2020 NCAA Top 25 Preview: No. 6 Texas Tech

Image credit: Brian Klein (Photo by John Williamson)

Last Year: 46-20 (16-8 in Big 12); reached College World Series
Final Ranking: No. 4
Head Coach (Record at school): Tim Tadlock (285-152, seven seasons)

Top 100 Draft Prospects: None

The Good News: The Red Raiders’ pitching staff is deeper than it has been in the past. Micah Dallas gives the team a proven Friday starter, and John McMillon and Bryce Bonnin are a pair of flamethrowers looking to develop into refined starters. Sophomore lefthander Mason Montgomery has high upside as a fourth starter as well. Clayton Beeter is back after saving eight games a year ago, Kurt Wilson can get on the mound and run his fastball into the high 90s, and new faces in junior college transfer lefthander Jakob Brustoski and Vanderbilt transfer Austin Becker could have immediate roles. Texas Tech’s position player depth also really sets them apart. In Braxton Fulford and Cole Stilwell, it boasts two players who could be full-time catchers, although the latter is making the move to first base. In the outfield, the quintet of Wilson, Cody Masters, Dru Baker, Max Marusak and highly-touted freshman Dillon Carter would hold starring roles on many other teams, but instead, will be battling with each other for playing time in the outfield corners around center fielder Dylan Neuse. Plus, they have the luxury of welcoming back a productive senior in second baseman Brian Klein. 

The Bad News: With Josh Jung, Cameron Warren and Gabe Holt in pro ball now, it’s difficult to predict, outside of Neuse and Klein, who will make this Texas Tech offense go. The aforementioned depth will keep the floor pretty high for the offense, and Tadlock’s teams will always hit, but without those departed stars, the ceiling might be a bit limited. On the mound, McMillon and Bonnin have elite arms, but both have spotty track records as starting pitchers. They have a lot to prove in that regard. 

Player to Know: Micah Dallas, RHP.

On a pitching staff full of guys who can run their fastball into the high-90s with regularity, Dallas might be seen as a stereotypical crafty college pitcher, but his stuff is plenty good in its own right, with a fastball that has been up to 95 mph. Beyond that, he commands his entire repertoire and crucially, he already has experience throwing on Fridays, having been thrust into that role as a freshman last season. Tech may have to spend some time shuffling roles on the pitching staff to find the best fit for everyone, but they know what they have in Dallas. 

Path to Omaha: In the last couple of seasons, Texas Tech has relied on its prolific offense to carry the load while tinkering with its pitching staff throughout the season. In 2020, the clearest path to Omaha might be the inverse. If Dallas, McMillon and Bonnin hold down their starting spots from the beginning, and a handful of those hard throwers carve out bullpen roles right away, it could take some heat off of a lineup that might have to use up a good portion of the season to find its footing. 

C Braxton Fulford, Jr. .298 .388 .419 4 34 191
1B Cole Stilwell, So. .268 .408 .407 3 22 123
2B Brian Klein, Sr. .315 .406 .440 3 57 257
3B Jace Jung, Fr. HS — San Antonio
SS Cal Conley, R-Fr. Transfer
LF Dru Baker, Jr. .321 .395 .445 3 25 137
CF Dylan Neuse, Jr. .298 .408 .494 8 51 245
RF Max Murusak, So. .235 .301 .353 1 12 102
DH Tanner O’Tremba .261 .367 .402 2 20 92
RHP Micah Dallas, So. 7 2 4.03 76 84 0
RHP John McMillon, Sr. 4 3 3.40 47.2 67 3
RHP Bryce Bonnin, Jr. 7 1 4.08 64 65 0
RP Clayton Beeter, R-So. 0 3 3.48 20.2 40 8
RP Kurt Wilson, Jr. 0 1 6.14 14.2 12 0

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