Yes, it’s that time again folks. The time of year when we Wolven sort look to baseball to take the sting out of the fall and early winter.
2017 Baseball gets going tomorrow, Friday February 17th. The Pack9 kicks the season off on a nice 3 game road trip all the way out to Hawaii. Nice.
Then next weekend it’s the Pack9’s home opener as they welcome Austin Peay to Raleigh for three. But we’ll probably (maybe) talk more about that next week.
For now, let’s see what the Pack has in the tank for this coming season.
2016 (A Very Brief Review)
A good season? Yes. A great season? No. A disappointing season? Depends upon whom you ask.
Yes, the Pack barely snuck in under the wire to host an NCAA Regional. Yes, they promptly LOST said Regional on the opening weekend. BUT….don’t forget that it WAS to the eventual National Champions. ‘Member?
Congrats once more to the Chanticleers…..
First Things First (Preseason Rankings)
Why are the rankings first you ask? To get your attention. And to point a couple of things out. For brevity’s sake, we’ll stick to D1Baseball’s 2017 preseason poll for the purposes of this discussion.
|Rank||Team||2016 Record||2016 Final Rank|
|16||Cal State Fullerton||36-23||NR|
|25||UC Santa Barbara||43-20||8|
OK, so what do we see here? Well, the first thing you’ll see is the Pack slotted in at #6 preseason. Nice.
Then you look around a bit and you see FSU at #3, Louisville at #12 and Clemson at #15. That’s right sports fans….4 of the top 15 are not only in our conference, but they’re in our division. If we’re talking conference, then we’ve also got Carolina at #9, UVa at #17 and Miami at #21. Cross division, we face both Carolina (away) and Miami (home).
Bottom line, it’s a tough schedule. Which is a good thing, btw.
Broken down home/away, the Pack9’s 2017 ACC slate…
- @ Wake Forest (3/10-3/12)
- Miami (3/17-3/19)
- Louisville (3/24-3/26)
- @ Notre Dame (3/31-4/2)
- Florida State (4/7-4/9)
- @ Carolina (4/14-4/16)
- @ Boston College (4/21-/4-23)
- Virginia Tech (4/28-4/30)
- @ Pitt (5/12-5/14)
- Clemson (5/18-5/20)
Not Gonna Lie
Lotsa stuff going on this week and I’m short on time, so instead of reading my words, read these instead….
NC State baseball preview: Pitching (ncstate.rivals.com)
A wrinkle that has already been thrown into this mix is the news that junior lefty Brian Brown will miss the opening series with forearm tendinitis. The move is reportedly precautionary. Brown has gone 14-6 on the mound in his first two seasons with the Pack, striking out 157 in 167.1 innings while scattering 119 hits.
A healthy Brown is a good bet to be in the weekend rotation. The questions surround who would join him. Newcomer Dalton Feeney could be one of them.
Feeney is a freshman from Bismarck, N.D., and likely would have been a top 5-10 round MLB Draft choice in June, had he not been set on attending college first. That was supposed to be at Missouri, but a coaching change there led to Feeney ending up at NC State instead.
MLB.com noted in its scouting report on Feeney, who was also a high school quarterback, that he has hit 96 miles per hour on his fastball.
“More than just a thrower, he flashes a pair of plus breaking balls and shows signs of developing at least an average changeup,” the scouting report added.
A couple of former bullpen options could also be in line for a promotion. Redshirt junior lefty Cody Beckman pitched far better than last year’s numbers (6.05 ERA in 16 games) indicate, giving up 14 hits in 19 1/3 innings and striking out 23. He turned down the New York Mets to return for this season.
One-time closer and junior righty Tommy DeJuneas, who saved 12 games over the past two seasons, began working this past fall as a potential starter, where the hope is that by dialing back his lively fastball, he will have better control of his pitches.
Fifth-year senior lefty Sean Adler, a former USC transfer, is also in the mix and expected to get the first call Friday as pitchers begin auditioning for a role in the weekend rotation. Adler made one start last year in 19 overall appearances, during which he pitched 23 1/3 innings. He struck out 26, but also walked 21 and gave up 24 hits.
A potential option at closer is fifth-year senior righty Johnny Piedmonte, who last season in the ACC Tournament pitched a perfect inning by striking out the side against Georgia Tech for his first career save. The 6-foot-8 hurler has primary started in the past, but could prove more effective in short relief.
