Pac 10 Baseball 2010 Preview

February 10, 2010
By

Can ASU Keep On Winning Without Murphy?

2009 Pac 10 Champion:  Arizona State (No Pac 10 Postseason Tournament)

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The More Things Change…:  There wasn’t much change at the top of the Pac 10 ranks, but there was some turnover in the middle.  Arizona State’s 2009 Pac 10 title was its third straight to give the Sun Devils their 10th straight NCAA appearance.  However, Washington State went from the bottom of the conference in 2008 to a second-place finish last year.  It was the Cougars’ first top five finish in the conference since 1991 and they earned their first NCAA Regional appearance since 1990.  Meanwhile, Oregon brought back baseball & played its first games since 1981, Oregon State was back in the tournament after staying home in 2008 and Stanford missed the NCAAs after a 2008 trip to the CWS.  The biggest news from the Pac 10 in 2009 though came in the off season with the departure of ASU head coach Pat Murphy.  The big question now is: Can ASU continue its success with a new head coach?

2010 Pac 10 Baseball Preview

Arizona

2009 Record:  (30-25, 13-14)

Mascot:  Wildcats

Head Coach:  Andy Lopez

Location:  Tucson, AZ

Vitals:  .314 BA, 46 HR, 71 SB, .387 OBP, .965 Fld%…5.46 ERA, 0 CG, 13 SV, 379 K, 215 BB, .293 opp. BA

Slight Returns:  The Wildcats have just 12 returning players from last year’s roster.  They will have as many as 16 freshman on the roster this season.

The Holes:  Pac 10 batting champion Dillon Baird (.433, 8 HR, 55 RBIs) leads the list of departed players.  Hunter Pace (.372, 15 SB) and Dwight Childs (.331) are gone from the line-up as well.  Arizona also loses its top starting pitcher, Preston Guilmet (6-5, 3.74 ERA), as well as relievers Cory Burns (2-0, 3.80 ERA, 40 appearances) and Jason Stoffel (2-1, 4.67 ERA, 39 app., 11 SV).

Who’s Back:  The top returning pitcher include Daniel Workman (3-1, 3.86 ERA), Joe Allison (5-1, 4.66 ERA) and Kyle Simon (3-5, 6.03 ERA, 11 starts).  Bryce Ortega (.324, 16 SB) and Steve Selsky (.318 will lead the offense).

Family Ties:  Brothers Michael and David Lopez will both wear the Wildcat uniform this season.  Their dad is head coach Andy Lopez.  Michael is a pitcher who redshirted last year, while David is a freshman infielder.

Tucson Time:  Arizona plays its first 26 games, including its conference-opening series vs. Oregon, on its home

Tim Esmay (ASU photo)

field in Tucson, AZ.  The Wildcats have a total of 44 home games in 2010.

Arizona State

2009 Record:  (51-14, 21-6)

Mascot:  Sun Devils

Head Coach:  Tim Esmay

Location:  Tempe, AZ

Vitals:  .303 BA, 75 HR, 116 SB, .418 OBP, .969 Fld%…2.90 ERA, 11 CG, 12 SV, 608 K, 157 BB, .239 opp. BA

Meet The New BossPat Murphy is gone after 15 seasons in the desert.  Murphy’s last win in a Sun Devil uniform was a 12-5 victory over North Carolina in Omaha, and it was the 1,000th of his career.  New head coach Tim Esmay is no stranger to the ASU

Kole Calhoun

program.  He played in the College World Series for Jim Brock’s Sun Devils in 1987 and ’88, and he was also an assistant to Murphy for the last five seasons.  Esmay was also the head coach at Utah from 1997-2004.

