The 2023 NCAA baseball season has officially started and we’re still continuing our season previews here with the ACC and we’ll finish our previews tomorrow with new writer Arthur giving us a preview of the Big 12 conference. You can check out our Big 10 Preview from Monty by clicking here or our SEC Preview by Will K by clicking here.
While the SEC is without a doubt the strongest conference in college baseball, the ACC gives them a run for their money in terms of depth. I could see as many as 11 of the 14 teams making it to the NCAA Tournament. Wake Forest and Louisville appear to be the class of the conference heading into the year, but I could see any of eight teams challenging for the best record in the conference.
Atlantic Division Champion: Wake Forest
Coastal Division Champion: Virginia
Regular Season Champion: Wake Forest
Most people have Louisville over Wake Forest in the Atlantic, but on paper heading into the season Wake Forest has the stronger roster and looks to me like a Top 5 team. UVA is getting overlooked because of how they finished the 2022 season and lost a lot of pitching, but they return most of their lineup and I actually think their reloaded pitching staff is better and deeper than it was last year. That being said, Wake Forest is going to win the most games in conference play during the regular season.
Tournament Champion: Florida State
So unlike the Big 10, the ACC Tournament Champion is a lot harder to predict. Twelve of the fourteen teams make the tournament and it’s really just a matter of who is hot at the time. Last year it was North Carolina. This year I’m going to with Florida State on the strength of their pitching staff.
Tournament Teams: 10 (Notre Dame, Pitt, Duke, Boston College all miss)
The ACC is going to send nine of ten teams and I am having a trouble figuring out which one of the eleven good teams isn’t going to make it so I’m not even going to try and cut two by saying only nine teams make the tourney in 2023. Duke and Boston College will both improve mightily on bad 2022’s, but they won’t make the NCAA Tournament. Pittsburgh is going to regress a little and also miss. Those are my confident picks to miss the tourney. Notre Dame returns some decent experience but I think they’re going to be the ones to falter, though don’t be surprised if it’s Clemson or Georgia Tech instead.
Conference Pitcher of the Year: RHP Rhett Lowder (Wake Forest)
The ACC has a lot of quality pitchers, but they don’t quite have the dominance of certain arms you’ll see in the ACC outside of Rhett Lowder, the 2022 ACC Pitcher of the Year and a potential Top 10 MLB draft pick in 2023. Teammate Teddy McGraw and stud Miami closer Andrew Walters could compete for the award, while UNC’s ace Max Carlson and Virginia Tech’s Drue Hackenberg’s could be dark horses.
Conference Player of the Year: 3B Yohandy Morales (Miami)
Unlike the ACC Pitcher of the Year Award, the conference Player of the Year options are wide open and almost endless. I’m going to go with Miami’s Yohandy Morales, though Virginia Tech’s Jack Hurley, UNC’s Vance Honeycutt, and Wake Forest’s Brock Wilken are also favorites and in the same tier of heavyweight hitters. The next tier likely consists of some more potential future first round draft picks in Virginia’s Kyle Teel and Jake Gelof and Wake Forest’s stud sophomore Nick Kurtz. If you’re looking for dark horses, however, I also have you covered. Catcher McGwire Holbrook at Florida State has transferred in after being All-Big 12 in 2022, while Caden Grice of Clemson is capable of having a monster comeback season after a disappointing campaign last year. But my favorite dark horse for Conference Player of the Year is Duke’s 2-way star Jonathan Santucci, who will start Friday nights on the mound for the Blue Devils and whose bat has supposedly been off the charts since the fall.
Freshman of the Year: 3B Cameron Smith (Florida State)
It’s not always easy to tell which freshman is going to make the biggest impact before the season. We just don’t know how the adjustment to college ball is going before the season. That being said, I think Cameron Smith of Florida State is a monster, and if a position player is going to win it, it’ll be him or Louisville infielder Gavin Kilen. If it’s a pitcher, however, there are quite a few options based on what freshmen have made Opening Weekend Rotations. Virginia’s Jack O’Connor, Florida State’s Jamie Arnold, and NC State’s Dominic Fritton will all make their first college starts this weekend and anyone of them could have great seasons. I’m going with Cam Smith because he’s going to play every day and put up some numbers whereas the aforementioned three pitchers are only going to start once a weekend.
