As the DII baseball selection show gets closer, let's take a look at a few high-impact players that could make a big splash in the NCAA DII tournament.
Josh Elvir, Angelo State
The question isn’t what makes Elvir an exciting player, it’s what doesn’t? The junior outfielder is in a world of his own right now. He leads DII baseball with a .477 batting average. His 1.623 OPS shows there’s little Elvir doesn’t do well, with 39 of his 71 hits going for extra bases, including 17 that have cleared the fence. He’s tough to strikeout and has posted a 45-to-35 walk-to-strikeout rate making him maybe the most dangerous hitter in DII baseball.
Mason Janvrin, Central Missouri
While Janvrin doesn’t possess the power Elvir does, he’s still a nightmare to get out and the spark plug atop the MIAA-leading Mules lineup. The junior outfielder is hitting .426 with a 1.056 OPS and leads the MIAA in runs (59) and stolen bases (31). Here’s the scary part. Janvrin’s teammate Erik Webb is equally dangerous, leading the MIAA with a .430 batting average and 17 home runs. Not to take a single thing away from Webb, but we went with Janvrin as the more exciting of the bunch as the leadoff hitter that gets one of DII baseball’s most explosive offenses rolling.
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Micah Pries, Point Loma
Point Loma is battling to chase Azusa Pacific and UC San Diego atop the West Region, and Pries is a big reason why. Sure, his stats are great, hitting .331 with a 1.102 OPS and a team-high 17 home runs, but here’s the number that gets us excited: 8. Pries has struck out just eight times in 182 plate appearances. Someone that gets the bat on the ball that often, especially come tournament time, can be an absolute game-changer.
EJ Cumbo, NYIT
Last year, NYIT won 13 games. This season, we pegged them as a tournament sleeper, already with a 14-win improvement over 2018. Head coach Frank Catalanotto clearly changed the culture, but freshman EJ Cumbo has certainly been a big factor himself. He’s leading the ECC with a .448 average and has five doubles, five home runs, and a team-high 17 stolen bases. Cumbo is an exciting three-hole hitter in the heart of the lineup of one of the more intriguing stories of the 2019 DII baseball season.
Matthew Minnick, Mercyhurst
There are a few arms on the Lakers that could be considered exciting. Tyler Garbee is amongst the DII baseball strikeouts-per-nine leaders and is coming off of a no-hitter. But we chose Minnick, and it’s well deserved.
#PSACbsb West Pitcher of the Week is @HurstAthletics' Matthew Minnick! The New Yorker earned a win after working 5.3 scoreless innings over Slippery Rock. He allowed just one hit while recording 11 strikeouts. pic.twitter.com/qOPXS08zGH— PSAC Sports (@PSACsports) April 22, 2019
Not long ago, Minnick was widely considered one of, if not the best pitcher in DII baseball. Tabbed Baseball America’s DII preseason pitcher of the year before the 2017 season, Minnick suffered two injury-shortened years in a row. Now, he’s looking more like that pitcher we all thought we’d see, leading all levels of college baseball with an astonishing 18.38 strikeouts-per-nine. He’s struck out 36 over his last three starts and has his ERA down to 1.05.
Jeff Chandler, North Greenville
Did you see that catch? It may not have been just the DII catch of the year, but maybe the best in all of college baseball. Go ahead, take a look at the link below or on top of this article.
This entire Greenville lineup can make this list. John Michael Faile is in the running for freshman of the year, Adam Sasser's home run swing is powering this team, and the all-around play of Utah Jones at the plate and in the field can't be ignored. But when you combine Chandler's stats (.357, 11 home runs) with his ability to go Superman over a wall, well, that's just flat-out exciting.
Ed Baram, Adelphi
The Panthers are the top seed in the East Region, and if they go far, it will be on the right arm of Baram. Three runs. That's all the senior has allowed in 2019. And as the weather of the Northeast warmed up, so has Baram, not allowing a single run in all of April. He enters May with a 0.46 ERA, the best in DII baseball.
Three more to watch:
Cole Kelszcz, Azusa Pacific: Kelszcz is one of two dangerous hitters for APU, joining Osvaldo Tovalin as a terror to opposing pitchers. His 19 home runs are amongst the best in DII baseball, and Azusa Pacific is rising to the top of the West Region.
Joe Corbett, West Texas A&M: What can we say? We love strikeouts. Corbett has struck out 112 in just 73 innings of work and is the ace the Buffs need to make some magic happen in the postseason.
John Mauldin, Arkansas-Monticello: The Boll Weevils have an under-the-radar offense, and right smack in the middle of it is Mauldin. His four home run game on April 5 made some headlines as he continues to stay red hot at the end of the year.