Big 12 Baseball 2010 Preview

January 25, 2010
By

Longhorns Look To Win Again

2009 Regular Season Champion:  Texas

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2009 Tournament Champion:  Texas beat #3 seed Missouri 12-7 in the title game.

Postseason Power:  The Big 12 was well represented in the postseason with 8 of 10 teams that play baseball (Colorado and Iowa State do not) going to an NCAA Regional.  However, eventual national runner-up Texas was the only Big 12 team to even advance to a Super Regional.

Early Accolades:  Six Big 12 players, Tony Thompson (Kansas), Ryan Duke (Oklahoma) and Texas players Cameron Rupp, Chance Ruffin, Taylor Jungmann, and Cole Green have all received preseason All-American recognition.

Baylor

2009 Record:  (30-26, 10-16)

Mascot:  Bears

Head Coach:  Steve Smith

Location:  Waco, TX

Vitals:  .299 BA, 73 HR, .376 OBP, .983 Fld%…5.29 ERA, 2 CG, 10 SVs, 461 K, 224 BB, .292 opp. BA

Packed For Postseason:  2009 marked the 10th time in the last 12 seasons that Baylor made it to an NCAA Regional.  The Bears were 1-2 at last year’s Baton Rouge Regional.

Home Cookin’:  Baylor opens the season with an 18-game homestand.

Big Holes To Fill:  The Bears return five starters from last year’s team, but it’s not who’s back but who’s gone that is most significant.  Baylor loses it’s top thee run producers: Shaver Hansen (.330, 17 HR, 59 RBIs), Dustin Dickerson (.377, 10 HR, 41 RBIs) and Aaron Miller (.310, 12 HR, 47 RBIs).  They combined to hit more than half of the team’s 73 home runs.

Swing ManLogan Verrett (7-1, 5.13 ERA, 3 SVs) made five starts and 20 overall appearances.  He’s one of just three pitchers on the staff who had a winning record last year, and he’s the only one of the trio to pitch more than 37 innings.

Kansas

2009 Record:  (39-24, 15-12)

Mascot:  Jayhawks

Head Coach:  Ritch Price

Location:  Lawrence, KS

Vitals:  .301 BA, 61 HR, .389 OBP, .967 Fld%…4.46 ERA, 4 CG, 10 SV, 466 K, 179 BB, .267 opp. BA

Tourney Talk:  Kansas advanced to just the fourth NCAA Regional in school

Tony Thompson (KU photo)

history in 2009.  The Jayhawks were 2-2 at the Chapel Hill Regional.

Tony Terrific:  Junior 3B Tony Thompson exploded in 2009.  After hitting just .276 with 5 HR and 18 RBIs as a true freshman in 2008 Thompson won the first Triple Crown in Big 12 Conference history by batting .389 with 21 home runs and 82 RBIs.  He sported an 1.195 OPS, and struck out just 35 times in 247 at-bats.

Line-Up Losses:  While Thompson is KU’s biggest returning bat, the Jayhawks also lose two solid bats from last year’s team.  David Narodowski (.354) and Buck Afinir (.333) combined to hit 18 HR with 106 RBIs.

Family Ties:  Junior RHP Brett Bochy (5-0, 4.34 ERA) is the son of San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, while Soph. OF Jason Brunansky (.280, 2 HR) is the son of former big leaguer Tom Brunansky.

Hurlin’ ‘HawksBochy is one of 8 veteran pitchers to return from last year’s NCAA squad.  Included are weekend starters Lee Ridenhour (6-3, 4.65 ERA) and T.J. Walz (8-3, 4.70 ERA), while bullpen stalwarts Bochy, Colton Murray (2-3, 3.23 ERA) and Travis Blankenship (3-2, 5.80 ERA) combined for 102 appearances (just two starts among them) 132 Ks and 45 BB.

