2020 NCAA Top 25 Preview: No. 16 Oklahoma State
Last season: 40-21 (14-9 in Big 12); reached super regionals
Final ranking: No. 11
Coach (record at school): Josh Holliday (271-151-1, seven years)
The good news: Despite the departure of offensive leaders like Colin Simpson and Trevor Boone, among others, Oklahoma State has a nice nucleus of returners in the lineup, including a trio of productive seniors in Alix Garcia, Carson McCusker and Cade Cabbiness, the last of whom made great strides through fall practice and looks poised to take a step forward. Sophomore Hueston Morrill should slide over to shortstop seamlessly after serving as a second baseman last season. Catcher Brock Mathis, a transfer from Louisiana State, brings big-game experience, and junior college transfer second baseman Kaden Polcovich should be one of the most impactful newcomers in the Big 12 after he showed well in the Cape Cod League over the summer. The pitching staff is loaded with high-end talent, including freshman righthander Bryce Osmond, a top 50 prospect in the 2019 draft who chose to attend Oklahoma State rather than begin his pro career.
The bad news: The talent on the pitching staff is undeniable, but much of it is extremely young. Of the four starting spots, the three after Friday starter Parker Scott are projected to go to freshmen in Osmond, Justin Campbell and Kale Davis. And while he is in his fourth year in the program, this will be the first year in which Scott is asked to take the ball as a starting pitcher week after week. Last season, he didn’t move into the rotation until the middle of April. In most cases, talent wins out, and that very well could be the case with the Cowboys’ pitching staff, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise if there were some growing pains along the way.
Player to know: Kaden Polcovich, 2B.
Even when Oklahoma State endures heavy personnel losses in the lineup, as they did after last season, they still tend to find a way to put together an offense that can score runs in bunches the following season. In 2020, Polcovich’s arrival is a big reason for optimism that this will be the case once again. After spending one fall at Kentucky, he spent the last two seasons with Northwest Florida State JC. In 2019, he hit .273/.452/.523 with 12 home runs and 16 stolen bases for the Raiders, and then followed that up with a line of .305/.426/.473 line for Chatham on the Cape. Polcovich will be a closely-watched prospect for the 2020 draft, but prior to that, he’ll be a key piece of Oklahoma State’s lineup.
Path to Omaha: If the new faces in the lineup, particularly the transfers in Brock Mathis and Polcovich, take to their roles right away and the young talent on the mound grows up quickly, the Cowboys absolutely have the talent to get one step further than they did last season, when they fell one win short of Omaha. If you look at the 2016 Oklahoma State team that did get to the CWS, it had a one-two punch in the rotation in Thomas Hatch and Jensen Elliott that set the tone for the rest of the staff, and it would make the path to the promised land a lot smoother if the Cowboys could replicate that to some degree in 2020.
2020 NCAA Baseball Crystal Ball Predictions
Baseball America's annual predictions series picking the national champion, player awards and Omaha sleepers.
|C||Brock Mathis, Jr.||.164||.291||.287||3||12||122|
|1B||Alix Garcia, Sr.||.294||.388||.485||8||25||163|
|2B||Kaden Polcovich, Jr.||Transfer -- Northwest Florida State JC|
|3B||Jake Thompson, R-Jr.||Redshirt -- Transfer|
|SS||Hueston Morrill, So.||.282||.390||.386||2||20||220|
|LF||Carson McCusker, Sr.||.311||.383||.520||6||40||196|
|CF||Caeden Trenkle, Fr.||HS -- Hillsboro, Texas|
|RF||Cade Cabbiness, Sr.||.234||.307||.406||8||27||197|
|DH||Blake Robertson, Fr.||HS -- Edmond, Oklahoma|
|LHP||Parker Scott, R-Jr.||3||1||2.18||45.1||51||0|
|RHP||Bryce Osmond, Fr.||HS -- Tulsa|
|RHP||Justin Campbell, Fr.||HS -- Simi Valley, Calif.|
|RP||Ben Leeper, SR.||4||4||4.31||31.1||43||7|
|RP||Brett Standlee, So.||3||2||4.46||72.2||55||1|