College | Story | 1/16/2019

2019 College: Teams 26-40

Patrick Ebert        
Photo: John Doxakis (Michael Wade)

Preseason College Top 25 | Preseason All-American Team | 2019 College Baseball Preview Index

Rk. Team Conf.
Rk. Team Conf.
Rk. Team Conf.
26 Texas A&M SEC
31 Duke ACC
36 Missouri State MVC
27 Minnesota Big Ten
32 Arizona Pac-12
37 Georgia Tech ACC
28 Cal State Fullerton Big West
33 Southern Miss C-USA
38 Houston American
29 Illinois Big Ten
34 Texas Big 12
39 Louisiana Tech C-USA
30 Sam Houston State Southland
35 Indiana Big Ten
40 Washington Pac-12

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26. Texas A&M

Head Coach: Rob Childress
Conference: SEC
2018 Record: 40-22 (13-17 SEC)
2018 Finish: Austin Regional

The Aggies enjoyed a strong start a year ago, winning 16 of their first 18 games before the beginning of the SEC schedule, of which they went just 13-17, although they did make a strong push in the conference tournament. Entering 2019 their strength appears to once again be with their pitching staff as they have a very strong projected weekend rotation full of promising lefthanded pitchers: junior John Doxakis, who went 8-5 with a 2.70 ERA a year ago, Asa Lacy, who can work in the low- to mid-90s, touching higher, and Jonathan Childress, a promising and already polished freshman who pitched in the 2017 PG All-American Classic. Mason Cole and Chandler Joziwak will anchor the bullpen to give the team a difficult right-left duo to contend with late. Shortstop Braden Shewmake is an SEC Player of the Year candidate who has hit .327 with 16 homers and 114 RBI the past two seasons, which included his Freshman All-American campaign in 2017. While Logan Foster, Will Frizzell and Zach DeLoach give the team three more experienced pieces on offense, keep an eye on transfers Mikey Hoehner (catcher), Jonathan Ducoff (outfield) and Bryce Blaum (second base) who could give the offense a serious boost.

27. Minnesota

Head Coach: John Anderson
Conference: Big Ten
2018 Record: 44-15 (18-4 Big Ten)
2018 Finish: Corvallis Super Regional

Minnesota was a fun team to follow in 2018, with a dominant 44-15 season that included an equally dominant 18-4 mark in conference. Unfortunately for the Gophers they had to travel to Corvallis to take on the eventual national champion Oregon State Beavers in the Super Regional round, but this is a team that has averaged nearly 39 wins the past three seasons. While they have some big pieces to replace on the offensive side of the ball, weekend starter Patrick Fredrickson and closer Max Meyer both enjoyed Freshman All-American seasons, with Fredrickson going 9-0 and Meyer recording 16 saves with gaudy strikeout totals. Pitching depth will be the team’s strength as Jake Stevenson, Nick Lackney and Sam Thoresen all have starting experience and Brett Schulze went 9-0 with a 2.09 ERA in 22 relief appearances. There are enough pieces to like on offense, including outfielder Ben Mezzenga (.383-0-28), catcher Eli Wilson (.289-5-37), shortstop Jordan Kozicky (.271-5-38) and first baseman Cole McDevitt (.271-9-46). One development to follow will be the use of Meyer, who could pull double duty this season as a versatile athlete who hit .167 in limited hitting duty as a freshman.

