Preseason Top 25 Capsules: No. 10 Texas A&M
2017 Record: 41-23 (16-14 in SEC); reached CWS. Final ranking: No. 10 Coach (Record at school): Rob Childress (499-261-2, 12 years). Top 200 2018 Draft Prospects: RHP Mitchell Kilkenny (101), RHP Stephen Kolek (137).
The good news: Texas A&M’s roller-coaster 2017 ended on a high, as the Aggies got hot in June and advanced to the CWS for the first time since 2011. The Aggies had a young lineup last season and the bulk of it returns, including Braden Shewmake, the team’s leading hitter and the Southeastern Conference freshman of the year. As always, the Aggies have a deep pitching staff, full of power arms at coach Rob Childress’ disposal. The return of senior lefthanders Kaylor Chafin and Cason Sherrod was a boost for A&M, as both bring plenty of experience and add to the depth of the staff. Chafin could move into the rotation or stay in the bullpen with Sherrod, but either way, both will pitch significant innings this spring.
The bad news: The Aggies’ pitching staff has the potential to be one of the best in the country, but they still need to overcome the departures of righthanders Brigham Hill and Corbin Martin. Hill was A&M’s ace and Martin had the best stuff on the staff. Righthander Mitchell Kilkenny, who started last season in the rotation before trading jobs with Martin and moving to the bullpen, will be counted on to fill a key role, either in the rotation or as a bullpen ace. Righthander Stephen Kolek will provide stability in the rotation and his experience will be crucial. The Aggies still project to have a younger lineup and lost some senior leadership at important spots on the field, including shortstop Austin Homan and center fielder Nick Choruby. Shewmake will slide over from second base to fill Homan’s spot defensively, and how Shewmake handles his new position will be a key area to watch early in the season. Childress was pleased with how Shewmake was playing defensively at the end of the fall, but his defense was panned at second base last year, leading to some skepticism about how he’ll handle his new position.
Returner to know: George Janca, 3B: Janca followed up a solid sophomore season with a strong summer in the Cape Cod League, where he hit .327/.370/.536 and impressed scouts with his play on the left side of the infield. He has the ability to play shortstop, but will stay at the hot corner for the Aggies. If he can carry his summer performance into the spring, he could be poised for a breakout junior year.
Path to Omaha: The Aggies have all the pieces necessary for a return to the CWS. Now it will be up to Childress to find the best way to line them all up. A&M will need an ace to emerge from its deep pool of starters and someone will have to step up to help Shewmake carry the load offensively. But now that the young Aggies have seen what it takes to get to Omaha, they should be fully prepared to handle the grind of the SEC and the NCAA Tournament.
C Cole Bedford, Jr. .301/.351/.438 | 3 HR | 26 RBI | 176 AB
1B Hunter Coleman, So. .283/.380/.441 | 5 HR | 22 RBI | 152 AB
2B Michael Helman, Jr. Transfer – Hutchinson (Kan.) JC
3B George Janca, Jr. .261/.309/.416 | 6 HR | 30 RBI | 226 AB
SS Braden Shewmake, So. .328/.374/.529 | 11 HR | 69 RBI | 274 AB
LF Logan Foster, So. .280/.333/.489 | 6 HR | 24 RBI | 186 AB
CF Allonte Wingate, Jr. Transfer – Cisco (Texas) JC
RF Zach DeLoach, Fr. HS – Hebron, Texas
DH Will Frizzell, Fr. HS – Rockwall, Texas
RHP Stephen Kolek, Jr. 4-5, 3.79 ERA | 90 IP | 82 SO | 0 SV
RHP Mitchell Kilkenny, Jr. 3-3, 3.67 ERA | 56 IP | 56 SO | 7 SV
LHP Kaylor Chafin, Sr. 7-2, 2.33 ERA | 77 IP | 72 SO | 3 SV
RP Cason Sherrod, Sr. 4-1, 2.89 ERA | 44 IP | 38 SO | 4 SV
RP John Doxakis, So. 4-3, 5.44 ERA | 50 IP | 51 SO | 0 SV