JR RHP Curt Britt (2015)
JR RHP Jon Olczak (2015)
rJR LHP Travis Orwig (2015)
JR RHP Karl Keglovits (2015)
JR LHP Brad Stone (2015)
rSO RHP Johnny Piedmonte (2015)
SR OF Jake Fincher (2015)
SR OF Bubby Riley (2015)
SR 2B/3B Logan Ratledge (2015)
SR 1B/OF Jake Armstrong (2015)
JR C Chance Shepard (2015)
SO RHP Cory Wilder (2016)
SO 3B Andrew Knizner (2016)
SO OF Garrett Suggs (2016)
SO 1B Preston Palmeiro (2016)
SO RHP Joe O’Donnell (2016)
SO LHP Ryan Williamson (2016)
SO LHP Cody Beckman (2016)
FR RHP/INF Tommy DeJuneas (2017)
FR RHP Evan Mendoza (2017)
FR OF Storm Edwards (2017)
Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner aren’t walking through that door.
Just one year after being the center of the college baseball world, North Carolina State returns a really thin group of 2015 draft prospects. JR LHP Brad Stone seems poised to take over the mantle as top pitching prospect, but, no knock against him, his stuff (upper-80s heat, usable change, pair of interesting breaking balls) is many steps down from Rodon on his worst day. He’s still the best of what’s around, and an arm worthy of serious draft consideration going forward. There’s also JR RHP Jon Olczak (low-90s FB) as a potential middle reliever to watch. One of the big stories to follow this spring for this team will be the return to health of a trio of talented arms that could help boost the team back into contention. rJR LHP Travis Orwig (88-92, good mid-70s CB), JR RHP Karl Keglovits (strong name, large human, sinkers all day), and rSO RHP Johnny Piedmonte (6-8, 240 mountain of a man with plus arm strength) all bring something worth tracking to the table. So the cupboard isn’t totally bare, but we’re down to saltines and leftover duck sauce packets. If even two of those arms coming back from injury has a big year and the projectable Stone continues to grow as a pitcher and Olczak responds to an increased role…you just never know. When you’re hungry enough a saltine/duck sauce sandwich can taste pretty good. Or so I’ve heard.
If I have the nerve to call the pitching thin, then what does that make NC State’s hitting? There are a ton of seniors returning hoping that one final push will get them a shot at pro ball. I hold some hope that SR OF Bubby Riley (speed, CF range, some pop) can recapture what got him so much early buzz last season, but his disappointing 2014 (.200/.340/.261 in 115 AB) tempers a good bit of the old enthusiasm. SR 2B Logan Ratledge could still have some appeal as a potential late-round senior sign utility infielder, but it’ll take an area guy sure he can play shortstop professionally to make that dream happen. My favorite prospect on the team is SR OF Jake Fincher. I really believed a breakout year was in store for him last season, but things never got on track. He’s a great thrower who can really run, and his positional versatility — how many guys can say they’ve logged time at C, SS, and CF? — make him a really fun super-sub to project going forward. Alas, all those virtues will go unloved if he doesn’t get his bat going. Check his career stats to date (first two seasons are park/schedule adjusted)…
2012: .295/.352/.400 – 19 BB/35 K – 17/24 SB – 210 AB
2013: .317/.406/.358 – 34 BB/40 K – 15/21 SB – 265 AB
2014: .267/.342/.317 – 19 BB/53 K – 12/13 SB – 202 AB
The gains made from his freshman season to his sophomore year — trading some pop for a more disciplined approach — are what encouraged me the most from a strictly performance-based standpoint going into last year. Needless to say, he went backward in that area in a big way last season. I’m not as optimistic about a return to his sophomore season numbers as I’d like to be, which bums me out. Fincher is a really entertaining player to watch when he’s right. One can only hope he can put together a strong final season for both his sake and the watchability of the NC State lineup.
Hadn’t realized this at the time, but JR RHP Curt Britt is now on the Wolfpack roster and eligible to play right away after transferring from South Carolina. He’s a good one and arguably the team’s top 2015 draft arm.