Rosemont, Ill. – Michigan was voted the preseason favorite to claim the 2016 Big Ten Baseball Championship as voted on by the conference coaches and announced on Wednesday. The coaches voted on the top six teams and also selected three students from their own squads to a Players to Watch list. The Wolverines were followed in the preseason poll by Maryland in second place, No. 3 Indiana, Iowa in fourth place, No. 5 Illinois and Michigan State in sixth place.
Michigan is coming off its first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2008 and posted a 39-25 record. The Wolverines return 19 letterwinners and eight starters. Brett Adcock posted a 10-4 record last season with a 3.10 ERA in 17 starts and earned third-team All-Big Ten honors. Carmen Benedetti, a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection last season, posted a .325 batting average with 25 doubles, two triples and five home runs, and tallied a 1.84 ERA on the mound. Evan Hill appeared in just 11 contests in 2015, but struck out 37 batters in 38 innings of work. Adcock, Benedetti and Hill represented Michigan on the Players to Watch list.
Maryland advanced to the NCAA Super Regional for the second straight season and finished with a 42-24 overall record last year. The Terrapins return unanimous first-team All-Big Ten pitcher Mike Shawaryn, who started 17 games last season and notched a 1.71 ERA. Also representing Maryland on the Players to Watch list are catcher and designated hitter Nick Cieri, who hit .299 last season, and shortstop Kevin Smith, who earned a spot on the 2015 Big Ten All-Tournament Team.
Indiana made its third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament last season with a 35-24 record. Among the Hoosiers’ Players to Watch are third-team All-Big Ten selection Craig Dedelow, who batted .325 with 76 hits last season, Kyle Hart, who went 5-0 with a 1.21 ERA in 2015, and Jake Kelzer, who pitched 73 innings.
The Hawkeyes finished second in the Big Ten last season and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1990 with a 41-18 mark. Among Iowa’s Players to Watch are pitcher Calvin Mathews, a second-team All-Big Ten selection who posted a 2.45 ERA in 2015, utility player Tyler Peyton, who earned third-team All-Big Ten honors after hitting a team-leading .337, and shortstop Nick Roscetti, also a third-team All-Big Ten honoree.
Illinois is coming off its 30th Big Ten Championship in 2015 and advanced to the NCAA Super Regional with a 50-10-1 record. Catcher Jason Goldstein, pitcher Cody Sedlock and shortstop Adam Walton were named Players to Watch. Sedlock went 4-0 on the mound with a 4.02 ERA and tallied 29 strikeouts. Goldstein was a first-team All-Big Ten selection and posted a .286 batting average with eight home runs and 47 RBI. Walton was also a first-team All-Big Ten choice, hitting .289 and scoring 50 runs.
Michigan State tied for third in the Big Ten last season and posted an overall record of 34-23. The Spartans’ Players to Watch include pitchers Walter Borkovich and Cam Vieaux and second baseman Jordan Zimmerman. Borkovich tied the single-season school record with 30 appearances and posted a 2.73 ERA. Vieaux tallied a team-high 15 starts on the mound in 2015, pitching 90.1 innings and recording 71 strikeouts. Zimmerman joins the Spartans this season, after transferring from Mesa Community College.
The 2016 Big Ten baseball season is set to begin on Friday, Feb. 19. The preseason poll, featuring the top six teams, and the complete Players to Watch list can be found below.
2016 BIG TEN BASEBALL PRESEASON POLL (top six teams)
- Michigan State
2016 BIG TEN BASEBALL PLAYERS TO WATCH
Jason Goldstein, Sr., C, Illinois
Cody Sedlock, Jr., SP, Illinois
Adam Walton, Jr, SS, Illinois
Craig Dedelow, Jr., CF, Indiana
Kyle Hart, Sr., SP, Indiana
Jake Kelzer, Jr., RP, Indiana
Calvin Mathews, Sr., SP, Iowa
Tyler Peyton, Sr., SP/1B, Iowa
Nick Roscetti, Sr., SS, Iowa
Nick Cieri, Jr., C/DH, Maryland
Mike Shawaryn, Jr., SP, Maryland
Kevin Smith, So., SS, Maryland
Brett Adcock, Jr., SP, Michigan
Carmen Benedetti, Jr., IF/OF/RP, Michigan
Evan Hill, Sr., SP, Michigan
Walter Borkovich, Jr., SP, Michigan State
Cam Vieaux, Jr., SP, Michigan State
Jordan Zimmerman, Jr., 2B, Michigan State
Austin Athmann, Jr., C, Minnesota
Dan Motl, Sr., OF, Minnesota
Dalton Sawyer, Sr., SP, Minnesota
Ryan Boldt, Jr., CF, Nebraska
Derek Burkamper, Jr., SP, Nebraska
Colton Howell, Sr., SP, Nebraska
Jake Stolley, Sr., RP, Northwestern
Zach Jones, Sr., 1B, Northwestern
Joe Hoscheit, Jr., OF, Northwestern
Ronnie Dawson, Jr., OF, Ohio State
Troy Montgomery, Jr., OF, Ohio State
Tanner Tully, Jr., SP, Ohio State
Sal Biasi, So., SP, Penn State
Jim Haley, Jr., SS, Penn State
Taylor Lehman, So., SP, Penn State
Matt Frawley, Jr., RP, Purdue
Kyle Johnson, Sr., CF, Purdue
Kyle Wood, Sr., 1B, Purdue
Howie Brey, Sr., SP, Rutgers
Mike Carter, Jr., OF, Rutgers
Tom Marcinczyk, Jr., OF, Rutgers