The 2019 DII baseball season is underway. While some of the big returners and top-ranked teams are already doing what we expected, there are some freshmen off and running, ready to make a mark this season.
Let’s take a look at a few to keep your eyes on in 2019.
DII BASEBALL PREVIEW: Who can return to Cary in 2019?
John Michael Faile, catcher, North Greenville
The Crusaders should be a force to be reckoned with in 2019, despite a few early season losses to some very good ranked teams. Faile jumped right into the starting lineup and has been impressive thus far, with a .357 batting average and three RBI in his first four games. The former South Carolina high school player of the year is living up to the billing at the plate and behind it thus far in 2019.
Peyton Zabel, RHP, Augustana (SD)
The reigning champs haven’t kicked off their title defense just yet, but Zabel’s debut is one of the more highly anticipated in DII baseball. The monstrous righty, who stands at 6’6 and 235, is a serious strikeout artist, with over 300 in his high school career. Zabel was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers last summer but decided to bring his talents to Sioux Falls this year.
Andrew Morris, RHP, Colorado Mesa
There is a ton of young talent in Grand Junction this season. Haydyn McGeary’s bat drew rave reviews before he stepped on campus and Nathan Wilson should find a spot in the Mavericks rotation much sooner than later. But Morris is who we have our eye on.
Morris has made just one appearance thus far. It wasn’t spectacular, as he walked three and allowed a run over 3.2 innings, but his stuff sounds like it will play. He is still new to pitching, converting to full time in his final season of high school when he struck out 98 in 64 innings. He’s got the frame to grow into and can bring the heat. Oh yeah, did we mention he’ll be only 17-years-old the entire season?
Brett McGee, catcher, Southern Arkansas
The DII baseball season is two weeks old, and McGee has already captured his first Great American Conference player of the week award. Not too shabby for the new Mulerider.
McGee has played in six games thus far and has a hit in each of them. He’s hitting .417 with a home run in the early going and has been impressive behind the plate, throwing out two runners and not making an error yet on the young season. Southern Arkansas may have found the complete package, and McGee’s progress will be fun to watch.
Daniel Irisarri, INF/OF/DH, Nova Southeastern
The Sharks actually have a pair of freshmen infielders, along with Duncan Pastore, that should make an impact down the road, but Irisarri is off to a hot start. He has four hits in his first ten at-bats and three RBI, which has helped the Sharks get off to a 4-1 start. The first two RBI of his career were clutch, tying the game in the bottom of the seventh against Catawba and letting Nova Southeastern cruise to victory after a four-run eighth.
Donte Palacio, outfield, Cal Poly Pomona
The 5’11 freshman centerfielder can do a little bit of everything. He’s been able to get the bat on the ball early on, with five hits in his first four games. Most impressively, three of those hits have been doubles. Early reviews were that he made big improvements from the fall to opening day, and thus far, he’s showing it.
Carson King, RHP, Florida Southern
The Mocs have always been able to pump out quality pitching and King looks like he may be the next in line. There are two ways to look at his first start of the season. You can see the four walks over four innings and be concerned about his command, but many young pitchers are susceptible to a little early wildness. Or you can look at it and realize it was a combined no-hitter. He had six strikeouts in the appearance, which equates to 13.50 per nine, and that’s exciting. Overall, we'd say it was a pretty impressive debut.
Cameron Hill, outfield, Georgia College
The Bobcats looked like they were going to have a fun offense this season with some big-time returners. If Hill keeps up his quick-start, Georgia College may be even better.
Seven is the magic number for Hill so far. He has seven hits in his first nine games, but more importantly, he’s scored seven runs and has batted another seven in. The batting average isn’t high yet, but he’s also walked more than he’s struck out, so it seems like only good things are still to come for Hill.
Joey Acosta, RHP, Azusa Pacific
Acosta was a two-way star in high school, hitting well above .300 and posting winning records on the bump. He hasn’t had to do much yet, but he was perfect in his lone outing thus far, a one-inning, one-strikeout appearance. Acosta came to Azusa Pacific with some fanfare, so it will be exciting to see how he comes along as a weapon out of the bullpen.
Don’t see you favorite freshmen on the list? Don’t worry, the season is still young. We’ll be revisiting impact freshmen throughout the season, but these nine have caught our eye right from the start.