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College : : Story
Previews: Inside the Northeast
       
Published: Monday, February 14, 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.


ATLANTIC 10 CONFERENCE
By Allan Simpson

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1. Charlotte
2. Dayton
3. Xavier
4. Rhode Island
5. Saint Louis
6. Richmond
7. Fordham
8. George Washington
9. St. Joseph’s
10. La Salle
11. Massachusetts
12. Temple
13. St. Bonaventure

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

C Chris Cowell, Jr., Richmond
1B Ben Thomas, Sr., Xavier
2B Corey Shaylor, Sr., Charlotte
3B Jon Myers, Sr., Saint Louis
SS Mike LeBel, Jr., Rhode Island
OF Tom Coulombe, Sr., Rhode Island
OF Brandon Kelliher, Sr., George Washington
OF John McCambridge, Sr., Xavier
DH Billy Barber, Sr., Richmond

SP Cameron Hobson, Jr., Dayton
SP Corey Roberts, So., Charlotte
SP Cody Weiss, Jr., La Salle
RP Bryan Hamilton, Sr., Charlotte

AT A GLANCE

Regular-season winner last season: Charlotte
Tournament winner last season: Saint Louis

New coaches: None
Best hitter: OF Tom Coulombe, Rhode Island
Best pitcher: RHP Bryan Hamilton, Charlotte
Regional contenders: Charlotte

TOP PROSPECTS (2011 MLB DRAFT)

1. Cody Weiss, rhp, LaSalle
2. John McCambridge, of, Xavier
3. Cameron Hobson, lhp, Dayton
4. A.J. Holland, rhp, St. Joseph’s
5. Bryan Hamilton, rhp, Charlotte
6. Michael Hauschild, rhp, Dayton
7. Ben White, rhp, Temple
8. Chris Cowell, c, Richmond
9. Andrew Smith, rhp, Charlotte
10. Burny Mitchem, rhp, Dayton
11. Mike LeBel, ss, Rhode Island
12. Adam McConnell, 2b/ss, Richmond
13. Brent Bowers, ss, George Washington
14. Chris Walker, c, Fordham
15. Brandon Kelliher, of, George Washington

TOP PROSPECTS (2012 MLB DRAFT)

1. Jacob Mayers, 3b/rhp, Richmond
2. Corey Roberts, rhp, Charlotte
3. Tyler McCarthy, of, George Washington
4. Pat Christensen, rhp, La Salle
5. Vinny Nittoli, rhp, Xavier

AROUND THE DIAMOND

Even with the loss of one of its member teams (Duquesne, which dropped baseball), the Atlantic-10 remains the largest conference in the NCAA Division I ranks. There are still 13 teams in the fold, which makes the competition to be top dog in the conference all the more challenging, but Charlotte has managed to finish first in three of the last four years.

The 49ers are expected to rule the roost again, even though they failed to follow up on a 39-win season in 2010 by capturing the conference post-season tournament—something they had accomplished in both 2007 and 2008. Upstart Saint Louis prevailed a year ago, and was the only team to represent the A-10 in regional play.

Charlotte returns six regulars, including all-conference second baseman Corey Shaylor (.388-3-49) and outfielder Justin Wilson (.358-1-35). It also has the core of its pitching staff back, led by returning starters Corey Roberts (6-3, 3.48), Chad Rothlin (5-3, 4.22) and Tyler Pilkington (5-2, 4.82). Right-hander Bryan Hamilton (4-0, 2.00), the hardest thrower on the staff at 93 mph and one of the top college seniors for the 2011 draft, steps into the closer’s role, while freshman righthander Tyler Barnette, an unsigned ninth-round pick from last year’s draft, is another impressive arm in the mix.

Dayton finished tenth in conference a year ago, but may provide Charlotte its stiffest challenge this spring as it has a pitching staff that may be Charlotte’s equal. The Flyers return five of their six best arms, notably junior left-hander Cameron Hobson (4-5, 5.71) and junior righthanders Mike Hauschild (4-7, 5.01) and Burny Mitchem (4-7, 6.29).

All three pitchers struggled in 2010, but lived up to expectations with breakout summer-league seasons. The 6-foot-6, 260-pound Mitchem, whose fastball has been clocked at 95 mph, moves into a closing role.

