Pac12CBDLogoFeatured

2013 CBD Season Preview: Pac 12

Pac12CBDLogoFeatured2012 Conference Standings

UCLA: 20-10
Arizona: 20-10
Oregon: 19-11
Stanford: 18-12
Oregon St: 18-12
Arizona St: 18-12
Washington: 13-17
California: 12-18
Washington St: 12-18
USC: 8-22
Utah: 7-23

The Pac-12 is one of the best conferences in college baseball. It’s a safe statement after the University of Arizona claimed their fourth National Championship in school history by sweeping the two-time defending champion South Carolina Gamecocks in 2012. Their coach was also rewarded. Andy Lopez was named the National Coach of the Year by the National College Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). Arizona was also able to lay claim to the Pac-12 title last season; an honor in which they shared with another national power, UCLA. UCLA finished one game better than Arizona in the overall record, and advanced to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. They meet in the winner’s bracket with Arizona getting the better of their conference rival. Still, two teams in the College World Series, is a signal to the rest of the NCAA that the Pac-12 is once again a dominant conference.

Furthermore, four of the sixteen regional sites: Eugene, Ore., Los Angeles, Calif., Tucson, Ariz., and Palo Alto, Calif., were from the Pac-12 conference. Three of the eight Super Regional sites: Eugene, Los Angeles, and Tucson were also awarded because of the status of the conference. The Oregon Ducks enjoyed their best season, since the reinstatement of the program three seasons ago, under Head Coach George Horton. Oregon was eliminated in the final game of the Super Regional, while Stanford’s run ended in Tallahassee by the bats of the Seminoles. The Oregon State Beavers were placed in Baton Rouge, La., as the two seed for the Regional. They were the only Pac-12 team in post-season play to not advance to the Super Regionals.

Arizona State would have qualified for post-season play, but their self-imposed sanctions for illegal recruiting kept them out. At season’s end, the final polls revealed six of the eleven schools, which Colorado does not have baseball, in the conference were rated.

In 2012, the Pac-12 looks to be equally as strong as the same six teams are ranked again with UCLA climbing as high as #5 in the NCBWA preseason poll. In the same poll, four Pac-12 teams are ranked in the top 10, and 5 teams are ranked in the top 15. There are also 6 All-Americans from the Preseason NCBWA returning to the conference this year. Four of the six are considered to be First Team All-Americans.

The rest of the five teams in the conference are all unique in their own regard. California will send out three LHP in a weekend series, and welcomes back a former NCAA Regional MVP. USC hopes to reap the benefits of a transfer; a two-time Ivy-League First Team selection. Washington has a centerfield who ranked number 1 in hits on the team coming back. Washington State has a standout son of a program statistical leader in batting average, at .369 in 1981-83, on its roster. And the final team, Utah, is working hard to build a winning culture in a new conference among college baseball’s elite. Here is the Pac-12.

Arizona 48-17 (20-10)

Key Players Returning: RHP Konner Wade, LF Johnny Field, C Riley Moore, 3B Brandon Dixon, OF/1B Joseph Maggi, RHP James Farris, RHP Mathew Troupe, 2B Trent Gilbert,

Key Losses: DH Bobby Brown, RHP Kurt Heyer, SS Alex Mejia, 3B Seth Mejias-Brean, OF Robert Refsnyder, OF Joey Rickard

It was a banner year in Tucson. The Arizona Wildcats won the National Championship. They also won a share of the Pac-12 Championship, their first since 1992. Head Coach Andy Lopez was named the National Coach of the Year and also Pac-12 Coach of the Year. SS Alex Mejia was named Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. But it’s a new year in the desert and this Arizona team must form an identity of their own. The Wildcats open the 2013 season ranked #14 in the preseason NCBWA poll. There are no bigger shoes to fill in the conference than replacing SS Alex Mejia. It looks like that job will fall on the shoulders of freshmen SS Kevin Newman. Newman is a solid defensive shortstop, but may take time to adjust to college pitching at the Pac-12 level. Returning to bolster the lineup is junior OF and All Pac-12 team member Johnny Field (.370, 44 RBI). Field played left-field last year, but could make the switch to center-field this year. Left-handed hitting sophomore catcher Riley Moore (.301, 38 RBI) is another Wildcat who has all the tools to increase production in his second year in the Pac-12. Junior infielder Brandon Dixon is the leading candidate to take over at 3B for Seth Mejias-Brean. In a limited role last year, Dixon batted .245 with 14 RBI.

