Last year, State Baseball started the season 14-3 and were knocking on door of being Top-10 in the Country. Offensively, the team was straight slugging (28 dingers) and pitching was sitting at a stellar 3.56 ERA (6.4 runs better than their opponents). Then, COVID hit…
With renewed focus and hunger to play ball, the club is looking to ramp up quickly as they start their 2021 campaign today. Picked to finish second in the Atlantic Division, they find themselves ranked in the top 20 in every national poll.
As we preview the 2021 season, here are some focal points and predictions.
YOUNG BUT READY:
Even with an expanded roster, State only has one senior (Kent Kylman) but the confidence is higher than normal. State’s two biggest departures were “The Beast” known as Patrick Bailey (drafted 13th overall by Giants) and pitching stud Nick Swiney (also drafted by Giants, in the second round). Ginormous holes to fill, but C Luca Tresh and RHP Reid Johnston will do their best to replace the stellar, former arm and battery. If there are some nerves about youth, fear not, Avent has been adamant that this team is about as close as they could possibly be. His praise of leadership and team focus was evident on media day. Young guns are going to be a task to handle, but they’ll settle in faster than expected.
One of the preseason highlights, at least for us, is potential for the outfielder crew to make a HUGE impact on the team. The lot of Brown, McDonough, Butler, Tatum and even Soles could see time. Devonte Brown finished the shortened season behind only Bailey for home runs (5), while leading the team in slugging percentage. Tyler McDonough has the consistent batting average, power and fielding you hope for in a center fielder. Jonny Butler has the tools to be a serious threat, especially when reaching base. Butler lead the team last season with 9 steals. Overall, the boys can hit, just need to clean up fielding a wee bit.
The most hyped player coming into the season is catcher, Luca Tresh. Tresh starts the season on the Bobby Bragan Collegiate Slugger Award Watch List, as well as, being named preseason All-American Third Team. Last season, he finished the year reaching base in seven straight games, will having multiple hits in 7 of 11 he played. The attention and expectations have pushed him into a potential top-50 draft position. Avent noted on media day that his attention to details this off-season have been incredible. He knows he has big shoes to fill with Bailey departing and is up to the task.
PROJECTED EVERYDAY LINEUP:
C – Luca Tresh
1B – Austin Murr
2B – J.T. Jarrett
SS – Vojtech Mensik
3B – Tyler McDonough
OF – Terrell Tatum, Devonte Brown, Jonny Butler
-Lone senior, reliever Kent Klyman, finishes the season closing 18 games, and in doing so, sets the school record for saves.
-Austin Murr will reach base more with BB + HBP, than he will total hits. The man has eyes and crazy patience.
-Devonte Brown will have the biggest breakout year. Was the hottest player last year and still has more upside to go.
-Luca Tresh will have some obvious rust behind the plate for the first 8 game, but not at the plate.
-Evan Justice will lead the team in wins with 8.
The team is sneaky talented and has loads of confidence for being so young. The schedule leans ACC heavy, but being shortened overall might be an advantage to State. They always seem to start strong and then fade as season goes, so hopefully there will be more gas in the tank for a postseason run.
- Overall: 38-11
- Conference: 28-11 (2nd)
- NCAA Tourney: Make it to the Super Regional