2017 NCAA Tournament Clemson Regional Preview

Seth Beer (Photo by Tom Priddy)

SEE ALSO: NCAA Regional Preview Podcast

1. Clemson (39-19, 17-13 in Atlantic Coast Conference)

42nd appearance (ninth straight), at-large, third in ACC Atlantic

Top 200 Prospects: C Chris Williams (101), LHP Charlie Barnes (133)

Season In A Sentence: In Monte Lee’s second year at the helm, Clemson established itself as one of the top teams in the country early in the year before losing 11 of its last 12 ACC games; the Tigers still did enough to earn a hosting bid.

Player To Watch: Seth Beer, OF/1B. Beer’s sophomore year hasn’t been as explosive as his freshman year—but he did set an incredibly high bar. Still, Beer is tied for the team lead with 14 home runs and is batting .291/.462/.587. He’s shown an aptitude for producing in big moments throughout his brief college career and could do more of the same in the regional.

Best Weekend: Virginia, March 17-19. The series win against Virginia might’ve ultimately sealed the Tigers’ hosting bid over the Cavaliers. It was also one of Clemson’s best RPI-building wins.

Outlook: Somewhat banged up with catcher Chris Williams nursing a shoulder injury, the Tigers need to quickly snap back into early season form if they want to win this regional. The Tigers have the talent to win and should have a raucous home crowd, but they’ll have to finish games better than they did down the final stretch of the season.

2. Vanderbilt (33-22-1, 15-13-1 in Southeastern Conference)

16th appearance (12th straight), at-large bid, third in SEC East

Top 200 Prospects: RHP Kyle Wright, OF Jeren Kendall, 3B Will Toffey, RHP Reed Hayes

Season In A Sentence: The Commodores took a bit more unusual path to regionals than they’re used to, but Tim Corbin’s young club found a groove once they got deeper into SEC play and earned their 12th straight bid.

Player To Watch: Kyle Wright, rhp. After scuffling early in the season, Wright recaptured his electric form early in SEC play and helped carry the Commodores, going 4-5, 2.91 overall. With his late-season resurgence, Wright has emerged as the potential first overall pick in the draft.

Best Weekend: at South Carolina, April 6-8. The Commodores seemed to finally start to click in this series—while the Gamecocks began heading in the other direction. After taking two of three in Columbia, the Dores surged up the SEC East standings.

Outlook: The Commodores, like Clemson, are a team that has battled some inconsistency. But they seem to be playing some of their best baseball of late and will be a tough No. 2 seed.

3. St. John’s (42-11, 13-5 Big East)

36th appearance (last in 2015), at-large bid, second in Big East

Top 200 Prospects: SS Jesse Berardi (86)

Season In A Sentence: The Red Storm had a nearly flawless regular season, setting a number of program records and claiming the fourth-best winning percentage in the country.

Player To Watch: Sean Mooney, RHP. The freshman has put up the best season of any St. John’s pitcher, going 8-1, 1.22 with 85 strikeouts to 16 walks in 96 innings. He forms a strong battery with senior catcher Troy Dixon.

Best Weekend: Xavier, May 12-14. Battling for first place in the Big East, the Red Storm gave Xavier no breathing room, sweeping the Musketeers—a regional team—in three games late in theseason.

Outlook: St. John’s is a very dangerous No. 3 seed. Though the Red Storm didn’t face an imposing schedule, St. John’s did nothing but win and even defeated No. 2 national seed North Carolina in a mid-week game. St. John’s is a team to be reckoned with.

4. UNC Greensboro (35-22, 14-10 in Southern Conference)

Third appearance (last in 1997), automatic bid, won SoCon tournament

Top 200 Prospects: None.

Season In A Sentence: Though the Spartans finished third in the SoCon standings, they came up big when it counted, winning the tournament to earn an automatic bid.

Player To Watch: Andrew Moritz, OF. The center fielder is an offensive sparkplug for the Spartans. He’s hitting .390/.451/.509 and has stolen 16 bases in 20 attempts as one of the team’s most well-rounded players.

Best Weekend: SoCon Tournament, May 25-28. The Spartans needed to win the tournament to get into the postseason, and they did, defeating Furman, 13-1, in the championship game.

Outlook: While the Spartans have a fairly explosive offensive, they’re in one of—if not the toughest—regional on the bracket. They’ll have their work cut out for them.

STAT PACK (National rank in parentheses)
Team Avg. Runs P/G HR SB ERA K/9 WHIP Field %
1. Clemson .286 (80) 6.31 (66) 69 (25) 48 (146) 3.53 (22) 9.1 (20) 1.24 (17) .970 (134)
2. Vanderbilt .279 (115) 6.66 (48) 47 (92) 51 (133) 3.54 (23) 8.8 (31) 1.22 (12) .975 (46)
3. St. John’s .327 (3) 7.57 (15) 35 (162) 51 (133) 2.97 (6) 7.6 (144) 1.23 (14) .972 (95)
4. UNC-Greensboro .325 (4) 7.51 (17) 42 (122) 58 (95) 5.02 (160) 8.5 (52) 1.46 (127) .979 (16)

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