Early projections for Omaha in 2010
They're probably still partying in the streets of Baton Rouge after LSU took home its sixth national championship Wednesday, but it's never too early to look ahead at the teams that could be in Omaha in 2010. Four of the 2009 College World Series participants (LSU, Texas, North Carolina and Cal State Fullerton) graced Baseball America's Eight for Omaha list a year earlier, and three of those teams appear once again on this year's list. Keeping in mind that summer Major League Baseball draft signings could alter the landscape, here's a very early prediction for next year's CWS field -- and a look at some other teams outside the eight favorites that can harbor Omaha hopes.
POTENTIAL 2010 COLLEGE WORLD SERIES TEAMS
|Cal State Fullerton|
Eight more to follow
The Razorbacks return several pillars of their 2009 Omaha team, including powerful corner infielders Andy Wilkins and Zack Cox and explosive two-way talent Brett Eibner. The key for Arkansas will be the development of talented rising sophomores Drew Smyly, Jarrod McKinney, James McCann and Bo Bigham.
Pitching depth was Clemson's calling card this spring, and many of its best arms (definitely Casey Harman and Scott Weismann, maybe Chris Dwyer and Graham Stoneburner) will be back in 2010. The lineup will be packed with athletic line-drive hitters, led by Jeff Schaus, Brad Miller, Jason Stolz and Chris Epps.
The Bulldogs brought in the best recruiting class in school history last fall, and rising sophomores Zach Cone, Chase Davidson, Michael Palazzone and Cecil Tanner could become superstars in 2010 -- an even year, remember. The Bulldogs have been to Omaha in 2004, '06 and '08.
The Beavers reaped a recruiting bonanza after winning back-to-back national titles in 2006 and 2007, but their heralded '07 recruiting class has thus far failed to live up to expectations, and OSU has gone two years without winning a regional. Assuming Oregon State's bevy of power arms (freshman All-American Sam Gaviglio, lefties Tanner Robles and Josh Osich plus righties Greg Peavey, Tyler Waldron, Kevin Rhoderick and maybe Jorge Reyes) develops as hoped, the Beavers should have an elite pitching staff in 2010.
Injuries torpedoed the Toreros in 2009, but they could be scary-good if rising juniors Kyle Blair, Sammy Solis and Victor Sanchez come back strong. Matt Thomson (12th round) and AJ Griffin (34th round) could be back for their senior seasons to give the pitching staff quality depth. The supporting cast, led by West Coast Conference Player of the Year James Meador and the versatile Zach Walters, is solid.
It looks like flamethrower Sam Dyson (a 10th-round pick this June) will be back as South Carolina's Friday starter next year, and he should be ready to blossom into one of the nation's best starters. Jackie Bradley Jr., Nick Ebert and Whit Merrifield lead a Gamecocks offense that will mash as usual.
The Hurricanes could have one of the ACC's best weekend rotations if ace Chris Hernandez returns to his 2008 ACC Freshman of the Year form, lefty Eric Erickson returns strong from Tommy John surgery and power-armed lefty Iden Nazario takes a step forward as a junior. The lineup will be led by rising senior Scott Lawson, junior Yasmani Grandal and sophomores Harold Martinez and Nathan Melendres, all of whom could blossom with another year in Coral Gables.
The Bruins have been one of the nation's biggest disappointments over the past two seasons, but they could take a step forward next year as their electric youngsters come into their own. The strength of the team will be the ubertalented weekend rotation, which will feature future first-round picks Gerrit Cole (who was already a first-rounder of high school) and Trevor Bauer, as well as bulldog lefty Rob Rasmussen.
For more on college baseball, check out Baseball America.
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