#33 Purdue Baseball Preview

Purdue Boilermakers

Overall Rank: #33
Conference Rank: #1 Big Ten
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Purdue’s baseball fans are wondering how the Boilermakers can top in 2013 what was a spectacular 2012 campaign. It isn’t every year you can post a record number of victories, win Big Ten championships and host an NCAA regional. Purdue did all of that in 2012, winning 45 games, capturing the regular-season and postseason tournament, and getting to host its own regional. It was not among the teams advancing to the super-regional round, however, as Kentucky beat the Boilermakers and ended the team’s season. Still, Purdue appeared in its first NCAA tournament since 1987 and won the Big Ten for the first time since 1909. What will happen this year?

2012: 45-14, 17-7
2012 Postseason: NCAA tournament
Coach: Doug Schreiber

Field Players:
The team will have some problems replacing power in the lineup, as Cameron Perkins and Kevin Plawecki combined for 16 homers but left following their junior years as selections in the 2012 Major League Baseball draft. Barrett Serrato is also gone, having graduated, and David Miller also left. Eric Charles, the team’s top hitter, also graduated. By now you are probably asking what is left? Senior outfielder Stephen Talbott, that’s who. Talbott hit .347 and stole 15 bases last year. He will be needed greatly, as Purdue lost six of its seven batters who hit .300 or better, not to mention combined for 25 of the team’s 34 home runs. Angelo Cianfrocco, who played first base and outfield last year, hit .235 and drove in 25 runs in 42 games. No doubt the Boilermaker lineup has been decimated by graduation and draft losses.

Purdue also has a big problem on the mound, as all three of last year’s ace pitchers (Blake Mascarello, Joe Haase and Lance Breedlove) are gone. The trio took with them 27 victories and close to 200 strikeouts, leaving a gaping hole. There is some good news. Redshirt senior Robert Ramer was 6-1 with a 2.86 earned run average and a devastatingly sharp ratio (two walks, 30 strikeouts). Jack DeAno (2-1, 4.02) is also back, but it is hard to tell how he will fare. Mike Gaglianese and  Mike Lutz were also used during fall ball, with mixed results in the team’s series of intrasquad games.

Who to Watch:
Keep an eye on catcher and first baseman Sean McHugh, who may have the best bat among the reserves coming back. McHugh only played in 30 games last year, 19 of those as a starter, but he had three homers and 24 RBI. Believe it or not, that was enough to qualify McHugh as the top homer hitter returning.

Final Projection:
As much as last year resembled the movie Cinderella, this year’s Purdue baseball team may be more like a disaster movie. The key word here, of course, is “may”. Purdue could be in a lot of trouble because of all the bats missing from last year’s team, but if McHugh can improve on his power and Talbott can hit for average and steal for speed, then there may be enough building blocks to construct the new roster. Ramer likely takes over as the ace and he’ll have three sets of shoes to fill. Purdue should have enough to get back to the NCAA tournament, but do not be surprised if the team falls short of its goal. History will not repeat itself in West Lafayette.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Stephen Talbott, OF, 173
Hits: Stephen Talbott, OF, 60
Home Runs: Sean McHugh, C/1B, 3
RBIs: Sean McHugh, C/1B, 24
Runs: Stephen Talbott, OF, 32
Stolen Bases: Stephen Talbott, OF, 15

Wins: Robert Ramer, P, 6
Innings Pitched: Robert Ramer, P, 50.1
Strikeouts: Robert Ramer, P, 30
Saves: None


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