College Preview

2006 West Coast Conference Preview




HOW THEY'LL FINISH



Conference Overall


W
L
W
L
1. +Pepperdine (11)
21
9
41
23
2. San Diego
16
14
30
27
3. San Francisco
20
10
38
18
4. Loyola Marymount
18
12
31
27
5. Gonzaga
15
15
28
26
6. Santa Clara
11
19
28
28
7. St. Mary's
12
18
20
30
8. Portland
7
23
17
36
(2005 records listed; 2006 national ranking in parentheses)
+ 2005 conference tournament champion; NCAA regional participants in boldface

Projected NCAA Teams (2): Pepperdine, San Diego.
Conference Schedule: 21 games. Schedule begins March 31.
Conference Tournament: Best-of-three series between top two teams, May 26-28.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
* 2005 conference leader

C—Chad Tracy, Jr., Pepperdine (*.367-*12-*61). 1B—Justin Tellam, Jr., Pepperdine (.302-16-43 at Nevada-Las Vegas). 2B—Eric Farris, So., Loyola Marymount (.345-2-17). 3B—Kyle Mura, Sr., Loyola Marymount (.247-6-35). SS—Danny Worth, So., Pepperdine (.306-1-34). OF—Shane Buschini, Jr., San Diego (.352-6-42); Stefan Gartrell, Sr., San Francisco (.364-5-41); Chris Pettit, Sr., Loyola Marymount (.329-9-44). DH—Jordan Abruzzo, Jr., San Diego (.279-10-42). P—Paul Coleman, Sr., Pepperdine (9-3, 3.35); Scott Cousins, Jr., San Francisco (8-5, 2.64); Brad Meyers, So., Loyola Marymount (4-3, 5.19).

Player of the Year: Chad Tracy, c, Pepperdine.
Pitcher of the Year: Paul Coleman, lhp, Pepperdine.
Freshman of the Year: Josh Romanski, lhp/dh, San Diego (15th round/Padres '05).

Top Newcomers: 1. Josh Romanski, lhp/dh, San Diego. 2. Brian Matusz, lhp, San Diego (Fr., 4th round/Angels ’05). 3. Justin Tellam, 1b, Pepperdine. 4. Clay Mortensen, rhp, Gonzaga (Jr., 25th round/Devil Rays ‘05). 5. Chase D’Arnaud, 3b, Pepperdine (Fr., 44th round, Dodgers ‘05).

PROJECTED TOP PROSPECTS, 2006-07 DRAFTS

1. #Brad Meyers, rhp, Loyola Marymount.
2. Chad Tracy, c, Pepperdine.
3. Nate Boman, lhp, San Diego.
4. #Adrian Ortiz, of, Pepperdine.
5. Josh Butler, rhp, San Diego.
6. Shane Buschini, of, San Diego.
7. Jordan Abruzzo, c, San Diego.
8. #Adam Olbrychowski, rhp, Pepperdine.
9. Scott Cousins, lhp/of, San Francisco
10. Paul Coleman, lhp, Pepperdine.

# Not eligible for 2006 draft

BEST TOOLS

Best Pure Hitter—Chad Tracy, Pepperdine. Best Raw Power—Ben Summerhays, San Francisco. Best Strike-Zone Discipline—Jonnie Knoble, San Francisco. Best Athlete—Scott Cousins, San Francisco. Fastest Runner--Adrian Ortiz, Pepperdine. Best Baserunner—Chris Pettit, Loyola Marymount. Best Defensive Catcher—Chad Tracy, Pepperdine. Catcher/Best Arm—Chad Tracy, Pepperdine. Best Defensive First Baseman—A.J. LaMonda, Loyola Marymount. Best Defensive Second Baseman—Eric Farris, Loyola Marymount. Best Defensive Third Baseman—Kyle Mura, Loyola Marymount. Best Defensive Shortstop—Danny Worth, Pepperdine. Infielder/Best Arm—Danny Worth, Pepperdine. Best Defensive Outfielder—Adrian Ortiz, Pepperdine. Outfielder/Best Arm—Scott Cousins, San Francisco. Best Fastball—Nate Boman, San Diego. Best Breaking Ball—Scott Cousins, San Francisco. Best Control—Patrick Donovan, Gonzaga.