28. Cal State Fullerton

Head Coach: Rick Vanderhook
Conference: Big West
2018 Record: 36-24 (18-7 Big West)
2018 Finish: Fullerton Super Regional

Per usual, Cal State Fullerton isn’t going to hit for a lot of power but they’re arguably the best team in the nation when it comes to manufacturing runs. And they have quite a few contributors returning to the everyday lineup, five of their top seven hitters from a year ago to be exact. It starts with leading hitter (.339) and second baseman Hank LoForte and continues with his double play partner Sahid Valenzuela, giving the Titans one of the best keystone combos on the West Coast. In fact, they’re strong at every position up the middle with the presence of center fielder Mitchell Berryhill and catcher Daniel Cope. Splitting time behind the plate and at designated hitter with Cope will be promising freshman catcher Kameron Guangorena, one of their most promising recruits in recent years with polished skills on both sides of the ball. The pitching staff is unusually inexperienced with a pair of sophomores – Tanner Bibee and Timothy Josten – and a freshman – Michael Knorr – expected to make up the weekend rotation. However, many believe Bibee will be Fullerton’s next great ace after just starting to scratch the surface of his potential when he went 3-5 with a 3.86 ERA as a freshman.

29. Illinois

Head Coach: Dan Hartleb
Conference: Big Ten
2018 Record: 33-20 (15-9 Big Ten)
2018 Finish: Did not play in postseason

Replacing Big Ten Player of the Year Bren Spillane will be no easy task after the slugger hit 23 bombs in 2018, but this program has been building up to the 2019 season with a very strong junior class. Outside of Spillane and closer Joey Gerber, the rest of the team returns almost entirely intact. They’re strong up the middle with shortstop Ben Troike and second baseman Michael Massey manning the middle infield positions, Zac Taylor in center field and Jeff Korte behind the plate. Outfielder Jack Yalowitz could be in store for a big, bounceback season after hitting .335-12-44 as a sophomore in 2017 and the team is excited about freshman infielders Branden Comia and Cam McDonald in addition to catcher Jacob Campbell. The number of quality, returning arms on the pitching staff is the separator, with four hurlers – Andy Fisher, Ty Weber, Quinn Snarskis, Ty Weber and Cyrillo Watson – that saw regular time as starters coming back, accounting for over half of the team’s workload. Bullpen ace Ryan Thompson went 8-3 with a 2.72 ERA and could take over as the team’s closer, while Ryan Schmitt, Zack Jones and Quinten Sefcik provide enviable depth. Hard-throwing freshman righthander Aidan Maldonado could also see meaningful innings.

30. Sam Houston State

Head Coach: Matt Deggs
Conference: Southland
2018 Record: 39-20 (24-6 Southland)
2018 Finish: Did not play in postseason

The Bearkats opened the 2018 season ranked 22nd and spent more than half of the year in the Top 25 before falling out. And despite being dominant in conference play, going 24-6, they lost in the Southland Conference Tournament and missed the postseason as a result. That’s notable considering the team made the postseason five of the previous six seasons, including a Super Regional appearance in 2017. Sam Houston State’s strength for the 2019 season will undoubtedly be the pitching staff as they return their top four pitchers from a year ago, a quartet that will make up their weekend rotation and closer. Lefthander Seth Balley (6-1, 3.00 ERA) as well as righthanders Hayden Wesneski (7-3, 3.50), Riley Gossett (2-1, 3.66) and Nick Mikolajchak (6-5, 4.19) accounted for over 310 of the team’s 534 total innings. Coach Matt Deggs will also have some solid pieces on offense, including senior first baseman/outfielder Hunter Hearn, who has hit in the middle of the lineup since his freshman year with a cumulative .299/.367/.442 triple slash. Clayton Harp, Chase Cryer and Jack Rogers gives the starting nine further experience, a unit that could have as many as three freshmen getting the nod to kick off their college careers.

31. Duke

Head Coach: Chris Pollard
Conference: ACC
2018 Record: 45-18 (18-11 ACC)
2018 Finish: Lubbock Super Regional

Duke had a season to remember in 2018, winning 45 games, seven of 10 series in conference play, upsetting host Georgia in Regional play after emerging from the loser’s bracket and giving Texas Tech all they could handle in Super Regionals. From that team quite a few long-time starters moved on to the next level. However, Duke has been doing a much better job cultivating talent from one year to the next as they welcome the next wave of potential stars to the forefront. Graeme Stinson epitomizes that more than anyone, a big-bodied, hard-throwing lefthander who is moving from the bullpen to the team’s Friday ace this season after posting an impressive 98-to-19 strike-to-walk ratio in 62 innings as a sophomore thanks to mid-90s heat. He and fellow junior lefthander Adam Laskey give the Blue Devils quite the potent 1-2 punch on the front end of weekends. On offense Michael Rothenberg will have more of the spotlight to himself, a sophomore switch-hitting catcher with significant pop from both sides of the plate. Leading 2018 hitter Joey Loperfido (second base) and Kennie Taylor (center field) return to give the team more stability up the middle of the field.

