We love the 20-80 scouting scale at Baseball America; we use it to assess everything from prospects to our favorite local barbecue restaurants. 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 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 2013.
70: Elite. A leading contender for the national title. This year, there is no clear-cut favorite that stands out dramatically from the rest of the pack
65: Well-above-average. Legitimate championship contender. (North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Louisville, Mississippi State, Oregon State, South Carolina, North Carolina State.)
60: Above-average. Strong Omaha contender. (Stanford, Louisiana State, Kentucky, UCLA, Mississippi, Texas Christian, Oregon.)
55: Slightly above-average. A threat to win a conference title and perhaps reach Omaha. (Florida, Rice, Oklahoma, Florida State, New Mexico, Cal State Fullerton, Southern Mississippi, Arizona, San Diego.)
50: Solid-average. Strong NCAA tournament teams who could make a postseason run. (None in this year’s preseason Top 25)
Our OFP grades are more tightly bunched than usual this year, with no teams in our rankings above a 65 OFP, and no team below a 55. This is a reflection of our contention that there are a lot of very solid teams heading into this season, but no overwhelming favorite that stands out from the pack.
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 illuminating way to gauge each team’s projected strengths and weaknesses heading into the season.
|1. NORTH CAROLINA|
|2012 Record (Ranking):
46-16 (17). RPI: 8.Coach (Record at school): Mike Fox (635-262-1, 14 years).
Postseason History: 27 regionals (active streak; 11 straight), 9 CWS trips (last in 2011), 0 national titles.
|C||Matt Roberts, Jr.||.111/.219/.148||0||3||0|
|1B||Cody Stubbs, Sr.||.258/.347/.403||5||35||6|
|2B||Michael Russell, So.||.269/.383/.341||0||24||14|
|3B||Colin Moran, Jr.||.365/.434/.494||3||35||1|
|SS||Landon Lassiter, Fr.||HS—Lexington, N.C.|
|LF||Parks Jordan, Jr.||.270/.357/.349||0||31||7|
|CF||Chaz Frank, Sr.||.293/.419/.401||0||39||16|
|RF||Skye Bolt, Fr.||HS—Atlanta|
|DH||Brian Holberton, Jr.||.297/.404/.398||1||15||1|
|LHP||Kent Emanuel, Jr.||8||4||1.96||110||100||0|
|RHP||Benton Moss, So.||7||2||1.94||79||83||0|
|LHP||Hobbs Johnson, So.||7||1||1.56||58||69||0|
|RP||Mason McCullough, So.||0||0||3.86||9||8||0|
Hitting: 60. The Tar Heels were an average offensive team a year ago, but their depth and experience, plus a full season of a healthy Moran,d should make them formidable in 2013. As usual, UNC ranked among the national leaders in walks last year (fourth with 304), and patience will be a hallmark of this lineup. Moran, perhaps the best pure hitter in college baseball, anchors the middle of the order fully healed from his broken hand, while Frank is a high-energy catalyst atop the lineup. Lassiter, Russell and Roberts provide key righthanded bats in a lefty-leaning lineup, and the switch-hitting Bolt excels from the right side, giving UNC good balance. Holberton and Jordan will deliver quality at-bats and big hits.
Power: 55. Expect Moran’s power numbers to improve with a full healthy season. Stubbs also has big raw power but needs to make more consistent contact. Roberts and Bolt have intriguing pop and are coming off a strong falls. The rest of the lineup is capable of driving the gaps consistently.
Speed: 55. Freshmen Lassiter and Bolt give UNC a significant speed upgrade, as both are plus runners. Russell and Frank are solid runners with good baserunning instincts.
Defense: 60. The Tar Heels have new starters at the key positions of catcher and shortstop, but Lassiter has the hands and instincts to be a stalwart. Roberts has a strong arm and is ready to catch every day, though talented Fr. Korey Dunbar provides some insurance behind the plate. The much-improved Moran and the rock-solid Stubbs are underrated on the corners, and the outfielders will cover plenty of ground.
