2024 Pac-12 College Baseball Preview


Image credit: Travis Bazzana (Photo by Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

This season will be the last for the Pac-12 and its rich history. Pac-12 teams have won 18 College World Series, the most of any conference.

Some of the most talented players in MLB history are conference alums, including Arizona State’s Barry Bonds and Reggie Jackson and Southern California’s Randy Johnson and Mark McGwire.

Arizona State has produced four No. 1 overall draft picks—the most of any school—while Stanford and ASU have produced the most first-round picks overall. This year, the Pac-12 has a chance to go out on a high note. Oregon State is a prime national title contender, and Travis Bazzana is on the shortlist to be drafted No. 1 overall.

Below, find the following as we dive deep into the Pac-12…

  • Predicted order of finish
  • Player, Pitcher and Freshman of the Year predictions
  • Team-by-team breakdowns
  • Top draft prospects
  • Top newcomers
  • Best scouting tools

Pac-12 Projected Standings (2023 records)

1. Oregon State (41-20, 18-12)
2. Stanford (44-20, 23-7)
3. UCLA (28-24-1, 12-16-1)
4. Southern California (34-23-1, 17-13)
5. Oregon (41-22, 16-14)
6. Arizona State (32-23, 16-13)
7. Washington (35-20, 17-12)
8. California (24-28, 12-18)
9. Arizona (33-26, 12-18)
10. Utah (22-32-1, 9-20-1)
11. Washington State (29-23, 10-19)

Player of the Year: Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State

The Australia native made an immediate impact as a true freshman in 2022 before setting the world on fire last spring as a sophomore by hitting .374/.500/.622 with 11 home runs and 36 stolen bases. Bazzana then won Cape Cod League MVP honors. He has an explosive operation in the box with double-plus bat speed and optimal swing path. He is super athletic and a sound defender at second base with above-average arm strength and plus speed. Bazzana is a fierce competitor, team leader and has the makings of a future impact big leaguer.

Pitcher of the Year: Matt Scott, RHP, Stanford

A 20th-round pick by the Rangers out of high school, Scott split time between the bullpen and rotation during his freshman season. He pitched his way to a modest 5.10 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 67 innings and earned an invitation to USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team training camp. At 6-foot-7, 247 pounds, he is an imposing presence on the mound. Scott features a mid-90s fastball that has plenty of carrying life, an effective split-changeup, a mid-80s sweeping slider that flashes some depth, and a budding cutter/slider hybrid.

Freshman of the Year: Trent Caraway, 3B, Oregon State

Caraway is one of the more touted true freshman bats in the country. As a high school senior in SoCal, he hit .462 and crushed seven home runs. His 49 hits broke the JSerra single-season record previously held by 2017 No. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis. Caraway’s 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame oozes physicality, with a thick lower half and serious forearm strength. He hammers the baseball to all fields, with most of his power coming to his pull side. Caraway has the unique ability to hit for both average and power, and figures to make an immediate impact on campus.

Pac-12 Team-By-Team Breakdowns

1. Oregon State (41-20, 18-12)

The Beavers last year had another strong season that culminated in their sixth-consecutive tournament appearance. However, they had a tough draw and were sent to the Baton Rouge Regional. They had a solid showing, beating Sam Houston State twice, but their season ended with a 13-7 loss to eventual–national champion LSU. This year, Oregon State boasts the most loaded roster in the Pac-12 and is in a strong position to return to the College World Series for the first time since 2018.

This year’s Oregon State team has an exciting blend of experience and fresh faces. It returns five key contributors from last year’s potent lineup, headlined by one of the best players in college baseball and leading hitter Travis Bazzana (.374/.500/.622). Bazzana is not only an outstanding leader in the dugout who makes everyone around him better, but he is also a high-impact player who can hit for average, power and impact the game with his speed. His highly-advanced baseball IQ further enhances his already impressive toolset. Around Bazzana, the Beavers will have an experienced outfield with veterans Micah McDowell (.342/.428/.509) and Brady Kasper (.304/.400/.558), along with sophomore Gavin Turley (.309/.438/.664). Turley has one of the loudest toolsets of any sophomore in the country and really hit his stride toward the end of the 2023 season. 

