ACC Baseball Tournament 2013 Rosters: Team-by-Team Preview and Biggest Stars
The ACC tournament is stacked this season, and if you don't believe me, consider the following.
All eight teams in the tournament are ranked in the RPI Top 25, while Baseball America has six of the teams in the tournament ranked in its Top 25 (No. 5 Virginia, No. 6 North Carolina, No. 7 Florida State, No. 9 NC State, No. 18 Clemson and No. 21 Virginia Tech).
In other words, there's no telling who will survive pool play or eventually win this tournament.
Let's take a closer look at each team in this loaded tournament.
ACC Tournament Seed: 8
Record: 35-21 (14-16)
Top Players: Bryan Radziewski (8-2, 1.64 ERA, 96 strikeouts); Chantz Mack (.299, 39 runs, 27 RBI, 13 stolen bases); Chris Diaz (6-4, 1.54 ERA, 63 strikeouts)
Overview: For Miami, it's all about pitching. Radziewski and Mack are the aces, but Andrew Suarez (3-4, 3.13 ERA, 49 strikeouts), Javi Salas (5-5, 3.15 ERA, 41 strikeouts) and Eric Nedeljkovic (2-2, 1.42 ERA, 13 saves, 29 strikeouts) have all been very strong this season.
What hasn't been so strong is the Canes' bats. While Mack has been a solid table-setter and David Thompson provides some pop (.284, six home runs, 42 RBI), Miami has generally struggled swinging the bat, finishing 11th in batting average (.262), home runs (13) and runs scored (468).
If Miami is to survive pool play and advance to the championship, it will most certainly be because of its pitching.
ACC Tournament Seed: 7
Record: 33-23 (15-15)
Top Players: Zane Evans (.364, 42 runs, 14 home runs, 62 RBI); Daniel Palka (.344, 52 runs, 17 home runs, 63 RBI); Buck Farmer (8-4, 2.80 ERA, 104 strikeouts)
Overview: If Miami is all about winning with pitching, Georgia Tech is all about bashing its way to wins.
The Yellow Jackets led the ACC with 54 home runs and hit a team average of .307, making them a truly fearsome offense. Along with Evans and Palka, Kyle Wren (.370, 47 runs, 26 stolen bases) and Brandon Thomas (.348, 47 runs, nine stolen bases) had excellent seasons for the team.
With the exception of Farmer, however, the pitching staff struggled, as the team posted a poor 4.51 ERA on the season. Georgia Tech is more than capable of reaching the championship game, but it will be behind its bats.
ACC Tournament Seed: 6
Record: 35-19 (15-14)
Top Players: Tyler Horan (.344, 51 runs, 11 home runs, 50 RBI); Mark Zagunis (.338, 60 runs, eight home runs, 46 RBI, 16 stolen bases); Andrew Rash (.327, nine home runs, 56 RBI)
Overview: Virginia Tech can certainly rake. Along with Horan, Zagunis and Rash, three other players hit about .300 this year and the team as a whole batted .290 and bashed 48 home runs.
The question is, will the pitching hold up? While Devin Burke compiled nine wins (9-3, 3.49 ERA, 44 strikeouts), the Hokies had a team ERA of 4.51 and don't have a starter with an ERA below 3.00.
The Hokies do come into this game red hot, however, having won 13 of their last 15, so they are a team to be feared.
ACC Tournament Seed: 5
Record: 39-17 (18-12)
Top Players: Daniel Gossett (9-3, 2.20 ERA, 83 strikeouts); Shane Kennedy (.321, 42 runs, four home runs, 33 RBI, 18 stolen bases); Garrett Boulware (.310, 41 runs, seven home runs, 43 RBI)
Overview: We turn to Steven Bradley of IPTAY Media (via Clemson's website) to break down the Tigers in a nutshell:
The Tigers enter this week's Atlantic Coast Conference tournament having won 23 of their last 29 games, and a big reason for that success has been speed on the base paths.
Clemson leads the ACC in stolen bases with 102 in 56 games, good for 1.8 per game, but the Tigers have nearly doubled their stolen base totals during the second half of the season.
After stealing just 36 bases in the first 28 games (1.3 per game), Clemson swiped 66 bags (2.4 per game) during the final 28 games of the regular season.
ACC Tournament Seed: 4
Record: 42-13 (19-10)
Top Players: Trea Turner (.383, 58 runs, six home runs, 38 RBI, 24 stolen bases); Carlos Rodon (8-2, 3.86 ERA, 137 strikeouts); Jake Fincher (.326, 45 runs, 14 stolen bases)
Overview: NC State is an extremely balanced bunch, which is a huge reason why the club has won 26 of its last 30 games.
While they don't hit with much power, the Wolfpack get on base (.285) and swipe plenty of bags (99 stolen bases). The team also pitches well behind strikeout machine Rodon with a team ERA of 3.40.
With stars in Turner and Rodon and plenty of balance, the Wolfpack have the makeup to survive pool play.
ACC Tournament Seed: 3
Record: 45-9 (22-8)
Top Players: Mike Papi (.408, 54 runs, six home runs, 51 RBI); Brandon Downes (.327, 60 runs, eight home runs, 56 RBI); Kyle Crockett (4-1, 1.97 ERA, 10 saves, 55 strikeouts)
Overview: Virginia may be the No. 3 seed in this tournament, but they are the ACC's highest-ranked team, coming in at No. 5 in the latest Baseball America poll. They also lead the ACC in team average (.317) and have a solid team ERA of 3.11, so balance isn't an issue for the Cavaliers.
Plus, the Cavs took two of three from North Carolina heading into the tournament, so they are playing their best ball of the season. They lost only two series all season long, and it's hard to see them slumping now.
ACC Tournament Seed: 2
Record: 44-12 (20-10)
Top Players: Scott Sitz (9-1, 1.66 ERA, 61 strikeouts); Brandon Leibrandt (9-4, 3.30 ERA, 72 strikeouts); Luke Weaver (6-2, 2.08 ERA, 91 strikeouts)
Overview: Yes, the Seminoles can flat-out pitch. With four solid starters and a team ERA of 2.71, runs are hard to come by against Florida State. Oh, and they are 40-1 on the season when they lead after six innings. 40-1!
This isn't a team with a ton of power, but it has seven starters who hit .280 or better and seven starters who scored at least 30 runs on the season. There aren't many, if any, weaknesses on this team.
ACC Tournament Seed: 1
Record: 48-8 (21-7)
Top Players: Colin Moran (.369, 66 runs, 13 home runs, 83 RBIs); Kent Emanuel (9-3, 2.28 ERA, 79strikeouts); Cody Stubbs (.352, 52 runs, seven home runs, 66 RBI)
Overview: Good luck finding a weakness on this team.
Every starter is hitting at least .296 on the season, and the team has four players hitting at least .350. Four players have 40 or more RBI. Four players have at least eight stolen bases. Moran is the ACC Player of the Year, while Emanuel is the ACC Pitcher of the Year.
The pitching isn't shabby either. Emanuel is the star, but Hobbs Johnson (4-0, 2.18 ERA, 58 strikeouts) and Benton Moss (8-1, 3.21 ERA, 78 strikeouts) round out a nasty starting trio, while Trent Thornton (9-1, 1.43 ERA, six saves, 53 strikeouts) is a whiz in relief (or in the occasional start).
North Carolina spent most of the year as the top-ranked team in the land before dropping series to Georgia Tech and Virginia to close the season, so there's no questioning its talent. The question is, after finishing 4-4, are they playing their best baseball right now?