32. Arizona

Head Coach: Jay Johnson
Conference: Pac-12
2018 Record: 34-22 (14-16 Pac-12)
2018 Finish: Did not play in postseason

Scoring runs shouldn’t be a problem in Tucson for the Wildcats, a team that returns starters at three infield spots: second baseman Jacob Blas, shortstop Cameron Cannon and third baseman Nick Quintana, which also represents their Nos. 1, 3 and 4 hitters. That trio also represents three of the team’s top five returning hitters, all three of whom hit on the sunny side of .300. Athletic center fielder Matt Fraizer could be flanked by a pair of freshman on the outfield corners with 2017 PG All-American slugger Austin Wells expected to take over at first base from Day 1. Talented freshmen continues to be a theme on the pitching staff as talented righthander Bryce Collins may just win the Friday role. Overall the team has quite a few arms to replace, including their top two starters from a year ago (Cody Deason and Michael Flynn) as well as closer Tylor Megill). A pair of lefthanders, Randy Labaut and Avery Weems, will provide needed starting experience and righthander Zach Sherman will see more innings as the team’s closer. How a pair of junior college transfers, Nate Brown and Andrew Nardi, fare on the mound will be key to Arizona’s overall success in 2019.

33. Southern Miss

Head Coach: Scott Berry
Conference: Conference USA
2018 Record: 44-18 (23-6 C-USA)
2018 Finish: Fayetteville Regional

Six regulars return to a Southern Miss lineup that hit .301 as a unit a year ago. This includes First Team Preseason All-American Matt Wallner, who enters the year as the runaway favorite to earn Conference USA Player of the Year honors after hitting .336-19-63 and .351-16-67 in his first two years with the Eagles. He will be asked to pull true double duty thanks to his arm strength and the ability to touch the mid-90s off the mound as he opens the year as the team’s projected Sunday starter. Second baseman Matthew Guidry (.328-5.39) and first baseman Hunter Slater (.309-12-55) are also among the team’s more notable returning position players and will bat first and third in the lineup, respectively. Southern Miss will move forward without staff ace Nick Sandlin, whose remarkable 10-0, 1.06 ERA season led to him being named Perfect Game’s Pitcher of the Year. Lefthander Stevie Powers will take over as the staff ace, a senior that made a successful conversion to the weekend rotation a year ago after spending his first two seasons at Southern Miss coming out of the bullpen. He and junior righthander Walker Powell combined for over 150 innings and give the team a formidable 1-2 punch on weekends.

34. Texas

Head Coach: David Pierce
Conference: Big 12
2018 Record: 43-23 (17-7 Big 12)
2018 Finish: College World Series

Moving on with Golden Spikes Award finalist Kody Clemens will be no easy task, and Texas received bad news a week ago when it was learned shortstop David Hamilton would be lost for the year after rupturing his Achilles tendon. The pitching staff will face similar hurdles to overcome after losing their top two weekend starters and three of their more reliable bullpen arms. That isn’t meant to paint a complete doom and gloom picture for the Longhorns as this is a program on the rise coming off of a trip to the College World Series. Plus, they return six regulars to the everyday lineup and welcome in a promising freshman class. Any one of Mason Hibbeler, Ryan Reynolds, DJ Petrinsky, Zach Zubia, Tate Shaw and/or Duke Ellis could be poised for a breakout season, and the team as a whole can pick it, leading the Big 12 in fielding percentage (.978). Blair Henley will take over as the staff ace, redshirt freshman Cole Quintanilla looked strong in the fall after missing his true freshman year to injury and hard-throwing sophomore righthander Kam Fields will take over as the team’s closer after posting a 1.82 ERA as a freshman, the second-best mark on the team.

