2019 Division II College Baseball Preview
HOW THEY’LL FINISH
- Tampa (Fla.)
- Augustana (S.D.)
- UC San Diego (Calif.)
- Columbus State (Ga.)
- Millersville (Pa.)
- Bellarine (Ky.)
- Mercyhurst (Pa.)
- Florida Southern
- Texas A&M Kingsville
- Southern New Hampshire
2017: West Chester
2016: Nova Southeastern
2014: Southern Indiana
2012: West Chester
2011: West Florida
2010: Southern Indiana
Pitcher of the Year: Colton Ingram, RHP, Columbus State (Ga.)
Player of the Year: Micah Pries, OF, Point Loma (Calif.) Nazarene
Keaton Greenwalt, OF, Lubbock Christian (Texas)
Kenny Wells, RHP ,Seton Hill (Pa.)
Micah Pries, OF, Point Loma (Calif.) Nazarene
Kolton Ingram, LHP, Columbus State (Ga.)
J.R. McDermott, RHP, Colorado Mesa
Andres Perez, C, North Georgia
Michael Giacone, LHP, North Greenville (S.C.)
Alex Eliopulos, 3B, UC San Diego
Andrew Pratt, C, Lubbock (Texas) Christian
Andrew Dean, LHP, Illinois Springfield
Zack Smith, C, Mount Olive (N.C.)
Mikey Gangwish, C,Colorado School of the Mines
Jake Posey, RHP, Montevallo
Drew Miller, LHP, Millersville (Pa.)
Anthony Auletta, LHP, Molloy (NY)
John Greeley, RHP, St. Thomas Aquinas (N.Y.)
Zack Smith, C, Mount Olive (N.C.)
TOP 10 TEAMS
Expect Tampa to win 40 games or more yet again, as the Spartans are consistently one of the best team’s in Divison II. Joe Urso’s team brings back 2B Drew Ehrhard and OF Nick DeTringo. But it’s the addition of transfers 1B Keenan Bell (from Florida), 3B Nick Derr (Florida State), OF Danny Blair (from South Carolina) to the lineup and transfer RHP Mason Duke (Alabama) should ensure that the Spartans are once again battling for a national title.
After winning its first national title last season and setting a school record with 52 wins, Augustana should be one of the best teams in Division II again this season. Sophomore Jed Schmidt, seniors Michael Brandt and Derek Dahlke will be counted on to lead the pitching staff, but it’s the lineup that should lead the way. Junior INF Sam Baier (.311/.387/.489), senior OF Michael Svolzil (.312/.375/.407 with a school record 41 SB) and sophomore INF Jordan Barth (.362/.380/.528).
UC San Diego (Calif.)
The 2018 West Region Champions will look to continue their success in conference after going 30-14. 3B Alex Eliopulos (.312 with 14 home runs) will lead a potent offensive team in 2019 that features the returns of DH Blake Baumgartner (.325 with 5 home runs) and SS Shay Whitcomb (.310 with 5 home runs). The defense will be good behind the pitching staff, which features RHP Noah Conlon, brother of LHP P.J. Conlon from the New York Mets.
Columbus State (Ga.)
After losing in the national championship game last year, Columbus State is once again loaded. The Cougars bring back six of its nine lineup regulars from last year as well as arguably the best pitcher in Division II in lefthander Kolton Ingram. The senior went 14-3, 2.18 with a nation’s best 150 strikeouts last season.
Coach Larry Owens’ Knights will see a deep pitching staff return in 2019. Ace lefthander Eddie Mathis (7-2, 2.71) will lead the staff that features a quality bullpen. RF Zac Wiley (.348/.422/.583) will prove some power and a consistent presence in the middle of the lineup.
Pitching will be key for Millersville to make a deep postseason run in 2019, with a veteran staff that is led by two-time Pennsylvania Sports Athletic Conference pitcher of the year, RHP Eli Nabholz (9-6, 2.19). Seven of eight positional starters will be returning, with LHP Drew Miller and RHP Tyler Yankosky helping an already potent pitching staff.
