Preseason College Top 25 Capsules

Scouting reports on college baseball's top teams




1. Texas A&M | 2. Louisiana State | 3. North Carolina | 4. Texas | 5. Cal State Fullerton | 6. Mississippi | 7. Rice | 8. Baylor | 9. UC Irvine | 10. Missouri
11. San Diego | 12. UCLA | 13. Arizona State | 14. Georgia | 15. Stanford
16. Oklahoma | 17. Pepperdine | 18. Kent State | 19. Clemson
20. Georgia Tech | 21. Alabama| 22. Arkansas | 23. Louisville
24. Florida State | 25. Oregon State

We love the 20-80 scouting scale at Baseball America; we use it to assess everything from prospects to lunch spots to impersonations (regular listeners to the BA College Podcast probably know that John Manuel has a 70 Jim Morris imitation). 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 for our Top 25's purposes, we rate talent relative to an average NCAA tournament team. 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 1995 Cal State Fullerton. There is no team like this heading into 2009.
70: Elite. A leading contender for the national title. (North Carolina, Texas A&M, Louisiana State.)
65: Well above-average. Legitimate championship contender. (Texas, Cal State Fullerton, Mississippi, Rice.)
60: Above-average. Strong Omaha contender. (Baylor, UC Irvine, Missouri.)
55: Slightly above-average. A threat to win a conference title and perhaps reach Omaha. (San Diego, UCLA, Arizona State, Georgia, Stanford, Oklahoma, Pepperdine, Kent State, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Alabama.)
50: Solid-average. Strong NCAA tournament teams who could make a postseason run. (Arkansas, Louisville, Florida State, Oregon State.)

1. TEXAS A&M
2008 Record (Ranking): 46-19 (12).
RPI: 18.
Coach (Record): Rob Childress (119-68, 3 years).
Postseason History:  24 regional appearances (last in 2008), 4 CWS appearances (last in 1999), 0 national titles.
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Kevin Gonzalez So. .261 .341 .359 3 29 2
1B Luke Anders Sr. .349 .486 .660 16 58 4
2B Nick Anders Jr. Tr.—Temple (Texas) JC
3B Nick Fleece So. .231 .322 .404 2 10 0
SS Adam Smith Fr. HS—Klein, Texas
LF Brodie Greene Jr. .290 .371 .462 4 27 7
CF Kyle Colligan Sr. .317 .421 .568 14 39 12
RF Brooks Raley So. .259 .358 .259 0 9 4
DH Joe Patterson Jr. Tr.—Seminole (Fla.) CC


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
LHP Brooks Raley So. 7 2 4.76 93 68 0
RHP Barret Loux So. 6 2 4.18 90 81 0
RHP Alex Wilson* Jr. 6 4 2.51 111 97 0
RP Travis Starling Jr. 8 2 3.70 49 40 9
*Stats from 2007 at Winthrop

SCOUTING THE AGGIES

TEXAS A&M
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 75
Bullpen 70
Hitting 55
Power 55
Speed 55
Defense 55
Experience 60
OFP 70
Starting Pitching:
75. Texas A&M can trump even North Carolina when it comes to pitching depth; the Aggies have four starters who would be pitching on Fridays for most teams in the country. Raley is a fierce competitor with good command of a quality three-pitch mix, including an 88-93 mph fastball, slider and changeup. Like Raley, Loux was a stalwart in the weekend rotation as a freshman, but his stuff is even more electric (93-96 fastball, power curve and changeup). Wilson was a freshman All-American at Winthrop before missing all of 2008 with Tommy John surgery and transferring to A&M. He owned a 91-94 mph fastball and a plus slider at Winthrop, and he ran his heater up to 98 this fall. Jr. RHP Clayton Ehlert (6-2, 3.41) might be the nation's best midweek starter, with good command of a solid three-pitch mix.
 
Brooks Raley (Photo by Andrew Woolley)
Bullpen: 70. After posting a 1.33 ERA in 15 relief appearances as a redshirt freshman, Starling earned all-conference honors as a closer in 2008. His 87-91 mph fastball is effective though not overpowering, but his bread-and-butter is an excellent knuckle curveball. Good luck finding a better setup man in the nation than Sr. RHP Kyle Thebeau (6-5, 2.12 with 79 K in 76 IP), an unsigned ninth-round pick by the Padres who can unleash explosive fastballs and filthy sliders despite a slight frame. Jr. RHP Scott Migl has made 23 career starts and could serve as a fifth starter when necessary in 2009, but the rest of the time he'll give the Aggies another experienced reliever. Jr. RHP Shane Minks (4-1, 3.27), Fr. LHP Ross Hales and Fr. RHP Danny Clement all have premium arms.
 
Hitting: 55. Jose Duran, Dane Carter, Darby Brown, Brian Ruggiano and Blake Stouffer combined for 284 RBIs a year ago, and their departures leave some offensive question marks. Fortunately, the Aggies caught a break when the hulking Luke Anders elected to return to anchor the lineup for his senior season. With promising line-drive strokes, Raley and Greene should see their averages spike in 2009, and Colligan is a dynamic leadoff man who can do everything. Fleece and Smith have huge talent but have yet to prove themselves.  
 
Power: 55. Luke Anders led the Big 12 in on-base percentage and slugging as a junior, and he might have more power than any hitter in the league as a senior. The Aggies expect big things from JC transfers Nick Anders (Luke's brother) and Patterson, who slugged 28 homers last year at the long-ball haven that is Seminole JC. Colligan has hit 27 homers in two and a half years for the Aggies. Fleece and Smith both flash plus power, and Navarro JC transfer Brett Parsons has some pop as well.
 
Speed: 55. Colligan, Greene and Raley all are plus or better runners who must spark Childress' high-octane offense. The Aggies love to apply constant pressure on opposing defenses with speed and aggressive small ball, but there's not a lot of speed in this lineup after that trio.

Defense: 55. Gonzalez and Colligan give the Aggies two strong defenders up the middle, but the double-play combination is new and somewhat suspect. The outfield corners are manned by excellent athletes with plenty of range and arm strength, and Fleece has a chance to be a standout defender at third.

Experience/Intangibles: 60. The Aggies have been to consecutive super regionals (losing at Rice both times) and are hungry to break through to Omaha. Having two experienced veterans (Starling and Thebeau) at the back of the bullpen and two more seniors (Colligan and Luke Anders) leading the offense is a major advantage.
 
Baseball America OFP: 70. Anything less than an Omaha trip would be a major disappointment for a team with this much talent, particularly on the mound.

2. LOUISIANA STATE
2008 Record (Ranking): 49-19-1 (6).
RPI: 8.
Coach (Record): Paul Mainieri (78-45-2, 2 years).
Postseason History: 22 regional appearances (last in 2008), 14 CWS appearances (last in 2008), 5 national titles (last in 2000).

2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Micah Gibbs So. .322 .417 .448 2 35 2
1B Sean Ochinko Jr. .272 .308 .404 4 21 0
2B Ryan Schimpf Jr. .320 .416 .592 12 54 16
3B Derek Helenihi Sr. .295 .355 .407 3 43 12
SS D.J. LeMahieu So. .337 .386 .457 6 44 10
LF Blake Dean Jr. .353 .432 .665 20 73 4
CF Leon Landry So. .271 .308 .435 5 26 12
RF Jared Mitchell Jr. .297 .363 .469 6 29 16
DH Matt Gaudet Sr. .270 .352 .444 2 15 0


Yr. W
L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Anthony Ranaudo So. 1 0 0.00 12 13 0
RHP Austin Ross So. 3 1 2.58 52 37 3
RHP Daniel Bradshaw So. 4 5 4.12 55 52 4
RP Louis Coleman Sr. 8 1 1.95 55 62 2

SCOUTING THE TIGERS

LSU
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 50
Bullpen 55
Hitting 75
Power 55
Speed 55
Defense 65
Experience 65
OFP 70
Starting Pitching: 50. The Tigers must replace their entire weekend rotation of Ryan Verdugo, Blake Martin and Jared Bradford (who also closed), all of whom are now in pro ball. Ranaudo, a touted recruit out of New Jersey, was limited by elbow tendinitis as a freshman but has a Friday starter's repertoire. At 6-foot-7, he pitches downhill with a fastball that reaches 94 mph, and he shows good feel for a curveball and changeup. Ross, who relies on a lively two-seam fastball, and Bradshaw, whose three-pitch mix is highlighted by his excellent changeup, slide from the bullpen to the weekend rotation. Sr. RHP Nolan Cain (0-0, 2.37) has the inside track on the midweek starter role thanks to his deceptive delivery and lively stuff.
 
Bullpen: 55. Coleman will be a workhorse out of the pen thanks to his experience and good command of a low-90s fastball from a low slot. The setup man, Jr. RHP Paul Bertuccini (2-0, 2.63), is not overpowering but effectively mixes speeds and locations with four pitches. Sr. RHP Jordan Brown (5-0, 5.40) has plenty of arm strength and could be an X-factor. Freshmen Chris Matulis and Randy Ziegler figure to be the top two lefties on a staff with plenty of question marks.

D.J. LeMahieu (Photo by Andrew Woolley)
Hitting: 75. LSU's deep, balanced lineup features eight players who factored prominently in last year's Omaha run. Dean, LeMahieu, Landry, Mitchell, Helenihi, Schimpf, Ochinko and Gibbs all wear out the gaps with hard line drives, and all are tough outs. There's no breathing room in this lineup.

Power: 55. LSU's biggest offensive loss is first baseman Matt Clark, the nation's leading home run hitter a year ago. Dean slugged 20 homers to earn first-team All-America honors as a sophomore, while LeMahieu and Schimpf offer excellent power for middle infielders. Football players Mitchell and So. OF Chad Jones have yet to really tap into their tantalizing raw power, and a back injury limited Gaudet's power output last year. Doubles should be the hallmark of this offense more than the long ball.

Speed: 55. The Tigers lack true burners, but they are athletic and aggressive on the basepaths. Landry and Mitchell are plus runners, while Schimpf, Helenihi and LeMahieu are solid runners with good baserunning instincts.

Defense: 65. Landry and Gibbs are elite up-the-middle defenders, anchoring an athletic, confident defense. Schimpf and LeMahieu are a very sound double-play combination. Helenihi moves from right field to third base, replacing stalwart Michael Hollander.

Experience/Intangibles: 65. LSU's lineup boasts enviable Omaha experience, and several of its pitchers worked big postseason innings. But it's uncertain how a brand-new weekend rotation will pan out.

Baseball America OFP: 70. The Tigers sent venerable old Alex Box Stadium out with a super regional win, and they have a good chance to cap the first year of the new Alex Box in the same fashion.

3. NORTH CAROLINA
2008 Record (Ranking): 54-14 (3).
RPI: 2.
Coach (Record): Mike Fox (452-190-1, 10 years).
Postseason History: 23 regional appearances (last in 2008), 7 CWS appearances (last in 2008), 0 national titles.
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Mark Fleury Jr. .275 .360 .389 3 25 1
1B Dustin Ackley Jr. .417 .503 .597 7 51 19
2B Garrett Gore Sr. .275 .306 .352 2 38 5
3B Kyle Seager Jr. .347 .421 .597 9 75 5
SS Ryan Graepel Jr. .253 .333 .313 0 7 1
LF Ben Bunting So. .227 .310 .293 1 11 2
CF Mike Cavasinni* Jr. .231 .318 .231 0 3 0
RF Ryan Norton Jr. Tr.—Lenoir (N.C.) CC
DH Greg Holt So. .357 .367 .357 0 4 0
*Stats from 2007


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Alex White Jr. 13 3 2.83 102 113 0
RHP Matt Harvey So. 7 2 2.79 68 80 0
RHP Adam Warren Sr. 9 2 4.23 83 73 0
RP Colin Bates So. 6 1 2.78 55 57 0

SCOUTING THE TAR HEELS

NORTH CAROLINA
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 75
Bullpen 65
Hitting 55
Power 40
Speed 55
Defense 55
Experience 70
OFP 70
Starting Pitching: 75. No staff in the nation can match the power arms of White and Harvey, who project as top-five overall picks in the 2009 and '10 drafts. Both have premium fastballs and killer secondary stuff—White uses a plus slider and a quality split-finger, while Harvey flashes a plus-plus curveball and plus change. Warren has used a solid four-pitch mix to compile a 22-2 record heading into his senior year, but his command was spotty last spring. So. RHP Bryant Gaines (a 6-foot-6 hulk who was a fall revelation) will vie for midweek starts with Fr. RHP Jimmy Messer.

Bullpen: 65. The slightly built Bates doesn't look like a closer, but he has a quick arm and good stuff, though it remains to be seen how he'll respond to anchoring the bullpen. Brian Moran (1-2, 2.76 in 40 appearances last year) gives UNC a reliable, deceptive lefty, while So. RHP Patrick Johnson (4-1, 4.14) takes over Bates' vacated role as first man out of the bullpen. LHP Logan Munson and RHPs Nate Striz (an unsigned 2007 fifth-round pick), Garrett Davis and Ryan Leach all own quality arms and help make this staff embarrassingly deep.

Dustin Ackley (Photo by Andrew Woolley)
Hitting: 55. UNC's lineup lacks the depth it has boasted in recent years thanks to the departures of its three best righthanded hitters (Chad Flack, Tim Federowicz and Seth Williams) and All-American OF Tim Fedroff, who signed as a draft-eligible sophomore. Still, Ackley is the best pure hitter in the country (as his .409 lifetime average attests), and Seager is another proven line-drive machine with a knack for big hits. Cavasinni missed most of 2008 while recovering from an eye injury; if he and Gore can return to their 2007 form, they give the Tar Heels a pair of able table-setters. Bunting and Norton are X-factors who must give UNC quality at-bats down in the lineup.

