St. John's isn't exactly known for its baseball tradition, but it's perhaps the most underrated programs in the northeast and they're off to a strong start early in 2018.
The Red Storm have played just seven games thus far, but have won all of them, including a 5-2 win over Top-10 ranked North Carolina in Chapel Hill two weeks ago and a three-game sweep in Cary at the Penn State Tournament.
The school's baseball history is significantly richer than the average baseball fan may realize. They haven't won a lot, but have produced pro players nearly every year, sending three to the draft last year, two in 2016 and four in 2015.
San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik, a 2011 1st-round pickl, is perhaps the most well-known of the recent players to come out St. John's into pro ball, but former Cy Young winner Frank Viola and former long-time closer John Franco are St. John's products, too.
This year's roster is not void of talent, either.
Ace Sean Mooney has been sensational in two starts (11 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 19 SO) after a standout freshman season a year ago (8-2, 1.72 ERA, 100 IP, 16 BB, 88 SO) and senior Kevin Magee has yet to allow a run or a walk in 12 frames while punching out 17.
Joe Kelly has been terrific out of the pen (10 SO in 8 IP), as has closer Joe LaSora (3 Saves).
But the Red Storm have been balanced, batting .298/.348/.438 and are 9-for-10 in stolen base attempts. Senior Luke Stampfl entered play Saturday 12-for-27 and John Valente started 13-for-32 with three stolen bases.
The intrigue St. John's brings to the early season goes beyond the numbers, however. They have momentum after reach the Regionals last spring, bringing in a strong 2018 recruiting class led by Top 25 right-hander Lineras Torres and are out on the trail doing it again for 2019, including one of the country's top 40 prospects in SS Isaac Nunez.
The '17 class was solid and deep and the 2016 group for head coach Ed Blankmeyer was headlined by lefty Jeff Belge, who's regularly sitting 91-93 mph with his fastball and is up to 95.
Any mention of Red Storm baseball recruiting has to include Mike Hampton, Blankmeyer's long-time assistant who is widely considered among the elite assistants and recruiters in college baseball.
Blankmeyer and company are looking for a second straight trip to the NCAAs and if the early-going is any indication, the Red Storm are well on their way.