Impact Transfer of the Year: OF Ian Farrow (Miami)
The ACC graduated and sent a lot of talent to MLB following the 2022 season but they have managed to reload with both quality recruits and impact transfers. A lot of experts are going to go with outfielder Carter Trice of NC State (formerly ODU) as their impact ACC transfer but I think Miami’s Ian Farrow (formerly of Florida Gulf Coast) is going to absolutely feast. He just edges out Trice and Florida State’s catcher McGuire Holbrook (formerly of WVU) for me. I do really like catcher Bennett Lee of Wake Forest (formerly of Tulane) to have a bounce back season while former Northwestern standouts in pitcher Sean Sullivan and outfielder Ethan O’Donnell will make big impacts at Wake Forest and Virginia, respectively. And Notre Dame pitcher Blake Hely (formerly of Davidson) is another guy going under the radar that could make a massive impact for the Fighting Irish.
ACC Atlantic Predicted Standings
1. Wake Forest
2022 Record: 41-19-1 (Eliminated in College Park Regional)
2022 ACC Atlantic Finish: 3rd (15-14-1)
Key Matchups: vs Miami (Mar 24-26), at Louisville (Apr 14-16), at Clemson (Mar 29-Apr 1), vs Virginia Tech (May 18-20)
Predicted Rotation- Rhett Lowder, Teddy McGraw, Josh Hartle
Wake Forest loses Eric Adler from their 2022 pitching staff but they return their entire weekend rotation which includes projected Top 15 pick and reigning ACC Pitcher of the Year Rhett Lowder and potential 2023 first round draft pick Teddy McGraw. They add former Northwestern standout Sean Sullivan who could provide depth in the rotation and provide shutdown innings out of the bullpen, which will be anchored by a pair of studs in Camden Minacci and Crawford Wade.
Although the Demon Deacons did lose their single season home run record holder in catcher Brendan Tinsman, they bring back 7 position players to their lineup including another projected Top 10 pick in third baseman Brock Wilken and All American sophomore first baseman Nick Kurtz. They’ll anchor the middle of that lineup while other key players such as Pierce Bennett, Tommy Hawke, and Adam Cecere look to get on base for the big boys. Tulane transfer and former Freshman All-American Bennett Lee will take over for the departed Tinsman in hopes on a bounce back season following a disappointing 2022.
I am not sure why Louisville is being consistently predicted ahead of Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons depth and returning stars make them a legitimate Top 5 team in my eyes. They’ll win the division and the conference regular seasons but the season will be considered a failure if Wake Forest falls short of their first trip to Omaha since 1955.
2022 Record: 42-21-1 (Eliminated in the College Station Super Regional by Texas A&M)
2022 ACC Atlantic Finish: 1st (18-11-1)
Key Matchups: Shriner’s College Classic vs Texas A&M, TCU, Michigan (Mar 3-5), vs/at Kentucky (Apr 11/Apr 25), Wake Forest (Apr 14-16), vs Miami (Apr 27-29), vs Vanderbilt (May 9), at UVA (May 12-14)
Predicted Rotation: Riley Phillips, Tate Kuehner, Garrett Schmeltz
Louisville loses some big pitchers in 2022 All ACC pitchers Jared Poland and Michael Prosecky, but they’ve still got some intriguing arms. Riley Phillips and Tate Kuehner return to lead the rotation, while they’ll hope to see returners Ryan Hawks, Garrett Schmeltz, and Will Koger can improve on mediocre 2022 seasons. As seen above, Koger’s 2022 numbers are not good but he showed a lot of improvement pitching in the Cape Cod League last summer where he had a 4.21 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 25 innings pitched.
