#34 Florida Atlantic Baseball 2014 Preview

Florida Atlantic Owls

Overall Rank: #34
Conference Rank: #3 C-USA
#34 Florida Atlantic Baseball 2014 Preview
Florida Atlantic Team Page


Florida Atlantic fell just short of winning an NCAA Regional title last year, as they lost to North Carolina 12-11 in a winner take all matchup.  The game lasted 13 innings and the Owls had an 11-8 lead in the 12th before losing.  The Owls were 42-22 on the season and will look to ride that momentum into 2014.  They will bring back the core of that team and they will look to get back to a regional and win it.

2013: 42-22, 17-10
2013 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: John McCormack

Field Players:
Tyler Rocklein will be back to lead the offense this season.  Rocklein hit .288 in 2013 and led the team with ten home runs and 49 RBI’s.   He will be joined by the middle infield duo of Ricky Santiago and Mitch Morales.  Santiago hit .298 with five home runs and 29 RBI’s, while Morales hit .301 with 30 RBI’s.  Levi Meyer will be back as the catcher after hitting .299 with five home runs and 35 RBI’s.  After a promising freshman campaign, Brendon Sanger will also return.  Sanger hit a team leading .347 with three home runs and 28 RBI’s.  A trio of bench players will look to step up and add production.  Robert Buckley and Nicholas Worrell will vie for time in the infield.  Buckley hit .237 playing in 29 games while Worrall had a .278 on base percentage in limited playing time.  Billy Endris joins them and should be a starter in the outfield.  He hit .242 in 33 at bats over 26 games.  The Owls highly rated recruiting class will join the returners and look to contribute. CJ Chatham could be a candidate.  The 6-4 infielder comes in highly recruited.  

The Owls return most of their pitching staff from last season, led by their starting rotation.  Austin Gomber is back after going 8-4 with a 2.97 ERA in 17 starts.  Jeremy Strawn will also return after going 5-4 with a 3.46 ERA in 17 starts.  Three sophomores will be looked at to join them in the rotation.  Brandon Rhodes was 3-2 with a 4.18 ERA in 13 games, seven of which he started.  Kyle Miller also started seven games and was 3-1 with a 4.85 ERA.  In just three starts, Sean McGarry put up the best numbers, going 2-0 with a 2.79 ERA.  Bo Logan and Kevin Alexander will be back in the bullpen.  Logan went 5-1 with a 2.68 ERA in 27 appearances, while Alexander was 3-3 with a 2.89 ERA in 26 appearances.  Two big-time arms join the team after being drafted last June.  Sean Labsan was a 16th round pick and David McKay was a 30th round selection.  Both figure to play key roles.  

Who to Watch:
Labsan and McKay could be different makers for the Owls.  Labsan throws three pitches well off of the mound and can play outfield.  His fastball can reach the low 90’s and it is complemented with a solid curveball and changeup.  McKay has been clocked at 93 on his fastball.  Both will be looked at to replace the departed pitchers that Florida Atlantic relied on last year.

Final Projection:
Moving to the C-USA, the Owls will see a jump in competition.  The league has perennial power Rice to go along with an East Carolina squad with some big name players.  They will be tested early as they play Rice in their second conference series of the year.  With some highly touted recruits providing a boost for the ball club, Florida Atlantic should to be back in an NCAA Regional at years end.   

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Tyler Rocklein, IF, 242; Ricky Santiago, IF, 242
Hits: Ricky Santiago, IF, 72
Home Runs: Tyler Rocklein, IF, 10
RBIs: Tyler ROcklein, IF, 49
Runs: Brendon Sanger, IF/OF, 49
Stolen Bases: Tyler Rocklein, IF, 7

Wins: Austin Gomber, P, 8
Innings Pitched: Austin Gomber, P, 106
Strikeouts: Austin Gomber, P, 103
Saves: Kevin Alexander, P, 1; Bo Logan, P, 1


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