2019 Preseason Top 25 Preview: No. 19 Texas
Last Year: 42-23 (17-7 Big 12); reached College World Series.
Final Ranking: No. 7.
Head Coach (record at school): David Pierce (81-47, two years).
Top 100 Draft Prospects: SS David Hamilton (No. 79).
The Good News: The Longhorns’ lineup is going to be incredibly versatile and athletic. Veterans Tate Shaw, Austin Todd, and Duke Ellis are all capable of playing multiple positions in the outfield, and freshman Eric Kennedy could get into that mix as well. Similarly, senior Masen Hibbeler can handle both middle infield positions, as well as a spot in the outfield. Junior Ryan Reynolds is a plus defender at the hot corner who could also man other positions if pressed into duty. That will give head coach David Pierce the ability to mix and match in order to find the right combinations as the season goes on.
The Bad News: Junior shortstop David Hamilton is lost for the season after he suffered an Achilles injury in a scooter accident. That means Texas will be without an elite defensive shortstop, a premier athlete and a developing offensive player who was adept at finding his way on base and making things happen with his speed. They’re only losing one player, but with all that he offers, it’s like losing several different players at once. Texas must also replace All-American second baseman Kody Clemens, who last year authored a season for the ages and led the Longhorns back to Omaha. Replacing that double-play combination won’t be easy, but Texas has options with the versatility of Hibbler and exciting freshman Bryce Reagan.
Player To Know: Zach Zubia, 1B.
With Clemens off in pro baseball, Zubia returns as the Longhorns’ biggest power threat after bursting onto the scene with 14 doubles and 11 home runs last season. When the Texas offense is going well, its success is probably not going to be marked by huge power numbers, but Zubia is a guy who will be able to provide that particular style of offense.
Path To Omaha: To get back to Omaha, Texas will have to fill out a rotation behind junior stalwart Blair Henley, who was, in many ways, the team’s most consistent starter a year ago. Senior righthander Matteo Bocchi, who shined in last year’s super regional-clinching win over Tennessee Tech, is one to watch, as is redshirt freshman righthander Cole Quintanilla, who has returned from Tommy John surgery. Then there’s true freshman Coy Cobb, a tall righthander with an electric fastball that runs into the mid-90s. Whether it’s some combination of those pitchers or others altogether, if Texas is going to use its classic pitching plus defense plus athleticism formula to get back to the College World Series, they’ll need a couple of guys to step up.
David Hamilton Has Old School Appeal
The Red Sox were drawn to the speedy 24-year-old shortstop in a recent trade because of his athleticism, defensive ability and on-base skills.
|2B||Bryce Reagan||Fr. (HS -- IMG Academy)|
|DH||Eric Kennedy||Fr. (HS -- Tampa)|
|RHP||Cole Quintanilla||R-Fr. (Did not play -- redshirt)|