About Our Grades
We love the 20-80 scouting scale at Baseball America; we use it to assess everything from prospects to our favorite local barbecue restaurants (the Backyard BBQ Pit consistently scores highest). So we figured it would be fun and instructive to subject our preseason Top 25 Rankings to the same scrutiny.
Scouts grade prospects on how their tools compare with those of an average major leaguer, but we are rating teams relative to an average college baseball team with NCAA tournament aspirations. In addition to grading our top 25 teams on typical tools like hitting for average, hitting for power, speed and defense, we have divided the fifth tool (arm) into two categories: starting pitching and bullpen. We’re also giving teams a grade for Experience/Intangibles—think of it as a team’s “makeup”, if you like. For each category, a grade of 50 is solid-average, comparable to a typical NCAA tournament contender; 60 is above-average; 70 is well above-average; 40 is below-average; and 30 is well below-average. Twenty and 80 are the extreme limits in each direction.
Finally, each team is given an Overall Future Potential (OFP) grade. The OFP scale:
80: A team for the ages. An overwhelming favorite with no obvious weaknesses. Think 1981 Arizona State or 1996 Louisiana State. There is no team like this heading into 2010.
75: The Best. The front-runner for the national title. (Florida.)
70: Elite. A leading contender for the national title. (UCLA.)
65: Well-above-average. Legitimate championship contender. (Texas Christian, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina, Cal State Fullerton, Connecticut, Clemson, Arizona State, Florida State.)
60: Above-average. Strong Omaha contender. (Stanford, Oregon, Virginia.)
55: Slightly above-average. A threat to win a conference title and perhaps reach Omaha. (Baylor, California, Rice, Arizona, College of Charleston, Texas A&M, Louisiana State.)
50: Solid-average. Strong NCAA tournament teams who could make a postseason run. (St. John’s, Miami, Tulane.)
Remember, of course, that ranking teams is far from an exact science, and there will doubtless be surprises and disappointments as the season unfolds. But we think applying the 20-80 scale is an interesting way to gauge each team’s projected strengths and weaknesses heading into the season.
2010 Record (Ranking):47-17 (7).
Coach (Record at school): Kevin O’Sullivan (123-63, 3 years).
Postseason History: 26 regional appearances (active streak: 3 years), 6 CWS appearances (last in 2010), 0 national titles.
|C||Mike Zunino, So.||.267/.314/.472||9||41||8|
|1B||Brian Johnson, So.||.405/.458/.631||4||21||0|
|2B||Josh Adams, Sr.||.224/.316/.392||9||42||6|
|3B||Austin Maddox, So.||.333/.363/.587||17||72||0|
|SS||Nolan Fontana, So.||.287/.437/.417||3||23||11|
|LF||Tyler Thompson, Jr.||.301/.360/.493||6||28||6|
|CF||Kamm Washington, So.||.308/.416/.400||1||6||8|
|RF||Preston Tucker, Jr.||.331/.436/.551||11||49||8|
|DH||Ben McMahan, Jr.||.325/.346/.442||2||11||4|
|LHP||Brian Johnson, So.||6-4||4.03||74||51||0|
|RHP||Hudson Randall, So.||8-4||3.24||97||69||0|
|LHP||Alex Panteliodis, Jr.||11-3||3.51||100||82||0|
|RP||Steven Rodriguez, So.||2-0||2.57||28||26||1|
|Hitting: 65. The Gators return eight everyday starters from last year’s College World Series team, including four players who earned first-team freshman All-America honors. That quartet—Fontana, Zunino, Maddox and Johnson—just scratched the surface of their offensive ability in 2010, and all four should take major steps forward as sophomores. The scrappy Fontana is the engine atop Florida’s lineup. He, Tucker and Adams are all patient, disciplined hitters who rack up walks and drive up pitch counts. Adams slumped as a junior but should return to being an offensive force as a senior. Upperclassmen Bryson Smith and Daniel Pigott give the Gators quality bats off the bench.