Sophomore 2B Trent Gilbert (.272, 42 RBI) is another young Wildcat looking to breaking out in his second season. The Wildcats return their Saturday and Sunday starters: RHP Konner Wade (11-3, 3.96 ERA) and RHP James Farris (7-3, 3.97 ERA). Wade and Farris will likely make the Friday and Saturday starts while Stephen Manthei, Tyler Hale, Tyler Crawford, Kevin Elder, Cody Moffet, and Nathan Bannister will compete for the Sunday and mid-week rotation spots. The pressure situations out of the bullpen will most likely fall to RHP Mathew Troupe, who was 6-1 last season with a 3.47 ERA. He saved 6 games for the Wildcats. The Wildcats brought in another highly ranked recruiting class this offseason. Players that could see immediate playing time are OF/1B Michael Hoard, who was named the Southern Arizona Player of the Year and high school All-American as a junior, and OF Kenneth Meimerstorf. Meimerstorf batted .405 with 9 homeruns for Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nev., and lead the team to a 4A state championship and the #1 high school ranking in the country.

Arizona State 36-20 (18-12)

Key Returning Players: C Max Rossiter, RHP Trevor Williams, 3B Michael Benjamin, 2B James McDonald, LHP Adam McCreery, LHP Mathew Dunbar, RF Trever Allen, RHP Alex Blackford

Key Losses: SS Deven Marrero, IF Joey DeMichele, 1B Abe Ruiz, RHP Brady Rodgers, RHP Jake Barrett, RHP Robert Ravago, OF Andrew Aplin, C Beau Maggi

The Arizona State Sun Devils come into the 2013 season fresh off self-imposed sanctions. The Devils found that they had violated NCAA rules by illegally recruiting a previous player under the old regime. Their decision most likely kept them out of the NCAA Regional Tournament last season. The Sun Devils finished tied for fourth with Stanford and Oregon State last season, but will look to improve on that mark this season. They are ranked #22 in the NCBWA preseason poll. Gone are a number of players selected in the MLB draft, highlighted by SS Deven Marrero who was selected #24 overall by the Boston Red Sox. RHP Trevor Williams returns to the Sun Devils after a season in which he finished 12-2 with a 2.17 ERA in 15 starts. Williams is a Preseason Second Team All-American selected by the NCWBA. He will get the call on Friday nights. Highly regarded LHP Adam McCreery will be asked to have a bigger impact this season. Most likely he will be slotted for the Saturday start. Senior catcher Max Rossiter also returns to the Sun Devils after being named Pac-12 Honorable Mention last season. Rossiter finished with a .326 batting average with 18 RBI in 40 games last season. Along with Rossiter, junior 2B James McDonald (.384, 28 RBI), another Pac-12 Honorable Mention member, also returns to Arizona State. Junior Michael Benjamin (.322, 22 RBI) will once again hold down third base for the Devils, while Trever Allen, who put together a 12-game hit streak during the season, will most likely be in right field. He batted .279 with 25 RBI. In the bullpen, LHP Mathew Dunbar (1-0, 1.54 ERA) is the likely candidate in the later innings as RHP Rodgers and RHP Ravago have moved on. Lefty freshmen Ryan Kellogg and Brett Lilek are two young Devils to watch this season. Both are likely to see most of their action out of the bullpen. Kellogg was selected in the 12th round by the Toronto Blue Jays. Lilek was selected in the 37th round by the Seattle Mariners out of high school.

