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MAC Baseball Predictions and Players to Watch

The MAC's Preseason Poll was released yesterday, so we've decided to have our own little rendition along with a few players that we should be on the lookout for this year.

Ball Diamond, home of the Ball State Cardinals
Ball Diamond, home of the Ball State Cardinals
Ball State Photo Services

Teams to beat: Central Michigan, Kent State

As Baseball America pointed out, Central Michigan has a ton of depth this year. Jordan Foley, Matt Towbridge, Nick and Logan Regnier are some of the MAC's top prospects. There's no time like the present, and this could be the year that the Chippewas make a run towards the MAC Tournament Championship. And Kent State is, well, Kent State. Lots of talent on that roster to go around. Always stacked with talent with excellent coaching. Tim Duncan should have a blast in his first year as the Golden Flashes' head coach.

Teams to watch out for: Miami, Ball State

While there are still a lot of question marks looming over the heads of this year's RedHawks team, they still have enough guys that are capable of having breakout seasons in Dan Walsh and Kendall Johnson. Ball State brings back Scott Baker, who many are tagging to be the preseason favorite for MAC Pitcher of the Year for his second straight season.

Players to watch: Ty Gilmore (3B-Eastern Michigan) & Devan Ahart (OF- Akron)

Gilmore is a JUCO transfer from Central Arizona College, where he batted for a .321 average (seventh in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference), with an on-base percentage of .470 (eighth) and a slugging percentage of .482 (12th). Already tagged as Eastern Michigan's starting third baseman, Gilmore is looked at to provide a lot of power to the Eagle offense in the middle of the lineup.

Ahart has been a great asset for Akron thus far and still has a lot of potential to make an even bigger name for himself. He's a solid defender with good speed and the offense he brings isn't half bad, either. Ahart will likely stay as the team's third hitter in the lineup, and his batting statistics that reflect run totals will go up if the pieces around him improve.

Pitchers to watch: Eric Lauer (Kent State) & Andrew Lacinak (Bowling Green)

Lauer, named #14 freshman prospect by Baseball America, will be heavily looked at. He might not get a starting role from the get-go, but he'll likely be a Sunday option if he does start games.

Lacinak missed 22 months of playing after having Tommy John surgery his freshman year. In 2012, he made seven appearances with five starts with an earned run average of 2.77. He will be the Falcons' Sunday starting pitcher.

Predictions:
Final Standings:

West
1 Kent State
2 Bowling Green
3 Miami
4 Buffalo
5 Akron
6 Ohio
East
1 Ball State
2 Central Michigan
3 Northern Illinois
4 Eastern Michigan
5 Toledo
6 Western Michigan

Final Rankings & MAC Tournament Seeds:

Rank/Seed Team
1 Kent State
2 Ball State
3 Central Michigan
4 Bowling Green
5 NIU
6 Miami
7 Buffalo
8 Eastern Michigan
9 Toledo
10 Akron
11 Western Michigan
12 Ohio

MAC Champions: Ball State