2022 College Top 25 Preview: No. 11 Oregon State
Last season: 37-24 (16-14 in Pac-12); reached regionals
Final Ranking: NR
Coach (record at school): Mitch Canham (42-33, two seasons)
The good news: With the return of fourth-year junior righthander Jake Pfennigs, third-year sophomore lefthander Cooper Hjerpe and third-year sophomore righthander Will Frisch, Oregon State might have pound-for-pound the best rotation in the Pac-12, which is quite a statement when you consider that Kevin Abel departed via the draft after last season and Jack Washburn left via transfer to Mississippi. All three have track records of success in Corvallis and all three have big-time stuff, including mid-90s fastballs. They are also talented enough that the Beavers could put them in any order on the weekend and it wouldn’t make much of a difference. If that trio stays healthy, Oregon State will be extremely tough to beat in a three-game series.
The bad news: Oregon State appears to have a solid lineup based on what we’ve seen from the returners, but that caveat is important because between injuries and the way in which it likes to use a lot of different position players each season, few position players have lengthy track records of success, especially now that catcher Troy Claunch and infielders Ryan Ober and Andy Armstrong are gone. Fourth-year junior center fielder Jacob Melton looks the part of a star, and his numbers in 2021 were excellent, but injuries held him to just 32 games. Sophomore first baseman Garret Forrester looks to be an emerging power bat, but now he’ll be asked to take another step as a focal point in the lineup. And more broadly, Forrester, fourth-year junior shortstop Jake Dukart and fourth-year junior left fielder Wade Meckler are the only projected starters who got more than 100 at-bats last season. This lineup has potential, but it will have to prove it in 2022.
Player to know: Cooper Hjerpe, LHP
Of the three members of Oregon State’s projected weekend rotation, Hjerpe on paper has the highest chance of becoming a supernova of a star in college baseball in 2022. He emerged as a workhorse last season, coming in behind only Abel on the team in innings pitched (77) and strikeouts (98). His stuff is also nothing short of electric. Coming from a low slot, his fastball last season averaged 91 mph and touched as high as 97 with a low-80s changeup that induced a 46% whiff rate. Any of Oregon State’s three projected starting pitchers could credibly be considered preseason contenders for Pac-12 pitcher of the year, but Hjerpe is the one that stands out as having the best chance of the bunch.
Path to Omaha: Oregon State’s best teams historically have been well-rounded and seem to use the entire roster. They typically have stout pitching staffs, but they also often have versatile position player groups that allow the coaching staff to mix and match pieces in the starting lineup. The pitching staff, and particularly the weekend rotation, will keep Oregon State in just about every series this season. A couple of stars developing out of the position player group and a consistent lineup one through nine coming together in general will have a lot to do with the degree to which Oregon State competes for a conference title, as it looks to earn a top-eight seed and go to Omaha.
College Podcast: Recapping Week 13 Around College Baseball
Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy recap the 13th weekend of action around college baseball.
|2B||Travis Bazzana||Fr.||HS—Sydney, Australia|