California 29-25 (12-18)

Key Returning Players: LF Vince Bruno, C Andrew Knapp, SS Derek Campbell, LHP Justin Jones, LHP Michael Theofanopoulos, LHP Kyle Porter, 1B Devon Rodriguez

Key Losses: IF Mitch Delfino, OF Danny Oh, IF Tony Renda, C Chadd Krist, OF Darrel Matthews, OF/C Chad Bunting, RHP Donnie Donofrio, RHP/1B Matt Flemer

The California Golden Bears missed following up their 2011 magical season, which included a trip to the College World Series, by finishing tied for 8th place in the conference. The Golden Bears finished in the upper half of the Pac-12 in most offensive categories, but their team ERA (3.98) ranked ninth in a conference that boasts a mid 3.00 ERA. Their .955 fielding percentage was last in the Pac-12. The mixture of rough pitching and poor defense doomed the Bears. In 2013, the pitching could once again be a problem if the three left-handed starting pitchers do not improve. California lost their number 1 starter RHP Matt Flemer (7-5, 2.74 ERA), therefore, rotation candidates include LHP Justin Jones (4-9, 4.57 ERA), who should continue to improve in another full year as a starter. Michael Theofanopoulos (3-5, 5.04 ERA) is another starter who will either take the hill Friday or Saturday. Junior LHP Kyle Porter is the likely candidate for the Sunday job. In 2011 he was a Freshman NCBWA All-American. He pitched to a 6-0 record with a 1.89 ERA in 57 innings, but he only made four starts. Offensively the Cal Golden Bears numbers will presumably drop after losing six of their top players from last season. Returning are OF Vince Bruno (.323, 24 RBI), C Andrew Knapp (.265, 26 RBI), and SS Derek Campbell (.264, 13 RBI). The Bears will also see the return of 1B Devon Rodriguez, who missed all of 2012 with a knee injury. Rodriguez was the 2011 MVP of the NCAA Houston Regional. Two young Bears to keep an eye on are freshman RHP Logan Scott and RHP Ryan Mason. Both pitchers figure to get a majority of time out of the bullpen this year.

Oregon 46-19 (19-11)

Key Returning Players: RHP Jimmie Sherfy, 1B Ryon Healy, 2B Aaron Payne, RHP Jake Reed, CF Brett Thomas, RF Kyle Garlick, LHP Thomas Thorpe, RHP Jeff Gold

Key Losses: RHP Alex Keudell, C Brett Hambright, LF Aaron Jones

The Oregon Ducks 2012 season was a year that could be summed up by a single word, almost. On one hand, the Ducks enjoyed their best season since the program was reinstated. They finished third in the conference and hosted both a NCAA Regional and a Super Regional at PK Park in Eugene, Ore. On the other hand the Ducks were in position to win the Pac-12 Championship before they were swept in Corvallis by Oregon State. After advancing to the Super Regional’s, the Ducks once again felt the sting by dropping the elimination game in which the winner advanced to the College World Series. The Ducks head into the 2013 season highly thought of. Ranked #8 in the NCBWA preseason poll, the Ducks are returning multiple starters all over the diamond. RHP Jimmie Sherfy (5-3, 2.20 ERA, 19 SV) highlights the 2013 Ducks by being selected to NCBWA Preseason All-American Team. Also in the bullpen is setup LHP Thomas Thorpe (2-0, 2.11 ERA) who had a breakout season as a freshman last year. The Oregon starting staff will need to fill a major hole with the loss of RHP Alex Keudell, the 2012 Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year. The Ducks will turn to RHP Jake Reed (8-4, 2.92 ERA), RHP Jeff Gold (8-4, 3.66 ERA), and dark horse candidate Brando Tessar. Tessar missed half of the season last year with a muscle strain. Offensive standouts 1B Ryon Healy (.312, 42 RBI), OF Brett Thomas (.312, 25 RBI), and Kyle Garlick (.287, 41 RBI) should supply enough offense to keep the Ducks in contention. Young Ducks to watch for during the season include RHP Cole Wiper who redshirted last year, but signed with Oregon after being drafted in the 14th round by the Toronto Blue Jays. LHP Cole Irvin is another pitcher who comes to Oregon with a high ceiling. Considered one of the top 100 high school prospects in the country, he will either redshirt or see time out of the bullpen. Transfer 1B/DH Jake Jelmini is an offensive player to watch after transferring to Oregon after two years at College of the Canyons. He was named a 2012 All-SoCal Selection.

