College Preview

2013 Big 12 Conference Preview




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BIG 12 CONFERENCE
HOW THEY'LL FINISH
  Conference Overall
Team W
L W L
Texas Christian (14) (Mtn. West) 40 22
Oklahoma (19) 13
10 42 25
Texas 14
10 30 22
Baylor 20
4 49 17
Oklahoma State 13
11 32 25
Texas Tech 7
17 29 26
Kansas State 7
17 27 31
Kansas 7
16 24 34
West Virginia (Big East) 23 32
Teams are listed by predicted order of finish with 2012 records listed.
2012 NCAA tournament teams in bold
Projected NCAA Teams (4): Texas Christian, Oklahoma, Texas, Baylor.
Conference Schedule: 24 games, begins March 15.
Conference Tournament: Eight teams, May 22-26 at Oklahoma City (Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark).
Player of the Year: Jared King, of, Kansas State.
Pitcher of the Year: Dillon Overton, lhp, Oklahoma.
TOP PROSPECTS, 2013 DRAFT
1. Dillon Overton, lhp, Oklahoma
2. Trey Masek, rhp, Texas Tech
3. Jonathan Gray, rhp, Oklahoma
4. Jason Hursh, rhp, Oklahoma State
5. Jared King, of, Kansas State
6. Andrew Mitchell, rhp, Texas Christian
7. Corey Knebel, rhp, Texas
8. Billy Waltrip, lhp, Oklahoma
9. Erich Weiss, 3b, Texas
10. Jacob Felts, c, Texas
11. Tyler Nurdin, lhp, Oklahoma State
12. Trae Davis, rhp, Baylor
13. Brad Kuntz, lhp, Baylor
14. Frank Duncan, rhp, Kansas
15. Jake Barrios, ss, Texas Tech
TOP PROSPECTS, 2014 DRAFT
1. Kevin Cron, 1b, Texas Christian
2. John Curtiss, rhp, Texas
3. Dillon Peters, lhp, Texas
4. Brandon Finnegan, lhp, Texas Christian
5. Parker French, rhp, Texas
6. Jerrick Suiter, of/rhp, Texas Christian
7. Adam Choplick, lhp, Oklahoma
8. Cameron Cox, rhp, Texas
9. Codey McElroy, inf, Texas
10. Dakota Smith, of, Kansas
TOP NEWCOMERS
1. C.J. Hinojosa, ss, Texas (HS—Spring, Texas)
2. Alex Young, lhp, Texas Christian (HS—Mundelein, Ill.)
3. Billy Waltrip, lhp, Oklahoma (Tr.—Seminole State, Okla., JC)
4. Chad Hollingsworth, rhp, Texas (HS—Robinson, Texas)
5. Mitchell Traver, rhp, Texas Christian (HS—Houston)
6. Holden Helmink, rhp, Texas (HS—Willis, Texas)
7. Riley Ferrell, rhp, Texas Christian (HS—College Station, Texas)
8. Tanner Krietemeier, 1b/rhp, Oklahoma State (Tr.—Iowa Western CC)
9. Trevor Seidenberger, lhp, Texas Christian (Tr.—Blinn, Texas, JC)
10. Cameron Cox, rhp, Texas (Tr.—Weatherford, Texas, JC)

BEST TOOLS
Best Pure Hitter—Jared King, Kansas State. Best Raw Power—Kevin Cron, Texas Christian. Best Strike-Zone Discipline—Nathan Orf, Baylor. Best Athlete—King. Fastest Runner—Adam Toth, Baylor. Best Baserunner—Tanner Witt, Kansas State.
Best Defensive C—Jacob Felts, Texas. C/Best Arm—Felts. Best Defensive 1B—Alex Silver, Texas. Best Defensive 2B—Jack Mayfield, Oklahoma. Best Defensive 3B—Jantzen Witte, Texas Christian. Best Defensive SS—Keaton Jones, Texas Christian. Best Infield Arm—Jake Miller, Baylor. Best Defensive OF—King. Best OF Arm—Jerrick Suiter, Texas Christian.
Best Fastball— Jonathan Gray, Oklahoma. Best Breaking Ball—Andrew Mitchell, Texas Christian. Best Changeup—Dillon Overton, Oklahoma. Best Control—Overton.