2-way star freshman Patrick Forbes could also see some time on the mound, as could JUCO transfer Greg Farone. Farone was the NJCAA D3 Pitcher of the Year who dazzled to a 7-0 record and 1.65 ERA of Herkimer JC in New York.
Louisville loses All American catcher Dalton Rushing, All ACC infielder Ben Metzinger, and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in outfielder Levi Usher heading in 2023. They only return four key position players in catcher Jack Payton, infielders Logan Beard and Christian Knapczyk, and outfielder Isaac Humphrey. All four of those players are quality, but it’s the new players that should start day one that really interest me. Freshmen infielders Gavin Kilen and Patrick Forbes were both high school All Americans are expected to start for Louisville on day one. They’re joined by JUCO transfer Ryan McCoy at first base and returning outfielder Eddie King Jr., who didn’t play at all last season at Louisville but was the Prospect League MVP over last summer. There he hit .310 with 15 home runs and had 31 stolen bases in 49 games.
Louisville has high aspirations and many media outlets are choosing them to be the class of the ACC, but a lot rides on the success of the two freshmen infielders in Kilen and Forbes. If those two live up to expectations adn the returning pitchers improve on their 2022 campaigns, Louisville will be at the top of the conference. With these young new talents, a failure to get to Omaha isn’t catastrophic, but it would be disappointing.
3. Florida State
2022 Record: 34-25 (Eliminated in Auburn Regional)
2022 ACC Atlantic Finish: 4th (15-15)
Key Matchups: at TCU (Feb 24-26), vs/at Florida (Mar 21/Mar 28/Apr 11), at Miami (Mar 31-Apr 2), vs Wake Forest (May 12-14), at Louisville (May 18-20)
Rotation: Carson Montgomery, Jackson Baumeister, Jamie Arnold
The Seminoles massively underperformed and lose all of their top starting pitchers as the stud 1-2 punch in Parker Messick and Bryce Hubbart are onto professional baseball and promising youngster Ross Dunn has departed for Arizona State. Carson Montgomery has the chance to be a stud, but he’s lacked consistency and his talent hasn’t translated to performance yet and the same could be said for Jackson Baumeister, who will get the nod on Saturdays to start the season. It looks like ace reliever Wyatt Crowell will stay in the bullpen, so it’ll be freshman southpaw Jamie Arnold getting the first crack at the third spot in the rotation. If Arnold performs up to expectations combined with Montgomery/Baumeister finally reaching potential, then the ‘Noles have a chance to make some noise in the ACC.
Conner Whittaker and Brennen Oxford join the dominant Crowell at the back of the bullpen, making the Florida State pitching staff a strength despite the losses of Messick, Hubbart, and Dunn.
Florida State loses Brett Roberts and Reese Albert from their lineup, but they four key position players including talented outfielders Jaime Ferrer and James Tibbs. Catcher Colton Vincent was terrible in 2022 which opened the door for WVU standout McGwire Holbrook to transfer in and add an underrated bat that All Big-12 a season ago.
FSU’s best hitter, however, might end up being freshman third baseman Cam Smith, who will get the nod for the Seminoles immediately. Baseball America says “Cameron Smith could be most exciting [FSU player] with big-time power and advanced approach and big-time arm.”
Florida State was very disappointed with their 2022 campaign that began with high hopes. With the starting rotation they had, it’s understandable. They parted ways with Mike Martin Jr. following the season and made a big hire by bringing in former Notre Dame Head Coach Link Jarrett, fresh off a trip to Omaha with the Fighting Irish. With Jarrett comes the 12th ranking recruiting class which includes freshmen starters in Cam Smith at third base and Jamie Arnold in the rotation.
They’ll get off to a hot start in ACC play as they open up at home against Pitt and Boston College, but their big tests come at the end of the season when they have to finish ACC play by hosting Wake Forest and going on the road to Louisville. I think the pitching shines and Florida State hosts a Regional at the end of the year.
