There will be plenty of top Historically Black College and University (HBCU) talent this upcoming baseball season, but we’ve decided to limit this report to an elite ten to look out for in 2017. In selecting Black College Nines’ “10 players to watch in 2017”, we considered who might be a top prospect, but it was virtually impossible to predict. What stands out with this group is that they are unknown, but have the ability to produce on the field for their team.
As Black College Nines gears up for another season of HBCU Baseball, we have put together a short list of unfamiliar names to look out for during the 2017 season. These are players who could be game day impact players.
Here are ten names you may not know, but could be HBCU top baseball players in the making for the 2017 season.
1. Wallace Rios – Alcorn State
Junior 2B very balanced offensively and defensively. Started all 47 games for Alcorn. His offensive numbers, he hit .321 with a .402 on-base percentage in 184 at bats, hitting 3 home runs and driving in 27 runs. One of the top defensive players in the SWAC in putouts and assist solid, quick in getting to balls hit up the middle. Look for Rios to be at the top of the stat sheets during the 2017 season.
2. Jalen Luter – Tuskegee
Sophomore 1B is disciplined, fundamentally sound, and plays with heart. Productive year as a freshman, batted .286 with 6 home runs and 25 runs batted in. Gives the Golden Tigers a great chance to compete for a win each game. All indication, Luter could feast on SIAC pitching this season.
3. Jordan Johnson – Clark Atlanta
Johnson was the starting shortstop for the entire season, but also made 19 relief pitching appearances. During the 19 relief outings, Johnson had a 2.61 ERA with a 4-1 mark and four saves. Over 31.0 innings of relief, Johnson struck out 33 batters and held the opposing hitters to a .274 batting average. Johnson led the Panthers’ pitching staff in overall wins (4) and tallied the only saves on the staff in 2016. Also, hit 5 home runs and drove in 20 runs.
4. Phillip Mandt – West Virginia State
Senior 1B played in 46 of 47 games during the 2016 season. At 6′- 4″, his offensive numbers for the Yellow Jackets included a .271 batting average, with a .383 on-base percentage in 158 at bats, hitting 16 doubles, 4 home runs and driving in 31 runs. Returning for his final season, WVSU won’t be short of quality hitters to go along with Mandt experience.
5. Jordan Pontious – Edward Waters
Junior SS hits to all fields. One of the tops in triples in the NAIA last season while batting .404, with 3 doubles, 7 triples and 30 runs batted in. Threat to get on base every at bat, can develop into a power producer. Most of Pontious’ doubles and triples were inches away from being homeruns.
6. Issac O’Bear – Grambling State
Redshirt senior RHP, appeared and started in thirteen games for the Grambling Tigers last year. O’Bear went 7-3 with 61 strikeouts and a 4.85 earned run average in 84.0 innings pitched. A proven effective starter last season. All indications are that he could be among the top pitchers in the SWAC conference and a key piece to Grambling success in 2017.
7. JT O’Reel – Alabama A&M
SS O’Reel, the NCAA Division I statistical champion for “Toughest To Strike Out” in 2016. Struck out just six times in 205 at-bats, once in every 34.2 at-bats. He finished the season hitting .268 with 55 hits in 53 games, 1 home run and 26 runs batted in. Good contact hitter who always puts the ball into play. Did not strike out more than once in any game and was called out on strikes just once. Potential to be a top HBCU baseball lead-off hitter.
8. Aderly Perez – Arkansas Pine-Bluff
2B Perez has really developed into a consistent all-around hitter for the Golden Lions. He hit .351 to go along with 7 doubles and 21 runs batted last year. Perez has been a big on-base presence for UAPB keeping men in scoring position in front of him. He could drive more runs in if given the chance to play daily in the SWAC.
9. Joseph Holmes II – Clark Atlanta
Joseph Holmes II is back for his junior season and will again play the utility role. Holmes played in all 43 games for the Panthers while hitting .244 with 12 runs batted in. Holmes II, played short stop, second base, catcher, pitcher and all three outfield positions while batting at the top of the lineup. Was 18-for-18 in stolen bases and scored 29 runs. Look for a 2017 break out year.
10. David Markins – Virginia State
Senior C returns to the Trojans after making All-CIAA last season. Markins hit .325 in 36 games with 11 doubles, 2 triples and 23 runs batted in. He is good at handling his pitching staff and is a player to watch in 2017.