Power: 40. The Tar Heels are counting on Fleury to build off his solid Cape Cod League performance and Holt to use his stellar fall as a springboard. UNC needs that duo to provide most of the power in a lineup that otherwise relies upon line drives and scrappy at-bats, though Ackley and Seager should both boost their power numbers moving from the spacious USA Baseball complex where UNC played its home games last year to new Boshamer Stadium, which should be friendly to lefthanded hitters.

Speed: 55. Ackley and Cavasinni are plus or better runners, while Gore, Seager, Graepel, Bunting and Norton all have decent speed. UNC might run more with less thunder in the lineup this year.

Defense: 55. Graepel solidified the infield defense after taking over at shortstop last year, and Gore should be much more comfortable at second base than he was at short. Seager moves from second to third, where his hands and instincts are sound. UNC believes Fleury can shut down opposing running games like his predecessor, Federowicz, did.

Experience/Intangibles: 70. North Carolina has made three straight trips to Omaha and returns 21 lettermen from last year's CWS team. White, Ackley, Seager and others have proven themselves on the biggest stages. But a delay in the opening of the new Boshamer Stadium could be a distraction.

Baseball America OFP: 70. This is UNC's last best chance to grab that elusive national championship before White, Ackley and Seager head to professional ball.

4. TEXAS
2008 Record (Ranking): 39-22 (21).
RPI: 19.
Coach (Record): Augie Garrido (517-253-1, 12 years).
Postseason History: 52 regional appearances (last in 2008), 33 CWS appearances (last in 2005), 6 national titles (last in 2005).
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Preston Clark Sr. .263 .395 .480 8 43 5
1B Brandon Belt Jr. .319 .381 .496 6 65 2
2B Travis Tucker Sr. .247 .376 .323 1 25 22
3B Brandon Loy Fr. HS—Rowlett, Texas
SS David Hernandez Jr. .291 .359 .376 4 38 4
LF Tant Shepherd So. .357 .449 .536 2 18 0
CF Connor Rowe So. .333 .429 .500 0 4 0
RF Kevin Keyes So. .339 .409 .610 4 10 2
DH Cameron Rupp So. .309 .381 .479 4 32 0


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Chance Ruffin So. 8 3 1.96 78 82 3
RHP Cole Green So. 3 7 5.28 58 44 3
RHP Brandon Workman So. 5 2 5.06 53 49 1
RP Austin Wood Sr. 7 3 4.43 85 42 0

SCOUTING THE LONGHORNS

TEXAS
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 65
Bullpen 60
Hitting 60
Power 50
Speed 45
Defense 65
Experience 55
OFP 65
Starting Pitching: 65. The Texas weekend rotation features three serious power arms, though only the intensely competitive Ruffin has truly proven himself. As a freshman, Ruffin led the Big 12 in ERA and fewest hits allowed per nine innings (6.23) en route to third-team All-America honors. Workman's command and mechanics were inconsistent during his freshman year, but he led the Cape Cod League with 67 strikeouts last summer, ranking as its No. 5 prospect. His live low-90s fastball reaches the mid-90s, and his 12-to-6 curveball can be devastating. Green, who owns an 88-92 mph fastball and a good slider, moves from the bullpen to the rotation. RHP Taylor Jungmann, the Longhorns' top freshman and likely midweek starter, is a premium prospect with a fastball that reaches 95.

Chance Ruffin (Photo by John Williamson)
Bullpen: 60. Depth is the biggest strength of UT's bullpen. Wood saved seven games as a freshman in 2006 before moving to the rotation for most of the last two years; he lacks overpowering stuff but commands three pitches and brings plenty of experience to the back of the pen. So. RHP Stayton Thomas (2-0, 3.82) is the primary setup man thanks to a low-90s fastball and quality breaking ball, while Sr. LHP Keith Shinaberry can vary his arm angle and eat up lefthanded hitters. RHP Hunter Harris and LHP Riley Boening are solid veterans, and Fr. RHP Austin Dicharry is an elite talent with a plus downer curveball and a heavy heater up to 92.

Hitting: 60. As with the bullpen, the depth of the offense stands out more than the star power. Seven starters are back, as are two other regular contributors in Shepherd and Keyes, both of whom could have breakout years with regular playing time. The lineup is deep enough that last year's two leading hitters, Jr. DH/OF Russ Moldenhauer (.355) and Sr. IF Michael Torres (.354), will have to battle for playing time, thanks in part to the stellar fall performance of Loy. Tucker, Clark and Hernandez all struggled offensively for stretches in 2008 but look like bounce-back candidates.

Power: 50. Texas must replace star OFs Kyle Russell (the program's single-season and career home run king) and Jordan Danks (whose seven homers last year ranked third on the team). The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Keyes showed off his big-time raw power last summer, slugging eight homers for the Santa Barbara Foresters to rank as the California Collegiate League's top prospect. Belt flashes power to all fields, and Clark has hit 21 homers in three years despite seldom playing at 100 percent strength. The Longhorns expected Moldenhauer to be a power hitter when he arrived two years ago, but he has managed just seven home runs in 300 career at-bats.

Speed: 45. Rowe, the best athlete on the team, is an above-average runner. Tucker, Torres and Shepherd are intelligent baserunners but not burners. Clark, Rupp, Moldenhauer and Belt are not fleet of foot.

Defense: 65. When healthy, Clark might be the nation's best defensive catcher, and Rupp is an able backstop also. Tucker and Hernandez are a very solid double-play tandem, and Rowe gives Texas another very talented defender up the middle.

Experience/Intangibles: 55. Some of the Longhorns' young arms and talented sophomore outfielders still need to prove themselves, but there is no shortage of veteran leadership. Texas coach Augie Garrido is the sport's all-time winningest coach and a master motivator whose teams seldom underachieve, but his mid-January DUI arrest could prove a distraction.

Baseball America OFP: 65. The Longhorns haven't been to Omaha since winning the 2005 national championship. A three-year drought is an eternity in Austin; don't expect it to reach four years.

5. CAL STATE FULLERTON
2008 Record (Ranking): 41-22 (10).
RPI: 15.
Coach (Record): Dave Serrano (41-22, 1 year).
Postseason History: 30 regional appearances (last in 2008), 15 CWS appearances (last in 2007), 4 national titles (last in 2004).
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Dustin Garneau Sr. .246 .367 .399 4 24 6
1B Jared Clark Sr. .294 .410 .533 9 53 6
2B Joe Scott Sr. .289 .344 .373 0 11 1
3B Gary Brown So. .292 .374 .426 5 27 25
SS Christian Colon So. .329 .406 .444 4 39 13
LF Jeff Newman Sr. .277 .405 .308 0 12 7
CF Josh Fellhauer Jr. .335 .392 .517 7 40 17
RF Khris Davis Jr. .269 .405 .462 4 19 11
DH Corey Jones Jr. .302 .365 .389 1 33 4


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Daniel Renken So. 5 5 4.11 81 80 0
RHP Kyle Witten Jr. Tr.—Bakersfield (Calif.) JC
RHP Michael Morrison Jr. 2 2 4.14 54 55 0
RP Tyler Pill Fr. HS—Covina, Calif.

SCOUTING THE TITANS

CAL STATE FULLERTON
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 55
Bullpen 55
Hitting 65
Power 40
Speed 65
Defense 70
Experience 60
OFP 65
Starting Pitching: 55. The Titans lack overpowering arms, but all of their projected weekend starters have solid arms and a good feel for pitching. The 6-foot-4 Renken has a loose arm and quality three-pitch mix that helped him hold down a weekend spot as a freshman. Witten, also 6-foot-4, has a four-pitch repertoire highlighted by an 88-92 mph fastball and a hard two-plane slider. Morrison has run his fastball up to 93 mph and features a good overhand curveball. Lightning-armed Fr. RHP Noe Ramirez could emerge as a standout midweek starter, with a fastball that already reaches 91 and a sharp slider. Titans coach Dave Serrano is a master at getting the most out of his pitchers, and he should have no trouble with this savvy group.

Bullpen: 55. Fullerton expects to have a freshman closer in Pill, the younger brother of former Titans star Brett Pill. CSF's top recruit, Pill is a premium athlete and fierce competitor who commands an 88-91 mph fastball, good 12-to-6 curveball and excellent changeup. He'll have plenty of help in the pen with So. LHPs Jason Dovel (3-4, 5.32) and Kevin Rath (1-0, 6.48) and Jr. RHPs Ryan Ackland (1-1, 2.10) and Travis Kelly (1-1, 6.53).

Hitting: 65. The Titans lost third-team All-American Erik Komatsu but return seven other starters to a high-octane offense. Fullerton players excel at situational hitting and applying pressure with bunts, and veterans like Scott, Newman and Jones are masters of execution. Colon, Fellhauer and Brown are explosive players who can beat opponents with hard line drives or legging out bunts.

Power: 40. Fullerton does not rely on the long ball, but Clark has well-above-average raw power. With his 2006 knee injury behind him, Clark led the Titans in homers, RBIs, doubles and walks in 2008. Davis has yet to tap into his significant raw power in his first two years at Fullerton. Fellhauer, Colon and Brown have enough bat speed to hit one out on occasion.

Speed: 65. The Titans have good speed, but it plays up further because they are so aggressive on the basepaths, whether stealing or taking the extra base. Brown's well-above-average speed makes him one of the nation's fastest runners, while Colon, Fellhauer, Newman, Davis and Jones are all average or better runners.

Christian Colon (Photo by Larry Goren)
Defense: 70. Colon's range, arm strength and superb instincts make him one of the best defensive shortstops in the nation, and Scott is very sure-handed at second. Garneau is a leader behind the plate with excellent receiving skills. Fellhauer is an aggressive defender with a plus arm in center.

Experience/Intangibles: 60. The core of Fullerton's 2008 super regional team is intact, although the losses of weekend starters Jeff Kaplan and Cory Arbiso as well as closer Adam Jorgenson leave new faces filling key roles. The "Titan mystique" and talented coaching staff will make sure CSF lives up to lofty expectations.

Baseball America OFP: 65. After falling to Stanford in a home super regional last year, this deep, athletic, experienced unit has all the ingredients to return Cal State Fullerton to Omaha.

6. MISSISSIPPI
2008 Record (Ranking): 39-26 (NR).
RPI: 40.
Coach (Record): Mike Bianco (321-183-1, 8 years).
Postseason History: 14 regional appearances (last in 2008), 4 CWS appearances (last in 1972), 0 national titles.
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Brett Basham Sr. .261 .300 .332 2 29 1
1B Matt Smith So. .282 .366 .524 14 40 3
2B Zach Miller Jr. .280 .397 .355 1 22 4
3B Tim Ferguson So. .289 .327 .436 3 23 6
SS Evan Button Jr. .293 .453 .439 1 8 3
LF Logan Power Sr. .329 .425 .502 9 51 8
CF Jordan Henry Jr. .292 .368 .356 1 24 14
RF Michael Hubbard Sr. .276 .371 .382 1 10 1
DH Matt Snyder Fr. HS—Centreville, Va.


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
LHP Drew Pomeranz So. 4 3 4.16 71 81 0
RHP Phillip Irwin Jr. 2 1 5.40 33 31 0
LHP Nathan Baker Jr. 3 6 4.89 53 41 0
RP Scott Bittle Sr. 7 1 1.78 71 130 8

SCOUTING THE REBELS

OLE MISS
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 60
Bullpen 65
Hitting 60
Power 55
Speed 55
Defense 55
Experience 60
OFP 65
Starting Pitching: 60. Mainstays Lance Lynn and Cody Satterwhite are gone, but the Rebels might wind up even stronger in the weekend rotation. The wiry Pomeranz started on weekends as a freshman and should be one of the SEC's top Friday starters thanks to a 91-94 mph fastball and a devastating 79-82 curveball. Irwin worked mostly as a midweek starter in 2008 before striking out nine over four one-hit innings of relief in a regional game against Bethune-Cookman. He showed a lively 88-92 fastball, hard 78-80 slider and good changeup in his strong fall. Baker has a similar repertoire from the left side and has gotten stronger, touching 93 in the fall. Should one of them falter, Jr. RHP Aaron Barrett, a transfer from Wabash Valley (Ill.) JC, could step into a weekend job. His 90-94 mph fastball and pair of average secondary pitches made him the No. 6 prospect in the Northwoods League last summer.

Scott Bittle
Bullpen: 65. Mississippi returns the nation's best closer in Bittle, a first-team All-American last year thanks to an 84-86 mph cutter that might be the nation's single most overpowering pitch. He also features a very good changeup and an 88-90 fastball. The Rebels aren't afraid to use Bittle in a moment of truth in the middle innings and let him go multiple innings at a time, which means it's important to have a reliable arm to back him up. That's where So. RHP Jake Morgan (5-0, 3.70) comes in; he attacks the zone with three quality pitches, including a 90-92 fastball and hard slider. Fr. Kyle Barbeck also has a good three-pitch repertoire and could be the primary lefty out of the pen.

Hitting: 60. The deep, balanced Mississippi lineup returns seven starters. Henry, the 2007 SEC freshman of the year, struggled through a sophomore slump for much of 2008, but he has the ability to be a catalyst atop the lineup. Miller, also a freshman All-American two years ago whose numbers dipped in '08, handles the bat well and could slide into the No. 2 hole, unless the versatile Button fills that role. Power, Ferguson and Hubbard all have the ability to hit for average and could see their numbers spike this spring. Jr. OF David Phillips, a transfer from Texarcana (Texas) JC, is a doubles machine who should see plenty of playing time.

