Believe it or not, we’re under a month until Opening Day in college baseball.
Just one preseason poll is out so far, Collegiate Baseball ranking Clemson ACC/future opponents UNC (2), South Carolina (7), NC State (11), Georgia Tech (17), Florida State (19), Miami (28) and Georgia (29), along with the Tigers (27) in the top-30.
The preseason All-America teams are lined with ACC players:
Louisville Slugger (2012 stats): 1st team – NC State LHP Carlos Rodon (9-0, 1.57/135 Ks); NC State SS Trea Turner (.336 BA/43 RBI/57 SB);
2nd team – UNC LHP Kent Emanuel (8-4, 1.96 ERA/100 Ks); Georgia Tech RHP Buck Farmer (8-4, 3.54/115 Ks);
3rd team – FSU LHP Brandon Leibrandt (8-3, 2.82 ERA/83 Ks); FSU RHP Mike Compton (12-2, 2.87 ERA/64 Ks); Clemson 2B Steve Wilkerson (.295 BA/31 RBI); UNC 3B Colin Moran (.365 BA/35 RBI); Georgia Tech OF Brandon Thomas (.360 BA/35 RBI).
NCBWA (2012 stats): 1st team – NC State LHP Rodon;
2nd team – Virginia Tech C Mark Zagunis (.344 BA/34 RBI); NC State SS Turner; UNC LHP Emanuel; Georgia Tech RHP Farmer;
3rd team – Georgia Tech OF Thomas; FSU RHP Compton; Miami RP A.J. Salcines (3-0, 1.40 ERA/44 Ks).
Second baseman Steve Wilkerson is joined by center fielder Thomas Brittle and first baseman Jon McGibbon in the top returning leaders list for the Tigers in hitting. Left fielder Jay Baum is the only other back from the '12 lineup (.220 BA/11 RBI in 45 starts).
Those four made-up just 18.2 percent of Clemson’s home runs (8) from the lineup, but 36.4 percent of the extra-base hits.
The drop-off in hits overall isn’t as quite as much as you would think, losing Richie Shaffer, Phil Pohl, etc., with 42.3 percent back (229-of-541).
The RBI numbers mirror the extra-base hits – 37 percent returning.
Returning leaders (hitting)…
Batting Average: Brittle (.298)
Games: McGibbon, Wilkerson (59)
Runs: Wilkerson (49)
Hits: Wilkerson (76)
Doubles: Wilkerson (13)
Triples: Brittle (8)
Home Runs: McGibbon (5)
RBIs: Brittle (36)
Stolen Bases: Brittle (15)
In the rotation, three with at least six ’11 starts are at Jack Leggett’s disposal, bringing back 52.7 percent of the innings pitched (starters) and 48.4 percent of the games started with right-handers Kevin Pohle, Jonathan Meyer and Daniel Gossett.
Gossett bolsters both the returning strikeouts (50.6 percent) and walks (51.1 percent), punching out 87 batters (best by far) and surrendering 39 base on balls (second-worst) last season.
Returning leaders (pitching)…
ERA: Scott Firth (2.09)
Opposing Batting Average: Gossett (.221)
Wins: Pohle (7)
Appearances: Firth, Meyer (24)
Strikeouts Gossett (87)
Saves: Firth (3)