2023 College Top 25 Preview: No. 20 Oregon
Last season: 36-25 (18-12 Pac-12), lost in regionals
Final ranking: not ranked
Coach (record at school): Mark Wasikowski (83-48, 3 seasons)
The good news: Sophomore slugger first baseman Jacob Walsh will headline a Ducks lineup that lost almost all of its offensive firepower from last season. Walsh has some of the best raw power in the Pac-12, and he hit 18 doubles to go with six home runs as a true freshman. Josiah Cromwick can go toe-to-toe with any catcher in the country from a defensive standpoint and he will be a stable backstop all season for the Ducks. He has excellent catch-and-throw skills and consistently calls a great game. After hitting .424 across 151 at-bats in 2022, senior third baseman Drew Cowley will hit in the middle of the lineup and much of the team’s offensive upside will hinge on how much he can produce. He is a strong pure hitter and uses the entire field. Tanner Smith is the top returning player on the roster and hits for both average (.317 in 2022) and power (11 home runs in 2022).
The bad news: Oregon lost many pieces from last year’s roster that made a regional. The offensive core of Anthony Hall, Josh Kasevich and Brennan Milone all departed after impressive 2022 seasons. Hall and Milone were first and second on the team in both RBIs and home runs; Hall hit 14 home runs with 56 RBIs and Milone had 12 homers and 55 RBIs. The Ducks also lost their two top arms in Adam Maier (seventh round, Braves) and Rio Britton (transfer to North Carolina State). Maier was off to a strong start in 2022 before an arm injury derailed him for most of the season, and Britton was the team’s best bullpen arm from a pure stuff standpoint.
Player to know: Rikuu Nishida, 2B.
Nishida is one of the most exciting players in all of college baseball. He put up video game numbers for two years at Mount Hood (Ore.) CC, including 58 stolen bases in 2022. Nishida carried over his elite performance to the Cape Cod League, where he turned in an all-star summer with a slash line of .291/.390/.706 and stole 28 bases. On the basepaths he is a nightmare for any pitcher to deal with, and at the plate he has an innate feel for the barrel and is nearly impossible to strike out. His defense might be his best tool—he’s a plus defender at second base and covers a lot of ground in either direction.
Path to Omaha: Oregon’s path to Omaha is a bit tricky given how much it lost from 2022 and the Pac-12 once again being one of the premier conferences in college baseball. There are a lot of unknowns, particularly on offense, but the team has the talent to make a run in the NCAA Tournament.
College Hot Sheet: 20 College Baseball Standouts From The Past Week (3/21/23)
Two premier SEC pitchers lead this week's Hot Sheet.
|2B||Rikuu Nishida||Jr.||Transfer—Mt. Hood (Ore.) JC|
|DH||Sabin Ceballos||Jr.||Transfer—San Jacinto (Texas) JC|
|RP||Josh Mollerus||R-Sr.||Transfer—San Francisco|