Friday, March 31, 2017

2017 MIAA Baseball Preseason Top 25

BC High pitcher Mike Vasil.  Photo by Brendan C. Hall, via ESPN Boston.
1. St. John’s Prep (Last Season: 20-8) Twice the runners up in the MIAA Division 1A Super 8 Tournament, the Eagles will look to break through this year behind a host of talented young pitchers, as well as a pair of lefty sluggers in Mike Yarin and Andrew Selima.

2. St. John’s (Shrewsbury) (Last Season: 18-6) The Pioneers short but talented roster remains largely in tact after a second consecutive Super 8 berth with Ian Seymour, Jack Gardner returning while University of Maryland commit Sean Burke is ready to step up.

3. Braintree (Last Season: 19-6) Seemingly disrespected in the preseason after winning back-to-back Super 8 titles, the Wamps will be a dangerous out once again if they can navigate a loaded Bay State Conference and return to the Division 1A State Tournament.

4. Newton North (Last Season: 16-9) With starting pitching coming back in James Hodgson and Michael Banks, as well as plenty of team speed and young hitting, the Tigers are also poised to make another run at Super 8 consideration.

5. BC High (Last Season: 17-6) University of Virginia commit Mike Vasil may very well be the best pitcher in the state, but will the Eagles have enough offense to win consistently when he’s not on the mound?

6. North Andover (Last Season: 18-5) Clearly a program on the rise, the Scarlet Knights bring back plenty of talent after an historic start to last season, and will look to find more continuity deep into a challenging schedule this year.

7. Xaverian (Last Season: 17-7) Replacing a star-studded senior class that included ace and cleanup hitter Blake DeCarr will not be easy, but this is one of the premier athletic programs in the state, and you know the Hawks will be ready to compete in the Catholic Conference.

8. Walpole (Last Season: 14-9) Senior righthander Brian Gaughan leads a stacked rotation that could carry the Rebels into Super 8 consideration later this spring.

9. West Springfield (Last Season: 19-6) After leading the Terriers to a D1 state championship last spring, stud pitcher and University of Hartford commit Nick Dombkowksi returns for an encore.

10. Austin Prep (Last Season: 19-4) A loaded Cougars team fell victim to a dramatic comeback win at the hands of Lynnfield in last year’s D3 North semifinals, so this young roster will be able to use that experience for motivation.

11. Central Catholic (Last Season: 14-9) Led by Virginia Tech-bound catcher Dominic Keegan, the Raiders have an experienced group and are a decent bet to make their first Super 8 with a strong season.

12. Billerica (Last Season: 18-6) Perhaps the most motivated group coming into the 2017 season, the Indians felt spurned by the Super 8 committee last year. Yet they have tons of pop with Scott Murphy anchoring that lineup, and should be solid on the mound as well.

13. Lincoln-Sudbury (Last Season: 21-5) Matt Wentworth’s first year as Warriors head coach went very well, but his team faltered in a late-season tilt at BC High that cost them a shot at the Super 8. With Ryan Cusick leading a talented pitching staff, L-S could be right back in the mix this June.

14. Lowell (Last Season: 13-8) This could be the year in which the Red Raiders finally break through and earn mention as one of the best teams in the state.

15. Pope Francis (Last Season: 17-5) One of the most talented teams west of I-495 became the first Western Mass. teams to make the Super 8 last year, and brings back plenty of talent for the 2017 season. 

16. St. Peter-Marian (Last Season: 19-7) The Guardians wound up falling to a destined West Springfield squad in the state semifinals, but their run through the D1 Central bracket was quite impressive and their roster remains stocked with good pitching and hitting.

17. Groton-Dunstable (Last Season: 23-0) The reigning D3 state champions lost a true ace in Justin Watt but still have UConn-bound Joe Simeone, who can carry his pitching staff during a title defense.

18. Silver Lake (Last Season: 20-4) Replacing Anthony Videtto as a true two-way star is junior Dan Collins, who should anchor the Lakers in another successful campaign.

19. Malden Catholic (Last Season: 13-9) The Lancers are always challenged by one of the toughest annual schedules in the state, which will make them either battle-tested or fatigued by the time the postseason rolls around.

20. Falmouth (Last Season: 15-9) Superstar and Boston College commit Nick Couhig will look to lead the Clippers to a baseball title after winning the Division 2A Super Bowl last December.

21. Lexington (Last Season: 12-11) Another Boston College commit, Sal Frelick will be playing baseball in an Eagles uniform next spring after he hopes to lead the Minutemen into the state tournament.  

22. East Bridgewater (Last Season: 16-7) Vikings made a Cinderella run for a D3 South title last season and bring back nearly every key player for another crack at a state title.

23. St. John Paul II (Last Season: 25-1) Has there been a more dominant program in any division? The Tigers just wrapped up their third consecutive D4 state title last June and are hungry for more.

24. Lawrence (Last Season: 16-7) Benefiting from a hotbed of baseball talent, the Lancers slugged their way past Billerica to make the Division 1 North Final last year.

25. Beverly (Last Season: 14-7) Spencer Brown developed into a true ace as a sophomore and the Panthers were rather unlucky to face a senior ace in Belmont’s Cole Bartels at the outset of the D2 State Tournament.  

Last 10 out:  Burlington (15-8), Bridgewater-Raynham (16-7), Catholic Memorial (11-11), Danvers (22-3), Dighton-Rehoboth (21-3), Lynnfield (19-5), North Reading (22-4), Oxford (18-5), Plymouth North (16-6), Reading (19-5)

No comments :