SEASON PREVIEW PART II: Positional Breakdown|
Feb. 6, 2015
QUEENS, N.Y. - Expectations are high for St. John's in 2015 as the Red Storm returns 22 letterwinners from a squad that finished 35-20 a season ago and finished one game out of first place in the BIG EAST standings.
Bolstered by a league-leading six Preseason All-BIG EAST selections, St. John's was voted to finish first in the annual BIG EAST Preseason Poll for the first time since 2012. The Red Storm also earned a No. 29 ranking in the Collegiate Baseball Preseason Poll.
St. John's returns 11 position players, including 10 that started at least 31 games last season. The squad returns 100.0 percent (20-of-20) of its home runs, 96.0 percent (338-of-352) of its runs scored and 95.6 percent (524-of-548) of its hits from a season ago. The offense also returns 95.1 percent (294-of-309) of its RBI and 92.6 percent (75-of-81) of its doubles.
"There's a good balance of lefty and righty bats so we'll be afforded the opportunity to run out some different looks," Blankmeyer added. "We've got some speed, we've got some power and we've got a lot of guys that work counts."
Sophomore Troy Dixon [see designated hitter] will handle backup duty as he did last season when he made 11 starts at catcher and threw out 5-of-15 base stealers (33.3 percent). Dixon batted .284 with five doubles and 16 RBI to go with a .409 on-base percentage in 40 games, including 33 starts.
Freshman Anthony Fava, a Westchester/Putnam All-Star and an All-Section 1 selection at Lakeland, rounds out the depth at the position.
Senior utility-man Bret Dennis [see third base, shortstop] batted .346 last season and led the league with a .439 average in league games en route to garnering second team All-BIG EAST honors. Dennis started games at shortstop (15), second base (6) and designated hitter (10) last season, but has been preparing in the offseason to back up at first base.
Freshmen Mark Venice and David Moyer, both two-way players, add to the options at first base. Venice [see center field, pitching breakdown] garnered all-state honors as a senior and was a three-time All-Essex County choice at Seton Hall Prep. Moyer [see pitching breakdown], meanwhile, was a four-time All-West Jersey selection and a three-time All-NJAC Freedom Division selection at Kittatinny Regional.
Senior Robert Wayman [see third base] made 41-of-52 total starts last season at second base and batted .276 overall with seven doubles, one triple and 27 RBI. Wayman ranked second in the BIG EAST with 34 walks and also finished third in the conference with 46 runs scored, while adding a team-high 10 stolen bases.
Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 40th round of the 2014 MLB Draft, freshman Jesse Berardi [see shortstop, designated hitter] adds a lefty bat to the competition. The Long Island Player of the Year as a senior at Commack, Berardi was a two-time all-state selection, a two-time all-county honoree and a two-time League 1 MVP.
Dennis [see first base, shortstop] and Wayman [see second base] are joined by redshirt freshman John Valente as options at third. Valente [see pitching breakdown], a two-way player, was a two-time All-Section 1 honoree and a two-time Westchester/Putnam All-Star at New Rochelle.
Berardi [see second base] and Dennis [see first base, third base] are also options on the depth chart at shortstop.
Freshman Aidan McDermott [see designated hitter] will be the backup in left field. A two-time first team All-Middlesex County selection at South Plainfield, McDermott was also a two-time first team all-area honoree and a two-time All-Greater Middlesex Conference selection.
Freshman Jamie Galazin, who earned Athlete of the Year and Senior Athlete of the Year honors at Notre Dame (N.J.) as a senior, backs up in center, while Venice [see first base, pitching breakdown] could also see time at the position.
Freshman Anthony Brocato [see designated hitter] has the offensive potential to challenge for time in right field. A two-time Louisville Slugger High School All-American and a two-time all-state honoree out of Rutgers Prep, Brocato was named the Star-Ledger New Jersey Player of the Year as a senior.