SEC Baseball Tournament 2013 Rosters: Team-by-Team Preview and Biggest Stars
As usual, the SEC had a deep and talented slate of teams this year, finishing the year with six teams ranked in the Top 25, including the top-ranked team in the nation, Vanderbilt, and LSU, which has remained a Top Five team for much of the year.
In other words, this year's SEC tournament promises to a whole lot of fun, as 12 talented teams battle it out for the right to call themselves conference champions.
Let's preview each team.
SEC Tournament Seed: 12
Record: 18-31 (10-20)
Top Players: Dane Opel (.298, 29 runs, three home runs, 28 RBI); Dylan Kelly (.292, one home run, 27 RBI); Keaton Steele (5-3, 3.18 ERA, 53 strikeouts; .281, five home runs, 24 RBI)
Overview: Missouri is 7-17 against teams in this tournament and opens with a tough test against five-seed Mississippi State. While the Tigers won the Big 12 tournament last year, the SEC is a deeper and tougher conference.
And seeing as the Tigers ranked last in the SEC in runs scored (195) and batting average (.248), it's hard to see the team even winning a game in this tournament.
SEC Tournament Seed: 11
Record: 30-24 (11-19)
Top Players: Austin Cousino (.251, 42 runs, six home runs, 27 RBI, 13 stolen bases); A.J. Reed (2-8, 4.04 ERA, 52 strikeouts; .281, 13 home runs, 52 RBI); Trevor Gott (4-1, 1.20 ERA, 12 saves)
Overview: Kentucky started the season 22-6 and was considered a Top 10 team in the country. But the Wildcats have declined since, finishing the year 8-18 and putting their College World Series aspirations in serious peril. There is plenty of talent here, but can Kentucky right the ship?
Note: It couldn't. Kentucky has been eliminated after a 4-1 loss to Ole Miss in the tournament's first round.
SEC Tournament Seed: 10
Record: 33-22 (13-17)
Top Players: Garrett Cooper (.355, seven home runs, 37 RBI); Ryan Tella (.263, 42 runs, three home runs, 37 RBI, 14 stolen bases); Conner Kendrick (5-3, 2.03 ERA, two saves, 74 strikeouts)
Overview: Auburn comes into this tournament pretty hot, having won late-season series against Ole Miss, Florida and Arkansas. After splitting the season series with Alabama at two games apiece, the Tigers have a great chance to move into the double elimination portion of the tournament.
SEC Tournament Seed: 9
Record: 30-25 (13-16)
Top Players: Daniel Mengden (7-3, 1.92 ERA, 80 strikeouts; .280, three home runs, 14 RB(); Mikey Reynolds (.359, 37 runs, one home run, 23 RBI, 16 stolen bases); Cole Lankford (.348, two home runs, 32 RBI)
Overview: One thing you can count on is that the Aggies will run. Reynolds, Krey Bratsen, Jace Statum and Blake Allemand alone combined for 54 stolen bases.
Another thing you can count on is a bit of inconsistency. While the most impressive series win the team had was taking two of three from Ole Miss, the team did beat LSU, Arkansas, Rice and Cal State Fullerton this season.
In other words, Texas A&M could just as easily make a deep run in this tournament as it could bow out in the first round against Florida.
SEC Tournament Seed: 8
Record: 29-27 (14-16)
Top Players: Casey Turgeon (.273, 40 runs, five home runs, 32 RBI, eight stolen bases); Johnny Magliozzi (4-1, 2.14 ERA, 12 saves, 45 strikeouts); Taylor Gushue (.284, five home runs, 33 RBI)
Overview: We've become accustomed to seeing Florida teams near the top of the rankings and competing for national titles, but this year's squad has not been up to that level and has been mostly inconsistent throughout.
Still, we got a taste of its potential in April, when the team swept South Carolina and added wins over Mississippi State and Florida State, winning 11 of 12 in that stretch. And with the nation's toughest schedule and 12 wins over ranked opponents, you could argue Florida is better than its record indicates.
But facing Aggies ace Daniel Mengden, the Gators will have quite the hurdle to overcome to move on.
SEC Tournament Seed: 7
Record: 32-24 (14-14)
Top Players: Ben Moore (.296, 36 runs, four home runs, 38 RBI, 16 stolen bases); Brett Booth (.275, 43 runs, six home runs, 32 RBI); Austen Smith (.272, 32 runs, six home runs, 35 RBI)
Overview: Can you guess which SEC team was the only squad to beat both Vanderbilt and LSU this season? If you said Alabama, come on down!
And with wins over Arkansas and Troy as well, the Crimson Tide are plenty capable of playing the role of spoilers in this tournament. Plus, the Crimson Tide can really hit, averaging 6.4 runs over their past 16 games.
If Alabama can get solid contributions from its pitching staff, namely the bullpen, this team could make a deep run.