Had righthander Ian Gardeck not elected to transfer from Dayton to a Texas junior college following his freshman year, the Flyers might have had one of the strongest pitching staffs in the Midwest. Gardeck (3-2, 5.93) was clocked up to 98 mph in the fall and is the nation’s top-ranked junior-college pitcher.

IVY LEAGUE
By Allan Simpson

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

GEHRIG DIVISION
1. Columbia
2. Penn
3. Cornell
4. Princeton

ROLFE DIVISION
1. Dartmouth
2. Brown
3. Harvard
4. Yale

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

C Chris O’Dowd, So., Dartmouth
1B Jason Brooks, Sr., Dartmouth
2B Dan Williams, Sr., Penn
3B Ryan Zrenda, Sr., Brown
SS Joe Sclafani, Jr., Dartmouth
OF Brian Billigen, Jr., Cornell
OF Dario Pizzano, So., Columbia
OF Nick Cox, Sr., Columbia
DH Will Davis, Sr., Penn

SP Kyle Hunter, So., Dartmouth
SP Pat Lowery, Jr., Columbia
SP Brent Suter, Jr., Harvard
RP Cole Sulser, Jr., Dartmouth

AT A GLANCE

Regular-season winner last season: Columbia
Tournament winner last season: Dartmouth
New coaches: None
Best hitter: OF Brian Billigen, Cornell
Best pitcher: LHP Kyle Hunter, Dartmouth
Regional contenders: Dartmouth

TOP PROSPECTS (2011 MLB DRAFT)

1. Brian Billigen, of, Cornell
2. Brent Suter, lhp, Harvard
3. Joe Sclafani, ss, Dartmouth
4. Corey Pappel, rhp, Cornell
5. Sam Mulroy, c, Princeton
6. Kyle Hendricks, rhp, Dartmouth
7. Will Davis, c, Penn
8. Mike Colantonio, c, Brown
9. Vincent Vioro, rhp, Penn
10. Max Perlman, rhp, Harvard

TOP PROSPECTS (2012 MLB DRAFT)

1. Matt Bowman, rhp, Princeton
2. Chris O’Dowd, c, Dartmouth
3. Kyle Hunter, lhp, Dartmouth
4. Dario Pizzano, of, Columbia
5. Bobby Geren, 3b/c, Princeton

AROUND THE DIAMOND

Dartmouth not only won a second straight Ivy League title in 2010, but made a credible showing in NCAA tournament play -- a rare occurrence in recent years for an Ivy League school. For Dartmouth, it was its first victory in regional play in 32 years.

The Big Green will be heavily favored to make it three straight postseason trips as it returns its top three hitters in sophomore catcher Chris O’Dowd (.384-6-26), who led the team in hitting as a freshman; senior first baseman Jason Brooks (.355-7-48), the top run producer; and sparkplug junior shortstop Joe Sclafani (.325-3-23). Sophomore left-hander Kyle Hunter (2-0, 3.48) and junior right-hander Cole Sulser (8-0, 3.70) were the team’s most effective arms a year ago, and junior right-hander Kyle Hendricks (4-6, 7.49) is a vastly better pitcher than his 2010 record indicates, and proved it during summer in the Cape Cod League.

O’Dowd is the son of Colorado Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd. He is one of five promising catchers on Ivy League rosters, including Rhode Island senior Matt Colantonio (.346-4-30), the league’s all-star receiver in 2010, and Princeton freshman Brett Geren, son of Oakland A’s manager Bob Geren and a 2010 draft pick out of a California high school.

NORTHEAST CONFERENCE
By Allan Simpson

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1. Bryant
2. Central Connecticut
3. Monmouth
4. Sacred Heart
5. Wagner
6. Mount St. Mary’s
7. Long Island
8. Quinnipiac
9. Fairleigh Dickinson

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

C Tyler Jones, Jr., Long Island
1B Pat Epps, Sr., Central Connecticut
2B Ryan Terry, Sr., Monmouth
3B Mitch Wells, Jr., Central Connecticut
SS John Murphy, So., Sacred Heart
OF Josh Boyd, Jr., Monmouth
OF Kevin Brown, So., Bryant
OF Shane Eyler, Sr., Mount St. Mary’s
DH Jamie Rosenkranz, Jr., Monmouth
SP Pat Light, So., Monmouth
SP Brian O’Neal. Jr., Bryant
SP Justin Topa, So., Long Island
RP Mark Andrews, Sr., Bryant

