College Baseball 360 Team Capsules

February 14, 2012

The Rundown Of Teams 21-30…

With the start of the season rapidly approaching, here’s a look at some of the top teams in the country heading into the 2012 college baseball season.

Our rankings are based on a “composite formula” that combines not only the existing weekly preseason national polls, but also other factors like strength of schedule and preseason conference polls. Other criteria will continually be added throughout the season to our composite rankings.

Here is a look at teams 11-20 heading into the season.

( ) Stats in parenthesis are from the 2011 season.

* After a statistic denotes team leader in that statistical category.

CLICK HERE to see capsules for teams 1-10

CLICK HERE to see capsules for teams 11-20

CLICK HERE to see the entire CB360 2012 Preseason Composite National Rankings

21. Arizona State

2011 Record: 43-18

After 12 straight NCAA appearances, the Sun Devils are banned from the 2012 NCAA postseason for infractions that were committed under former head coach Pat Murphy’s watch. ASU advanced to the College World Series in current head coach Tim Esmay’s first season in 2010 and fell to Texas in Super Regional play in Austin last year.

The Sun Devils lose the likes of Johnny Ruettiger (.327, 37 RBIs, 53 Runs*, 23 SB), Riccio Torrez (.307, 4 HR, 54 RBIS*) and Zack MacPhee (.279, HR, 25 RBIs, 49 Runs, 26 SB*) from the lineup. They return Joey DeMichele (.368*, 9 HR*, 7 Triples*, 16 Doubles, 51 RBIs*), Deven Marrero (.315, 14 Doubles, 20 RBIs, 10 SB).

Brady Rodgers (9-4*, 2.75 ERA, 87 K, 15 Starts) heads the returning pitching staff. He is joined by the likes of  Trevor Williams (1-0, 2.50 ERA, 32 App.*), Jake Barrett (7-4, 4.14 ERA, 76 IP, 14 Starts) and Alex Blackford (4-1, 2.66 ERA, 61 IP, 55 K). The team leading innings of Kramer Champlin (9-4, 2.85 ERA, 3 CG*, 117 IP*) will be missed, as will the efforts of Mitchell Lambson (7-4, 4.31 ERA, 31 App., 9 SV*) at the back of the bullpen.

ASU has long been a program that prides itself on its hard nose style. It will be interesting to see how far that goes in a season with no ultimate prize to play for.

22. Cal

2011 Record: 38-23

At this time last year Cal and head coach David Esqeur were just trying to keep the program alive. What a difference a year makes. After not only managing to Save Cal Baseball, Esquer took take his Golden Bears all the way to Omaha for the first time in nearly 20 years. Cal was the feel good story of 2011, but that CWS trip puts a bigger target on their backs this year.

“I hope we have that bullseye on our back,” Cal pitcher Justin Jones (9-6*, 2.93 ERA, 3 CG*, 119 2/3 IP*), recently told College Baseball 360. “We’ll have to see how that plays out and see what happens I guess. We now know what it takes to get there to Omaha, and it’s really helped with the practice, the preparation and the hard work we all put in. Now we know that what was once kind of out of the reach is now in our reach. It’s in our eyesight. We feel like we can reach it every year now.”

While Jones played a key role in getting Cal to Omaha, he couldn’t pitch once they were there due to an arm injury. He expects to be ready for the start of the new season though. One of the biggest losses Cal must replace is weekend starter Erik Johnson (7-4, 2.83 ERA, 18 Starts*, 105 IP, 102 K*). Closer Matt Flemer (4-2, 1.83 ERA, 6 SV*, 30 App.*, 39 1/3 IP, 41 K*) and Kyle Porter (6-0, 1.89 ERA, 25 App., 4 Starts, 57 IP, 57 K) are back as well.