Junior first baseman Mason Guerra (.326/.414/.573) will anchor the right side of the infield, while freshman third baseman Trent Caraway will be the Beavers’ everyday third baseman. Caraway is one of the most–highly touted true freshmen in the country, and he is on track to be a big-time contributor in year one. Offensively, they return 63-of-89 (70.7%) home runs from 2023, 92-of-127 (72.4%) doubles from 2023 and 75 of their 89 (84.3%) stolen bases. The Beavers also return a wealth of talent on the mound, including righthanders Jacob Kmatz (5-4, 4.71 ERA) and Jaren Hunter (1-1, 3.03 ERA). Both will pitch in the weekend rotation alongside Arizona transfer Aiden May (5-3, 6.33 ERA). May might have the best pure stuff on the entire staff, and while the back of the baseball card might look modest, he could really thrive if he shows improved command and a refined fastball shape. 

There are a number of bullpen arms back, including lefty flamethrower Nelson Keljo (2-0, 5.40 ERA), Ian Lawson (3-0, 3.50 ERA) and A.J. Lattery (4-0, 4.05 ERA), who could also be used as a starter if need be. Cal Poly transfer Kyle Scott is expected to handle the closer role (0-3, 4.43 ERA) and brings plenty of polish to the staff.

In looking at the 2024 Beavers roster, it is hard to find many holes. On top of the talent they boast on paper, they have a number of leaders in the dugout. Combine all of those factors and you are looking at one heck of a ball club.

2. Stanford (44-20, 23-7)

In recent years, Stanford has gone to Omaha as regularly as an eighth grade class goes to Washington, D.C. at the end of the school year. It last year returned to the College World Series for the third time in as many seasons, but it was far from easy. In the Palo Alto Regional, the Cardinal ripped off three straight wins, including a come-from-behind win over Cal State Fullerton, to advance to super regional play. In supers, it lost the first game to Texas 7-5 before winning 8-3 to force a decisive third game. Stanford jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second inning and took a 6-3 lead into the eighth inning, but the Longhorns wouldn’t go away. With the score tied at six with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Lucas Gordon induced what looked to be a lazy, inning-ending fly ball. However, both centerfielder Eric Kennedy and rightfielder Dylan Campbell lost the ball in the Palo Alto sky and it fell aimlessly into shallow right-center field to give Stanford an incredible walk-off win.

In Omaha, Stanford went 0-2 losing to Wake Forest 3-2 and Tennessee 6-4. It held leads in both games, but its bullpen struggled in the later innings. The Cardinal this year return a few key pieces from last year’s squad, but they also face their fair share of roster turnover—including the loss of star two-way player Braden Montgomery to the transfer portal—so they head into the 2024 season with more question marks than usual.

Stanford returns a couple key contributors from last year’s squad, including Pac-12 freshman of the year Malcolm Moore (.311/.386/.564). Moore was a middle-of-the-order bat last year and his 63 RBIs were the third-highest mark on the team. His defense also continues to progress nicely. Veteran infielder Owen Cobb is also back, and in 2023 he hit .324/.368/.471 with 16 extra-base hits and 32 RBIs. After battling injuries for much of the 2023 season, Trevor Haskins is slated to be the everyday shortstop. This summer, Haskins hit .364/.408/.659 with four doubles and three home runs in an 11-game stint in the Cape Cod League. He is a pro-level defender and will provide stability on the left side of the infield. Standing at 6-foot-6, UC San Diego transfer Brandon Larson (.295/.359/.537) will man first base and provide power in the middle of the order. 

The Cardinal also have who could be the next Pac-12 pitcher of the year in workhorse righthander Matt Scott (5-5, 5.10 ERA). As a true freshman, Scott had a productive first year and showed flashes of his thunderous arsenal. However, his stuff this offseason has taken a step forward and he will get the ball on Friday nights. Stanford also boasts a loaded freshman class and arms like Joey Volchko, Aidan Keenan and Christian Lim look ready to contribute right away.