Starting Pitching: 70. UNC returns three weekend starters who each posted sub-2.00 ERAs last year. Emanuel is a veteran workhorse with outstanding fastball command, deception and a good changeup, and his breaking ball is improved. Moss and Johnson both pound the strike zone and can reach 92 mph with their fastballs, and both are dogged competitors. Moss also has a true swing-and-miss curveball. Sr. RHP Chris Munnelly has a quality three-pitch mix, leading a deep stable of other starting options.
Bullpen: 70. Though UNC lost All-America closer Michael Morin and lefty stalwart R.C. Orlan, no team has better bullpen depth than the Tar Heels. McCullough has electric stuff, with a fastball that sits 92-96 and bumps 98 along with a plus slider. So. RHPs Chris McCue and Luis Paula both can reach 94 mph and offer end-of-the-game makeup. Rubber-armed So. RHP Trevor Kelley has thrived since dropping his arm slot, and UNC envisions him becoming a key piece in the mold of former Tar Heels Rob Wooten and Jonathan Hovis. Shane Taylor, Andrew Smith, Trent Thornton and Taylore Cherry provide absurd depth from the right side, while Tate Parrish and Chris O’Brien have good stuff from the left side.
Experience/Intangibles: 65. UNC lacks an experienced closer, catcher and shortstop, but veterans abound everywhere else. This team has mental toughness in spades and great coaching.
Baseball America OFP: 65. With one of the nation’s deepest rosters, North Carolina is insured against injury and underperformance. This group is hungry to put last year’s stunning home regional loss to St. John’s behind it, and return to Omaha for the sixth time in the last eight years.
|2012 Record (Ranking):
35-28 (NR). RPI: 25.Coach (Record at school): Tim Corbin (411-217, 10 years).
Postseason History: 11 regionals (active streak; 7), 1 CWS trip (last in 2011), 0 national titles.
|C||Spencer Navin, Jr.||.298/.427/.404||3||27||9|
|1B||Conrad Gregor, Jr.||.328/.439/.463||3||35||10|
|2B||Tony Kemp, Jr.||.261/.392/.386||1||31||21|
|3B||Vince Conde, So.||.195/.280/.297||2||26||4|
|SS||Joel McKeithan, Jr.||.171/.292/.195||0||4||1|
|LF||Jack Lupo, Sr.||.215/.246/.256||0||15||8|
|CF||Connor Harrell, Sr.||.241/.353/.433||7||26||4|
|RF||Mike Yastrzemski, Sr.||.286/.383/.427||6||41||14|
|DH||John Norwood, So.||.159/.269/.250||1||7||3|
|RHP||T.J. Pecoraro, Jr.||2||4||3.40||53||34||0|
|LHP||Kevin Ziomek, Jr.||5||6||5.22||79||79||0|
|RHP||Tyler Beede, So.||1||5||4.52||72||68||0|
|RP||Brian Miller, So.||0||2||3.26||61||49||5|
Hitting: 60. Vanderbilt’s balanced lineup has a nice blend of lefthanded and righthanded hitters who all battle through every at-bat. Lefties Kemp and Yastrzemski are on-base machines who make the Commodores go. Fellow lefty Gregor is the centerpiece of the lineup, a patient hitter with the best pure swing on the team. Navin emerged as a tough out with a repeatable swing during his sophomore year, and Vandy hopes Conde and Lupo can provide similar offensive value this spring. Freshmen Xavier Turner brings offensive upside and could push Conde for playing time.
Power: 50. Gregor has yet to unlock his plus raw power in two years at Vandy, but he is a physical presence who figures to see his home run numbers spike as a junior. Harrell doesn’t hit for average but can hit the ball a long way when he connects. Norwood also has good pop in his loose, athletic righthanded swing, making him a breakout candidate. Yastrzemski adds occasional power, though he’s more of a gap-to-gap hitter.
