As the 2015 season is still relatively new for the St. John's baseball team, let's take a look at the team's prospects for this season.
Firstly, it is worth noting that the 2014 Johnnies overcame early season adversity and finished the year an impressive 35-20; just one game out of first place in the Big East conference standings.
The Red Storm are returning 22 players from last season and hopes are high for the team, a prime example being their No. 29 ranking in the preseason poll. The Johnnies were also voted to finish first in the conference.
St. John's is in a rare and enviable position as they retained all 9 of their players from last year's lineup. This doesn't necessarily mean that they will be featuring that same lineup throughout the season as there are some players that will surely be jockeying for playing time this year.
Second base represents the biggest competition this season as junior Ty Blankmeyer and senior Robert Wayman will battle for time day in and day out.
Blankmeyer's struggles last season were no secret as he ended the year with a .213 average in 37 games. On the bright side, he is coming off a strong fall and even with a low batting average he managed to produce a .360 on-base percentage for the season.
Wayman is coming off a 2014 season where he made 79% of the starts at the keystone for the Red Storm. He added in a team leading 10 stolen bases and his 34 walks were good for second in the Big East.
Additionally, redshirt junior Tyler Sanchez deserves attention behind the plate. Entering his second full Division I season, Sanchez will be counted on for improvement and he has performed well in limited action thus far (3-for-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI).
The pitching staff is in a different position than the offense as it returns without James Lomangino who anchored the staff for the 2014 season.
Junior Ryan McCormick will be tasked with leading the staff this season and was a unanimous Preseason All-BIG EAST selection. McCormick has big to shoes to fill in the place of Lomangino but given his performance from last season, when his 7 wins and 59 strikeouts ranked fourth and fifth in the league respectively.
A player to watch is junior Cody Stashak, who is getting his first taste of Division I baseball in 2015. Stashak was dominant during his time at Cumberland Community College where he notched a pair of no-hitters. Stashak has lived up to the hype thus far as he earned a win in his first start of the year, going 7.1 innings and allowing just one run on four hits.
With the combination of the returning players and the expected performances from the newcomers it is absolutely possible that the team will take a step forward this year. A total of 40 wins and a first place finish in the conference seems to be a good bet as this team is likely going to be taking the next step this spring.