QUICK HITS

Texas comfortably leads all Division I programs with 55 NCAA playoff appearances, but the Longhorns didn't make regionals last year, the first time since 1998 that they missed out on the postseason. After ranking second, first and second in Division I ERA from 2009-11, Texas slipped all the way to 49th (3.43) a year ago. The Longhorns are well armed to bounce back this spring, even after losing So. RHP John Curtiss (2-3, 3.50, 64 IP/48 SO) to Tommy John surgery. They'll build a rotation around So. RHPs Parker French (6-2, 2.84, 67 IP/30 SO)—the Big 12's 2012 freshman of the year—and So. LHP Dillon Peters (4-1, 3.18, 40 IP/43 SO), plus Fr. RHP Chad Hollingsworth, and they have one of college baseball's top closers in Jr. RHP Corey Knebel (4-5, 2.08, 9 SV, 74 IP/68 SO). Jr. 3B Erich Weiss (.350/.428/.547, 17 2B), Jr. OF Mark Payton (.322/.418/.495) and Fr. SS C.J. Hinojosa should form the nucleus of a strong lineup. Hinojosa and Hollingsworth are part of a deep recruiting class that also includes Fr. RHP Holden Helmink, So. RHP Cameron Cox (a transfer from Weatherford, Texas, JC) and So. INF Codey McElroy (Eastern Oklahoma JC).

Baylor took the Big 12 by storm in 2012, winning its first 18 league games and going 20-4 to win the regular-season title and post the second-best winning percentage (.833) in league history. The Bears lost several key players off that club, including Big 12 player of the year Josh Ludy (.362/.455/.634, league bests with 16 HR and 71 RBI), but have enough talent to make their fifth straight NCAA tournament appearance. Jr. LHP Brad Kuntz (4-2, 4.20, 41 IP/40 SO) and Jr. RHP Dillon Newman (4-4, 2.40, 45 IP/44 SO) have two of the best secondary pitches in the league—curveball for Kuntz, changeup for Newman—and will front an entirely new weekend rotation. Baylor's returning players combined for just 10 homers a year ago, but they still have seven upperclassmen in their lineup, led by Sr. 3B Cal Towey (.295/.428/.469, 6 HR), and the Big 12's fastest player in So. OF Adam Toth (.286/.331/.370, 18 SB).

• Though Oklahoma State lost first-round pick and Division I strikeout leader Andrew Heaney (8-2, 1.60, 118 IP/140 SO), the Cowboys should have a deeper pitching staff in 2013. So. RHP Jason Hursh has returned from a year off after Tommy John surgery with a 94-98 mph four-seam fastball and a 90-94 mph sinker, and So. LHP Tyler Nurdin has reclaimed his solid fastball and slider after missing all of last season with a shoulder injury. Jr. RHP Nick Dolsky, a transfer from Des Moines Area CC, rounds out the weekend rotation with a fastball that can hit 94. Jr. 1B Tanner Krietemeier, who helped Iowa Western CC win the 2012 Junior College World Series, and So. OF Zach Fish (.248/.306/.411) will power the offense.

• While Texas Tech and Kansas State project to finish in the bottom half of the conference, both have potential first-round picks who shone in the Cape Cod League last summer. Red Raiders Jr. RHP Trey Masek (2-4, 3.40, 53 IP/46 SO) has a 92-96 mph fastball and flashes a sharp curveball. Wildcats Jr. OF Jared King (.377/.453/.577, 16 SB) is extremely athletic for a 5-foot-11, 220-pounder, and he's a switch-hitter with plus speed and power potential.

Josh Holliday
• The Big 12 is full of change this spring, with two teams departing, two teams arriving and three schools with new head coaches. Missouri (which won the Big 12 tournament last May) and Texas A&M left for the Southeastern Conference and were replaced by Texas Christian (Mountain West) and West Virginia (Big East). Along with Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech, TCU was part of the old Southwest Conference, which disbanded after the 1996 season. Oklahoma State fired Frank Anderson after he missed the NCAA playoffs for the second time in three years and replaced him with Vanderbilt recruiting coordinator Josh Holliday, who played on the Cowboys' 1999 College World Series team. Holliday's brother Matt is a six-time big league all-star and his father Tom was an Oklahoma State assistant from 1978-96 and the school's head coach from 1997-2003. (He's now an assistant at No. 8 North Carolina State.) Texas Tech, which hasn't been to regionals since 2004, dismissed Dan Spencer and promoted recruiting coordinator Tim Tadlock, who won the 1999 and 2000 Junior College World Series as head coach at Grayson County (Texas) CC. West Virginia, which has a 16-year NCAA playoff drought, didn't renew Greg Van Zant's contract and turned to former TCU assistant Randy Mazey, who was previously a head coach at Charleston Southern (1994-96) and East Carolina (2003-2005).