2019 Preseason Top 25 Preview: No. 23 Coastal Carolina
Last Year: 43-19 (23-7 Sun Belt); made regionals.
Final Ranking: No. 24.
Head Coach (years at school): Gary Gilmore (927-476-1, 23 years).
Top 100 Draft Prospects: None.
The Good News: After an up-and-down 2017 season ended without an NCAA Tournament appearance, the Chanticleers roared back in 2018 and for the first time hosted a regional at Springs Brooks Stadium. Coastal Carolina again figures to be formidable in 2019. Second baseman Cory Wood is back at the top of the lineup, with center fielder Parker Chavers, a Freshman All-American, and first baseman Zach Biermann back in the middle of the order. On the mound, the Chanticleers welcome back relievers Bobby Holmes and Austin Kitchen, both of whom missed last season due to injuries but have plenty of experience pitching in high-leverage situations and will anchor the bullpen. Coastal Carolina also added a Top-25 recruiting class for the first time in program history, bringing in some impact talent.
The Bad News: The Chanticleers have a few big pieces to replace both in the lineup and on the mound. Shortstop Seth Lancaster and first baseman Kevin Woodall Jr. combined last year to hit 39 home runs—nearly half of Coastal’s 81 home runs—and both are now in pro ball. The Chanticleers also must replace starters Jason Bilous and Zack Hopeck, their top two starting pitchers. In the rotation, Coastal will turn to sophomore Zach McCambley and freshman Garrett McDaniels, a pair of exciting young arms. McCambley pitched very well as a freshman and will now be asked to lead the rotation, while McDaniels comes to Conway as a highly regarded prospect. The answers offensively aren’t as clear-cut. Bierman will move to first base from DH and junior college transfer Scott McKeon will likely get the nod at shortstop, though Keaton Weisz can play there as well. But replacing Lancaster and Woodall’s production will take a collective effort and, ultimately, Coastal Carolina may need to rely more on its speed and athleticism.
Player To Know: Parker Chavers, OF.
Chavers had an excellent freshman year and was the team’s leading hitter. But as Coastal Carolina resets it’s offense, it needs him to continue to develop. Listed at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, he isn’t built like a power hitter, but he last season produced 23 extra-base hits. He is working to improve his speed. and if he can also cut down on his strikeouts, he’ll be a very dangerous hitter in the heart of the Chanticleers’ lineup.
Path To Omaha: The offense may have some question marks right now, but to make a postseason run, Coastal will need its pitching to live up to its promise. With Holmes and Kitchen anchoring the bullpen, Coastal can shorten games and a rotation of McCambley, McDaniels and lefthander Anthony Veneziano can match up well in June. But those young arms still need to prove they’re ready for prime time. If they are, and the Chanticleers grow into a more balanced lineup with Chavers and Wood leading the way, they’ll again be a team that no one wants to play in the NCAA Tournament.
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|SS||Scott McKeon||Jr. (Transfer -- Brunswick (N.C.) JC|
|LF||Jake Wright||R-So. (Transfer -- Seminole State (Fla.) JC|
|DH||Nick Lucky||Fr. (HS - Denver, Pa.)|
|LHP||Garrett McDaniels||Fr. (HS -- Mullins, S.C.)|
|RP||Bobby Holmes||R-Sr. (Did not play -- injured)|
|RP||Austin Kitchen||R-Jr. (Did not play -- injured)|