The Big Ten announced Wednesday that three Nittany Lions made the baseball preseason honors list.
— Big Ten Baseball (@B1Gbaseball) February 15, 2017
The first of the three on the list is junior right-handed pitcher Sal Biasi. Biasi will have the task of toeing the rubber for game one of Penn State’s season-opening series this Friday at No. 1 TCU. Last year, the 6-foot right-handed pitcher made 13 starts on the mound and a lone relief appearance out of the bullpen. In his 14 outings during 2016, Biasi posted a 3.74 ERA in 67.1 innings. He was almost able to average a strikeout per inning but fell just short with a total of 66 punch-outs on the year.
Sophomore Willie Burger was next to make the list for the Nittany Lions. Burger was one of coach Cooper’s most versatile hitters last season as a true freshman. Burger, who platoons the infield while eating up some innings behind the plate, impressed mostly with his bat last season. Despite a rib injury that caused him to miss 16 games, he still finished second on the team with 34 RBIs. A healthy Burger could prove to be the most dangerous bat in the Nittany Lions lineup. Burger was also a unanimous selection to the Big Ten All-Freshman team last spring.
The final Nittany Lion to make the conference list was senior outfielder Nick Riotto. The Washington, Pa., native had an impressive junior campaign by finishing with a slash line of .307/.405/.385. While Riotto is a regular in terms of getting on base, it’s his defense that makes him most valuable. In 105 total chances last season, the slick fielding Riotto made just two errors, which translates to an outstanding .981 fielding percentage. Riotto is the lone senior roaming the outfield for Penn State this season, meaning his experience has the potential to bring the Nittany Lions a long way.
Biasi, Burger, and Riotto will be the stalwarts of a Penn State baseball team hoping to improve on its 28-27 record from a season ago. The Nittany Lions haven’t made the conference tournament since 2012.