Alabama A&M Baseball Looks to Build on Young Foundation

Freshman Zeth Malcom did a solid job as the Bulldogs catcher in 2017. Bill Ballew photo

Alabama A&M head coach Mitch Hill has discovered just how difficult competing at the Division I level of college baseball can be. After leading the Bulldogs to a school-record 26 wins and earning Southwestern Athletic Conference Coach of the Year honors in 2015, Hill has seen his team fall to a 13-44 mark in 2016 and a 12-45 record in 2017. This past spring A&M ranked 297th among the D1 299 programs in RPI.

Marsonek set the program’s single-season mark with 137 strikeouts, good for seventh in the nation. He also ranked second in the country with 38 appearances (30 relief outings, 8 starts) and limited opponents to a .237 average. His 225 strikeouts over two seasons also tops the Bulldogs’ all-time chart.

With Marsonek now playing pro ball, Hill is looking to build a foundation with the help of a solid group of returners, including several players who displayed promise as

Freshman Zeth Malcom did a solid job as the Bulldog catcher in 2017. Bill Ballew photo

Freshman Zeth Malcom did a solid job as the Bulldog catcher in 2017. Bill Ballew photo

freshmen. Caleb Gay, who entered last season being named by Black College Nines as a “HBCU Top Impact Freshman,” showed flashes of promise while going 2-5 with a 6.14 ERA in 19 games, including 10 starts. Fernando Diaz also pitched well at times despite losing all six of his decisions and notching an 8.93 ERA in 14 games and six starts. Fellow righthanders Jonathan Parry (0-3, 13.97 ERA, 14 games, 4 starts) and Dameyune Mayhand (1-1, 17.12 ERA, 14 games, 1 start) have potential but need to be more consistent after both hurlers had more walks than innings pitched.

The Bulldogs expect to have senior righthander Blaine Milam (pictured above) heading the rotation after he went 4-10 with a 5.73 ERA in 15 starts and 20 outings overall. Junior Dalton Mitchell (1-6, 9.24 ERA) is a two-way player who also toils in the outfield and hit .265 with 10 RBIs in 54 contests last year. Other potential returning contributors on the mound are sophomore Njike Hunter (0-1, 3.86 ERA, seven games, 1 start) and left-handed sophomore Casey Warner (0-1, 16.03 ERA, 9 games, 1 start).

While the Bulldogs had a 7.19 ERA, even with the presence of Marsonek’s 2.91, the offense, meanwhile, batted only .234 with 11 home runs and a .300 slugging percentage.

In addition to Mitchell, A&M’s top returner is senior first baseman Carson McGregory, who batted .280 with a team-best 13 doubles and 23 RBIs. Sophomore catcher Zeth Malcolm did a good job overall while hitting .254 with a team-high four home runs and 20 RBIs. Senior center fielder Carlton Peppers (.249) and junior infielders Brandon Whitaker (.246) and Pierre Brewton (.233) provide leadership while they look to turn around the Bulldogs’ fortunes.

About the author, Bill

Bill Ballew has been involved with collegiate and professional baseball since 1983. He has been the Atlanta correspondent for Baseball America since 1991 and has served as the editorial content manager for Baseball The Magazine for more than five years. He is a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA), National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).

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