2009 Season Preview Big 12 Part One

With the start of College Baseball season starting on February 20th and the Big 12 starting conference series on March 13th we will be taking a look at the teams of the Big 12. In 2008, Texas A&M won the regular season title but the Texas Longhorns ended up winning the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City. Which teams will make a run for the conference title this year? A&M will have the top pitching staff in the Big 12, Baylor has a top Recruiting class of ’06 that are now Juniors and ready to get the Bears back to Omaha. What about Texas and the downfall they have gone through for the last 3 years? Will Andy Oliver get reinstated to help lead Oklahoma State? What about Oklahoma? They return a very good group of guys but are ready to make a run for the Big 12 Title? Can Missouri replace Aaron Crow and Jacob Priday? What kind of year will first year coach Dan Spencer have with Texas Tech?


Today we will be looking at Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, and Nebraska. We will release the other teams tomorrow and how we think the Big 12 will look by the end of the season.

Baylor

2008 Season-32-26 (Overall) 11-16 (6th Big 12)

Head Coach Steve Smith will be entering his 15th season and will be looking to guide the Bears back on “The Road to Omaha”. After getting to Omaha in ’05 the Bears have failed to make it out of the first round in ’06 & ’07. In 2008 the program took a step back and spent the summer at home.

But this could be a big year for the Bears. The highly touted class of ’06 are now Juniors and will be called upon to guide the Bears back to Omaha.

Top Returning Pitchers

Weekend starters

Kendall Volz had a great summer season with the USA National Team and will be expected to be the top pitcher.

Shawn Tolleson was 6-4 in 14 starts with a 5.06 era in 78 innings of work.

Willie Kempf went 6-2 in 10 starts with a 3.69 era in 68 innings of work.

Top Returning Position Players

Jr. Shortstop Raynor Campbell batted .311 in 44 games ’08, has very good range at SS
Jr. Third baseman Shaver Hansen
Sr. DH Adam Hornung
Jr. First baseman Dustin Dickerson
Jr. Outfielder Aaron Miller Preseason All-American Team
Sr. Outfielder Ben Booker

Incoming players to watch for in ’09

Freshman Joey Hainsfurther expected to start at 2nd Base.
Freshman RHP Logan Verrett

Key Players Lost from ’08

Beamer Weems Set the tone for the offense
Mace Thurman 39 innings of work went 3-1
Tim Matthews Went 5-2 in 18 appearances 58 innings of work
Randall Linebaugh 37 innings of work was 1-0 in ’08.
Nick Cassavechia In 26 innings of work went 0-3

Kansas

2008 Season- 30-27(Overall) 9-18(BIG 12)

After winning the Big 12 Championship in ’06, Head Coach Ritch Price and the Jayhawks have not made the Big 12 Tournament in the last two years. This year could be a very difficult year for the Jayhawks as they will have to replace a few pitchers.

Top Returning Pitchers

Paul Smyth- In ’08 was 5-5 in 34 appearances with 10 saves.
Schaeffer Hall- In 18 appearances Hall made 10 starts and went 4-2 with an era. of 5.13

Top Returning Position Players

Nick Faunce

Incoming players to watch for

Freshman IF Zac Elgie- Was drafted in the 12th round by the Oakland A’s.

Freshman LHP Lee Ridenhour- Plus Fastball with good breaking stuff.

Key Players lost from ’08

Sam Freeman- went 4-1 with an 8.53 ERA in 13 appearances in ’08 for KU

Nick Czyz- made a team-high 13 starts for the Jayhawks this season and compiled a 2-7 mark with a 6.12 ERA

Ryne Price- was a four-year starter who played several different positions during his college career. He finished his Jayhawk career with a .275 batting average, a school record 35 home runs, 155 RBIs and 25 stolen bases.

Andres Esquibel- went 10-7 in his Kansas career, including 7-3 in 2007. He posted a 5.17 ERA with 139 hits allowed in 141 innings

Erik Morrison-He completed his Jayhawk years with a .279 average, 31 home runs and 171 RBIs. He also swiped 27 bases, including a career high 13 this season. He was named All-Big 12 Honorable Mention for the second-straight season.

Kansas State-

2008 Season- 29-29(Overall) 11-16 (9th BIG 12)

With 19 new comers including 14 freshman, Head Coach Brad Hill and the Wildcats will be looking to try to get back to the Big 12 Championship game. 2008 was a very successful year for the Wildcats even though they did not qualify for the tournament. Kansas State is the only school in the Big 12 to improve its conference finish every season since 2005.

Top Returning Pitchers

A.J. Morris-Last season, had 12 starts and worked 53.2 innings and compile a record of 4-4 with an ERA of 6.04.