Speed: 60. Though Kemp is the only classic burner in the lineup, Vandy is loaded with instinctive, aggressive baserunners with solid speed that plays up. Yastrzemski and Lupo fit that description perfectly, but even Navin and Gregor combined for 19 steals in 25 tries last year. Harrell and Norwood are above-average runners who could run more in 2013.
Defense: 65. The Commodores have a pair of premium defenders up the middle in Harrell and Navin, whose plus arm and quality receiving skills make him one of the nation’s best defensive catchers. A left fielder as a freshman, Kemp is improving at second base after moving there halfway through last year, and the shortstop position will be manned ably by the either the rangy McKeithan or dynamic Fr. Dansby Swanson. Conde has smooth actions and plays well on the run at third base, while Lupo and Yastrzemski are outstanding on the outfield corners.
Starting Pitching: 65. The entire weekend rotation returns intact, and it has a chance to be special if Ziomek and Beede can live up to their tantalizing talent, as both took their lumps a year ago. Pecoraro returned quickly from Tommy John surgery to front the staff last year, thanks to his competitiveness and ability to command a quality three-pitch mix. Ziomek’s command held him back as a sophomore, but he flashed the makings of three above-average pitches in the Cape Cod League last summer, highlighted by a 91-93 fastball with explosive life. Beede has premium stuff (a plus fastball, plus changeup and plus breaking ball) and a pedigree to match (he was an unsigned first-round pick out of high school). So. LHP Jared Miller gives this staff a reliable, strike-throwing bulldog on Tuesday.
Bullpen: 70. This unit stands out most for its depth of young power arms, but Miller gives it a dependable anchor with a funky delivery, excellent sink and a tenacious mentality. The nation’s best recruiting class provides supremely talented reinforcements in flame-throwers Walker Buehler, Kyle Smith and Carson Fulmer, the latter of whom really stood out in the fall for his maturity and command as well as his stuff. The ‘Dores were also impressed this fall with the way Fr. RHPs Luke Stephenson and Pat Delano worked downhill and induced ground balls. Holdovers Philip Pfeifer and Steven Rice provide good options from the left side, while So. RHP Adam Ravenelle figures to take a big step forward following a nice summer in the New England Collegiate League.
Experience/Intangibles: 65. Few teams have senior leadership like Vandy gets from Yastrzemski and Harrell, two of six returning regulars in the lineup. The weekend rotation is similarly battle-tested. The Commodores lost two very well respected assistant coaches in the offseason, but they shouldn’t miss a beat with new hires Travis Jewett and Scott Brown.
Baseball America OFP: 65 Vanderbilt was rewarded for throwing its young players into the fray early on last year, as the team’s red-hot second half was one of the season’s best stories. This team is built to reach Omaha, where it should be one of the favorites to win the national title.
|2012 Record (Ranking):
46-22 (6). RPI: 9.Coach (Record at school): Dave Van Horn (405-223, 10 years).
Postseason History: 25 regionals (active streak; 11), 7 CWS trips (active streak; 1), 0 national titles.
|C||Jake Wise, Jr.||.244/.337/.341||2||25||2|
|1B||Eric Fisher, So.||DNP—Redshirted|
|2B||Dominic Ficociello, Jr.||.290/.387/.429||6||41||4|
|3B||Brian Anderson, So.||.283/.396/.367||2||11||2|
|SS||Brett McAfee, So.||Tr.—Panola (Texas) JC|
|LF||Joe Serrano, So.||.333/.403/.377||0||7||4|
|CF||Jacob Morris, Jr.||.236/.359/.407||3||23||5|
|RF||Matt Vinson, Sr.||.217/.345/.275||0||13||2|
|DH||Willie Schwanke, Fr.||HS—Frisco, Texas|
|RHP||Ryne Stanek, Jr.||8||4||2.82||93||83||0|
|LHP||Randall Fant, Sr.||2||3||3.27||52||39||0|
|RHP||Trey Killian, Fr.||HS—Mountain Home, Ark.|
|RP||Barrett Astin, Jr.||3||5||1.99||59||61||11|
Hitting: 55. The Hogs were a middling offensive team a year ago, though their ability to work counts and execute made them better than their .271 team average suggests. Talented recruiting classes from the last two years will now assume prominent roles in the lineup, making this team’s offensive potential intriguing, if also difficult to forecast. The centerpiece of the lineup is the enigmatic Ficociello, whose lightning-quick wrists make him dangerous from both sides of the plate. Look for the compact Serrano (a doubles machine who controls the zone well) and the wiry Anderson to take major steps forward with increased playing time. Schwanke is a gifted natural hitter from the left side, and McAfee can be a sparkplug with the ability to drive the gaps.
