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Boston College Baseball Season Preview – Predicting The Opening Night Lineup

Time to have some fun predicting who head coach Mike Gambino will run out against Santa Clara on Friday.

With opening night a little more than forty-eight hours away, and having already released our season previews of the Eagles’ pitching staff and hitters, it’s time to have a little fun projecting what we think the lineup will look like on Friday, when BC takes on Santa Clara to open the 2018 season. Bear in mind, that this lineup is purely speculation and is compiled off the players’ previous stats and experience and could be completely wrong. With that’s said, let’s get started:

Leadoff: 2B Jake Palomaki, Senior

Palomaki is one of the best table-setters in the country and he led the Eagles with a .446 OBP in 2017, not to mention, he’s the career leader in walks at BC. Yeah, he’s the guy you want in your leadoff spot.

#2: LF Jake Alu, Junior

Alu led the Eagles with a .331 average a year ago and figures to be at the top of the order again this season. He doesn’t quite have the patience at the plate as Palomaki, or the power of other hitters on the team, so he fits nicely in the two-spot. Also, Alu can play all over so, in a crowded infield, he gets the starting nod in left.

#3: C Gian Martellini, Junior

This is probably the safest bet in our projected lineup. Martellini is BC’s best power hitter and a prototypical middle of the order bat. Head Coach Mike Gambino will count on the junior catcher to drive in Palomaki and Alu when they get on base.

#4: DH Scott Braren, Redshirt Junior

Making his return to the lineup and into the cleanup spot will be Scott Braren. Before going down with a knee injury last season, the left-handed hitting Braren was performing well in the middle of the order, and is a good balance to the right-handed bat of Martellini. Though he may not hit as many homeruns as the guy in the three-hole, Braren profiles as gap-to-gap hitter who can drive in runs.

#5: SS Brian Dempsey, Sophomore

After a strong freshman season, Dempsey will make the jump to the middle of the BC lineup and will look to fill the large shoes of Johnny Adams at shortstop. Though neither seems like an easy transition, Dempsey had a good campaign during the summer and fall and should build off that this spring. He won’t be a prototypical power hitter, but he will get on base and move runners effectively.

#6: 1B Mitch Bigras, Senior

Bigras could easily fall anywhere from the cleanup spot to seven-spot, but I believe he starts the year in the six-hole, partly to take some of the pressure off him early and to get him into a rhythm before conference play opens up. Bigras’ presence in the six-spot also provides some power to the bottom half of the lineup, which will prove to be an issue for opposing pitching staffs early on this season.

#7: RF Jacob Yish, Sophomore

Getting first crack at the stating right field job will be Yish. He performed well in 22 starts toward the end of 2017, hitting at a .269 clip with a homerun and eleven RBI. The seventh spot in the lineup will be a good location for him to start the season, as he’ll likely see an abundance of fastballs early in counts.

#8: 3B Anthony Maselli, Senior

Maselli made a huge jump this summer playing for the Edenton Steamers of the Coastal Plains League, leading the league with thirty stolen bases. Maselli won’t be asked to do too much from the eighth-spot and should see plenty of good pitches to hit. Keep an eye on him to use those circumstances to put up big numbers early and solidify the backend of the Eagles’ lineup.

#9: CF Dante Baldelli, Sophomore

The nine-hole is the toughest spot to predict in this lineup. It could be filled by a number of players, including sophomore Jack Cunningham and freshman Chris Galland, but I think Baldelli gets the nod on opening night. Though he struggled in 2017, as most true freshmen do, he should learn from that experience and be better for it this season. He also profiles well as the second-leadoff because of his speed, and will give the Eagles the opportunity to turn the lineup over regularly.

Starting Pitcher: RHP Jacob Stevens, Junior

Stevens has been the workhorse of the staff for two seasons and that won’t change this year. He’ll be looked upon to be BC’s anchor on Friday nights, and should bounce back nicely from a sophomore campaign that saw his numbers dip slightly.

“First” Out of the Bullpen: RHP Brendan Spagnuolo, RHP Jack Nelson, and LHP Carmen Giampetruzzi

Obviously, it’s hard to predict who will be “first” out of the pen, since the situation will dictate whether Gambino wants to go to a righty of lefty, but the trio of Spagnuolo, a junior, Nelson, also a junior, and Giampetruzzi, a senior, will be used throughout opening weekend.

Closer: RHP John Witkowski, Junior

A year ago, Donovan Casey stepped up as BC’s stopper at the end of games. He ran his fastball into the low-to-mid 90’s and overpowered hitters before snapping off a devastating slider. This season, with Casey playing professionally in the Dodgers organization, I predict Witkowski will start the year in the closers role. He is coming off a successful summer in the Cape Cod League and will look to build off that experience this spring.

Well, there you have it. Again, the above lineup is just a prediction based on the past that was constructed just for fun and could be way off the mark. The good news is you won’t have to wait much longer to find out who’s in the actual starting lineup, as first pitch is only two days away. Be sure to check back in on Friday morning for our Weekend Preview, as we take a look at the Eagles’ first opponent in 2018, the Santa Clara Broncos.