4. North Carolina State
2022 Record: 36-21 (did not make NCAA Tournament)
2022 ACC Atlantic Finish: 5th (14-15)
Key Matchups: at Miami (Mar 10-12), vs Louisville, (Mar 31-Apr 2), at/vs ECU (Apr 4/Apr 25), at Wake Forest (Apr 7-9), vs Florida State (Apr 14-16), at UNC (May 11-13)
Rotation: Logan Whitaker, Matt Willadsen, Dominic Fritton
The Wolfpack lose starter Canaan Silver and closer Chris Villaman, both of whom were massive pieces to their pitching staff. They will get Sam Highfill back from injury, however, and he’ll be looking to put that rocky 2022 start behind him. Look for him to be back in the weekend rotation at some point. In the meantime, NC State will go with returning starters Logan Whitaker and Matt Willadsen to pitch on Friday and Saturday, respectively. I expected Oregon transfer Rio Britton to possibly get a look for the third spot but it looks like he’ll be taking Villaman’s role as the relief ace.
Freshman southpaw Dominic Fritton will get the first chance at starting on Sunday’s. Fritton was the #5 left handed pitcher in North Carolina according to Perfect Game and if he struggles, Sam Highfill will be around and even Garrett Payne and Justin Lawson could fill in as needed. The latter two will most likely be deployed in high-leverage relief situations.
Impact hitters Devonte Brown and Josh Hood have graduated or been drafted. Big name, big game freshman Tommy White has fled to Baton Rouge seeking greener pastures. Between those three, the Wolfpack lose 55 home runs and quality ABs. They’ll rely on Old Dominion transfer Carter Trice and third baseman Gino Groover to carry the offense and lead NC State back to the NCAA Tournament.
Catcher Jacob Cozart should improve a bit offensively, but he might be the best defensive backstop in the ACC. Outfielders Noah Soles and Dominic Pilolli will seek to improve on decent sophomore seasons to support the impact bats of Trice and Groover. NC State also added transfer bats in outfielder Parker Nolan (formerly of Davidson) and infielder Kalae Harrison (formerly of Texas A&M).
NC State failed to make the NCAA Tournament last year after making it to the CWS semi-finals in Omaha in 2021 before Covid crippled them. They’ve got a lot of talent but the lineup needs to step up and get production outside of Trice and Groover. If they do that, they’ll be back in the postseason playing in a Regional as a threat to make a run.
2022 Record: 35-23 (Missed NCAA Tournament)
2022 ACC Atlantic Finish: 6th (13-16)
Key Matchups: at/vs SC (Mar 3-5), vs Duke (Mar 17-19), at/vs Georgia (Apr 11/Apr 18), vs Notre Dame (Apr 14-16), at BC (Apr 28-30), vs UNC (May 18-20)
Rotation: Ryan Ammons, Austin Gordon, Jay Dill
The pitching staff returns five key pitchers, with Ryan Ammons being the best among them. The former reliever will get a chance to be the Tigers’ ace and pitch Friday nights, while sophomores Austin Gordon and Jay Dill will get their first chances to impress in starting roles. Billy Barlow is the only returning starter and I expect him to be back in that role sooner than later, though it won’t be on Opening Weekend. Ty Olenchuk will be an impact arm out of the bullpen.
Clemson’s lineup is loaded with intriguing talent. Sophomore two sport athlete Will Taylor will get chance to start in centerfield after only playing 13 games in 2022, and Michigan transfer Riley Bertram adds another high contact bat to the lineup in the infield. The offense will be anchored by Ben Blackwell, Cooper Ingle, and Blake Wright once again following impressive 2022 seasons for each of them. If Caden Grice, the top draft prospect on this Clemson team, can bounce back from a horrendous sophomore year, then this lineup has a chance to be elite.
Clemson missed the NCAA tournament last year but they’ll be back this year under former Michigan Head Coach Erik Bakich. The biggest concern for the Tigers will be the pitching but that lineup should be able to make up for deficiencies in in the rotation. I don’t think they’ll host a Regional, but don’t be surprised to see them playing in one.