Last year, Chris Vallimont was the best pitcher in Division II on his way to being picked by the Marlins in the fifth round of the 2018 draft. He may be gone, but the Lakers still have one of the best pitches in D-II in Russell Lamovec. The senior posted a 2.83 ERA last year with 84 strikeouts in 63.2 innings.
After winning 45 games last year, the Mocs bring back SS Pablo Cabrera (who is moving over from third base) as well as sophomore 1B Jacob Teter. 2B Dylan Costa. The Mocs also bring back it’s top two starters--J.J. Niekro and Thomas Spinelli.
Texas A&M Kingsville
A return trip to Cary, N.C.’s D-II World Series could be in the offing for Texas A&M Kingsville. Sophomore Tyler Flores is coming of an outstanding freshman year where he went 7-1, 2.91 with 79 strikeouts in 65 innings. He’ll be joined in the rotation by senior Preston Plovanich.
Southern New Hampshire
Southern New Hampshire and coach Scott Loiseau brings back a quality pitching staff for 2019. Junior righthander Wesley Tobin (1.91, 41 strikeouts) and RHP Jake Walkinshaw (1.64, 36 strikeouts) will anchor the veteran staff. The club is a bit short on positional depth, but OF John Stanton (.287/.407/.433) will provide a solid presence for the lineup.
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OTHER TEAMS OF NOTE
Lubbock Christian (Texas)
Lubbock Christian will have nearly 15 freshman infused into their roster. Junior OF Keaton Greenwalt and senior C Andrew Pratt (.381 with 12 home runs) look to anchor their offense. A mostly veteran rotation will be backed by returning relief ace Chandler Casey, who collected 48 strikeouts in 18 appearances.
Colorado Mesa will be led by RHPs J.R. McDermott, Nick Cardinale and A.J. Landis. McDermott is a key for them, as the senior missed all of 2018 due to injury. The club features a good mix of power and speed, with SS Caleb Farmer (.384 with 4 home runs) and RF Hunter Douglas (.409 with 8 home runs) both returning to action.
Seton Hill (Pa.)
Seton Hill has post-season pedigree, reaching nine straight NCAA regional appearances with back-to-back PSAC championships. With 14 seniors having graduated, the team will lean on its pitching for 2019. Righthanders Kenny Wells and Cole Masik are both power pitchers who can reach the mid 90’s, while lefthander Pat Monteverde is touted for having command of four pitches. Athleticism will be a strong point, with redshirt sophomore Craig Lewis leading a highly skilled group in the outfield.
University of Montevallo (Ala.)
There will be a lot of new faces as 22 new players are on Montevallo’s roster. The Falcons saw six starters leave, with the most notable being in the bullpen where the now-departed RHP Cas Silber broke the school record for strikeouts, and RHP Kale Latorre led the team in saves. RHP Jake Posey was up to 94 this fall, and should be an important piece for the team’s success. A deep offense will rely on SS Jason Cryar and OF Khari Anderson to help generate runs for the youthful squad.
The 2018 Gulf South Conference champions have a potent offensive group, with 1B Blaine Crim (.383 with 13 home runs) and 3B Billy Cameron (.354 with six home runs) making things difficult for opposing pitchers. With most of the core returning, look for Mississippi College to make a run at back-to-back Gulf South Conference championships.
University of Southern Indiana
Offense is a focal point for the upcoming season, as USI lost three of its key 2018 components. Newest outfield addition and Middle Tennessee State transfer Manny Lopez should provide serious power for the lineup, with OF Bryce Krizan (.296 with 44 stolen bases) and 2B Jacob Fleming returning as well. The team will need pitching to step up behind RHP Austin Krizan, who has developed better off speed pitches while tossing nearly 100 innings in 2018.
University Of New Haven
After setting a school record with 39 wins last year thanks to a pitching staff that posted the best ERA in D-II, New Haven should be solid on the mound again. RHP I’zaiya Mestre (8-2, 2.96) and RHP Devin Dimascio will return to ensure much of the same this coming season. Speedy OF Matt Chamberlain (.270/.473/.374) will be important for an offense that will look to back its quality pitching staff.