Line-Up Lowdown:  ASU returns 7 of its top 9 hitters who saw significant action in 2009.  The glaring losses are Pac 10 Player of the Year Jason Kipnis (.384, 16 HR, 71 RBIs, 27 SB) and catcher Carlos Ramirez (.338, 19 HR, 75 RBIs).  However, Kole Calhoun (.313, 12 HR, 53 RBIs) is back for his senior season.  Calhoun hit 3 HR with 11 RBIs in Omaha.  Sophomores Johnny Ruettiger (.360, 12 SB) & Drew Maggi (.309, 21 SB) and junior Matt Newman (.305, 7 HR, 54 RBIs) all return as well.

Oh Brother:  Senior co-captain Rauol Torrez (.250,15 SB) and soph. Riccio Torrez (.280, 6 HR) are the fifth set of brothers to play at ASU at the same time, but they are the first to start alongside one another in school history.  All 54 of Rauol’s starts came at third base, while most of Riccio’s were at first base.  The brothers are back as well to anchor the Sun Devil infield in 2010.

An Ace Down:  RHP Mike Leake (16-1, 1.71 ERA, 7 CG) and LHP Josh Spence (10-1, 2.37 ERA) were both good enough to be any team’s ace last year, but only senior Spence is back this season.  Leake signed after being taken in the first round of last year’s draft by Cincinnati.  Spence decided to return for his year after going in the third round to the Angels.  Other notable returning pitchers are LHP Mitchell Lambson (9-5, 3.01 ERA, 5 SV) and RHP Jordan Swaggerty (4-1, 4.50 ERA, 4 SV).

California

2009 Record:  (24-29, 9-18)

Mascot:  Golden Bears

Head Coach:  David Esquer

Location:  Berkeley, CA

Vitals:  .298 BA, 65 HR, 66 SB, .375 OBP, .966 Fld%…5.74, 2 CG, 13 SV, 423 K, 249 BB, .284 opp. BA

Big Bear Losses:  Cal loses three of its top four batters from last year, including two-way player Blake Smith (.319, 10 HR, 38 RBIs), who was drafted in the second round last year by the Dodgers.  Smith had two saves out of the

Mark Canha (Cal photo)

bullpen while starting three games as well.  Jeff Kobernus (.341, 8 HR, 20 SB) and Brett Jackson (.321, 8 HR, 11 SB) are both gone as well.

Top Bear Back:  Cal’s top overall hitter, Mark Canha, is returns.  The junior led Cal in average (.366), HR (12), RBIs (43), slg% (.634), and OBP (.444).  Brian Guinn (.315, 10 SB) and Danny Oh (.303, 7 HR) is back as well.

Plenty Of Pitching: The Golden Bears return most of their pitchers from a staff that finished with the worst ERA in the conference last year.  Reliver Dixon Anderson (3.98 ERA, 3 SV), LHP Chris Petrini (4-3, 3.98 ERA) and Erik Johnson (3-6, 4.41 ERA, 9 starts, CG, 4 SV) are among the top returnees.

No-Nonsense Non-Conference:  In consecutive weeks Cal plays non-conference games vs. 2009 CWS team Arkansas (3 at home), 2009 Super Regional team Rice (4 in Houston) and ’09 NCAA team Cal Poly (3 on the road).  They follow that with their Pac 10-opening series at Arizona State.

Call From The Hall:  Former Cal head coach Bob Milano was inducted into the ABCA Hall of Fame in January.  He won 688 games at Cal from 1978-1999 and led the Golden Bears to the College World Series in 1980, 1988 and 1992.

Oregon

2009 Record:  (14-42, 4-23)

Mascot:  Ducks

Head Coach:  George Horton

Location:  Eugene, OR

Vitals:  .227 BA, 16 HR, 60 SB, .296 OBP, .961 Fld%…5.07 ERA, 4 CG, 8 SV, 357 K, 239 BB, .271 opp. BA

Growing Pains:  Oregon fielded its first baseball team since 1981 last year, and things looked bright early when the Ducks beat St. Mary’s 5-3 in their season opener.  They lost the next two games of the series, but then won 2 of 3 games at home vs. defending national champion Fresno State.  That would be the high point of their inaugural season though, as they won just three games after March 31 en-route to a 14-win campaign.  Oregon finished last in the Pac 10 in these (and a few other) statistical categories:  Batting average, HR, runs, slg%, OBP, hits, RBIs, doubles, total bases, walks, strikeouts (by pitchers), saves.  They also committed the second most errors (85) in the conference behind USC”S 101.