35. Indiana

Head Coach: Jeff Mercer
Conference: Big Ten
2018 Record: 40-19 (14-9 Big Ten)
2018 Finish: Austin Regional

Although host Texas eventually ended Indiana’s season in 2018 the Hoosiers went down to the Lone Star state for Regional play and eliminated the two other participating teams: Texas Southern and Texas A&M. They won 40 games in the process after entering the year with high hopes. After the season was over Indiana lost their head coach, Chris Lemonis, to Mississippi State, but picked up another young, talent-minded skipper in Wright State’s Jeff Mercer, who enjoyed two successful seasons, guiding the Raiders to a conference championship in 2018. And he inherits a talented squad in Bloomington with many of their key pieces back for another run at the postseason. Junior outfielder Matt Gorski is poised for a huge season after hitting .356-8-40 with 24 stolen bases a year ago, a rare five-tool talent with an exciting blend of power and speed. Re-joining him in the everyday lineup will be fellow outfielder Logan Kaletha, two-way talent Matt Lloyd, catcher Ryan Fineman, shortstop Jeremy Houston and DH Scott Bradley. The team has more pieces to replace on the pitching staff but weekend ace Pauly Milto, bullpen ace Cal Krueger and Lloyd, their closer, will remain constants.

36. Missouri State

Head Coach: Keith Guttin
Conference: Missouri Valley
2018 Record: 40-17 (18-3 MVC)
2018 Finish: Oxford Regional

It will once again be a two-horse race in the Missouri Valley Conference during the 2019 season, and heading into the season Missouri State and Dallas Baptist appear to be evenly matched but it’s the MSU Bears that gets the nod. Even though they lost their starting shortstop (Jeremy Eierman) and No. 1 starter (Dylan Coleman), much of the rest of the team returns looking to advance the team to the postseason for the fourth time in five years. Back behind the plate is one of the favorites to win MVC Player of the Year, Drew Millas, who led the team in batting (.321) and RBI (61) serving as the team’s No. 3 hitter. First baseman Ben Whetstone and right fielder Jack Duffy are among some of the more notable returning position players, and keep an eye on third baseman Joey Polak who was named PG’s Junior College Player of the Year a season ago at Jefferson College where he posted Pete Incaviglia-esque numbers of .459-32-107. On the pitching side of things sophomore righthanders Ty Buckner and Connor Sechler will lock down the Friday starter and closer roles with Logan Wiley also providing significant innings as one of the team’s returning weekend starters.

37. Georgia Tech

Head Coach: Danny Hall
Conference: ACC
2018 Record: 31-27 (14-16 ACC)
2018 Finish: Did not play in postseason

Gone from Georgia Tech’s 2018 team is ACC Player of the Year and the No. 2 overall pick in last June’s draft, power hitting catcher Joey Bart. Despite that, this is an improved squad with a very strong projected weekend starting trio that includes Xzavion Curry, Connor Thomas and Tristin English. Curry and Thomas are both ACC Pitcher of the Year candidates after the two combined to go 15-8 a season ago with a sterling 207-to-33 strike-to-walk ratio in nearly 190 innings of work. English is a First Team Preseason All-American as a two-way utility player, prepared to be the team’s Sunday starter and everyday first baseman after posting a 4.11 ERA in 57 innings of work and leading the team in RBI (60) after missing the entire 2017 season due to injury. The rest of the starting infield will also be the same with Oscar Serratos at third base, Austin Wilhite at shortstop and Luke Waddell at second base. Waddell in particular is poised for a big, breakout season while Kyle McCann, who hit .300-15-45 – not too far off Bart’s .359-16-38 line – will take over behind the plate as the everyday catcher.

