College Baseball Preview 2011

The wait is over folks! The college baseball season is upon us and it couldn’t come soon enough. If you’re sick of hearing about a possible NFL work stoppage or a contract extension may make Albert Pujols the richest old man in baseball by the time the deal matures, then belly up to the computer this weekend and follow some collegiate athletics in it’s purest form.

As you prepare for the glorious event that is opening weekend, perhaps it would be beneficial to bone up on the College Preview information that we’ve been providing to you over the past several weeks.

You can check out our Preseason All-American Teams here, including our Preseason Freshman All-American Team here.

For a detailed look at our preseason top 25, look here

Finally you can check out our Top Freshmen and Top Sophomore lists.

Weekend Preview

Though I’ve outlined what to expect this weekend from our top 25 below, I wanted to take a second to highlight the #9 Stanford @ #17 Rice matchup.

Stanford: Filled with highly regarded unsigned draft choices, watching Stanford is the prospectors dream. While I love the Cardinal, the Pac 10 is the best conference in college baseball and Stanford is young. They’ll have to contend with #3 UCLA, #11 Arizona State, #12 Oregon, #18 Arizona and # 21 California.

Key Players:

Kenny Diekroeger – SS – So. The unsigned Rays 2009 2rd round pick hit .356/.391/.491 with 5 HR and 41 RBI as a freshman.

Austin Wilson – RF – Fr. Could have been a top 10 pick last year but for his college commitment. Now that he’s a scholar athlete it’s time for us to enjoy.

Brian Ragira – 3B – Fr. Baseball America regarded Ragira as the #139th best draft prospect last season. The Rangers eventually made him their 30th round pick but failed to sign him.

Jake Stewart – OF – So. Stewart hit just .209 as a freshman but his defense allowed him to see significant playing time. I’m looking for a big bounce back.

Brett Mooneyham – LHP – Jr. – Mooneyham was highly regarded out of high school but disappointed last season. He’ll look to regain his elite prospect status this season. **Update – Mooneyham will be limited to relief duty this weekend due to having stitches removed form a finger on this throwing hand.

A.J. Vanegas – RHP – Fr. – Pretty advanced for a freshman, Vanegas could end the season as the Friday starter if Mooneyham can’t throw strikes.

Jordan Pries – RHP – Jr. Though Pries lacks the star potential of Mooneyham or Vanegas, he’s the stability between the inconsistent ace and the newcomer.

Mark Appel – RHP – So. Appel is one of the most talented arms in college baseball and could be this year’s John Stilson. Is it to early to compare people to John Stilson if Stilson is still in school? **Update – Appel has been named the Friday starter for this series.

Rice: Rice is once again be the Conference USA favorite but they will have to contend with a talented Tulane squadron. Wayne Graham’s team is light on pitching experience but the talent is there. The Owls will need contributions from their freshmen class on the mound while Anthony Rendon carries the offense.

Key Players:

Anthony Rendon – 3B – Jr. He’s not just the best hitter in college baseball, he’s a plus defender and the possible #1 overall pick in the 2011 draft. You know what, if you’re reading this and you don’t know who Anthony Rendon is, you probably stumbled upon this site erroneously.

Michael Ratteree – 2B – So. Ratteree was a 45th round pick in 2009 (Nationals). Coming off a good freshman season he’ll attempt to provide some protection to Rendon.

Jeremy Rathjen – CF – Jr. Coming off of a 13 HR 69 RBI season.

Michael Fuda – LF – Jr. Hit .346 with 45 RBI last season.

Chase McDowell – RHP – So. Had a great summer and may be the Owls ace.

John Simms – RHP – Fr. Baseball America ranked him as the #118th best draft prospect in 2010. Washington used a 39th round pick on him. ** Update Simms will start Friday for the Owls

Austin Kubiza – RHP -Fr. Unsigned 7th Round Pick (Pirates). **Update – Kubiza will be the Sunday starter this weekend, giving the Owls a weekend rotation that is 2/3 freshmen.

