It's safe to say Elliott Avent likes the baseball team he has assembled for 2012:
"This is the best defensive team we have had in my 16 years at N.C. State," Avent said. "And it's the best team speed we've had in my 16 years."
"I think in past years we went into the season kind of feeling it out and kind of seeing where we're going to go from there," Ciencin said. "But this team we've got a goal in mind and I think right now that's the ACC championship."
I'd imagine that the starting lineup will look something like the list below, in no particular order. Last season's stats (batting average, on-base pct., slugging pct.) are included.
Brett Williams (CF) .286/.368/.445
Chris Diaz (SS) .306/381/.407
Matt Bergquist (2B) .289/.355/.433
Andrew Ciencin (3B) .257/.325/.369
John Gianis (RF) .289/.386/.368
Tarran Senay (LF) .264/.391/.380
Danny Canela (1B/DH/C) .260/.338/.435
Brett Austin (C)
Mystery Man (DH/1B)
Maybe someone can offer some insight on which guy might be the ninth member of the lineup. I'm also assuming that Austin will start given his pedigree but I don't know anything for sure.
One of the questions is: how does the adjustment to the new bats go in year two of their implementation? Several guys on last year's club--Ciencin, Gianis, Senay, Canela--saw huge dips in production with the new bats. How they respond to that in 2012 will go a long way toward determining whether or not the offense gets better. And especially with Pratt Maynard and Harold Riggins gone, State needs some guys to step up and fill that power void.
As for the rotation, how is it going to shape up beyond Carlos Rodon? Cory Mazzoni and Rob Chamra have departed, and Chris Overman is going to stay in the bullpen. (Which could be a mistake, but we'll see.) Ethan Ogburn (4.52 ERA in 2011) and Danny Healey (6.15 ERA) are the returnees who started the most games in 2011. Josh Easley (5.96) should be in the mix as well, and he had some impressive peripherals last year (struck out 53 batters in 45.3 innings).
Grant Sasser? Vance Williams? And what of Anthony Tzamtzis, who missed all of 2011 after undergoing Tommy John surgery?