Spring Sports Preview: Baseball
With Major League Baseball pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training this week, so begins the Diamond Petrels 2012 campaign. Gopetrels.com takes a look at the upcoming season on the field for the baseball team.
2012 Baseball Season Preview
The Petrels will run out a very young staff but one that shows great promise. Anchoring the starting staff is JR. Emmett Goodman (Macon, GA) who ranked in the top three on the team in 2011 for Wins (3), ERA (4.88), innings pitched (51), games started (9) and strikeouts (42). The rest of the starting rotation is up for grabs and Coach Giordano has some quality options. SO David Langhan (Tampa, FL) who pitched exclusively out of the bullpen last year is a leading candidate to fill one of the spots. David was 3-2 with a 3.78 ERA in 33 innings pitched in 2011 with 20 appearances. Another leading candidate is JR John Gibbs (Marietta, GA). He returns to the Petrels after missing his sophomore campaign. In 2010, Gibbs was 3-1 in 12 appearances including 4 starts. He struck out 26 in 25 innings pitched. Two freshman, left-hander Joey McAlpin (Lake Norman, NC) and righty Josh Morgan (Lafayette, GA) will also compete for a spot in the starting rotation. Both had a great fall season and look sharp early in the spring. Their maturation process during the season will add depth and talent to the pitching staff.
The bullpen will be led by JR. Cory Leff (Marietta, GA) who will serve as the closer. Cory led the team in 2011 in ERA with a sparkling 0.64 and went 2-0 in 28 innings pitched. The Petrels will look to SO TJ Schmutz (Boca Raton, FL), FR Cody Campbell (Lehigh Acres, FL) and FR Jayce Owen (Cumming, GA) to pitch important innings in the middle of games to get to Leff. SO Frank Sarno (Franklin, NC) and Ryan Grau (Boca Raton, FL) will also contribute quality innings in relief.
Coach Giordano assesses the pitching staff:
"We are very young on the mound this year. But, Goodman, Langhan and Gibbs have all pitched big innings for us in the past and I see huge improvements from 2011. I think we are strong all the way through the staff and I'm very excited about the young pitchers development thus far. Their might be a small learning curve but these guys have put in the work and are ready to go. The ceiling on this group is very high and I expect them to mature as the season progresses." Giordano
The Petrels have finished in the top 3 in the SCAC on defense the last three years and that has started with the a strong infield defense. Gone is perennial ALL SCAC SS Matt Cornwell, who was arguably the best SS in the SCAC. SR Jake Spear (Lawrecenville, GA) returns for his 4th year as the starting 2B and will anchor the infield. Spear has played stellar defense making only 18 errors combined in his first three seasons. SO Ryan Grau will go into the season as the starting SS taking over for Cornwell. Grau saw significant time at 3B last season taking over after an injury and hit .305 in 33 games played. JR Nick Manai (Philadelphia, PA) missed the majority of 2011 with a hand injury but in his freshmen campaign of 2010 he showed he was ready to contribute for the Petrels. In 2010 he hit .328, scored 25 runs and knocked in 20 runs in 34 games. Over at 1B there has been a three way battle for the starting spot. SO Casey Tuttle (Atlanta, GA), FR Josh Morgan and FR Joey McAlpin have all played good defense and swung hot bats. The battle will continue into the spring and Coach Giordano expects all three to get a chance for playing time. SO TJ Schmutz will serve as the backup at SS and SO Will Hanna (Jacksonville, FL) will work as the backup at 2B. SO Frank Sarno has pushed very hard for playing time and will expect to play some 3B and 2B.
Coach Giordano assesses the infield:
"I think this will once again be a strength of our ball club. It's a nice mix of veterans and newcomers that have tremendous athleticism and play the game the right way. Spear has been a steady influence at 2B and the kid just loves playing the game. I think our biggest improvement is at 1B, we have athletic guys that move extremely well around the bag and having Manai back at 3B is a huge lift to this team. Grau has some big shoes to fill, but here is a kid that has never shied away from anything and improves everyday, he is ready to be the everyday SS. We also have some great depth with Sarno, Schmutz and Hanna; those three could very easily be our starting infield and I expect them to see time at their respective positions."
The 2012 version of the outfield will look much different then the last two years. Only one returning starter remains and that is JR. Cory Leff. He will be the starting right fielder and looks to improve on a solid 2010 campaign. Leff hit .257 with 7 doubles and 4 home runs while knocking in 25 runs and scoring 16 times. Patrolling center field will be FR Vernon Trice (Philadelphia, PA), the speedy , athletic outfielder tries to carry on a strong tradition of Petrels center fielders. The starting position in left field has been a strong competition between SO Hunter Riley (Hodges, SC) and SO Will Hanna. Riley hit .353 in 11 games and can play all three outfield positions. Hanna batted .282 in 21 games and gives the Petrels a very versatile player. Coach Giordano expects to see both players getting time in left field. FR Anthony Amato (Roswell, GA), FR Dequez Connally (Tri-Cities, GA) along with Joey McAlpin will also see time in the outfield.
Coach Giordano assesses the outfield:
"A very young group and they keep learning the finer point of playing the outfield. Riley can play all three potions and has a plus arm, he will probably see time at all three spots. Trice is probably one of our best athletes on the team, he can play this game at a very high level. I think he is maturing every single day and will be a great asset to this team. Leff is as steady as they come in right field and offers everything you want in a right fielder. Hanna continues to grow into a left fielder as well as McAlpin, both are still learning the positions but look good early in the spring. I expect us to use at least five outfielders in varies roles this year and not get a drop off in production."
This area of the team is one of the most established and the Petrels will count on them to lead the pitching staff and defense. SR Joe Parilllo (Lawreceville, GA) and JR Jeff Brothers (East Sparta, OH) will handle the majority of the catching duties. Parillo returns for his final season and has left his mark on the program. One of the best clutch hitters around, Parillo has a career .330 batting average with 4 home runs and 33 RBI in 200 at bats. Brothers, in his first season with the Petrels hit .280 with 2 home runs and 28 RBIs in 40 games. Both players will rotate between catcher and designated hitter this spring. SO Hunter Riley and FR Jayce Owen provide depth at a very demanding position.
Coach Giordano assesses the catchers:
"Both Parillo and Brothers have been outstanding so far. They handle our pitching staff extremely well and understand how we want to attack hitters. Both give us some pop at the plate and will figure to hit in the middle of our lineup. It seems like every season we use three or four catchers so having both Riley and Owen really gives the position some depth."
Coach Giordano assesses the season:
"With so many new faces it's tough to predict how things will shake out. I do know this team has bought into the system and is prepared as any team I've coached. We are going to use a lot of players this season and I expect each guy to be ready to go when their name is on the lineup card. Its going to be exciting this year, this team is very versatile and they understand the game of baseball. Even though we are young, we understand the challenges ahead of us and are ready to face them head on. I'm proud to be coaching this group and can't wait to see them develop into the best team they can be."
To view the entire upcoming 2012 baseball schedule, go here.