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Pac-12 Conference Preview

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K.J. Harrison (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

SEE ALSO: College Preview Index

 Baseball Members (First Year): Arizona (1979), Arizona State (1979), California (1916), UCLA (1928), Oregon (1916-1981, 2009) Oregon State (1916), Southern California (1923), Stanford (1918), Utah (2012), Washington (1916), Washington State (1919).

Checking out: None.

Team to Beat: Oregon State The Beavers have the depth of hitters and arms to bounce back after mising the NCAA tournament last season.

Player of the Year: K.J. Harrison 1b/c, Oregon State Harrison rallied late and nearly matched his 2015 All-Freshman numbers, but the Beavers hope he can take a step forward as a junior.

Pitcher of the Year: Tristan Beck rhp, Stanford Beck became the third freshman to start Opening Day for the Cardinal since 1988. Just three Pac-12 starters last year posted better ERAs than Beck’s 2.48 mark.

Freshman of the Year: Nick Quintana 3b, Arizona The Las Vegas prep product is the highest drafted unsigned freshman in the conference and has a bat ready to contribute from Day One.

Top 25 Teams: Oregon State (9), Washington (12), Arizona (22), Stanford (23)

BEST TOOLS
Best Pure Hitter: Nick Madrigal, Oregon State
Best Raw Power: K.J. Harrison, Oregon State
Best Strike-Zone Discipline: Madrigal
Best Athlete: DaShawn Keirsey, Utah
Fastest Baserunner: Keirsey
Best Baserunner: Christian Donahue, Oregon State
Best Defensive Catcher: Joey Morgan, Washington
Catcher/Best Arm: Morgan
Best Defensive 1B: Matt Winaker, Stanford
Best Defensive 2B: Madrigal
Best Defensive 3B: Adalberto Carrillo, Southern California
Best Defensive SS: Cadyn Grenier, Oregon State
Infielder/Best Arm: Grenier
Best Defensive Outfielder: Keirsey
Outfielder/Best Arm: Quinn Brodey, Stanford
Best Fastball: Colton Hock, Stanford
Best Breaking Ball: Tristen Beck, Stanford
Best Changeup: Jayson Rose, Utah
Best Control: Griffin Canning, rhp, UCLA

Other Projected Regional Teams

Arizona State: The Sun Devils are still trying to turn the corner in coach Tracy Smith’s third season, and could be on its way due to a touted, seventh-ranked recruiting class led by Fr. OF Hunter Bishop, the kind of toolsy, physical player Smith thrived with at Indiana. Arizona State traveled to the Dominican Republic for a productive fall ball trip, but in late December Smith shook things up when he removed pitching coach Brandon Higelin—who’d been with him at Indiana—choosing to handle those duties himself.

UCLA: Injuries derailed the Bruins and led them to missing the NCAA Tournament last season, but they have the talent to bounce back in 2017. Jr. RHPs Griffin Canning and Jake Bird lead the rotation, with exciting but wild So. LHP Justin Hooper ready to take a step forward.

Notable Storylines: Following a lackluster regular season last year, no Pac-12 team hosted a regional. It was the first time that had happened since the NCAA tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1999. While the conference nearly produced the national champion, it will still be looking for a bounce back this spring. . . . Utah won the Pac-12 for the first time last season and made its first regional appearance since 2009, despite an overall record under .500. Now the Utes will try to improve on last year's finish. Jr. RHP Jayson Rose (8-5, 2.89) has the league’s best pitch with his double-plus changeup, while his brother Sr. Josh Rose (.290/.372/.456) returns to an athletic outfield that also includes So. DaShawn Keirsey (.293/.349/.358, 11 SB). The club’s X-factor should be draft-eligible So. RHP Riley Ottesen (2-2, 6.38), who has touched 96-97 mph at times and moves into a rotation spot. . . . California entered last season ranked No. 8, only to see its season derailed by injuries and it missed the NCAA tournament. The Golden Bears will be much younger this season after losing catcher Brett Cumberland, the Pac-12 player of the year, and ace Daulton Jefferies to the draft. This season, Cal will turn to its talented underclassmen. Coach David Esquer said the makeup of this year’s team reminds him of the 2010 club, which formed the core of the 2011 College World Series team. Cal brought in the 24th-ranked recruiting class a year ago and this fall landed righthander Jared Horn, the 32nd-ranked player in the 2016 BA 500. Horn was the highest-ranked player to reach campus and, while he will have to learn how to compete against Pac-12 competition, he has the stuff to make an instant impact. The Golden Bears will need him and a few of their other freshmen and sophomores to do so to get back to regionals.

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Now Healthy, Drew Rasmussen Shows Traits Of A Fast-Mover

Some scouts believe an appearance out of Milwaukee's bullpent isn't out of the question for Rasmussen.

2017 Top 20 Prospects2018 Top 10 ProspectsTop 10 Newcomers
1. Tristan Beck rhp, Stanford1. Nick Madrigal 2b/ss Oregon State1. Nick Quintana, 3b, Arizona
2. Colton Hock rhp, Stanford2. Justin Hooper lhp, UCLA2. Jared Horn, rhp, California
3. Griffin Canning rhp, UCLA3. Kyle Molnar rhp, UCLA3. Hunter Bishop, of, Arizona State
4. David Peterson lhp, Oregon4. Tanner Dodson rhp, California4. Erik Miller, lhp, Stanford
5. Drew Rasmussen rhp, Oregon State5. Cadyn Grenier ss/of, Oregon State5. Daniel Bakst, 3b, Stanford
6. Jayson Rose rhp, Utah6. A.J. Graffanino ss, Washington6. Christian Jones, 1b, Washington
7. K.J. Harrison 1b/c, Oregon State7. Parker McFadden rhp, Washington State7. Grant Gambrell, rhp, Oregon State
8. J.J. Matijevic 1b/of, Arizona8. Joe DeMers rhp, Washington8. Adley Rutschman, c, Oregon State
9. Mitch Hart rhp, Southern California9. DaShawn Keirsey of, Utah9. Ben Baird, ss, Washington
10. Jake Bird rhp, UCLA10. Cesar Salazar c, Arizona10. Ryan Kreidler, ss/3b, UCLA
11. Quinn Brodey of, Stanford
12. Joey Morgan c, Washington
13. Tim Susnara c, Oregon
14. Elliott Cary of, Oregon State
15. Noah Bremer rhp, Washington
16. Cal Stevenson of, Arizona
17. Riley Ottesen rhp, Utah
18. Sean Bouchard 1b, UCLA
19. Bryce Carter c, Stanford
20. Christian Donahue 2b/of, Oregon State
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