2019 JUCO D-II Predictions And Preview
JUNIOR COLLEGE DIVISION II
HOW THEY’LL FINISH
- LSU Eunice JC
- North Iowa Area CC
- Northern Oklahoma-Enid JC
- Sinclair (Ohio) JC
- Parkland (Ill.) JC
- Heartland (Ill.) JC
- Des Moines (Iowa) JC
- McHenry (Ill.) JC
- Pearl River (Miss.) JC
- Kirkwood (Iowa) JC
PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Evan Reifert, RHP, Northern Iowa Area CC.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Hayden Leatherwood, OF, Northwest Mississippi JC
LAST 10 CHAMPIONS
2018: LSU Eunice JC
2017: Kankakee (Ill.) JC
2016: Jones County (Miss.) JC
2015: LSU Eunice JC
2014: Mesa (Ariz.) JC
2013: Murray State (Okla.) JC
2012: LSU Eunice JC
2011: Western Oklahoma JC
2010: LSU Eunice JC
2009: Parkland (Ill.) JC
LSU Eunice JC
LSU Eunice JC have won four of the past 10 Division II titles, and they are well positioned to win another one. Last year’s No. 2 and No. 3 starters Andrew Sheridan and Dane Dixon are back while Tyler Booth, a Southeastern Louisiana transfer, will become the No. 3 starter. Closer Landon Clifton is also back. The lineup will be younger than the pitching staff, but first baseman/outfielder Nick Webre, a Louisiana State transfer, second baseman Javier Vaz and outfielder Bren Faulk are all impressive hitters. Catcher/shortstop Evan Keller and first baseman Slate Fuller are back from last year’s lineup.
Northern Iowa Area CC
Northern Iowa Area CC will have one of the better pitchers in JUCO ball in righthander Evan Reifert, a North Carolina signee, who was a 30th-round pick last year, as well as a strong middle infield. Reifert is one of four NIACC pitchers who is a significant D-I signee. Others include lefthander Tom Skoro (Missouri), righthander Michael Oh (North Carolina) and righthander Harrison Beethe (Texas Christian). The lineup has D-I talents as well, with shortstop Jake Hansen heading to Cincinnati and catcher/outfielder Ryan Wrobleski signed with Dallas Baptist.
Northern Oklahoma Enid JC
Northern Oklahoma Enid JC has a chance to better last year’s third-place finish at the NJCAA World Series thanks to a nice mix of talented freshmen and returning sophomores. Shortstop D.J Calvert (.356/.378/.595) and first baseman E.J. Taylor (.376/.512/.665) should help power an offense that once again will light up the scoreboard. Righthander Braxton Douhit (11-1, 3.92) returns after leading the team in wins, innings and strikeouts last season.
Sinclair (Ohio) JC
Perennial power Sinclair (Ohio) JC brings back a solid group of pitchers from last year’s 46-win team. Sophomore righthanders Jacob Webb (7-1, 3.57) and A.J. Peter (6-1, 2.58) will be joined by lefthander Jakob Brustoski, a transfer from Youngstown State, who likely will serve as the team’s closer. Brustoski has long lit up radar guns, but the Texas Tech commit needs to improve his control. Third baseman Alex Jacobs and outfielder Jeremiah Clarke will lead a lineup that has to replace six starters from last year’s team.
Des Moines (Iowa) Area JC
Des Moines (Iowa) Area JC will be one of the more experienced teams in Division II, as they bring back a sophomore-heavy lineup that includes outfielder/first baseman Austin Murr, an N.C. State commit who hit .470/.531/.717 with 22 doubles as a freshman. Outfielder Calen Schwabe, a North Dakota State commit, hit .393/.488/.449 last year. Freshman outfielder/first baseman Grant Bohling showed excellent all-field power and plate discipline during the fall. Catcher Morgan Holmes has a strong arm.
Heartland (Ill.) JC
Heartland (Ill.) JC saw 14 players from last year’s team head to Division I programs this season. Only one starter from last year’s team, catcher Michael Bieterman, who is an Abilene Christian signee, returns this season. But righthander Clifton Slagel, a Tulane signee, and shortstop Sam Olson (Xavier) give Heartland some significant young talent. Outfielder and speedster Jake Marti is another name to watch.
