With the college baseball season set to kick off later this month (Opening Day is Friday, Feb. 20 across the country), now is an ideal time to switch gears and talk some ping. We’ll dedicate this week’s columns to previewing the 2009 college season.
Here’s the lineup:
Today we’ll give our Preseason Top 40.
Tomorrow we’ll provide our Preseason First Team All-Americans.
Wednesday our Preseason Second Team All-Americans will be available.
Thursday we’ll uncover the Freshman All-Americans.
Finally, Friday we’ll cover the Top 30 Recruits for 2010.
So, without further ado, here’s your Preseason Top 40 for 2009.
1) North Carolina
No school has a 1-2 starting pitching tandem as intimidating as Alex White and Matt Harvey.
2) Louisiana State
They have college baseball's most toxic lineup with a perfect mix of speed, power and high average hitters.
Will Rick Hague be next year's Grant Green?
Chance Ruffin, Brandon Workman, Cole Green, Cameron Rupp, and Kevin Keyes give the 'Horns the best sophomore class in the nation.
5) Texas A&M
Barret Loux, Alex Wilson, Brooks Raley, and Clayton Ehlert represent the deepest starting pitching quartet in the country.
Brent Milleville, Joey August, and Jeff Whitlow will add senior experience to an otherwise underwhelming lineup.
Once again, Coach Jack Leggett fields the deepest team in the ACC.
8) San Diego
The million-dollar question: Will Kyle Blair be able to replace Brian Matusz at the top of USD's vaunted rotation?
9) Georgia Tech
Coach Hall's decision to insert freshman Mark Pope into the closer's role speaks volumes as to the sorry state of the Yellow Jackets' bullpen.
Max Scherzer, Aaron Crow...Kyle Gibson. Mizzou is developing quite a pitching legacy.
11) Cal State Fullerton
Gary Brown, Christian Colon, and Josh Fellhauer are all locks to steal 20 bases in '09.
12) Oklahoma State
Much of their success will hinge on whether stud southpaw Andy Oliver is deemed eligible by the NCAA.
This is the last chance for Kendal Volz, Aaron Miller, and Dustin Dickerson to justify all the hype that surrounded them as incoming freshmen.
Growing pains? On any one day there might be as many as four freshmen starting for Coach David Perno.
15) Miami (FL)
The loss of Erik Erickson to arm surgery could have a devastating effect on the Hurricanes' pitching staff.
Brett Eibner is the best prospect no one's ever heard of.
17) Arizona State
Will this year's freshman crop be as good as the one from '06? It better be, because the Sun Devils' fortunes depend on it.
After Arizona State's Carlos Ramirez, David Phillips will be the JuCo transfer to make the biggest impact in '09.
19) Florida State
Unlike highly-ranked FSU squads of the past, this year's version has no surefire early round picks.
The Wildcats will get as far as the freshman trio of Alex Meyer, Andy Burns, and Cory Farris take them.
6'4", 240-lb. man-child Chris Dominguez gives new meaning to the moniker "Louisville Slugger."
Gerrit Cole is our early favorite for Freshman of the Year.
23) UC Irvine
Talk about underwhelming on paper—we'd be shocked if ONE player from this team advances past Double A in pro ball.
24) California (Berkeley)
If Brett Jackson puts it all together, he could emerge as the Pac-10's most dynamic player.
There's always next year. The Gators are the unanimous choice for the strongest 2010 recruiting class. However, that may change on draft day.
As good as the Sooners are, they're only the consensus sixth-best team in the Big 12.
27) Fresno State
On paper, the Bulldogs look merely pedestrian. Then again, last year this time people were saying the exact same thing about the defending champs.
28) Southern California
He's still only 19, yet we've seemingly been waiting forever for junior Robert Stock to bust out.
Seeing how newcomer Brian Humphries develops will be one of this year's most interesting storylines. He has a chance to be a five-tool superstar.
30) Coastal Carolina
If Scott Woodward hangs around for all four years, he's almost a sure bet to swipe 200 bags.
The Green Wave will battle East Carolina all season for the C-USA's second slot behind perennial powerhouse Rice.
Chris Fetter is faced with the daunting task of replacing departed staff ace Zach Putnam.
33) East Carolina
Say all you want about Rice and its dominance, but sophomore Seth Maness could easily emerge as the C-USA's top pitcher in 2009.
Brandon May, Ross Wilson, Josh Rutledge, and Jake Smith comprise college baseball's most talented all-around infield.
With six teams ranked in front of them in the Big 12, the Cornhuskers would have to put together a dream season to make it to the 64-team dance.
Watching Kevin Patterson and Hunter Morris hit is in itself worth the price of admission.
37) Wichita State
The fact that Wichita State is ranked first in the MVC after losing its six best players speaks to the weakness of the MVC more than anything else.
38) South Carolina
Huge shoes to fill...Justin Smoak, Phil Disher, Reese Havens, and James Darnell took 79 home runs and 267 RBI with them to the pros.
The Cavaliers have a solid core of underclassmen, but replacing David Adams, Greg Miclat, Jeremy Farrell, and Jacob Thompson is a lot to
40) Oregon State
If their pitching performs up to expectations, the Beavers could easily shock people and wind up in Omaha for the third time in four years.