Power: 55. Smith, who clubbed 14 home runs as a freshman, worked hard in the weight room during the offseason and was more physical this fall; he could vie for the national home run title as a sophomore. The 6-foot-5 Snyder and his identical twin brother Mike could eventually have as much power as older brother Brandon, who was a first-round pick of the Orioles in 2005. Power has hit 22 homers in three seasons. Ferguson, Button and Hubbard all have at least occasional pop.

Speed: 55. Henry is a plus-plus runner, while Ferguson and Button have plus speed. Hubbard and Power are each solid runners. Basham, Smith and Snyder prevent Ole Miss from becoming the runnin' Rebels.

Defense: 55. Button missed most of 2008 to injury and the Rebels struggled to replace him at shortstop, turning their defense into a weakness. Healthy again, Button should be a stabilizing force this spring thanks to his reliable hands and strong arm. Basham and Fr. C Taylor Hightower could split time behind the plate, and both have excellent catch-and-throw skills. Henry and Power are good defenders with strong arms in the outfield.

Experience/Intangibles: 60. Ole Miss has experience all over the diamond. Having seniors at the back of the bullpen and behind the plate is a significant advantage, but can they help the Rebels shake their recent string of super regional disappointments?

Baseball America OFP: 65. After falling in supers in three of the last four years, Mississippi looks primed to finally break through and reach the CWS for the first time since 1972.

7. RICE
2008 Record (Ranking): 47-15 (8).
RPI: 4.
Coach (Record): Wayne Graham (787-299, 17 years).
Postseason History: 14 regional appearances (last in 2008), 7 CWS appearances (last in 2008), 1 national title (2003).
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Diego Seastrunk Jr. .353 .393 .504 6 61 1
1B Jimmy Comerota Jr. .291 .374 .332 0 28 12
2B Brock Holt Jr. Tr.—Navarro (Texas) JC
3B Anthony Rendon Fr. HS—Houston, Texas
SS Rick Hague So. .348 .408 .549 8 54 4
LF Michael Fuda So. .000 .000 .000 0 0 0
CF Steven Sultzbaugh Jr. Tr.—Weatherford (Texas) JC
RF Chad Mozingo So. .301 .386 .388 2 30 4
DH Jess Buenger Sr. .258 .352 .339 1 8 1


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Ryan Berry Jr. 8 5 3.63 104 86 0
RHP Mike Ojala Jr. 5 0 4.97 54 64 0
LHP Taylor Wall Fr. HS—Houston, Texas
RP Matt Evers So. 4 1 3.00 42 54 0

SCOUTING THE OWLS

RICE
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 60
Bullpen 45
Hitting 65
Power 40
Speed 60
Defense 65
Experience 65
OFP 65
Starting Pitching: 60. Berry has been Rice's Friday starter since March of 2006, giving the Owls enviable stability atop the rotation. He attacks the zone with an 88-92 mph fastball and a hard knuckle-curve that has become a Rice pitcher trademark. Ojala came on strong down the stretch last year, showing a 90-92 mph fastball and a curve that might have even more depth than Berry's. Wall and Fr. RHP Anthony Fazio both offer good sinking fastball and solid feel for pitching, and both should step right into starting roles.
 
Bullpen: 45. For the first time since 2004, Rice enters the season without Cole St.Clair in its bullpen. The Owls hope another lefty, Evers, can step into St.Clair's shoes thanks to a plus fastball and good breaking ball. Six-foot-6 Sr. RHP Jordan Rogers threw just five innings last year but threw well in the fall, and Rice hopes to use him as its primary setup man this year. This staff lacks the deep reservoir of proven arms Rice has grown used to, so redshirt sophomores Abel Gonzales and Zack Harwood and redshirt freshman Andy Hamilton need to take steps forward.

Rick Hague (Photo by Andrew Woolley)
Hitting: 65. The Owls have tough outs and talented line-drive hitters up and down their lineup. The most dangerous of the lot are Hague (a freshman All-American a year ago thanks to his superb all-around game) and Seastrunk, who could be the two best hitters in Conference USA. Rendon is cut from the same cloth, a gifted hitter who laces hard liners to all fields. The pesky Comerota and Holt will make pitchers work. Buenger posted an .872 OPS in 2007 and could be in store for a comeback year, while Mozingo has a sweet lefthanded stroke and looks like a breakout candidate. Sultzbaugh has a classic table-setter toolset.

Power: 40. Hague, Seastrunk, Buenger and Rendon are all strong enough to hit the ball out of the park now and then, but none is a typical masher. This is an offense built around doubles and tough outs, not the long ball.

Speed: 60. Stolen bases figure to be a bigger part of Rice's attack than in past years. Sultzbaugh and Mozingo have above-average speed, and all four projected starting infielders are solid runners. The ultra-athletic Fuda, also a wide receiver for the Rice football team, also brings very good speed.

Defense: 65. With sure-handed athletes all over the diamond, the Owls should be an exceptional defensive unit. Seastrunk shifts from third base to catcher this year, where he has aptitude and promising catch-and-throw skills but little experience. The undersized Comerota is not a typical first baseman but is very nimble around the bag.

Experience/Intangibles: 65. The Owls have made three straight Omaha trips and feature a number of veterans with experience on the sport's biggest stage. Coach Wayne Graham's teams are always mentally tough, year after year.
 
Baseball America OFP: 65. This team is constructed differently than recent Rice entries, with less power and fewer proven arms in the bullpen. But the Owls remain the heavy CUSA favorites and strong Omaha contenders.

8. BAYLOR
2008 Record (Ranking): 32-26 (NR).
RPI: 51.
Coach (Record): Steve Smith (522-337-1, 14 years).
Postseason History: 14 regional appearances (last in 2007), 3 CWS appearances (last in 2005), 0 national titles.
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Gregg Glime Jr. .209 .346 .250 0 16 1
1B Dustin Dickerson Jr. .313 .382 .458 4 43 3
2B Joey Hainsfurther Fr. HS—Dallas, Texas
3B Shaver Hansen Jr. .326 .413 .534 6 47 8
SS Raynor Campbell Jr. .311 .352 .461 4 26 4
LF Ben Booker Sr. .286 .378 .476 7 44 11
CF Brooks Pinckard R-Fr. HS—Buda, Texas
RF Aaron Miller Jr. .295 .425 .562 12 45 0
DH Dan Evatt R-Fr. HS—Grapevine, Texas


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Kendal Volz Jr. 3 6 4.20 71 85 0
RHP Shawn Tolleson So. 6 4 5.06 78 63 0
RHP Craig Fritsch So. 3 4 4.80 54 49 3
RP Willie Kempf Jr. 6 2 3.69 68 48 2

SCOUTING THE BEARS

BAYLOR
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 70
Bullpen 55
Hitting 55
Power 55
Speed 50
Defense 55
Experience 50
OFP 60
Starting Pitching: 70. Baylor's top three starters could all go in the top two rounds of the draft in June. Despite going 3-6 against a rigorous Friday night schedule in the Big 12 a year ago, Volz generally pitched well in 2008, then was a shut-down closer for Team USA. His 92-96 mph fastball, hard slider and effective changeup should make him one of the nation's best starters this spring. Tolleson missed the first half of 2007 while recovering from Tommy John surgery but came back strong. His 90-93 mph fastball has good sink, and he spots his secondary stuff well. The wiry Fritsch has a low-90s fastball with tons of life as well as a good slider and decent change. Fr. RHP Logan Verrett, who commands a four-pitch mix, figures to make most of the midweek starts. Verrett touched 92-94 in a fall game against Texas.

Kendall Volz (Photo by John Williamson)
Bullpen: 55. Kempf is a quality Big 12 closer with a fierce disposition and a fastball up to 93 mph. So. RHP/IF Jon Ringenberg appeared in 24 games last year—all as a position player—but figures to be the primary setup man this year thanks to an 89-91 mph fastball and a good changeup. Baylor's staff is only eight or nine quality arms deep, but that should be enough on most weekends.

Hitting: 55. The Bears have the potential to be very dangerous offensively if ballyhooed 2006 recruits Dickerson, Miller, Campbell and Hansen can put it all together. All four have big-time talent but struggled under the weight of expectations for much of the last two years. Hansen, Hainsfurther and Glime all switch-hit, giving the offense an added dimension. Hainsfurther and Pinckard are scrappy athletes with the ability to bunt and play small ball.

Power: 55. Again, Baylor could be one of the nation's most powerful teams if Dickerson and Miller explode; neither has yet truly unlocked his big raw power. Hansen and Campbell have occasional power, while Booker's lightning-quick hands could translate into serious pop. Evatt was Baylor's best hitter in the fall and also brings power potential.

Speed: 50. Pinckard is a plus-plus runner, and Booker has above-average speed. Miller, Campbell, Hansen and Hainsfurther are all solid runners but not burners. Dickerson runs well for his size.

Defense: 55. Glime, the field general, has good blocking and receiving skills and a strong arm. The three outfielders will cover abundant ground, but the infield range is more of a question mark, especially with Beamer Weems lost to pro ball. All four infielders do have good hands, however.

Experience/Intangibles: 50. Baylor is loaded with veterans, but veterans with a reputation for underachieving. Players like Volz and Glime grew tired of getting an earful from friends at other Big 12 schools and took control of the team in the fall. Their leadership must hold the team together in 2009.

Baseball America OFP: 60. On paper, there is plenty to like about Baylor. But the same was true heading into last year, and the Bears missed regionals. It's now or never for the nation's No. 1 recruiting class in 2006.

9. UC IRVINE
2008 Record (Ranking): 42-18 (11).
RPI: 12.
Coach (Record): Mike Gillespie (42-18, 1 year).
Postseason History: 4 regional appearances (last in 2008), 1 CWS appearance (2007), 0 national titles.
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Francis Larson Jr. .314 .369 .490 7 40 5
1B Jeff Cusick Jr. .363 .452 .490 0 29 4
2B Casey Stevenson Jr. .302 .381 .395 3 14 1
3B Eric Deragisch Sr. .299 .354 .374 1 16 6
SS Ben Orloff Sr. .344 .441 .419 0 23 19
LF Dillon Bell Jr. .326 .384 .493 5 30 2
CF Cory Olson Jr. Tr.—Orange Coast (Calif.) JC
RF Sean Madigan Jr. .328 .407 .484 2 24 6
DH Brian Hernandez Jr. Tr.—Cal State Los Angeles


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
LHP Daniel Bibona Jr. 9 3 3.08 102 97 0
RHP Christian Bergman Jr. 5 2 1.94 60 37 0
RHP Brock Bardeen Sr. Did not pitch
RP Eric Pettis Jr. 4 3 2.62 45 50 17

SCOUTING THE ANTEATERS

UC IRVINE
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 55
Bullpen 55
Hitting 65
Power 35
Speed 50
Defense 60
Experience 70
OFP 60
Starting Pitching: 55. The Anteaters will miss All-American ace Scott Gorgen and righthander Bryce Stowell, who signed as a redshirt sophomore for a $750,000 bonus in the 22nd round. They don't have the kind of power arms found on the other top 10 teams, but Bibona and Bergman are proven winners whose fearlessness makes them valuable. Bibona has excellent command of his three-pitch repertoire and throws any pitch in any count. Bergman relies on a lively 88-90 sinker and a slider. Bardeen, a fifth-year senior, smacked four pinch-hit homers last year but has yet to throw a pitch in his collegiate career. He was a pleasant surprise in the fall, throwing an 88 mph fastball and a curve for strikes. So. RHP Crosby Slaught, another fall surprise, has similar stuff and could compete for the Sunday job.

Bullpen: 55. Pettis, who finished one off the national saves lead last year, pounds the strike zone with a sinker and a slider. He's versatile and could see time as a starter as well as a closer on an Irvine staff that lacks proven arms. So. RHP Nick Hoover, a transfer from Riverside (Calif.) JC with a fastball up to 88 and a good slider, is the key setup man.

Hitting: 65. The 'Eaters "should hit one through nine and be able to skill it up," in the words of coach Mike Gillespie. Irvine's offense is very dangerous because all of its players are masters of execution, starting with Orloff, whom Gillespie describes as a "skills grand-master." Like Orloff, Cusick, Stevenson and Madigan are tough outs with excellent plate discipline and good line-drive strokes. Hernandez is the key; one of the strongest players on the team and a gifted hitter (.454 last year at JC of the Canyons), he will likely hit in the No. 3 hole if the NCAA determines he is eligible.

Power: 35. Irvine simply does not rely upon home runs to score—last year they ranked 185th in Division I in homers per game, but led the nation in sacrifice bunts. Larson has the most power on the team and made much more consistent contact as a sophomore than as a freshman. The lefthanded-hitting Bell, who could platoon with righthanded-hitting Sr. OF Tony Asaro, also shows occasional pop.

Speed: 50. The Anteaters are very aggressive on the basepaths, but they lost their only true plus runner in catalyst Ollie Linton, who delivered 40 of their 99 steals last year. Olson, a slightly above-average runner, will try to fill Linton's role. The 'Eaters lack the speed to steal many bases, but they'll hit-and-run and bunt more than anyone.

Ben Orloff
Defense: 60. While not spectacular on defense, UC Irvine has solid, steady defenders all over the field, typified by Orloff, who simply makes every play. Olson has good range and a solid-average arm in center. Larson has improved behind the plate, and Cusick is a standout at first.

Experience/Intangibles: 70. Though talented youngsters Tommy Reyes and Matt Summers could play immediately, Irvine figures to start nine upperclassmen at any given time. Most of its regulars were on the 2007 CWS team and the 2008 squad that won the Lincoln Regional. The Anteaters won't get rattled and will do all the things to win that don't show up on the stat sheet.