3. UCLA (28-24-1, 12-16-1)

2023 was a rare down year for UCLA in the Coach John Savage era, as it failed to make the tournament for the first time since 2016. It got off to a blazing 10-2 start, but it struggled mightily in Pac-12 play and lost its final five conference series of the season. The Bruins head into 2024 with a number of holes to fill, but between their returning talent and No. 1–ranked freshman class, they could be in line to return to the tournament.

On offense, the Bruins will be led by all-Pac-12 selection Duce Gourson. Gourson last year was the team’s second leading hitter after hitting .319/.439/.515, and he led the team in both doubles (10) and RBIs. Joining Gourson up the middle will be shortstop Cody Schrier. After a strong freshman year, Schrier in 2023 dealt with injuries that limited him to just 32 games. His stat line was modest, but if he can stay fully healthy this year, he has a chance to be one of the most productive hitters on the roster. He is also a smooth defender at shortstop. Blue chip freshman Roch Cholowsky will be the team’s everyday third baseman, and this fall he showed well on both sides of the baseball. Another true freshman who is on track to be in the opening day lineup is catcher Blake Balsz. Returners AJ Salgado (.225/.354/.313), Carson Yates (.216/.358/.324) and Jarrod Hocking (.298/.444/.474) will also factor into the lineup.

The Bruins lost a wealth of talent on the mound with Jake Brooks, Kelly Austin, Alonzo Tredwell and Ethan Flanagan all making the jump to professional baseball. For those keeping track, that’s 42-of-53 (79.2%) starts they lose from last year. This year’s weekend rotation will feature Luke Jewett (1-1, 5.31 ERA), Finn McIlroy (2-0, 4.50 ERA) and Michael Barnett (1-0, 3.97 ERA). Jewett pitched exclusively out of the bullpen last year, but this fall was sitting 92-95 with his fastball with quality secondary offerings. McIlroy had a strong summer on the Cape and an even better fall, while Barnett will now pitch in the rotation full time after some starting experience last year. Look for freshmen arms Justin Lee and Landon Stump to also log their fair share of innings.

The go-to late-inning arm will be righthander Cody Devlecchio, who last year made a whopping 36 appearances. He pitched his way to a 4.20 ERA and fanned 48 hitters across 45 innings pitched. His three saves were second on the team, and he has the potential to be one of the more effective relievers in the Pac-12. There are plenty of unknowns, but expect a bounceback season from the Bruins.

4. Southern California (34-23-1, 17-13)

Year one of the Coach Andy Stankiewicz era was a resounding success. Although the Trojans fell just short of their first tournament appearance since 2015, their 34 wins and 17 conference wins were the highest single-season totals since 2015. They had marquee series wins over Stanford, Oregon, Arizona State and UCLA, and also notched a win over the Bruins in the Pac-12 Tournament. With loads of returning talent and intriguing portal additions, 2024 seems like the year in which the Trojans get over the hump.

The Trojans return five of their six top hitters from 2023, including potential Day One draft pick and all-conference selection Austin Overn (.314/.402/.530). Overn has blazing speed, and last year his program-record 14 triples led the country. Shortstop Bryce Martin-Grudzielanek (.302/.394/.475) and third baseman Ethan Hedges (.302/.411/.421) make for a formidable duo on the left side of the infield, while catcher Jacob Galloway will be the team’s everyday catcher after hitting .365 (23-for-63) across 24 games in 2023. Elsewhere on the dirt, Ryan Jackson (.287/.431/.356) will hold down second base, while Connecticut transfer Chris Brown will play first. Brown brings experience and leadership and could be in line for a bounceback season.

