Feb. 3, 2001

The Notre Dame baseball team received more preseason accolades in the recent release of Baseball America’s college baseball preview edition, as five Irish players were named to the magazine’s preseason all-BIG EAST teamled by preseason player of the year Brian Stavisky.

The magazine also picked the Irish to win the BIG EAST regular-season title, listed three Notre Dame players among the top six pro prospects in the BIG EAST, tabbed Irish players as the conference’s top three freshmen and cited Irish players for owning the BIG EAST’s “best tools” in six different categories.

Baseball America’s 14-player preseason all-BIG EAST team included seven players who also were named to the BIG EAST coaches preseason all-BIG EAST team, led by all five Notre Dame honorees: senior righthander Aaron Heilman (the 2000 BIG EAST pitcher of the year), senior shortstop Alec Porzel, junior catcher Paul O’Toole, junior centerfielder Steve Stanley and Stavisky, a sophomore rightfielder whose 14 home runs in 2000 ranked fourth among all freshmen in Division I baseball (the BIG EAST coaches poll also picked Stavisky as the league’s preseason player of the year). Rutgers (3) and Virginia Tech (2) were the only other schools to place multiple players on BA’s preseason all-BIG EAST team.

BAwhich ranked Notre Dame No. 9 in its preseason national pollalso picked the Irish to win the regular-season BIG EAST title, followed by Rutgers, newcomer Virginia Tech and Seton Hall. The Irish open their season on Feb. 17 in Starkville, Miss., at the National Bank of Commerce Classic.

Heilman (second), Stavisky (third) and Toole (sixth) each were listed by BA on its listing of the top professional prospects in the BIG EAST, with Rutgers righthander Bobby Brownlie listed first, Virginia Tech lefthander Joe Saunders listed fourth and Villanova righthander Brian Slocum slotted fifth.

The Notre Dame veteran players were not alone in receiving preseason praise from the magazine, which listed three Irish players among the top five newcomers in the BIG EAST: righthander Aaron Edwards (third), second baseman Steve Sollmann (fourth) and first baseman Joe Thaman (fifth). BA tabbed Edwards as the preseason BIG EAST rookie of the year while Edwards, Sollmann and Thaman were the only freshmen on the top newcomers list (the other two are transfers to Virginia Tech and Rutgers).

BA likewise released its annual “best tools” list for the BIG EAST, with five Irish players combining for six of the 16 best-tools citations. Three Notre Dame playerscatcher O’Toole, third baseman Andrew Bushey and centerfielder Stanleywere judged to be the best defensive players at their respective positions while Stanley repeated as “fastest runner,” Stavisky was named the BIG EAST player with the “best raw power” for the second straight year and Heilman again was cited for being the league’s pitcher with the “best control.”

A full listing of the Baseball America preseason BIG EAST predictions follows on p. 2 (including 2000 statistics for all players).


PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH (BA national ranking 2000 records)

1. Notre Dame (9) 18-7 46-18
2. Rutgers (35) 18-5 40-18
3. Virginia Tech (40) N.A. 34-25
4. Seton Hall (69) 18-7 40-18
5. Connecticut (86) 14-9 32-17
6. St. John’s (92) 8-15 29-22
7. Boston College (100) 12-11 35-20
8. West Virginia 10-12 25-28
9. Villanova 8-15 24-26
10. Pittsburgh 11-15 31-24
11. Georgetown 1-24 13-43

C Paul O’ Toole, Jr., Notre Dame (.302-8 HR-39 RBI), 1B Val Majewski, So., Rutgers (.286, 3 HR, 15 RBI)
2B Joe Cuervo, Sr., Seton Hall (.358-3 HR-33 RBI-37 SB), 3B Kevin Wissner, Sr., Connecticut (.389-9 HR-56 RBI)
SS Alec Porzel, Sr., Notre Dame (.342-9 HR, 58 RBI), OF Charlie Bilezikjian, Jr., St. John’s (.319-1 HR-28 RBI)
OF Steve Stanley, Jr., Notre Dame (.362-24 RBI-29 SB), OF Brian Stavisky, So., Notre Dame (.298-14 HR-45 RBI), DH Jed English, So., Virginia Tech (.368-5 HR-45 RBI), Utility Jim Vankoski, Sr., Georgetown (.317-1 HR-22 RBI, 2-8, 7.71 ERA)
Starting Pitchers Bobby Brownlie, So., RHP, Rutgers (10-1, 2.55 ERA, 102 IP/89 Ks), Aaron Heilman, Sr., RHP, Notre Dame (10-2, 3.21 ERA, 104 IP/118 KS), Joe Saunders, So., LHP, Virginia Tech (9-2, 3.92 ERA, 101 IP/66 Ks)
Relief Pitcher Jim Wilson, Sr., Rutgers (5-2, 4.01 ERA)
Player of the Year: Brian Stavisky, OF, So., Notre Dame
Pitcher of the Year: Bobby Brownlie, RHP, So., Rutgers
Freshman of the Year: Aaron Edwards, RHP, Notre Dame

1. Bobby Brownlie, RHP, Rutgers,
2. Aaron Heilman, RHP, Notre Dame,
3. Brian Stavisky, RF, Notre Dame,
4. Joe Saunders, LHP, Virginia Tech,
5. Brian Slocum, RHP, Villanova (4-4, 2.62, 76 IP/51 Ks),
6. Paul O’Toole, C, Notre Dame,
7. B.J. Benik, RHP, Seton Hall (9-5, 3.48, 111 IP/98 Ks),
8. Charlie Bilezikjian, OF, St. John’s,
9. Val Mejewski, 1B, Rutgers,
10. Jeff Mackor, C, Boston College (.307-5 HR-25 RBI).

1. Ian Ostlund, LHP, Virginia Tech (Jr., 11-4, 3.01 ERA, 4 SV at Virginia Military Institute),
2. Bill McCarthy, OF, Rutgers (Jr., .321-6 HR-46 RBI at Radford), 3. Aaron Edwards, RHP, Notre Dame, Fr., 4. Steve Sollmann, 2B, Notre Dame, Fr., 5. Joe Thaman, 1B, Notre Dame, Fr.

Best Pure Hitter – Mike Scott, Connecticut
Best Raw Power – Brian Stavisky, Notre Dame
Fastest Runner – Steve Stanley, Notre Dame
Best Baserunner – Joe Cuervo, Seton Hall
Best Defensive Catcher – Paul O’Toole, Notre Dame
Best Defensive First Baseman – Brian Leighton, Seton Hall
Best Defensive Second Baseman – Marc Tugwell, Virginia Tech
Best Defensive Third Baseman – Andrew Bushey, Notre Dame
Best Defensive Shortstop – Mike Hubbard, Boston College
Best Defensive Outfielder – Steve Stanley, Notre Dame
Best Arm (Catcher) – Jeff Mackor, Boston College Best Arm (Infielder) – Tim McCabe, West Virginia
Best Arm (Outfielder) – Charlie Bilezikjian, St. John’s
Best Fastball – Bobby Brownlie, Rutgers
Best Breaking Ball – Bobby Brownlie, Rutgers
Best Control – Aaron Heilman, Notre Dame