AT A GLANCE

Regular-season winner last season: Bryant
Tournament winner last season: Central Connecticut State

New coaches: Steve Owens (Bryant)
Best hitter: 1B Pat Epps, Central Connecticut
Best pitcher: RHP Mark Andrews, Bryant
Regional contenders: Central Connecticut State (Bryant not eligible until 2012-13)

TOP PROSPECTS (2011 MLB DRAFT)

1. Brian O’Neal, rhp, Bryant
2. Tyler Jones, c, Long Island
3.Pat Epps, 1b, Central Connecticut State
4. Ryan Terry, 3b/of, Monmouth
5. Josh Boyd, of, Monmouth

TOP PROSPECTS (2012 MLB DRAFT)

1. Pat Light, rhp, Monmouth
2. Justin Topa, rhp/ss, Long Island
3. Kevin Brown, of, Bryant

AROUND THE DIAMOND

Despite guiding Bryant to a Northeast Conference regular season championship and earning league coach of the year honors in just the school’s second season as a Division I program, Jamie Pinzino was forced to resign last June as head coach in the wake of an alcohol-related incident and a reported fight with former Bryant assistant Andy Koocher. Pinzino also was charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. Koocher also was forced to resign.

Pinzino had been the program’s head coach for five years, leading the team to a 162-122 record over that stretch, and successfully guided the team through a transition from Division II to Division I. He has since taken a job as pitching coach at Northeastern.

Steve Owens, who previously coached for 19 years at Cortland State and Le Moyne, is the new coach at Bryant. He inherits a team that returns sophomore outfielder Kevin Brown (.355-6-40), the top rookie in the Northeast Conference in 2010, and all-star closer Mark Andrews (3-1, 2.73, 12 SV). Junior right-hander Brian O’Neal was ineffective in just four innings last spring, but was clocked at 95 mph in the fall and could become a significant force as a starter this season.

Bryant posted easily the best record in the conference a year ago at 25-7, but won’t be eligible to represent the Northeast Conference in post-season play until 2013, when it completes a mandatory Division I probationary period.

With Bryant ineligible, Central Connecticut and Monmouth likely will compete for the league’s post-season bid. CCS boasts the league’s top hitter in senior first baseman Pat Epps (.418-18-73), while sophomore right-hander Pat Light could emerge as a difference-maker for Monmouth. A 28th-round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2009, Light went just 2-6, 6.12 as a freshman, but was clocked up to 96 mph in the fall.

PATRIOT LEAGUE
By Allan Simpson

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1. Army
2. Holy Cross
3. Bucknell
4. Navy
5. Lehigh
6. Lafayette

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

C J.T. Watkins, Jr., Army
1B Doug Shribman, Sr., Bucknell
2B Zach Price, Jr., Army
3B Kevin Mihalik, Sr., Lehigh
SS Clint Moore, Sr., Army
OF Nick Ciardello, Sr., Holy Cross
OF Ben Koenigsfeld, Sr., Army
OF Jack Laurendeau, Sr., Holy Cross
DH Joey Henshaw, Sr., Army

SP Nate Koneski, Jr., Holy Cross
SP Sam Long, Sr., Navy
SP Ben Nelson, So., Navy
RP Kevin McKague, Sr., Army

AT A GLANCE

Regular-season winner last season: Army
Tournament winner last season: Bucknell

New coaches: None
Best hitter: SS Clint Moore, Army
Best pitcher: RHP Kevin McKague, Army
Regional contenders: Army

TOP PROSPECTS (2011 MLB DRAFT)

1. Kevin McKague, rhp/1b, Army
2. Joey Henshaw, lhp/of, Army
3. Clint Moore, ss/rhp, Army
4. John Pedrotty, lhp/of, Holy Cross
5. Mike Lebo, rhp, Lehigh

TOP PROSPECTS (2012 MLB DRAFT)

1. John Colella, rhp, Holy Cross
2. Ben Nelson, rhp, Navy
3. Alex Jacquez, c, Lehigh

AROUND THE DIAMOND

If players from the U.S. Military Academy were treated like regular college prospects for the purpose of the draft and professional baseball, scouts might be beating a regular path to Army games this spring.

From fireballing right-hander Kevin McKague, to 6-foot-7, 260-pound power-hitting DH Joey Henshaw, to dependable shortstop Clint Moore, the Black Knights boast at least three candidates with the physical ability to be scooped up in the top 10 rounds of this year’s draft. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound McKague might even be a candidate to go as early as the second or third rounds as his raw stuff, which includes a fastball in the 92-96 mph range and a mid-80s slider, is equal to almost any closer in the country.

