Jan. 20, 2016

By Russell Dorn

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Just a month away from the start of the 2016 college baseball season, it’s time to go around the bases with the University of Notre Dame baseball team.

The Irish kick off the 2016 season February 19-21 in Santa Clara, California for a three-game set with the Santa Clara Broncos.

Irish In The Preseason Rankings

Last Wednesday (January 13) Perfect Game released its preseason top 25 poll. For the first time in the Mik Aoki era ND earned a top 25 ranking in the preseason as the Irish found themselves nestled in between Michigan and Texas Tech at No. 24.

Notre Dame is one of seven ACC teams that are ranked in the top 25 poll. The Irish trail No. 2 Louisville, No. 9 Virginia, No. 11 Miami, No. 13 NC State, No. 20 Florida State and No. 22 North Carolina in the poll. ND will play 19 games against No. 25 teams including three against the No. 2 Cardinals, two against No. 5 LSU, three against No. 11 Miami, one against No. 12 Oregon, three against No. 13 NC State, three against No. 20 Florida State, three against No. 22 North Carolina and one against No. 23 Michigan. Seven of the 19 games will be at Frank Eck Stadium on Notre Dame’s campus.

Individual Preseason Rankings

Junior standout and 2015 Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner Cavan Biggio was recently ranked No. 63 in Perfect Game’s top 150 college prospects list and No. 106 in the organization’s top 250 overall prospects list for the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft. Biggio is ranked No. 79 in Baseball America’s top 100 college prospects list for the MLB Draft.

Biggio finished 2015 with 50 walks (14th – DI), nine homers and an impressive .406 OBP while starting all 60 contests. In the field, the Houston native boasted a .986 fielding percentage at second base to lock up the collegiate gold glove award.

Sophomore pitchers Brandon Bielak (No. 88) and Brad Bass (No. 91) were recently ranked in Perfect Game’s top 100 overall prospects for the 2017 MLB Draft.

An ACC all-freshman honoree in 2015, Bielak led the Irish in starts (14) and innings pitched (88.2) while posting a 6-3 record and 3.55 ERA. Bass, meanwhile, overcame a midseason injury to finish with an outstanding 1.91 ERA over 33.0 innings of work. He finished with a 3-1 record and two saves in 19 appearances.

MLB Spring Training Invitees

Some big news came down the pipe last week as former Irish All-American and 2015 Notre Dame graduate Trey Mancini was offered a spot at MLB spring training for the Baltimore Orioles. The 2015 Brooks Robinson Minor League Player of the Year Award winner, Mancini is just the latest Notre Dame baseball alum to receive an invitation to spring training. Former Notre Dame teammates Eric Jagielo and Joe Hudson have reunited in Cincinnati and will both be at Reds spring training.

Other MLB spring training invitees include veterans A.J. Pollock (Diamondbacks), a 2015 MLB Gold Glove winner and All-Star, Jeff Samardzija (Giants), Jeff Manship (Indians), John Axford (Athletics) and David Phelps (Marlins).

Craig Counsell & Pat Murphy Update

In case you missed it late in 2015, former Irish head coach Pat Murphy accepted the job as the bench coach for the Milwaukee Brewers. The appointment reunites him with his former Irish pupil Craig Counsell, who is entering his second season as the manager of the Brewers. After spending several seasons as a minor league manager for the San Diego Padres, Murphy spent a majority of the 2015 season as the interim manager at the MLB level for the organization.

Murphy coached Notre Dame baseball from 1988-1995 and put together a remarkable 318-116-1 (.732) record while recording 45+ wins in each of his final six seasons for a program that had never won 30 games in a season dating back to 1892. The Irish went to five NCAA Championships and came very close to qualifying for the College World Series on multiple occasions during the Murphy era.

Counsell earned four monograms at Notre Dame playing under Murphy before being drafted in the 11th round of the 1992 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies. He won two World Series – one with the Florida Marlins & another with the Arizona Diamondbacks – and played in the majors for 16 years.

Tickets On Sale

Tickets for both the 2016 USA Baseball-Irish Classic in Cary, North Carolina and the 2016 ND home schedule are now on sale. Check out UND.com/buytickets for more information.

Under the direction of Aoki, a veteran coaching staff and co-captains Lane Richards and James Nevant, the Irish return 20 monogram winners, the entire infield including Biggio and third team all-Atlantic Coast Conference performer Kyle Fiala (3B), their starting catcher in Johnny Bench Award candidate Ryan Lidge and 472.2 of 554.2 innings on the mound in 2016 from a team that went 37-23 overall and finished tied for third during the regular season in the powerful Atlantic Coast Conference before advancing to their first NCAA Regional appearance since 2006.

For more information on the Notre Dame baseball, follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDBaseball), Twitter (@NDBaseball) and Instagram (notredamebaseball).


Russell Dorn, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2011 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame volleyball, rowing and baseball programs. A native of Greenwood, South Carolina, Dorn graduated from Furman University in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in history before earning his master’s degree in sports communications from Georgia State University in 2011.