Feb. 12, 2014
2014 Big Ten Players to Watch
EVANSTON, Ill. -- With the dawn of another NCAA Baseball season near, the Big Ten Conference released its annual Players to Watch list and preseason poll Wednesday. Three Northwestern players are featured on the list including pitchers Brandon Magallones and Matt Portland, along with returning All-Big Ten honoree Kyle Ruchim.
Magallones figures to anchor Northwestern's pitching staff in 2014 after winning five games and posting an ERA of 3.30 a year ago. The Manhattan, Ill., native made 13 starts in 2013 and went the distance in two of those games. Magallones struck out 48 in 84.2 IP and opponents hit .257 off the right-hander. As a freshman in 2012, he led the team with seven wins and 67 strikeouts.
In one of the more memorable outings of his career, Magallones baffled the Indiana Hoosiers in a complete-game victory last May. The junior held the 14th-ranked Hoosiers, who went on to win the Big Ten Championship and appear in the College World Series, to a lone run on two hits in a convincing 12-1 victory in Bloomington. He was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week for his outstanding effort.
Magallones is slated to make his 2014 debut on the bump in the season opener on Friday, Feb. 14 against USC in Los Angeles.
Portland is poised to become a key component for the pitching staff in his second season in Evanston. As a freshman a year ago, the Victor, N.Y., native picked up two wins while making seven appearances, including six starts. Portland fanned 25 hitters in 28.1 IP, including a career-high eight in seven-shutout innings against Wheaton on April 16.
Portland will likely make his debut as a sophomore on Saturday afternoon against the Trojans.
Ruchim returns to the Wildcats lineup for his senior season after a spectacular junior campaign. The Buffalo, Grove, Ill., native batted .365 in 42 games last season as he was named to the All-Big Ten third team. Ruchim ranked third in the conference in on-base percentage (.441) a year ago, fourth in batting average (.365) and fifth in slugging percentage (.533). He led the team with 61 hits, including 16 doubles, three triples and two home runs while spending time primarily at second base and centerfield.
Earlier this week, Ruchim was tabbed as one of the top 100 seniors in the country by Perfect Game and he was named to the College Sports Madness All-Big Ten preseason team.
Indiana was the unanimous choice a atop the preseason poll as selected by the Big Ten head coaches. For complete poll results and the players to watch list, please click the PDF at the top of the page.
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