Power: 50. Ficociello has yet to fully harness his intriguing raw power, but he figures to improve upon his half-dozen homers from a year ago. Fisher brings some lefthanded juice and consistently turns in competitive at-bats. Morris and Vinson are very physical but must improve their contact rates. Wise, who homered over the spacious left-center gap at TD Ameritrade Park last year, and Anderson also have emerging pop as well.
Speed: 55. McAfee is a plus-plus runner who could drive opposing defenses crazy on the basepaths. Morris can also fly, while Serrano and Vinson are solid runners.
Defense: 55. Ficociello’s move from first to second allows Arkansas to get Fisher’s bat in the lineup, and Ficociello handled the position with aplomb in the fall, showing quick hands and good lateral mobility. At 6-4, he’ll be a rangy middle infielder in the mold of former LSU star D.J. LeMahieu. The Razorbacks say McAfee is their most athletic shortstop in the Dave Van Horn era, with excellent range and an above-average arm. Anderson’s arm strength is elite, though he’s still learning to improve his actions. Wise is a standout behind the plate, and the outfield should be very strong. The key will be how the new-look infield holds up.
Starting Pitching: 60. Stanek gives Arkansas one of the nation’s most electrifying Friday starters, with a 93-96 fastball, plus power slider, solid downer curve and changeup. Fant made huge strides in the fall, showing more maturity and adding an effective cutter/slider to his quality fastball-changeup combination. Killian also has a good hard cutter and very good changeup, to go along with an 88-94 mph fastball.
Bullpen: 80. Without question, the bullpen is Arkansas’ greatest strength—and it is the nation’s best, assuming Astin stays in the bullpen instead of moving into the rotation. The unflappable Astin already drove hitters bonkers with a 90-92 mph fastball that bumps 94-95 and a disappearing split-change, but he’ll be even more dangerous now that he’s developed a filthy 87-90 cutter. Jr. RHP Colby Suggs ranked as the No. 8 prospect in the Cape Cod League thanks to a 93-97 mph fastball and an overpowering downer breaking ball. Sinkerballer Brandon Moore gives Arkansas a valuable long man, while Trent Daniel, Colin Poche and maybe Cade Lynch (if he is fully recovered from offseason surgery to relieve migraines) form a nice group of lefthanded options.
Experience/Intangibles: 60. The Hogs have plenty of experience on the mound, and most of their everyday players have been to Omaha, but many of them still need to prove they can thrive in everyday roles. The outstanding coaching staff always gets its teams to play hard.
Baseball America OFP: 65. Arkansas has serious upside if its underclassmen in the lineup perform up to their talent. But the pitching staff will lead the way, and a return trip to Omaha looks like a strong bet.
|2012 Record (Ranking):
41-22 (NR). RPI: 42.Coach (Record at school): Dan McDonnell (258-128, 6 years).
Postseason History: 6 regionals (active streak; 1), 1 CWS trip (2007), 0 national titles.