SEC Tournament Seed: 6
Record: 37-19 (15-14)
Top Players: Bobby Wahl (9-0, 1.99 ERA, 76 strikeouts); Stuart Turner (.377, 44 runs, five home runs, 47 RBI); Austin Anderson (.296, 38 runs, three home runs, 37 RBI)
Overview: Ole Miss is one of the more balanced teams in this tournament, led by a solid one-two punch in the rotation of Wahl and Mike Mayers (4-5, 3.21 ERA, 63 strikeouts) and a productive lineup that hit .278 on the season.
With series wins this year against LSU, Mississippi State and Arkansas, you know the Rebels can compete with the top teams the SEC has to offer.
Note: Ole Miss has advanced to the double elimination portion of the tournament with a 4-1 win over Kentucky. The squad will now face Arkansas on Wednesday.
SEC Tournament Seed: 5
Record: 40-16 (16-4)
Top Players: Hunter Renfroe (.362, 48 runs, 15 home runs, 51 RBI, nine stolen bases); Adam Frazier (.338, 49 runs, 28 RBI, seven stolen bases); Jonathan Holder (2-0, 1.09 ERA, 15 saves, 73 strikeouts)
Overview: Renfroe is going to be a first-round pick in this year's Major League Baseball draft and is one of the top players in the country, period, while Frazier has been absolutely fantastic this season.
With a top-10 RPI in the country, Mississippi State has probably already wrapped up a shot to host an NCAA regional, so there isn't a ton of pressure on this team to go on a deep run to improve its postseason lot. Still, with no major weaknesses and a stud like Renfroe leading the way, the Bulldogs are a dangerous squad.
SEC Tournament Seed: 4
Record: 39-16 (17-12)
Top Players: LB Dantzler (.333, 41 runs, 14 home runs, 47 RBI); Joey Pankake (.314, 33 runs, 10 home runs, 38 RBI); Nolan Belcher (7-5, 2.17 ERA, 83 strikeouts)
Overview: The Gamecocks will now be playing in their 17th straight SEC tournament, the longest streak in the league. And this team not only has the talent to win the tournament, but to also win its third national title in the past four years.
Dantzler and Pankake provide the power for a dangerous lineup that hit .282 on the season. Belcher and Tyler Webb (2-2, 1.27 ERA, 16 saves, 51 strikeouts) highlight a pitching staff that is deep and capable of leading the Gamecocks to an SEC title.
They may not be the favorites coming in (that distinction belongs to either Vanderbilt or LSU), but South Carolina is one of the better teams in the country.
SEC Tournament Seed: 3
Record: 35-19 (18-11)
Top Players: Ryne Stanek (8-2, 1.54 ERA, 72 strikeouts); Barrett Astin (4-4, 2.02 ERA, one save, 63 strikeouts); Brian Anderson (.349, 43 runs, four home runs, 33 RBI, five stolen bases)
Overview: For Arkansas, it's all about pitching.
The team has a nasty team ERA of 1.90 and is led by a three-pronged starting rotation of Stanek, Astin and Randall Fant (5-1, 2.08 ERA, 48 strikeouts). Arkansas can flat-out pitch.
The team opened the season as the top-ranked squad in the nation and has remained in the Top 15 for much of the year, though it couldn't maintain the No. 1 spot. Only Auburn, LSU and Ole Miss managed to earn series wins against the Razorbacks in the SEC this year, so they are a team to be feared.
SEC Tournament Seed: 2
Record: 48-8 (23-7)
Top Players: Aaron Nola (10-0, 1.99 ERA, 97 strikeouts); Mason Katz (.388, 45 runs, 14 home runs, 64 RBI, five stolen bases); Alex Bregman (.388, 90 hits, 52 runs, five home runs, 49 RBI, 13 stolen bases)
Overview: LSU is absolutely loaded. Honestly, it's not fair. Alongside Nola, the team has two studs in starting pitchers Cody Glenn (6-2, 2.64 ERA, 35 strikeouts) and Ryan Eades (8-1, 2.70 ERA, 71 strikeouts), not to mention Chris Cotton (3-1, 1.62 ERA, 12 saves, 36 strikeouts).
But this team can also rake, with a ridiculous .312 batting average on the season and 42 total home runs. LSU is ranked either No. 2 or No. 3 in the country in most polls, and many folks out there would actually list it as the favorites over No. 1 seed Vanderbilt.
One thing is for certain—everyone in the country would finally love to see the two teams play in this tournament, as they didn't meet in the regular season.
SEC Tournament Seed: 1
Record: 48-7 (26-3)
Top Players: Tony Kemp (.408, 58 runs, 30 RBI, 27 stolen bases); Kevin Ziomek (10-2, 1.99 ERA, 102 strikeouts); Tyler Beede (13-0, 2.28 ERA, 89 strikeouts)
Overview: Here's how good Vanderbilt is—on the top players section Connor Harrell was left out. All he did this year was hit .319 with 52 runs scored, 11 home runs, 61 RBI and six stolen bases.
Vanderbilt set an SEC record by winning 26 league games this year, led by a balanced squad that hit a silly .319 on the season but also got strong pitching led by Ziomek and Beede.
The top-ranked team in the nation will face a tough task in this tournament, but after 26 league wins, it should firmly be entrenched as the favorite.