The Cal lineup was one that found a way to get it done. Pac-10 Player of the Year Tony Renda (.332*, 3 HR, 44 RBIs*, 14 Doubles, 38 Runs, 9 SB*) leads a group of returnees that also includes catcher Chadd Krist (.297, 2 HR, 43 RBIs, 27 Doubles*, 37 Runs), Vince Bruno (.299, 11 Doubles, 13 RBIs, 27 Runs), Devon Rodriguez (.279, 5 HR, 35 RBIs), Chad Bunting (.276, 7 HR*, 25 RBIs), and Mitch Delfino (.260, 4 HR, 21 RBIs).

23. St. Johns

2011 Record: 36-22

St. John’s was one of three Big East teams to earn NCAA bids last year, playing in the Charlottesville Regional that saw Virginia advance all the way to Omaha. Head coach Ed Blankmeyer is entering his 16th season at the helm after passing the 500 win mark in 2011.

Jeremy Baltz (.311, 6 HR, 60 RBIs*, 12 Doubles, 3 Triples*) is back to lead the Red Storm offense. The junior had an amazing 165 RBIs in his first two seasons, but saw his home runs drop from 24 as a freshman to 6 last year. Baltz is joined by Matt Wessinger (.273 ,6 HR, 42 RBIs, 15 Doubles) and Kevin Grove (.310,4 HR, 21 RBIs, 5 Doubles). The player that the storm could not wait to get back this year from injury is junior third baseman Sean O’ Hare (.224, 13 RBIs, 2 Doubles), who only played in 33 games before he was sidelined by injury.

The Pitching staff will have three major arms returning this year. The ace of the staff junior Kyle Hansen (8-7, 3.09 ERA, 1 CP*,1 SHO*,107.2 IP*, 106 Ks*). He is joined by senior lefty Brendan Lobban (6-2,4.22 ERA, 85.1 IPs,54Ks), with junior Matt Carasiti (2-2,2.47 ERA*, 8 SVs*, 43.2 IP,39 K, 29 Apps*) back to close.

24. Oregon State

2011 Record: 41-19

Head coach Pat Casey flirted with retirement over the off-season, but the 2011 Pac-12 Coach of the Year ultimately came back to coach his 18th season in Corvallis. His Beavers won 41 games and were one of three Pac-12 teams to advance to a Super Regional last year, before falling to Vanderbilt. Oregon State’s stretch of reaching the NCAA Tournament six times in the last seven seasons is the best in program history.

Casey has a lot of holes to fill from last year’s Super Regional team, starting with his top two starting pitchers Sam Gaviglio (12-3*, 2.54 ERA, 120 2/3 IP*, 4 CG*, 116 K*) and Josch Osich (6-4, 3.64 ERA, 76 2/3 IP). Those two accounted for 43-percent of their team’s wins in 2011. Top returnees to the staff include Ben Wetzler (6-3, 4.66 ERA, 12 Starts), closer Tony Bryant (3-2, 1.52 ERA*, 12 SV*) and Matt Boyd (30 App.*, 4 SV, 1.57 ERA).

In addition to losing his top weekend arms, Casey also loses catcher Andrew Susac (.298, 5 HR, 32 RBIs) and Parker Berberet (.259, 5 HR*, 39 RBIs*) those two were OSU’s top run producers last year. Also gone are Carter Bell (.299, 2 HR, 23 RBIs) and Jared Norris (.282, 2 HR, 24 RBIs)

Kavin Keyes (.302, HR, 10 Doubles, 30 RBIs, 28 Runs) is back to lead the Beaver offense. Expect to see more of Jake Rogriguez (.320, HR, 7 RBIs) this year as well. He made just 26 starts as a freshman last year, but earned Cape Cod All-Star honors while playing for Falmouth last summer. Ryan Dunn (.280, 4 HR, 26 RBIs), Danny Hayes (.279, 4 HR, 32 RBIs) and Ryan Barnes (.248, HR, 25 RBIs, 8 SB*) are also back in the everyday lineup. Casey has 11 freshmen and six junior college transfers he’ll look to as well.

