PVA&M Sits Atop HBCU Preseason Baseball Poll

By Tony McClean
Updated: February 12, 2008

Wrandal Taylor

Wrandal Taylor

NEW HAVEN, Ct. — Two-time SWAC champion Prairie View A&M has been tabbed as the No. 1 team in BlackCollegeBaseball.com’s Preseason Top 10 which was officially released earlier this week.

The Panthers (34-25 last season) received seven first-place votes (163 points overall) in the poll and are followed by defending MEAC champion Bethune Cookman, who got nine first-place nods (162 points).

A&M lost three key offensive players in shortstop Michael Richard (team leading .388 BA), outfielders Calvin Lester (.266, 21 steals) and Robbie Tolan (.275, 19 RBI) along with pitcher Matthew Chase (10-2, 3.55 ERA).

The Panthers do return the SWAC’s preseason player of the year in righthander Wrandal Taylor. A 5-foot-11, 195 pound senior from Beaumont, Texas, Taylor led the conference in strikeouts with 89 and was second with 92 IP.

He was also ranked second in the SWAC in wins with nine and fifth in the SWAC with a 4.11 earned run average. PVA&M will open their season at home on February 22 against Texas College.

As for the Wildcats (33-27), manager Mervyl Melendez has first baseman/catcher Alejandro Jimenez (.331, 6 HR, 30 RBIs) and pitchers Hiram Burgos (6-7, 3.40 ERA) and Joseph Gauthier (5-2, 3.36) among his top returnees.

Rounding out the top five is Southern (26-18) at three, North Carolina A&T (28-31) is fourth, and Jackson State (33-23) at number five. The Jags’ roster includes three players on the preseason All-SWAC first team: pitcher Jarrett Maloy, catcher Michael Thomas and first baseman Calvin Anderson.

The Aggies, who also got two first-place votes, should be in the thick of the MEAC race with Bethune Cookman. Infielder Joe McIntyre (.339, 7 HR, 65 RBIs) is a candidate on the Wallace Watch List. Sophomore C.J. Beatty hit 10 homers last season, while fifth-year senior Jeremy Jones (.323, 7 HR, 45 RBIs) is back as well.

As for JSU, the Tigers were picked to win the SWAC’s Eastern Division by the league coaches. Sophomore outfielder Cortez Cole, an All-SWAC first team selection and Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American in 2007, is one of the Tigers top returnees.

The remainder of the top ten includes Norfolk State (25-25) at number six, Savannah State (30-19) is seventh, Mississippi Valley State (19-36) at eight, Alcorn State (25-20) is number nine, and Delaware State (22-26) at ten.
(Records through last season)
School W-L Pts LW
1. Prairie View A&M (7) 34-25 163 2
2. Bethune-Cookman (9) 33-27 162 1
3. Southern 26-18 127 3
4. N.C. A&T (2) 28-31 112 4
5. Jackson State 33-23 79 5
6. Norfolk State 25-25 66 8
7. Savannah State 30-19 //<![CDATA[ //]]> 65 6
8. Miss. Valley State 19-36 60 10
9. Alcorn State 25-20 37 7
10. Delaware State 22-26 31 9