6. Notre Dame
2022 Record: 41-17 (Eliminated in College World Series by Texas A&M)
2022 ACC Atlantic Finish: 2nd (16-11)
Key Matchups: at Wake Forest (Mar 17-19), vs Louisville (Mar 21-23), vs/at Mich St (Apr 11/Apr 25), vs Florida State (Apr 28-30), at Boston College (May 18-20)
Rotation: Blake Hely, RHP Radek Birkholz, RHP Jackson Dennies
Notre Dame lost eight pitchers either to the draft, the transfer portal, or graduation following last season. Jack Findlay and Aidan Tyrell return in the rotation, but they aren’t slated to start on Opening Weekend. 2022 A-10 Pitcher of the Year and former Davidson ace Blake Hely will get the ball on Fridays, and the Irish will be relying on those three to carry Notre Dame in a difficult year. Radek Birkholz and Jackson Dennies will both get an opportunity to start on Opening Weekend, but beyond these five arms, there’s almost no depth.
Jack Brannigan and leading hitter David LaManna are gone, but Notre Dame still brings back a lot of experience in first baseman Carter Putz and outfielders Jack Zyska and Brooks Coetzee, all seniors. Sophomore Jack Penney is also back and Notre Dame will be relying on the experience of these four bats to lead them back to the postseason.
Notre Dame has lost too many arms and haven’t reloaded with enough depth to compete week in and week out in the ACC. They’re going to miss the NCAA Tournament.
7. Boston College
2022 Record: 19-34 (Missed ACC Tourney and NCAA Tourney)
2022 ACC Atlantic Finish: 7th (5-25)
Key Matchups: vs Rutgers (Feb 28), at Tennessee (Mar 7), at UConn (Mar 28), vs Duke (Apr 14-16), vs Clemson (Apr 28-30), vs Notre Dame (May 18-20)
Rotation: Henry Leake, Chris Flynn, Sean Hard
Boston College has a myriad of arms but they almost all lack the level of talent to compete in the ACC. Henry Leake returns to lead the rotation while DIII transfer Chris Flynn will hope to impress on Saturdays.
Travis Honeyman is a potential first round draft pick and would start on any team in the ACC. First baseman Joe Vertrano has insane power and should improve on the 13 homers he hit last season. Speaking of homers, returning outfielder Cam Leary led BC in that category in 2022 and will hope to boost those numbers this year. Nick Wang transfers in from Holy Cross where he was the Patriot League Freshman of the Year.
Boston College has too much talent to go 5-25 in conference play again. They’ll at least double that total and possibly even make a run at an ACC Tournament appearance, but they’ll get nowhere close to the NCAA Tournament. Joe Vertrano and Travis Honeyman will give BC fans plenty of reasons to watch and enjoy, however.
2022 Record: 39-19 (Eliminated in the Greenville Regional)
2022 ACC Coastal Finish: 3rd (17-13)
Key Matchups: at UNC (Mar 10-12), at Virginia Tech (Mar 31-Apr 2), vs Miami (Apr 6-8), vs Louisville (May 12-14), at Georgia Tech (May 18-20)
Rotation: Brian Edgington, Nick Parker, Jack O’Connor
UVA only returns three key pitchers from last season in Jake Berry, Jay Woolfolk, and Matthew Buchanan. They’ll replace the innings they lost with a slew of transfer and first year arms. Former Elon ace Brian Edgington will get the first crack at Friday nights in the ACC while former Coastal starter Nick Parker will pitch Saturday. First-year Jack O’Connor, the #1 high school pitcher in Virginia will get the nod on Sunday. This opening weekend rotation will not likely be the same one we see throughout the season. Matthew Buchanan will likely be a key bullpen piece, but expect to see 2022 Patriot Pitcher of the Year Connelly Early to be in the rotation sooner rather than later. Jake Berry struggled as starter as a sophomore but showed flashes of brilliance.
The pitchers that don’t start will obviously all be available to pitch out of the bullpen and that includes relief ace Jay Woolfolk, a Freshman All American from 2022 and currently the #1 QB on the depth chart for the Virginia football team. First Year lefties Bradley Hodges and Evan Blanco will also likely see time on the mound, most likely in relief roles.
