#25 East Carolina Baseball 2014 Preview

East Carolina Pirates

Overall Rank: #25
Conference Rank: #2 C-USA
#25 East Carolina Baseball 2014 Preview
East Carolina Team Page


East Carolina had a solid season last year, but an 11 game stretch in the middle of the year where the Pirates went 2-9 doomed the team’s postseason chances.  The good news for the Pirates is that the majority of the key performers are back this season and they are in a great position to reverse the fortunes of last year.  There are a few loses in the field, but the entire weekend rotation and closer return.  Add in a recruiting class with five junior college transfers and 11 freshmen and the outlook for East Carolina this season is very bright.

2013: 31-26, 14-10
2013 Postseason: None
Coach: Billy Goodwin

Field Players:
Drew Reynolds will lead East Carolina at the plate.  The senior utility player hit a team leading .322 with 22 RBI’s in 2013.  He also serves as the teams closer.  Senior Zach Houchins returns in the infield after hitting .317 with five home runs and 42 RBI’s in his first season with the Pirates.  Joining the duo will be a trio of outfielders who started last year.  Dylan Brown started 43 games last year and hit .216 with three home runs and 18 RBI’s.  Ben Fultz and Garret Brooks started 25 and 21 games respectively.  Fultz hit .292 with three home runs and 24 RBI’s, while Brooks hit .196, but did have a .321 on base percentage.  A pair of sophomores will be behind the plate.  Travis Watkins started 34 games and hit .267 with 16 RBI’s, while Luke Lowery started 25 games and hit .302 with four home runs and 14 RBI’s. The Pirates will look for newcomers to add a lot of production.  Lowery could also see time in the infield.  A trio of freshmen should also see infield time.  Bryce Harman and Kirk Morgan both hit over .400 during the Purple-Gold World Series in the fall, while Charlie Yorgen added a .500 on base percentage.  Junior college transfer Ian Townsend will also likely see time in the outfield after hitting .455 with a home run and 3 RBI’s this fall.  

The pitching staff is East Carolina’s strength.  They will be lead by Jeff Hoffman, who is one of the top prospects for the 2014 MLB Draft.  The junior was 6-7 with a 3.20 ERA last season.  He really started to turn head with his performance in the Cape Cod Baseball League last summer.  There, he went 2-0 with a 3.69 ERA, holding batters to a .217 average.  He was named the Outstanding Pro Prospect of the league.  Both of the other weekend starters return.  David Lucroy went 4-2 with a 2.49 ERA and Ryan Williams went 6-2 with a 4.50 ERA.  In the bullpen, Drew Reynolds will be back as the closer.  He was 3-2 with a 2.92 ERA and 14 saves last year.  Brett Mabry will join him after going 4-3 with a 2.35 ERA in 19 appearances.  Also back will be Nick Durazo and Taylor Bolton, who both appeared in ten games apiece last year and had identical 7.36 ERA’s.  East Carolina will look for added help from newcomers.  Junior College transfers James Gray and Reid Love, along with freshmen Evan Kruczynski and Luke Bolka should be the top candidates.  

Who to Watch:
Jeff Hoffman is drawing all the attention, but David Lucroy could be the key to the rotation.  In his first season playing with the Pirates, Lucroy was very impressive.  He had the second lowest ERA on the team and held batters to a .194 batting average.  He also struck out 82 batters in just 72.1 innings.  With a year under his belt, those numbers could improve this season.  The duo of Hoffman and Lucroy should be very dangerous this season and the Pirates will look to turn it into a successful season.

Final Projection:
East Carolina has had a strong program over the years, but took a step back last season.  From 1999 to 2012, the Pirates reached the postseason 12 times and won three regionals, but missed the postseason last season.  This season’s team looks to have the makings to return to a regional.  The Pirates will be tested early with a series at Virginia, but the schedule is mostly in East Carolina’s favor.  They get Rice, Southern Miss, and Florida Atlantic at home this year.  With the favorable schedule and a lot of production back, watch out for the Pirates.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Drew Reynolds, IF, 211
Hits:  Drew Reynolds, IF, 68
Home Runs: Zach Houchins, IF, 5
RBIs: Zach Houchins, IF, 42
Runs: Zach Houchins, IF, 34
Stolen Bases: Dylan Drown, OF, 7

Wins:  Jeff Hoffman, P, 6; Ryan Williams, P, 6
Innings Pitched: Jeff Hoffman, P, 109.1
Strikeouts: Jeff Hoffman, P, 84
Saves: Drew Reynolds, P, 14

Madness 2014 MLB Draft Rankings:
#2 Jeff Hoffman
#131 David Lucroy


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