Baseball America OFP: 60. Irvine was six outs from its second-straight CWS appearance, nursing a five-run lead, before the wheels came off against LSU last year. UCI's veterans will learn from that experience but won't dwell on it—they're too mentally tough. They'll just set their sights back on Omaha.

10. MISSOURI
2008 Record (Ranking): 39-21 (19).
RPI: 43.
Coach (Record): Tim Jamieson (480-329-2, 14 years).
Postseason History: 20 regional appearances (last in 2008), 6 CWS appearances (last in 1964), 1  national title (1954).
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Trevor Coleman Jr. .295 .417 .416 4 35 0
1B Steve Gray Sr. .317 .380 .557 10 36 0
2B Andrew Thigpen So. .324 .413 .398 1 17 0
3B Kyle Mach Sr. .259 .350 .368 2 28 0
SS Mike Liberto Jr. Tr.—Delgado (La.) JC
LF Greg Folgia Jr. .293 .427 .467 5 40 6
CF Ryan Lollis Sr. .339 .435 .427 1 42 8
RF Aaron Senne Jr. .347 .461 .593 13 67 0
DH Conner Mach Fr. HS—Chesterfield, Mo.


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Kyle Gibson Jr. 9 4 3.84 87 96 2
RHP Nick Tepesch So. 1 3 4.85 30 17 4
RHP Ian Berger Sr. 4 5 4.54 85 68 0
RP Brad Buehler So. 1 0 5.52 15 10 0

MISSOURI
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 65
Bullpen 55
Hitting 60
Power 55
Speed 40
Defense 65
Experience 55
OFP 60
SCOUTING THE TIGERS

Starting Pitching: 65. Missouri will be without first-team All-American Aaron Crow, who tied for the national lead with 13 wins as a junior before becoming a first-round pick, but its weekend rotation should be strong again anyhow. Gibson is a candidate to go in the top 10 picks of the draft in June, thanks to a lively low-90s fastball and above-average slider. Tepesch has even more arm strength, with a fastball that reaches the mid-90s, but he's still working on commanding his secondary stuff more consistently. He made progress in the fall and could be a major breakout candidate this spring. Berger was nearly as good as Crow in the first half of 2008 before falling off sharply down the stretch. His stuff is fringy but he makes up for it with his guile. So. LHP Kelly Fick, a command-and-control competitor, will compete with power-armed So. RHP Tyler Clark for midweek starts.

Kyle Gibson (Photo by John Williamson)
Bullpen: 55. The Tigers relied on soft-tossing Scooter Hicks to close for much of the past two years, but they'll have a pair of power arms at the back of the pen in 2009. Buehler's low-90s fastball has good sink, and he flashes a plus breaking ball, but he's still working on repeating his delivery. Jr. RHP Ryan Allen has flashed a plus fastball and promising slider at times. Folgia, who can reach the low 90s, will also get some work out of the pen.

Hitting: 60. Slugger Jacob Priday is gone, but the other eight starters return, making this potentially the best Missouri offense in the Tim Jamieson era. The switch-hitting Folgia is a sparkplug with some pop atop the lineup. Lollis and Gray have a knack for delivering big hits, while Senne and Coleman could challenge for Big 12 Player of the Year honors. Conner Mach, the best prep hitter in the state of Missouri last spring, should be much more dangerous offensively than older brother Kyle.

Power: 55. Senne has big lefthanded power, and Gray has even more. Coleman and Folgia are capable of hitting occasional homers. Conner Mach can launch balls with a simple flick of his wrists; he provides a key source of righthanded pop.

Speed: 40. Liberto, who runs the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds, is the fastest runner on the team, but Lollis and Folgia can move just fine also.

Defense: 65. Coleman and Lollis are standout defenders up the middle. The middle infield was a weakness last year that should improve in 2009, with defensive whiz Liberto winning the shortstop job, Thigpen sliding from short to second, and Folgia moving from second to left field. Folgia and Senne have plus arms on the outfield corners, and Mach could be the best defensive third baseman in the Big 12.

Experience/Intangibles: 55. The only spots where Missouri lacks experience are in the bullpen and the Saturday starter spot, where Tepesch still must make good on his superb talent.

Baseball America OFP: 60. Missouri is a shoo-in to make its seventh straight regional appearance and could finally end its 45-year CWS drought. As Jamieson put it, "This is an experienced group that feels this is a statement year."

11. SAN DIEGO
2008 Record (Ranking): 44-17 (18).
RPI: 24.
Coach (Record): Rich Hill (353-236-3, 10 years).
Postseason History: 4 regional appearances (last in 2008), 0 CWS appearances, 0 national titles.
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Nick McCoy Jr. .224 .358 .276 0 12 1
1B Jose Valerio Sr. .336 .379 .497 5 26 0
2B Zach Walters So. .265 .333 .368 1 13 0
3B Victor Sanchez So. .268 .346 .495 12 47 5
SS Sean Nicol Sr. .313 .422 .378 0 27 9
LF Bryan Haar Fr. HS—La Mesa, Calif.
CF Kevin Muno Jr. .326 .414 .450 4 29 21
RF James Meador Jr. .374 .422 .561 6 57 5
DH Tony Strazzara So. .278 .392 .329 0 15 1


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Kyle Blair So. 8 4 3.86 75 99 0
LHP Sammy Solis So. 3 1 3.83 49 42 0
RHP Matt Thomson Jr. 2 1 3.86 33 21 2
RP A.J. Griffin Jr. 1 1 1.96 46 49 14

SCOUTING THE TOREROS

SAN DIEGO
Starting Pitching 70
Bullpen 65
Hitting 50
Power 40
Speed 45
Defense 55
Experience 50
OFP 55
Starting Pitching: 70. The Toreros lost a pair of All-Americans in lefties Brian Matusz (the first pitcher taken in the 2008 draft) and Josh Romanski, but their pitching remains their greatest strength. USD believes Solis could wind up as good as fellow Arizona prep product Matusz; he has a better fastball already and has very good feel for two offspeed pitches. Blair's polished four-pitch mix includes an above-average slider and a 90-94 mph fastball. Thomson, the No. 13 prospect in the Cape Cod League last summer, pounds the bottom of the zone with a 91-93 mph heater, a solid curve and good changeup. Sr. RHP Matt Couch, who has 23 career wins, is slated to return from Tommy John surgery in mid-March, giving the Toreros a battle-tested fourth starter.

Kyle Blair (Photo by Keeton Gale)
Bullpen: 65. Griffin has been one of the nation's most consistent closers over the last two years. His rubber arm and plus command of a quality four-pitch repertoire has helped him rack up 25 saves and a 114-35 strikeout-walk ratio in 109 career innings. So. RHP Darrin Campbell gives USD a power-armed setup man who can run his fastball up to 94. Fr. RHP Chris Jensen gives the Toreros yet another premium arm, with a sinking 90-92 fastball and a promising split-finger.

Hitting: 50. The Toreros invest a high percentage of their scholarship dollars in pitching, so scoring runs can be a struggle—they scored 6.4 runs per game in 2008, ranking 150th in the nation. But while USD's lineup is not very deep, it features a number of solid college hitters with a knack for putting the bat on the ball. Muno and Nicol are scrappy table-setters who should get on base ahead of middle-of-the-order hitters Sanchez, Meador, Haar and Valerio. Walters is the real pick to click, a switch-hitter with a pretty stroke and strength in his 6-foot-3 frame.

Power: 40. Sanchez has massive power, but there's no real bopper to protect him in the lineup. Meador and Valerio have occasional pop, while Haar and Walters are physical, athletic specimens who could turn into decent power threats. The rest of the offense has little juice.

Speed: 45. San Diego would find it easier to manufacture runs if it had more speed. Muno and Nicol are solid runners, but there's little speed after that.

Defense: 55. McCoy, Nicol and Muno give USD three quality veterans with sound defensive skills up the middle. Meador is another strong defender, while Sanchez, Haar and Walters have the tools to be also, with experience.

Experience/Intangibles: 50. Every expected contributor save Haar and Jensen have some meaningful Division I experience, but no Torero has post-regional experience. USD must prove it has the toughness to follow a strong regular season by winning a regional.

Baseball America OFP: 55. Even without Matusz and Romanski, this could be the year San Diego gets over the regional hump.

12. UCLA
2008 Record (Ranking): 33-27 (NR).
RPI: 42.
Coach (Record): John Savage (114-121, 4 years).
Postseason History: 15 regional appearances (last in 2008), 2 CWS appearances (last in 1997), 0 national titles.
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Steve Rodriguez Fr. HS—Bellflower, Calif.
1B Alex Weber-Shapiro Jr. Tr.—Claremont McKenna (Calif.)
2B Niko Gallego So. .317 .378 .415 0 4 1
3B Casey Haerther Jr. .324 .376 .580 12 52 10
SS Tyler Rahmatulla Fr. HS—Santa Ana, Calif.
LF Justin Uribe Jr. .283 .465 .377 0 8 0
CF Blair Dunlap Jr. .250 .282 .341 2 16 3
RF Gabe Cohen Jr. .204 .304 .429 9 29 8
DH Cody Decker Sr. .218 .340 .382 7 30 2


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
LHP Gavin Brooks Jr. 6 3 5.07 71 62 0
RHP Gerrit Cole Fr. HS—Orange, Calif.
RHP Charles Brewer Jr. 9 4 5.10 97 69 1
RP Brendan Lafferty Sr. 4 3 3.74 67 56 3

SCOUTING THE BRUINS

UCLA
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 60
Bullpen 65
Hitting 55
Power 55
Speed 50
Defense 50
Experience 50
OFP 55
Starting Pitching: 60. Depth of quality starting options is the strength of this unit. Brooks showed dominant stuff down the stretch as a freshman but struggled mightily as a freshman; he showed three solid pitches in the fall and the Bruins hope he'll finally be able to sustain his success over a full season. Mononucleosis spoiled most of Brewer's freshman year, and he was up and down as a sophomore. He commands an 88-91 mph fastball, good 76-77 curve and solid changeup. Cole, an unsigned first-round pick by the Yankees, has the most electric arm on the staff and will step into the weekend rotation as a freshman. Cole can run his fastball up to 97-98 and owns a nasty, late-breaking curveball in the low 80s. So. LHP Rob Rasmussen is a little lefty with a big arm whose best pitch is a vicious downer curveball. He'll compete for a weekend spot as well.

Bullpen: 65. The Bruins have an extraordinarily deep bullpen anchored by a steady senior closer in Lafferty, who led the team in appearances as a junior. He attacks hitters with a 90-92 mph fastball and good slider. So. RHP Dan Klein and Fr. RHP Trevor Bauer each own quality four-pitch repertoires and will join Cole in the rotation in future years, but for now they'll strengthen the pen. So. LHP Matt Grace, Sr. RHP Jason Novak, Jr. RHP Garrett Claypool and Jr. LHP Matt Drummond all have quality arms, while R-Fr. RHP Eric Goeddel has enormous potential and is finally back from Tommy John surgery.

Casey Haerther (Photo by Bill Nichols)
Hitting: 55. UCLA's offense has a chance to be strong if Cohen and Decker bounce back from their miserable 2008 seasons and revert to their stellar 2007 form. Haerther is a patient hitter who consistently squares up hard line drives to all fields, and Weber-Shapiro has a chance to be a similar hitter from the left side—he was a Division III All-American last year at Claremont McKenna. Gallego and Rahmatulla should be pesky outs who get on base at decent rates, while Dunlap and Uribe could be the real catalysts if they can stay healthy, which has been a problem for both so far in their careers.

Power: 55. Again, this rating could be selling the Bruins short if Decker and Cohen come back strong; Cohen, in particular, has a chiseled frame and plus big league power potential, but his swing gets long and mechanical. Haerther and Weber-Shapiro should both reach double-digit homers, and Dunlap has some pop as well. So. OF Brett Krill and Fr. 3B Chris Amezquita bring power off the bench.

Speed: 50. Dunlap and reserve OF Raul Duran are plus runners, while Uribe, Cohen, Rahmatulla and Gallego are all at least solid-average.

Defense: 50. Rahmatulla and Gallego have the talent to be a special middle infield, but both must prove themselves at the Division I level. Rodriguez has solid catch-and-throw skills, and all three outfielders have good range. Haerther profiles as a first baseman in pro ball and could be a liability at third against bunt-happy West Coast offenses.

Experience/Intangibles: 50. UCLA lost a number of regulars from last year's underachieving bunch (Brandon Crawford, Jermaine Curtis, Alden Carrithers and Tim Murphy, among others), but there are some key veterans remaining. Until the Bruins prove they can win in the postseason with their exceptional talent, doubts about their toughness will linger. New assistant coach Rick Vanderhook, a longtime assistant at nemesis Cal State Fullerton, could be just the no-nonsense man the Bruins need.

Baseball America OFP: 55. Expectations are more cautious after the preseason No. 1-ranked Bruins struggled through much of 2008, but they still have top-end talent.