Power: 70. Maddox, Johnson and Tucker form a fearsome heart of the order with as much power as any trio in the country. Zunino, McMahan, Adams and Thompson also provide some pop.
Speed: 50. Adams and Fontana are average runners who pick their spots on the basepaths. Washington is the lineup’s lone burner.
Defense: 70. The Gators are rock-solid up the middle. Fontana (.986 fielding percentage last year) and Adams (.984) might be the nation’s most reliable double-play tandem, and Zunino has plus defensive ability behind the plate. Washington will be tasked with replacing elite center fielder Matt den Dekker, but he has the speed and instincts to handle it. The corners will be key: Maddox must continue to improve at third base, and Tucker needs to show he can handle an outfield spot full-time, though he’ll slide back to first base when Johnson pitches.
Starting Pitching: 65. Florida is so absurdly deep on the mound that a junior who won 11 games last year (Panteliodis) is battling for a weekend rotation spot with an electric freshman who was the No. 9 overall pick in the 2010 draft (RHP Karsten Whitson). With a fastball that reaches the mid-90s and a plus slider in the 80-84 range, Whitson has premium stuff and solid control for his age. Panteliodis is coming off hip surgery, so the Gators could take it slow with him early in the season, but he should be 100 percent around opening day. The staff is fronted by a pair of returning freshman All-Americans in Johnson (a competitive, polished three-pitch lefty) and Randall (a strike-throwing, groundball machine).
Bullpen: 75. You won’t find a deeper bullpen in college baseball than the one in Gainesville. The lone question mark is who will replace closer Kevin Chapman, but Florida has no shortage of qualified candidates. Rodriguez is the favorite, thanks to his fierce mound presence, darting fastball and quality change. One-time blue-chip recruits Jr. LHP Nick Maronde and Jr. RHP Anthony DeSclafani have been passed on the depth chart while they’ve worked to harness their command, but both still have excellent stuff. LHP Daniel Gibson plus RHPs Tommy Toledo, Justin Poovey, Greg Larson, Michael Heller and Keenan Kish would all be key pieces in most other pitching staffs; at Florida, they bring high-quality depth.
Experience/Intangibles: 70. Florida returns the overwhelming majority of a roster that reached Omaha last year. The coaching staff has quickly developed a reputation for excelling at teaching the game and getting the most out of its players.
Baseball America OFP: 75. Florida has no discernable weakness and enters the season as a strong bet to win its first national title.
2010 Record (Ranking): 51-17 (2).
Coach (Record at school): John Savage (192-167, 6 years).
Postseason History: 16 regional appearances (active streak: 1), 3 CWS appearance (last in 2010), 0 national titles.
|C||Steve Rodriguez, Jr.||.249/.360/.436||8||37||1|
|1B||Trevor Brown, So.||.300/.382/.367||1||9||3|
|2B||Tyler Rahmatulla, Jr.||.328/.434/.509||7||45||13|
|3B||Cody Regis, So.||.312/.420/.556||9||47||7|
|SS||Pat Valaika, Fr.||HS—Valencia, Calif.|
|LF||Cody Keefer, So.||.318/.450/.419||2||31||1|
|CF||Beau Amaral, So.||.354/.442/.462||4||31||9|
|RF||Jeff Gelalich, So.||.321/.465/.474||2||13||7|
|DH||Dean Espy, Jr.||.345/.395/.575||9||52||8|
|RHP||Gerrit Cole, Jr.||11-4||3.37||123||153||0|
|RHP||Trevor Bauer, Jr.||12-3||3.02||131||165||0|
|RHP||Adam Plutko, Fr.||HS—Glendora, Calif.|
|RP||Nick Vander Tuig, Fr.||HS—Oakdale, Calif.|
Hitting: 60. The Bruins return the core of last year’s CWS Finals lineup. Juniors Rahmatulla and Espy give the middle of the order a pair of quality righthanded, line-drive hitters who are tough outs, and they nicely complement UCLA’s stellar group of lefthanded-hitting sophomores. Keefer, a natural-born hitter with an advanced feel for the strike zone, was on his way to stardom before suffering a season-ending knee injury in May, and he should help anchor the lineup in 2011. Fellow So. OFs Amaral and Gelalich are athletic sparkplugs, while Regis provides yet another quality lefthanded bat. New starters Brown and Valaika use the middle of the field well and help keep the lineup nicely balanced between lefties and righties.