** The updates above were provided based on information in Aaron Fitt’s Baseball America Weekend Preview

Rank

Team

W-L

Upcoming

Comments

1

Florida

0-0

Feb. 18-20: South Florida

Friday’s Game will be televised in my area on Fox College Sports Atlantic.

2

TCU

0-0

Feb. 18-20: Kansas

Kansas Sr. RHP T.J. Walz has won 20 games in his career but I don’t expect #21 to come this weekend.

3

UCLA

0-0

Feb. 18-20: San Francisco

Dons Seniors Stephen Yarrow (3B) and Pete Lavin (OF) should make San Francisco formidable this season, but they’ll be no match for Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer.

4

Vanderbilt

0-0

Feb 18, 20 @ San Diego, Feb 19 @ San Diego State

Vanderbilt may have the toughest opening weekend among the other top 5 teams. I’m anxious to see how San Diego freshman Dylan Covey will debut.

5

Texas

0-0

Feb. 18-20: Maryland (4 games)

Taylor Jungmann and Cole Green pale only to Cole and Bauer far as 1-2 punches go.

6

Clemson

0-0

Feb. 18-20: Eastern Michigan

Clemson will hit this year.

7

Cal State Fullerton

0-0

Feb. 18-20 @ Long Beach State, Feb 19: North Carolina (4 games)

Dirtbag Andrew Gagnon is good enough to steal a game but Titan ace Noe Ramirez is better.

8

Oklahoma

0-0

Feb. 18-20: William & Mary (4 games)

Many have Oklahoma ahead of Texas as the Big 12 favorite.

9

Stanford

0-0

Feb. 18-20: @ #17 Rice

Series of the weekend!

10

Connecticut

0-0

Feb. 18: Purdue, Feb 19: Minnesota, Feb 20: Michigan

Big Ten/Big East Challenge: Clearwater, FL

11

Arizona State

0-0

Feb. 18-20: New Mexico

I have New Mexico as a regional sleeper but they’ll get off to a rough stretch this weekend.

12

Oregon

0-0

Feb. 18-20: @ Hawaii (4 games)

I’m pretty high on the Pac-10.

13

South Carolina

0-0

Feb. 18-20: Santa Clara

Santa Clara is no slouch this season but they shouldn’t pose a real threat to the defending national champions.

14

Florida State

0-0

Feb. 18-20: Virginia Military Institute

FSU 3-0.

15

Texas A&M

0-0

Feb. 18-20: LeMoyne

Tom Browning was a LeMoyne Dolphin.

16

Virginia

0-0

Feb. 18: UAB, Feb. 19: Auburn, Feb. 20: Arkansas State

Auburn Tournament: Auburn, AL

17

Rice

0-0

Feb. 18-20: #9 Stanford

A strong weekend performance could shoot the Owls up this list.

18

Arizona

0-0

Feb. 18-20: North Dakota State

Looking for a big start by sophomore RHP Kurt Heyer.

19

Baylor

0-0

Feb. 18-20: Oral Roberts

Although Summit League champion Oral Roberts as a Regional team last year, first round talent RHP Logan Verrett will be too much to handle.

20

Coastal Carolina

0-0

Feb. 18: Boston College, Feb. 19: Tennessee Tech, Feb. 20: Indiana, Feb. 20: Virginia Tech

Caravelle Resort Tournament, Conway, SC

21

California

0-0

Feb. 18-20: Utah

On the week when Cal learns that donations weren’t enough to save the baseball program, they can take their aggression out on Utah.

22

LSU

0-0

Feb. 18-20: Wake Forest (4 games)

While Wake isn’t an ACC contender, I’m still intrigued by this series. LSU should sweep or take 3 of 4.

23

Miami

0-0

Feb. 18-20: Rutgers

Miami lacks pitching depth but it shouldn’t be an issue this weekend.

24

College of Charleston

0-0

Feb. 18: Kentucky, Feb. 19: Miami (OH), Feb: 20: Marshall

College of Charleston Invitational, Charleston, SC

25

Georgia Tech

0-0

Feb. 18-20: Kent State

Kent State can prove they belong with the big boys.

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