2020 NCAA Top 25 Preview: No. 24 Ohio State

Image credit: Ohio State catcher Dillon Dingler (Photo by Greg Thompson, Getty Images)

Last season: 36-27 (12-12 in Big Ten); reached regionals.
Final ranking: NR.
Coach (record at school): Greg Beals (297-230-1, nine years).

Top 100 draft prospects: C Dillon Dingler (No. 93).

The good news: The Buckeyes last year won the Big Ten Tournament and have now made regionals in three of the last four years after a six-year drought. Ohio State brings its entire rotation back from that team and has a star behind the plate in Dingler, allowing it to set its sights set on a third straight NCAA Tournament appearance, which has only happened three times before in the program’s history. The rotation is headlined by lefthander Seth Lonsway, who is coming off a Freshman All-American season and, though his summer in the Cape Cod League confounded many scouts, a similar performance this spring would send him shooting up draft boards. In Lonsway, righthander Garrett Burhenn and lefthander Griffan Smith, Ohio State may have the Big Ten’s best rotation. The lineup also packs a lot of experience, as five regulars are in at least their third year of college baseball. Among those veterans is shortstop Noah West, who was lost to a season-ending knee injury last March. Returning him and third baseman Zach Dezenso, should give the Buckeyes a strong defensive left side of the infield.

The bad news: Ohio State must account for the loss of All-American relief ace Andrew Magno, who stepped up in a big way during the Big Ten Tournament, as well as outfielders Dominic Canzone and Brady Cherry, its two leading hitters for both average and power. Replacing Magno will require more of a group effort. Ohio State was able to only use 11 pitchers last season because its rotation covered 280 innings and Magno threw 64.2 more. Sophomore righthander Will Pfennig will need to step up and Ohio State will hope grad transfer Patrick Murphy, an Ohio native who spent the last four years at Marshall, will also be able to take on an important role in the bullpen. Ohio State will have a new look in the outfield and Nate Karaffa, a three-sport star in high school, will get a chance to let his athleticism shine. The Buckeyes will need him and a couple other young players to rise to the challenge.

Player to know: Dillon Dingler, C.

Dingler has been a regular in the Ohio State lineup since he arrived in Columbus. As a freshman, he showed off his athleticism and versatility, playing both catcher and center field, before settling in last season as the everyday catcher. He’s been integral to Ohio State’s success the last two years and will again be at the center of everything as a junior. He has top-two rounds potential in the draft, particularly if he taps into his raw power more often this spring.

Path to Omaha: Ohio State hasn’t won a regional since 2003, but this team has the potential to advance past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament thanks to its pitching staff. The Buckeyes need their rotation to again carry the load and for another reliever to emerge in the way Magno did last spring. The Buckeyes’ offense probably won’t be as powerful this spring, but its experience and athleticism will make life difficult for opposing pitchers all season long and it should be productive enough to support what should be a high-end pitching staff

C Dillon Dingler, Jr. .291 .392 .424 3 19 165
1B Conner Pohl, Sr. .264 .374 .396 7 45 235
2B Matt Carpenter, R-Sr. .257 .302 .324 0 15 179
3B Zach Dezenso, So. .250 .318 .440 .216 10 37
SS Noah West, Sr. .284 .322 .420 1 9 81
LF Michael Okuley, Fr. HS — Powell, Ohio
CF Nate Karaffa, Fr. HS — Toronto, Ohio
RF Nolan Clegg, So. .286 .362 .476 2 13 42
DH Brent Todys, R-Jr. .256 .352 .462 9 41 199
LHP Seth Lonsway, R-So. 8 4 3.70 92 126 0
RHP Garrett Burhenn, So. 6 4 3.96 91 69 0
LHP Griffan Smith, Jr. 7 5 4.66 97 96 1
RP Patrick Murphy, R-Sr. 2 1 2.95 18 11 1
RP Will Pfennig, So. 2 4 4.78 58 53 2

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