NC State baseball preview: Hitting and fielding (ncstate.rivals.com)
All three primary outfielders from last season return: sophomore Brett Kinneman in left, junior Josh McLain in center and junior Brock Deatherage in right.
Kinneman was a freshman All-American after hitting .296 with six homers in 135 at-bats. McLain hits at the top of the order and sported a .359 on-base percentage and .300 batting average with 25 extra base hits and was successful on 13 of 16 stolen-base attempts.
Deatherage hit .317 while being one of just two players to start all 60 games. He added a .395 on-base percentage and hit six homers in 224 at-bats. He was 14 for 18 on stolen-base attempts and used his strong outfield arm to have eight assists.
The infield returns three out of four starters. Junior third baseman Evan Mendoza was the revelation of last season, leading the Pack with a .362 average and .417 on-base percentage. Junior Joe Dunand returns at shortstop after batting .297 with four homers and 18 doubles in 236 at-bats, and he is expected to be one of State’s top pro prospects.
Behind the plate, Andrew Knizner started all 60 games last season and was drafted by the Cardinals. Sophomore Jack Conley went 5 for 6 at the plate in limited appearances. The former Red Sox draftee will compete with highly regarded freshman Brad Debo, who originally signed with South Carolina before ending at up NCSU. Debo was considered a likely high draft choice had he not been a strong college commitment.
Another freshman is competing for at-bats potentially as a designated hitter is Will Wilson. The infielder from Kings Mountain, N.C., has earned rave reviews for his hitting during the preseason.
2017 D1Baseball Staff Predictions (D1Baseball.com)
Click it if you wish, but I’ll break it down for ya…
7 different writers picked superlatives. Re: National Champion, there were five different teams picked (3 writers picked TCU). Of the four OTHER teams, three (Florida State, Louisville, NC State) are in our division. Did I mention it’s going to be a tough but fun schedule?
In Memoriam…of Those Lost
AKA…BIG shoes to fill…
Also, belated congratulations to Brett Kinneman…
More Vids Bcuz Now I’m Excited n Junk
(and it’s faster than actually typing more words)
NC State at Hawaii
Friday, February 17 thru 19
TV: No idea. Fri/Sat listed only on Hawaii’s home site ($$) as best I can find. We’ll see. Game times are late anyway (11:35pm). There is no TV listed for Sunday (5:05pm)
Radio: WKNC 88.1 FM
No. 6 NC State Baseball Opens 2017 Season in Hawaii (GoPack.com)
HONOLULU – The sixth-ranked NC State baseball team will open the 2017 season in Hawaii with a three-game series against the host Rainbow Warriors this weekend. Friday and Saturday’s contests are slated to begin at 11:35 p.m. (ET), while first pitch of Sunday’s game is set for 12:05 p.m. ET. at Les Murakami Stadium.
On the Mound
Following an impressive preseason, senior left-hander Sean Adler will make the opening day start on the mound for NC State and be opposed by Hawai’i senior right-hander Brendan Hornung Friday night. Saturday the Wolfpack will go with Cody Beckman and the Rainbow Warriors will counter with Dominic DeMiero.
Tommy DeJuneas will start for the Pack in Sunday’s game and Hawai’i has not announced a starter for Sunday’s tilt.
Wolfpack in Season Openers Under Avent
NC State owns a 13-7 mark in season openers under Avent’s leadership. Last season, the Wolfpack dropped a 5-0 decision against Old Dominion.
Junior Joe Dunand finished the 2016 season strong, as he concluded the year on an eight-game hitting streak that he hopes to extend in the opener Friday. Classmate Evan Mendoza heads into the season on a five-game hitting streak.
Dunand Named to Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List
On Wednesday, Dunand was one of 55 players selected to the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List. The Miami, Fla., native hit .297 in 2016 to go along with 70 hits, 41 RBIs and 35 runs scored.
A Trip of Firsts
NC State and Hawai’i will be meeting for the first time in the history of the programs this weekend. Additionally, the trip to Honolulu serves as the first trip to Hawai’i for everyone on the 2017 Wolfpack baseball squad, except Sean Adler and Michael Bienlien.
Adler has been to Maui, but never to Honolulu while Bienlien was born in Hawaii and lived there until he was six.