Power: 40. Hitting coach Rick Vanderhook’s offense relies on grinding out at-bats, manufacturing runs and driving the gaps, rather than waiting for long balls. No Bruin reached double digits in homers last year, and the new bats further sapped the team’s power in fall ball. Espy, Rahmatulla, Regis and Rodriguez have occasional pop, however.
Speed: 55. Though UCLA lost its best basestealer in Niko Gallego, the Bruins have good overall team speed, led by plus runners Amaral and Gelalich.
Defense: 65. The Bruins have proven, standout defenders up the middle in Rodriguez, Rahmatulla and Amaral. Rodriguez earned a spot on Team USA last summer based on his catch-and-throw skills and ability to handle a pitching staff. Brown, Regis, Gelalich and Keefer are excellent athletes on the corners. The major question is how Valaika will handle the everyday shortstop job; he impressed with his ability to make all the routine plays in the fall, but he isn’t spectacular.
Starting Pitching: 70. Cole and Bauer form the nation’s premier one-two punch on the mound, and both could be drafted in the top 10 overall picks in June. Both are ultra-competitive, both throw strikes, and both have plus or better stuff across the board. Plutko figures to be one of the nation’s top freshmen, thanks to a smooth, repeatable delivery and the ability to pound the strike zone with three quality pitches. Fellow Fr. RHP Zack Weiss has explosive stuff and demonstrated improved command in the fall, making him the likely midweek starter.
Bullpen: 55. The bullpen was UCLA’s largely unsung hero in 2010, and the Bruins must replace stalwarts Dan Klein, Matt Grace and Erik Goeddel. The power-armed Vander Tuig reminds the Bruins of Klein and will get first crack at the closer job. Fr. RHP Eric Jaffe, who transferred from Cal this winter and was ruled eligible for this spring, is another power-armed closer candidate, with a fastball that reaches 95 and a wipeout curve at times. So. RHP Scott Griggs can run his heater up to the mid-90s and is making progress with his command and mechanics. This unit lack lefties, so hulking, funky Jr. LHP Mitchell Beacom is a crucial piece.
Experience/Intangibles: 70. The Bruins finally lived up to their potential in 2010, reaching Omaha for the first time since 1997 and falling two wins shy of their first national title. They proved their toughness and resilience all season—particularly in a thrilling super regional triumph over nemesis Cal State Fullerton.
Baseball America OFP: 70. Cole and Bauer alone would make UCLA a strong national title contender, but the Bruins have also enough quality parts in the lineup to make another deep Omaha run.
|3. Texas Christian|
2010 Record (Ranking): 54-14 (3).
Coach (Record at school): Jim Schlossnagle (305-134, 7 years).
Postseason History: 9 regional appearances (active streak: 7), 1 CWS appearance (2010), 0 national titles.
