2019 Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference College Baseball Preview
1. Coppin State (21-24, 18-4)
2. Norfolk State (19-30, 14-10)
3. Delaware State (9-35, 7-16)
4. Maryland-Eastern Shore (12-41, 8-17)
1. North Carolina A&T (32-25, 16-8)
2. Bethune-Cookman (24-34, 14-10)
3. Florida A&M (25-30, 15-9)
4. North Carolina Central (28-24, 12-14)
5. Savannah State (7-34, 4-20)
Team to Beat: Coppin State
A cellar dweller in the MEAC’s North Division for most of this decade, Coppin State last year broke out. The Eagles won the North, produced their most wins (21) in 22 years and set a program record for conference wins (18). They fell short in the MEAC Tournament, but coach Sherman Reed said at the time that the season had been a turning point for the program. Coppin State brings back a strong nucleus from last year’s team, including shortstop Derek Lohr (.362/.451/.428), the 2018 MEAC rookie of the year, center fielder Marcos Castillo (.303/.377/.467, 12 SB), ace Jahmon Taylor (6-4, 2.66) and closer Corey Treyes (3-1, 4.05, 8 SV). The Eagles brought in another solid recruiting class that should bolster the returning core and help the program take the next step and contend for an NCAA Tournament bid.
Player of the Year: Derek Lohr, SS, Coppin State
Lohr last year was named MEAC rookie of the year after hitting .362/.451/.428 with 22 walks and 19 strikeouts, while also manning shortstop everyday for the Eagles. He ranked second in the league in batting and third in on-base percentage. Lohr has a short, quick swing and does a good job of putting the bat on the ball. A hand injury hampered him down the stretch last season, and he could take a further step forward as a sophomore.
Pitcher of the Year: Anthony Maldonado, RHP, B-CU
Maldonado last year was named MEAC pitcher of the year after going 7-2, 2.81 with 74 strikeouts and 18 walks in 64 innings. Now a junior, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound righthander will look to build on that success. Maldonado’s size and stuff give him a chance to be the first B-CU pitcher drafted in the top 10 rounds since the Brewers picked Hiram Burgos in the sixth round in 2009.
Freshman of the Year: Matt Day, OF, Coppin State
Day will try to give Coppin State back-to-back MEAC rookie of the year awards. Listed at 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, the righthanded hitter produces good bat speed that leads to a lot of hard contact. He has above-average speed and tracks down balls well in the outfield. With center fielder Marcos Castillo back for his sophomore year, Day figures to start his career in left field, but he has the tools to be the Eagles’ center fielder later in his career.
Top 25 Teams: None.
North Carolina A&T last year won the MEAC South Division and swept through the conference tournament, beating B-CU in the championship game to win its first title since 2005. The Aggies bring back a strong team, featuring third baseman AJ Hunt (.316/.426/.487) and outfielder Dawnoven Smith (.335/.415/.600, 8 HR) in their lineup, and ace Michael Johnson (7-2, 3.82) on the mound. NC A&T will also look for Zach McLean (.294/.333/.482) to take a step forward as a sophomore after being named MEAC Tournament most outstanding player and an all-star appearance during the summer in the Coastal Plains League. After going nearly 15 years between NCAA Tournament appearances, the Aggies look to be well positioned to remain in contention for MEAC titles into the future.
Bethune-Cookman last year went through the spring with Barrett Shaft as interim head coach after Jason Beverlin stepped down as head coach just before the season to take a job in scouting. B-CU in August hired Jonathan Hernandez away from ASA Miami JC to take over the program. Hernandez spent four years at ASA Miami, building the program from its inception in 2015. At B-CU, he takes over a MEAC powerhouse and inherits a solid team, led by Maldonado, slugger Danny Rodriguez (.272/.369/.482, 8 HR), shortstop Nate Sterijevski (.325/.430/.433) and outfielder Zach Spivey (.282/.351/.376). Expectations are always high at B-CU, and Hernandez will look to get the Wildcats back to regionals after a disappointing 2018.
After 16 Years, Virginia's Coaching Staff Continuity Ends
Until this week, Virginia had the longest-tenured coaching staff in college baseball's largest conferences.
Top 10 2019 Draft Prospects
1. Anthony Maldonado, RHP, B-CU
2. Leon Hunter, RHP, NC A&T
3. Nate Sterijevski, SS, B-CU
4. Corey Joyce, 2B, NC Central
5. Dawnoven Smith, OF, NC A&T
6. Dylan Carlson, RHP, FAMU
7. Carter Williams, OF, NC Central
8. Michael Johnson, RHP, NC A&T
9. Jahmon Taylor, RHP, Coppin State
10. Roberto Negron, RHP, NC A&T