13. ARIZONA STATE
2008 Record (Ranking): 49-13 (9).
RPI: 5.
Coach (Record): Pat Murphy (578-270-1, 14 years).
Postseason History: 32 regional appearances (last in 2008), 20 CWS appearances (last in 2007), 5 national titles (last in 1981).
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Carlos Ramirez Jr. Tr.—Chandler-Gilbert (Ariz.) CC
1B Jared McDonald Jr. Tr.—Pima (Ariz.) CC
2B Zack MacPhee Fr. HS—Phoenix, Ariz.
3B Raoul Torrez Jr. .341 .434 .478 2 35 12
SS Riccio Torrez Fr. HS—Phoenix, Ariz.
LF Kole Calhoun Jr. Tr.—Yavapai (Ariz.) CC
CF Jason Kipnis Jr. .371 .485 .667 14 73 24
RF Matt Newman So. .322 .509 .461 3 28 2
DH Jordan Swagerty Fr. HS—Sachse, Texas


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Mike Leake Jr. 11 3 3.49 121 104 1
LHP Josh Spence Jr. Tr.—Central Arizona JC
RHP Seth Blair So. 4 2 6.96 54 34 1
RP Jordan Swagerty Fr. HS—Sachse, Texas

SCOUTING THE SUN DEVILS

ARIZONA STATE
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 55
Bullpen 45
Hitting 65
Power 55
Speed 50
Defense 50
Experience 50
OFP 55
Starting Pitching: 55. Leake is simply one of the nation's best Friday starters, a fierce competitor with excellent command of an above-average 89-92 sinker, a cutter, curveball, changeup and slider. He throws any pitch in any count and is a superb athlete who will also fill in on the infield. Spence went 27-7, 1.40 in two years in junior college (facing wood bats) thanks to his ability to vary speeds, arm angles and tempo with two plus breaking balls. Blair might have the best arm on the staff, with a fastball that touches 94, but his secondary stuff remains inconsistent. Sr. RHP Jason Franzblau and the lefthanded Newman should vie for midweek starts.

Mike Leake (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
Bullpen: 45. Swagerty seems like a young Leake—an athletic two-way player with an 89-92 fastball, good secondary stuff and an aggressive demeanor. Like Leake, he'll be asked to anchor the bullpen as a freshman. The rest of the bullpen is equally unproven: So. RHP R.J. Preach and Fr. LHP Mitch Lambson have plenty of projection but little experience. Calhoun could get some innings as a southpaw out of the pen. Like a year ago, lack of pitching depth is a concern.

Hitting: 65. With the nation's No. 1 recruiting class, Arizona State managed to reload effectively after losing All-Americans and first-round picks Brett Wallace and Ike Davis, plus mainstays Petey Paramore and Kiel Roling. JC transfers Ramirez, Calhoun and McDonald shouldn't miss a beat in the Pac-10; all three have quick bats and the patient approach that ASU covets. MacPhee, Newman and the two Torrezes offer solid line-drive strokes. As usual under Pat Murphy, the Sun Devils will run up pitch counts and punish mistakes. The bench is deep, and there is a strong balance of righthanded and lefthanded hitters.

Power: 55. This isn't the slugging ASU team that has bludgeoned opponents with the long ball in recent years, but Kipnis is a good power hitter, and Wilson has a chance to be even better. Ramirez, the Northwoods League home run leader last summer, and Calhoun also could reach double-digit homers.

Speed: 50. MacPhee is an electric player who runs the 60-yard dash in 6.5 seconds. Kipnis is a plus runner with good baserunning instincts, and every other regular save Ramirez runs fairly well.

Defense: 50. Ramirez has a plus arm but has drawn mixed reviews for his receiving. MacPhee and Riccio Torrez have a chance to be a dynamite double-play tandem, but starting two freshmen in the middle infield is a risk. The rest of the defense should be sound.

Experience/Intangibles: 50. ASU will be breaking in plenty of new players, but veterans like Leake and Raoul Torrez are stabilizing forces. And Murphy's teams always have a certain swagger.

Baseball America OFP: 55. After a dominant regular season, the Sun Devils were stunned by eventual national champ Fresno State in super regionals a year ago. They're talented enough to redeem themselves in 2009.

14. GEORGIA
2008 Record (Ranking): 45-25-1 (2).
RPI: 14.
Coach (Record): David Perno (251-184-1, 7 years).
Postseason History: 8 regional appearances (last in 2008), 6 CWS appearances (last in 2008), 1 national title (1990).
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Bryce Massanari Sr. .325 .409 .512 11 65 2
1B Rich Poythress Jr. .374 .461 .626 15 75 4
2B Levi Hyams Fr. HS—Stafford, Va.
3B Colby May Fr. HS—Guyton, Ga.
SS Michael Demperio Jr. .238 .338 .302 2 16 6
LF Lyle Allen So. .274 .336 .330 2 30 2
CF Matt Cerione Jr. .303 .367 .459 7 33 12
RF Chase Davidson Fr. HS—Milton, Ga.
DH Joey Lewis Jr. .264 .335 .401 6 38 0


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Trevor Holder Sr. 8 4 4.41 98 68 0
LHP Alex McRee Jr. 7 1 3.98 61 65 0
RHP Michael Palazzone Fr. HS—Marietta, Ga.
RP Dean Weaver Jr. 6 1 4.24 51 47 1

SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS

GEORGIA
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 60
Bullpen 60
Hitting 45
Power 55
Speed 45
Defense 40
Experience 55
OFP 55
Starting Pitching: 60. Holder, an unsigned 10th-round pick, gives Georgia an experienced strike-thrower on Friday nights. His stuff is decent though not great, but his ability to pitch to the corners and his relentlessness are his best assets. McRee, a bullpen force in 2008, has the arm strength (he showed a 92-95 mph fastball in relief) and quality secondary stuff to vault into the first round if he proves he can sustain his stuff as a starter. Palazzone, the top pitching recruit in Georgia's banner freshman class, has a polished three-pitch mix highlighted by a big-breaking 11-to-5 curveball and a heater up to 92. So. RHP Justin Grimm, UGa.'s top recruit a year earlier, has a premium arm and should start midweek.

Trevor Holder (Photo by Andrew Woolley)
Bullpen: 60. A dominant, versatile pen was the strength of Georgia's CWS team in 2008, but it took a hit with the loss of national saves leader Joshua Fields (a first-round pick) and with McRee moving to the rotation. Weaver has a heavy 91-93 fastball and a plus slider, and he should have no trouble sliding from setup man to closer. Jr. Justin Earls can run his fastball up to 91 from the left side. Jr. RHP Jeff Walters, a transfer from St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC who ranked as the top prospect in the Florida Collegiate Summer League last year, takes over for Weaver as the primary setup man. Fr. RHP Cecil Tanner has touched 95 but remains a work in progress.

Hitting: 45. The Bulldogs will find it impossible to replace All-America shortstop Gordon Beckham, who plastered his name all over the school's record book, and savvy veterans Ryan Piesel and Matt Olson will be missed as well. Georgia will plug its holes with no fewer than three freshmen playing everyday roles, and there figures to be a learning curve. The lineup is built around three talented veterans in Poythress, Massanari and Cerione, the latter of whom made better contact and showed an all-fields approach in the fall. Demperio and Sr. DH Adam Fuller are older players with much to prove offensively. Lewis has a history of clutch hits.

Power: 55. Poythress has blossomed into one of the nation's pre-eminent home run hitters. Massanari and Cerione figure to reach double figures in homers this year as well. The 6-foot-5 Davidson, an unsigned third-round pick, has massive lefthanded power potential but has a reputation as a streaky hitter.

Speed: 45. This lineup has some cloggers in Massanari, Poythress and Lewis, but Cerione is a good basestealer. Fr. OFs John Taylor and Zach Cone (an unsigned third-rounder) are plus runners who will swipe plenty of bases over the next three years and could push Allen for playing time immediately.

Defense: 40. Having two freshmen on the infield could lead to some growing pains, though both May and Hyams project as solid defenders. Demperio played second base his first two college years and now must slide to short. Massanari and Lewis will split time behind the plate, but neither is a strong defender.

Experience/Intangibles: 55. There are a number of key holdovers from last year's CWS Finals team, particularly on the mound, but in the end Georgia's freshmen must step forward for the Bulldogs to get back to Omaha.

Baseball America OFP: 55. Georgia has some unfinished business after coming so close to a national title in June. But odd years have not been kind to the Dawgs in the David Perno era: they went to Omaha in 2004, '06 and '08 but missed regionals in '05 and '07.

15. STANFORD
2008 Record (Ranking): 41-24-2 (5).
RPI: 9.
Coach (Record): Mark Marquess (1326-669-7, 33 years).
Postseason History: 28 regional appearances (last in 2008), 16 CWS appearances (last in 2008), 2 national titles (last in 1988).
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Ben Clowe So. .300 .397 .560 3 9 0
1B Brent Milleville Sr. .289 .341 .513 11 57 3
2B Colin Walsh So. .323 .380 .385 0 8 1
3B Zach Jones So. .249 .316 .373 3 33 11
SS Jake Schlander So. .232 .307 .256 0 26 3
LF Joey August Sr. .323 .368 .414 1 23 1
CF Toby Gerhart Jr. .240 .400 .496 7 21 2
RF Jeff Whitlow Sr. .279 .331 .423 1 14 3
DH Jonathan Kaskow So. .200 .200 .200 0 0 0


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Jeffrey Inman Jr. 7 2 4.27 72 45 0
LHP Danny Sandbrink So. 2 1 2.81 58 30 1
RHP Max Fearnow Sr. 2 1 6.09 44 30 1
RP Drew Storen So. 5 3 3.51 56 50 8

SCOUTING THE CARDINAL

STANFORD
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 55
Bullpen 60
Hitting 45
Power 45
Speed 50
Defense 65
Experience 60
OFP 55
Starting Pitching: 55. The Cardinal reached Omaha last year with a rotation that included one power arm (Inman), two innings-eaters without dominant stuff (Erik Davis and Austin Yount) and an electric lefty who served as a reinforcement down the stretch (Jeremy Bleich). The formula could be similar in 2009. Inman showed a lively low-90s fastball, good curveball and changeup in the Cape Cod League last summer, and he could emerge as an All-American and first-round pick this spring. Sandbrink and Fearnow are far from overpowering, but both compete with three pitches and use their changeups well. Fr. LHP Brett Mooneyham flashes a plus fastball and plus slider and could force his way into the weekend rotation if he can harness his stuff early on.

Bullpen: 60. Storen handled the closer duties as a freshman and should be even better with a year of experience under his belt. He has an aggressive mound demeanor, a plus fastball and a good, hard breaking ball. Sr. LHP Blake Hancock and Jr. RHP Brandt Walker give the Cardinal a pair of veterans to work the middle innings. Stanford's pitching-rich freshman class could factor in as well, particularly LHPs Scott Snodgress and Chris Reed and RHPs Brian Busick and Jordan Pries.

Hitting: 45. All-America catcher Jason Castro was to Stanford's offense what Gordon Beckham was to Georgia's, and Castro will be missed as much, but Cord Phelps, Sean Ratliff and Randy Molina are also significant losses. Milleville was a great supporting bat in that offense a year ago, but now he'll be the centerpiece of the lineup. Gerhart and Kaskow have the most upside of any hitters on the team and must take major steps forward. August and Whitlow provide solid but not special lefthanded bats. The switch-hitting Walsh is a tough out from both sides. Any offense Jones and Schlander provide is a bonus. 

Toby Gerhart (Photo by Andrew Woolley)
Power: 45. Milleville is the only proven power hitter in the lineup, a hulk who can mash mistakes up in the zone. Gerhart, Kaskow and Clowe have power potential, and Gerhart hit seven homers in just 121 at-bats last season. His development is key, and even with him, this offense won't be nearly as physical as it was in 2008.

Speed: 50. Gerhart, who set the school's single-season rushing record on the gridiron in the fall, is a gifted athlete and plus runner. Whitlow and August are also solid runners, but there is little speed elsewhere.

Defense: 65. Schlander's stellar defense at short was one of the keys to the success of the 2008 Cardinal. The athletic Jones is a strong defender at third who is also sound behind the plate, where Clowe also has the tools to be solid. All three outfielders have great range and instincts.

Experience/Intangibles: 60. Stanford returns six regulars who topped more than 100 at-bats a year ago and four pitchers who topped 40 innings. The Cardinal's coaching staff is one of the best around.

Baseball America OFP: 55. Stanford regained some of its mojo by reaching Omaha last year for the first time since 2003. Another CWS run will depend on the development of premium talents like Gerhart, Kaskow and Mooneyham.

16. OKLAHOMA
2008 Record (Ranking): 36-26-1 (NR).
RPI: 37.
Coach (Record): Sunny Golloway (127-78-1, 4 years).
Postseason History: 30 regional appearances (last in 2008), 9 CWS appearances (last in 1995), 2 national titles (last in 1994).

2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C J.T. Wise Sr. .278 .323 .460 7 49 1
1B Aaron Baker Jr. .315 .408 .509 9 61 3
2B Tyson Seng So. .284 .392 .426 3 21 11
3B Matt Harughty Sr. .273 .349 .376 2 27 10
SS Bryant Hernandez Jr. .337 .374 .506 1 13 0
LF Casey Johnson So. .346 .422 .515 4 24 5
CF Jamie Johnson Jr. .344 .424 .491 5 27 20
RF Kaleb Herren Jr. Tr.—North Central Texas JC
DH Ross Hubbard Jr. Tr.—Navarro (Texas) JC


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Andrew Doyle Jr. 9 4 4.53 99 72 0
LHP J.R. Robinson Jr. Tr.—New Mexico JC
RHP Garrett Richards Jr. 1 0 6.97 21 18 0
RP Ryan Duke So. 7 5 3.77 72 54 0

SCOUTING THE SOONERS

OKLAHOMA
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 55
Bullpen 50
Hitting 65
Power 55
Speed 50
Defense 60
Experience 60
OFP 55
Starting Pitching: 55. Doyle worked exclusively out of OU's bullpen as a freshman before emerging as its Friday starter as a sophomore. He's a physical sinker/slider pitcher who also features a quality changeup. Robinson led all junior college pitchers with a 1.07 ERA last year and should be a fixture in Oklahoma's weekend rotation by midseason, but he could start in the bullpen as he works his way back from a knee injury. When healthy, he owns three quality pitches including a fastball that reaches 92. Richards racked up nine saves in 2007 but will get a shot at the weekend rotation after pitching at 95 mph in the fall. So. RHP Antwonie Hubbard also can reach 95 now that he has regained the weight he lost while dealing with a thyroid problem during his redshirt year in 2007.