|C||Josh Elander, So.||.356/.403/.617||2||33||11|
|1B||Joe Weik, Sr.||.357/.417/.580||6||29||0|
|2B||Jerome Pena, Sr.||.313/.386/.510||11||52||7|
|3B||Jantzen Witte, So.||.374/.425/.552||4||39||2|
|SS||Taylor Featherston, Jr.||.338/.420/.571||8||52||6|
|LF||Jason Coats, Jr.||.361/.403/.617||13||69||8|
|CF||Aaron Schultz, Jr.||.293/.371/.482||9||53||11|
|RF||Brance Rivera, Jr.||.342/.404/.481||6||28||9|
|DH||Kyle Von Tungeln, So.||.236/.364/.326||0||16||3|
|LHP||Matt Purke, So.||16-0||3.02||116||142||0|
|RHP||Kyle Winkler, Jr.||12-3||3.39||117||92||0|
|RHP||Steven Maxwell, Sr.||11-2||2.70||103||93||0|
|RP||Erik Miller, Jr.||1-1||4.67||27||30||0|
Hitting: 60. TCU returns seven regulars from one of the nation’s best hitting teams. Schultz and Rivera are good contact hitters who can handle the bat, and TCU needs Von Tungeln to tap into his slasher potential to give the lineup a much-needed lefty. The energetic Pena is a dangerous hitter from both sides of the plate, but the lineup lacks another lefthanded presence. Featherston, Witte, Weik and Elander use the gaps very well, and Coats is the best overall hitter on the team.
Power: 50. Departed seniors Bryan Holaday and Matt Curry combined for 35 of TCU’s 101 homers a year ago, and the 2011 Horned Frogs figure to be less physical. Coats has big power potential, Pena has average pop and Elander has the strength to significantly increase his long ball output, but the rest of the lineup is filled with gap hitters more than sluggers.
Speed: 55. Stolen bases aren’t a huge part of TCU’s attack, but the Frogs have good speed in the outfield, led by the lightning-fast Von Tungeln. The athletic Elander runs very well for a catcher.
Defense: 55. TCU will have its hands full replacing Holaday, perhaps the nation’s premier defensive catcher a year ago. The Frogs hope Elander and Jimmie Pharr can provide at least adequate defense behind the plate. The gritty Featherston has become a more consistent shortstop, while Pena and Witte are strong defenders at second and third. Schultz has tremendous instincts and an accurate arm in center, while Coats and Rivera have good range on the corners.
Starting Pitching: 70. The entire weekend rotation of fierce competitors is back, led by Purke, a bona fide ace with a lively 91-94 fastball and a wipeout slider. Winkler’s 88-93 mph fastball has good life, his changeup is an out pitch and his slider/cutter is a decent third offering. Maxwell also has a quality three-pitch mix and loads of experience. Fr. RHP Tony Rizzoti is the likely midweek starter thanks to an 87-93 fastball that has touched 96, good deception and command.
Bullpen: 55. The Frogs will miss departed bullpen mainstays Tyler Lockwood, Paul Gerrish and Eric Marshall, plus power-armed RHP Kaleb Merck, who will miss the season after having Tommy John surgery. Miller dropped his arm slot in the fall, giving his 87-94 fastball added life, and he can throw his changeup and slider for strikes in any count. Sr. RHP Trent Appleby is a funky sidearmer with good deception, and the Frogs have high hopes for talented Fr. RHPs Andrew Mitchell and Stefan Crichton.
Experience/Intangibles: 70. TCU will sorely miss Holaday’s leadership, but there are plenty of savvy veterans back from last year’s CWS team. It’s also a team full of grinders who do not give in.
Baseball America OFP: 65. The balanced, experienced Horned Frogs have a strong chance to ride their stellar starting pitching back to Omaha and compete for a title.
2010 Record (Ranking): 46-20 (14).
Coach (Record at school): Tim Corbin (322-177, 8 years).
Postseason History: 9 regional appearances (active streak: 5), 0 CWS appearances.