Despite losing productive seniors Devin Ortiz and Alex Tappen alongside talented outfielder Chris Newell, the ‘Hoos return 7 key hitters and even bolster their impressive lineup with the additions of outfield transfers Ethan O’Donnell (formerly of Northwestern) and Tommy Courtney (formerly of Penn). This is a lineup that put up historic school numbers last season is anchored by potential first round picks in catcher Kyle Teel and Jake Gelof.
Shortstop Griff O’Ferrall and outfielder Casey Saucke are potential high draft picks for 2024 who are looking to build off impressive first year campaigns. Joining them as second years are Ethan Anderson, Colin Tuft, and Justin Rubi who were also outstanding as first years in 2022. There are no easy outs in this lineup as you can see that what they lack in power they more than make up for in their ability to consistently get on base. Eight of their nine hitters have an OBP over .400, which is astounding, even for college baseball.
Brian O’Connor lost over 70% of innings pitched for the ‘Hoos last season but with impact transfers and the 13th ranked recruiting class in the country, the Hoos bring in 21 new faces. And despite all that pitching lost, I believe UVA has a better and more talented pitching staff this season which when combined with this deep lineup will result in them winning the ACC Coastal Division. They’ll host a Regional and a Super Regional for a chance to get to Omaha.
2. North Carolina
2022 Record: 44-22 (Eliminated in the Chapel Hill Super Regional by Arkansas)
2022 ACC Coastal Finish: T-4th (15-15) ACC Tournament Champions
Key Matchups: at ECU (Feb 24-26), vs Virginia (Mar 10-12), vs Duke (Mar 23-25), vs SC (Apr 4), vs Miami (Apr 13-15), vs NC State (May 11-13)
Rotation: Max Carlson, Will Sandy, Connor Bovair
The Tar Heels lose Brandon Schaeffer from their rotation, but they return ace Max Carlson who will once again pitch on Friday nights. Graduate senior Will Sandy and junior Connor Bovair will round out the rotation, and their performances will go a long way in determining the success of this UNC baseball team. Dalton Pence returns after missing all of 2022 due to injury and senior Nik Pry will be a vital piece out of the bullpen late in games.
Vance Honeycutt was the best freshman in the country last year and he’s in the conversation to be the #1 overall pick in the 2024 MLB Draft. He had a 20/20 season in 64 games and anchors the lineup with two other power bats in third baseman Mac Horvath and designated hitter Alberton Osuna. Throw in the power of junior second baseman Johnny Castagnozzi and you’ve got the makings of a dangerous lineup right away.
North Carolina returns six position players and three key pitchers from a squad that won the ACC Tournament in 2022. They also add the 20th best recruiting class in the country and with the combo of ace Max Carlson leading the staff and the trio of Honeycutt, Horvath, and Osuna in the middle of the lineup, the Heels could be even better this season. They’ll compete for the division title and might host a Regional.
2022 Record: 40-20 (Eliminated in Coral Gables Regional)
2022 ACC Coastal Finish: 2nd (20-10)
Key Matchups: at Florida (Mar 3-5), at Wake Forest (Mar 24-26), vs Florida State (Mar 31-Apr 2nd), at Louisville Apr 27-29
Predicted Rotation: Karson Ligon, Gage Ziehl, Alejandro Rosario
Miami loses their three best pitchers not named Andrew Walters in Carson Palmquist, Alex McFarlane, and Jake Garland. Gage Ziehl, Karson Ligon, and Alejandro Rosario will get the first chance at the rotation and all three have a chance to have breakout seasons. On the other hand, as you can see from the stats above, they have the same chance to have bust seasons. Andrew Walters returns as the best closer in the country and first team All American for almost every major college baseball publication.
We just talked about North Carolina’s elite three-headed monster in the middle of the lineup but Miami’s might be even better with the addition of Ian Farrow from Florida Gulf Coast. Adding Farrow to the likes of third baseman Yandy Morales and first baseman CJ Kayfus is almost unfair. Dominic Pitelli is one of the best defensive shortstops in the country, but he’ll be looking to provide more with his bat to improve on the 18 extra base hits from a season ago.