SHORT HOPS

• The West Coast Conference has been split into a two-division format since 1999 with the winners meeting in a best-of-three series to determine the league’s automatic entry to the NCAA tournament. The league has ditched the division format in 2006, scaling back from a 30-game conference schedule to 21 games. The top two teams from the regular season will still meet in a three-game series.

• Since Pepperdine won the 1992 College World Series, WCC teams have been awarded just two at-large berths, both to Pepperdine (1999 and 2003). That should change this year as Pepperdine is ranked No. 11 nationally (its highest preseason ranking since 1992) and San Diego and San Francisco could field the best teams in their program histories. Loyola Marymount also will be considered a contender if sophomore RHP Brad Meyers (4-3, 5.19) pitches up to expectations. Meyers, a potential first-round pick in 2007, went 4-2, 1.61 last summer for Orleans, earning playoff co-MVP honors as that team won the Cape Cod League championship.

• The Waves, winners of seven straight division titles, return the conference player of the year (C Chad Tracy), pitcher of the year (LHP Paul Coleman) and rookie of the year (RHP Barry Enright). Enright went 8-0 in conference games last year.

• USF won a school-record 38 games in 2005 and returns its best player and one of the nation’s top two-way talents, OF/LHP Scott Cousins, who hit .309-7-30 with 13 stolen bases as the team’s everyday left fielder while going 8-5, 2.64 with 76 strikeouts in 95 innings as a pitcher. Scouts see his greatest value on the mound. “He sits at 87-88 with deceptive arm angles and an above-average slider,” Dons coach Nino Giarratano said. “He is very tough on lefthanded hitters.” Joining Cousins in the rotation will be former closer RHP Patrick McGuigan, a senior who saved 13 games a year ago while going 5-2, 1.66.

• Pepperdine, San Diego and San Francisco all should benefit this season from the transfer of power-hitting first basemen. Pepperdine gained the services of junior Justin Tellam, who hit 16 homers a year ago at Nevada-Las Vegas. San Francisco got senior Ben Summerhays, who hit .235-0-7 as a backup last year at Stanford and was a 23rd-round draft pick of the Mariners in 2004. And San Diego inherited a San Diego native, 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior Daniel Magness, who hit .372-4-45 a year ago at Dallas Baptist.

• If junior LHP Nate Boman (5-1, 2.28), a potential first-rounder if healthy, rebounds from shoulder surgery to repair a labrum tear and shave down part of his rotator cuff, San Diego could have one of the most talented pitching staffs in the country. The surgery will delay the start of Boman’s season, but the Toreros have the depth to weather his absence. Sophomore RHP Matt Couch (5-3, 3.65) and junior RHP Josh Butler (7-7, 3.42) will get help picking up the slack from two of the nation’s top freshman arms: LHP Brian Matusz, a fourth-round pick of the Angels last June, and LHP Josh Romanski, the first high school player drafted by the Padres. The Toreros staff will get a good test immediately as USD opens its season at home Feb. 3-5 against defending national champion Texas.

• Gonzaga returns seven regulars, led by all-conference junior 2B Scott Campbell (.332-1-30), its leading hitter and a native of New Zealand. The Zags also return their two winningest pitchers, junior RHP Josh Monroe (9-4, 3.03) and junior LHP Patrick Donovan (6-7, 3.22). They’ll be joined in the rotation by junior RHP Clay Mortenson, a Devil Rays draft pick who went 7-5, 2.36 at Treasure Valley (Ore.) CC last year.

• The conference’s best talent is Pepperdine junior C Chad Tracy, who has led the WCC in home runs his first two years and won the triple crown in 2005 by hitting .367-12-61. “He’s an extremely smart and sound defensive catcher,” Waves coach Steve Rodriguez said. “He understands the nuances of the game and has the ability to be the top catcher in the country. He hits equally well for power and average and is beginning to hit for power to the opposite field.” Tracy is the son of former Dodgers manager Jim Tracy, now with Pittsburgh, and the brother of UC Santa Barbara RHP Brian Tracy