|C||Kyle Gibson, Jr.||.285/.371/.343||0||23||3|
|1B||Zak Wasserman, Sr.||.297/.378/.462||6||27||1|
|2B||Nick Ratajczak, Sr.||.343/.463/.396||0||25||6|
|3B||Ty Young, Jr.||.344/.467/.539||6||42||15|
|SS||Zach Lucas, So.||.259/.366/.392||1||28||6|
|LF||Coco Johnson, Jr.||Tr.—Central Arizona JC|
|CF||Adam Engel, Jr.||.308/.367/.341||1||18||37|
|RF||Cole Sturgeon, Jr.||.321/.400/.430||1||45||8|
|DH||Jeff Gardner, Jr.||.299/.398/.413||2||34||2|
|RHP||Chad Green, Jr.||5||0||2.70||47||42||0|
|RHP||Jeff Thompson, Jr.||9||4||4.00||79||73||0|
|RHP||Jared Ruxer, So.||8||3||3.38||77||32||0|
|RP||Nick Burdi, So.||1||2||5.56||22||14||0|
Hitting: 60. Louisville returns eight battle-tested starters from a team that ranked 20th in the nation in scoring last year. In Engel and Sturgeon, the Cardinals have a pair of dynamic options for the leadoff spot, and Ratajczak’s bat-handling prowess makes him an ideal No. 2 hitter. Young, Johnson, Gardner and Wasserman form a formidable quartet of run producers who all hit for average in the middle of the lineup. Gibson and Lucas won’t give away outs, either.
Power: 50. Louisville will miss the physicality of departed Stewart Ijames, who hit twice as many homers (12) as any of his teammates last year, but the lineup still has plenty of physicality in Gardner, Wasserman and Johnson—all of whom are expected to provide some thump. Young excels at driving the gaps but also can hit the ball out of the park.
Speed: 70. Good luck finding a faster outfield than Louisville’s; Engel and Johnson can run the 60-yard dash in 6.4 seconds, and Sturgeon has been clocked at 6.6. Engel is a premier basestealer (37-for-39 last year), and Young also has good instincts to go along with 6.7 speed. Lucas is another plus runner, and Ratajczak has solid speed.
Defense: 65. Louisville’s speed figures to save plenty of runs in the outfield, and the infield is also very athletic. Lucas can make some highlight-reel plays at short, but he’s still working on consistency, and he has plenty of competition in Alex Chittenden and Sutton Whiting. Gibson is a rock behind the plate.
Starting Pitching: 65. All three weekend starters have power stuff, with 92-93 mph fastballs and good sliders. Green’s easy arm action and good command of his quality three-pitch mix gives him a chance to thrive in the Friday starter role, after spending most of last year in the bullpen. The ultra-physical Thompson misses the most bats of this group thanks to his sharp low-80s slider. Ruxer has a different style, excelling by hitting his spots and pitching to contact, but he bumps 94 mph and flashes a plus changeup. Fr. RHP Kyle Funkhouser also bumps 94 and has an excellent slider, making him a stellar No. 4 starter option.
Bullpen: 65. Burdi is the hardest thrower in college baseball, with a fastball that regularly hits triple digits and a true slider in the low 90s. How his feel for pitching progresses will be critical. Jr. Dace Kime is 90-93 with a good curveball from the right side, and Fr. Joe Filomeno has flashed high-90s heat and another swing-and-miss curve from the left side. That trio has a chance to shorten games considerably this spring, but the bullpen is largely unproven.
Experience/Intangibles: 65. Loaded with two- or three-year starters in the lineup and two returning members of the weekend rotation, Louisville’s experience is a major asset. The stellar coaching staff has been together for six years and functions like a well-oiled machine.
Baseball America OFP: 65. The Cardinals reached a regional final at eventual national champion Arizona last year, and anything short of their first trip to Omaha since 2007 will be a disappointment this spring. This team is a legitimate championship contender.
|5. MISSISSIPPI STATE|
|2012 Record (Ranking):
40-24 (22). RPI: 22.Coach (Record at school): John Cohen (126-101, 4 years).
