Not a member yet?
Subscribe Now!



College : : Story
Mo Valley, Horizon, MAC previews
   
Published: Sunday, February 13, 2011

David Rawnsley is the National Scouting Director for Perfect Game and Allan Simpson is the Director of Perfect Game Crosschecker. You can follow Perfect Game College Baseball on Facebook.


MISSOURI VALLEY CONFERENCE
By David Rawnsley

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1. Wichita State
2. Illinois State
3. Evansville
4. Indiana State
5. Creighton
6. Missouri State
7. Southern Illinois
8. Bradley

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

C Chris O’Brien, Jr., Wichita State
1B Johnny Coy, So., Wichita State
2B Kevin Tokarski, Jr., Illinois State
3B Cody Fick, Sr., Evansville
SS Tyler Grimes, Jr., Wichita State
OF Trevor Adams, Sr., Creighton
OF Robbie Ort, Sr., Indiana State
OF Greg Wallace, Sr., Evansville
DH Kevin Medrano, Jr., Missouri State

SP Grant Gordon, So., Missouri State
SP Tim Kelley, Sr., Wichita State
SP Charlie Lowell, Jr., Wichita State
RP Kenny Long, Jr., Illinois State

AT A GLANCE

Regular-season winner last season: Wichita State
Tournament winner last season: Illinois State

New coaches: Ken Henderson (Southern Illinois)
Best hitter: 2B Kevin Tokarski, Illinois State
Best pitcher: RHP Tim Kelley, Wichita State
Regional contenders: Wichita State, Illinois State, Evansville

TOP PROSPECTS (2011 MLB DRAFT)

1. Charlie Lowell, lhp, Wichita State
2. Tyler Grimes, ss, Wichita State
3. Johnny Coy, 1b, Wichita State
4. Brian Flynn, lhp, Wichita State
5. Kevin Medrano, 2b, Missouri State
6. Kevin Tokarski, 2b, Illinois State
7. Chris Serritella, 1b, Southern Illinois
8. Dan Kickham, rhp, Missouri State
9. Colin Rea, rhp, Indiana State
10. Jacob Booden, rhp, Bradley
11. Ryan Camp, rhp, Illinois State
12. Greg Wallace, of, Evansville
13. Mitch Mormann, rhp, Wichita State
14. Chance Sossamon, rhp, Wichita State
15. Cody Fick, 3b, Evansville
16. Chris O’Brien, c, Wichita State
17. Patrick Flanagan, rhp, Bradley
18. Rob Elliot, 3b, Bradley
19. Josh Smith, lhp, Wichita State
20. Tim Kelley, rhp, Wichita State

TOP PROSPECTS (2012 MLB DRAFT)

1. Pierce Johnson, rhp, Missouri State
2. Jeremy Lucas, c, Indiana State
3. Eric Stamets, ss, Evansville
4. Brad Sorkin, rhp, Illinois State
5. Tobin Mateychick, rhp, Wichita State
6. Micah Green, of, Wichita State
7. Jason Leblebijian, ss, Bradley
8. Mike Tauchman, of, Bradley
9. T.J. McGreevey, rhp, Wichita State
10. Chad Hinshaw, of, Illinois State

AROUND THE DIAMOND

Traditional power Wichita State and rapidly-improving Illinois State split the regular-season and tournament titles, respectively, last year and those two schools look to be in position to fight it out again for the distinction as the top team in the Missouri Valley.

The league coaches actually voted Illinois State as the pre-season favorite in their poll, but from this vantage point it looks like Wichita State simply has too much pitching depth to be anything but the favorite. In addition to redshirt senior righthander Tim Kelley (11-2 in 2010), the Shockers return lefthander Charlie Lowell from an injury that limited him to nine appearances in 2010 and fellow southpaw Brian Flynn from academic issues. Lowell and Flynn are capable of throwing in the low- to mid-90s, while Kelley relies more on command and finesse than raw stuff.

Look for 6-foot-7 first baseman Johnny Coy, who pursued basketball more than baseball earlier in his college career and was draft-eligible in 2010 as a freshman, to have a breakout year at the plate and lead what has been a rather vanilla Wichita State offense the past few years. He hit .331-7-32 last season. Bigger things also are expected from Shockers shortstop Tyler Grimes (.249-2-28), who could be the first college shortstop drafted in June if he fulfills his vast potential.