The Bright Side:  After a bumpy first year George Horton returns all but five players who saw action last year, while nine freshmen and a handful of junior college transfers join the team.  Here’s a look at some of the returnees with the category in which they led the Ducks last year Curt Raulinaitis (batting avg.-.291), K.C. Serna (RBIs-19 & HR-3), Danny Pulfer (starts-55 & BB-19), Drew Gagnier (ERA-2.70, appearances-23, saves-7).  Starting pitchers Erik Stavert (5-6, 3.04 ERA, 14 starts) & Tyler Anderson (2-9, 15 starts) are both gone.

Homecoming:  Oregon opens the season at Cal State Fullerton, where Horton played and later spent 11 seasons as the Titans’ head coach.  Horton guided Fullerton to six College World Series appearances and the 2004 National Championship.  Current Fullerton head coach Dave Serrano was an assistant under Horton.

Oregon State

2009 Record:  (37-19, 15-12)

Mascot:  Beavers

Head Coach:  Pat Casey

Location:  Corvallis, OR

Vitals:  .278 BA, 23 HR, 53 SB, .392 OBP, .977 Fld%…3.93 ERA, 3 CG, 13 SV, 431 K, 199 BB, .245 opp. BA

Sam Gaviglio (OSU photo)

Locked Line-Up:  Oregon State returns six starters from last year’s team.  All-Pac 10 honoree Adalberto Santos (.320, 4 HR, 43 RBIs, 15 SB) and team HR and RBI leader Stefan Romero (..291, 5 HR, 51 RBIs) head the group.

Plus Pitching:  The Beavers’ 3.93 team ERA ranked second in the Pac 10 last year to Arizona State, and they return two starters, Sam Gaviglio (10-1, 2.73 ERA) and Tyler Waldron (6-4, 4.15 ERA), and closer Kevin Rhoderick (3-3, 4.18 ERA, 9 SV).  Gaviglio was a Freshman All-American last year.

Turn The PageBaseball America recently named Oregon State the #2 team of the past decade, while tabbing head coach Pat Casey the coach of the decade.  The Beavers won back-to-back National Championships in 2006 and 2007 and made an additional trip to Omaha.  They averaged 35.6 wins a season from 2000-2009.

Stanford

2009 Record:  (30-25, 13-14)

Mascot:  Cardinal

Head Coach:  Mark Marquess

Location:  Palo Alto, CA

Vitals:  .279 BA, 49 HR, 46 SB, .360 OBP, .977 Fld%…5.12 ERA, 2 CG, 8 SV, 381 K, 222 BB, .268 opp. BA

Rare Absence:  After a trip to the 2008 College World Series Stanford missed the NCAA Tournament last year.  It was

Colin Walsh (Stanford photo)

the second time in three seasons that the Cardinal failed to receive a post season bid, but it’s also just the third time since 1990 that Stanford did not at least go to an NCAA Regional.

Core Cardinals:  Stanford returns 2B Colin Walsh (.320, .466 OBP), SS Jeff Schlander (.232), catcher Zach Jones (.239, 3 HR), and OF Kellen Killsgard (.313, 9 HR, 46 RBIs).  Walsh was the team’s top hitter as a sophomore and was named a Cape Cod League All-Star last summer,  while Schlander was named the 2009 Pac 10 Defensive Player of the Year.  The team loses top run producer Brent Milleville (.306, 14 HR, 52 RBIs).

Cardinal Arms:  Starting pitchers Jordan Pries (4-4. 4.62 ERA) and LHP Brett Mooneyham (6-3, 4.14 ERA) are back to lead the weekend rotation.  The duo combined to make 22 starts last year as freshmen.

