The American Athletic Conference is still a young conference. It has only been around for a few years. In those few years though, the conference has established itself as one of the top conferences in college baseball. The Houston Cougars won the regular season outright, but not by much as the Pirates of East Carolina were just one game back at the end of the season. ECU went on to win the conference tournament and to receive the automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. The American got three teams into tournament play, as ECU traveled to Coral Gables for the Miami Hurricanes Regional, Tulane made the short trip from New Orleans to Baton Rouge to take part in the LSU Regional, and Houston was chosen as a one of the 16 regional hosts. ECU lost both of their games while Tulane and Houston each went 1-2.
2015 Conference Standings
- Houston (43-20, 16-8)*
- East Carolina (40-22, 15-9)**
- Tulane (35-25, 13-11)
- South Florida (34-26, 13-11)
- Memphis (37-21, 12-12)
- Connecticut (31-27, 11-13)
- Central Florida (31-27, 10-14)
- Cincinnati (15-41, 6-18)
* Regular Season Champion in Italics
AAC Tournament Champion in Bold
THE AAC IN THE RANKINGS:
THE WAY I SEE IT
- East Carolina
- South Florida
- Central Florida
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
- Houston is the preseason favorite and for good reason. Despite a lot of injuries in 2015, the Cougars were able to win the conference. Andrew Lantrip and Seth Romero should be a stable force in the rotation for UH while Bubba Maxwell (returning from Tommy John surgery) should add some depth in the bullpen. The offense is also going to be very, very good. Infielder Josh Vidales provided some big time offense and defense for the Coogs last season, and Corey Julks and Connor Wong are both key returners as well.
- Though Houston is my pick to win the conference, East Carolina shouldn’t be a surprise if they are in the mix to win it. They showed in the latter part of the 2015 season and the AAC tournament that they have some quality pitching depth, as well as a lineup that can hurt you 1-9. Look for Jimmy Boyd and Evan Kruzcynski to be the leaders on the mound, while catcher Travis Watkins tries to lead them offensively.
- UCF got off to a hot start last season, and even found themselves in the Top 10 going into conference play. But the Knights found The American to be tough sledding as they dropped series to Cincinnati, Tulane, and East Carolina. They have a tough schedule to begin the season as they travel to Rice in the first weekend of March right after a midweek two-fer against Florida.
- Tulane is a bit of a wild card in this conference as the Green Wave enter their second season under head coach David Pierce. Catcher Jake Rogers could be the best defensive catching prospect in this year’s draft, while Stephen Alemais could be dynamite at shortstop for Tulane. Their pitching depth is also a year older and stronger this season. I have them slotted third, but don’t be surprised to see them in the mix as well.