|C||Curt Casali, Sr.||.309/.446/.520||8||42||3|
|1B||Aaron Westlake, Jr.||.308/.404/.538||14||61||6|
|2B||Riley Reynolds, Jr.||.209/.355/.244||0||7||2|
|3B||Jason Esposito, Jr.||.359/.455/.599||12||64||31|
|SS||Anthony Gomez, So.||.379/.418/.453||2||30||9|
|LF||Mike Yastrzemski, So.||.260/.347/.397||3||18||5|
|CF||Connor Harrell, So.||.300/.378/.414||3||39||5|
|RF||Joe Loftus, Jr.||.277/.361/.451||8||39||4|
|DH||Conrad Gregor, Fr.||HS—Carmel, Ind.|
|RHP||Sonny Gray, Jr.||10-5||3.48||109||113||1|
|LHP||Grayson Garvin, Jr.||1-1||1.25||36||38||1|
|RHP||Jack Armstrong, Jr.||7-4||4.71||78||50||0|
|RP||Navery Moore, Jr.||2-0||9.24||13||16||0|
Hitting: 65. Vanderbilt returns its top five hitters from last year’s super regional team, and seven everyday starters overall. The Commodores led the Southeastern Conference and ranked ninth nationally in doubles a year ago, demonstrating their ability to wear out the gaps. Westlake, who won the SEC batting title two years ago, and Esposito are two of the nation’s best pure hitters. Gomez and Reynolds are pesky contact hitters and tough outs. Harrell and Yastrzemski—grandson of the majors’ last Triple Crown winner—are talented hitters poised to break out as sophomores. Casali and Loftus have strength and experience.
Power: 55. Though the ‘Dores rely more on line drives than long balls, they do return their top four home run hitters in Westlake, Esposito, Loftus and Casali, all of whom have enough strength to drive the ball over the fence even with the new bats. Gregor also adds lefthanded power potential and a disciplined approach for his age.
Speed: 55. Vanderbilt’s athletic lineup features solid runners all over the diamond, but Fr. OF Tony Kemp—who was pushing for an everyday job with a strong fall—is the only true burner. Esposito runs very well for a third baseman and has excellent instincts on the basepaths.
Defense: 55. Vandy will miss the steady Brian Harris at shortstop, and Gomez must prove he can handle the transition across the keystone sack. Tommy John surgery has kept Casali from catching much in his college career, so he enters the season as a question mark behind the plate. But Esposito is the best defensive third baseman in the country aside from Anthony Rendon, with sure hands, quick feet and solid range. Reynolds and the outfielders are solid.
Starting Pitching: 70. No team in college baseball can match Vandy’s four quality upperclassmen in the rotation. Gray is a dynamo with a lively 93-96 mph fastball, a mid-80s power curve that rates as the best in the country, a fierce competitive streak and ever-improving command. Garvin’s feel for pitching and downward angle helped him carve up the Cape Cod League, where he earned pitcher of the year honors. The physical Armstrong has premium arm strength; he has flashed mid-90s heat and a good changeup in the past, but if he doesn’t improve his breaking ball and command, Sr. RHP Taylor Hill could beat him out for the Sunday job. Hill is a strike-thrower with a solid three-pitch mix.
Bullpen: 65. By the end of the season, this unit has a chance to be exceptional, but it lacks experience heading into the year. Moore was a blue-chip prospect before Tommy John surgery sidetracked his career, but he showed off an explosive 93-96 fastball in the fall. Another Tommy John survivor, Sr. RHP Mark Lamm, jumped into the 90-94 range this fall. Fr. LHP Kevin Ziomek is a future ace in waiting, but for now he figures to take his stellar four-pitch mix to the bullpen. Lefthanders Sam Selman, Corey Williams and Steven Rice, plus righties T.J. Pecoraro, Will Clinard and Robert Hansen make this one of the deeper bullpens around.
Experience/Intangibles: 60. Vanderbilt is loaded with experienced players and is consistently regarded by scouts as one of the best-coached, hardest-working teams in college baseball. Coming off a super regional trip, all that’s left is to get over the hump to Omaha.
Baseball America OFP: 65. This is Vandy’s best chance to break through to the CWS since its 2007 team, which was upset in regionals as the No. 1 national seed. Even a national title could be within Vanderbilt’s reach.
2010 Record (Ranking): 50-18 (5).
Coach (Record at school): Sonny Galloway (220-116-1, 5 years).
