With only 11 days until Michigan's 2013 season opener, a few Big Ten conference previews were posted today.
The most detailed one, from Baseball America, has several Michigan-related items:
- Michigan picked to finish a surprisingly high sixth place
- Wolverine outfielder Michael O'Neill selected as preseason conference player of the year and the #2 prospect for the 2013 MLB draft
- Freshman Evan Hill, a left-handed pitcher, tabbed as top newcomer
- Michigan also featured with this:
Michigan Jr. OF Michael O'Neill (.327/.381/.525, 19 SB), whose uncle Paul was a five-time all-star with the Reds and Yankees, was the fastest player in the Cape Cod League last summer (6.36 seconds in the 60-yard dash). He also has bat speed, power potential and center-field skills. O'Neill plays right field for the Wolverines in deference to Sr. OF Patrick Biondi (.303/.408/.407), a smaller speedster who led the Big Ten with 32 steals last spring and the Cape with a .388 batting average last summer. He turned down the Marlins as a ninth-round pick.
Most of the Perfect Game preview is behind a paywall, but they pick Michigan to finish eighth.
Based on a survey of 9 out of 11 Big Ten coaches, College Baseball Insider has Indiana as the favorite to win the conference title (as do the two sites above). Biondi and O'Neill figure prominently in their rundown of the conference's best players:
The best defensive outfielder: Patrick Biondi, Michigan
The best outfield arm: Michael O’Neill Michigan
The best pure hitters: Michael Pritchard, Nebraska; Sam Travis, Indiana; Michael O’Neill, Michigan
The biggest power threats: Sam Travis, Indiana; Chad Christensen, Nebraska; Michael O’Neill, Michigan
. . .
The best baserunner: Patrick Biondi, Michigan
Here are some miscellaneous items:
- In their countdown of the top 100 players in the country, College Baseball Daily, after previously placing O'Neill at #77, has Biondi at #41.
From a scouting perspective, the success that Biondi had with a wood bat in the CCBL during the summer of 2012 shows a lot of promise. When added with his intuitive defense and fantastic base-running ability, that success may make all the difference for Biondi in the 2013 draft. Having Biondi back for his senior season gives the Wolverines one of their most talented players and leaders in 2013, as Biondi is one of the top players to watch for this season.
- As I posted in another thread, Erik Bakich made an appearance on WTKA this morning—here's the podcast. Among other things, Bakich talked about how young the team is, with many freshmen expected to play major roles. If the season were to begin today, the starting infield would include three freshmen.
- This is from a couple weeks ago, but in case anyone missed the news release, Biondi was named team captain and was one of five players selected for the team's Leadership Council.