Preseason Top 25 Capsules: No. 5 Texas Tech

2017 Record: 45-17 (16-8 in Big 12); reached regional final. Final ranking: No. 12. Coach (Record at school): Tim Tadlock (194-112, five years). Top 200 2018 Draft Prospects: LHP Steven Gingery (49), RHP Davis Martin (102).

The good news: Texas Tech returns the bulk of the team that last year earned a national seed and won its second straight Big 12 Conference title. The Red Raiders are especially strong on the mound, as their junior class includes several pitchers who have held key roles on the staff throughout their careers. All-American lefthander Steven Gingery and righthander Davis Martin, who missed several weeks in 2017, but has plenty of experience starting on Friday nights over the last two years, form one of the best 1-2 punches in the country. Third baseman Josh Jung and outfielder Grant Little earned All-Freshman honors last season and will again be counted on, while classmate John McMillon is ready for a larger role. The outfielder/righthander has big power both at the plate and on the mound, and should this spring be able to harness his tools more consistently. Texas Tech added another Top 25 recruiting class to that mix and several newcomers will be expected to make an immediate impact, adding more athleticism to the lineup and firepower to the pitching staff.

The bad news: For as many returning players as the Red Raiders have, they also lost some significant pieces of their high-powered lineup. Shortstop Orlando Garcia, outfielders Tanner Gardner and Ryan Long and first baseman Hunter Hargrove – the Big 12 player of the year – formed the heart of Texas Tech’s lineup in 2017 and now have to be replaced. Jung and Little will take on larger roles in the lineup, and several of the Red Raiders’ newcomers will get the opportunity to play right away.  Lefthanders Jacob Patterson and Parker Mushinski, who last year ranked first and second on the team in appearances, have both also moved on to pro ball. The Red Raiders may not be able to play matchups quite as often, but sophomore righthanders Caleb Freeman, John Henry Gonzalez and Jake McDonald, all made a jump in the fall.

Returner to know: Michael Davis, SS: Garcia in 2017 led the Red Raiders with 13 home runs and a .550 slugging percentage in addition to starting at shortstop, so his move to pro ball left a big hole to be filled. Davis won’t cover Garcia’s power, but he can ensure Texas Tech stays strong in the middle of the infield. After starting at second base the last two seasons, he will likely move to shortstop, where his strong will help him defensively. His veteran presence in the lineup will also be critical for the Red Raiders, who project to have a younger lineup this spring.

Path to Omaha: Before Tadlock took over the program in 2013, Texas Tech had never reached the College World Series. Now, the Red Raiders have become a powerhouse in the Big 12 and are seeking their third trip to Omaha in five years. Martin and Gingery are the headliners, but Texas Tech’s pitching staff has impressive depth and experience that will help its younger lineup find its feet early in the season. By the end of May, the Red Raiders should be one of the most complete teams in the country and be among the serious national title contenders.

2018 lineup:

C Zayne Williams, R-Jr. (Transfer – Alvin (Texas) JC)
1B Kurt Wilson, Fr. (HS – Arlington, Texas)
2B Brian Klein, So. .287/.422/.467 | 79 AB | 7 HR | 46 RBI
3B Josh Jung, So. .306/.369/.391 | 245 AB | 6 HR | 43 RBI
SS Michael Davis, Sr. .269/.358/.446 | 175 AB | 6 HR | 29 RBI
LF Grant Little, So. .335/.405/.476 | 206 AB | 2 HR | 34 RBI
CF Cody Farhat, Jr. .343/.438/.569 | 127 AB | 3 HR | 22 RBI
RF Cody Masters, Fr. (HS – Coppell, Texas)
DH John McMillon, So. .229/.299/.586 | 70 AB | 8 HR | 14 RBI
RHP Davis Martin, Jr. 4-2 | 3.07 ERA | 44 IP | 37 SO | 0 SV
LHP Steven Gingery, Jr. 10-1 | 1.58 ERA | 91 IP | 107 SO  | 0 SV
RHP Ryan Shetter, Jr. 4-1 | 3.71 ERA | 70 IP | 74 SO | 0 SV
RP Jose Quezada, Sr. 6-4 | 3.55 ERA | 38 IP | 52 SO 4 SV
RP Caleb Killian, So. 6-0 | 3.55 ERA | 38 IP | 35 SO | 2 SV

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