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Friday, February 08, 2013

Conference previews: Big West

Kendall Rogers        
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The college baseball season is right around the corner, and as part of our 2013 College Baseball Preview, we take an in-depth look at each conference with predicted order of finish, Preseason All-Conference teams, top prospect lists and a complete team-by-team notes/scouting packet.

ALSO SEE: 2013 College Baseball Preview index

Overall/conference won-loss records from 2012 indicated; expectation level denoted -- College World Series= CWS, NCAA Super Regional= SR, NCAA Regional= R

No Team W L W L
1. Cal State Fullerton - SR
17 7 36 21
2. UC Irvine - R
13 11 31 25
3. Cal Poly - R
16 8 36 20
4. UC Santa Barbara 10 14 28 28
5. Long Beach State
15 9 28 27
6. Cal State Northridge
10 14 23 30
7. UC Riverside
9 15 22 32
8. Hawaii* X X 30 25
9. Pacific
6 18 16 40
10. UC Davis 12 12 27 30

* New to the conference in 2013


Pos Name Class School Stats/Notes
C Chad Wallach Jr.
Cal State Fullerton .206-0-7, made huge strides, will show power in middle of order
1B Carlos Lopez
Cal State Fullerton
.317-1-35, very consistent player, could improve power production
2B Stephen Ventimilia So. Hawaii .293-0-14, decent hitter w/ good defensive tools
SS Brandon Trinkwon
Jr. UC Santa Barbara .347-2-42, good defensive skills, surprising pop in athletic frame
3B Matt Chapman
So. Cal State Fullerton .286-2-23, good arm w/ power, reminds coaches of Phil Nevin
OF David Armendariz Jr. Cal Poly .312-4-36, solid hitter, could get on base more
OF Richard Prigatano So. Long Beach State .278-1-14, has some pop, really excelled in the fall
OF Anthony Hutting
Sr. Cal State Fullerton .279-1-27, good OF, should get better with the bat
DH Jimmy Allen
Cal Poly .345-3-44, very consistent hitter, RBI machine
UT Michael Lorenzen Jr.
Cal State Fullerton .297-2-43, 1.23 ERA, 16 SVs, terrific athlete, mid/upper 90s FB
SP Grahamm Wiest
So. Cal State Fullerton 3.12 ERA, 86.2 IP, 57 K, 18 BB, good command, good CH
SP Joey Wagman
Sr. Cal Poly 2.33 ERA, 108.1 IP, 79 K, 20 BB, .234 OPP BA
SP Andrew Thurman
UC Irvine 2.66 ERA, 98 IP, 69 K, 23 BB, .195, great stuff, big-time arm
RP Chase Johnson Jr. Cal Poly
3.34 ERA, 25 apps, 8 saves, 35 IP, 2.44 OPP BA, FB well into 90s

Player of the Year: OF Michael Lorenzen, Cal State Fullerton
Pitcher of the Year: RHP Andrew Thurman, UC Irvine
Top Freshman: RHP Justin Garza, Cal State Fullerton
Top Transfer: 1B Tyler Kuresa, UC Santa Barbara (sat out in 2012/Oregon transfer)


