By the Pac-12 Conference
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. — Five Pac-12 baseball teams-- all of which were postseason participants in 2012-- have been ranked in Baseball America’s Preseason Top 25, Baseball America announced on Thursday. Four Pac-12 schools cracked the top 15, and the league’s five representatives in the poll are the second-most by any conference.
Oregon State will open the season at No. 6 in the poll, followed by Stanford at No. 9 and UCLA at No. 12. Oregon checked in at No. 15, and defending national champion Arizona landed at No. 24.
Oregon State enters the season with an experienced lineup, as it returns nine players that started at least 24 games in 2012, including reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Michael Conforto.
Stanford is led by Mark Appel, who was selected with the eighth overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft and opted to return for his senior season. Appel posted a 10-2 record a season ago and led the Pac-12 with 130 strikeouts.
UCLA is coming off a season in which it claimed a share of the Pac-12 title and earned a berth in the College World Series. The Bruins pitching staff, headlined by preseason All-American Adam Plutko, figures to be among the best in the nation.
Oregon returns a bevy of experienced players and will rely on production from reliever Jimmie Sherfy and one of the stronger bullpens in the country. Sherfy led the Pac-12 with 19 saves in 2012.
Arizona, which led the Conference in team batting average (.329) in 2012, will look to reigning Pac-12 batting champ Johnny Field to provide a spark on offense. Field also led the league in runs and walks last season.
All five teams earned top 20 preseason rankings from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, which released its poll in December.
To view Baseball America’s full top 25 preseason poll, visit www.baseballamerica.com.