Gerhart’s Gone:  Two-sport sensation Toby Gerhart (.288, 7 HR, 36 RBIs, 7 SB) burst on the national scene on the football field in 2009.  He was the Heisman Trophy runner-up and won the Doak Walker Award after rushing for a school record 1,871 yards and 28 TDs.  Gerhart hit 16 home runs in three years with the Cardinal baseball team.  He was an outfield starter on the 2008 CWS squad.  He won’t play baseball this year as he prepares for the April NFL Draft.

Tough Tests:  Stanford opens the season by hosting a 3-game series with perennial power Rice.  They go to Austin, TX the next weekend for a 3-game set with 2009 national runner-up Texas.

UCLA

2009 Record:  (27-29, 15-12)

Mascot:  Bruins

Head Coach:  John Savage

Location:  Los Angeles, CA

Vitals:  .285 BA, 54 HR, 55 SB, .382 OBP, .969 Fld%…4.28 ERA, 5 CG, 12 SV, 509 K, 197 BB, .259 opp. BA

Power Outage:  UCLA loses its top two run producers, Cody Decker (.322, 21 HR, 53 RBIs) and Casey Haerther

Gerrit Cole

(.305, 9 HR, 42 RBIs) from last year’s team.  Haerther was selected in the 5th round of last year’s MLB Draft by the Angels, while Decker was tabbed in the 22nd round by San Diego.

The Line-UpJustin Uribe (.318, 3 HR, 23 RBIs) and Blair Dunlap (.301, 7 HR, 39 RBIs, 15 SB) are the top hitters back in the Bruin batting order.  Uribe will move from the outfield to first base this year.  Junior college transfer Dean Espy will be expected to step-in at third base as well.

Bruin Pitching:  Sophomores Gerrit Cole (4-8, 3.49 ERA) and Trevor Bauer (9-3, 2.99 ERA, 4 CG) will lead the pitching rotation.  Bauer had pitched a  team-high of 105 1/3 IP last year.  Cole is a Preseason All-American who struckout 104 in 85 IP last year.  He pitched for the USA Collegiate National Team last summer.

Big 12 West:  UCLA plays five games against three Big 12 teams in 2010.  The Bruins host Oklahoma State in one of their three games in the Dodgertown Classic (Vanderbilt & USC are the other two opponents there).  They also host a 3-game series vs. Nebraska and play Oklahoma in their last game of the Whataburger College Classic in Corpus Christi, TX.

USC

2009 Record:  (28-28, 13-14)

Mascot:  Trojans

Head Coach:  Chad Kreuter

Location:  Los Angeles, CA

Vitals:  .274 BA, 41 HR, 58 SB, .359 OBP, .954 Fld%…4.06 ERA, 5 CG, 10 SV, 438 K, 231 BB, .259 opp. BA

Top Losses:  USC loses three players, Grant Green (.374, 4 HR, 32 RBIs, 16 SB), Brad Boxberger (6-3, 3.16 ERA) and Robert Stock (5-4, 2.90 ERA, 4 SV), who were taken in the first two rounds of last year’s MLB Draft.  Green went with the 13th overall pick to Oakland.

Returning TrojansRicky Oropesa (.314, 13 HR, 48 RBIs) was named a Freshman All-American last year.  He and Mike O’Neill (.319) are the top returning players in the USC line-up.  Sophomore RHP Andrew Triggs (5-3, 3.96 ERA) is expected to be the staff’s #1 starter.  Fellow Soph. Chad Smith (3-4, 3.40 ERA) and Sr. Kevin Couture (3-3, 5.66 ERA) return as well.

New Faces In Many Places:  A total of 15 newcomers (7 transfers and 8 freshman) will look to contribute for USC in 2010.  One of them is redshirt sophomore Mike Greco, who hit .250 with 2 HR and 27 RBIs in 46 games as a freshman at Army.  He sat out last year after transferring and will battle for a spot at first base this year.