With the return of all but one everyday player, Illinois State could easily outscore Wichita State. The Redbirds are led by junior second baseman Kevin Tokarski (.412-8-53, 33 SB), the MVC pre-season player of the year, and junior catcher Matt Mirabal (.323-4-42). They also feature the most dominant pitcher in the league in left-handed closer Kenny Long (4-4, 1.38, 9 SV).

A team on the rise in the Missouri Valley could be Evansville, who should match Illinois State run-for-run with a powerful offense that includes senior outfielder Greg Wallace (.371-9-75) and senior third baseman Cody Fick (.351-19-75). The question with Evansville is whether its young pitching can jell in time.

A highlight around the conference for many this year will be Creighton hosting the MVC post-season tournament at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, the new home of the College World Series. Creighton has always been nominally the “host” of the CWS, but will be the actual host in the future with College World Series being held on its home field.

On more of a somber note, the MVC endured a tragic offseason as a coach and two players were lost to illness and a car accident. Veteran Southern Illinois coach Dan Callahan died of cancer at age 52, while Bradley righthander/first baseman Phil Kaiser succumbed to heart illness and Wichita State righthander/outfielder Mitch Caster passed away from a car accident while returning to school after playing last summer in the Northwoods League.

MID-AMERICAN CONFERENCE
By Allan Simpson

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

EAST
1. Kent State
2. Bowling Green State
3. Miami (Ohio)
4. Ohio
5. Akron
6. Buffalo

WEST
1. Central Michigan
2. Toledo
3. Ball State
4. Eastern Michigan
5. Northern Illinois
6. Western Michigan

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

C Tom Murphy, So, Buffalo
1B Nate Theunissen, Jr., Central Michigan
2B Brian Barnes, Sr., Ohio
3B Travis Shaw, Jr., Kent State
SS Jon Berti, Jr., Bowling Green
OF Ben Klafczynski, Sr., Kent State
OF Andrew Thomas, Jr., Central Michigan
OF Drew Turocy, Jr., Akron
DH Joe Corfman, Sr., Toledo

SP Andrew Chafin, So., Kent State
SP Mike Hamann, So., Toledo
SP Trent Howard, Jr., Central Michigan
RP Dietrich Enns, So., Central Michigan

AT A GLANCE

Regular-season winner last season: Central Michigan
Tournament winner last season: Kent State
New coaches: Alex Marconi (Ball State), Billy Gernon (Western Michigan)
Best hitter: 3B Travis Shaw, Kent State
Best pitcher: LHP Andrew Chafin, Kent State
Regional contenders: Central Michigan, Kent State

TOP PROSPECTS (2011 MLB DRAFT)

1. Andrew Chafin, lhp, Kent State
2. Kyle McMillen, rhp/1b, Kent State
3. Travis Shaw, 3b, Kent State
4. Cody Elliot, rhp/of, Ball State
5. Jon Berti, ss, Bowling Green State
6. Trent Howard, lhp, Central Michigan
7. Ryan Curl, of, Miami (Ohio)
8. Drew Turocy, lhp/of, Akron
9. Andrew Thomas, of, Central Michigan
10. T.J. Baumet, ss, Ball State
11. Brennen Glass, rhp, Kent State
12. Kendall Lewis, rhp, Eastern Michigan
13. Tucker Rubino, ss, Eastern Michigan
14. Bryce Redeker, of, Miami (Ohio)
15. Troy White, 3b, Northern Illinois
16. Collin Taylor, lhp, Eastern Michigan
17. Corey Chaffins, rhp, Eastern Michigan
18. Kyle Shaw, lhp, Toledo
19. Brian Stroud, rhp, Western Michigan
20. Chris Bassitt, rhp, Akron

TOP PROSPECTS (2012 MLB DRAFT)

1. Dietrich Enns, lhp, Central Michigan
2. Steve Weber, rhp, Eastern Michigan
3. Kevin Franchetti, c, Ball State
4. Michael Hamann, rhp, Toledo
5. Tom Murphy, c, Buffalo
6. Seth Streich, rhp/3b, Ohio
7. Brooks Fiala, rhp, Miami (Ohio)
8. Evan Campbell, of, Kent State
9. Addison Dunn, rhp, Kent State
10. Jason Bagoly, c, Kent State

AROUND THE DIAMOND

Kent State won the Mid-American Conference championship a year ago, even as it got limited or no production from its two best prospects for the 2011 draft.

