BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Alabama State was predicted to win the east division and Texas Southern was predicted to win the west division as the Southwestern Athletic Conference announced its 2018 preseason baseball honors. The honors were voted on by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors.
Alabama State totaled 67 points in the East division predicted order of finish and received 10 first-place votes. Jackson State totaled the second most points with 57 (1 first place vote). Alcorn State had the third most points with 49 (2 first-place votes), Alabama A&M (27 points) and Mississippi Valley State (23 points; 1 first place vote) were picked to finish fourth and fifth in the east respectively.
In the West division, Texas Southern earned the most points with 64 (7 first-place votes), Grambling State had the second most with 58 and six first-place votes. Prairie View A&M earned the third most points in the west division with 38 (1 first place vote). Arkansas Pine Bluff also earned 38 points (0 first place votes) and Southern (26 points) rounded out the predicted order of finish for the west.
Marshawn Taylor of Grambling State was named the Preseason Player of the Year. Taylor was selected as the SWAC Player, Hitter, and Newcomer of the year last season. Taylor ranked near the top of the league in multiple offensive categories in 2017, including first in batting average (.402), second in on-base percentage (.477), tied for third in runs scored (50), and first in hits (82).
Texas Southern’s Michael Villanueva was voted the SWAC Preseason Pitcher of the Year. Villanueva had a 5.66 ERA, totaled 63 strikeouts, and had eight wins for Texas Southern in 2017.
Gaudencio Lucca, also of Texas Southern was voted the league’s Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Lucca had a .986 fielding percentage on 352 chances. Lucca also led TSU with 290 putouts, fielded 39 double plays, and totaled 57 assists in 2017.
Texas Southern had the most players earn preseason honors with eight, Alabama State had the second most with seven players, Jackson State, Alcorn State, Prairie View A&M and Grambling State each had two players earn recognition, while Southern had one player selected.
The 2018 preseason teams and awards are below.
Preseason Player of the Year
Marshawn Taylor (Grambling State)
Preseason Pitcher of the Year
Michael Villanueva (Texas Southern)
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year
Gaudencio Lucca (Texas Southern)
Preseason First Team All-SWAC
C – Blake Hicks (Texas Southern)
1B – Gustavo Rios (Alabama State)
2B – Wallace Rios Jimenez (Alcorn State)
3B – Jesus Santana (Jackson State)
SS – Marshawn Taylor (Grambling State)
DH – Cage Cox (Alabama State)
OF – Joseph Estrada (Alabama State)
OF – Lamar Briggs (Jackson State)
OF – Olajide Oloruntimilehin (Texas Southern)
SP – Seth Oliver (Texas Southern)
SP – Darrien Williams (Prairie View A&M
RP – Michael Villanueva (Texas Southern)
Preseason Second Team All-SWAC
C – Hunter Allen (Alabama State)
1B – Christian Sanchez (Texas Southern)
2B – Gaudencio Lucca (Texas Southern)
3B – Ray Hernandez (Alabama State)
SS – Horace LeBlanc (Texas Southern)
DH – John Pope (Southern)
OF – Yamil Pagan (Alabama State)
OF – Kamren Dukes (Texas Southern)
OF – Avery Williams (Prairie View A&M)
SP – Elijah Saunders (Grambling State)
SP – Carlos Lopez (Alcorn State)
RP – Chase Laney (Alabama State)
East Division Predicted Order of Finish (First Place Votes)
- Alabama State (10)
- Jackson State (1)
- Alcorn State (2)
- Alabama A&M (1)
- Mississippi Valley State (1)
West Division Predicted Order of Finish (First Place Votes)
- Texas Southern (7)
- Grambling State (6)
- Prairie View A&M (1)
- Arkansas Pine Bluff (0)
- Southern (1)