Defending champion Horns the preseason No. 1

Updated: January 25, 2006, 10:38 AM ET
By Baseball America | Special to ESPN.com

The 2006 preseason rankings were compiled by the Baseball America staff. Each team's 2005 record (without ties) is indicated in parentheses.

Defending national champion Texas begins 2006 right back atop the rankings, a preseason spot the Longhorns have held four previous times, but not since 1987.

1. Texas (56-16) Turnover means new talent, and the core of a staff that posted a 2.80 ERA returns.

2. Clemson (43-23) Lost just two key players, and RHP Jason Berken returns after Tommy John surgery.

3. Florida (48-23) NCAA HR leader Matt LaPorta, powerful offense will help support young arms.

4. Georgia Tech (45-19) Tech could match its 9.3 runs per game from '05, and all its arms are back, too.

5. Cal State Fullerton (46-18) Veteran position players will help break in an inexperienced pitching staff.

6. North Carolina (41-19) LHP Andrew Miller, RHP Daniel Bard give Tar Heels two first-rounders on the mound.

7. Rice (45-19) LHP/1B Joe Savery (8-5, 2.53; .382-5-43) might be nation's most important player.

8. Oregon State (46-12) RHP Dallas Buck, junior-dominated pitching staff could trim last year's 3.08 ERA.

9. Tennessee (46-21) C J.P. Arencibia, LHP James Adkins return after freshman success to lead Vols.

10. Missouri (40-23) Joins Texas as Big 12's only teams to make NCAA field each of last three years.

11. Pepperdine (41-23) Most Waves return after falling a game shy of super-regionals, notably C Chad Tracy.

12. Tulane (56-12) Slugging 1B Mark Hamilton leads an offense that remains potent despite losses.

13. Mississippi State (42-22) Added four vital JC transfers to one of Ron Polk's most experienced rosters.

14. South Carolina (41-23) Talented freshmen 1B Justin Smoak, SS Reese Havens must play big roles fast.

15. Florida State (53-20) One-man rally Shane Robinson (.427, 49 SB, 96 R) returns to an experienced club.

16. Arizona State (42-25) Touted freshmen must replace departed veterans Buck, Larish, Gosewisch.

17. Southern California (41-22) RHP Ian Kennedy's 158 K's led the NCAA; he's backed by a balanced offense.

18. Arkansas (39-22) LHP Nick Schmidt, RHP Charley Boyce lead best staff since Dave Van Horn's return.

19. Texas Christian (41-20) Replacing RHP Lance Broadway (15-1, 1.62) tops priority list with move to MWC.

20. Louisiana State (40-22) Four seniors hit 56 of team's 82 homers in '05; expect a speedy, more athletic LSU.

21. Fresno State (30-29) So. 3B Beau Mills (.319-22-63) looks to lead Bulldogs to first WAC title since '95.

22. Long Beach State (37-22) Cape stars SS Evan Longoria, RHP Jared Hughes form another stout Dirtbags duo.

23. Mississippi (48-20) Draft hit hard, but Rebels still can swing it. Freshmen power arms will prove crucial.

24. North Carolina State (41-19) RHP Andrew Brackman becomes ace after hoops ends, but potent bats will hit.

25. California (34-23) Talent, memory of NCAA Tournament snub should drive Bears into postseason.

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