By Bob Elliott
Canadian Baseball Network
They came from near and far, from big town and small towns.
And there they were gathering on the pages of the college preview issue of highly-respected Baseball America.
All in all there were 11 players mentioned 13 times. Let’s see there were
_ Four players were mentioned on the conference’s top prospects list: INF Jake Lumley (Windsor, Ont.) of the Canisius Griffins; OF Toby Handley (Whitby, Ont.) of the Stony Brook Seawolves, RHP Jordan Scheftz (Irvine, Calif.), who was born in North York, Ont. of the Central Florida Knights and RHP Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.) of the Kentucky Wildcats.
_ Four more occupied spots on the rosters of the top 25 ranked teams: SS Brad Antchak (Langley, BC) of the Louisiana-Lafayette Rajin’ Cajuns, RHP Mathieu Deneault-Gauthier (Candiac, Que.) of the North Carolina Wolfpack, C Travis Wacker (Oakville, Ont.) of the Oklahoma State Cowboys and INF Louis Boyd (North Vancouver, BC) of the Arizona Wildcats.
_ Another four were mentioned in the conference round ups: LHP Zachary Sloan (Brampton, Ont.) and INF Jake Lumley of the Canisius Golden Griffs, RHP C.J. Lewington (Calgary Alta.) University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions and OF Toby Handley (Whitby, Ont.) of the Stony Brook Seawolves.
_ And one player earned pre-season honours as OF Jake Wilson (New Lowell, Ont.) of the Bowling Green Falcons was named Mid-American Conference freshman of the year.
Compiled by Teddy Cahill, Michael Lananna and Jim Shonerd
Rank Team 2016 Record Final Rank
1. Texas Christian 49-18 3
13. Louisiana-Lafayette 43-21 22
The Rajun Cajuns have SS Brad Antchak (Langley, BC), who previously played for coach Roger Ward at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, after playing for coach Gerry White with the North Delta Blue Jays. He took Canadian Baseball Network Third Team honors in 2014 and Second Team honours in 2015.
14. North Carolina State 38-22 25
The Wolfpack has RHP Mathieu Deneault-Gauthier (Candiac, Que.) pitched for the Ducs de Longueuil in the LBJÉQ and the Canadian Junior National Team before heading to Dan Plesac’s almamater.
18. Oklahoma State 43-22 4
The Cowboys have C Travis Wacker (Oakville, Ont.), who attended King’s Christian High and played for the Field House Pirates. He went south to play for the Grayson County Vikings. Wacker hit .384 with nine home runs and 66 RBIs in 51 games. His on-base mark was .466 and he slugged .579 for a 1.045 OPS.
22. Arizona 49-24 2
The Wildcats have INF Louis Boyd (North Vancouver, BC) who spent his first two years at Cochise College before transferring.
Top 20 Prospects
1. Seth Romero, lhp, Houston
16. Jordan Scheftz, rhp, Central Florida
2017 Top 10 Prospects
1. Justin Yurchak, 3b, Binghamton
5. Toby Handley, of, Stony Brook
2017 Top 10 Prospects
1. Tom Cosgrove, lhp, Manhattan
4. Jake Lumley, ss, Canisius
2017 Top 20 Prospects
1. Alex Faedo rhp, Florida
18. Zach Pop rhp, Kentucky
Binghamton and Stony Brook have combined to win eight of the last nine conference titles, and the Seawolves will again challenge the Bearcats this spring. First baseman Casey Baker (.314/.392/.367) and outfielders Andruw Gazzola (.304/.368/.411) and Toby Handley (.288/.394/.377), the team’s top three hitters, all return, but Stony Brook could use some more offense after posting a team OPS of .707 last season.
Canisius had a three-year streak of winning either the MAAC regular season or tournament titles from 2013-15, which Fairfield snapped by taking both last season. Nonetheless, the Golden Griffins should be the Stags’ biggest obstacle again in 2017. They led the conference in ERA last year (3.94) and return another deep group on the mound led by command-oriented lefthanders Nolan Hunt (5-0, 2.90) and Zachary Sloan (1-0, 3.00), who should be fully healthy this spring after nagging injuries limited him to 18 innings last year. Speedy senior shortstop Jake Lumley (.339/.437/.431) will be a key piece to build around offensively.
Freshman of the Year: Jake Wilson, of, Bowling Green State. Drafted in the 39th round by the Red Sox last year, Wilson chose to head to college instead of signing. He plays well defensively in center field, where he gets good reads, has the speed to cover ground well and has a strong arm. Listed at 6-foot, 164 pounds, Wilson has room to get stronger, which will help him hit for more power. But he should be able to quickly help the Falcons offensively.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff won its third-straight West Division title last year with a 21-5 mark (22-25 overall) and will look to extend its streak this season. Senior righthander C.J. Lewington (2-5, 3.73) is the Golden Lions’ top returning pitcher.