Madison (Wisc.) JC
Madison (Wisc.) JC brings back six of nine position players from last year’s World Series team as well as its top two starting pitchers. Righthander Brandon Komar sits 87-92 mph with a four-seam and two-seam fastball, and he mixes in a plus breaking ball. Righthander Carl Renz also shows velocity (88-94 mph), but he needs to keep improving his control. Righthander Matt Hamilton is another pitcher to watch.
Kirkwood (Iowa) JC
Kirkwood (Iowa) JC is filled with impressive Division I signees and athleticism. Lefthander Austin Krob, a Texas Christian signee, sits 88-92 mph with an impressive breaking ball. Outfielder Levi Usher, a Louisville signee, has plus speed and a strong arm to go with lefthanded power potential. Outfielder Taylor Jackson, an Illinois signee, can also run, and he hit .395/.451/.646 last year with 10 home runs and 30 steals in 32 attempts.
MLB To Move 2020 Draft To Omaha
The draft is moving to Omaha in 2020 and will be held during the week leading up to the College World Series, which begins June 13.
McHenry (Ill.) JC
After winning 44 games last season, McHenry (Ill.) JC brings back a number of stars from a lineup that averaged 10.5 runs per game last season. Catcher Ryan Parquette (.430/.525/.742 with nine home runs and 12 stolen bases) and infielder Jeff Heinrich (.466/.488/.726 in 20 games last season) should be among the best hitters in JUCO ball this year. Parquette has signed with Campbell for 2020. The pitching staff has depth, but it has very little experience, so 6-foot-7 lefthander Kyle Back, righthander Jimmy Staab and lefthander John Vanderploeg, another Campbell signee, will be asked to help a young staff mature.
Pearl River (Miss.) JC
Pearl River has a fascinating two-way player in righthander/utilityman Shemar Page. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound sophomore went 10-2, 2.73 on the mound with 77 strikeouts in 59.1 innings. The Lousiana Tech signee also hit .307/.380/.427 last season. Righthander Miles Smith, a South Alabama commit, will join Page in the rotation. The Wildcats bring back five members of last year’s lineup, and they have also added freshman third baseman Dexter Jordan as well as infielder Austin Izzio.
Meridian (Miss.) JC
Meridian (Miss.) JC will be relying on defense and a deep pitching staff after losing three hitters who were drafted last June. Righthander Tyler Lantz, a Southern Miss signee, is the potential ace thanks to a 90-92 mph fastball, above-average changeup and decent slider. Freshman righthander Braden Forsyth is a promising pitcher with an upper-80s fastball and a breaking ball. Outfielder Keegan Westbrook and shortstop Colton Hipp both have some power potential.
Kankakee (Ill) JC
Kankakee (Ill) JC should be solid defensively and they can run, but the 2017 national champs will likely have to manufacture runs as the team doesn’t have a lot of power. Outfielder Dylan Post, catcher Jett McGowan and righthander Wil Wentz are back from last year’s 42-17 team.
Southeastern Iowa JC
Southeastern Iowa JC lost nine Division I signees, but the Blackhawks do return outfielder Marcos Sanchez, who is coming off of a .379/.463/.676 freshman season. Sanchez, a lefthanded hitter, is a plus runner with a strong arm.
Northwest Mississippi JC’s
Northwest Mississippi JC’s lineup is in solid shape thanks to outfielder Hayden Leatherwood, a Mississippi signee. Leatherwood hit .389/.497/.905 last year as a freshman with 15 home runs. First baseman Ben Van Cleve, another Ole Miss signee, hit .306/.409/.528 last season. Shortstop Tanner Leggett (Mississippi State) is a defensive standout while freshman lefthander Dalton Fowler (Mississippi) could become the team’s ace. He sits 88-89 mph right now, but the 6-foot-6 lefty locates well and has plenty of projection remaining.
Kellogg (Mich.) JC
Kellogg (Mich.) JC has a trio of interesting pitchers, led by Central Michigan signee Jarrod Melle. Righthanders Derrick Edington and Zach Karbowski are also intriguing, and they will be throwing to a solid catcher in Alex Crump.
Mesa (Ariz.) JC
Mesa (Ariz.) JC will depend on its pitching staff. Righthanders Carter Robinson (5-1, 2.59) and Cameron Doherty (5-1, 3.17) are the aces. Outfielder Connor Denning, a Campbell signee, hit .372/.468/.587 last season.