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What Are the Major Story Lines to Watch for in 2018? (College)

What Are the Major Story Lines to Watch for in 2018? (College)

Yesterday we went over the top story lines for the 2018 high school season, you can read that here. Now we will shift over to the colleges in our coverage area.

Max Effort Training

How good can Adelphi’s pitching staff be?

It might not happen this year, but this group of young pitchers has the potential to blossom into something special. The year prior to me getting to Adelphi, they compiled a team ERA of 1.97–good for second in the nation. They came within one inning of qualifying for the College World Series. That pitching staff had four players–Robert Nixon, Jonathon Gonzalez, Mike Scudero and Dillon McNamara that wound up playing professional baseball. McNamara is now with the San Francisco Giants.

After watching their Scout Day back in October, I came away very impressed. Their group of flame throwers is freshman heavy, but will be led by juniors Ed Baram and Daniel Taggart. They have an army of hard throwers and it’s not hard to imagine them dominating in the pitching-heavy Northeast-10. Young hard-throwers with advanced pitchability tend to dominate from day 1, so I expect arms like Josh Rovner, Nic Luc, Max Steele and Austin Cole to have an immediate impact. They might not lead the nation in ERA, but having a solid mix of veterns atop the rotation with flame throwers can only benefit them as the season progresses.

Who’s turn is it to win the Skyline Conference?

Winners of the past four Skyline Conferences: Farmingdale (2014), Old Westbury (2015), St. Joseph’s (2016) and Maritime (2017). What does this mean? Well, for the first time there is at least four legitimate contenders for the Skyline and don’t forget Merchant Marines upset Farmingdale and Mount St. Mary’s upset Old Westbury and St. Joseph’s in the postseason.

I think it’s far from a lock but I would be most confident in the pitching staff of St. Joseph’s and Maritime at this stage. Both have top-of-the-rotation arms, but St. Joseph’s has an intriguing X-Factor in Anthony Papa. If he is the pitcher he was the last time he was in a game, he’s the best pitcher in the conference. Couple him with a transfer that’s ready to be a weekend starter in Joseph Murphy and that’s a lights-out 1-2 punch.I think they are the favorite to win at this juncture.

Who improved the most in the off-season?

I am very impressed with the current crop of freshmen and transfers that Molloy has. Their biggest impact player is probably Nick Marino, who is coming off batting .500 last season and is ready to step in right away in the middle-of-the-order and do damage. They also have three freshman that are coming off huge senior seasons in high school. Jacob McCarthy, Matt Overton and Billy Wildeman. McCarthy was a potent bat for Northport that was a huge reason they played in the Suffolk Finals in 2016. Overton was named Axcess League 5 MVP this past season, and I watched him pitch very well against Commack in the postseason, allowing only an RBI single that was the difference in a close game. Wildeman was the only pitcher that seemingly could shut down Wantagh, so he proved his toughness.They also did a great job with their class of 2018 recruits (Pat Willix, Nicholas Demicco, Patrick Hoffman, Chris Peralta). Credit to their coaching staff for locking down some elite talent over the past year.

Can St. John’s build on last year’s success?

It’s hard to imagine they do can any better than last year. They got off to a red-hot start and never looked back. When I spoke with Coach Blankmeyer last week, he noted that the biggest reason for their success was that their young pitching matured immediately and put them in position to win ballgames. They will certainly miss the production of Cleveland Indians draft pick Jesse Berardi and Miami Marlins draft pick Michael Donadio, but they were fortunate that Luke Stampfl was able to get a redshirt and will step in as the shortstop. It is not common that a team loses a three-year starting SS and replaces him with a more experienced player. If Sean Mooney and the staff of young pitchers can build on last year’s success, they will once again be in the mix in the Big East.

Which players are draft worthy?

There is a handful of college players from the Long Island area that are draft worthy. We will have a post dedicated to this next week with specifics but the professional-caliber players appear to be John Rooney, Vito Friscia and Teddy Cilis (Hofstra), Reiss Knehr (Fordham), Luke Stampfl (St. John’s), Rob Andreoli (LIU Post), Greg Marino and Aaron Pinto (Stony Brook), Ed Baram and Brett Malm (Adelphi), Angelo Navetta (Molloy), Lou Doria (St. Joseph’s). There are countless other players from the area that are in schools outside of the region that could be drafted as well such as Frankie Moscatiello (St. Thomas Aquinas).

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Vinny is the Editor-In-Chief of aXcess Baseball. He is a 2013 graduate of Adelphi University. He previously worked for Bleacher Report and Baseball Info Solutions.

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