2013 Draft Class

1. Michael Lorenzen, Jr., OF/RHP, Cal State Fullerton

2. Chase Johnson, Jr., RHP, Cal Poly

3. Brandon Trinkwon, Jr., 2B/SS, UC Santa Barbara

4. Shane Carle, Jr., RHP, Long Beach State

5. Andrew Thurman, Jr., RHP, UC Irvine

6. Tyler Kuresa, So., 1B, UC Santa Barbara

7. Shay Maltese, Jr., RHP, Cal State Northridge

8. Jon Maciel, Jr., RHP, Long Beach State

9. David Armendariz, Jr., OF, Cal Poly

10. Josh Frye, Jr., RHP, Long Beach State

2014 Draft Class

1. Matt Chapman, So., SS, Cal State Fullerton

2. J.D. Davis, So., 3B/RHP, Cal State Fullerton

3. Taylor Sparks, So., 3B, UC Irvine

4. Richard Prigatano, So., OF, Long Beach State

5. Scott Squier, So., LHP, Hawaii

2015 Draft Class

1. Justin Garza, Fr., RHP, Cal State Fullerton

2. Thomas Eshelman, Fr., RHP, Cal State Fullerton

3. Gio Grusa, Fr., OF, Pacific


* Cal Poly finished last season with a very solid 36-20 overall record and with 16 wins in the Big West Conference, but that wasn't enough to propel them to the NCAA postseason. The Mustangs have a very good chance to accomplish that goal this spring with the return of several players, including solid starting pitchers Joey Wagman and Kyle Brueggermann, among others. Wagman, a Preseason All-Big West pitcher, tallied a 2.33 ERA in 108 1/3 innings last season, while striking out 79 and 20, while Brueggermann could be more consistent after having a 5.49 ERA in 57 1/3 innings last season. As for other arms to watch, sophomore right-hander Reed Reilly is back after tallying an impressive 2.80 ERA in 54 2/3 innings in '12, while junior righty Chase Johnson is a fast-rising prospect to follow. Johnson blew up during fall workouts with a big-time fastball well into the 90s ... The Mustangs finished last season with a .297 batting average and should be even better offensively this spring. Outfielder David Armendariz and third baseman Jimmy Allen are two key guys to watch, as Armendariz hit .312 with four homers last season and Allen hit .345 with three homers, nine stolen bases and 44 RBIs. Also keep an eye on first baseman Tim Wise (.308/3/28) and second baseman Denver Chavez (.288/1/10), while catcher Chris Hoo is expected to take a step forward from an offensive standpoint.

* Cal State Fullerton fell short of reaching the College World Series last season, but the Titans have high hopes for this season for obvious reasons. The Titans welcome back what is expected to be a very solid pitching staff. The Titans are led on the weekend by sophomore Grahamm Wiest, who put together a solid first campaign with a 3.12 ERA in 86 innings of work. Intriguing freshman right-hander Justin Garza will be in the No. 2 spot. Garza isn't a huge guy at just 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, but he flashed electric stuff in the fall with a FB up to 96. Also keep an eye on another freshman, righty Thomas Eshelman, in the No. 3 spot, while talented sophomore righty Koby Gauna will serve as midweek starter. The Titans have a very good closer in two-way player Michael Lorenzen. Lorenzen continues to develop his secondary stuff, but already has a FB up to 99. As for injuries, the Titans will be without freshman hurler Miles Chambers, who continues to rehab after Tommy John surgery ... The Titans should be better offensively this spring with the return of several of their top hitters, namely first baseman Carlos Lopez (.317/1/35), shortstop Richie Pedroza (.324/0/21) and second baseman Matt Orloff (.396/0/7), while third baseman Matt Chapman is the main guy to watch. Chapman had a huge fall both offensively and with the glove, and has drawn comps to Phil Nevin from the Fullerton coaching staff. Also keep an eye on outfielder Anthony Hutting (.279/1/27) and much improved catcher Chad Wallach.

* Cal State Northridge finished last season with a losing record, but head coach Matt Curtis and his staff hope to take a big step forward this spring. The Matadors made a coaching change in the offseason and added former Cal State Fullerton and UC San Diego assistant Sergio Brown to their staff. With that said, the Matadors have some holes to fill, particularly offensively. They finished last season with a .255 batting average and must replace several hitters. They welcome back senior outfielder Cal Vogelsang and second baseman Ryan Raslowsky as headliners. Vogelsang batted .278 with a home run and 18 RBIs last season, while Raslowsky hit .278 with 12 RBIs. Also keep an eye on outfielder Miles Williams, who showed big-time power during fall workouts, and sophomore outfielder Chester Pak, who flashed above average speed and power, with some explosiveness in the fall ... While the offense is a question mark, the Matadors actually should have a solid pitching staff with sophomore left-hander Jerry Keel and junior right-hander Harley Holt leading the weekend rotation. Keel started 13 games last season and had a 2.07 ERA in 91 1/3 innings of work. He also held teams to a .258 batting average. Holt also had a strong '12 campaign with a 3.71 ERA in 43 2/3 innings, while freshman Calvin Copping rounds out the rotation. Copping is 86-89 with late life on his FB, while he's showing a plus SL and continues to develop the changeup. Meanwhile, keep a close eye on junior right-handed closer Josh Goosen-Brown and fellow righty Kyle Ferramola. Goosen-Brown made major strides in the fall with a FB 89-91 with a plus SL. He also is expected to be a power contributor at the plate. Ferramola has the best arm on the team with a FB up to 94.