38. Houston

Head Coach: Todd Whitting
Conference: American Athletic
2018 Record: 38-25 (16-8 AAC)
2018 Finish: Chapel Hill Regional

Houston enjoyed another successful season under the guidance of head coach Todd Whitting, finishing first in the American Athletic Conference during the regular season with series wins over the league’s Nos. 2-4 ranked teams: South Florida, East Carolina and UConn. The team returns some big bats in the form of third baseman Jared Triolo, who led the team in batting (.344), first baseman Lael Lockhart, who has started games since his freshman year and could pull double duty as a pitcher, and center fielder Grayson Padgett, a contact-oriented hitter who can beat you with his speed. But the biggest bat of all is senior first baseman/designated hitter Joe Davis, whose junior season came close to replicating his Freshman All-American season with a career .316/.375/.527 triple slash line with 35 homers and 166 RBI over three seasons. Hard-throwing righthander Fred Villarreal will join Ryan Randel as a weekend starter with Carter Henry returning to his role as the team’s closer after recording six saves in 28 relief appearances a year ago. Houston recruits from the junior college ranks as well as anyone and this year’s primary addition is hard-throwing righthander Devon Roehdal who went 9-3 with a 2.95 at San Jacinto last spring.

39. Louisiana Tech

Head Coach: Lane Burroughs
Conference: Conference USA
2018 Record: 39-20 (21-9 C-USA)
2018 Finish: Did not play in postseason

With an incredible number of returning players Louisiana Tech will have lofty expectations heading into the season for a team that finished second in the C-USA standings. All but one player (shortstop Dalton Skelton) from the everyday lineup is back for a team that hit .282 with 50 home runs and 73 stolen bases. That includes leading hitter and first baseman Hunter Wells (.357), center fielder Parker Bates, who led the team in RBI (40), and left fielder Mason Mallard, who led the team in stolen bases (25). The number of returning players to the pitching staff is just as impressive with all four starters back: David Leal, Matt Miller, Logan Bailey and Logan Robbins. Each of those pitchers made at least 13 starts with the ability to miss bats and limit free passes. The bullpen also has a fair amount of returning players, including swing man Tyler Follis, lefthanded ace Kyle Griffen and likely closer Braxton Smith. The team assembled a challenging early season schedule with weekend series at Southeastern Louisiana and Arkansas in addition to a two-game mid-week series against Sam Houston before their conference slate begins at home against Southern Miss.

40. Washington

Head Coach: Lindsay Meggs
Conference: Pac-12
2018 Record: 35-26 (20-10 Pac-12)
2018 Finish: College World Series

The 2018 season was a huge success for Washington, going 20-10 in the Pac-12 with series wins over Arizona, UCLA and Stanford. In Regional play they beat UConn and host Coastal Carolina on the opposite corner of the country before out-lasting Cal State Fullerton in dramatic fashion to make their first-ever appearance in the College World Series. Gone from that team are several significant contributors, most notably staff ace Joe DeMers and the middle infield tandem of Levi Jordan and AJ Graffanino. However, the team received a big boost when designated hitter Joe Wainhouse decided to return for his senior year after slugging 19 bombs a year ago. Also back are outfielders Mason Cerrillo, Braiden Ward and Christian Jones in addition to catcher Nick Kahle. Kahle continues Washington’s recent history of standout backstops while both Ward and Jones stood out over the summer and could be poised for breakout seasons. Jordan Jones moves up to take over as the team’s Friday starter after going 6-4 with a 3.98 ERA in 104 innings as a sophomore. Hard-throwing junior Josh Burgmann and sophomores Jack DeCooman, Stevie Emanuels and Jack Enger will all be asked to take on much more significant pitching roles in 2019.

Others considered: Dallas Baptist, Florida Gulf Coast, Florida International, Miami, Missouri, Virginia, Wake Forest

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