Oregon State 40-20 (18-12)

Key Returning Players: OF Michael Conforto, LHP Matt Boyd, SS Tyler Smith, C Jake Rodriquez, 1B Ryan Barnes, LHP Jace Fry, RHP Dan Child, LHP Ben Wetzler, RHP Tony Bryant

Key Losses: IF Ryan Dunn, C Ryan Gorton

Oregon State Head Coach Pat Casey became the Beavers all-time leader in victories last season and will enter his 18th year at Oregon State with 618 wins. But this Beaver team could arguably be his best. The Beavers are ranked #10 in the NCBWA preseason poll. Sophomore OF Michael Conforto (.349, 13 HR, 76 RBI) returns after a year in which he was named the national Freshman Hitter of the Year by the NCBWA. He was also a second-team All-American by the NCBWA, and American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA). The Beavers had another freshman standout last season in Jace Fry (5-3, 2.45). Fry removed himself against Belmont in the NCAA Regional and it was later determined that he needed Tommy John surgery. His status for the 2013 season remains a mystery as he continues to rehab. The Beavers hope to get him back sometime during conference play. The rest of the Beaver staff should fill in nicely lead by starters Dan Child (6-4, 2.95 ERA) and Ben Wetzler (8-2, 3.10). The bullpen is another strength of this team as they return senior LHP Matt Boyd (4-0, 3.41 ERA) who returned to school after being drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the 13th round. Boyd is also a dark horse candidate to see some time in the rotation while Fry rehabs. The other pieces that make up the Beavers potent bullpen are RHP Scott Schultz (3-1, 2.56 ERA) and RHP Tony Bryant (6-2, 3.82 ERA), who lead the team with 9 saves. Around the diamond keep an eye out for SS Tyler Smith (.343, 39 RBI) who was a First-Team All-Pac-12 selection. Joey Jansen is a transfer from Columbia Basin Community College who will patrol centerfield their season. His greatest asset, speed, could be a nice compliment on base when the potent Beaver bats come up to the plate. A freshman to keep an eye on is RHP Andrew Moore. Moore was the 5A State Player of the Year out of North Eugene high school in Eugene, Ore. He could see action as the mid-week starter or Sunday starter if the Beavers decide to keep Boyd in the pen.

Stanford 41-18 (18-12)

Key Returning Players: RHP Mark Appel, 1B Brian Ragira, RF Austin Wilson, 3B Alex Blandino, RHP A.J. Vanegas, RHP Sahil Bloom, SS Lonnie Kauppila, 2B Danny Diekroeger, RHP David Schmidt

Key Losses: 3B/RHP Stephen Piscotty, SS Kenny Diekroeger, OF Jake Stewart, OF Tyler Gaffney, C Eric Smith, LHP Brett Mooneyham

The Stanford Cardinal enters the 2013 season under Head Coach Mark Marquess in his 37th year. Coach Marquess ranks seventh in wins in NCAA Division I baseball history. He currently ranks fourth among active managers, and the 2013 season should help build his resume. The Stanford Cardinal is ranked #7 in the NCBWA preseason poll. Mark Appel (10-2, 2.56 ERA) returns to the Cardinal for his senior season after failing to sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2012 MLB draft. He was selected #8 overall. Appel will be slotted on Friday nights, leaving the rest of the Cardinal rotation in flux. LHP Spenser Linney is a sophomore who could step up and occupy either the Saturday or Sunday slots. He was drafted in the 44th round by the Pittsburg Pirates out of high school. Another candidate for the rotation is LHP John Hochstatter. Hochstatter pitched to a 3-3 record with a 4.53 ERA. One of the perceived strengths of the Cardinal team was the bullpen. Instead closer A.J. Vanegas underwent surgery earlier this month to repair a herniated disk in his back. There is no timetable for his return. Look for RHP Sahil Bloom (2-0, 3.56 ERA), and RHP David Schmidt (3-1, 3.98 ERA) in a team-high 25 games last season, to be called on to fill the void. RF Austin Wilson (.285, 10 Hr, 54 RBI), and 1B Brian Ragira (.329, 5 HR, 50 RBI) will be expected to be the anchors of the Cardinal offense this year. They will be aided in their efforts by highly touted returning 3B Alex Blandino. Blandino was an Honorable Mention All- Pac-12 member, as a freshman last season, in which he hit .294 with 8 homeruns and 40 RBI. With the departure of OF’s Jake Stewart and Tyler Gaffney, sophomore OF Dominic Jose could be a candidate that opens eyes this season. Jose was drafted in the 15 round by the Angels out of high school. In 21 games last season the freshman hit .366 with 11 RBI.

