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Baseball America: St. John’s is the team to beat in the Big East

Mooney, Brocato and company return to the diamond with great expectations.

Baseball - dugout Wendell Cruz

Despite losing three of their star players (SS Jesse Berardi, C Troy Dixon, and OF Michael Donadio) to the MLB draft after last season, Baseball America still considers the Red Storm the elite of the Big East baseball in their conference preview, released on Tuesday.

“Even after a few key losses, St. John’s returns an experienced, veteran team that should again be formidable on the mound and in the batter’s box,” writer Teddy Cahill wrote about Ed Blankmeyer’s ball club.

Both the Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year went to St. John’s players, Anthony Brocato, and Sean Mooney, respectively.

In addition to the awards, four of the top 10 prospects coming out of the Big East for the upcoming MLB draft are members of the Red Storm. Infielder Josh Shaw was listed as the top prospect. Kevin Magee (LHP), Jamie Galazin (OF, RHP), and Brocato (OF) were the other top 10 prospects.

“Mooney isn’t overpowering, but can locate his fastball, which sits around 90 mph, in all parts of the strike zone and effectively mixes in a cutter, curveball, and change-up,” Cahill said of Mooney.

Mooney has already been tabbed by the Big East as the Preseason Pitcher of the Year, while Brocato shared the Big East’s Co-Preseason Player of the Year with Butler’s Tyler Houston.

The Baseball America Big East preview briefly mentions John Valente, another key returning contributor. Last season, Valente had an outrageous average of .375 and will be one of the leaders of the Red Storm’s offense.

Cahill’s report also placed a heavy emphasis on pitcher Jeff Belge.

“The pitching staff behind [Mooney] looks to be deeper, especially if sophomore lefthander Jef Blege, a heralded recruit a year ago, can take a step forward with his control.”

Coming off a 42-13 season, expectations should be set high in Queens. After making it to the Big East Championship game, and an appearance in the NCAA Regional, the team returns enough experience that poise them for another run to the postseason.