Bullpen: 50. Duke is a fine athlete with a quick arm who fields his position well and exudes confidence on the mound. Jr. RHP Chase Anderson keeps hitters off balance with a solid four-pitch mix and should be the primary setup man. The X-factor is Sr. RHP Stephen Porlier, the former Oklahoma ace who had surgery to repair a partially torn labrum in March. He was throwing again in the fall and could be a key bullpen piece if he can regain his arm strength and confidence.

Hitting: 65. Seven starters return from a lineup that powered the Sooners to the finals of the Tempe Regional last year. Jamie Johnson is the catalyst in the leadoff spot, a gap-to-gap hitter with occasional home run pop and a patient batting eye. Seng, an accomplished bunter who makes consistent contact, could be a good fit for the No. 2 spot. Casey Johnson, Baker and Hubbard provide lefthanded threats in the middle of the lineup, while Hernandez and Harughty can make things happen lower in the order.

Aaron Baker (Photo by John Williamson)
Power: 55. Baker, Wise and Casey Johnson could all reach double-digits in homers in 2009, as transfers Hubbard and Herren did in junior college last year. Those five plus Jamie Johnson are all threats to hit the ball out of the park, though none is an elite power hitter.

Speed: 50. Both Johnsons are good runners, especially Jamie, and Seng has speed as well. Harughty and Hernandez are savvy baserunners, but the rest of the lineup offers little speed.

Defense: 60. The strength of the defense is the outfield, where Johnson and Johnson both have very good range, and shortstop, where Hernandez is a stabilizing force. R-Fr. 3B Garrett Buchele, the son of ex-big leaguer Steve, is a defensive whiz who could force his way into the lineup, shifting Harughty to second and Seng to a super-sub role. Wise is solid behind the plate, and Baker can fill in there also.

Experience/Intangibles: 60. Mike Gosse and Aljay Davis are the only meaningful losses from last year's regionals team.

Baseball America OFP: 55. Coach Sunny Golloway has said the Sooners finally have boosted the program's talent level back to where it was when he was an OU assistant in the mid-90s, when Oklahoma made three Omaha trips and won a national title. OU's 14-year CWS drought could end this year if its arms mature as hoped.

17. PEPPERDINE
2008 Record (Ranking): 38-21 (NR).
RPI: 33.
Coach (Record): Steve Rodriguez (186-119, 5 years).
Postseason History: 24 regional appearances (last in 2008), 2 CWS appearances (last in 1992), 1 national title (1992).
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Trent Diedrich Jr. .291 .362 .396 2 32 2
1B Ryan Heroy Jr. .309 .419 .399 2 39 0
2B Bryce Mendonca Sr. .332 .412 .388 0 24 32
3B Colin Rooney Jr. Tr.—Saddleback (Calif.) CC
SS Denny Duron Sr. .290 .367 .460 6 38 3
LF David Harris Sr. .284 .388 .426 4 29 1
CF Brian Humphries Fr. HS—El Cajon, Calif.
RF Nate Simon Sr. .303 .407 .490 5 31 5
DH Aaron Gates Fr. HS—Orange, Calif.


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Nate Newman Sr. 8 4 3.46 94 70 0
LHP Scott Alexander So. 7 4 4.95 73 46 0
LHP Robert Dickmann Sr. 3 5 5.54 67 37 0
RP Nick Gaudi Sr. 5 1 2.68 44 36 15

SCOUTING THE WAVES

PEPPERDINE
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 55
Bullpen 60
Hitting 55
Power 30
Speed 70
Defense 70
Experience 65
OFP 55
Starting Pitching: 55. The Waves return seven pitchers who combined to make 55 of their 59 starts a year ago; the other four were made by injury-plagued ace Brett Hunter, who later signed with the Athletics. Newman, an unsigned 10th-round pick after his junior year, emerged as a steady Friday starter in Hunter's absence, thanks largely to his competitiveness and an excellent curveball. Alexander, who runs his fastball up to 94 from the left side, has the best chance to emerge as a sorely needed dominant ace. Dickmann and So. LHP Matt Bywater rely on guile and attitude more than stuff.

Bullpen: 60. Gaudi ranked fourth nationally in saves last year and then racked up 13 more while posting a 1.35 ERA in the Northwoods League, where he ranked as the No. 10 prospect because of his devastating split-finger and not his fringy 88-90 mph fastball. Pepperdine's bullpen has a chance to be really special if towering power righties Tyler Hess and Cole Cook blossom in their second year in Malibu. Gates is a polished lefty who will see meaningful innings also.

Hitting: 55. Pepperdine welcomes back six returning starters but must find a way to replace its two most dangerous hitters in Eric Thames and Chase d'Arnaud. From top to bottom, the Waves have players with good bat-handling skills, but they lack a true middle-of-the-order threat. Mendonca will create plenty of havoc in the leadoff hole. Harris and Humphries have the most explosive bats, and Heroy has a flair for the dramatic. Rooney had a good fall with the bat but most overcome the death of his brother Patrick (a former Pepperdine regular) in a January plane crash.

Power: 30. The Waves have no proven power hitters and will have to manufacture runs. They hope the switch-hitting Harris and righthanded-hitting Rooney will blossom into their surprise power sources, but they might not have any double-digit home run hitters in 2009.

Bryce Mendonca (Photo by Bill Nichols)
Speed: 70. Pepperdine makes up for its lack of power with excellent team speed. Humphries and Mendonca are plus-plus runners, while Harris, Simon and Gates have plus speed. That will play offensively and defensively.

Defense: 70. In 2008, the Waves ranked seventh in the nation in fielding percentage and double plays, and they could be even stronger defensively this year with the addition of Humphries in center field. Duron and Mendonca are steady senior middle infielders with good range, and Diedrich is a leader behind the plate. All four corners should be strong also.

Experience/Intangibles: 65. Humphries and Gates could be the top two freshmen in the West Coast Conference, and the Waves will have experienced veterans at every other spot.

Baseball America OFP: 55. Pepperdine has been to six straight regionals but hasn't won one since its 1992 national title team. The 2009 Waves have a few questions but are experienced, deep and athletic enough to get Pepperdine to its first super regional.

18. KENT STATE
2008 Record (Ranking): 36-21 (NR).
RPI: 80.
Coach (Record): Scott Stricklin (140-86, 4 years).
Postseason History: 8 regional appearances (last in 2007), 0 CWS appearances, 0 national titles.
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Cory Hindel Jr. .237 .349 .305 1 14 0
1B Greg Rohan Sr. .355 .443 .772 20 61 0
2B Jared Humphreys Jr. .301 .350 .448 4 21 11
3B Brett Weibley So. .237 .319 .301 1 24 4
SS Chris Tremblay Sr. .359 .438 .553 4 32 4
LF Anthony Gallas Jr. .324 .427 .564 12 44 1
CF Jared Bartholomew Jr. .318 .374 .595 8 34 3
RF Ben Klafczynski So. .339 .385 .630 11 35 2
DH Jason Patton Sr. .260 .342 .330 1 15 0


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Kyle Smith Jr. 9 1 5.76 75 65 0
RHP Brad Stillings Jr. 4 7 5.35 79 62 0
LHP Jon Pokorny Jr. 2 2 2.17 37 50 4
RP Justin Gill So. 5 0 2.87 38 32 1

SCOUTING THE FLASHES

KENT STATE
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 60
Bullpen 50
Hitting 65
Power 60
Speed 45
Defense 45
Experience 50
OFP 55
Starting Pitching: 60. Smith and Stillings were the jewels of Kent State's 2006 recruiting bonanza, which ranked as the nation's No. 17 incoming class, and both have the stuff to be frontline starters if they can become more consistent. Both offer lean, projectable frames, plus fastballs and feel for a slider and changeup; Smith owns the sharper slider, while Stillings has better fastball command. Pokorny, who was better in 2008 than either of them, has an 88-91 mph fastball from the left side to go along with a pair of quality offspeed pitches.  Sr. RHP Steven Ross, the likely midweek starter, is a command-and-control veteran with a four-pitch mix.

Brad Stillings (Photo by Tom Cammett/Diamond Images)
Bullpen: 50. Pokorny and departed Reid Lamport split time in the closer role last year, and Gill will try to take over the job this spring. He's aggressive in the strike zone with a sinking 88-89 mph fastball and a swing-and-miss slider. So. LHP Kyle Hallock, who commands a four-pitch mix, looks like the primary setup man. Fr. LHP Andrew Chafin was a pleasant surprise in the fall, running his heater up to 92. So. RHP Robert Sabo, who is working his way back from labrum surgery that caused him to miss all of 2008, is the wild card.

Hitting: 65. With all of Kent State's power arms, it's easy to overlook the bats, but that would be a mistake. This is a deep, balanced offense with eight returning starters. Tremblay is a mature leadoff man with gap-to-gap power and a keen batting eye. Rohan, Gallas and Klafczynski are more than just boppers, as all three can hit to all fields. Hindel and Weibley struggled offensively last year, but both are decent situational hitters.

Power: 60. The Golden Flashes have a powerful core anchored by Rohan, who led the MAC in homers last year and has delivered plenty of timely hits in his career. There might not be a more physical outfield in the country than Klafczynski, Bartholomew and Gallas, all of whom should reach double digits in homers. Patton has just seven career homers but does have some strength in his swing.

Speed: 45. Running is not a big part of the Kent State attack, but the Flashes have a number of quality athletes who run fairly well. Humphreys is the fastest and most instinctive of the lot, but Weibley, Tremblay and the three outfielders are decent runners also.

Defense: 45. This is the biggest question the Flashes must answer in 2009. Hindel, Weibley, Humphreys and Bartholomew have the skills to be very solid up the middle, but Kent State's coaches are simply concerned about defensive consistency.

Experience/Intangibles: 50. The Flashes have veterans all over the field, but the program has never advanced past regionals. Until it does, it's hard to regard the Flashes as a strong Omaha contender.

Baseball America OFP: 55. The MAC has not earned more than one regional bid since 1994, so if the Golden Flashes slip up in their conference tournament as they did in 2008, they could be left out in the cold, no matter how talented they are. But if they get hot at the right time, they could make a lot of postseason noise.

19. CLEMSON
2008 Record (Ranking): 31-27-1 (NR).
RPI: 26.
Coach (Record): Jack Leggett (680-309-1, 15 years).
Postseason History: 33 regional appearances (last in 2007), 12 CWS appearances (last in 2006), 0 national titles.
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Phil Pohl Fr. HS—Cooperstown, N.Y.
1B Ben Paulsen Jr. .310 .393 .571 13 49 1
2B Mike Freeman Jr. .332 .401 .387 1 19 3
3B Jason Stolz Fr. HS—Marietta, Ga.
SS Stan Widmann Sr. .238 .297 .325 2 29 14
LF Jeff Schaus So. .315 .415 .427 3 31 4
CF Addison Johnson* So. .286 .365 .382 1 23 8
RF Kyle Parker So. .303 .400 .559 14 50 2
DH Wilson Boyd Jr. .300 .376 .502 11 44 6
*Stats from 2007


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Graham Stoneburner Jr. 6 5 5.55 71 52 0
RHP Trey Delk Sr. 2 1 4.01 43 34 0
LHP Chris Dwyer Fr. HS—Salisbury, Conn.
RP Matt Vaughn Sr. 1 2 3.15 40 43 11

SCOUTING THE TIGERS

CLEMSON
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 55
Bullpen 65
Hitting 60
Power 60
Speed 50
Defense 50
Experience 50
OFP 55
Starting Pitching: 55. The strength of Clemson's pitching staff is its depth. Stoneburner is the only lock for the weekend rotation, and five pitchers will compete for the final two spots. With so many intriguing options, the Tigers stand a good chance of finding at least three solid starters. Stoneburner, who took a redshirt in 2007 after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, regularly runs his fastball up to 94 and has developed a good changeup. Delk came on strong down the stretch last year and works in the 90-93 range. Dwyer is one of the nation's most mature freshmen—he'll be draft-eligible in June—and was a pleasant surprise in the fall, working at 89-91 from the left side to go with a good curveball. Fr. RHP Kevin Brady might have the best arm on the staff and has good command of a fastball that reaches 93. So. LHP Craig Gullickson and Sr. LHP Ryan Hinson also have good stuff and could be factors as starters.

Graham Stoneburner (Photo by Tony Farlow)
Bullpen: 65. Vaughn, who relies on an excellent slider and an aggressive approach, anchors a very deep bullpen. So. LHP Casey Harman, the No. 4 prospect in the New England Collegiate League last summer, pounds the strike zone with a deceptive, lively 86-88 mph fastball, tight 1-to-7 curve and promising changeup. Undersized Jr. RHP Justin Sarratt, the No. 8 prospect in the Coastal Plain League, is a bulldog with a quality four-pitch mix, and Fr. RHP Scott Weismann is cut from the same cloth. The X-factor is So. RHP Josh Thrailkill, who redshirted with a hip injury last spring but has a big-time arm.

