#3 Texas Baseball Preview

Texas Longhorns

Overall Rank: #3
Conference Rank: #1 Big 12
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The Texas Longhorns continue to be among the elite programs in college baseball.  Last season the Longhorns earned a share of the Big 12 Regular Season Title, their 34th NCAA Tournament and their sixth College World Series trip in the last 11 years.  Legendary Head Coach Augie Garrido has set the standard for 43 years.  The 2011 Big 12 Co-Coach of the Year has the most wins (1768) as a skipper in D1 baseball history.  In his 15th season at the helm of Texas, Garrido returns 19 lettermen and brings in a highly ranked recruiting class consisting of 13 freshmen and three transfers.

2011:  49-19, 19-8
2011 Postseason: CWS (Eliminated by losses to Florida and North Carolina)
Coach: Augie Garrido 15th Season

Field Players:
Sophomore Erich Weiss will look to build on a fantastic rookie season, leading a team that had six players taken in the 2011 MLB draft in most offensive categories.  Weiss was tops on the Longhorns in average (.348), hits (78), RBI (45), slugging (.518) and on-base percentage (.483).  The third baseman earned Big 12 Freshman of the Year, First Team All-Big 12 and All-Freshman team accolades. A 2011 All-Freshman Team honoree, Mark Payton, also comes back after contributing in his first season.  The outfielder started 65 games, hit .263 and drove in 25. Catcher Jacob Felts completes the quartet of talented sophomores that made the 2011 All-Freshman team.  Felts saw action in 63 games, throwing out nine would be base stealers.  Senior infielder Jordan Etier and juniors Jonathan Walsh (OF/C) and Cohl Walla (OF) round out the returning group of experienced starters.

The Longhorn pitching will return a majority of a staff that posted the second best ERA in the country (2.35).  Senior Sam Stafford comes back even though he was drafted in the second round by the Yankees last June.  Last season he made 17 starts, was 6-2, posted a 1.77 ERA and struck out 91 in just 81 innings.  The lefty held opponents to a .189 average.  Sophomore Corey Knebel was one of the best in the country last year out of the bullpen.  The right hander was named Freshman of the Year, Stopper of the Year and an All-American.  Knebel appeared in 38 games, finished with an outstanding 1.13 ERA.  He fanned 61 in 55 innings.  Opponents hit just .152 against him.  Junior left-hand pitcher Hoby Milner started nine games in 2011.  He comes back as the most experienced hurler for the Longhorns, amassing 84 innings.  Milner went 7-4 with a respectable 2.45 ERA and 62 punch outs.  Junior Josh Urban and sophomores Nathan Thornhill and Kirby Bellow fill out the returning bullpen for Texas.

Who to Watch:
Freshman Dillion Peters joins the Horns after being drafted by the Indians in the 20th round last spring and an outstanding prep career.  The left hand pitcher was a highly touted recruit, a two-time All-State pitcher and posted outstanding numbers at Cathedral High in Indianapolis.  John Curtiss was picked in the 30th round by the Rockies.  The freshman righty was a High School All-American and as a senior at Southlake High School (TX) he was a perfect 9-0, with a 0.96 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 72 innings.  Freshman Rickey Jacquez, picked by the Cubs in the 39th round of the 2011 MLB draft, is another outstanding pitcher from Franklin High in El Paso, Texas.  A 2011 High School All American, Trevor Tykel, is another new pitcher for the Horns.  The Kempner High (Sugarland, TX) product was highly decorated as a senior getting it done on both offense and on the mound.  He was 7-2, fanning 65 in 50 innings and hit .310 with eight home runs.

Final Projection:
Expect Coach Garrido to keep the Longhorns right at the top of college baseball.  The outstanding group returning and new additions to the pitching staff should help Texas have another great year on the hill.  Seven starters with College World Series experience should give the Longhorns what they need to make a run at another conference title and a trip to Omaha for the 35th time.

Projected Postseason: College World Series

Returning Leaders:
At Bats:  Erich Weiss, 3B, 224
Hits: Erich Weiss, 3B, 78
Home Runs: Erich Weiss, 3B, 4
RBIs: Erich Weiss, 3B, 45
Runs: Erich Weiss, 3B, 46
Stolen Bases: Erich Weiss, 3B, 11

Wins: Hoby Milner, P, 7
Innings Pitched: Hoby Milner, P, 84.1
Strikeouts: Sam Stafford, P, 91
Saves: Corey Knebel, P, 19

Madness 2012 MLB Draft Rankings:
#94 Hoby Milner