#44 North Carolina State Baseball 2015 Preview

North Carolina State Wolfpack

Overall Rank: #44
Conference Rank: #8 ACC
#44 North Carolina State Baseball 2015 Preview
North Carolina State Team Page


Things didn’t go as planned for North Carolina State in 2014. The Wolfpack entered the year with lofty expectations, but failed to live up to them. Coming off a College World Series appearance in 2013, a repeat performance seemed likely as NC State had a loaded junior class led by first round picks Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner. The Wolfpack got off to a great start, going 14-2 to open the year, but struggled down the stretch and finished just 32-23 and missed the NCAA Tournament all together. Seven players were drafted and signed off last year’s team, but the cupboard is far from bare in Raleigh as the Wolfpack look to bounce back in 2015.

2014: 32-23, 13-17
2014 Postseason: None
Coach: Elliott Avent

Field Players:
NC State loses shortstop Trea Turner and catcher Brett Austin, who went in the first and fourth rounds respectively in last June’s draft, but everybody else returns. Seniors Bubby Riley, Logan Ratledge, Jake Fincher and Jake Armstrong are back for their last go around and they will be joined by a trio of sophomores coming off promising 2014 campaigns. Fincher and Ratledge are four-year starters and will lead the Wolfpack offensively. Both players are coming off down 2014 seasons, where they hit just .267 and .274, respectively, but a rise in those numbers should be expected. Fincher was a Cape Cod league All-Star this summer and he will look to build off that in his senior year. Armstrong and Riley are a pair of former junior college transfers and they have both started since stepping foot on campus. Armstrong was a key member of the 2013 CWS team, but he followed that up by hitting just .229 last season. Riley, on the other hand, hit just .200 in his first season with the team. Increased contributions will be needed out of both players if NC State is going to improve in 2015. The sophomore class could be the difference makers in 2015 though. Infielder Andrew Knizner was second on the team with a .330 average last season and led the team with 47 RBI’s, so big things should be expected of him in his second season. Outfielder Garrett Suggs started 42 games in his first season with the team and first baseman Preston Palmiero hit .284 while earning 24 starts. Both of those players will be expected more of in 2015. The big question for NC State though is who takes over behind the plate. Junior Chance Shepard hit .234 as a part time starter last season, with the majority of his time coming in other positions. He will be in the mix as could redshirt-junior Luke Voiron and freshmen Scott Manea and Harris Yett.

The Wolfpack’s pitching staff was wiped out after the season, as the top four arms from last year were selected in the MLB Draft. A slew of bullpen arms from a year ago are back, led by Jon Olczak. The junior led the team in appearances with 23 and posted a solid 2.86 ERA. Brad Stone should slide into a rotation spot after making six starts last season and players like Joe O’Donnell, Chris Williams, Will Gilbert and Ryan Williamson should be in the mix for increased roles. NC State will get a boost in the pitching department as Travis Orwig is back after missing last season with Tommy John surgery and South Carolina transfer Curt Britt is eligible. Orwig was 3-0 with a 1.50 ERA in 2013 before the injury and Britt was 3-0 with a 2.35 ERA in 23 innings of work with the Gamecocks last season.

Who to Watch:
The freshmen class should be one to watch for the Wolfpack. NC State needs to replace a lot of production and they could be called on to do so. Sixteen freshmen enter the program and at least a few of them should find regular roles. The five pitchers are the most likely to see action. With a lot of uncertainty in the staff, if one of them throws well, they could be destined for a big time role.

Final Projection:
The 2015 NC State team is nowhere near as talented as the one the Wolfpack had last year, but there is still enough for NC State to get back to the NCAA Tournament. Veteran’s like Fincher, Armstrong, Ratlege and Olczak will look to get the bad taste of last year’s performance out of their mouth and get the program back on track. There is still a lot of uncertainty in spots at the moment, but if the pitching staff can get straightened out and a couple guys step into the vacant weekend rotation slots, there is enough returning offensively for NC State to return to the tournament.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Andrew Knizer, IF, 209
Hits: Andrew Knizer, IF, 69
Home Runs: Logan Ratledge, IF/OF, 5
RBIs: Andrew Knizer, IF, 47
Runs: Andrew Knizer, IF, 34
Stolen Bases: Jake Fincher, OF, 12

Wins: Brad Stone, P, 4
Innings Pitched: Brad Stone, P, 41.2
Strikeouts: Brad Stone, P, 34
Saves: Cody Beckman, P, 2; Will Gilbert, P, 2; Jon Olczak, P, 2


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