Louisville - 51-18, CWS Participant
The Cardinals have been one of the best teams in the country since joining the ACC in 2014; going 246-81 and 109-40 in conference, winning the regular season title 4 times, and making two trips to the College World series. This spring looks to be a lot of the same, Louisville is the preseason favorite in the ACC.
Louisville looks to have one of the top weekend rotations in the country. Reid Detmers, the 2019 ACC Pitcher of the year, returns as the staff ace after winning 13 games with a 2.78 ERA and 167 strikeouts. The Cardinals return two other experienced starters in Bobby Miller, 7-1 3.83 ERA and Luke Smith, 6-1 4.24 ERA.
The top returning bat for the Cardinals is sophomore third baseman Alex Binelas, .291/.383/.612 with 14 HRs and 59 RBIs. He was 2nd team all ACC last season.
Miami - 41-20, Regional Participant
It’s never easy to follow a legend, but Gino DiMare did a great job stepping into Jim Morris’ shoes at Miami, winning 41 games and returning the Canes to the postseason after a two year absence.
Miami is a team that digs the long ball, finishing 11th nationally last season in HRs. The Canes are led by junior first baseman Alex Toral, .293/.400/.656 with 24 HRs and 67 RBIs. They have two other returning players with double digit HRs in junior third baseman Raymond Gil, .318/.396/.565 with 13 HRs and 44 RBIs, and sophomore catcher Adrian Del Castillo, .331/.418/.576 with 12 HRs and 72 RBIs.
Miami returns one of the better weekend staffs in the conference. They are led by red-shirt senior Brian Van Belle who went 10-2 last season with a 3.30 ERA. They return another starter with a sub 4 ERA in junior Chris McMahon, 3-2 with a 3.73 ERA. The final weekend starter looks to be sophomore Slade Cecconi, 5-4 with a 4.16 ERA.
UNC - 46-19, ACC Champion, Super Regional Participant
The Tar Heels return one of the top players in the conference, but will look to many unproven players to fill holes lost to the draft.
Aaron Sabato took the ACC by storm as a freshman. Winning freshman of the year with .343/.453/.696, 18 HRs and 63 RBIs. Sophomore Danny Serretti, .299/.373/.424 with 3 HRs and 45 RBIs, is the only other proven bat returning to the Carolina lineup. The Heels will have to rely on many bit players from last season.
There are big questions for the Heel’s starting rotation as well. The biggest question will be how healthy is red-shirt junior Gianluca Dalatri, a freshman all-american in 2017 who has struggled with injuries the past two seasons. If the Heels can sort out their rotation, they look to have one of the better bullpens in the ACC. Their top relievers are junior Joey Lancellotti, who has been given a chance to work his way into a starting role, and red-shirt sophomore Austin Love.
Update: It’s been released that Dalatri is out indefinitely with injury and that Lancellotti will start this weekend for the Heels.
Florida State - 42-23, CWS Participant
For the first time since the 1980 season, Mike Martin will not be roaming the FSU dugout. Stepping into those huge shoes will be Mike Martin Jr, who had been an assistant with the Noles since 1998.
The strength for FSU lies in their starting rotation. The ace of the staff is junior CJ Van Eyk, a third team all ACC player who went 10-4 with a 3.81 ERA and 129 strikeouts last season. They return two other starters with sub 4 ERAs, junior Shane Drohan 3-1 3.66 and junior Conor Grady 9-6 3.64.
Florida State ranked 4th nationally in walks last season and again looks to be a team that relies on that patience at the plate. Their top returning hitters are junior outfielder Reese Albert, .283/.390/.518 with 9 HRs and 35 RBIs and sophomore outfielder Robby Martin, .315/.398/.449 with 4 HRs and 52 RBIs.
NC State - 42-19, Regional Participant
NC State lost their all-american and ACC defensive player of the year, Will Wilson, but look to have pieces coming back to make a run at the NCAA tournament.
The Wolfpack will be lead in the batters box by two switch hitters. Junior catcher Patrick Bailey, .288/.390/.513 with 10 HRs and 46 RBIs, was first team all ACC last season. Sophomore second baseman Tyler McDonough, .320/.392/.452 with 5 HRs and 47 RBIs, was second team all ACC. NC State will also rely on it’s defense, finishing 12th nationally with a .980 fielding percentage last season.
There are a few questions for the NC State rotation. They return two starters from last season, junior Nick Swiney, 7-1 4.61 ERA 95 strikeouts, and junior Reid Johnston, 6-2 3.71 ERA. The third spot in the rotation is still up for grabs.
Duke - 35-27, Super Regional Participant
The Blue Devils have been the surprise team in the ACC the past few years, making the NCAA tournament 3 out of the last 4, breaking a streak of misses going back to 1961.
The biggest question for Duke will be the health of their starting rotation. They have been plagued with pitching injuries the past few seasons. Junior Bryce Jarvis, 5-2 3.81 ERA 94 strikeouts, will be the ace of the staff. Sophomore Cooper Stinson, 1-4 5.47 ERA, will be another arm that will be counted on.
The Blue Devils return shortstop Ethan Murray, .305/.391/.445 with 5 HRs and 40 RBIs, a freshman all-ACC selection last season. Catcher Michael Rothenberg, .269/.390/.481 with 10 HRs and 52 RBIs, is the only double digit HR hitter returning.
Wake Forest - 31-26
Wake Forest looks like a Tech team of old, strong bats with questionable pitching.
The Deacons return 2019 ACC player of the year, first baseman Bobby Seymour, .377/.439/.576 with 9 HRs and 92 RBIs. They return three players with double digit home runs numbers; sophomore catcher Brendan Tinsman, .265/.326/.529 with 10 HRs and 41 RBIs, junior outfielder Chris Lanzilli, .347/.409/.620 with 16 HRs and 67 RBIs, and junior designated hitter Shane Muntz, .313/.477/.674 with 14 HRs and 40 RBIs.
In order for Wake to take a step forward and show that their preseason ranking is deserved, they need development from their pitching staff. The Deacs have three arms that look to be in the discussion for weekend starting roles. Left handed junior Jared Shuster, 4-4, 6.49 ERA with 94 strikeouts, led Wake in strike outs last season. Sophomore righty Ryan Cusick, 7-3, 6.44 ERA, led the team in wins. The third weekend starter option is junior right hander Will Fleming, 1-4 4.26 ERA.
The ACC is again a conference that is loaded with talent and experience and will be fun to watch this spring.