Hitting: 60. As deep as the Tigers are on the mound, they might be deeper on the diamond, where competition for starting jobs will be thick. Stolz and fellow touted freshman Brad Miller are both big, strong and fast and will compete for jobs on the left side of the infield with So. 3B John Hinson and Widmann. The small but dynamic Johnson makes Clemson go out of the leadoff spot, and when he was lost for the 2008 season with a hand injury, the Tigers tanked.  Freeman is a classic No. 2 hole hitter with good bat-handling skills. Schaus might be the best pure hitter on the team, a line-drive machine with a great feel for the strike zone. So. OF Chris Epps, another fine athlete with a promising bat, will battle for at-bats with Schaus and Boyd.

Power: 60. Paulsen and Parker are the best power-hitting duo in the ACC and provide much of the thunder in this offense. Boyd, Schaus, Johnson and Hinson have occasional pop, while Stolz and Epps project for good power in the future.

Speed: 50. Johnson, Stolz and Miller are plus runners. Schaus, Freeman, Hinson and Widmann are decent runners. Fr. OF Will Lamb provides plus-plus speed off the bench.

Defense: 50. Defense behind the plate is uncertain, as the freshman Pohl replaces departed senior Doug Hogan. Pohl is promising but unproven as a defender. The infield remains unsettled, but the Tigers should be OK with either Widmann or the very slick Miller at short. Johnson is a stellar defensive center fielder.

Experience/Intangibles: 50. Clemson has plenty of returning starters, but young players will play a large role. The Tigers must gel better than they did in 2008, when they missed regionals for the first time since 1986.

Baseball America OFP: 55. Injuries and underachievers torpedoed last year's Tigers, but Clemson appears deep enough to withstand any number of setbacks in 2009. This program has been too good for too long to stay down for two years in a row. More importantly, Clemson is too talented.

20. GEORGIA TECH
2008 Record (Ranking): 41-21 (NR).
RPI: 11.
Coach (Record): Danny Hall (652-294, 15 years).
Postseason History: 24 regional appearances (last in 2008), 3 CWS appearances (last in 2006), 0 national titles.
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Jason Haniger Sr. .329 .415 .638 10 34 4
1B Tony Plagman Jr. .306 .375 .584 16 45 3
2B Thomas Nichols So. .283 .353 .500 7 36 0
3B Patrick Long Jr. .276 .412 .343 0 9 8
SS Derek Dietrich So. .332 .410 .592 14 66 3
LF Chris House Sr. .245 .331 .290 1 10 5
CF Jeff Rowland So. .335 .397 .440 4 26 22
RF Luke Murton Sr. .332 .402 .621 12 51 3
DH Chase Burnette So. .244 .346 .356 1 7 3


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Deck McGuire So. 8 1 3.46 78 70 0
RHP Zach Von Tersch Jr. 7 5 4.33 73 49 0
RHP Brandon Cumpton So. 2 1 7.19 46 40 0
RP Mark Pope Fr. HS—Marietta, Ga.

SCOUTING THE YELLOW JACKETS

GEORGIA TECH
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 60
Bullpen 45
Hitting 55
Power 70
Speed 45
Defense 45
Experience 50
OFP 55
Starting Pitching: 60. The Yellow Jackets should have little trouble replacing David Duncan and Eddie Burns in the weekend rotation. The 6-foot-6 McGuire was a midweek stud a year as a freshman and ranked as the top prospect in the Coastal Plain League thanks to his heavy 88-91 mph fastball, hard downer curve and solid changeup. The 6-foot-5 Von Tersch, who ranked as the No. 3 prospect in the Northwoods League in 2007, pitches downhill with a lively 89-92 mph fastball and good feel for two offspeed pitches. Cumpton's four-pitch mix includes a fastball that touches 92 and a good 12-to-6 curveball. Jr. RHP Andrew Robinson, the projected midweek starter, also can reach the low 90s and has good feel for pitching.

Bullpen: 45. Tech will miss steady Brad Rulon and enigmatic Chris Hicks, who combined for 16 saves last year. The Jackets will lean on a freshman to close in Pope, who can reach 93 mph and has an excellent hard-breaking curveball. So. RHP Kevin Jacob, who threw 30 innings last year, is the most experienced arm in a bullpen that features plenty of lefthanded options in sophomores Zach Brewster and Taylor Wood and freshman Jake Davies (brother of big leaguer Kyle). Nichols and Long could factor into the pen from the right side, as both threw well in the fall.

Hitting: 55. For the first time in years, the Yellow Jackets boast complete two-deeps at every position, giving them insurance in case starters falter or get hurt. Making consistent contact and playing small ball won't be strengths of this offense—most of the Jackets are going to grip it and rip it. Tech's lineup leans lefthanded, which makes the production of righthanded hitters Murton, Haniger and House key. Talented freshmen Matt Skole and Brandon Miller could be impact bats early on.

Derek Dietrich (Photo by Ken Babbit)
Power: 70. Tech ranked 13th in the nation in homers per game last year and could challenge for the national lead this year, even without Charlie Blackmon (eight homers in 2008) and Brad Feltes (14). Dietrich, a freshman All-American a year ago, has very good present power and projects for even more in pro ball. Plagman and the hulking Murton give Dietrich plenty of protection in the middle of the order, while Haniger, Nichols, Skole and Long could all reach double digits in homers as well. Even likely leadoff man Rowland has occasional pop.

Speed: 45. Rowland, Burnette and House provide the wheels in an offense that will rely more on the long ball than the stolen base.

Defense: 45. Rowland is an outstanding defender in center. Dietrich has a strong arm but limited range at the crucial shortstop position, and Murton lacks quickness in the outfield.

Experience/Intangibles: 50. Vets like Murton, Haniger and Plagman have been around the block, but the inexperience in the bullpen is a significant concern.

Baseball America OFP: 55. Youngsters like Dietrich, Rowland, Plagman, Nichols and McGuire gained valuable experience last year and could be ready to carry Georgia Tech past regionals for the first time since 2006. Even if the young bullpen takes its lumps, Georgia Tech should be able to bludgeon opponents with the long ball.

21. ALABAMA
2008 Record (Ranking): 35-28 (NR).
RPI: 49.
Coach (Record): Jim Wells (588-296, 14 years).
Postseason History: 16 regional appearances (last in 2008), 5 CWS appearances (last in 1999), 0 national titles.
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Kyle Moore Sr. .322 .420 .441 1 8 0
1B Brandon May Jr. .365 .451 .544 9 50 3
2B Ross Wilson So. .295 .355 .543 15 47 9
3B Jake Smith Jr. .240 .325 .387 8 34 2
SS Josh Rutledge So. .369 .429 .418 0 31 16
LF Taylor Dugas Fr. HS—Lafayette, La.
CF Alex Kubal Sr. .329 .391 .459 4 23 8
RF Kent Matthes Sr. .303 .361 .504 11 52 7
DH Clay Jones Jr. Tr.—Shelton State (Ala.) CC


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Austin Hyatt Sr. 5 4 4.53 93 80 1
LHP Miers Quigley Sr. 5 4 5.58 79 62 0
LHP Adam Morgan Fr. HS—Marietta, Ga.
RP Del Howell Jr. 1 1 6.65 23 24 0

SCOUTING THE CRIMSON TIDE

ALABAMA
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 45
Bullpen 60
Hitting 60
Power 55
Speed 50
Defense 65
Experience 60
OFP 55
Starting Pitching: 45. Alabama returns plenty of veterans from a pitching staff that ranked 10th in the SEC with a 5.24 ERA in 2008. Hyatt is very steady but not overpowering, with an 88-91 mph fastball, a good changeup and a developing cutter. Quigley has been regarded as an intriguing lefthanded prospect since high school but has been plagued by maturity issues until recently. He grew up considerably in the spring and fall of 2008 and improved his command of a 90-93 mph fastball and good changeup. Morgan was the surprise of the fall, a three-pitch lefty who pitches at 86-88 but can reach 91. Jr. RHP Austin Graham, whose best pitch is a nasty splitter, spent most of last year in the bullpen but could make most of the midweek starts this year.

Bullpen: 60. Howell struggled with his command for most of his first two seasons before blossoming last summer, when he ranked as the top prospect in the Texas Collegiate League thanks to an explosive 90-93 mph fastball and biting 12-to-6 curve. So. RHP Jimmy Nelson was another TCL standout, showing an 88-92 power sinker and solid slider. Junior college transfers Adam Scott and Scott Hays are strike-throwers who work in the mid-to-upper 80s and own decent breaking balls. So. RHP Austin Evans is the sleeper: he has an electric fastball that tops out at 94 and a sharp 12-to-6 curve, and he began to reign in his wildness in the Northwoods League last summer.

Hitting: 60. Alabama could have one of the nation's best all-around infields, as Rutledge, Wilson and May are all significant offensive threats. The gritty Rutledge figures to be a sparkplug in the No. 2 hole, assuming Dugas (the lone lefthanded hitter in the projected starting lineup) acquits himself well in the leadoff spot. Moore and Sr. C Vincent DiFazio will platoon behind the plate, and both can swing it. Kubal and Smith won't give at-bats away lower in the order.

Ross Wilson
Power: 55. May and Wilson have big-time power bats, and Matthes is a solid college power hitter as well. Jones, who led Shelton State to a pair of junior college World Series appearances, should provide plenty of pop also.

Speed: 50. Dugas is a plus runner who is disruptive on the basepaths, earning comparisons to former Vanderbilt leadoff man David Macias. Kubal and Rutledge also have above-average speed, and Wilson is a solid runner as well.

Defense: 65. The fleet-footed outfielders will cover plenty of ground. Rutledge and Smith are excellent defenders on the left side of the infield, and Wilson is very reliable at second. Moore and DiFazio both have solid catch-and-throw skills.

Experience/Intangibles: 60. The Crimson Tide exceeded expectations in reaching regionals last year, and most of the key players on that team are back. Having a pair of seniors atop the rotation who have been through the rigors of SEC play is a nice luxury.

Baseball America OFP: 55. Alabama should be strong enough offensively and defensively to make up for any pitching deficiencies.

22. ARKANSAS
2008 Record (Ranking): 34-24 (NR).
RPI: 38.
Coach (Record): Dave Van Horn (235-134, 6 years).
Postseason History: 21 regional appearances (last in 2008), 5 CWS appearances (last in 2004), 0 national titles.
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Ryan Cisterna Sr. .237 .333 .481 9 20 4
1B Andy Wilkins So. .331 .411 .588 8 38 1
2B Ben Tschepikow Sr. .301 .379 .416 1 30 6
3B Zack Cox Fr. HS—Louisville,  Ky.
SS Scott Lyons Sr. .200 .257 .230 0 10 1
LF Jacob House So. .289 .340 .495 5 23 3
CF Brett Eibner So. .298 .405 .497 8 48 3
RF Chase Leavitt Sr. .366 .518 .488 3 25 9
DH Travis Sample So. Tr.—Howard (Texas) JC


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
LHP Dallas Keuchel Jr. 4 3 4.58 75 61 0
RHP T.J. Forrest Jr. Tr.—Bossier Parish (La.) CC
RHP Mike Bolsinger Jr. 4 1 3.73 31 39 0
RP Zack Cox Fr. HS—Louisville, KY

SCOUTING THE RAZORBACKS

ARKANSAS
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 50
Bullpen 50
Hitting 60
Power 65
Speed 50
Defense 60
Experience 60
OFP 50
Starting Pitching: 50. The Razorbacks made good strides on the mound in the fall and expect a significant improvement from a staff that ranked eighth in the SEC with a 4.92 ERA in 2008. Keuchel is a solid but not overpowering three-pitch lefty who hopes to use his strong summer in the Cape Cod League (2.53 ERA in 55 innings) as a springboard. Forrest, a Tommy John survivor who spent time at LSU before transferring to Bossier Parish, was a touted recruit out of high school and has regained his quality stuff, running his fastball up to 92 last year. Bolsinger has shown a 90-92 mph fastball and good slider at times in the past. Jr. RHP Bryan Bingham, a transfer from Navarro (Texas) JC, owns a 90-93 heater and a decent slider.

Dallas Keuchel (Photo by Bill Nichols)
Bullpen: 50. Cox, the best freshman two-way talent in the nation, attacks hitters with a 92-93 mph fastball, but relying on a freshman closer has its pratfalls. Eibner, one of the best two-way players in the sophomore class, has a 90-94 fastball and developing curve, and his pitching workload could increase this spring. Strike-throwing Jr. LHP Stephen Richards and towering So. RHP James Mahler give this unit solid depth, which mostly makes up for the lack of a proven closer.

Hitting: 60. Leavitt and Tschepikow give the Hogs a pair of very mature hitters with superior strike-zone awareness at the top of the lineup. Wilkins, Eibner and Cox have a chance to be a lethal trio in the middle of the lineup, though Eibner and Cox are still just scratching the surface of their potential. House is a breakout candidate, with the ability to hit for average and some power. The bottom of the lineup has holes with Cisterna and Lyons, but both will deliver occasional big hits.

Power: 65. Wilkins, who missed a month last year with a pulled muscle in his rib cage, could challenge for the SEC homer title with a full healthy season. Cox and Eibner project for huge power, and Sample has already proven himself as a slugger, blasting 19 homers for Howard JC last year and ranking as the No. 10 prospect in the Texas Collegiate League in the summer. Cisterna can hit the ball a long way when he connects.

Speed: 50. Leavitt is one of the SEC's fastest runners and a smart basestealer. Tschepikow is similarly savvy and fairly fleet-footed in his own right. Eibner is another good runner, but there's little speed elsewhere.

Defense: 60. Up-the-middle defense should be a strength for Arkansas. Cisterna has strong catch-and-throw skills, and the double-play combination is very reliable. Eibner has a chance to be special in center, and Leavitt and House cover plenty of ground on the corners.