25. Louisville

2011 Record: 32-29

Dan McDonnell experienced a heavy dose of success in his first four seasons as head coach at Louisville, but he found out just how hard it is to sustain it over the long haul – even as a “southern” team playing in a “northern” conference. McDonnell led the Cardinals to the College World Series in his rookie year in 2007 and received NCAA bids, including another Super Regional in ’09, in each of his first four campaigns before missing the tournament last year.

Youth and a pedestrian .967 fielding percentage led to a 32-29 mark, but Louisville looks to get back on track in 2012. The Cardinals will sorely miss the bat of Ryan Wright (.346*, 12 HR*, 4 Triples*, 52 RBIs*, 49 Runs*, 16 SB*, 1.024 OPS*), whose team-leading batting average was nearly 100 points higher than the average of the next closest teammate, J.J. Ethel (.251, 16 RBIs). Stewart Ijames (.247, 11 HR, 45 RBIs) will lead the Cardinal offense, but others will need a lot more consistency to help an offense that finished with a .253 team batting average in 2011. Ijames has 33 home runs and 147 RBIs in his first three seasons on the diamond at Louisville. The fifth-year senior missed all of 2009 with a shoulder injury.

The good news for Louisville is Justin Amlung (10-2^, 2.31 ERA, 105 IP*, 80 K*) heads a deep pitching staff that returns virtually everyone. The others include Matt Koch (5-5, 3.48 ERA, 11 Starts), Derek Self (3-3, 2.26 ERA, 75 2/3 IP), Jeff Thompson (2-1, 2.75 ERA, 39 1/3 IP, 43 K), Travis Tingle (3-1, 2.60 ERA),  Chad Green (1-2, 1.93 ERA, 21 App.), Cody Ege (2-0, 2.00 ERA, 19 App.), Andy Flett (2-0, 2.82 ERA, 18 App.), and Dace Kime (1-2, 3.96 ERA, 15 IP, 15 K). The biggest hole to fill is that of departed closer Tony Zych (0-2, 3.00 ERA, 28 App.*, 13 SV*), but the wealth of arms will keep Louisville competitive while the offense is sorted out.

26. UC Irvine

2011 Record: 43-18

The Anteaters swept through the Los Angeles Regional with a 3-0 record last year to advance to a Super Regional for the second time in four seasons. Mike Gillespie’s squad was just one out away from a trip to the College World Series, before a two-run rally by Virginia ended Irvine’s season at the Charlottesville Super Regional.

Gillespie returns a solid nucleus from that 43 win team that was making the program’s sixth consecutive NCAA appearance. Brian Hernandez (.341, 32 RBIs, 12 Doubles) and Drew Hillman (.333, 6 HR^, 51 RBIs*) are UCI’s two most notable losses from the everyday lineup. Three 2011 All-Big West honorees, Jordan Fox (.323, 25 RBIs, 35 Runs, 9 SB*), D.J. Crumlich (.300, 27 RBIs, 51 Runs*, 15 Doubles*) and catcher Ronny Schaeffer (.264, 31 RBIs, 11 sac bunts*) are joined by Tommy Reyes (.289, 29 RBIs, 32 Runs, 11 Doubles) and Christian Ramirez (.282, 32 RBIs, 5 Triples*, 10 Doubles, 26 Runs). Schaeffer was a 2011 ABCA Gold Glove winner.

Several arms return for the Anteaters as well, including Phillip Ferragamo (2-0, 2.03 ERA*, 19 App.), Matt Whitehouse (4-0, 2.12 ERA, 63 K, 72 1/3 IP), Andy Lines (5-2, 2.57 ERA, 22 App., 28 IP, 27K), Jimmy Lichfield (2-1, 2.89 ERA, 34 App.*, 3 SV), Nick Hoover (2-4, 3.44 ERA, 22 App.), Crosby Slaught (7-2, 3.80 ERA, 14 Starts), Andrew Thurman (4-3, 3.82 ERA, 75 1/3 IP), and Kyle Hooper (3-0, 4.06 ERA). The biggest hole to fill will be the 117 innings pitched by ace Matt Summers (11-4*, 2.15 ERA). He had the staff’s only two complete games, including a no-hitter against Long Beach State last May.

