(Photo credit to the St. John’s University Baseball Twitter page, Link)

The 2017 season for St. John’s University was a wonderful year, finishing with 42 victories including wins against Coastal Carolina and North Carolina, then claiming a berth in the College World Series’ regionals. As we look forward towards the 2018 season, the Johnnies have lots of talent returning on the mound, but they did lose three top position players. Shortstop Jesse Berardi who was drafted by the Cleveland Indians, catcher Troy Dixon drafted by the Seattle Mariners, and outfielder Michael Donadio drafted by the Miami Marlins.  

The offense will need the following players to continue to grow at the plate for success in the upcoming season. Josh Shaw, the junior second baseman made the All-Big East team last season and continued his strong season in the Cape Cod League where he batted .283 and made the All Star team. Another all big east team player returning is red-shirt senior John Valente.  The team’s leadoff hitter had a slash line of .375/.437/.464. Valente, is also one of the hardest players to strikeout in college as he only did it 14 times in 224 at-bats. The team’s best athlete is returning senior Jamie Galazin. The outfielder/pitcher has plus speed, covering a lot of ground in center field. Galazin also has a plus arm, as he has been clocked at 95 mph on the mound. Galazin had a solid slash line last season with .319/.378/.446 leading the Big East with five triples. Returning senior outfielder Anthony Brocato, lead St. John’s last season in home runs (eight), doubles (16), and tied for the team lead in RBIs (47). Brocato has a strong arm from right field and was also selected to the All-Big East team in 2017.

Pitching was St. John’s strong suit last season and that will continue this year if not being even better. The Red Storm have four top sophomores returning that should make a difference in the 2018 season.

Sean Mooney – the Big East Pitcher and Rookie of the Year – was also selected to the USA Baseball Collegiate Team. Jeff Belge, the 6-foot-5, 225-pound lefty was second on the team with 47 strikeouts last season. He throws his fastball in the low 90s, but needs to work on his control. The highly recruited pitcher was drafted by the Boston Red Sox coming out of high school. Gavin Hollowell, lead the team last season with an ERA of 1.65; all of his 19 appearances came in relief. He will try for a rotation spot this coming year as he pitched very well in the NECBL this summer, posting a 3-0 record, with a 3.23 ERA, 42 Ks, and only five walks in 39 innings of work. The dark horse of this group is Nick Mondak. The 6-foot-3 lefty was ranked the third best player out of the state of Connecticut by perfect game in 2016, his senior year in high school. Mondak only pitched three innings last season for the Red Storm before getting hurt.

The top incoming freshman for the 2018 season for St. John’s are Sam Lara, who was ranked the second best right-handed pitcher coming out of Massachusetts. Tim Dezzi, was ranked as the third best shortstop out of New Jersey and Chris Stefl, the number-six ranked first baseman out of New York. All the rankings courtesy of Perfect Game.

The St. John’s University Baseball website can be found at RedStormSports.com.

Joe Barbella

Scout with CBBSN. Seton Hall University.

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