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2011 CBD Season Preview: Big 12

The Big 12 Conference had a good season in 2010, boasting a CWS team in Oklahoma, and seeing the Texas Longhorns compile an incredible 24-3 conference record, with half the members making the post season. 2011 promises good things for the league. Four teams have been ranked in the NCBWA poll, with a total of six players earning spots on the NCBWA All-American teams.

Oklahoma is the favorite to win the conference after finishing second in the league and making it all the way to Omaha. Texas and Texas A&M both sport strong teams, with most of their talent on the mound. Baylor returns enough talent, but will need to play consistently all season to make it past the regionals. Kansas State returns Nick Martini and enough pitchers to stay in the top half. Nebraska’s strong recruiting class keeps them just above Texas Tech, who has plenty of bat, but not much pitching. Kansas must replace their top trio of hitters, and will be in better shape than Missouri. Finally, Oklahoma State has a lot to prove after finishing last in 2010.

2011 also marks the final season for Nebraska to compete in the Big 12. Their move to the Big 10 will being in 2012, and should turn Nebraska into a perennial post season contender.

COLLEGE BASEBALL DAILY PRESEASON ALL-BIG 12 TEAM

C- Jr. Tyler Ogle OKLAHOMA
1B- Sr. Tant Shepherd TEXAS
2B- Sr. Davis Duren OKLAHOMA STATE
3B- Jr. Garrett Buechele OKLAHOMA (Player of the Year)
SS- Jr. Brandon Loy TEXAS
OF- Jr. Nick Martini KANSAS STATE
OF- So. Barrett Barnes TEXAS TECH
OF- Sr. Luis Uribe OKLAHOMA STATE
DH- Jr. Scott LeJeune TEXAS TECH
SP- Jr. Taylor Jungmann TEXAS (Pitcher of the Year)
SP- Sr. Cole Green TEXAS
SP- Jr. John Stilson TEXAS A&M
RP- Sr. Ryan Duke OKLAHOMA
UT- Jr. Brooks Pinckard BAYLOR

BAYLOR (36-24, 12-13)

Key Returnees
SP Logan Verrett (3.28 ERA, 5-3, 97 K)
UT Brooks Pinckard (2.45 ERA, 12 saves/ .305, 28 RBI, 18-20 SB)
OF Logan Vick (.329, 10 HR, 27 RBI, 11-15 SB)
Key Losses
2B Raynor Campbell (.335, 7 HR, 41 RBI)
SP Willie Kempf (3.02 ERA, 9-2, 80 K)
Key Newcomer
UT Trae Davis

The Bears lost a pair of starting pitchers in Willie Kempf and Shawn Tolleson, as well as one of their top players, Raynor Campbell, but return a key part of last year’s core that lead them to the Big 12 tournament. Junior Logan Verrett will lead the pitching staff, with junior Brooks Pinckard coming in from the outfield to close games. Pinckard was a surprise on the mound last season, finishing second in the league with 12 saves. Sophomore Logan Vick was a first team Freshman All-American in 2010, and earned second team All-Big 12. Baylor returns a wealth of experience, which should help them improve on their sixth place finish.

KANSAS (31-27-1, 11-15-1)

Key Returnees
OF Casey Lytle (.278, 33 RBI, 14-17 SB)
OF Jimmy Waters (.309, 9 HR, 63 RBI)
SP T.J. Walz (5.06 ERA, 8-6, 95 K)
Key Losses
3B Tony Thompson (.338, 6 HR, 38 RBI)
2B Robbie Price (.351, 6 HR, 49 RBI)
OF Brian Heere (.393, 6 HR, 52 RBI)
Key Newcomer
P Alex Cox

With their top three hitters gone, the Jayhawks will need to find adequate replacements in their lineup early. Luckily for them, they return two experienced outfielders. Seniors Casey Lytle and Jimmy Waters have plenty of experience and talent to help Coach Ritch Price’s team stay out of the cellar, and will call on other returning starters like juniors Jason Brunansky and Chris Manship to lead Kansas. On the mound, the Jayhawks return three of their top five starters, led by senior T.J. Walz and sophomore Tanner Poppe. Sophomore pitcher Lee Ridenhour returns after missing 2010 due to injury.

KANSAS STATE (37-22, 14-12)

Key Returnees
OF Nick Martini (.416, 4 HR, 59 HR)
RP Thomas Rooke (4.18 ERA, 4-1, 61 K)
SP Kyle Hunter (4.59 ERA, 9-2, 58 K)
Key Losses
SS Carter Jurica (.363, 13 HR, 69 RBI)
3B Adam Muenster (.381, 21 2B, 33 RBI)
Key Newcomer
UT Shane Conlon

Two seasons removed from A.J. Morris, and Kansas State is still running strong. After a third place finish in 2010, the Wildcats are ready to stay in the top half of the league. Junior OF Nick Martini led the league in hitting last season, garnering All-American status and co-Player of the Year honors. Martini returns, but first team All-Big 12 infielders Carter Jurica and Adam Muenster are gone, leaving a hole in the left side of the infield. Junior IF Jason King will return after missing 2010 with injury. Four of the top five starters are back, led by junior starter Kyle Hunter and senior stopper Thomas Rooke.

