2019 Atlantic 10 Conference College Baseball Preview

Image credit: Tyler Reichenborn (Photo courtesy of Saint Louis)

Projected Standings
(2018 Records)

  1. Saint Louis (19-4, 38-20)
  2. VCU (14-10, 33-21)
  3. Davidson (14-10, 33-21)
  4. Richmond (15-9, 32-24)
  5. George Mason (16-8, 29-27)
  6. Fordham (16-8, 35-19-1)
  7. George Washington (13-11, 32-26)
  8. Rhode Island (13-11, 24-27)
  9. UMass (6-18, 15-29)
  10. Saint Joseph’s (7-15, 21-27)
  11. Dayton (10-14, 21-31)
  12. La Salle (4-20, 14-41)
  13. Saint Bonaventure (6-15, 10-32)

Team to Beat: Saint Louis

After finishing top five in most major offensive categories and winning the conference a season ago, Saint Louis remains the team to beat in the A-10 this season. The strength of the Billikens in 2019 will still be the pitching staff, even after losing ace Miller Hogan, a sixth-round draft pick. Senior righthanders Drew Reveno (10-2, 2.13) and Jackson Wark (9-2, 3.80) return to the weekend rotation, and senior righthander Ryan Lefner (3.86 ERA, 11.57 K/9) is back in the closing role for his third straight season. Redshirt senior Connor Lehmann—who stands an imposing 6-foot-7, 210 pounds—is expected to enter the Friday night role after a big jump this fall. He brings a clean delivery as well as a fastball that gets up to 93 mph and plays up with his extension, with solid secondaries in a breaking ball and changeup as well. While Saint Louis will lose many players from an imposing 2018 lineup, leading hitter Jake Garella (.352/.421/.458) is back for his junior season, and the team will get contributions from several junior college transfers who should make quick adjustments to the Division I level.

Player of the Year: Logan Driscoll, C, George Mason

Driscoll has been a consistent presence in George Mason’s lineup since his freshman year in 2017, when the backstop hit .323/.413/.479 in 43 games en route to being named to the Atlantic 10 all-rookie team. Driscoll followed that up with a .342/.407/.473 line as a sophomore in 2018 and homered four times in each season. If he can tap into more power, he’ll be an all-around threat offensively. Defensively, Driscoll has an advanced understanding of handling the pitching staff, so much so that he calls his own game, with a strong throwing arm and solid receiving and blocking abilities. An above-average runner for a catcher, Driscoll has also stolen 15 bases and been caught just twice during his two years.

Pitcher of the Year: Jared DiCesare, RHP, George Mason

The projected Friday starter for George Mason, DiCesare (6-5, 3.33) has some of the best control in the conference and is coming off of a sophomore season in which he posted a 4.73 strikeout-to-walk ratio and the 27th best WHIP (0.98) among all Division I pitchers in the country. He built on that success during the summer with an all-star performance in the Cape Cod League. While DiCesare might not have overpowering velocity—his fastball sits around 90 mph—he lands that and each of his secondary offerings for strikes while rarely putting batters on base for free. He walked just 15 batters in 83.2 innings of work last season and had an even better summer on the Cape, where he walked just two batters in 36.2 innings with Bourne while posting a 2.95 ERA and striking out 28.

Freshman of the Year: Nick O’Day, 3B/RHP La Salle

While La Salle is projected to finish near the bottom of the conference this season, their projected starting third baseman will be worth watching the entire year. O’Day has a physical presence at the play with a 6-foot, 200-pound frame and has the chance to develop into an impact hitter. Additionally, O’Day can be used on the mound which will allow him to have more impact than the average freshman on a club that will be asking many of its younger players to contribute from the jump.

Top 25 Teams: None

Notable Storylines

Davidson is under new leadership for the first time in 28 years after former head coach Dick Cooke retired and moved into a new role as associate athletic director. Rucker Taylor will take over after four seasons as an associate head coach and six total seasons with Davidson on staff. Prior to his time with Davidson, Taylor spent six seasons on Samford’s coaching staff and had a four-year career as a player with Vanderbilt. Taylor was Davidson’s recruiting coordinator and helped guide the Cinderella run to super regionals in 2017.  The Wildcats followed that magical postseason run up with a 33-21 campaign, setting a program record for regular season wins (32). From that team, Davidson brings back six everyday players, including senior Eric Jones (.333/.443/.577, 11 HR), who led the Wildcats in several offensive categories. On the mound, they welcome back senior righthander Allen Barry (8-2, 3.83) in the rotation and senior righthander Casey Sutherland (1-1, 5.68, 6 SV) in the bullpen.

Saint Louis closer Ryan Lefner enters his senior season in second place on the program’s all-time saves leaderboard with 21. He trails Alex Alemann (2009-12) by just one save and should become the all-time record holder in the category by the time the season ends after saving 14 games in 2017 and seven last season.

Top 10 Prospects for the 2019 Draft

1. Logan Driscoll, C, George Mason
Layne Looney, RHP, Richmond
Paul Witt, SS, VCU
Jared DiCesare, RHP, George Mason
Connor Lehmann, RHP, Saint Louis
Jake Garella, OF, Saint Louis
Casey Sutherland, RHP, Davidson
Justin Lasko, RHP, UMass
Ben Faso, 1B, La Salle
Tyler Plantier, INF, Richmond

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