Where USC really shines is on the mound. It returns its entire weekend rotation from last season in Caden Aoki (4-3, 2.98 ERA), Tyler Stromsborg (4-3, 5.23 ERA) and Eric Hammond (3-4, 4.82 ERA), while Cal State-Northridge transfer Xavier Martinez (4-1, 2.29 ERA) will be the team’s midweek starter. Josh Blum (3-0, 3.34 ERA) will step into the closer role after striking out 40 across 32.1 innings in 2023, while Santa Clara transfer Jared Feikes (5-1, 5.09 ERA) could be used either out of the bullpen or in a starting role. Armed with a bevy of weapons, the Trojans are poised to make plenty of noise in 2024.

5. Oregon (41-22, 16-14)

The 2023 season was the best year for the Ducks since 2012. They won the Pac-12 Tournament for the first time in program history, and although the tournament itself has only been around since 2022, the Ducks’ last regular-season title came in 1957. On top of making a regional for the third straight season, the Ducks made a super regional for the first time in over a decade and were just one win away from their first trip to the College World Series since 1954. After sweeping its way through the Nashville Regional—a 3-0 stretch that included an exciting 8-7 win over top–eight seed Vanderbilt—Oregon hosted Oral Roberts in the Eugene Super Regional. It won 9-8 in game one and was up 7-6 in the ninth inning of game two, but the Cinderella Golden Eagles notched two come-from-behind victories in as many days to knock out the Ducks.

With the loss of Drew Cowley (.341/.425/.631, 70 RBIs), third-round pick Sabin Ceballos (.333/.426/.643, 70 RBIs), Tanner Smith (.327/.391/.551, 45 RBIs), 11th-round pick Rikuu Nishida (.312/.395/.443, 37 RBIs) and ninth-round pick Colby Shade (.336/.422/.523, 31 RBIs), Oregon will need to somehow replace five of its six most productive hitters from 2023. To try and combat a potential dip in offensive output, the Ducks will return two key returners in third baseman Drew Smith (.365/.430/.552) and Bennett Thompson (.340/.402/.613) as well as a couple transfers. Neither Smith nor Thompson logged a full season’s worth of games, but both are primed to step into an everyday role. Smith is an excellent defender at third base and can really impact the baseball, while Thompson consistently puts together quality at-bats and provides a polished defensive skill set.

Junior Jacob Walsh is one of the best power hitters in the conference and will look to build upon his 2023 season, in which he hit 16 home runs. Two high-impact transfers will roam the outfield in Justin Cassella and Jeffery Heard. Cassella was a first-team all-CAA selection in 2023 after hitting .345/.404/.719 with 11 doubles and 17 home runs, while Heard hit .292/.399/.567 at Sacramento State with 11 doubles, 12 home runs and 35 RBIs. Both project to hit in the middle of the order and are in line to be two of the more productive hitters on the team.

The Ducks lose eighth-round pick Jace Stoffal (6-2, 2.83 ERA) from their 2023 pitching staff, but they return the vast majority of arms from last year. Righthanders RJ Gordon and Isaac Ayon will be back in the rotation after missing the 2023 season due to injury, while Quinnipiac transfer Kevin Seitter (8-4, 3.58 ERA) and Turner Spoljaric (7-0, 6.55 ERA) will both be weekend starters. Transfers Jaxon Jordan and Brock Moore (2-0, 2.10 ERA) will anchor the bullpen, but also look for sophomore lefthander Grayson Grinsell (2-1, 4.47 ERA) and fellow sophomore Matt Grabmann (1-3, 4.60 ERA) to be deployed on a regular basis.

If a few pieces on both sides of the baseball can take their game to the next level, Oregon will likely be in line to once again return to the tournament.

6. Arizona State (32-23, 16-13)

The Sun Devils got off to a blazing start last year, winning five of their first six Pac-12 series, en route to a top-20 ranking. They looked to be well on their way to an at-large bid, but they stumbled mightily down the stretch and lost their last four conference series to play themselves out of the tournament. 

