Previews for 2013 Big Ten baseball season

Submitted by Raoul on February 4th, 2013 at 10:47 PM

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.

Comments

Gobgoblue

February 5th, 2013 at 12:19 AM ^

you're saying Michael O'Neill is pretty good.

I am a baseball junkie (Tigers), so I will definitely walk down to the diamond and check out a few games this year!

colin

February 5th, 2013 at 12:43 AM ^

So M has two of the top couple players in the league but won't even be above average?  How bad are the rest of our guys?  No offense meant, I just assumed we were average-ish top to bottom for whatever reason.

Michigan Arrogance

February 5th, 2013 at 7:10 AM ^

it's our pitching. The previous coach seemed to strike out in developing high quality pitching prospects at this level. Well, since that great run around 2008 anyway.

That combined with youth and no power from the infield. Plus, I don't think the catcher position is in great shape either

Bluecamo

February 5th, 2013 at 8:00 AM ^

We have a great OF, probably the best in the Big Ten (Offensively and Defensively). That was a no doubter until Will Drake transferred. Where do they lack? Just about everywhere else.

Our Infield is extremely young and our Pitching staff leaves something to be desired. If you do not know who your ace is and who your weekend staff is at this point, then you are in trouble. Pitching has been awful for us in the past few years and it really has held them back. If they can develop some young pitchers, they might be able to hold their heads above water this year, but they are going to need some guys to step up. 

The new bats have really affected their run scoring ability in the past couple of years. They way Bakich talks, he knows he cannot live on the long ball and will look to produce runs other ways. Likely by using their speed and putting pressure on teams. In college, that can be very succesful, but you need guys on base and making contact. We will see.

Like everyone is predicting, they will probably not be a threat this year to win the Big Ten, but I bet they give a better effort than in the past few years. They have a chip on their shoulders and are looking to revive the baseball program again. Go Blue!