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Some key cogs for the Gamecocks have since departed. Heroic second baseman Scott Wingo is long gone and gritty third baseman Adrian Morales has moved on, too. However, the Gamecocks return a strong core of players who have the program legitimately aiming for a third-straight national title.
The defending national champions are well represented in our first college baseball position/coach power rankings for the 2012 season.
Each position and the coach category will be ranked 1-10 each week. This week, South Carolina’s Ray Tanner headlines the head coach category, while Andy Lopez, coach of the surging Arizona Wildcats, rounds out the list of coaches at No. 10.
There were plenty of talented catchers to choose from, though, the top spot was a no-brainer with Florida’s Mike Zunino leading the way. North Carolina’s Jacob Stallings, who finished last season on a high note, rounds out the list.
Moving down the line, South Carolina is well represented at the first base position with clutch Christian Walker leading the way. Meanwhile, Arkansas talented sophomore Dominic Ficociello rounds out the list No. 10.
Given the constant lack of depth at the shortstop and second base positions at the collegiate level, we’ve combined the two for one ranking. Arizona State’s Deven Marrero, one of the nation’s elite players and MLB draft prospects, leads the charge. Meanwhile, Ole Miss second baseman Alex Yarbrough is expected to have a banner campaign after a productive 2011 season. He rounds out the middle infield rankings.
The third base position isn’t incredibly deep entering the 2012 season. Stanford’s Stephen Piscotty leads the way, while North Carolina’s Colin Moran hopes to emulate last year’s success as sophomore this spring. East Carolina hard-hitting veteran Corey Thompson rounds out the list.
Georgia Southern’s Victor Roache, a fast-rising rising and hard-hitting slugger, headlines the outfield. Meanwhile, Alabama’s Taylor Dugas is an ultra-talented returning senior and Cal State Fullerton’s Michael Lorenzen is a rising super sophomore. It’s worth noting hard-hitting College of Charleston outfielder Daniel Aldrich rounds out the list.
In terms of starting pitchers, Stanford hard-throwing right-hander Mark Appel is the showcased arm entering the spring. Meanwhile, South Carolina’s Michael Roth and Texas A&M’s Michael Wacha are hot on his heels. Speaking of the Aggies, Wacha’s cohort in crime on the mound, right-hander Ross Stripling, rounds out the list.
Finally, there were several relievers that could’ve been included in our ranking of relief pitchers. As it stands, Duke’s Marcus Stroman leads the way and enters ’12 with very high expectations following a fabulous summer. Meanwhile, St. John’s Matt Carasiti and Arkansas’ Nolan Sanburn are premier arms to watch as the season progresses.
Perfect Game’s college baseball position/coach power rankings will be released every Wednesday, typically in the afternoon, leading up to the College World Series. A final version will be posted following the annual grand event in Omaha.
Kendall Rogers is the college baseball managing editor for Perfect Game USA and can be reached at email@example.com