The good news for ASU this year is that it returns a quartet of weapons on offense who figure to be the biggest producers. Leading hitter Ryan Campos (.388/.503/.594), Jacob Tobias (.317/.404/.546), Nu’u Contrades (.309/.341/.484) and Nick McLain (.298/.391/.649) are all poised for big seasons. When Campos is not behind the dish, Oregon transfer Josiah Cromwick (.248/.310/.514) will handle catching duties. His defensive profile is particularly enticing, as he has a plus arm. 

Centerfielder Isaiah Jackson (.249/.340/.441) has a big-league body with a loud toolset to boot, and could be in line for a breakout sophomore season. State College of Florida transfer Kevin Karstetter projects to be a big-time boost to the lineup after hitting .415/.486/.714 last spring with 30 doubles, 12 home runs, 77 RBIs and 16 stolen bases, and Florida International transfer Steven Ondina (.253/.337/.333) brings smooth defense to the shortstop position. 

The biggest X-factor in the lineup could be outfielder Brandon Compton. Compton missed his true freshman season rehabbing from injury, but he had an outstanding summer in the Northwoods League (.320/.423/.563, 30 extra-base hits, 71 RBIs) and has the most raw power on the team. How the Sun Devils replace the middle of the infield will be key, as second baseman Luke Keaschall (.353/.443/.725) was drafted in the second round while shortstop Luke Hill (.314/.389/.456) transferred to Mississippi.

ASU will have a completely revamped rotation as Ross Dunn (4-6, 4.27 ERA), Khristian Curtis (4-3, 7.03 ERA) and Timmy Manning (1-4, 7.26 ERA) were all drafted. This year the weekend rotation could feature a trio of transfer southpaws in former Grand Canyon hurler Connor Markl (3-1, 6.29 ERA), former Arkansas product Sean Fitzpatrick (0-0, 0.00 ERA) and UCLA transfer Ben Jacobs (0-1, 9.00 ERA). Markl is an experienced strikethrower, while Fitzpatrick is a remarkably uncomfortable at-bat for opposing hitters. He has tons of funk in his delivery and almost hops down the mound. With Owen Stevenson (6-3, 6.04 ERA) and Black Pivaroff (2-2, 4.18 ERA) being drafted and sidewinder Brock Peery (3-0, 4.43 ERA) transferring to Texas A&M, there is a gaping hole in the bullpen. 

The biggest key for Arizona State this year will be how its pitching staff performs. Its offense will hit enough to keep it in most games, but it will only go as far as its pitching takes it. 

7. Washington (35-20, 17-12)

Washington last year returned to the tournament for the first time since 2018, and its 35 wins were tied for the most in a single season since 2014. It earned the No. 3 seed in the Stillwater Regional and made a statement in its first game, knocking off Dallas Baptist 9-5. In game two, the Huskies jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead over Oral Roberts, but the Golden Eagles scored 12 total runs between the third and fifth innings to pull off the come-from-behind victory. The next day, DBU got its revenge and notched a 9-1 win to end Washington’s season.

There is certainly plenty of production to replace offensively, as the team’s four highest RBI totals from last year—Will Simpson (58), Coby Morales (52), Michael Snyder (49) and Johnny Tincher—have all moved on. Simpson, Morales and Tincher are in pro ball, while Snyder transferred to Oklahoma. This year’s lineup will revolve around outfielder A.J. Guerrero (.346/.439/.518) and shortstop Cam Clayton (.325/.393/.545). Guerrero led the team in hitting last year and will hit for both power and average, while Clayton’s 32 extra-base hits were tops on the team.

Infielder Sam DeCarlo (.268/.386/.423) will again be a stalwart in the lineup after a solid freshman season, while Jeter Ybarra (.290/.375/.362) and Aiva Arquette (.244/.393/.578) are two other hitters who will be heavily relied upon.