Postseason History: 30 regionals (active streak; 2), 8 CWS trips (last in 2007), 0 national titles.
|C||Mitch Slauter, Sr.||.232/.354/.327||3||23||0|
|1B||Wes Rea, So.||.244/.346/.381||5||38||0|
|2B||Brett Pirtle, Jr.||Tr.—Panola (Texas) JC|
|3B||Daryl Norris, Jr.||.273/.380/.353||1||25||2|
|SS||Adam Frazier, Jr.||.371/.482/.445||0||26||9|
|LF||Jacob Robson, Fr.||HS—Windsor, Ont.|
|CF||C.T. Bradford, Jr.||.258/.345/.339||2||17||3|
|RF||Hunter Renfroe, Jr.||.252/.328/.374||4||25||7|
|DH||Trey Porter, Sr.||.259/.388/.376||5||24||1|
|RHP||Kendall Graveman, Sr.||4||4||2.81||90||59||0|
|LHP||Jacob Lindgren, So.||2||2||3.18||28||24||1|
|RHP||Brandon Woodruff, So.||1||2||2.38||34||37||0|
|RP||Jonathan Holder, So.||2||1||0.32||28||30||9|
Hitting: 60. Depth and experience are this lineup’s greatest strengths as 11 players who started 27 or more games last year return. The Bulldogs manufacture offense however they can, and hit batsmen are a big part of their attack—they ranked seventh in the nation with 99 HBPs last year, led by Porter (15), Slauter (11) and Rea (10). Bradford and Robson are lefthanded catalysts with advanced feel for their barrels, and Pirtle is a dirtbag with good contact skills from both sides. But the most accomplished hitter in the lineup is Frazier, who really makes the Bulldogs go thanks to his superb plate discipline (50-24 BB-K last year) and ability to spray the ball around the field as the situation dictates. Rea racked up quality at-bats and made consistent hard contact in the fall. MSU expects him, Porter and Norris to hit for average this spring, and it seems safe to expect MSU to boost its .251 team average dramatically.
Power: 50. MSU hit just 21 homers a year ago, but that number should rise in 2013 after the Bulldogs moved the left-field fence at cavernous Dudy-Noble Field in about 13 feet. That means righthanded power hitters like Renfroe and Rea should be rewarded. Renfroe has prodigious raw power—he set a Cal Ripken League record with 16 homers last summer, then added three more in the playoffs—and is gradually refining his offensive approach. The 6-foot-5, 272-pound Rea also has plenty of strength, and Porter adds some thump from the left side. Fr. C Daniel Garner and So. 3B Nick Flair bring more righthanded pop off the bench.
Speed: 65. Robson has elite speed, running the 60-yard dash in 6.45 seconds, and should be a disruptive force on the basepaths. Renfroe and Bradford, plus reserve Demarcus Henderson, all have plus speed. Frazier is a slightly above-average runner with abundant baserunning savvy, and Pirtle moves well too.
Defense: 70. This defense has a chance to be special. Slauter has excellent game-calling skills, toughness and intelligence behind the plate, and his catch-and-throw skills are solid. Every infielder returns from a unit that led the nation with 71 double plays. Frazier has fluid actions, sure hands and an accurate arm at short, and Pirtle’s instincts and arm strength should make him a fine double-play partner. Rea moves well for his size at first, and Norris is a stalwart at third. All three outfielders have serious athleticism and range; Bradford and Renfroe also bring plus or better arms, and they combined for 15 outfield assists last year.
Starting Pitching: 55. All-American ace Chris Stratton is gone, but MSU has a deep stable of starting candidates and a quality senior anchor in Graveman, who pounds the zone with a heavy sinker, above-average changeup and solid breaking ball. Lindgren and Woodruff have the talent to take major leaps as sophomores. Lindgren works at 91-93 mph with good sink from the left side and a devastating slider. Woodruff, an unsigned fifth-rounder out of high school, has comparable velocity and good life from the right side, and an 80 mph slider with good depth. Sr. LHP Chad Girodo had made a big leap, pitching at 90 mph and commanding three pitches, making him the likely fourth starter.
Bullpen: 70. Holder anchors a deep collection of quality arms in the bullpen. Holder pummels the zone with a 90-92 fastball, and his 80 mph power curveball has sharp 12-to-6 break. Jr. RHP Evan Mitchell can run his fastball up to 97 and has a swing-and-miss low-80s downer curve. Undersized Fr. RHP John Marc Shelly also has filthy stuff: a 93-95 mph fastball and mid-80s slider. So. RHPs Will Cox and Trevor Fitts are quality middle relievers who can reach the low 90s and have feel for pitching, while So. Ross Mitchell and Sr. Luis Pollorena offer different looks from the left side—but both excel at throwing strikes.
