The calendar is approaching mid-February, and with the conclusion of the Super Bowl, people are beginning to turn their attention to baseball.
Spring training begins soon for MLB, meaning fans can watch exhibition games until Opening Day. For those who want to watch meaningful games, college baseball is approaching, with some teams beginning the season as early as this weekend (Feb. 9-11).
Baseball America recently released their Mountain West Preview and had a few things to say about the San Diego State Aztecs. For one thing, they believe the Aztecs are the team to beat in the conference this season. They also think San Diego State freshman third baseman Casey Schmitt will be voted Freshman of the Year by the Mountain West.
Looking further down the preview, Baseball America lists their top 10 MLB prospects in the Mountain West Conference. The publication has three Aztecs on this list: first baseman Jordan Verdon (No. 4), outfielder Chase Calabuig (No. 6), and catcher Dean Navarez (No. 7).
Verdon is a local product who attended Granite Hills High School in El Cajon. He was coached by former Aztec pitcher James Davis at Granite Hills.
Verdon was selected in the 24th round by the New York Mets in the 2015 MLB First Year Player Draft. He went to SDSU instead.
Verdon posted a .814 OPS last season with four home runs and 40 RBIs. Even more impressive, he had a .998 fielding percentage. He committed just one error in 62 games in 2017. He’s spent a large majority of his time at first base, but made a few appearances at third.
He’s the No. 4 overall prospect in the Mountain West, according to Baseball America, but the publication has him listed as the conference’s top infield prospect.
Calabuig has experience at all three outfield positions. Playing for Capistrano Valley High School in San Juan Capistrano, California, he didn’t commit a single error (147 chances in 72 games).
Calabuig posted a .986 fielding percentage in 2017, committing two errors in 140 chances. With the bat, he slugged .469, hitting 12 doubles, two triples, and seven home runs.
He played for the Dodge City A’s in the Jayhawk League in 2016. He batted an impressive .427, which led the team. He was named Hitter of the Year by the Jayhawk League.
Not impressed with a .469 slugging percentage? How about a .521 slugging percentage? Sure, he played in fewer games and had fewer at-bats, but those numbers have him ranked as the only catcher in the top 10 Mountain West prospects list.
Nevarez made 44 starts in 2017, and appeared in 52 games in all. That’s a big jump from 2016, when he made only five starts behind the plate.
Nevarez posted an .884 OPS last season, with seven doubles, a triple, and nine home runs. He had the second-most home runs on the team.
Nick Sprengel, Left-Handed Pitcher, San Diego Toreros
Since we’re talking about MLB prospects playing at the college level in San Diego, we should shed some light on Nick Sprengel. Baseball America has him projected as the top prospect in the West Coast Conference, and predict that he will be named the conference’s Pitcher of the Year.
Sprengel made 14 starts on the mound last season, posting a 9-1 win-loss record with a 3.29 ERA. He tied a program record for the best winning percentage in a season. He was named to the USA Collegiate National Team.
Sprengel’s best start last season was on April 20, where he pitched eight innings of shutout ball against BYU. He struck out seven hitters. San Diego won the game 6-3.
Sprengel pitched 82 innings over 15 appearances in 2017, striking out 86 while allowing a .244 batting average.