Two-thirds of last year’s weekend rotation in Stu Flesland (7-2, 4.12 ERA) and Kiefer Lord (6-5, 6.19 ERA) were both drafted, so this year’s staff will take on a bit of a new look. Jared Engman (3-5, 5.91 ERA) will get the ball on Saturdays and sophomore southpaw Sam Boyle (5-0, 5.49 ERA) is in line to lead the rotation. Where the Huskies do have returning depth is in the back end of the bullpen. Saves leader Josh Emanuels (3-2, 4.68 ERA) and sophomore Grant Cunningham (3-2, 4.56 ERA) both enjoyed solid 2023 seasons, while veteran righthander Colton McIntosh returns to the bullpen after missing the 2023 season.

The Huskies again will be a competitive club and have a chance to rack up a number of series wins. If the rotation ends up hitting its stride and hitters like Arquette and Ybarra step up around Clayton and Guerrero, they will again be in the mix for an at-large bid.

8. California (24-28, 12-18)

Head coach Mike Neu could not have dreamt of a better start to the 2023 season, as his group got off to a 6-1 start that included a series win over Houston, a midweek win over Stanford, a pair of wins over Cal Poly and a win over Connecticut. However, the season went awry in the first week of March at the Frisco Classic. Cal jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead over Oklahoma with emerging ace Ian May on the mound, but in the bottom of the third inning, May was removed from the game with an arm injury. In the blink of an eye, its season had taken a turn for the worse. The Golden Bears went on to lose to the Sooners 9-5. May—who had tossed 16 straight scoreless innings to start the year—would miss the rest of the season after getting Tommy John Surgery. Cal did not win a conference series until the middle of April.

The Golden Bears did lose a few weapons on offense from last year’s team, as their two leading hitters Nathan Manning (.330/.417/.457, transferred to Notre Dame) and Kade Kretzschmar (.322/.391/.608, signed with the St. Louis Cardinals) are both gone. On the bright side, their lineup this year will feature two of the highest regarded draft prospects in the conference in catcher Caleb Lomavita and centerfielder Rodney Green Jr. Lomavita last year hit .316/.367/.612 with a team-leading 16 home runs, while Green Jr. hit .293/.388/.558 with 14 home runs of his own and 29 stolen bases. Carson Crawford (.234/.377/.505), who led the team last year with 47 RBIs, will hold down the shortstop position, and Peyton Schulze (.252/.316/.408) will anchor the right side of the infield and provide some thump with his bat.

The best news of all for the Golden Bears is that lefthander Ian May (1-0, 0.00 ERA) will be ready to step back into the Friday starter role come opening day. A low-slot lefty, nothing May throws is straight and he consistently throws quality strikes and generates soft contact. Christian Becerra (2-4, 6.29 ERA) got some rotation experience last season but will now be a weekend starter full time and fellow righthander Andres Galan (3-2, 4.47 ERA) will round out the rotation. 

Last year’s closer Tyler Stasiowski (0-2, 3.58 ERA) is back for his senior year and so is Connor Sullivan (2-4, 6.96 ERA), which gives Cal some stability in the back end of the bullpen. While it may still be on the outside looking in come tournament time, Cal this year should be competitive and give teams a hard time.

9. Arizona (33-26, 12-18)

It was an inconsistent season for Arizona, but after winning four of its last five regular-season games—including a series win over Southern California—and appearing in the Pac-12 championship, it snuck into the tournament by the skin of its teeth. It was a brief showing for the Wildcats who lost 12-4 to TCU and 9-3 to Santa Clara in consecutive days.

Arizona heads into the 2024 season with a ton of production to replace. Its top two hitters from 2023—Chase Davis (.362/.489/.742) and Mac Bingham (.360/.432/.573)—are both gone, as well as Kiko Romero (.345/.441/.724), who led the team in RBIs with 89, and Pac-12 defensive player of the year Nik McClaughry (.325/.429/.467). Additionally, Tony Bullard (.328/.396/.591) and Cameron LaLiberte (.328/.396/.591) also departed the program. All in all, head coach Chip Hale will be without seven offensive regulars from last year’s squad.