Thomas Rooke-

Top Returning Position Players

Dane Yelovich-Sr. OF

Jason King- Soph IF

Jordan Cruz- Sr. OF

Incoming players to watch for

Mike Kindel- Freshman OF with good Power

Nick Martini- Freshman OF with good tools

Kyle Hunter- Freshman LHP good command of 3 pitches.

Key Players lost from ’08

Nate Tenbrink – Tenbrink was a career .273 hitter with 29 doubles, five triples, 12 home runs and 78 RBI

Byron Wiley- Wiley was a career .306 hitter with 22 doubles, three triples, 13 home runs and 90 RBI.

Trevor Hurley- The right-handed pitcher holds a career record of 1-5 and a 5.99 ERA and three saves.

Justin Murray- Murray went 3-2 and held a 4.21 ERA in 72.2 innings. He is 8-5 with a 4.63 ERA in his three-year career at Kansas State.

Ben Hornbeck- The left handed pitcher was 6-4 in his career with a 4.69 ERA.

Missouri

2008 Season- 39-21(Overall) 16-11(4th BIG 12)

Head Coach Tim Jamieson

Top Returning Pitchers

Kyle Gibson was 9-4 in ’08 for the Tigers. Gibson is expected to take over the number 1 spot in the rotation this year as Aaron Crow left the program to play independent ball this spring before the 2009 MLB Draft.

Ian Berger, Nick Tepesch, Ryan Allen and Kelly Fick look to me to be the chief candidates for Saturday/Sunday roles.

Top Returning Position Players

C: Trevor Coleman, JR, was great in Cape Cod League, will be a leader this year

1B: Steve Gray. If he can play the whole season like he did toward the end of 08, will be a key hitter

SS: Andrew Thigpen has the bat, but his glove is suspect. JuCo transfer Michael Liberto impressed the coaches and onlookers in the Fall with both bat and glove and will compete for this job

3B: Kyle Mach returns. Has turned into the best fielding 3B in years for MU, but his bat needs to be more consistent

OF: Aaron Senne and Ryan Lollis return as solid players and hitters – both will be key to offensive production. Greg Folgia is reportedly being moved to the OF this season, where he can be free to focus more on his hitting.

Other players who could grab playing time and attention: TJ Scheiber, IF, Jonah Schmidt, likely regular DH, Rex Meyr is probably the best bet as #4 OF.

Incoming players to watch for

2B: My best guess is that Freshman Conner Mach will end up as the starter here, although he might not begin there.

Key Players lost from ’08;

Aaron Crow -Crow finished the 2008 season with a 13-0 record, winning 13 of his 15 starts.

Rick Zagone

Jacob Priday

Ryan Lollis

Kurt Calvert

Lee Fischer

Nebraska

2008 Season-41-16(Overall) 17-9(3rd Big 12)

Head Coach Mike Anderson and Pitching Coach Dave Bingham will have a uphill battle in getting their young and inexperience pitching staff ready for the Big 12 this year. They are going to have to replace 64% of the innings from last year. They will have 16 new faces on the roster wearing the Red and White.

Top Returning Pitchers

Erik Bird- Senior- Went 5-1 in 7 starts with a 4.05 ERA

Top Returning Position Players

Jake Mort IF- at the plate hit .262 in 52 games.
Cody Neer-Catcher- Hit .234 on the year.

Incoming players to watch for

Nick Ludemann
Boomer Collins

Key Players lost from ’08

Dan Jennings-went 6-3 with four saves and a 3.39 ERA in 23 appearances. The left-hander struck out 75 in 77 innings and ranked among the Big 12 leaders in ERA (seventh), opponent batting average (.227, eighth) and saves (four, 10th). An honorable-mention All-Big 12 selection.

Jake Opitz – 2nd baseman Opitz put together his best season as a senior, hitting .339 with 11 homers and 50 RBIs.

Johnny Dorn- In 2008, the Golden Spikes and Howser Award semifinalist compiled a 6-2 record with a 2.45 ERA in 15 starts.

Thad Weber – Weber earned second-team All-Big 12 honors in 2008, posting a 9-5 record in 15 appearances, fanning 72 and walking only 28 over 79 innings of work.

Mitch Abeita- Abeita earned first-team All-Big 12 honors in 2008, hitting .337 with 10 homers and 49 RBIs.

Zach Herr – Last season, the left-hander made a team-high 28 appearances, going 3-0 with five saves and a 4.24 ERA. He struck out 49 and walked just 13 over 34 innings.

Aaron Pribanic – In 2008 , Pribanic went 3-4 with a 4.72 ERA in 17 appearances as Nebraska’s Sunday starter

Also big thanks to Tim Robertson of SimmonsField.com for adding great info to the Missouri Tigers.