College Baseball Countdown: 55 Days to Go- Missouri Valley Conference

Photo Dallas Baptist Athletics

Photo Dallas Baptist Athletics

It was a banner season for the Missouri Valley Conference in 2015. They had a national seed in Missouri State, they had a second host in Dallas Baptist, and Bradley was a surprise as a two-seed.

Heading into 2016, it’s hard to say whether the league is in a better or worse place, I suppose that depends on what you value, but it’s certainly in a much different place. It’s unlikely that the conference has bell cow teams like they had last year in MSU and DBU, but the league might be deeper in the coming season and even more competitive.

Both the Bears and the Patriots have some rebuilding to do. The former will be without their co-aces from a year ago, Jon Harris and Matt Hall, along with super-talented center fielder Tate Matheny, as that trio is now plying their trade in pro baseball. They’ll still have some quality pieces, particularly on offense with Jake Burger, Spencer Johnson, and Justin Paulsen returning, but filling those voids is a big ask.

The latter will be dealing with significant departures on their pitching staff as well. Drew Smith, Brandon Koch, Chance Adams, Cory Taylor, and Joseph Shaw were all taken in the top 12 rounds of the draft and signed. Additionally, Daniel Salters and Drew Turbin, a couple of quality contributors on offense, signed as 13th and 14th-round picks, respectively, and a whole host of others, such as Tagg Duce, Nash Knight, and Chane Lynch, graduated. Like MSU, though, DBU will have some nice pieces to build around back on offense in Justin Wall, who led the team with 12 home runs, and David Martinelli, who was second on the team with 10. Also back is Austin Listi, who didn’t play last season, but hit .285 with ten homers in 2014.

The likes of Bradley and Illinois State, potential lurking contenders, will also deal with their fair share of turnover. The Braves will no longer have the services of top hitters Isaac Smith, Chris Godinez, and Drew Carlile, along with two-way star Elliot Ashbeck and pitcher Steve Adkins. The Redbirds, of course, will be adjusting to life without transcendent star Paul DeJong, who was a fourth-round pick of the Cardinals. Losing quality contributors like Mason Snyder and Ryan Koziol won’t help either.

The wild card in the Missouri Valley, and the team that will have a lot to say about how deep and competitive the league is, will be Wichita State. The program has been building under Todd Butler for a couple of years now, and it seems like it’s only a matter of time before his wins on the recruiting trail translate into wins on the field. Certainly, not having some of the worst injury luck in the entire country, as they did last year, will help.

The MVC might be down this year when compared to last year, but two things are readily apparent. First, it is well-established, at this point, as a quality baseball conference, and that goes back beyond just last season’s results. Second, and most important for 2016, this league, even if it doesn’t feature two teams hosting regionals, is going to be a lot of fun.

Work your way on over to our college baseball countdown index page (link here) if you’ve missed any of our posts over the last several weeks.


About the Author

Joseph Healy
Growing up in Houston, Joe Healy was introduced to college baseball at a young age, and it was love at first sight. Like most good love stories, that love has only grown throughout the years. When he's not at the ballpark, he enjoys tacos, college football during the fall, and the spectacle that is American politics. He holds a B.A. in political science from Sam Houston State University and a Master's in Public Administration from Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville.