Philadelphia Baseball Review 2019 College Preview: Penn

Preview Penn baseball 2019 by Philadelphia Baseball Review
A talented core of returnees, highlighted by sophomore All-American outfielder Eduardo Malinowski, has Penn recognized as a potential Ivy League powerhouse with a legitimate chance to capture the conference pennant.

The club finished nine games below .500 last year, but finished with one tie, four defeats in extra frames, and lost a total of eight games by a single run.

The youth that struggled at times last season, particularly in close games, could be a valuable strength moving forward - at least that's the hope of head coach John Yurkow who's entering his sixth season at the helm with Penn.

"We had a small senior class last year and one of the things that impacted us, sort of in a negative way, was that we were really young on the mound," Yurkow said. "The good thing about that though is that as the season went on, a lot of those freshmen and sophomore pitchers gained valuable experience and by the end of the year some of those kids were throwing the ball really well for us and then went out and had great summers. What was probably a weakness for the team last year has set us up a lot better for this coming season."

Junior right-hander Christian Scafidi is penciled in as the ace of the staff, aiming to build off a stellar summer where he was named the Coastal Plains League Pitcher of the Year having posted a 0.66 ERA over seven starts to go with a 0.75 WHIP in 41 innings. He'll be followed in the rotation by junior transfer Josh Sidney (Valpo) and junior right-hander Mitchell Holcomb.

On the offensive side, it all starts with Malinowski. Following his impressive collegiate season where he hit .347 for the Quakers and led the team with 72 total bases, he went on to star in the Hamptons Collegiate Summer League where he led the league in hits while hitting .371 with three homers and 36 RBIs. Several scouts have touted him as one of the best prospects in the Ivy League and D1baseball.com projects him to be named conference Player of the Year.

"He's a really skilled player and probably one of the best pure hitters I've ever coached as a freshman," Yurkow said. "He's a talented kid and we'll continue to move him around and have him play some right field and some infield while he hits at the top of the order."

Along with Malinowski, the Quakers have some other impressive offensive threats in seniors Sean Phelan and Matt McGeagh and junior Chris Adams. Combined last season, the trio knocked 12 homers and drove in 97 runs while hitting .295.

The Quakers also have a crop of freshmen that may contribute early on, with Yurkow leaning on Josh Hood at shortstop, Tommy Courtney in center, and Craig Larsen at first base. All three are likely to be in the starting lineup on Friday when the club opens the 2019 campaign on the road with a three-game set against UNC-Greensboro.

"All three could be difference makers, they have serious talent," Yurkow said.

Following their set in Greensboro, the Quakers will visit Duke and Winthrop while opening the schedule with eight games in 10 days. The team returns to Meiklejohn Stadium for the home opener on March 16 with a twin-bill against Fairleigh Dickinson. The Ivy League schedule opens on March 23 with the Quakers hosting Harvard. Ivy League favorite Columbia visits for a three-game on the last weekend of the regular season starting May 3.

"If we stay healthy we'll stay in the mix," Yurkow said. "Right now, our focus is on playing well and our execution here during the first few weeks of the season. We hope that playing tough competition early on is going to set us up to have a good Ivy League season."
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Follow Patrick on Twitter: @PGordonPBR

BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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