Collegiate Baseball Newspaper has projected Youngstown State senior first baseman Andrew Kendrick to be the Horizon League Player of the Year in its 2018 preview edition.
Kendrick set a new YSU single-season record with 17 home runs while adding career highs of 43 RBIs, 36 runs scored, a .273 batting average and a .583 slugging percentage in 2017. He shattered the previous school record by five, and he had the most homers by a Horizon League player since 2006. Only two returning players in the entire country, Morehead State's Niko Hulsizer and Missouri State's Jeremy Fierman, averaged more home runs per game than Kendrick last season.
Kendrick caught national attention last season with his hot start. He was named the National Hitter of the Week by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and a National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball during the opening weekend of the season.
Collegiate Baseball noted Penguins outfielders Trey Bridis and Kyle Benyo as well as starting pitcher Collin Floyd as Top Players To Watch in the conference in 2018. Bridis and Benyo both hit eight home runs in 2017 to tie for second on the team behind Kendrick and were second and third, respectively, in RBIs and slugging percentage. Floyd, a junior lefty, struck out at least 50 batters for the second consecutive season and earned a win at No. 17 Georgia Tech in 2017.
The publication projected Wright State right-hander Ryan Weiss and UIC closer Alex Padilla to be the top pitchers in the Horizon League. The Raiders and Flames were tabbed to finish first and second, respectively, by the Collegiate Baseball.
The Penguins will begin their schedule of full team practices on Jan. 26. The 2018 season opener will be on Feb. 16 at Belmont.