Experience/Intangibles: 60. Leavitt, Lyons, Tschepikow and Cisterna provide enviable senior leadership. Coach Dave Van Horn and his staff do a great job getting their teams to play hard every year.

Baseball America OFP: 50. Arkansas has a rare blend of power and defense and could be very dangerous in the postseason if its pitching holds up.

23. LOUISVILLE
2008 Record (Ranking): 41-21 (NR).
RPI: 55.
Coach (Record): Dan McDonnell (88-45, 2 years).
Postseason History: 3 regional appearances (last in 2008), 1 CWS appearance (2007), 0 national titles.
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Jeff Arnold Jr. .333 .434 .454 2 32 12
1B Andrew Clark Jr. .323 .413 .489 5 44 8
2B Adam Duvall Jr. Tr.—Chipola (Fla.) JC
3B Chris Dominguez Jr. .365 .427 .687 21 75 11
SS John Dao Sr. .356 .392 .500 3 31 16
LF Stewart Ijames So. .351 .401 .583 8 39 4
CF Drew Haynes So. .282 .340 .331 0 22 4
RF Josh Richmond So. .284 .362 .454 6 36 3
DH Phil Wunderlich So. .265 .325 .354 1 20 2


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
LHP Justin Marks Jr. 9 2 2.37 91 89 0
LHP Bob Revesz So. 1 0 3.90 65 41 1
RHP Matt Lea Jr. 5 0 2.72 36 33 0
RP Tony Zych Fr. HS—Chicago, Ill.

SCOUTING THE CARDINALS

LOUISVILLE
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 55
Bullpen 45
Hitting 55
Power 55
Speed 45
Defense 60
Experience 55
OFP 50
Starting Pitching: 55. The Cardinals have a proven ace in Marks, who has been one of the nation's most consistent pitchers over the first two years of his career, going 9-2 each season and posting a 2.53 career ERA. He has good stuff from the left side, with a 90-92 mph fastball and good downer curve. Revesz, who owns an 89-91 fastball and tight slider, replaces departed stalwart Zack Pitts in the Saturday spot. The hulking Lea, who transferred from Mississippi State before the 2008 season, has battled injuries in his career but has the arm strength to succeed if he can stay healthy. Fr. LHP Keith Landers, the top prospect in the state of Massachusetts last spring, gives Louisville a third quality lefthanded starter with a fastball that reaches 91.

Justin Marks (Photo by Dennis Hubbard)
Bullpen: 45. Without departed closer B.J. Rosenberg, the Cardinals will lean on Fr. RHPs Zych and Mike Nastold in the bullpen. Both have mean streaks and arm strength—both have touched 94 in the past. So. RHP Thomas Royse, who can run his fastball up to 92, is yet another behemoth on a staff that features five pitchers who stand 6-foot-5 or taller. Fifth-year senior Gavin Logsdon serves as a critical veteran lefty in a pen that lacks established college pitchers.

Hitting: 55. The Cardinals return eight of nine starters from their 2008 Big East championship team. Coach Dan McDonnell said the scrappy Dao might be the most important player on the team, a catalyst who does everything well. Duvall, the lone newcomer in the lineup, must replace last year's leading hitter in Justin McClanahan, but his tools evoke former Louisville star Logan Johnson. The physical Ijames is the best pure hitter on the team and gives the Cards another big lefthanded threat along with the power-hitting Clark. Richmond, Wunderlich and Haynes could take steps forward as sophomores, as all three have a good feel for hitting.

Power: 55. Dominguez has legitimate plus-plus power and could be the safest bet to lead the nation in homers. Everyone else in the order benefits from the fear he engenders in opposing pitchers. Clark has plus raw power and could see his long ball numbers spike. Ijames and Duvall are threats to reach double-digits in homers.

Speed: 45. Dao and Haynes have some speed but did not run very often in 2008. Dominguez, Clark, Arnold and Richmond are all quality athletes who run better than you might think, but speed really is not their game.

Defense: 60. Dao and Duvall should be steady in the middle infield, and Arnold is a strong defender behind the plate. Dominguez has a huge arm, and Richmond offers more arm strength in right. Haynes has good range in center.

Experience/Intangibles: 55. Louisville returns plenty of at-bats and an experienced ace in Marks, but the rest of the pitching staff is less proven.

Baseball America OFP: 50. The Cardinals are the strong favorites to win the Big East and could push to host a regional. Zych and Landers will be thrown right into the fire and must respond positively.

24. FLORIDA STATE
2008 Record (Ranking): 54-14 (7).
RPI: 3.
Coach (Record): Mike Martin (1,538-520-4, 29 years).
Postseason History: 46 regional appearances (last in 2008), 19 CWS appearances (last in 2008), 0 national titles.
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Parker Brunelle So. .226 .364 .355 1 13 0
1B Mike Meschke Jr. Tr.—North Florida CC
2B Tommy Oravetz Sr. .361 .456 .550 4 32 1
3B Stuart Tapley So. .383 .472 .592 8 40 1
SS Jason Stidham Jr. .322 .430 .518 11 63 6
LF Mike McGee So. .344 .427 .544 6 36 3
CF Tyler Holt So. .324 .471 .416 3 41 15
RF Ohmed Danesh Jr. .284 .400 .463 3 29 1
DH D'Vontrey Richardson* So. .351 .431 .481 2 20 2
*Stats from 2007


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Geoff Parker So. 6 2 4.50 60 56 0
LHP John Gast So. 0 1 2.70 13 14 0
LHP Sean Gilmartin Fr. HS—Moorpark, Calif.
RP Jimmy Marshall Sr. 6 2 3.69 46 54 2

SCOUTING THE SEMINOLES

FLORIDA STATE
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 40
Bullpen 50
Hitting 65
Power 50
Speed 50
Defense 40
Experience 55
OFP 50
Starting Pitching: 40. The Seminoles must replace their top two starters in Matt Fairel and Elih Villanueva. Parker wound up making six ACC starts as a freshman and will compete just as Fairel did, but his stuff is fringy. Gast, on the other hand, missed most of 2008 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he could make up for his lack of experience with his power stuff. An unsigned fifth-round pick out of high school even after he blew out his elbow, Gast can touch the low 90s and has shown a nasty curveball in the past. Two other strong-armed freshmen will compete for the other starting spots: Gilmartin and righty Austin Wood both reach the low 90s and have promising secondary stuff. But Gilmartin, Wood and Gast have a combined zero college starts to their credit.

Bullpen: 50. Florida State has the luxury of turning the ball over to a pair of seniors at the back of the bullpen in Marshall and fellow righty Bo O'Dell. Both have fairly firm but not overpowering stuff, and neither gives in to hitters. Freshmen should play a prominent role here as well, as LHP Kris Castellanos can reach 90 and has a good overhand curveball, while RHP Hunter Scantling has an imposing 6-foot-7 build and good feel for pitching. The Seminoles could have used lefty Kyle Long, their top recruit who transferred to a Virginia junior college after struggling academically in the fall.

Hitting: 65. Without mashers Buster Posey, Jack Rye and Dennis Guinn, the character of FSU's offense will be different, but it will be dangerous as usual. The 'Noles drive pitchers insane with their patience—they led the nation with 435 walks in 2008. No leadoff man in America works the count better than Holt, who ranked second nationally with 64 walks and reached base in all 55 regular-season games. He and Stidham will constantly be on base ahead of Tapley, McGee, Meschke and Oravetz, in some order. Expect competitive at-bats up and down the lineup and hard line drive after hard line drive.

Stuart Tapley (Photo by Sports On Film)
Power: 50. The Seminoles excel at taking advantage of their short porch in right field, and lefthanded hitters Stidham, Meschke, Oravetz and Danesh could see their power numbers climb, though Meschke is the only true slugger in the bunch. Tapley crams plenty of strength into his 5-foot-10 frame and could wind up as the team's home run leader.

Speed: 50. Holt and Richardson have game-changing speed, and the uber-athletic McGee is a good runner in his own right. Stidham and Danesh move around well also. The Seminoles seldom rely on the stolen base, however.

Defense: 40. This was Florida State's Achilles' heel in 2008, when it ranked 172nd in the nation with a .960 fielding percentage and unraveled defensively in Omaha. Stidham played third base and second in his first two years and now will try to stabilize shortstop, but it's not his natural position. Oravetz spent last year as the primary DH and figures to be just adequate with the glove at second. Tapley can be exploited on bunts at third, and Meschke is a liability at first with poor range. The outfield should cover plenty of ground, though, and Brunelle has a chance to be steady behind the plate.

Experience/Intangibles: 55. The biggest question about the Seminoles is their lack of starting pitching experience, but they do have a pair of seniors in the pen. And it's never a good idea to doubt Mike Martin's ability to squeeze every last ounce of ability out of his pitchers.

Baseball America OFP: 50. Pitching and defense weren't Florida State's strengths last year either, and that team brought FSU back to Omaha for the first time since 2000. But this team doesn't have national Player of the Year Buster Posey to lead the way.

25. OREGON STATE
2008 Record (Ranking): 28-24.
RPI: 61.
Coach (Record): Pat Casey (468-292-4, 14 years).
Postseason History: 9 regional appearances (last in 2007), 4 CWS appearances (last in 2007), 2 national titles (last in 2007).
2009 Lineup
Pos. Name Yr. AVG OBP SLG HR RBI SB
C Ryan Ortiz Jr. .351 .442 .527 5 55 1
1B Jared Norris So. Tr.—Yavapai (Ariz.) CC
2B Adalberto Santos Jr. Tr.—New Mexico JC
3B Stefen Romero So. Tr.—Pima (Ariz.) CC
SS Joey Wong Jr. .244 .341 .353 5 31 0
LF John Wallace Sr. .326 .421 .454 3 20 9
CF Koa Kahalehoe Sr. .050 .231 .050 0 1 1
RF Logan Lotti Jr. Tr.—Sierra (Calif.) JC
DH Brett Casey Jr. .333 .385 .500 0 3 1


Yr. W L ERA IP SO SV
RHP Jorge Reyes Jr. 4 3 7.08 67 57 0
RHP Tyler Waldron So. 3 7 5.20 92 63 0
RHP Greg Peavey So. 2 3 4.96 49 35 1
RP Kevin Rhoderick So. 0 1 2.39 26 32 12

SCOUTING THE BEAVERS

OREGON STATE
AT A GLANCE
Starting Pitching 60
Bullpen 70
Hitting 45
Power 30
Speed 65
Defense 70
Experience 55
OFP 50
Starting Pitching: 60. Oregon State has the kind of power arms that rival those at North Carolina, Texas A&M, San Diego and UCLA, but they come with questions. Reyes was a freshman All-American and CWS Most Outstanding Player two years ago before struggling mightily in 2008. If he has matured, he gives the Beavers a veteran ace with a fastball that can reach 92 and a sometimes-devastating slider. Waldron, a transfer from Pacific, was consistent in the Cape Cod League last summer and outstanding in the fall. His forte is command, as his stuff is fringe-average. Peavey has a huge arm but is still working on his fastball command and tightening up his breaking ball. So. LHPs Josh Osich and Tanner Robles have first-round stuff (with fastballs in the mid-to-upper-90s from the left side), but both struggled as freshmen. If it clicks for those guys as sophomores, look out.

Tanner Robles (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
Bullpen: 70. Oregon State's enviable collection of marquee arms extends to the bullpen, where Rhoderick emerged as a shut-down closer as a freshman thanks to a bulldog mentality, mid-90s fastball and 83-84 slider. So. RHP Taylor Starr has a similar mentality and added velocity last summer. So. RHP James Nygren and So. LHP Kraig Sitton also have big-time stuff but are still learning to harness it. Sr. RHP Mark Grbavac lends this youthful group some valuable experience.

Hitting: 45. The Beavers have plenty of question marks in the lineup, where transfers Norris, Santos, Romero and Lotti must translate their junior college success to the Division I level. Santos, who led the NJCAA in hitting in 2007 before sitting out 2008, could make the biggest impact of that group. Norris and Romero both have patient approaches and good line-drive strokes. Ortiz is another disciplined hitter, and he's proven he can hit in the Pac-10. Wong's offensive progress was disappointing last year but the Beavers say he took a step forward in the fall. Casey, son of coach Pat Casey, also had a good fall, spraying the ball to all fields.

Power: 30. Lotti, who slugged 13 homers last year at Sierra JC, is the lone real power threat on the team. Norris has occasional pop as well but managed just two homers last spring. The Beavers rarely sit back and wait for three-run homers anyway.

Speed: 65. Kahalehoe has excellent speed but must get on base in order to use it. Santos is another plus runner, as are key reserves So. 2B John Tommasini, Fr. OF Brent Warren and So. OF Michael Miller. Wallace and Wong also run well. The Beavers will have to compensate for their lack of power by using their speed to manufacture runs.

Defense: 70. The Beavers were always strong up the middle during their three straight CWS appearances this decade, and they should be again in 2009. Ortiz and Wong are among the best in the nation at their respective positions. Romero and agile Fr. 3B Carter Bell should compete at third, and both are good with the glove, especially Bell. Santos and Tommasini are both smooth at second. The outfielders have very good range, and Lotti has a plus arm.

Experience/Intangibles: 55. Unparalleled confidence and a complete devotion to team-first principles carried the Beavers to two national titles, but the mystique took a hit when the two-time defending champs failed to make regionals in 2008. Veterans like Wong, Reyes and Wallace—not to mention the coaching staff—have valuable CWS experience, but the highly touted sophomores and all the newcomers have never taken the field at Rosenblatt Stadium. This team needs to find its swagger again.

Baseball America OFP: 50. Pitching and defense will have to carry Oregon State back to Omaha, because its bats are unlikely to.