Experience/Intangibles: 70. Experience abounds in the lineup and the pitching staff, though the weekend starters behind Graveman still need to prove themselves. Plenty of holdovers remain from the 2011 MSU team that reached the brink of the CWS, and the Bulldogs proved their mettle by overcoming injuries last year and winning the SEC tournament.
Baseball America OFP: 65. The offense should be much more potent than it was a year ago, and the pitching and defense will be elite. This is a very deep, balanced, battle-tested team with its eye on a national title, and anything less than a trip to Omaha will be a disappointment.
|6. OREGON STATE|
|2012 Record (Ranking):
40-20 (24). RPI: 27.Coach (Record at school): Pat Casey (618-376-4, 18 years).
Postseason History: 13 regionals (active streak; 4), 4 CWS trips (last in 2007), 2 national titles (last in 2007).
|C||Jake Rodriguez, Jr.||.290/.374/.369||2||28||4|
|1B||Danny Hayes, Sr.||.307/.457/.544||5||27||0|
|2B||Kavin Keyes, Jr.||.226/.310/.294||0||18||3|
|3B||Jared Casper, Jr.||Tr.—Bellevue (Wash.) CC|
|SS||Tyler Smith, Sr.||.343/.434/.427||1||39||9|
|LF||Michael Conforto, So.||.349/.438/.601||13||76||1|
|CF||Joey Matthews, Sr.||.267/.394/.411||1||9||1|
|RF||Ryan Barnes, Sr.||.284/.411/.378||2||24||11|
|DH||Dylan Davis, So.||.247/.281/.346||3||30||4|
|LHP||Ben Wetzler, Jr.||8||2||3.10||102||75||0|
|RHP||Dan Child, Jr.||6||4||2.95||107||79||1|
|LHP||Matt Boyd, Sr.||4||0||3.41||37||31||3|
|RP||Tony Bryant, Sr.||6||2||3.82||31||35||9|
Hitting: 65. Oregon State returns nine players who started 24 or more games a year ago, making this a veteran lineup that knows how to execute and is ready for Pac-12 pitching. Rodriguez, Hayes, Smith, Mathews and Barnes are heady veterans who grind out at-bats and excel at situational hitting. Hayes is fully healthy for the first time since his freshman year, and his smooth lefthanded swing and patient, gap-to-gap approach should help him produce big numbers as a senior. The switch-hitting Keyes was an offensive force as a freshman before slumping last year, but he got back on track in the offseason and could re-emerge as a key run producer.
Power: 55. The centerpiece of the lineup is Conforto, an elite power hitter with prodigious strength in his lefthanded swing and a mature approach. Davis brings similarly huge raw power from the right side, but he needs to improve his contact rate. Casper’s righthanded pop could earn him a spot in the middle of the lineup, and Hayes has decent juice as well.
Speed: 50. Mathews is the only above-average runner in this lineup, but Oregon State is an aggressive, intelligent baserunning team whose speed plays up. Smith and Barnes, for instance, are average runners who went a combined 20-for-23 in stolen base attempts last year.
Defense: 60. The hard-nosed Rodriguez has made a nice transition from second base to catcher, where he handles the staff well. Smith doesn’t have huge tools, but he is a good athlete with sound instincts, and his emergence as a steady shortstop last year was a big key to Oregon State’s success. Keyes should be a capable double-play partner, and Casper has good range and a strong arm at third. Conforto is working hard on improving his outfield defense but is not a standout. Mathews and Barnes are solid.
Starting Pitching: 65. Oregon State’s top four starters figure to be upperclassmen with power stuff, and two of them (Child and Boyd) are Team USA veterans. Wetzler has refined his command of his 88-94 mph fastball, and his breaking ball and ch