Washington

2009 Record:  (25-30, 13-14)

Mascot:  Huskies

Head Coach:  Lindsay Meggs

Location:  Seattle, WA

Vitals:  .265 BA, 64 HR, 42 SB, .357 OBP, .967 Fld%…4.88 ERA, 1 CG, 14 SV, 387 K, 194 BB, .276 opp. BA

Lindsay Meggs

New Skipper:  2010 will be Lindsay Meggs’ first season as head coach at Washington.  He arrives after three seasons at Indiana State.  Meggs was named the 2009 Missouri Valley Conference Coach of the Year after guiding the Sycamores to a 33-21 record and a second-place conference finish.  Prior to that Meggs spent 13 seasons at head coach at Chico State, where he won Division II National Championships in 1997 & 1999.

Draft Losses:  The Huskies lose their top run producer, Ryan Conley (.303, 19 HR, 55 RBIs), who was taken by St. Louis in the 7th round of last year’s draft.  Top reliever Brian Pearl (3.05 ERA, 8 SV) and starter Jason Erickson (5-4, 4.34 ERA) were both drafted and signed as well.

Husky ReturnsPierce Rankin (.299, 6 HR, 26 RBIs) and Troy Scott (11 HR, 31 RBIs) are the top returnees in the line-up.  Sophomore Andrew Kittredge (4-5, 4.27 ERA, 3 SV, 7 starts) and LHP Geoff Brown (4-4, 5.01), who made 31 relief appearances, are among the top returning pitchers.

Big Home Slate:  Washington’s first nine home games are three 3-game series vs. 2008 National Champion Fresno State, perennial power Cal State Fullerton and intrastate rival Washington State.

Washington State

2009 Record:  (32-25, 19-8)

Mascot:  Cougars

Head Coach:  Donnie Marbut

Location:  Pullman, WA

Vitals:  .273 BA, 56 HR, 44 SB, .358 OBP, .971 Fld%…4.34 ERA, 1 CG, 15 SV, 453 K, 184 BB, .279 opp. BA

The Drought Is Over:  Last year’s NCAA Regional appearance was the first for the program since 1990.  The Cougars swept five series in 2009, including three in Pac 10 play.  All of the sweeps came on their home diamond, where they had just three series sweeps in the previous 11 seasons combined.

Leaving & Staying:  WSU loses its top three hitters, Alex Burg (.346, 7 HR), Jared Prince (.343, 7 HR) and Greg Lagreid (.332, 5 HR), from last year’s NCAA squad.  They return stolen base leader Garry Kuykendall (.299, 11 SB), Matt Argyropoulos (.277), Shea Vucinich (.230, team-high 40 runs), and Derek Jones, who hit a team-best 12

Chad Arnold

home runs despite just a .223 batting average.

On The Mound:  Junior Chad Arnold (8-3, 4.39 ERA) will lead the weekend rotation.  Arnold got the team’s only NCAA win with an elimination game victory vs. Wichita State in the Norman, OK Regional.  He’s joined by David Stilley (3-3, 4.64 ERA) and reliever Seth Harvey (2.25 ERA, 22 app.).  The Cougars lose starter Matt Way (8-4, 2.43 ERA) and closer Jeremy Johnson (6-2, 2.90 ERA, 10 SV).

Texas Time:  Washington State plays 12 of its first 18 games in the state of Texas.   After four games in Lubbock they return home for a 4-game set vs. Utah and then return to the Lone Star State for three games at Texas A&M and two games at Dallas Baptist.  They end their spring trip with a 3-game series in Wichita, KS vs. Wichita State.

2010 Pac 10 Conference Predictions

Player of the Year:  Kole Calhoun – Arizona State

Pitcher of the Year:  Sam Gaviglio – Oregon State

Conference Champion:  Arizona State, with Oregon State giving the closest challenge

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