NEBRASKA (27-27, 10-17)

Key Returnees
3B Cody Asche (.311, 10 HR, 58 RBI)
SP Tom Lemke (5.34 ERA, 5-6, 43 K)
DH Kale Kiser (.354, 2 HR, 27 RBI)
Key Losses
OF Adam Bailey (.368, 18 HR, 69 RBI)
OF D.J. Belfonte (.376, 7 HR, 37 RBI)
Key Newcomer
P Logan Ehlers

The Cornhuskers enter their final year in the Big 12, and will hope to finish better than 2010’s ninth place stumble. Big 12 home run champion Adam Bailey is gone, as well as fellow outfielder D.J. Belfonte, but junior Cody Asche will look to improve after hitting .316 with 10 home runs. Junior Kale Kiser was given All-Big 12 Honorable Mention as a designated hitter, but can also play in the infield if needed. The pitching staff lost Mike Nesseth and Mike Mariot, but will be in good shape with a great crop of new arms. Freshmen pitchers Logan Ehlers, Jon Keller and Brandon Pierce all opted to move to Lincoln after being drafted in June, and will join sophomore Tom Lemke, senior Casey Hauptman, and junior Sean Yost on the mound. Ehlers is waiting for the NCAA to rule him eligible after questions arose regarding an agent.

MISSOURI (29-26, 10-16)

Key Returnees
RP Phil McCormick (4.40, 6-1, 15 K)
SP Zack Hardoin (5.60 ERA, 2-2, 32 K)
OF Eric Garcia (.288, 6 HR, 31 RBI)
Key Losses
1B Aaron Senne (.400, 16 HR, 59 RBI)
C Brett Nicholas (.351, 12 HR, 64 RBI)
SP Nick Tepesch (4.20 ERA, 6-6, 75 K)
Key Newcomer
P Matt Stites

In order to compete, the Tigers need be better at the plate. Despite departed 1B Aaron Senne’s .400 average, Missouri hit .288 as a team. Junior OF Ryan Gebhart is the only veteran who hit over .300, but sophomore OFs Eric Garcia and Dane Opel have potential to help Coach Tim Jamieson’s club. On the mound, Missouri brings back a plethora of senior pitchers. Senior SP Zack Hardoin, SP Phil McCormick and CL Brad Buehler will be the key members, with junior RP Jeff Emens playing an important role in the middle innings. Jefferson College transfer Matt Stites should add instant talent to the pitching staff after a successful summer in the Cape Cod League.

OKLAHOMA (50-18, 15-10)

Key Returnees
3B Garrett Buechele (.359, 17 HR, 65 RBI)
RP Ryan Duke (3.75 ERA, 3-2, 12 saves, 39 K)
C Tyler Ogle (.331, 11 HR, 36 RBI)
Key Losses
SP Zach Neal (4.43, 8-3, 95 K)
RP Jeremy Erben (3.43 ERA, 7-1, 5 saves, 79 K)
Key Newcomer
OF Cayle Shambaugh

The Sooners have aimed their sites on a return to Omaha after a magnificent season under Coach Sunny Golloway. A strong pitching staff, and an even stronger lineup, should make it an easy road to TD Ameritrade Park. Junior 3B Garrett Buechele headlines the Sooner hitters after an All-American season. Junior C Tyler Ogle is ready to join Buechele atop the Oklahoma stats list, but will have to contend with junior 1B Cameron Seitzer, and junior OF Chris Ellison for the spotlight. High school All-American Cayle Shambaugh joins the Sooners after a distinguished high school career in Jay, Oklahoma.

OKLAHOMA STATE (29-26, 8-19)

Key Returnees
2B Davis Duren (.383, 6 HR, 35 RBI)
C Dane Phillips (.337, 3 HR, 34 RBI)
SP Mike Strong (4.48 ERA, 4-3, 66 K)
Key Losses
SS Tom Belza (.316, 3 HR, 27 RBI)
SP Thomas Keeling (5.74 ERA, 4-6, 92 K)
SP Tyler Lyons (6.06 ERA, 3-6, 80 K)
Key Newcomer
P Jason Hursh

Fans in Stillwater need a good 2011 season to forget about the dismal one from 2010. The Cowboys were 21-7 against non-conference opponents, but an 8-19 conference record kept them from the Big 12 Tournament. Senior 2B Davis Duren returned to the Cowboys after being drafted by the Astros. Duren was a second team member of the All-Big 12 team after hitting .383 with 35 RBI. Sophomore C Dane Phillips should take over behind the plate after a successful freshman season. Coach Frank Anderson brought in a ton of help from the junior college ranks to help fill the gaps left by pitchers Thomas Keeling and Tyler Lyons. Jason Hursh, a freshman pitcher from Texas, opted to attend Oklahoma State after the Pirates selected him in the sixth round of the draft.

