2019 Preseason Top 25 Preview: No. 8 Texas Tech
Last Year: 45-20 (15-9 in Big 12); reached College World Series.
Final Ranking: No. 5.
Head Coach (record at school): Tim Tadlock (239-132, six years).
Top 100 Draft Prospects: 3B Josh Jung (No. 8).
The Good News: The Red Raiders will continue to have one of the most dynamic, athletic groups of position players in the country. Josh Jung, an elite draft prospect at the hot corner, is back after putting up an incredible .392/.492/.639 slash line a year ago. Outfielder Gabe Holt returns after going 29-for-30 in stolen bases in 2018. First baseman Cameron Warren is a masher in the middle of the order. Brian Klein and junior college transfer Dylan Neuse have the ability to play multiple premium defensive positions. Catcher Braxton Fulford is a plus catch-and-throw guy behind the plate. That’s to say nothing of freshman Max Marusak, who is an 80-grade runner, and sophomore Cody Masters, who is a speedster in his own right. This group is going to be able to beat you in a lot of different ways.
The Bad News: With the departures of a whole host of pitchers from last year’s squad, there are some questions about Texas Tech’s pitching staff beyond junior Caleb Killian, who will hold down the Friday starter’s job in 2019. Junior John McMillon, a prime candidate to slot in behind Killian in the rotation, has electric stuff, but he has struggled with consistency and control in his time in Lubbock. Sophomore Kurt Wilson, another rotation contender, appeared in 17 games last year, but had an 8.10 ERA. Freshman Mason Montgomery could get into the mix as well, but he’s obviously unproven. In the bullpen, junior Caleb Freeman has appeared in 33 games in his two seasons, but he’ll be asked to do more, and redshirt junior Erikson Lanning will look to bounce back after missing all but two games last season. Some subset of these pitchers will have to step up in a big way.
Player To Know: Gabe Holt, OF.
Jung is the name most know in the Texas Tech lineup, but Holt’s particular set of skills could make him every bit as disruptive for the opposition. He’s already proven himself as an elite base stealer, but on top of that, he hit .348/.440/.485 last year, walked (38) more than he struck out (35), and held his own in the power department with 13 doubles and six home runs. The one question about his game is where he fits defensively. He started last season at second base before moving to the outfield, where his speed should play up, but he remains raw. Offensively, he’s already quietly one of the most dynamic players in college baseball.
Path To Omaha: The pitching is something the coaching staff will have to sort out. Perhaps McMillon is better able to harness his devastating stuff. Maybe Wilson will break out and become a steady member of the rotation, or maybe Lanning recaptures some of what made him a starter on a CWS team as a freshman back in 2016. Or, like last season, maybe Texas Tech mixes and matches enough of their resident high-octane arms along the way that they piece it together effectively. If the Red Raiders can sort out the pitching roles early on and they have some pitchers step up, this team will be a major College World Series contender.
2019 Draft Stock Watch: A Historic Year For Texas?
The 2019 draft features an impressive amount of talent in Texas. So much so that it could wind up being the best year for drafted talent in the Lone Star State this century.
|SS||Dylan Neuse||So. (Transfer -- McLennan (Texas) JC)|
|CF||Max Marusak||Fr. (HS -- Amarillo, TX)|
|DH||Tanner O'Tremba||Fr. (HS -- Parker, CO)|
|LHP||Mason Montgomery||Fr. (HS -- Leander, TX)|