Preseason Top 25 Capsules: No. 9 Stanford

2017 Record: 42-16 (21-9 in Pac-12); reached regional. Final ranking: No. 15 Coach (Record at school): David Esquer (First year). Top 200 2018 Draft Prospects: RHP Tristan Beck (46), LHP Kris Bubic (58), SS/2B Nico Hoerner (70).

The good news: Electric righthander Tristan Beck is slated to rejoin the Cardinal rotation after missing last season with a stress fracture in his back. He’ll slot between lefthanders Kris Bubic—who emerged as an ace in 2017—and Erik Miller to form one of the best weekend rotations in the country. The pitching staff oozes with depth, and offensively, Stanford should be able to hold its own. Returners Nico Hoerner, Daniel Bakst and Duke Kinamon serve as a solid position-player core on a team that hosted a regional a year ago.

The bad news: For the first time in 41 years, Stanford will be coached by someone other than Mark Marquess, who retired in 2017 after a sterling coaching career. While there will inevitably be an adjustment period, the Cardinal should be in good hands, with Stanford alum Dave Esquer leaving his head coaching job at California to take the reins. The coaching change isn’t necessarily “bad” news, but it does create a question mark that will need to be answered. The Cardinal should know quickly where it stands, as Stanford faces one of the stronger nonconference schedules in the country.

Returner to know: Nico Hoerner, SS: Hoerner has impressed Esquer the last two seasons from the opposing dugout. Now that the duo share the same uniform, Esquer said he’s even more in awe of Hoerner’s ability and work ethic. Hoerner is a smooth fielder and an offensive catalyst, providing leadership through his experience and upbeat energy. Similar to Nick Madrigal’s role with Oregon State, Hoerner is an important cog in the Stanford machine.

Path to Omaha: The Cardinal will need to adjust quickly to post-Marquess life and hold its own against premium early season competition in the form of Cal State Fullerton, Rice, Michigan and Texas. However, the premium arms on Stanford’s pitching staff give the Cardinal a high floor. Stanford will go as far as Bubic, Beck and Miller can take them—and that’s an Omaha-caliber unit. If Stanford’s offensive returners can continue produce, Stanford should be a force.

2018 lineup:

C Maverick Handley, So. .257/.390/.367 | 109 AB | 0 HR | 13 RBI
1B Andrew Daschbach, So. .183/.269/.250 | 60 AB | 0 HR |3 RBI
2B Duke Kinamon, Jr. .284/.365/.379 | 211 AB | 3 HR | 22 RBI
3B Jesse Kuet, Sr. .333/.372/.359 | 78 AB | 0 HR | 12 RBI
SS Nico Hoerner, Jr. .307/.357/.406 | 251 AB | 1 HR | 33 RBI
LF Alec Wilson, Jr. .212/.235/.303 | 33 AB | 0 HR | 3 RBI
CF Tim Tawa, Fr. HS—West Linn, Ore.
RF Brandon Wulff, Jr. .231/.325/.385 | 143 AB | 6 HR | 23 RBI
DH Daniel Bakst, So. .311/.369/.439 | 196 AB | 3 HR | 38 RBI
LHP Kris Bubic, Jr. 7-2, 2.79 ERA | 90 IP | 96 SO | 0 SV
RHP Tristan Beck, Jr. Did not play – injured
LHP Erik Miller, So. 5-2, 3.65 ERA | 62 IP | 34 SO | 0 SV
RP Will Matthiessen, So. 3-0, 2.33 ERA | 39 IP | 32 SO | 3 SV
RP Jacob Palisch, Fr. HS—Richardson, Texas

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