UCLA 48-16 (20-10)

Key Players Returning: RHP Dave Berg, RHP Adam Plutko, RHP Ryan Deeter, 3B Kevin Kramer, 2B Kevin Williams, 1B Cody Regis, SS Pat Valaika, RHP Zack Weiss, RHP Nick Vander Tuig, LHP Grant Watson

Key Losses: OF Jeff Gelalich, CF Beau Amaral, C Tyler Heineman, RHP Scott Griggs, IF/C Trevor Brown, OF Cody Keefer, RHP Chase Brewer, RHP Eric Jaffe

The UCLA Bruins capped off another strong season by taking home a share of the PAC-12 championship. The Bruins breezed through the Regional going 3-0. They then hosted TCU at Jackie Robinson Stadium in Los Angeles, California for the Super Regional. The Bruins swept TCU, advancing to Omaha for the College World Series. After defeating Stony Brook in their first match up, the Bruins lost to eventual National Champion Arizona. Florida State then finished off the Bruins season. UCLA returns for 2013 with an equally talented team. Ranked #5 in the NCBWA preseason poll, the Bruins return NCWBA Preseason All-American RHP Adam Plutko (12-3, 2.48 ERA). They also bring back second team All-American sophomore RHP Dave Berg (5-3, 1.46 ERA) to solidify the bullpen this season. He will get help from RHP Ryan Deeter who was 1-0 with a 0.89 ERA in 36 relief appearances last year. The starting staff looks to be the strength of the Bruins this season as they return all three weekend starters and mid-week starter LHP Grant Watson (9-2, 4.45 ERA). Plutko will no doubt hold down the Friday slot, leaving Watson, RHP Nick Vander Tuig (10-4, 4.43 ERA) and RHP Zack Weiss (3-3, 4.28 ERA) to compete for the rest of the starts. The Bruins lost key positional players around the diamond, but bring back talent. Starting infielders Kevin Kramer (.281, 13 RBI), Kevin Williams (.302, 21 RBI), and SS Pat Valaika (.266, 39 RBI) all return and look to pick up the load this year.Cody Regis (.239, 25 RBI) also returns for his senior season and will see time primarily at 1B this season. There are a few young Bruins who could have an impact this season. Names to watch out for include sophomores C/IF Shane Zeile (.371, 10 RBI), Chris Keck (.293, 5 RBI), and OF Eric Filia-Snyder (.245, 8 RBI) who all saw time as freshmen. The Bruins also brought in the #2 ranked recruiting class in the country. Three true freshmen to keep an eye out for with the Bruins are RHP James Kaprielian, selected in the 40th round by the Seattle Mariners, and LHP Hunter Virant. Virant was selected in the 11th round by the Houston Astros out of high school. Both pitchers project as starters in the future. OF Tyler Moore was selected in the 25th round by the New York Yankees and was the 2012 Gatorade California State Player of the Year. He could start in leftfield.

USC 23-32 (8-22)

Key Returning Players: LF Dante Flores, 2B Adam Landecker, SS James Roberts, 3B Kevin Swick, RHP Wyatt Strahan, LHP Bob Wheatley, RHP Nigel Nootbaar

Key losses: 1B Matt Foat, RHP/DH Brandon Garcia, C Kevin Roundtree, RHP Martin Viramontes, RHP, Andrew Triggs, OF Alex Sherrod, LHP Brad Douthit