Kansas State

2009 Record:  (43-18-1, 14-11-1)

Mascot:  Wildcats

Head Coach:  Brad Hill

Location:  Manhattan, KS

Vitals:  .317 BA, 58 HR, .399 OBP, .972 Fld%…4.52 ERA, 6 CG, 11 SV, 453 K, 169 BB, .282 opp. BA

Wild (cat) Ride: 2009 will forever be the season that all future K-State baseball teams are judged by.  The Wildcats set a school record for wins, while earning the first NCAA Tournament berth in the 113 years of the program.  Head Coach Brad Hill also earned Big 12 and ABCA Midwest Region Coach of the Year honors.

Losses On The Mound…:  KSU loses its top two starting pitchers, including Big 12 Pitcher of the Year A.J. Morris (14-1, 2.09 ERA) who had 5 of the team’s 6 complete games. He and Lance Hoge (6-4, 4.54 ERA) notched nearly half of the

Jason King (KSU photo)

team’s wins.

…And Losses At The Plate: The Wildcats also have to replace their top three run producers from 2009 with Justin Bloxom (.361 BA, 12 HR, 63 RBIs), Jordan Cruz (.324, 11 HR, 52 RBIs) and Drew Biery (.329, 9 HR, 44 RBIs) all gone.  That trio accounted for more than half of the Cat’s 58 HR.

Wildcats BackCarter Jurica (.353, 4 HR, 46 RBIs), Nick Martini (.336, 4 HR, 50 RBIs) and Jason King (.316, 7 HR, 61 RBIs) give K-State a solid base to the line-up, while pitchers Thomas Rooke (5-2, 4.33 ERA) and James Allen (2-1, 5.50 ERA) also return.  The two combined to make 56 appearances with 99 Ks in 90 IP last year.

Missouri

2009 Record:  (35-27, 16-11)

Mascot:  Tigers

Head Coach:  Tim Jamieson

Location:  Columbia, MO

Vitals:  .272 BA, 41 HR,.964 Fld% …5.08 ERA, 6 CG, 12 SV, 492 K, 177 K

Tiger Fact:  Missouri’s 2009 NCAA bid gave Tim Jamieson’s team a seventh straight NCAA Regional berth.  Mizzou is one of just 14 programs in the country to receive NCAA bids from 2003-2009.  Missouri was 1-2 at the Oxford, MS Regional.  They lost twice to Western Kentucky and beat Monmouth.

Tough Losses:  Missouri loses both its staff pitching, Kyle Gibson (11-3, 3.21 ERA, 131 K), who went to Minnesota with the 22nd pick in last year’s draft, as well as its top bat,  Greg Folgia (.326, 12 HR, 70 RBIs) who was taken by Cleveland in the 40th round.

Draft DodgerAaron Senne (.305, 6 HR, 43 RBIs) was picked by Minnesota in the 32nd round of last year’s draft, but chose to return for his senior season.

Bullpen By Committee:  Missouri had eight pitchers who appeared in at least 24 games in 2009.  On several occasions the Tigers at least eight pitchers for an inning in conference games.  Brad Buehler (1-3, 4.29 ERA, 8 SVs) led the team with 35 relief appearances for a total of 35.2 IP.  He and Tyler Clark (3-0, 2.86 ERA, 28 app.) are among the top returning bullpen arms.

Nebraska

2009 Record:  (25-28-1, 8-19)

Mascot:  Cornhuskers

Head Coach:  Mike Anderson

Location:  Lincoln, NE

Vitals:  .282 BA, 48 HR, .368 OBP, .970 Fld%…6.22 ERA, 4 CG, 6 SV, 361 K, 256 BB, .291 opp. BA

Rare Absence:  Nebraska failed to advance to the NCAA Tournament in 2009, marking just the second time since 2000 that the Cornhuskers failed to reach the postseason.

Coaching Connections:  Nebraska assistant Dave Bingham led Kansas to the 1993 College World Series as head coach of the Jayhawks.  Nebraska head coach Mike Anderson was an assistant on the ‘Husker’s 2001 & 2002 CWS squads before leading his own team to Omaha in 2005.