Postseason History: 32 regional appearances (active streak: 3), 10 CWS appearances (last in 2010), 2 national titles (last in 1994).
|C||Tyler Ogle, Jr.||.331/.439/.601||11||46||4|
|1B||Cameron Seitzer, Jr.||.305/.431/.600||16||53||2|
|2B||Max White, So.||.293/.345/.572||15||43||7|
|3B||Garrett Buechele, Jr.||.359/.438/.630||17||65||3|
|SS||Caleb Bushyhead, Jr.||.327/.380/.482||6||40||13|
|LF||Erik Ross, Jr.||.194/.333/.224||0||8||12|
|CF||Chris Ellison, Jr.||.326/.426/.472||4||32||24|
|RF||Cody Reine, Jr.||.340/.445/.611||10||42||4|
|DH||Drew Harrison, So.||.243/.295/.443||3||14||0|
|RHP||Michael Rocha, Sr.||8-2||3.53||74||55||0|
|RHP||Bobby Shore, Sr.||10-5||4.12||94||77||0|
|RHP||Burch Smith, Jr.||11-2||2.50||90||79||0|
|RP||Ryan Duke, Sr.||3-2||3.75||36||39||12|
Hitting: 65. The Sooners welcome back seven starters from last year’s Omaha team. The versatile offense applies constant pressure with its aggressiveness at the plate, its ability to hit-and-run, sacrifice, use the gaps and bunt. The Sooners have a nice balance of lefties and righties, scrappy athletes (Ellison, Bushyhead, Ross) and physical mashers (Buechele, Seitzer, White, Reine, Ogle). Sr. OF Casey Johnson, trying to bounce back from a lost junior season, figures to battle Ross and Harrison for at-bats.
Power: 65. White has legitimate big league power, while Buechele, Seitzer, Ogle and Reine are accomplished college sluggers. Harrison also has huge power potential, though he has yet to prove himself at the collegiate level.
Speed: 55. Ellison and Ross are speed merchants, while Bushyhead and White are solid runners. The Sooners will not be afraid to let them run on the basepaths—it’s all part of the high-pressure offensive philosophy. Buechele, Seitzer, Reine and Ogle are base-cloggers, however.
Defense: 55. Buechele, Ogle, Ellison and Ross are strong defenders, and Bushyhead is solid when healthy. But Bushyhead will likely miss the first month of the season while recovering from a torn ACL, so the Sooners will turn to sophomore two-way player Jack Mayfield (and perhaps also junior-college transfer Evan Mistich) to fill in. Mayfield’s range and arm strength should play at short, but it remains to be seen if White has the actions and mobility to successfully convert from the outfield to second base.
Starting Pitching: 55. With a fastball that reaches the mid-90s, Smith has top-of-the-rotation stuff, and how he handles the transition from junior-college competition to the Big 12 will be critical. Rocha’s four-pitch mix, savvy and build prompt the Sooners to envision him as their version of former South Carolina ace Blake Cooper. Like Rocha, Shore works in the 87-91 range but has good command and feel for four pitches. So. LHP Ryan Gibson figures to be a reliable midweek starter.
Bullpen: 60. In Duke, the Sooners have a rare luxury: a senior with two years and 26 saves worth of experience in the closer role. He attacks hitters with an 87-91 fastball and a good slider. But Oklahoma will sorely miss departed setup man Jeremy Erben. The athletic Mayfield—a savvy pitch-maker like Erben—is the most likely candidate to fill that role, but quick-armed Fr. LHP Dillon Overton and Sr. RHP Tyson Seng (back from a year off to play for the OU basketball team) will also be key figures.
Experience/Intangibles: 75. The Sooners are one of the few top contenders with experience at the front and back of their pitching staff, plus Omaha veterans all over the diamond. Buechele is one of the great leaders in college baseball, giving OU’s outstanding staff another coach on the field.