It was a rough year for the Trojans in Frank Cruz first season as the full-time Head Coach at the University of Southern California. Although there are multiple holes to fill on the roster, sophomore IF Dante Flores (.310, 19 RBI) is a position player with a bright future. Infielders James Roberts (.283, 24 RBI), and 3B Kevin Swick (.253, 23 RBI) are two of the veterans on the Trojan team that will need to step up to replace the offense lost by 1B Matt Foat and C Kevin Roundtree. Another major blow to the Trojans is the transfer of LHP Stephen Tarpley, who started 13 games last season and had a 5-3 record with a 3.22 ERA. RHP Wyatt Strahan (3-3, 1.37 ERA) is the veteran who will look to get the call on Fridays. LHP Bob Wheatley( 1-0, 3.46 ERA) and RHP Nigel Nootbaar (1-3, 3.13 ERA) are the likely starters for the Saturday and Sunday roles. For the Trojans to climb out of the bottom half of the conference, they will need to have contributions from heralded freshman LHP Kyle Twomey, drafted in the third round by the Oakland Athletics, and OF Timmy Robinson, who was selected in the 31st round by the Minnesota Twins. Another player to watch for the Trojans is senior transfer OF Greg Zebrack, a two-time Ivy-League First Team selection. He transferred to USC to attend graduate school after leading the Ivy-League in major offensive categories from the University of Pennsylvania.

Utah 14-42 (7-23)

Key Returning Players: 1B Trey Nielsen, RHP Mitch Watrous, RHP Brock Duke, RHP Zack Adams

Key Losses: SS James Brooks, C Parker Morin, RHP Kesley Kondo, OF Gavin Green

The transition to the Pac-12 has not been kind to the Utah Utes. Ranking last in the conference in team batting average (.246) and team ERA (5.20), the hope for 2013 is in the rotation and the infield. Utah returns their top starter from a year ago, RHP Brock Duke (2-6, 4.46 ERA). RHP Zack Adams will return to the rotation after missing the season last year with a shoulder injury. Adams and Duke will likely battle it out for the Friday night start. Utah could also give RHP Mitch Watrous (2-5, 3.48 ERA) a chance to start after splitting the season between the rotation and the bullpen last year. Utah will get rotation depth this season with the transfer of RHP Chase Rezac from Southern Utah. The Utes two offensive stars, and Pac-12 Honorable Mention members, James Brooks and Parker Morin are gone leaving 1B Trey Nielsen (.235, 20 RBI) as the returning offensive forces. True freshman Cody Scaggari will take over for James Brooks this year. Scaggari is a smooth defender with a strong arm. For Utah, the key to success is moving forward by growing as a program through the popularity of the Pac-12 conference. Freshmen to keep an eye on from Utah include SS Cody Scaggari, IF Dallas Carroll, and RHP Dalton Carroll. Utah will be aided by multiple junior college transfers. LHP Tanner Banks played at SLCC, IF TJ Bennett played at Mesa Community College, C Konnor Armijo was at Santa Ana College in Corona, California.

Washington 30-25 (13-17)

Key Returning Players: RF Michael Camporeale, RHP Tyler Kane, LF Joe Meggs, 1B Trevor Mitsui, CF Jayce Ray, RHP Austin Voth, 2B Robert Pehl, SS Ty Afenir, RHP Joshua Fredendall

Key Losses: C/DH Chase Anselment, 3B Jacob Lamb, C B.K. Santy, RHP Aaron West

Competing in the Pac-12 is always difficult; especially when you finish in the bottom half of the conference and still lose four players to the MLB draft. Gone are juniors Chase Anselment, the team leader in slugging percentage (.450), Jacob Lamb who lead the Huskies in batting average (.321), and the Huskies’ No.1 starting pitcher Aaron West (7-5, 2.53 ERA). In looking past the losses, the Huskies return a solid lineup lead by center-fielder and team leader in hits (64) Jayce Ray. He batted .311 with 18 RBI last year. The lineup returns the team leader in homeruns (4) Michael Camporeale. Camporeale looks to take a step forward this season after being named the Hitter of the Year in the Coastal Plain League this summer. 1B Trevor Mitsui (.308, 14 RBI) and 2B Robert Pehl (.293, 23 RBI) will also provide offense to a promising lineup. On the pitching front, the Huskies return a pair of experienced relievers. RHP Joshua Fredendall finished with nine saves, fourth in the Pac-12 conference. RHP Tyler Kane, for the second straight season, lead the Huskies in relief appearances with 26. The starting rotation is the area in which the Huskies need somebody to step up. The leading candidates are RHP Austin Voth (7-1, 4.14 ERA), RHP Nick Palewicz (1-2, 5.34) and sophomore RHP Tyler Davis (2-4, 3.57 ERA). Voth split time as starters and relievers, while Davis came on strong later in the season.