* Hawaii spent several seasons in the Western Athletic Conference, but now prepares for life in the Big West. The Rainbows finished last season with a 30-25 record, and could have a tough time taking a step forward this season. The Rainbows had one of the nation's better returning ace pitchers in Jarrett Arakawa, but he'll miss the 2013 campaign because of Tommy John surgery. That puts a lot of pressure on returning arms such as sophomores Lawrence Chew and Scott Squier and senior righty Connor Little to step up this spring. Chew had a 2.40 ERA in 45 innings last season while Squier had a 3.50 ERA in 64 1/3 innings. Meanwhile, Little missed last season, but tallied a 5.18 ERA in 48 2/3 innings two seasons ago ... The Rainbows have even more question marks offensively with some significant holes to fill from a team that finished the '12 campaign with a rough .257 batting average. The Rainbows are counting on second baseman Stephen Ventimilia and senior shortstop Pi'ikea Kitamura to have good campaigns. Ventimilia, an All-Big West selection, hit .293 with 14 RBIs last season while Kitamura hit .311 with 29 RBIs. Also keep an eye on utility player Trevor Podratz, who has some power potential.

* Long Beach State was all set to have a magical campaign in 2013, but it now has some big holes to fill as the season draws closer. The Dirtbags return some key offensive cogs such as junior third baseman  Juan Avila (.288/2/30), junior first baseman Ino Patron (.279/0/18) and All-Big West selection, outfielder Richard Prigatano (.278/1/14), but this lineup still has much work to do after finishing the '12 campaign with a dismal .255 batting average ... Interestingly, the Dirtbags have even more question marks on the mound after losing starting pitcher Ryan Strufing (UCL injury) and closer Kyle Friedrichs (Tommy John surgery) for the season. LBSU's weekend rotation will include junior right-handed hurler Shane Carle, who has a premium arm with a FB up to 93, while junior righty Ryan Millison and sophomore lefty Nick Sabo, who had a terrific call, will round out the rotation. Also keep an eye on freshman pitcher David Hill, who has a very good arm, and for now, is slated to be the midweek starter. Hill has a good SL and was ranked the No. 418 prospect nationally out of high school. Also keep an eye on Jon Maciel, who continues to improve, while hurlers Austin Boyle and Nate Underwood return from injuries.

* Pacific would love nothing more than to take a huge step forward in the Big West. The Tigers finished last season with a 16-40 overall record, also an unimpressive mark in conference. Pacific should have a solid weekend rotation with the return of ace pitcher, sophomore right-hander Michael Benson and No. 2 starter, sophomore righty Mike Hager. Benson started 14 games last season and had a 3.34 ERA in 94 1/3 innings, while Hager had a 4.36 ERA in 88 2/3 innings, and limited opposing teams to a .318 batting average. Talented freshman two-way player Patrick Weigel will serve as closer for the Tigers. Weigel was in the upper 80s out of high school, and was ranked as one of the nation's top 1,000 prospects to follow ... The Tigers finished last season with a .269 batting average, and could improve this spring with the return of at least four of their top six hitters.  Junior right-hander Riley Drongesen is the top returning hitter after batting .321 with a home run and 26 RBIs, while senior third baseman Dustin Torchio (.296/0/22) and senior second baseman Tyler Pederson (.279/0/17) are other quality hitters to watch. Also keep an eye on redshirt sophomore Erik Lockwood and sophomore outfielder Taylor Murphy, who each had impressive fall workouts.

* UC Davis had a magical campaign just a few seasons ago, but has found it difficult to consistently win the past couple of seasons. Now, after finishing last season with a .500 conference record, the Aggies are back to the drawing board after losing starting pitchers Anthony Kupbens, Dayne Quist and Tom Briner to the MLB draft. The Aggies, however, do welcome back a very solid reliever in right-handed pitcher Harry Stanwyck, who made 24 appearances last season with a 2.21 ERA in 40 2/3 innings of work ... From an offensive standpoint, the Aggies have some holes to fill, but welcome back infielder Paul Politi, infielder Tino Lipson and infielder Nick Lynch, among others. Politi batted .345 with three homers and 32 RBIs last season, while Lipson batted .306 with 17 RBIs and Lynch batted .302 with eight doubles, four homers and 26 RBIs.