University of North Georgia
After a fifth place finish in the Peach Belt conference, a more seasoned 2019 team will hope to improve upon that mark. C Andres Perez (.330 with 23 home runs), son of former Braves catcher Eddie Perez, has been improving season after season, making an impact on both sides of the ball. The pitching will have to improve, with the club relying on RHP Parker Morrison (4-2, 2.05 ERA) to continue his dominance out of the pen.
St. Thomas Aquinas College (N.Y)
The Spartans will look to make it seven straight appearances to the NCAA tournament, having qualified for the National Championship in both 2014 and 2017. RHP Chris Cepeda (8-3, 2.96) will anchor an impressive staff that features Rockland transfer 3B/RHP John Greeley and SS/RHP Angelo Baez. Greely (.438/.500/.652) will have impact at the hot corner, supplying more offense for a team that lost some power (35 home runs) in graduating seniors.
Molloy College (N.Y.)
The Lions bring back 22 players from last year's team with finished second in the East Coast Conference. A potent offense will include standout OF Matt Overton (.342/.439/.449), who won the ECC rookie of the year award in 2018. Righthanders Anthony Vano and Tim Panetta will anchor the rotation, helped out by Valdosta State-Georgia transfer LHP Anthony Auletta.
Colorado School of Mines
The Orediggers won 37 games in 2018, good for second in the Rocky Mountain Athletic conference. C Mikey Gangwish (.373 with 24 home runs) anchors a very potent offense, which features the bats of OF Trevor Kehe (.382 with 16 home runs) and LF Joe Popp (.355 with 11 home runs). Scoring runs shouldn’t be an issue, but the team will need positive reinforcements on the pitching side beyond ace righthander Tyler Blomster (9-1, 3.29).
Nine players will be returning to form an experienced Argonauts team in 2019. SS Matt Jones (.350 with 8 home runs) will be a strong presence on the infield, with OF Matthew Sullivan (.335 with seven home runs) helping a quality outfield group. Murray State transfer Mike Farnell will be a presence behind the plate with his strong arm and hitting ability. Pitching depth will be a question that the team has to answer, although Appalachian State transfer LHP Andrew Vaccacio should help bolster the rotation.
An offense that scored runs with high frequency in 2018 will have the luxury of the offensive minded LF Kyle Orloff and SS Macy Holdsworth (.362 with six home runs) anchoring the lineup. The impressive splitter-curveball combo of RHP Michael Schalasky will help the rotation, but others will need to step up around him.
North Greenville (S.C.)
The Crusaders finished first in their conference with a very solid roster that won 46 games in the spring. RHP Tucker Burgess (14-3, 2.98) and transfer LHP Michael Giacone from Orange Coast College will form a nice duo at the front of the rotation. OF Jeff Chandler Jr. and SS Utah Jones (.358/.435/.480) will be relied upon to help carry the offense.
The Peach Belt 2018 conference winners have a solid group of arms in their rotation, with staff ace RHP Bradly Cammack (13-2, 2.54) looking to build upon his success. SS Cal Gentry and polished lefty swinging outfielder Wesley Wommack (.390/.432/.535) will help them to contend in the conference and nationally as well.
Lee University has won the Gulf South conference in five of the last ten seasons, but finished a disappointing seventh last season. 3B Alan Smith should be a quality bat in the middle of the lineup, with fellow infielder Miguel Pimentel (.372 with six home runs) and OF Landon Silver helping to beef up the offense. Talented RHP Randall Coxwell will lead a pitching staff that will have to pick up the slack after losing four pitchers from the 2018 squad.
With 16 newcomers to the roster, the Fighting Knights will look to rebound from a sub .500 Spring (22-28). CF Shayne Fontana (.322/.402/.506) and 2B Tom Archer will both return to lead a rather athletic group. RHPs Nicholis Prather and Chris Mormile will be key for an improved pitching staff this coming season.
Winston-Salem State (N.C.)
Plenty of eyes will be on Rams SS Wellington Guzman (.262 with 10 home runs) as he tries to build off his freshmen campaign. The offense will get a boost from the return of DH/C Cole Parks (.325 with 5 home runs), who also pitched very well in 2018. While there are some pitching staff questions, the bullpen will be solid with LHPs TJ Goco and Kyle Taylor.
