#33 Charleston Baseball 2016 Preview

Charleston Cougars
Overall Rank: #33
Conference Rank: #1 CAA
 Charleston Logo
College of Charleston should not miss too much of a beat in 2016 under the direction of new head coach Matt Heath, who takes over for Monte Lee who left for the Clemson head coaching position. Heath was promoted from pitching coach keeping continuity within the program, which is always a plus for a mid-major program like the Cougars that is looking to continue to grow nationally.
2015: 45-15, 21-3
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Matt Heath
Field Players:
Charleston was very effective offensively all season long in 2015. The Cougars hit 75 homeruns as a team and scored 439 runs overall. Two key components of that offense will be expected to do even more in 2016 and that is outfielder Ryan Brown and Infielder/Outfielder Bradley Jones. Brown can do a little of everything as he hit .320 with five homeruns, 26 runs batted in and 15 stolen bases. Jones is more of a power threat as he hit 11 homeruns, while driving in 45 runs during the 2015 season. With the loss of Nick Pappas, Carl Wise and Blake Butler, it will be up to Brown and Jones to lead the way in picking the slack for the lost offensive production in the 2016 lineup.
This area of the team is also going to be reloaded with loss of Taylor Clarke and Brandon Glazer in the weekend rotation. Nathan Helvey, who was the number three starter last season, will be expected to move up into the number one slot in the rotation at least to start the season. Helvey was very productive as a number three starter, going 7-4 with a 2.84 earned run average. He does a nice job of pitching to contact and letting the defense go to work and make plays.
Who to Watch:  
Redshirt senior outfielder Morgan Phillips and senior outfielder Alex Pastorius are going to be key players to watch in 2016. Both Phillips and Pastorius have the ability to hit for power as they combined for 16 homeruns last season, while driving in 80 runs between the two of them. If Pastorius can get his batting average closer to .270, that will be a difference maker for this College of Charleston lineup.
Final Projection:
The Cougars will have plenty of opportunities to take on great competition out of conference in 2016. Nebraska visits to open the season for a weekend series then that will be followed up by a trip to Tallahassee to take on Florida State. UC Santa Barbara visits in April in what will be a good mid-season litmus test for Charleston to test themselves against another mid-major power like the Gauchos. Also, there will be rivalry games against South Carolina and a shot for the Cougars to take on their former coach Monte Lee and Clemson on May 10 and 11. If the starting pitching on the weekends can be solidified, whether it's a Carter Love moving from closer to starting pitcher or someone else stepping up to back Helvey, then the College of Charleston should be just fine and win another 40-45 games in 2016.
Projected Postseason:  NCAA Baseball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Ryan Brown, OF, 244
Hits: Ryan Brown, OF, 78
Home Runs: Bradley Jones, IF/OF, 11
RBIs: Bradley Jones, IF/OF, 45
Runs: Ryan Brown, OF, 63
Stolen Bases: Ryan Brown, OF, 15
Wins: Nathan Helvey, P, 7
Innings Pitched: Nathan Helvey, P, 73.0
Strikeouts: Nathan Helvey, P, 57
Saves: Carter Love, P, 4
Madness 2016 Draft Rankings:
#50 Bailey Ober