and transfers. • Nova Southeastern (Fla.) returns seven position player starters from last year’s national champions including C Michael Hernandez, SS Dylan Woods and DH Brandon Gomez. The rotation could also shape up to be very solid thanks to a pair of transfers from Miami–RHP Devin Meyer and Derik Beauprez. • California Baptist has announced that they are moving to Division I, but before they go, they will continue the Lancers recent run of outstanding pitching. Cal Baptist has produced Trevor Oaks, Caleb Dirks, Adam Hofacket and Tyson Miller in recent years, but it’s trio of starters in 2017 might be the best yet. Junior RHP Garrett King, a transfer from Nebraska, will lead the staff. He’ll be followed by sophomore RHP Justin Montgomery, a 6-foot-6 string-bean with loads of potential, and freshman RHP Logan Rinehart. In the end Rinehart may end up as the best of the group. • Colorado Mesa’s sophomore RHP J.R. McDermott will have a hard time topping his outstanding freshman season. McDermott doesn’t light up the radar gun, but he went 7-0, 0.92 in 11 starts last season with 77 strikeouts and 28 walks in 68.1 innings. Senior RHP Tyler Day gives the Mavericks a power arm to go with McDermott’s deception and command. SS Zach McLeod provides excellent defense and OF Keenan Eaton, a Wichita State transfer, could slide into the middle of the lineup. • Lander (S.C.) will have to find some bats, but it’s pitching staff should be strong thanks to 6-foot-9 RHP Sam Linn, LHP J.D. Cook, RHP Garrett Lovorn and RHP Cameron Tekker. • Southern Indiana brings back its entire rotation from last year’s 38-21 team and the Screaming Eagles should be even stronger thanks to the addition of RHP Kyle Griffin, a transfer from Houston. Tracy Archuleta and his staff will have to rebuild the lineup, but IF Sam Griggs is back after hitting .342 with seven home runs last year. • West Florida will be dealing with a good problem to have–trying to figure out how to get everyone innings. West Florida returns RHP J.T. Granat, RHP Walker O’Connor, and RHP Jarrod Petree and will add to them LHP Brian Browning, a transfer from Ole Miss; LHP J.A. Harville, a transfer from South Alabama and Florida State transfer LHP Jared Middleton. OF Chase Kiefer is one of the faster players in Division II. • St. Edward’s will be finding a new infield, but RHP Brandon Boone should dominate with a low-90s fastball and a quality breaking ball. • Cal Poly Pomona brings back seven members of last year’s lineup and has added a pair of D-I transfers who could immediately help in LHP Kyle Dohy (Cal State Northridge) and RHP Jeff Bain (California). • Central Missouri is loaded with athleticism and speed that should pay off both offensively and defensively. CF Matt Elliott and OF Elijah Dilday are the key to the lineup as a pair of athletic outfielders who cover plenty of ground and should hit for average. • Mercyhurst hit .331 as a team while setting a school record for home runs. They could top that this year as seven starters return including OF Chris Gonzalez and C Sabatino DiNardo. With an inexperienced pitching staff, LHP Matt Minnick will have to dominate. He has a shot to do that thanks to a low-90s fastball and a quality changeup. • Point Loma Nazarene should fill the zone with strikes. The Sea Lions brings back ace RHP Kellen Sheppard (8-4, 2.21) and RHP Kevin Lillicrop (6-2, 2.64) as well as 1B Ryan Garcia (.371/.468/.629). • With 14 seniors, this year should be the year for a deep NCAA run by Dixie State (Utah). The rotation is deep thanks to RHP Dylan File (6-1, 2.99), RHP Mason Hilty (10-1, 3.59), LHP Aaron Pope (3-2, 3.98) and LHP Matt Mosca, a transfer from Mesa (Ariz.) CC. • RHP Matt Shannon, a low-90s sinkerballer with excellent control and an impressive changeup, gives Angelo State (Texas) an anchor to build its rotation around. OF Steven Pinales, a hitter with gap power and a strong arm in the outfield, will buoy the offense. • C Mitch Stoltzfus does about everything Millersville (Pa.) could ask for from its backstop. He hit .414/.455/.627 while also providing excellent defense. He’ll get plenty of help this year from a pair of speedy outfielders in Dan Neff and Chas McCormick.
Tracy Smith (Andrew Woolley Four Seam Images)

Michigan Hires Tracy Smith As Next Coach

Michigan tabbed Tracy Smith as its next baseball coach.

1. Garrett Cave, rhp, Tampa
2. Garett King, rhp, California Baptist
3. Brady Miller, rhp, Western Oregon
4. Matt Minnick, lhp, Mercyhurst (Pa.)
5. Matt Shannon, rhp, Angelo State (Texas)
6. Dan Jagiello, rhp, C.W. Post (N.Y.)
7. Dylan File, rhp, Dixie State (Utah)
8. Derik Beauprez, rhp, Nova Southeastern (Fla.)
9. Michael Hernandez, c, Nova Southeastern (Fla.)
10. Kyle Dohy, lhp, Cal Poly Pomona
11. Brandon Gomez, of, Nova Southeastern (Fla.)
12. Brandon Boone, rhp, St. Edward’s (Texas)
13. Justin Watts, rhp, Southern Indiana
14. Tanner Bird, rhp, Franklin Pierce (N.H.)
15. Chris Corbett, c, Rollins (Fla.)
16. Ryan Garcia, 1b, Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.)
17. Brynn Martinez, ss, Quincy (Ill.)
18. Jeff Bain, rhp, Cal Poly Pomona
19. Brody Rodning, lhp, Minnesota State
20. Joe Shaffer, rhp, Seton Hill (Pa.)
21. Chris Gonzalez, of, Mercyhurst (Pa.)
22. Laz Rivera, 2b, Tampa
23. Shane Woelfel, of, Bloomsburg (Pa.)
24. Jake Walkinshaw, rhp, Southern New Hampshire
25. J.P. Sorma, of, Ashland (Ohio)
26. Jacob Belinda, rhp, Lock Haven (Pa.)
27. Mitch Stoltzfus, c, Millersville (Pa.)
28. Matt Williams, rhp, Grand Valley State (Mich.)
29. Chas McCormick, of, Millersville (Pa.)
30. Sabatino DiNardo, c, Mercyhurst (Pa.)

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