The good news? Shortstop Mason White will headline the lineup this year after an excellent true freshman season in which he hit .313/.379/.611 with 18 doubles, 10 home runs and 35 RBIs. He has performed well this fall, and most recently wallopped three home runs in an intrasquad scrimmage. Emilio Corona (.336/.369/.691) will again hold down an outfield spot, while Tommy Splaine (.281/.391/.333) will be the club’s everyday first baseman and will look for an uptick in production. Boston College transfer Adonys Guzman (.239/.370/.284) is perhaps the best defensive catcher in the conference.

The losses for Arizona unfortunately are not an offense-only issue, as two-thirds of its 2023 weekend rotation have moved on. Righthander Aiden May (5-3, 6.33 ERA) transferred to Oregon State and fellow righthander TJ Nichols (3-5, 8.27 ERA) was drafted in the sixth round of the draft. Additionally, reliever Chris Barraza (5-2, 6.52 ERA) was also drafted. Sophomore righthander Jackson Kent (0-0, 5.71 ERA) will anchor the rotation, with Cam Walty (5-1, 6.30 ERA) and Anthony Susac (1-2, 6.08 ERA) also making the full-time jump to starting roles. Both Dawson Netz (2-0, 3.33 ERA) and Trevor Long (2-5, 6.05 ERA), who led the team with 32 and 30 appearances, respectively, provide the bullpen with some much-needed stability. Bradon Zastrow (6-5, 5.28 ERA) will be an innings-eater as well, but look for righthander Tony Pluta (0-0, 7.71 ERA) as a potential breakout candidate after a strong summer in the Northwoods League.

Even with a few impact pieces on offense and a couple talented arms, 2024 could be more of a rebuilding year in Tucson.

10. Utah (22-32-1, 9-20-1)

It was a tough 2023 season for the Utes, who finished last in the Pac-12 after winning just one conference series. Nonetheless, they fought until the end of the season and played most of their opponents tough.

The loss of leading hitter Jayden Kiernan (.402/.464/.544) will be tough to swallow, but the team’s best player, T.J. Clarkson (.301/.464/.628), and his team-leading 34 extra-base hits will provide a big boost to the lineup. Cam Gurney (.279/.365/.396) will be the team’s everyday first baseman. He absolutely raked this past summer in the Perfect Game League, hitting a ridiculous .430/.488/.514 with nine doubles and 22 RBIs. Kai Roberts hit a rather modest .266/.397/.393 in 2023, but he too turned in a monster summer to the tune of a .346/.476/.555 slash line with 22 doubles, 39 stolen bases and more walks (40) than strikeouts (34) in the Northwoods League. Roberts has a big-league body at 6-foot-4 and 200-pounds, and his intriguing combination of speed and athleticism should allow him to play a quality center field.

If you’re looking for a potential sophomore to have a breakout season, look no further than outfielder Kaden Carpenter (.271/.400/.424). Carpenter more than looks the part at 6-foot-4 and 230-pounds, and this year has the potential to show an uptick in power. 

On the mound, the Utes will be led by pitchability lefthander Bryson Van Sickle (3-5, 5.59 ERA) and sophomore Merit Jones (2-4, 7.65 ERA). They also have a legit weapon in the bullpen in 6-foot-7 lefthander Micah Ashman (1-3, 3.63 ERA). In 2023, Ashman notched nine saves and had an impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio of 38-to-5 across 34.2 innings pitched.

Head coach Gary Henderson will rely upon his core of returners in his mission to continue to turn Utah into a consistently competitive club. While a tournament appearance may not be in the cards this spring, establishing momentum heading into the following season will be key.

11. Washington State (29-23, 10-19)

Even though it did not make the tournament, the 2023 season was a successful one for Washington State. Its 29 wins were tied for the highest single-season total since 2010, it won double-digit Pac-12 games for the third straight season and it notched marquee series wins over Oregon State, UCLA and Arizona. Unfortunately, 2024 looks to be a rebuilding year for the Cougars, as they lost their top six hitters from 2023 and 41 of their 54 (75.9%) home runs hit. Additionally, former head coach Brian Green took the head coaching job at Wichita State. Current head coach Nathan Choate—who was the 2023 West Coast Conference coach of the year—was a great hire, but there is usually a bit of a transition period with new head coaches.