McKague, Henshaw and Moore, all seniors, will no doubt be drafted. But big league teams may be reluctant to invest in them to the degree that their talent warrants because players from the service academies are required to fulfill a two-year military obligation before they can safely settle into a baseball career at the professional level. Normally that commitment begins in the same year the player finishes his senior season.

Army, at least, will get the services of all three players this spring. And it may even get more than the usual bang for its buck as McKague and Henshaw, in particular, are among three players on the roster who will see extensive two-way service this spring for the Knights.

In addition to his closing duties (0-0, 1.33, 13 SV as a junior), McKague (.331-8-36) is a power hitter of some note and will play first base for Army when not pitching. The strapping Henshaw (.361-4-25) is the most-feared power bat in the Army lineup and will hit in the cleanup hole. But he is also expected to see considerable service on the mound as a left-handed pitcher after going 3-1, 4.56 in 2010 as both a starter and middle reliever.

Ben Koenigsfeld is a third Army senior slated to be an all-purpose threat this spring. He is scheduled to be the team’s Friday starter and yet will also hold down a regular job in left field. As a junior, Koenigsfeld went 3-2, 5.02 in seven starts while also earning all-conference honors as an outfielder (.359-5-33).

The slick-fielding Moore (.311-7-33), meanwhile, will be used almost exclusively at shortstop in his fourth year as a regular for the Knights, but also will pitch on occasion himself this spring, much as he has done throughout his career.

With those four senior stalwarts playing a variety of key roles, Army rates as a clear favorite to repeat as Patriot League champions. It potentially could make an impact nationally as it also returns every other regular in the field from a team that went 28-17 and 16-4 in conference play (a 25-35 Bucknell team won the conference tournament).

How far Army actually goes, though, may depend on its ability to replace its two winningest pitchers from 2010. But how effective Henshaw, Koenigsfeld and McKague, and even Moore, can be in their dual roles, may go a long way to answering that question.

AMERICA EAST CONFERENCE
By Allan Simpson

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1. Stony Brook
2. Binghamton
3. Maine
4. Albany
5. Hartford
6. Maryland-Baltimore County

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

C Ralph Keppler, Jr., Albany
1B Dave Ciocchi, Jr., Binghamton
2B Maxx Tissenbaum, So., Stony Brook
3B Steve Marino, Sr., Stony Brook
SS Simon Kudernatsch, Sr., Hartford
OF Corey Taylor, Sr., Binghamton
OF Taylor Lewis, Jr., Maine
OF Pat Cantwell, Jr., Stony Brook
DH William Carmona, So., Stony Brook

SP Jeff Gibbs, So., Maine
SP Tyler Johnson, Jr., Stony Brook
SP Nick Tropeano, Jr., Stony Brook
RP William Carmona, So., Stony Brook

AT A GLANCE

Regular-season winner last season: Binghamton
Tournament winner last season: Stony Brook

New coaches: None
Best hitter: OF Corey Taylor, Binghamton
Best pitcher: RHP Nick Tropeano, Stony Brook
Regional contenders: Stony Brook

TOP PROSPECTS (2011 MLB DRAFT)

1. Nick Tropeano, rhp, Stony Brook
2. Taylor Lewis, of, Maine
3. Zach Krahm, 3b/rhp, Albany
4. David Kubiak, rhp, Albany
5. Corey Taylor, of, Binghamton
6. A.J. Bazdanes, rhp, Maine
7. Ralph Keppler, c, Albany
8. Pat Cantwell, c/of, Stony Brook
9. Keith Bilodeau, rhp, Maine
10. Mike Augilera, rhp, Binghamton

TOP PROSPECTS (2012 MLB DRAFT)

1. William Carmona, rhp/3b, Stony Brook
2. Jeff Gibbs, rhp, Maine
3. Stephen Perakslis, rhp, Maine
4. Maxx Tissenbaum, ss, Stony Brook
5. Josh Nethaway, c, Albany

AROUND THE DIAMOND

Stony Brook finished third in conference play a year ago, behind Binghamton and Maine, but managed to advance to NCAA regional play by winning the America East tournament.