A very potent offense returns to the field for the Timberwolves in 2019. All-American junior OF David Vinsky (.405 with 8 home runs) is the lynchpin of a lineup that is deep. RHP Max Bain (6-0, 2.78) and his fastball-curveball combo will lead a pitching staff that needs players to step up and contribute this coming season.
The Mavericks will look to bounce back after a fourth place finish in the Northern Sun conference. A veteran lineup will return with slugging OF Jordan Hart (.366 with 7 home runs) supplying much of the power. The rotation is solid, and the bullpen will be anchored by relief ace RHP Carlo Graffeo.
Le Moyne (Pa.)
Le Moyne will continue its tradition of being a pitching-rich club in 2019. RHPs Sam Walsh and Ryan Murphy (7-4, 2.60) have good stuff and quality off speed pitches. A strong front end of the rotation will be accompanied by a potent offense. The lineup will see the return of C/INF Andrew Taft (.330 with 17 home runs) to help put runs on the board.
Winners of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference and North Division champions, the Panthers will hope for more of the same this season. Pitching will be questionable, but the defensive-minded team should hit enough to be very competitive once again. Senior SS Brad Hull is a plus in the field and C Colin Kaucher will bring his presence back to the lineup after leading the conference in hitting (.430).
Montana State Billings
The Jackets, after posting the best record in their conference, lost in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship game to Western Oregon. OF/P Jalen Garcia (.351/.403/.653) returns to help out a dynamic offense. RHP Steen Fredrickson features a quality slider and will be key for the battle tested pitching staff.
Mount Olive (N.C.)
Mount Olive posted a 19-5 record in the Conference Carolinas, good for second in the division. A very deep ball club returns, including C Zack Smith is a gifted athlete who can play multiple positions. Slugger OF Nate Estes (.372/.446/.648) will anchor a deep offense. The pitching staff is much more of a question mark. Sophomore C Hunter Gore will look to make an impact as he comes back from Tommy John surgery.
Cal Poly Pomona
The team that finished fourth in the California Collegiate Athletic Association will see a veteran team return in 2019. Four starting pitchers will come back as well as RHP Tim Holdgrafer, who attacks hitters with a sinker-slider combo. The staff will be backed by lefthanded power bat of INF/OF Nic Hernandez (.356/.446/.561), as well as University of Southern California transfer OF Christian Moya.
Nova Southeastern University
The Sharks tallied 24 wins in the Sunshine State conference, and a potent offensive group should build off that mark. OF Sam Duran (.384/.470/.598) returns with his quality bat. Dallas Baptist University transfer C Garrett Wolforth should add some power and plus defense behind the dish. RHP Brock Minich anchors a staff that should be competitive once again.
Point Loma Nazarene (Calif.)
The Sea Lions finished second in the PacWest Conference, posting a 34-18 record overall. Slugging OFs Micah Pries (.386/.435/660) and Adrian Collazo (.338/.438/.563) will bring both power and contact ability back to the lineup. The offensive minded club will have to develop more depth in order to remain competitive. Lefthander Zach Noll, a University of Oregon transfer, brings his 6-foot-7 frame and good fastball to the pitching staff.
The winners of the west in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, the Panthers will look similar success this year. RHP Kaleb Schmidt (a University of Central Arkansas transfer) will provide some swing and miss to the pitching staff, while on base machine 2B Brant Schaffitzel (.366/.545/.455) returns to a potent offense. SS Ethan Owens (.342/.453/.374) brings a contact oriented bat and elite defense to solidify the middle of the diamond.
The team absolutely dominated in 2018, going 23-1 in the Great Lakes Conference. Athletic LHP Andrew Dean (10-1, 2.87) was the runner up for Conference Pitcher of the Year, maintaining good velocity throughout his starts. RHP R.D. Lutze returns, working off a fastball that can touch 94 mph and profiling as a backend pen arm. OF Dylan Gilbert joins a potent outfield led by senior Zach Speaker (.405 with six home runs).
A deeper, more experienced ball club will return in 2019 for the Eagles. RHP Devin Peters will be at the front of the rotation, featuring a quality fastball and solid command of his pitches. DH Carson Mittermaier (.381/.466/.540) and OF Michael Rogers (.320/.362/.456) standout for an offense that lost some punch heading into the season.