27. Virginia

2011 Record: 56-12

Brian O’Connor has led his Cavaliers to the College World Series in two of the last three years, but the challenge to get there again will be even greater in the near future. O’Connor’s recruiting has been nothing short of phenomenal since taking over the program in 2004, but arguably his biggest recruit – Danny Hultzen (12-3*, 1.37 ERA, 118 IP*, 165 K*) – is now gone.

Hultzen was a freshman on UVA’a 2009 CWS squad and ended his career with a school record 32 wins before being the second overall pick (Seattle Mariners) in the 2011 MLB Draft. He heads the list of the significant holes Virginia now must fill.

“From a pitching standpoint off last year’s team, we lost 70 percent of our innings,” O’Connor told CB360 of his turnover. “We lost three guys that threw over 100 innings and another pitcher that threw over 75 innings.”

Branden Kline (4-1, 1.88 ERA, 18 SV*) is the biggest name back from the ’11 CWS squad. He shined as the closer last year after moving from midweek starter. O’Connor told College Baseball 360 that Kline will start the new season in the weekend rotation, but could return to the closer role if other starters emerge. ), Kyle Crockett (3-0, 1.97 ERA, 27 App., 32 IP, 32 K), Whit Mayberry (5-0, 3.00 ERA, 17 App, 33 IP, 32 K), and Justin Thompson (3-1, 3.46 ERA, 22 App., 39 IP, 41 K) will look for more prominent roles as well.

Pitching isn’t the only pressing need O’Connor has entering 2012. His top four statistical hitters from last year, including top run producers John Hicks (.332, 8 HR*, 59 RBIS*) and Steven Proscia (.320, 8 HR*, 59 RBIs*), are departed as well. Chris Taylor (.305, 2 HR, 49 RBIs, 18 Doubles, 63 Runs*, 15 SB*) is the top returning bat. He is joined by Keith Werman (.223, 31 RBIs, 39 Runs, 27 Sac Bunts*), Jared King (.321, 2 HR, 29 RBIs, 12 Doubles, 39 Runs) and Reed Gragnani (.272, 31 RBIs, 26 Runs).

A host of junior college transfers and freshman will look to fill-in the holes as well.

28. Stetson

2011 Record: 43-20

Stetson ended a three-year NCAA Tournament drought when it earned the No. 2 seed at last year’s Chapel Hill Regional. Last year’s 43-win squad marked the ninth 40 plus win seson in school history, and head coach Pete Dunn has good reason to believe his Hatters can reach that total again in his 31st season as head coach.

Led by reigning Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Year Kurt Schulter (8-0, 1.40 ERA*, 57 IP, 55 Ks), the returning pitching staff is one of the deepest in the entire nation. Joining Schluter are Will Dorsey (7-6, 4.52 ERA, 83 2/3 IP*) and Lindsey Caughel (6-2, 4.88 ERA). The trio combined to make 37 starts last year.

The bullpen is spearheaded by Robbie Powell (5-3, 3.42 ERA, 8 SV*, 55.1 IP, 47 Ks) and also includes Jake Boyd (9-1, 2.93 ERA, 6 SV, 61.1 IP, 63 Ks). Those two combined for all but one of the team’s saves with a total of 69 appearances.  Fellow relievers Joe Dye (1-0, 3.95 ERA, 41 IP) and Cameron Griffin (1-1, 4.50 ERA, 30 App.), who combined for 65 appearances last year, provide more valuable experience. Swingmen Tucker Donahue (3-3, 3.76 ERA, 79 IP), who started nine times and came out of the bullpen 19 more, and Austin Perez (2-3, 4.64 ERA, 52 1/3 IP), who had eight starts with 13 relief outings, give Dunn great versatility.