Baseball America OFP: 65. Oklahoma lacks the elite arms of UCLA, TCU, Florida and Vanderbilt, but it makes up for it with loads of offensive firepower and a roster full of experienced winners.
2010 Record (Ranking): 50-13 (9).
Coach (Record at school): Augie Garrido (617-282, 14 years).
Postseason History: 54 regional appearances (active streak: 12), 33 CWS appearances (last in 2009), 6 national titles (last in 2005).
|C||Lucas Kephart, Jr.||Tr.—Sacramento (Calif.) CC|
|1B||Tant Shepherd, Sr.||.337/.425/.528||8||37||14|
|2B||Jordan Etier, Jr.||.224/.321/.415||9||33||14|
|3B||Kevin Lusson, Jr.||.263/.389/.522||14||48||6|
|SS||Brandon Loy, Jr.||.252/.359/.332||1||24||12|
|LF||Johnathan Walsh, So.||.273/.345/.481||3||20||1|
|CF||Cohl Walla, So.||.316/.357/.491||8||40||14|
|RF||Mark Payton, Fr.||HS—Orland Park, Ill.|
|DH||Christian Summers, Fr.||HS—San Angelo, Texas|
|RHP||Taylor Jungmann, Jr.||8-3||2.03||120||129||0|
|RHP||Cole Green, Sr.||11-2||2.74||112||75||0|
|LHP||Sam Stafford, Jr.||0-0||2.61||21||29||0|
|RP||Hoby Milner, So.||3-1||1.97||32||31||0|
Hitting: 50. Offense
Power: 35. Texas will miss thumpers Cameron Rupp,
Speed: 60. The Longhorns are an athletic bunch, and they figure to run more frequently in 2011. Walla and Payton can fly around the basepaths and in the outfield. Loy, Summers and Etier are good runners with plenty of baserunning savvy, while Shepherd’s fringy speed plays up because of his
Defense: 70. As usual, Texas should excel at run prevention. The infield defense might be the nation’s best, with above-average or better defenders at all four positions. Summers is a defensive dynamo-in-waiting, giving the unit enviable depth. Walla and Payton have both range and strong arms in the outfield. The only question mark is behind the plate, but Texas likes Kephart’s receiving skills.
Starting Pitching: 70. Jungmann’s 92-95 mph fastball, power slurve, advanced feel for pitching and big-game experience make him one of the nation’s premier aces, and a potential top 10 overall pick in the draft. Green elected to return as a senior rather than sign as a fourth-round pick over the summer, giving Texas a proven winner on Saturdays. He’s a fierce competitor with superb command
Bullpen: 65. Texas must replace the nation’s best
Experience/Intangibles: 70. The joint mystique of
Baseball America OFP: 65. The Longhorns fell one win shy of their second straight Omaha trip in 2010. Their pitching and defense give them a strong chance to get back there in 2011.
|7. South Carolina|
2010 Record (Ranking): 54-16 (1).
Coach (Record at school): Ray Tanner (634-282, 14 years).
Postseason History: 26 regional appearances (active streak: 11), 9 CWS appearances (last in 2010), 1 national title (2010).