Left-handed pitcher Andrew Chafin, who went 4-1, 1.26 with eight saves in 2009 as a freshman closer, missed all of last season with Tommy John surgery. He has been installed as the Golden Flashes’ No. 1 starter this season, and appears to be as good as new as his fastball was clocked at 95 mph in the fall, and he complemented it with a plus slider. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Chafin could become a first-round pick in June, depending on how his arm responds.

Kyle McMillen will assume a key two-way role for Kent State, starting at first base while also serving as closer. As a sophomore, McMillen only showed glimpses of his big left-handed raw power, hitting just six homers while batting .346, and went 1-2, 4.44 with four saves in 19 appearances. Scouts say McMillen has significant pro potential as both a power hitter and power pitcher, but believe his upside is greater on the mound. His fastball routinely reaches the low- to mid-90s.

Beyond Chafin and McMillen, the Golden Flashes are deep and talented. They return impact players like junior catcher David Lyon (.272-5-42), junior third baseman Travis Shaw (.330-15-60), junior shortstop Jimmy Rider (.344-1-44), senior outfielder Ben Klafczynski (.367-10-62), senior left-hander Kyle Hallock (8-5, 5.64) and junior lefthander David Starn (7-3, 5.09). The power-hitting Shaw, son of ex-major leaguer Jeff Shaw, is considered the team’s next best prospect after Chafin and McMillen.

Kent State rates as a prohibitive MAC favorite, though Central Michigan and possibly Toledo could give the Flashes a run for their money.

CMU has a varied and deep roster that includes junior first baseman Nate Theunissen (.384-7-54), the team’s top returning hitter, and junior outfielder Andrew Thomas (missed 2010 with torn rotator cuff), the team’s best athlete and a 6.3 runner in the 60. Junior lefthander Trent Howard (4-3, 3.58) heads up the Chippewas rotation and sophomore lefthander Dietrich Enns (7-0, 2.12, 59 IP/64 SO), the best prospect in the MAC 2012 draft class, is the closer. The deceptive Enns commands both sides of the plate with an 88-92 mph fastball.

HORIZON LEAGUE
By David Rawnsley

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1. Wright State
2. Wisconsin-Milwaukee
3. Illinois-Chicago
4. Valparaiso
5. Butler
6. Youngstown State
7. Cleveland State

AT A GLANCE

Regular-season winner last season: Wright State
Tournament winner last season: Wisconsin-Milwaukee
New coaches: None
Best hitter: OF Kyle Gaedele, Valparaiso
Best pitcher: RHP Casey Henn, Wright State
Regional contenders: Wright State

TOP PROSPECTS (2011 MLB DRAFT)

1. Kyle Gaedele, of, Valparaiso
2. Alex Johnson, of, Cleveland State
3. Casey Henn, rhp, Wright State
4. Tyler Wynn, 1b, Cleveland State
5. Mike Hernandez, rhp, Butler

TOP PROSPECTS (2012 MLB DRAFT)

1. Justin Kopale, ss, Wright State
2. Cody Kopilchack, lhp, Wright State
3. Eric Semmelhack, rhp, Wisconsin-Milwaukee

AROUND THE DIAMOND

At Valparaiso with junior outfielder Kyle Gaedele, the Horizon League boasts its best position prospect since Illinois-Chicago outfielder Curtis Granderson was picked by the Detroit Tigers in the third round of the MLB draft in 2002.

Gaedele, rated the top prospect at the Northwoods League last summer, shows flashes of all five tools, including plus speed from a 6-foot-4, 225-pound athlete. As a sophomore for Valparaiso, he hit .373-7-63 with 17 stolen bases.

He could find himself in the top two rounds in June if he hits with the same type of power this spring that he showed with wood last summer. If that happens, the Illinois native is sure to gain more national media attention as he is the great-nephew of the late Eddie Gaedele of Bill Veeck midget fame.

Even with Gaedele’s all-around talent, Valparaiso may be only the fourth-best team in the Horizon League this season. Wright State, which won the regular-season championship in 2010 with a 17-6 record but lost out to Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the conference’s postseason tournament, has the league’s top returning pitcher in junior right-hander Casey Henn. He went 7-0, 3.19 with 20 walks and 82 strikeouts in 85 innings.

Henn returns along with plenty of experienced talent. The Raiders lost the conference tournament and the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament to an up-and-coming Wisconsin-Milwaukee program, which should challenge them again in 2011.