Palewicz was used as a reliever last year. Look for some freshman to see a lot of time this year as the Huskies have 10 true freshmen on the roster. OF/P Braden Bishop and C Austin Rei are names to watch. Bishop was drafted in the 36th round by the Atlanta Braves and Rei was drafted in the 37th round by the Minnesota Twins. 3B Alex Schmidt is a transfer from Western Nevada, where he helped lead the Wildcats to the JUCO World Series.

Washington St. 28-28 (12-18)

Key Returning Players: C Collin Slaybaugh, CF Jason Monda, C P.J Jones, LHP Joe Pistorese, RHP Kellen Camus, RHP Tanner Chleborad, RHP J.D. Leckenby, RHP Scott Simon

Key Losses: 1B Taylor Ard, OF Derek Jones, IF Tommy Richards, OF Kyle Johnson, 3B/OF Patrick Claussen

Where has all the offense gone in Pullman? The Washington State Cougars lost Taylor Ard, the team leader in hits (73), homeruns (12), and RBI (50). Gone is OF Derek Jones, the team leader in batting average (.335). The Cougars also lost Tommy Richards, Kyle Johnson, and Patrick Claussen, who statistically ranked in the top five of every offensive category on the team. All is not lost for Head Coach Donnie Marbut, as he returns solid veterans C Collin Slaybaugh (.296, 16 RBI) and CF Jason Monda (.275, 18 RBI). CF Monda is the son of program legend Greg Monda, who is the all-time Cougar leader in batting average at .369.The strength of the Washington State Cougars team, will be the returners on the mound. The Cougars bring back LHP Joe Pistorese (4-3, 2.44 ERA), RHP Kellen Camus (3-1, 3.44 ERA), RHP Tanner Chleborad (4-3, 4.24), and RHP J.D. Leckenby (4-7, 4.50 ERA). Leckenby started 14 games, Chleborad started 13 games, and Pistorese started 12 games for the Cougars last season. If the pitching takes a step forward and some positional players such as junior RF Adam Nelubowich, and sohpmore 2B Ian Sagdal, improve with increased experience the Cougars might be a team to watch out for in the future. A freshman to be on the look-out for at Washington State is left-handed hitting catcher J.J Robinson. He could see time as the backup catcher and DH.

Projected 2013 Finish

1. UCLA
2. Oregon
3. Oregon St.
4. Arizona
5. Stanford
6. Arizona St.
7. California
8. USC
9. Washington
10. Washington St.
11. Utah

UCLA : Equally balanced attack on offense and a deep starting staff. The Bruins are so deep they will use two outstanding true freshmen starters out of the bullpen because there are no roles on the starting staff. UCLA features two All-Americans on the mound. This team is loaded and should win the conference and make a run into the World Series. Road: Oregon, Arizona St, Wash St, USC, and Stanford. Home: Oregon St, Wash, Cal, Utah, and Arizona,

Oregon: If the Ducks improve offensively (.265 batting average last season 10/11 in the conference) and they continue to get solid pitching they could challenge for the championship. The Ducks are the best small ball team in the Pac-12. They also have a favorable schedule. Home series: Arizona, UCLA, Stanford, and Oregon State. Vanderbilt also travels to Eugene for an early three game series. Road: USC, Arizona St, Cal, Wash St, Utah

Oregon St: Arguably the most talented offensive player in the conference with Conforto. The Beavers have a lights-out bullpen. If they can get back LHP Fry before conference play they could finish anywhere between first and fifth. Can the Beavers get anybody on base before Conforto and Smith? Road: Arizona, UCLA, Stanford, and Oregon. Home Series: Cal and Arizona St at home.

