2023 College Top 25 Preview: No. 18 Oregon State
Last season: 48-18 (20-10 PAC12); lost in super regionals
Final ranking: No. 11
Coach (record at school): Mitch Canham (90-51, three seasons)
The good news: With an offensive core of star sophomore second baseman Travis Bazzana, junior first baseman Garret Forrester and blue chip freshman Gavin Turley, Mitch Canham’s crew will boast a formidable middle of the order. Bazzana hit an impressive .306 as a true freshman, along with 16 doubles and six home runs. Forrester performed extremely well last spring, hitting .332 with 11 doubles and nine home runs. He has a great feel for the strike zone and plays solid defense over at first base. He should form a formidable duo with Bazzana on the right side of the infield. Gavin Turley, a projected day one draft pick by many, ended up arriving on campus and has exceeded his already-sky high expectations. He led all Oregon State hitters this fall with an average exit velocity of 98.2 mph and posted a max exit velocity of 113.9 mph. He has five-tool potential and will man right field this spring. Coming off of a strong freshman campaign, righthander Jacob Kmatz will toe the rubber on Friday nights, with newcomer Trent Sellers and junior righthander Jaren Hunter rounding out the weekend rotation. With lots of bullpen depth and a strong rotation, the Beavers’ pitching staff will be among the best in the Pac-12.
The bad news: The Beavers lost their best player on each side of the baseball in lefthander Cooper Hjerpe (first round) and outfielder Jacob Melton (second round), along with the team’s leading hitter Justin Boyd (second round), table setter Wade Meckler (eighth round) and starting backstop Gavin Logan (ninth round) to the MLB draft. As one of the best pitchers in all of college baseball, Hjerpe is almost irreplaceable, but given the depth and returning talent on the pitching staff, this is a loss that won’t hurt as bad as it might in other years. However, on offense, most of the 2022 club’s production is now gone. The trio of Bazzana, Forrester and Turley should provide for some of that production. Newcomers will be relied upon heavily to make up for the rest of the production lost.
Player to know: Ryan Brown, RHP.
Brown was the team’s closer a year ago, logging nine saves, and returns to once again hold down the back end of the bullpen. In 2022 he posted a solid 4.91 ERA along with 40 strikeouts to 12 walks in 33 innings. Staying in Corvallis for the summer, Brown pitched for the Corvallis Knights of the West Coast League, where he totaled a 1.64 ERA and struck out 14 hitters while walking just one in 11 innings. He has the chance to be a stopper of the year candidate and one of the better bullpen arms in the conference.
Path to Omaha: For Oregon State to make it back to Omaha for the first time since 2018, the pitching must live up to its high expectations and a number of bats will need to take a step forward in their production since last year. The Pac-12 is always a gauntlet with the top of the conference beating up on each other, but time and time again the Beavers emerge on top. This is a program that knows how to win and it should have a strong chance at reaching the College World Series.
College Hot Sheet: 20 College Baseball Standouts From The Past Week (3/21/23)
Two premier SEC pitchers lead this week's Hot Sheet.
|3B||Mikey Kane||Jr.||Transfer—JC of the Canyons (Calif.)|
|OF||Ruben Cedillo||So.||Transfer—Linn-Benton (Ore.) JC|
|OF||Gavin Turley||Fr.||HS—Chandler, Ariz.|
|DH||Easton Talt||Fr.||HS—Peoria, Ariz.|
|SP||Trent Sellers||R-Jr.||Transfer—Lewis-Clark State (Idaho)|