TEXAS (50-13, 24-3)

Key Returnees
SP Taylor Jungmann (2.03 ERA, 8-3, 129 K)
SP Cole Green (2.74 ERA, 11-2, 75 K)
1B Tant Shepherd (.337, 8 HR, 27 RBI)
Key Losses
CL Chance Ruffin (1.11 ERA, 6-1, 14 saves, 97 K)
SP Brandon Workman (3.35 ERA, 12-2, 101 K)
C Cameron Rupp (.304, 10 HR, 54 RBI)
Key Newcomer
C Jacob Felts

The Longhorns were easily one of the top teams during the 2010 regular season, but struggled mightily in the postseason, losing the Austin Super Regional to TCU and getting swept in the Big 12 Tournament. No worries, Texas retains the services of most of their starting hitters, and a pair of ace pitchers in senior Cole Green, the 2010 Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, and junior Taylor Jungmann. Senior 1B Tant Shepherd returns after a strong finish last season, and is joined by junior SS Brandon Loy, one of the top defensive players in the nation. Augie Garrido brought in another talented crop of freshman, highlighted by C Jacob Felts, a possible starter on opening day,

TEXAS A&M (43-21-1, 14-12-1)

Key Returnees
SP John Stilson (0.80 ERA, 9-1, 10 saves, 114 K)
DH Matt Juengel (.359, 11 HR, 39 RBI)
SP Michael Wacha (2.90 ERA, 9-2, 97 K)
Key Losses
SS Brodie Greene (.395, 14 HR, 55 RBI)
SP Barrett Loux (2.83 ERA, 11-2, 136 K)
1B Joe Patterson (3.48, 9 HR, 48 RBI)
Key Newcomer
OF Krey Bratsen

Texas A&M is poised to make another run at the Big 12 title in 2011 after winning the 2010 Big 12 Tournament, and falling a game short of a Super Regional. Coming back for the Aggies is 2010 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, John Stilson. Stilson was the conference’s best pitcher outside of Austin, leading the league with a 0.80 ERA and saving 10 games with a 9-1 record. This season, Stilson is expected to move to the starting rotation along with sophomore Michael Wacha and senior Ross Hales, giving A&M a solid weekend crew. Junior Matt Juengel saw most of his innings as a DH last season, but can also be used on either corner of the infield. Juengel packs more punch with his bat than most would assume. The loss of Brodie Greene, a player who could play almost all nine positions, will be tough to replace, but Coach Rob Childress has plenty of talent on his roster.

TEXAS TECH (28-29, 13-14)

Key Returnees
OF Barrett Barnes (.341, 14 HR, 53 RBI)
DH Scott LeJeune (.323, 28 2B, 58 RBI)
2B Jamodrick McGruder (.322, 7 HR, 32 RBI, 23-27 SB)
Key Losses
CL Chad Bettis (4.41 ERA, 7-4, 10 saves, 101 K)
SP Bobby Doran (4.35 ERA, 5-4, 81 K)
OF Michael Reed (.340, 21 2B, 39 RBI)
Key Newcomer
P Trey Masek

The question mark this season for the Red Raiders happens to be Dan Spencer’s specialty, pitching. Last season, Texas Tech went beyond the expectations of many to finish in the top half of the conference, thanks in large part to pitcher Chad Bettis, a second round pick by the Colorado Rockies. Bettis led the Red Raiders in wins, saves, and strikeouts, splitting time as a starter and closer. The Red Raiders replace 10 of the 15 pitchers from 2010. On the field, Texas Tech boasts one of the top lineups in the conference. Led by 2010 Big 12 Freshman of the Year Barrett Barnes, junior DH/OF Scott LeJeune, and sophomore 2B Jamodrick McGruder, there should be no problem for the team that tied for second among batting averages last season. Barnes is expected to move to the outfield after spending his freshman season at first base.

Predicted Finish:
1. Oklahoma
2. Texas
3. Texas A&M
4. Baylor
5. Kansas State
6. Nebraska
7. Texas Tech
8. Kansas
9. Missouri
10. Oklahoma State

  • Jam

    Missouri will have better pitching depth this year.