Five Pac-12 Teams in Top 16 of Baseball America Preseason Poll
SAN FRANCISCO - Five Pac-12 baseball teams have been ranked in Baseball America's Preseason Poll, it was announced on Monday. OREGON STATE, CALIFORNIA, UCLA, OREGON and USC all cracked the top 16 at No. 5, No. 8, No. 10, No. 14 and No. 16, respectively.
Oregon State took second in 2015 in the Pac-12 and competed in the Dallas Regional of the NCAA Tournament. The Beavers return the reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in first baseman KJ Harrison, as well as starting pitcher Drew Rasmussen, and relief pitcher Mitch Hickey. The trio of sophomores were all named Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-Americans in 2015.
California finished fourth in the Conference last season and earned a trip to the NCAA Regionals for the first time since 2011. The Golden Bears return all three weekend starters; junior RHP Daulton Jefferies (pre-season All-American from multiple publications), senior RHP Ryan Mason and sophomore LHP Matt Ladrech (2015 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American).
UCLA, the defending Pac-12 Champions, have been ranked in the top-10 of the preseason poll four times in the last six years. Coming off one of the best seasons in program history, the Bruins' coaching staff welcomed the nation’s No. 3 ranked recruiting class (as ranked by Baseball America). UCLA also returns a strong group of veterans, including junior relief pitcher Grant Dyer, a 2015 first-team All-Pac-12 honoree and six position player starters from last year’s team.
Oregon finished sixth in the Pac-12 in 2015 and earned a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Per Collegiate Baseball, the Ducks brought in the No. 8 recruiting class in the country for the 2016 season. Head coach George Horton needs just 23 wins to reach 1,000 career wins as a head coach and 39 wins for 300th at Oregon. The Ducks also welcome back a strong pitching rotation of lefties in redshirt junior Cole Irvin, sophomore David Peterson and redshirt sophomore Matt Krook.
USC took third place in the Pac-12 last year and returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 10 seasons in 2015, advancing to the Lake Elsinore Regional Final. The Trojans return their top RBI man from last season, senior OF Timmy Robinson, who tallied 53 in 2015. USC also returns two-thirds of their weekend rotation from 2015, including senior ace Kyle Davis.
With 28 College World Series National Titles including four of the last ten, the Pac-12 looks to continue its dominance in the ranks of collegiate baseball in 2016. Pac-12 Baseball has enjoyed unprecedented exposure thanks to the Pac-12 Network which will air 101 games in 2016. Above all, the Pac-12 Network has provided the opportunity to showcase the exceptional talent Pac-12 Baseball has to offer and allowed the student-athletes to get the national and widespread exposure and attention they deserve.