SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University baseball team has been tabbed as the team to beat in the Northeast Conference in 2018 by both Baseball America and D1Baseball.com.
In addition to picking the Bulldogs to win the NEC, both publications also listed their projected players of year and top prospects. Senior Mickey Gasper (Merrimack, N.H.) and junior Steve Theetge (Syracuse, N.Y.) were unanimous choices as the player and pitcher of the year respectively, while freshman Tyler Mattison (Fort Ann, N.Y.) was projected as the rookie of the year by D1Baseball.
Baseball America once again tabbed Bryant as the favorite entering the 2018 season. It is the sixth-straight year the publication has chosen the Bulldogs.
Gasper was named the projected NEC Player of the Year by Baseball America, while Theetge was listed as the projected NEC Pitcher of the Year. Both players earned those respective awards from the NEC at the conclusion of the 2017 season. Gasper (.342/.470/.528, 7 HR) led the NEC with 53 RBI last season, while Theetge (8-5, 3.86) led the league in wins and enters his junior year with a 17-5 career record.
Gasper (No. 1), junior Nick Angelini (Bedford, N.H.) (No. 4), Theetge (No. 5), junior Tyler Panno (Rivervale, N.J.) (No. 8) and senior Jack Patterson (Suffield, Conn.) (No. 9) were all listed among Baseball America's Top 10 2018 Draft Prospects in the NEC.
Angelini enters his junior season with a career slash line of .333/.440/.500 and has 28 career stolen bases. He tied for the team lead last season with 108 total bases. Panno is coming off a breakout sophomore season that saw him hit a program-record eight triples and drive in 35 runs. Patterson also enjoyed a stellar 2017 season as he returned from a one-year absence to go 4-0 with three saves and a 2.90 ERA in 40 1/3 innings.
The writers at D1Baseball picked Bryant as the NEC favorite, while also listing its projected player, pitcher and rookie of the years, along with the top pro prospects for 2018 and 2019 and the top impact freshman.
D1Baseball predicted Bryant to sweep the NEC's major awards for a third-straight season as Gasper, Theetge and Mattison were recognized. Gasper will try to become the first back-to-back player of the year in NEC history, while Theetge has his eyes on becoming the ninth pitcher in program history to win 20 games.
Mattison, who is also listed as the top impact freshman in the NEC, comes to Bryant after a marvelous career at Fort Ann. He helped Fort Ann to a state title his senior season before pitching in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League in the summer of 2017. There, he was recognized as the No. 4 pro prospect in the league.
According to D1Baseball, Angelini is the top-ranked pro prospect in the Class of 2018. Gasper is listed at No. 6.
Titus was named the 2017 NEC Rookie of the Year after hitting .296 with 16 doubles, eight home runs and 42 RBI. He then went on to earn All-Star honors in the NECBL for Ocean State last summer.
Morgese was thrown right into the fire as a true freshman and put together a solid second half in 2017. He finished the year with a 4-6 record and a 4.89 ERA in 53 1/3 innings, which ranked third on the team.
Freshman Shane Kelly (Sewell, N.J.) joined Mattison in D1Baseball's list of top impact freshmen, as the two newcomers took the top two spots. Kelly will get a chance to play right away in the outfield or at DH for the Bulldogs this spring.
Bryant opens the 2018 season on Feb. 16 when it travels to Arizona for a three-game series with the Wildcats.