* UC Irvine isn't completely void of holes entering the spring, but the Anteaters are in terrific shape in most areas, especially the pitching staff. The 'Eaters welcome back one of the nation's elite weekend rotations with the return of No. 1 starting pitcher Andrew Thurman and fellow starters Matt Whitehouse (LHP) and Evan Brock (RHP). Thurman really blossomed at the Cape Cod League last summer with big-time stuff, primarily a fastball into the low to mid 90s. He also is coming off a fantastic 2012 campaign, where he tallied a 2.66 ERA in 98 innings of work. He also struck out 69 and walked 23, while teams hit him at a .195 clip. Whitehouse is back from an injury after only making three appearances last season while Brock moves full-time to the rotation after making 18 appearances (two starts) in 2012. He tallied a 2.12 ERA in 34 innings of work. He also struck out 25 and walked 11, while teams hit him at a .186 clip. Also keep an eye on senior right-handed hurler Kyle Cooper, who will start midweek, while talented junior arms Phillip Ferragamo and Race Parmenter are back this spring. Ferragamo made 19 appearances last season and had a 3.72 ERA in 65 1/3 innings of work, while Parmenter recorded eight saves last season and had a 2.28 ERA in 27 2/3 innings. Newcomer-wise, keep an eye on freshman right-hander Josh Bornstein, who put together solid performances in the fall ... The Anteaters finished last season with an unimpressive .274 batting average, and have some key cogs to replace from that lineup, including leading hitters D.J. Crumlich, Christian Ramirez and Jordan Fox. With that said, the Anteaters are excited about the return of veteran catcher Ronnie Shaeffer, who only was able to record 34 at bats last season, while sophomore Connor Spencer, third baseman Taylor Sparks and senior outfielder Jeff Stephens aim to have good campaigns. Spencer hit .306 with 30  RBIs in '12, while Sparks, who had a very good fall, hit .202 with three homers and 12 RBIs and Stephens hit .288 with 20 RBIs.

* UC Riverside typically competes in the upper half of the Big West, but the Highlanders deviated from that usual plan last season with a 22-32 overall record and losing record in conference play. Doug Smith's club likely will escape a repeat of that type of campaign this spring. The Highlanders look very solid on paper to start the season, especially in the way of the starting rotation, which includes junior left-hander Dylan Stuart, senior right-hander Trevor Frank and junior righty Jacob Smigelski. Senior righty Mitch Patito, who had a 3.96 ERA in 50 innings last season, will serve as midweek starter. As for the starting rotation, Frank had a 4.63 ERA last season, and is coming off a strong fall, where he flashed a 90-95 FB with a changeup. Smigelski is new to the rotation and is consistently 88-93 FB with a strong three-pitch mix, while  Stuart leads the weekend after tallying a 4.00 ERA in 99 innings last year. Also keep an eye on outstanding closer, left-handed junior Ben Doucette, who has a plus curveball as part of his repertoire ... As for the offense, the Highlanders have some holes to fill, but do welcome back talented bats such as designated hitter Clayton Prestridge, Devyn Bolasky and catcher Drake Zarate, among others. Prestridge hit .292 with nine doubles and 24 RBIs last season, while Bolasky hit .284 with eight RBIs and Zarate hit .256 with six RBIs. Also keep an eye on sophomore outfielder Joe Chavez, who put together an impressive fall and has good speed after clocking in at 6.7 seconds in the 60-yard-dash during workouts.

* UC Santa Barbara finished last season with an unimpressive overall and conference mark, but has a chance to make a big-time statement this spring. The Gauchos have recruited very well under the direction of head coach Andrew Checketts and his stuff, and that finally should start to show. The Gauchos welcome back what should be a very solid pitching staff with starting pitchers Andrew Vasquez (LHP), Austin Pettibone (RHP) and Greg Mahle (LHP) leading the way. Vasquez was very consistent as a freshman last season, making 15 starts and tallying a 1.93 ERA in 88 2/3 innings. He also struck out 104 and walked 63, while teams hit him at a .190 clip. Pettibone started 13 games (17 apps) last season and had a 4.44 ERA in 79 innings, while Mahle moves full-time to the rotation after tallying 3.88 ERA in 21 appearances (three starts) last year. Also keep an eye on fantastic freshman right-handed closer Dylan Hecht, who really opened the coaching staff's eyes with a FB up to 94 and effective SL during the fall. Meanwhile, fellow freshman righty Connor Baits, who has a solid 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame, also has a FB up to 94 and should log significant innings ... The Gauchos certainly have some holes to fill at the plate, but have high hopes with the return of Mahle (.347/0/35), shortstop Brandon Trinkwon (.347/2/32) and senior third baseman Marc Venning (.262/1/30), among others. Oregon transfer Tyler Kuresa flashed good tools and power during the fall and is expected to make significant contributions, while freshman outfielder Joe Epperson is versatile and consistent.

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