College Preview Capsules: No. 14 Oregon

No. 14 OregonOregon
2015 Record (Ranking): 38-25 (NR). RPI: 66.
Coach (Record at school): George Horton (261-169-1, 7 years).
Postseason History: 7 regionals (active streak: 4), 1 CWS trip (1954), 0 national titles.

Oregon finally has its Ducks in a row.

Lefthanders Cole Irvin, Matt Krook and David Peterson are injury-free and will form what one Pac-12 coach called a “three-headed lefthanded monster” in the weekend rotation.

2016 Lineup
C Tim Susnara, So. .223 .256 .290 0 16 0
1B A.J. Balta, R-So. DNP—Injured
2B Travis Moniot, Fr. HS—Palm Desert, Calif.
3B Matt Kroon, Fr. HS—Scottsdale, Ariz.
SS Mark Karaviotis, Jr. .287 .362 .365 2 26 6
LF Austin Grebeck, Jr. .243 .379 .365 1 25 8
CF Nick Catalano, Sr. .217 .313 .322 2 13 3
RF Jakob Goldfarb, So. .263 .369 .357 2 17 1
DH Phil Craig-St. Louis, Sr. .296 .386 .380 2 38 4
Pos. Name, Year W L ERA IP SO SV
LHP Cole Irvin, R-Jr. 2 5 4.1 79 44 0
LHP Matt Krook, R-So. DNP—Injured
LHP David Peterson, So. 4  6 4.39 82 81 0
RP Stephen Nogosek, Jr. 6 3 2.02 58 60 0

Irvin, a redshirt junior, and Krook, a redshirt sophomore, both tore their ulnar collateral ligaments and had Tommy John surgery in 2014. Irvin came back to pitch last year, albeit with limited pitch counts, but Krook—an unsigned supplemental first-rounder of the Marlins in 2013—was sidelined the whole season. He did pitch over the summer in the Cape Cod League, but was limited to 45-pitch, two-inning outings.

All systems are go for this season, coach George Horton said. Together with Peterson, a promising sophomore who led the team in innings as a freshman, the trio gives Oregon a high-upside rotation. All three are legitimate prospects with fastballs that sit in the low-to mid-90s and have the ability to spin a breaking ball.

“There’s no question that those three lefthanders are special, potentially could be up there among the nation’s elite staffs, I would say,” Horton said. “Are they going to stay healthy? Are they going to perform? They certainly have a bright, bright future beyond college, in my opinion. But what’s most important to us is the 2016 season.”

Oregon’s success could very well hinge on their performance. Last year, with the rotation in limbo, Horton could see a spillover effect with the rest of his club. Traditionally, Horton’s teams have been known for their defensive prowess, but the Ducks struggled early last year, putting Oregon in a hole that left them with a sixth-place finish in the Pac-12.

“Quite honestly, we thought we were going to make a bigger splash last year,” Horton said. “And from our standards and goals and aspirations, we kind of had a crummy year and then salvaged it at the end of the year and made the playoffs.”

But there’s “guarded optimism” for this year’s team, Horton said. The Ducks bring in a strong recruiting class, fronted by infielders Matt Kroon and Travis Moniot, who both impressed in the fall and should play key roles. Redshirt sophomore A.J. Balta (.242/.328/.370 in 2014) returns after missing all of last year with a knee injury. The Ducks lose leading hitter Mitchell Tolman, but senior Phil Craig-St. Louis, sophomore Jakob Goldfarb and junior Mark Karaviotis give Oregon a solid offensive core.

The Ducks will just have to hit enough to support what should be stellar pitching staff. They’ll have a power arm in junior righthander Stephen Nogosek in the back end of the bullpen, and of course, they’ll have the three lefthanders starting for them on the weekends.

“If at the end of the trail, we’re saying, ‘Boy, that was one of the best staffs in the country,’ I’d like our chances to be a pretty good baseball team,” Horton said, laughing. “I’m overstating the obvious.”

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