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It’s amazing how much things can change in a year of college baseball.
Before last season, South Carolina’s Michael Roth was just a reliever who willed his way to a pair of great starts in the College World Series. Then, last season, Roth evolved into one of the nation’s premier ace pitchers.
Similar stories played out with several players on Perfect Game’s 2012 College Baseball Preseason All-America teams.
Georgia Southern outfielder Victor Roache evolved into one of the game’s premier outfielders with an amazing 30 home runs and 84 RBIs last season. He, too, is expected to have another banner campaign.
There also are guys such as Arizona State’s Deven Marrero, Texas A&M’s Tyler Naquin, Florida State’s James Ramsey and Duke’s Marcus Stroman, who have increased their stock as college players and MLB draft prospects.
Marrero is college baseball’s elite defensive shortstop and is expected to be more offensive this spring, while Naquin, an outfielder, has a consistent bat, a great arm, good speed and excellent defensive skills. Meanwhile, Ramsey, another outfielder, took a huge step forward with a productive 2011 campaign followed by an outstanding summer, while Stroman electrified observers last summer with a fastball in the 95-98 mph range.
Though all the above players are excellent at their respective positions, only two players from the overall three teams will take home national individual awards at the conclusion of the 2012 campaign. They’re expected to be Florida catcher Mike Zunino and Stanford right-handed pitcher Mark Appel.
Zunino is the ringleader of the Gators, who are expected to compete for the national title. He’s a fantastic defensive catcher who’s expected to have a highly productive spring at the plate. He’s also slated to be a first-round draft pick. Meanwhile, Appel is a shooting star for the Cardinal. He has a fastball that sits in the mid 90s. And though he’s not quite the strikeout pitcher some aces are, he’s coming off an impressive campaign.
After seeing how much has changed in the landscape of college baseball in the past year, excitement fills the air as we ponder which stars will rise to the occasion this spring.
College baseball’s preseason All-Americans are unveiled.
PG Preseason Pitcher of the Year: RHP Mark Appel, Stanford
PG Preseason Player of the Year: C Mike Zunino, Florida
PG Second Team All-Americans
C Josh Elander, junior, TCU
1B Richie Shaffer, junior, Clemson
2B Tony Renda, junior, California
SS Nolan Fontana, junior, Florida
3B Colin Moran, sophomore, North Carolina
OF Taylor Dugas, senior, Alabama
OF Jeremy Baltz, junior, St. John’s
OF Michael Lorenzen, sophomore, Cal State Fullerton
DH Joey DeMichele, junior, Arizona State
UT Austin Maddox, junior, Florida
SP Karsten Whitson, sophomore, Florida
SP Chris Beck, junior, Georgia Southern
SP Kevin Gausman, sophomore, LSU
SP Austin Kubitza, sophomore, Rice
RP Corey Knebel, sophomore, Texas
RP Tony Bryant, junior, Oregon State
C Peter O’Brien, senior, Miami
1B Jayce Boyd, junior, Florida State
2B Ross Heffley, senior, Western Carolina
SS Kenny Diekroeger, junior, Stanford
3B Erich Weiss, sophomore, Texas
OF Travis Jankowski, junior, Stony Brook
OF Austin Wilson, sophomore, Stanford
OF Barrett Barnes, junior, Texas Tech
DH Kris Bryant, sophomore, San Diego
UT J.T. Chargois, junior, Rice
SP Ross Stripling, senior, Texas A&M
SP D.J. Baxendale, junior, Arkansas
SP Branden Kline, junior, Virginia
SP Brady Rodgers, junior, Arizona State
RP Matt Carasiti, junior, St. John’s
RP Caleb Reed, senior, Mississippi State
Kendall Rogers is the college baseball managing editor for Perfect Game USA and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org