Cornhusker Returnees:  Sr. OF Tyler Farst (.333, 3 HR, 36 RBIs) received honorable mention All-Big 12 honors.  He was the only Cornhusker to receive All-Conference recognition.  Adam Bailey (.325, 12 HR, 50 RBIs) returns as well. 

Mound Experience: The Cornhuskers return a group of pitchers who combined to earn 23 of the team’s 25 total wins last year.  Mike Nesseth (5-4, 5.01 ERA) leads the group.  The senior led the pitching staff in wins, ERA, saves (2), and strikeouts with 73 in 64.2 IP.  He made 8 starts with 20 overall appearances, and tossed one of the team’s four complete games.   A handful of junior college transfers will also try to bolster a staff whose ERA ranked second to last in the Big 12 in ’09.

Two-Sport Cooper:  Sophomore Khiry Cooper (.229, 2 HR, 9 RBIs) had just 70 at-bats as a true freshman, but he’ll look for bigger contributions this year.  The 6’2 receiver/outfielder had 13 catches for 80 yards and a TD last fall for the Nebraska’s Holiday Bowl champion team.  Cooper was drafted in the 5th round by the L.A. Angels Of Anaheim coming out of high school.

Bulldog Bound:  Nebraska opens its season with a four-game series at Fresno State Feb. 19-22.

Oklahoma

2009 Record:  (43-20, 17-10)

Mascot:  Sooners

Head Coach:  Sunny Golloway

Location:  Norman, OK

Vitals:  .317 BA,  91 HR, .407 OBP, .973 Fld%…5.09 ERA, 3 CG, 16 SV, 495 K, 198 BB, .275 opp. BA

Out At HomeOklahoma hosted an NCAA Regional last year that included Arkansas, Wichita State and Washington State.  The Sooners made it to the championship round, but the Razorbacks advanced all the way to Omaha.

Ryan Duke (OU photo)

Sunny Days:  Since taking the helm at Oklahoma head coach Sunny Golloway has led OU to five straight NCAA berths.  That includes 2005 when he was 12-6 after taking over after Larry Cochell resigned.

The Duke Of Saves:  Junior closer Ryan Duke (3-1, 3.22) became the first Sooner pitcher since 2000 to earn All-American status after saving 16 games last season.  His save total led the Big 12 and ranked 6th in the nation.

Powered Down:  OU led the Big 12 with 91 HR in 2009, but loses its top four home run hitters.  Big 12 Player of the Year J.T. Wise (17 HR), Aaron Baker (15), Jamie Johnson (13), and Bryant Hernandez (12) are all gone.

Oklahoma State

2009 Record:  (36-24, 9-16)

Mascot:  Cowboys

Head Coach:  Frank Anderson

Location:  Stillwater, OK

Vitals:  .300 BA, 81 HR, .379 OBP, .976 Fld%…4.69 ERA, 3 CG, 15 SV, 516 K, 199 BB, .264 opp. BA

Power Outage: The Cowboys lose their top four power hitters from last years team.  Michael Dabbs (13 HR, 38 RBIs), Tyrone Hambly (10 HR, 41 RBIs), Neil Medchill (14 HR, 57 RBIs), Doug Kroll (10 HR, 36 RBIs) combined to smack 47 of OSU’s home runs.

Depleted Pitching:  The losses of starting pitchers Andrew Oliver (5-6, 5.30 ERA, 97 K in 88.1 IP),  and Tyler Blandford (7-4, 5.31 ERA, 97 K in 78 IP) and Randy McCurry (4-1, 2.16 ERA, 10 SVs) leave big holes to fill in the weekend rotation as well as the back end of the bullpen.

California Dreamin’:  After opening its season at home on Feb. 20 with one game vs. Oklahoma Christian, OSU plays USC, UCLA and Vanderbilt the following weekend at the Dodgertown Classic in L.A.

Kevin Keyes hit 9 HR last year for Texas.