The experienced Kyle Russell (.284/.371/.358) will again hold down the shortstop position, and he brings a polished defensive skill set and an above-average throwing arm to the table. Will Cresswell (.194/.308/.408) will be the team’s everyday catcher, and 11 of his 20 hits in 2023 went for extra bases. On the mound, the Cougars have a solid one-two punch with Grant Taylor (3-4, 6.43 ERA) and Spencer Jones (1-0, 5.05 ERA). Taylor has better stuff than his numbers last year indicate, and he features a low-to-mid-90s fastball as well as a quality slider. Jones is an above-average strike thrower with advanced feel for his stuff.

In the bullpen, righthander Chase Grillo (1-2, 9.16 ERA) will look to return to his 2022 self after a down 2023. Sophomore Ryan Orr (1-2, 3.77 ERA) is in line for an increased workload after showing positive flashes across 14.1 innings in 2023. This year is shaping up to be one of growth for Washington State, but there is no doubt that its future is bright with Coach Choate at the helm.

2024 Top 100 Prospects

See the full Top 100 entering the 2024 season headlined by Orioles SS Jackson Holliday.

Top 20 Draft Prospects For 2024

1. Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State
2. Caleb Lomavita, C, California
3. Malcolm Moore, C, Stanford
4. Rodney Green Jr., OF, California
5. Austin Overn, OF, Southern California
6. Cody Schrier, SS, UCLA
7. Nick McLain, OF, Arizona State
8. Elijah Hainline, SS, Oregon State
9. Ryan Campos, C, Arizona State
10. Duce Gourson, 2B, UCLA
11. Cam Clayton, SS, Washington
12. Aiden May, RHP, Oregon State
13. Luke Jewett, RHP, UCLA
14. Trevor Haskins, SS, Stanford
15. Drew Smith, 3B, Oregon
16. Matthew Grabmann, RHP, Oregon
17. AJ Guerrero, OF, Washington
18. Mason Guerra, 1B, Oregon State
19. Caden Aoki, RHP, Southern California
20. Jeffery Heard, OF, Oregon

Top 10 Draft Prospects For 2025

1. Matt Scott, RHP, Stanford
2. Trent Caraway, 3B, Oregon State
3. Gavin Turley, OF, Oregon State
4. Isaiah Jackson, OF, Arizona State
5. Mason White, SS, Arizona
6. Adonys Guzman, C, Arizona
7. Nu’u Contrades, 3B, Arizona State
8. Grant Gray, OF, UCLA
9. Finn McIlroy, RHP, UCLA
10. Aiden Jimenez, RHP, Oregon State

Top Newcomers

1. Roch Cholowsky, SS/3B, UCLA
2. Trent Caraway, 3B, Oregon State
3. Joey Volchko, RHP, Stanford
4. Aidan Keenan, RHP, Stanford
5. Justin Lee, RHP, UCLA
6. Landon Stump, RHP, UCLA
7. Jeffery Heard, OF, Oregon
8. Justin Cassella, OF, Oregon
9. Christian Lim, LHP, Stanford 
10. Adonys Guzman, C, Arizona

Best Tools

Best pure hitter: Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State
Best power hitter: Dominic Hellman, 3B, Oregon
Best strike-zone discipline: Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State
Best athlete: Austin Overn, OF, Southern California
Fastest runner: Austin Overn, OF, Southern California
Best baserunner: Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State
Best defensive catcher: Adonys Guzman, Arizona
Best defensive infielder: Roch Cholowsky, 3B, UCLA
Best infield arm: Cam Clayton, SS, Washington
Best defensive outfielder: Rodney Green Jr., California
Best outfield arm: Gavin Turley, Oregon State
Best fastball: Matt Scott, RHP, Stanford
Best breaking ball: Aiden May, RHP, Oregon State (slider)
Best changeup: Caden Aoki, RHP, Southern California
Best control: Caden Aoki, RHP, Southern California

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