COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. The Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference released its annual Preseason Coaches poll Wednesday and Colorado State University-Pueblo Baseball was voted to finish sixth. Easton Adler, Rion Santamaria, and Aidan Welch were named Players to Watch.
CSU-Pueblo finished the 2019 season with a 21-15 record in RMAC play, which after an NCAA violation landed the Pack sixth place in the conference. They went 26-25 overall.
Head Coach Stan Sanchez now has 862 career wins. Sanchez ranks 14th all-time in wins at the D-II level. In 25 seasons, Sanchez has 21 winning seasons. Sanchez has led the Pack to 11 consecutive RMAC Tournaments.
Adler (Sr., Mead, Colo.) earned Second Team All-RMAC honors in 2019. He led the Pack with a .390 average and 16 stolen bases. Adler was also named Preseason All-South Central Region by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.
Santamaria (Sr., Yorba Linda, Calif.) hit .359 in 48 games last season. He scored 44 runs and drove in 33 more. Santamaria matched a RMAC record with three triples in one game against Adams State University (Feb. 3).
Welch (Jr., Seattle, Wash.) batted .331 in 44 games, playing shortstop and second base. He ranked second on the Pack with 40 RBIs. Welch mashed a home run in three consecutive games. He slugged .528.
The Pack also returns both of its starting catchers. Daniel Abiles (Sr., Glendale, Ariz.) and Stone Romero (Sr., Albuquerque, N.M.) split time behind the dish last season. Abiles hit .324 with a home run and 21 RBIs. Romero batted .273 with 20 RBIs.
Seven pitchers return for CSU-Pueblo. Gunner Pickett (Sr., Longmont, Colo.) went 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA in three starts at the end of last season. Pickett struck out 31 batters in 31.1 innings of work.
Brett Matthews (Sr., Queen Creek, Ariz.) finished 3-3. He fanned 46 batters in 41.2 innings of work.
Andrew Coverly (Sr., Aurora, Colo.) had five saves in 2019, third-most in the RMAC. Relievers Rocco Arguto (Pueblo , Colo.), Gary Fayard (Sr., Corona, Calif.) Matt Goytia, JC Hatch (Sr., Corona, Calif.) all return for the Pack's bullpen.
Offensively, the Pack also returns starting infielder Kodee Martin (Sr., Elkorn, Neb.). He is joined by returning infielders Reggie Williams (So., Castle Rock, Colo.), Zac Hanenberg (So., Cañon City, Colo.), Brock Rodrigues (So., Pueblo, Colo.).
The Pack has a lot of depth in the outfield. Logan Gibbons (Sr., Taylorsville, Utah), JP Hopkins (R-Sr., Chino Hills, Calif.), and Adrian Martinez (Sr., Tucson, Ariz.) all made an impact last season. Hopkins hit. 341 with three home runs and 22 RBIs. Martinez finished with a .306 average and 17 RBIs. Gibbons drove in 11 runs.
Former RMAC Player of the Week Billy Reyes (R-Sr., Yucaipa, Calif.) returns to the Pack after missing last season due to injury. Reyes hit. 253 with two home runs and 15 RBIs in 2018. Pitcher, Jacob Garcia (R-So., Romoland, Calif.) also returns after missing the 2019 season.
The Pack brings in 22 newcomers that will look to make an impact for the ThunderWolves. Nine new faces will bolster the Pack's pitching staff, while eleven new position players will take the field for the Pack.
The ThunderWolves will start their season Friday Feb. 7 when they welcome Emporia State University to Rawlings Field for a four game series. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. on opening day.