Texas

2009 Record:  (50-16-1, 17-9-1)

Mascot:  Longhorns

Head Coach:  Augie Garrido

Location:  Austin, TX

Vitals:  .288 BA, 53 HR, .377 OBP, .976 Fld%…2.95 ERA, 6 CG, 18 SV, 556 K, 189 BB, .227 opp. BA

Armed & Ready:  Closer Austin Wood (6-1, 2.61 ERA, 15 SVs) is one of the two pitchers Texas loses from a staff whose 2.95 ERA

Taylor Jungmann

ranked second in the nation.   Taylor Jungmann (11-3, 2.00 ERA), Cole Green (5-3, 3.34 ERA) and Chance Ruffin (10-3, 3.32 ERA) are among the notable returnees.

Play Small:  The Longhorn offense was second to last in the Big 12 with 53 home runs, but led the nation with 104 sacrifice bunts last year.

Loaded Line-Up:  Texas loses five players who started at least 43 games last year, but they return some of their most productive players including Kevin Keyes (.305, 9 HR, 46 RBIs), catcher Cameron Rupp (.292, 11 HR, 46 RBIs), Brandon Loy (.288) who tied for the NCAA lead with 25 sac bunts, and Russell Moldenhauer (.262, 4 HR, 14 RBIs).  Moldenhauer started just 26 games last year due to injury, and he hit all four of his home runs at the College World Series.

Texas A&M

2009 Record:  (37-24, 14-13)

Mascot:  Aggies

Head Coach:  Rob Childress

Location:  College Station, TX

Vitals:  .298 BA, 85 HR, .392 OBP, .971 Fld%…4.49 ERA, 2 CG, 13 SV, 568 K, 172 BB, .261 opp. BA

Crowd Favorites:  Texas A&M ranked 9th in the nation with an average of 4,076 fans per game at Olsen Field in 2009.

One Step Back:  After going to back-to-back Super Regionals for the first time in program history in 2007 & 2008, the Aggies were just 1-2 at the Ft. Worth Regional last year.  Both losses were to Oregon State.

Trade-Off:  While the Aggies did lose Luke Anders (13 HR) and Kyle Colligan (15 HR), Brodie Green and Joe Patterson return to lead a team that hit the second-most home runs in the conference last year.   Colligan hit his team-leading 15 HR in 233 AB, while Patterson’s 12 HR came in just 145 AB.

Pitching The Pill:  Head coach Rob Childress’ forte is piching, and while the Aggies didn’t have the eye-popping 2.95 ERA that Texas had in ’09 his staff still tied for second with Kansas in the Big 12 at 4.49.  Ross Hales (6-2, 4.11 ERA) is the top starter back, while Nick Fleece (4-1, 3.54 ERA, 5 SVs) is the only returning reliever (of four) who combined for the team’s 13 saves last year.

Texas Tech

2009 Record:  (25-32, 12-15)

Mascot:  Red Raiders

Head Coach:  Dan Spencer

Location:  Lubbock, TX

Vitals:  .299 BA, 40 HR, .382 OBP, .959 Fld%…6.31 ERA, 2 CG, 12 SV, 409 K, 266 BB, .304 opp. BA

Experience:  The Red Raiders return seven of their top nine batters from last year’s squad, including C Jeremy Mayo (.313, 11 HR, 35 RBIs).  Three other returnees hit .327 or better.  However, the team that finished last in the Big 12 with just 40 HR loses its top home run hitter, Chris Richburg (.341, 14 HR, 60 RBIs), who led the team in nearly every offensive category.

Home Boy:  Lubbock RHP Chad Bettis (6-1, 3.59 ERA) did a little of everything last year.  He was the only Tech pitcher with a winning record, he started four games, made 19 relief appearances, tossed one of the staff’s two complete games, and earned 7 of the Red Raider’s 12 saves.

2010 Big 12 Predictions

Player of the Year:  Tony Thompson-Kansas – The junior takes the honor a year after winning the first Triple Crown in the history of the Big 12 Conference.

Pitcher of the Year:  Taylor Jungmann-Texas

Conference Champion:  Texas – There’s just too much great pitching and too many key line-up contributors back for them not to repeat.

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