Over the last few weeks, we’ve been covering the largest voids to fill across college baseball. Thus far, we’ve named the five largest such voids in the ACC, American Athletic Conference, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC.
But these bigger conferences don’t have the market cornered on tough personnel losses. In college baseball, that’s universal. Today, we’ll take a look at ten players that will be sorely missed by their mid-major conference teams.
Nick Sinay- Buffalo
Sinay’s offensive numbers for the Bulls provide one of the most unique stat lines for any player in college baseball. He hit .326 with a .470 on-base percentage, the latter number being achieved in large part thanks to being hit by a pitch 22 times. Sinay also swiped 39 bases.
He wasn’t much of a power threat, though. He had 60 hits in 2015. Only six of them went for extra bases, which is altogether not surprising, but also tough to believe. On one hand, his skill set just isn’t one that lends itself to extra-base hits, but on the other hand, given his speed and approach, it’s hard to imagine that he didn’t have more bloop doubles or other similarly fluky extra-base hits.
All things considered, Sinay was a quintessential table-setter type that will undoubtedly prove difficult for Buffalo to replace.
Alex Robinett- Army
It’s hard to imagine a pitcher who has both been as consistent and consistently improving as Alex Robinett over the last four years. As a freshman, he went 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA. His sophomore season, he proved to be a workhorse, going 7-4 with a 3.43 ERA in 15 starts. In his last two seasons, though, Robinett blossomed into a bonafide ace putting up nearly matching stat lines of 6-3, 2.02 and 6-5, 2.01, respectively.
The Black Knights have a number of quality arms still on staff, including 2015 swingman Garrison Franklin (2-1, 3.06), but finding a true ace who can even come close to replacing Robinett will not be easy.
Vimael Machin- VCU
The casual college baseball fan was introduced to Machin during the Rams’ cinderella run through the Dallas Regional and into the Coral Gables Super Regional, but he had long been a key piece of the VCU attack.
As a freshman, he burst onto the scene as a regular for the Rams and never looked back. By the time his career came to a close this past summer, he had put up a career .305/.387/.413 slash line with 45 doubles and 162 RBI. On top of it, Machin ably handled a premium defensive position as the team’s shortstop.
With the likes of Matt Davis, Logan Farrar, and Jimmy Kerrigan returning to campus for another go-round in 2016, VCU won’t be short quality hitters, but they won’t have anyone with the experience and unique skill set of Vimael Machin.
Kane Sweeney and Brandon Rawe- Morehead State
Quietly, Morehead State had a devastating offense in 2015, and these two were the top two power bats in the order.
Sweeney had a .353/.482/.626 slash line with 17 doubles, 15 home runs and 62 RBI. He also walked (53) more than he struck out (48). Rawe hit .350/.432/.578 with 24 doubles, 12 home runs, and 52 RBI.
No team is really equipped to replace two guys as productive as this pair. After all, this duo combined for 27 of the team’s 66 homers last year. But the degree of difficulty is really raised with MSU, given that they also waved goodbye to Chris Robinson (.402/9/69), Nick Newell (.360/7/58), and Robby Spencer (.340/8/71). Really, any of those three guys could also be on this list next to Sweeney and Rawe.
Anthony Sequeira- Oral Roberts
If you want someone who does a little bit of everything, Sequeira is your guy. Coming off a 2014 season in which he hit just .253 with no real power to speak of (and didn’t pitch at all), the 6’6″ Petaluma, California, native exploded in 2015.
At the plate, he hit .341/.423/.583 with 21 doubles, 11 home runs, and 58 RBI. On the mound, he saved 11 games and sported a 1.38 ERA as a dominating force at the back end of the bullpen. True two-way talents are one of college baseball’s best features, and Sequeira was among the very best in the country last season.
It’s tough enough when a team has to replace either a star in the lineup or on the mound, but when a player is both of those things, it’s nearly impossible.
Connor Panas and Brett Siddall- Canisius
Maybe it hasn’t quite shown in terms of trips to the NCAA Tournament, as they’ve fallen short as conference tournament favorites on a couple of occasions, but the Canisius program has done a fantastic job of developing into something of a regional mid-major power.
Over the last few seasons, Panas and Siddall, just two of the many quality Canadian players recruited as part of the Canadian pipeline cultivated by head coach Mike McRae, have been right in the thick of things for the Golden Griffins.
Both broke out in 2015 on the way to leading the team to a berth in the Springfield Regional. Panas hit .372/.472/.632 with 17 doubles, 7 triples, 11 home runs, 68 RBI, and 19 stolen bases. Not to be outdone, Siddall hit .341/.390/.590 with 24 doubles, 12 home runs, and 63 RBI.
McRae has proven to be a fantastic coach and recruiter with a knack for plugging holes year after year, but replacing that kind of production is a tall order for anyone.
Kyle Wilcox- Bryant
Like Canisius, their partners in the northeast, Bryant has really developed into a consistent winner ever since moving up from Division II several years ago.
Over the last two seasons, Wilcox has been the top workhorse in the Bryant rotation. During the team’s banner 2014 season that ended in the Baton Rouge Regional, Wilcox had a tough luck 3-3 record but sported a 3.03 ERA. For an encore, in 2015, he went 7-3 with a 3.24 ERA. He wasn’t the most overpowering pitcher in the world, but the coaching staff knew what they were going to get from him every time out.
Next season, the onus will be on a guy like James Karinchak to fill the void. As a freshman last season, he was named First Team All-NEC and was a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American after going 8-5 with a 3.24 ERA of his own.
Melvin Rodriguez- Jackson State
It would be tough to have a better all-around year than Melvin Rodriguez had at the plate in 2015. He hit .422/.480/.635 with 22 doubles, 3 triples, 7 home runs, 65 RBI and 13 stolen bases. To top it off, his plate discipline was nearly perfect. He walked more than twice as often as he struck out (32/14).
Maybe it’s not quite a level of dominance like we saw from Rickie Weeks at Southern in 2002 and 2003 when he batted nearly .500 on the way to winning the Golden Spikes Award in the latter season, but those numbers tell you that Rodriguez was mostly just having his way with SWAC pitching for much of the 2015 season, like Weeks was back then.
The odds are never good that you’ll end up with a guy hitting .422 for your team, but head coach Omar Jackson has really done a nice job at JSU and something tells me that, while they won’t find a single player to make up for missing Rodriguez in the lineup, their offense will be just fine.