Miami is loaded with talent and very well could win the ACC and play for a shot at Omaha.
4. Virginia Tech
2022 Record: 45-14 (eliminated in Blacksburg Super Regionals by Oklahoma)
2022 ACC Coastal Finish: 1st (19-9)
Key Matchups: at Miami (Mar 17-19), at Pitt (Mar 24-26) vs UVA (Mar 31-Apr 2), at Wake Forest (May 18-20)
Rotation: Green, Hackenberg, TBD
Four key pitchers return including ace Drue Hackenberg and relievers Jonah Hurney and Henry Weycker. Miami transfers Anthony Arguelles arrives in Blacksburg to bolster the pitching staff.
Virginia Tech is going to hit for a lot of power and they’ll be led by potential ACC PoTY Jack Hurley and Carson DeMartini. Part-time outfielder Carson Jones will get a full time role after belting 8 home runs in 21 games last season.
Virginia Tech lost a lot of offensive talent but have the potential to still compete for the division. They will be good and play in a Regional.
5. Georgia Tech
2022 Record: 36-24 (Eliminated in the Knoxville Regional)
2022 ACC Coastal Finish: T-4 (15-15)
Key Matchups: at Georgia (Mar 3-5), vs Notre Dame (Mar 10-12), at/va Auburn (Mar 14/Apr 11), at Virginia Tech (Apr 14-16), vs UVA (May 18-20)
Rotation: Dawson Brown, Logan McGuire, Jackson Finley
Georgia Tech will need much more out of their pitching staff this season as they can’t rely on the offense like last year as most of those hitter left. Transfer Terry Busse should end up being the staff ace.
Kevin Parada, Andrew Jenkins, Chandler Simpson, and Tres Gonzalez are gone, but the Yellow Jackets are reloaded. They’ll have a good offense but nowhere near the level they had in 2022. They’ll be a border-line NCAA Tournament team but ultimately I think they get in.
2022 Record: 29-27 (Missed NCAA Tournament)
2022 ACC Coastal Finish: 6th (13-16)
Key Matchups: at/vs Penn St (Mar 28/May 16) at Duke (Mar 31-Apr 2). vs Notre Dame (Apr 6-8), vs/at/vs WVU (Apr 19/May 3/May 10), vs Cal (Apr 28-30),
Rotation: RHP Jr Kyle Mosley, a transfer from Hill College, LHP Sophomore Ethan Firoved, a JUCO transfer, RHP Senior Erubiel Candelario, a transfer from Marist
Pittsburgh will regress in 2023 and could finish last in the ACC Coastal if Duke improves enough.
2022 Record: 22-32 (Missed ACC and NCAA Tournament)
2022 ACC Coastal Finish: 7th (10-20)
Key Matchups: vs Baylor (Feb 24-26), vs ECU (Feb 28), at UNC (Mar 23-25), vs Pitt (Mar 31-Apr 2), at Boston College (Apr 14-16)
Rotation: Jonathan Santucci, Adam Boucher, Alex Gow
Shortstop Alex Mooney is ranked #33 in Baseball America’s Top 100 College Draft Prospects and the Blue Devils add former LSU bat Gio DiGiacomo to their lineup alongside catcher Alex Stone and infielder Luke Storm.
Jonathan Santucci will be the Duke ace on the mound but he’ll also be a stalwart in the lineup despite on 13 ABs last season. Baseball America says “Jonathan Santucci is one of the best two-way players in college baseball, and when he’s not starting on the mound, he will be in the outfield. He only had 13 at-bats last spring, but this fall he’s established himself as the team’s best power hitter and has gotten glowing reviews from the coaching staff. On the mound is where Santucci really shines, as he’s an athletic mover with a repeatable delivery, along with having two plus pitches in his slider and changeup.”
I expect Duke to improve upon their 10-20 conference record but they’ll be lucky to make ACC Tournament, much less the NCAA Tourney.
Leave a Reply