The Seawolves are primed to repeat as they return the conference’s best pitcher, junior right-hander Nick Tropeano (8-4, 2.44), and best two-way talent, first baseman/closer William Carmona (.387-6-48; 2-2, 5.13, 4 SV).

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Tropeano isn’t an overly hard thrower with a fastball in the 88-91 mph range, but may possess the best changeup in the college ranks. He threw that pitch extensively over six-plus hitless innings of relief as Cotuit won the Cape Cod League championship game last summer.

Led by Carmona, Stony Brook returns its top four hitters from 2010. Carmona has power from both sides of the plate and will hit cleanup for the Seawolves. As a closer, he works mainly in the 90-92 mph range.

Binghamton and Maine should provide the stiffest challenge for the Seawolves. Senior outfielder Corey Taylor (.370-14-66) and junior first baseman Dave Ciocchi (.366-7-57) were Binghamton’s two top run producers a year ago, while Maine will pin its hopes on the return of sophomore right-hander Jeff Gibbs (5-4, 3.94) and junior outfielder Taylor Lewis (.369-5-52, 21 SB), their best arm and best position player from a year ago.


METRO ATLANTIC CONFERENCE
By Allan Simpson

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1. Canisius
2. Marist
3. Rider
4. Manhattan
5. Siena
6. Fairfield
7. Niagara
8. St. Peter’s
9. Iona

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM

C Bryce Nugent, Sr., Marist
1B Kevin Quaranto, Sr., Siena
2B Dan Paolini, Jr., Siena
3B Chad Salem, Sr., Manhattan
SS Sean Jamieson, Sr., Canisius
OF Mike Gallic, Sr., Marist
OF Mike Onarati, Sr., Manhattan
OF Jon Schwind, Jr., Marist
DH Brian Burton, Sr., Canisius

SP Shane Davis, Sr., Canisius
SP Mike Thomas, Sr., Rider
SP Dan Zlotnick, So., Marist
RP John Soldinger, So., Manhattan

AT A GLANCE

Regular-season winner last season: Canisius
Tournament winner last season: Rider

New coaches: None
Best hitter: 2B Dan Paolini, Siena
Best pitcher: RHP Mike Thomas, Rider
Regional contenders: Canisius

TOP PROSPECTS (2011 MLB DRAFT)

1. Dan Paolini, 2b, Siena
2. Jon Schwind, of, Marist
3. Mike Gallic, of, Marist
4. Shane Davis, lhp, Canisius
5. Sean Jamieson, ss, Canisius
6. Tucker Nathans, 2b, Fairfield
7. Kevin Quaranto, 1b, Siena
8. Chad Salem, 3b, Manhattan
9. Justyn Carter, 2b, St. Peter’s
10. Nathan Linseman, lhp, Canisius

TOP PROSPECTS (2012 MLB DRAFT)

1. Dan Zlotnick, lhp/of, Marist
2. Justin Brantley, rhp, Siena
3. Eric Luksis, lhp, Manhattan
4. Larry Balkwill, c, Siena
5. Wes Walker, c, Niagara

AROUND THE DIAMOND

LeMoyne finished atop the MAAC standings and earned a berth in the NCAA tournament by winning the conference tournament in 2007, but that feat hasn’t been repeated since. And LeMoyne is no longer a member of the league, opting for Division I independent status after the 2008 season.

Canisius placed first in 2008 and 2010, but was unable to close the deal in either case by winning the league’s post-season tournament, won last year by third-place Rider.

The Griffons will try again to reverse that trend. They return four regulars, including senior first baseman Brian Burton (.373-17-68) and senior shortstop Sean Jamieson (.371-7-52), along with senior lefthander Shane Davis (9-3, 4.58), the team’s top starter over the last three years.

Marist and Rider, which finished second and third in the MAAC a year ago, are expected to provide the stiffest challenge for Canisius.

Marist will count on three players who are coming off excellent seasons in summer ball: junior outfielder Jon Schwind (.346-4-42), senior outfielder Mike Gallic (.309-6-38) and junior left-hander Dan Zlotnick (5-1, 7.46). Schwind and Zlotnick starred in the New York Collegiate League, and Gallic in the New England Collegiate League.

Rider’s hopes for a return to the NCAA tournament will hinge again on the return of senior right-hander Mike Thomas (9-3, 4.14, 104 IP/98 SO), who shared the league lead in wins a year ago and led in strikeouts.