Stetson does lose its best overall bat Nick Rickles (.347*, 12 HR*, 20 Doubles*, 62 RBIs, 1.008 OPS*), but the Hatters still return a ton of offense from last year, including Michael Brennan (.347, 3 HR, 18 RBIs), Robert Crews (.332 avg, 4 HRs, 39 RBIs, 12 Doubles), Ben Carhart (.323 avg., 7 HRs, 63 RBIs*, 10 Doubles) and Mark Jones (.333 avg., 5 HR, 37 RBIs, 12 Doubles, 17 SB), and Spencer Theisen (.276, 29 RBIs, 13 SB) in the everyday lineup.

The Hatters open with 18 of their first 19 games at home. Their first true test should come when they visit Tallahassee for two games against Florida State March 20 & 21.

29. UCF

2011 Record: 39-23

Since taking over as UCF’s head coach with the 2009 season, Terry Rooney has had Omaha in his sites. After all, his last stop before taking the job was in Omaha in 2008 as an assistant with LSU. Rooney’s Knights took their first step toward the promised land last year by ending a six-year NCAA Tournament drought when they played in the Tallahassee Regional.

The bulk of last year’s 39 win team is back, including box score stuffer D.J. Hicks (.351*, 14 HR, 66 RBIs*, 11 Doubles, 42 Runs, 1.011 OPS). The biggest loss in the everyday lineup is Jonathon Griffin (.343, 19 HR*, 58 RBIS), but Ronnie Richardson (.312, 2 HR, 34 RBIs, 12 Doubles, 4 Triples*, 59 Runs*, 15 SB), Travis Shreve (.309, 20 RBIs, 15 Doubles, 51 Runs, 22 SB*), Erik Hempe (.307, 7 HR, 29 RBIs, 15 Doubles, 34 Runs), and Darnell Sweeney (.288, 45 RBIs, 17 Doubles, 3 Triples, 43 Runs, 12 SB) are all back as well.

Brian Adkins (6-5*, 4.40 ERA, 88 IP*), Ray Hanson (4-2, 3.47 ERA, CG), Ben Lively (5-1, 5.05 ERA, CG), and Joe Rogers (4-2, 4.79 ERA, 9 SV*, 41 1/3 IP, 38 K, 25 App.*) are the top arms back to lead the pitching staff. They’ll have to step-up to contend with Rice for a Conference USA crown, but at least another NCAA bid is definitely within their reach.

30. Baylor

2011 Record: 31-28

Baylor needed one more strike to beat Cal to win last year’s Houston Regional, but just like the Texas Rangers in game six of the World Series, the Bears could not get that strike and Cal advanced all the way to Omaha. Head coach Steve Smith has all eight returning position players and his DH back from that Regional squad that won 31 games heading into 2012.

At the top of that list is first baseman Max Muncy (.322.*, 9 HR*, 44 RBIs*, 10 Doubles*), who is joined by players like Jake Miller (.299, 3 HR, 27 RBIs, 10 Doubles) and Logan Vick (.213 , 2 HR, 18 RBI, 4 Doubles). BBCOR gave Vick’s numbers a big hit after a Freshman All-American season in 2010 that saw him hit .327 with 10 HR and 27 RBIs.

The pitching staff loses workhorse Logan Verrett (7-6*, 2.93 ERA, 2 CG*, 101 1/3 IP*, 96 K*), but returns both Josh Turley (5-4, 3.39 ERA, 95.2 IP, 63 K) and Trent Blank (5-2, 4.88 ERA) along with last year’s closer Max Garner (2-4, 3.12 ERA, 8 SV*, 29 App). A slew of other experienced relievers give the Bears experience in the bullpen as well.

After opening the season with a three game home series against 14-time Summit League champion Oral Roberts, Baylor heads to Los Angeles the second weekend of the season for three games at No. 17 UCLA.

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