|C||Dante Rosenberg, Jr.||Tr.—Palm Beach (Fla.) CC|
|1B||Christian Walker So.||.327/.384/.518||9||51||2|
|2B||Scott Wingo, Sr.||.247/.409/.455||9||31||2|
|3B||Adrian Morales, Sr.||.273/.348/.445||9||56||5|
|SS||Peter Mooney, Jr.||Tr.—Palm Beach (Fla.) CC|
|LF||Evan Marzilli, So.||.385/.513/.571||3||12||8|
|CF||Jackie Bradley, Jr.||.368/.473/.587||13||60||7|
|RF||Adam Matthews, Jr.||.307/.392/.503||7||31||7|
|DH||Michael Roth, Jr.||.111/.200/.444||1||1||0|
|LHP||Tyler Webb, So.||3-2||3.96||36||36||0|
|LHP||Michael Roth, Jr.||2-1||1.34||40||35||3|
|LHP||Nolan Belcher, Jr.||3-1||2.43||30||32||0|
|RP||Matt Price, So.||2-1||1.34||56||83||10|
Hitting: 60. Scoring runs was a challenge at times for the Gamecocks in 2010, and they lost one of their primary catalysts when Whit Merrifield signed as a ninth-round pick. Still, the lineup is anchored by one of the best hitters in college baseball in Bradley, poised for a monstrous year now that his broken hamate bone is nearly a full year behind him. Walker has excellent hand-eye coordination and strikes out seldom for a power hitter. Morales is a tough out with a knack for delivering clutch hits, and Marzilli figures to build on his stellar College World Series and emerge as a true star. Mooney will be a catalyst atop the lineup. Rosenberg and Wingo are known more for their defense, but Wingo led South Carolina in hitting in the fall.
Power: 60. Walker and Bradley have proven they can hit the ball out of the park to all fields. Marzilli and Matthews are strong enough to reach double digits in homers, as is Roth, who showed surprising pop in the fall. Morales also has some power.
Speed: 55. Ray Tanner’s teams rarely lean heavily on stolen bases, but these Gamecocks do have solid team speed. Marzilli, Bradley, and Mooney are all solid-average or better runners, and the athletic Matthews runs the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds, making him one of the nation’s fastest players.
Defense: 65. South Carolina’s speed will play more here. Strong defense is a hallmark of Tanner teams (the Gamecocks led the nation in defensive efficiency last year), and this group should be no exception, though it must replace two up-the-middle stalwarts in departed shortstop Bobby Haney and catcher Kyle Enders. Mooney has the tools to thrive at short alongside Wingo, an elite defender at second. Rosenberg has very good catch-and-throw skills and took “total control of our pitching staff” in the fall, according to the coaches. Morales and both corner outfielders are strong defenders, and Bradley is the best defensive outfielder in the country.
Starting Pitching: 45. The greatest challenge facing the Gamecocks this year will be replacing Blake Cooper and Sam Dyson, who were their only consistently reliable starting pitchers in 2010, and who played huge roles in their championship run. But South Carolina has a deep stable of starting candidates, led by Webb, who has three quality pitches and issued just one walk in his stellar fall. Roth, a one-time lefthanded specialist who provided two heroic starts in Omaha, has advanced feel for pitching and showed more velocity in the fall. The diminutive Belcher and the hulking So. LHP Adam Westmoreland were key parts in 2008 before being derailed last year by confidence issues and Tommy John surgery, respectively. So. RHP Colby Holmes could factor into the mix.
Bullpen: 75. This unit was the backbone of South Carolina’s national title team, and it returns largely intact. The flame-throwing Price is a proven big-game closer with overpowering stuff. Fr. RHP Forrest Koumas has similarly explosive stuff—a 93-95 mph fastball and a devastating mid-80s slider. Submariners Jose Mata and John Taylor plus lefties Steven Neff and Logan Munson give new pitching coach Jerry Meyers the ability to mix and match to fit any situation.
Experience/Intangibles: 70. South Carolina showed uncanny resilience in marching through the loser’s bracket to win the national title, and the core of that team returns, but the weekend rotation is unproven, and first-year starters at key positions up the middle must perform.
Baseball America OFP: 65. If the retooled weekend rotation does what South Carolina’s coaches believe it can, the Gamecocks have a legitimate shot to get back to Omaha and make a run at another championship.
|8. Cal State Fullerton|
2010 Record (Ranking): 46-18 (11).
Coach (Record at school): Dave Serrano (134-56, 3 years).
Postseason History: 32 regional appearances (active streak: 19), 16 CWS appearances (last in 2009), 4 national titles (last in 2004).
|C||Zach Tanida, Sr.||.212/.297/.303||0||4||0|
|1B||Nick Ramirez, Jr.||.346/.395/.646||16||75||6|