Arizona: Can the Wildcats replace Pac-12 Player of the Year Alex Mejia? Can RHP Wade and RHP Farris out-battle the aces of Friday night? The Wildcats will need key contributions from numerous players this season but if anybody can re-toll in the Pac-12, it’s the defending National Champion. Catcher Riley Moore is another breakout candidate this season. Road: Oregon, Stanford, Arizona St, and UCLA. Home Series: Oregon St, Cal, and USC,

Stanford: The highest profile player in the Pac-12 RHP Appel should be dominating again. An injury to closer Vanegas hurts the pitching depth. Can RF Austin Wilson and 1B Brian Ragira improve enough to carry the offense? Blandino will be one of the biggest stars in the Pac-12. Home series: Arizona, Oregon State, UCLA. Road: Oregon, Arizona St, and Cal. The Cardinal open the season at Rice.

Arizona State: Get a favorable Pac-12 schedule. Home Series: UCLA, Oregon, Arizona, and Stanford. If RHP Williams can beat the other Friday night starters in the conference, Arizona St has a chance to return to post-season play. Getting outfield production in the corner outfield spots will be key, as the infield is solid. Tough non-conference that features: Arkansas, Texas, Fresno St, and Wichita St. Road: Oregon St, USC, Utah, Cal, and Wash,

California: Going to be hard to replace RHP Flemer and key positional players. Not sure if they have enough this year to advance to post season play. OF Bruno is the player most recognizable but need a lot of role players last year to step up to fill the production of last year. Homes Series: USC, Oregon, Arizona St, Stanford. Road: Oregon St, Arizona, and UCLA.

USC: The Trojans lost many statistical leaders from last year. They also loose LHP Tarpley to a junior college. Transfer outfielder Zebrack and LF Flores are the ones to watch on offense. Can Zebrack have immediate impact? Home Series: UCLA, Wash St, Arizona St, Stanford, Oregon. Road: Wash, Cal, Oregon St, Utah, and Arizona

Washington: CF Ray and RF Camporeale are two statistical leaders who will need to keep improving for the Huskies to climb out of the bottom half of the Pac-12. Somebody will also need to step up to replace Friday starter Aaron West. Home Series: USC, Oregon St, Cal, Utah, Arizona St. Road: Washington St, Arizona, Stanford, Oregon and UCLA

Washington St: The Cougars are a young team, but still have talented players such as CF Monda. The pitching staff all return, which should be an area of optimism in Pullman. Home: Stanford, Arizona, UCLA, Oregon, and Washington. Road: Oregon St, USC, Cal, Utah, Arizona St,

Utah: The rotation should eat up innings and keep Utah in some games. The offense is the area in which there is concern. Can all the freshman and transfer players produce against the dominating pitching in the conference? Utah seems destined for last place again unless they can catch a few breaks. Home Series: Cal, Wash St, USC, Arizona St, and Oregon. Road: Washington, UCLA, Oregon St, Arizona, and Stanford

Top 5 Starting Pitchers to Watch in the Pac-12
1. RHP Mark Appel, Stanford
2. RHP Adam Plutko, UCLA
3. RHP Trevor Williams, Arizona St
4. RHP Jake Reed, Oregon
5. RHP Konner Wade

Top 5 Relief Pitchers to Watch in the Pac-12
1. RHP Jimmie Sherfy, Oregon
2. RHP Dave Berg, UCLA
3. LHP Matt Boyd, Oregon State
4. RHP Matt Troupe, Arizona
5. LHP Thomas Thorpe, Oregon

Top 5 Position Players to Watch in the Pac-12
1. OF Michael Conforto, Oregon State
2. LF Johhny Field, Arizona
3. OF Austin Wilson, Stanford
4. SS Tyler Smith, Oregon State
5. 1B Brian Ragira, Stanford

Top 5 Sophomore Positional Players Looking to Break Out
1. 3B Alex Blandino, Stanford
2. C Riley Moore, Arizona
3. RF Eric Filla-Snyder, UCLA
4. 3B Kevin Kramer, UCLA
5. LF Dante Flores, USC

Top 5 Freshman to Watch in the Pac-12
1. LHP Hunter Virant, UCLA
2. RHP James Kaprielian, UCLA
3. LHP Ryan Kellog, Arizona St.
4. OF Ty Moore, UCLA
5. OF/IF Michael Hoard, Arizona