Johnnies Picked as Preseason BIG EAST Favorite, Mooney and Brocato Grab Major Awards|
Dec. 19, 2017
QUEENS, N.Y. -
For the fourth-straight season, the St. John’s baseball team has been picked to win the BIG EAST in a preseason poll of the conference’s coaches, it was announced this morning by the league office.
In addition to the team’s success, the league’s coaches have also recognized a number of Red Storm players for their projected individual prowess, as Sean Mooney unanimously earned Preseason Pitcher of the Year accolades and Anthony Brocato claimed Preseason Co-Player of the Year honors alongside Butler’s Tyler Houston. Coming off strong showings in a 2017 campaign that saw the Red Storm win 42 games, John Valente, Josh Shaw and Joe LaSorsa also found spots on the Preseason All-BIG EAST Team.
Mooney, who became just the second player in BIG EAST history to be named the conference’s Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year simultaneously last spring, enters 2018 on the heels on a spectacular rookie season that saw him earn All-America honors from three separate publications, the first St. John’s player to do so since Joe Panik in 2011. The Marmora, N.J., native compiled an 8-2 record with a 1.71 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP, the latter two of which ranked in the top 10 nationally. Prior to a pair of postseason setbacks against Xavier and Vanderbilt, Mooney turned in a mark of 8-0 with a 1.10 ERA. Striking out 88 batters while surrendering just 16 walks in 100 innings of work, Mooney earned on spot on USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team over the summer, the first St. John’s player to do so since Frank Viola. In 13 starts, Mooney went seven innings or longer nine times and turned in six outings of eight innings or longer. He also recorded one complete game shutout.
A unanimous All-BIG EAST selection in 2017, Brocato tied for the team lead with 47 RBIs and paced the squad with eight homers, the highest total in that category for a St. John’s player since Jeremy Baltz in 2012. The Helmetta, N.J., native turned in his best efforts during conference play, belting five of his eight home runs, slugging .780, and knocking in a league-high 20 RBIs in just 16 appearances. Brocato hit .424 against conference foes, a metric that ranked second in the BIG EAST. Six of Brocato’s eight round trippers came in multi-homer games, as the right fielder hit two bombs apiece against Georgetown, Xavier and Fairleigh Dickinson during regular season action. On the season, Brocato hit a career-best .317 while slugging at a .550 clip.
A redshirt senior, Valente had a breakout year in 2017, finishing second in the conference and 31st nationally with a .375 batting average. An ABCA/Rawlings Second Team All-Region selection and a First Team All-BIG EAST honoree, Valente started the season on an 18-game hitting streak, which when combined with the 12-game tear on which he ended 2016, set a new school record at 30 games. Striking out just 14 times in 224 at-bats in 2017, Valente was the nation’s 12th-toughest player to strikeout and also ranked in the top 10 nationally with eight sacrifice flies on the campaign. Going 3-for-6 with a pair of doubles in the Red Storm’s two NCAA Tournament contests, Valente was the only member of the Johnnies selected to the Clemson All-Regional team.
Shaw will look to continuous a successful string of play heading into 2018, as the junior second baseman earned All-BIG EAST First Team honors last season after hitting .288 with 33 RBIs for the 42-win Johnnies. Shaw started all 55 games for the Red Storm, tallying 13 doubles, a triple and a pair of home runs on the campaign. The 2016 BIG EAST Freshman of the Year, Shaw has been turning heads on the national level, earning a selection to the Cape Cod League All-Star game this summer. The Wayne, N.J., native hit .283 with 16 RBIs for the Chatham Anglers in 31 appearances.
A Second Team All-BIG EAST honoree and a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American this past spring, LaSorsa rounds out the Red Storm’s class of preseason honorees. A towering 6-foot-5, 205-pound southpaw, the Katonah, N.Y., native exploded onto the scene as a freshman for the Johnnies in 2017, going 7-1 with a 2.34 ERA in 21 appearances. The Iona Prep product registered his lone save of the season on the grandest of stages, tossing three innings of perfect relief in the Johnnies’ win over No. 7 North Carolina in Chapel Hill. During BIG EAST action, LaSorsa went 4-0 with a team-best 1.12 ERA, striking out 21 batters and surrendering just six walks while holding opponents to a .182 batting average.
2018 Preseason Baseball Poll, Awards and All-BIG EAST Team
Preseason All-BIG EAST *
^ - denotes unanimous selection¬¬¬¬ * - due to a tie in voting, there are two relief pitchers on the preseason All-BIG EAST team