#41 USC Baseball 2015 Preview

USC Trojans

Overall Rank: #41
Conference Rank: #7 Pac-12
#41 USC Baseball 2015 Preview
USC Team Page


USC was a power in college baseball during the 1990’s and early 2000’s. From 1993 to 2002, the Trojans made 10 straight regionals, winning six of them, and won a national championship in 1998. Since 2002, USC has ben to just one regional, back in 2005. Last year started out promising, as the Trojans started the season 8-2 with wins over Cal State Fullerton and Cal Poly, but USC was unable to capitalize on that and finished the year 29-24. This year’s team has the potential to end the drought. With 18 players who are either juniors or seniors on the roster and a strong recruiting class, USC has the makings of a potential regional team.

2014: 29-24, 16-14
2014 Postseason: None
Coach: Dan Hubbs

Field Players:
USC returns seven key contributors to their lineup from last season, led by Jeremy Martinez and Garrett Stubbs. Both catchers by trade, Martinez and Stubbs each started at least 47 games last season while splitting time between catcher and DH. Martinez drove in 29 runs as a freshman last season and is the leader among returnee’s with a .297 batting average. Stubbs proved to be very reliable last year as a junior, posting a .997 fielding percentage, a team high .382 on base percentage and a .287 batting average. Centerfielder Timmy Robinson and second baseman Dante Flores also return as regulars to the starting lineup. Both players batted .236 last season, as Robinson led the team in RBI’s, with 30, and Flores it a pair of home runs to go along with 23 RBI’s. A trio of sophomores will compete for playing time in the infield with Flores after earning playing time last year as freshman. Blake Lacey has the most experience out of the bunch and will likely be the shortstop in 2015. Lacey started 38 games last season and hit .281 with 19 RBI’s. Reggie Southall and Frankie Rios started 22 and 19 games, respectively last year, with Southall posting better numbers at the plate, .250 average, and Rios doing better in the field, .963 fielding percentage. The trio will have plenty of competition from incoming freshman Angelo Armenta and Duke transfer Angelo La Bruna. Armenta was one of USC’s top recruits and was rated as one of the top middle infield recruits in the country. La Bruna, who sat out last season, started at least 50 games in his first two seasons at Duke before seeing his playing time decrease as a junior. The California native could provide a big boost to the Trojan offense should he rediscover the form he showed early in his career. First base is expected to be manned by freshman Cole Young, while the corner outfield spots could feature AJ Ramirez, Bobby Stahel and David Oppenheim. Young was a Perfect Game top 500 player as a senior in high school and brings a big bat to USC’s lineup. Ramirez split time between the outfield and infield last year, hitting .246, but with the need in the outfield, he could shift their fulltime. Stahel hit .235 in limited action last year, while Oppenheim hit .377 at junior college last season.

The Trojan pitching staff loses a lot from last season, but four key members return. Junior Brent Wheatley should return after going 4-3 with a 3.58 ERA as a starter last year. Kyle Twomey, 2-2 with a 3.11 ERA, and Brooks Kriste, 1-0 with a 3.51 ERA, both have starting experience and could be candidates for rotation spots. Marc Huberman is the fourth man back after 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in 12 appearances last year. With so little returning, the recruiting class will be counted on heavily. Mitch Hart, a 35th round selection of the San Francisco Giants in last June’s draft is the big name in the class. He will be joined by Bryce Dyrda, Brad Wegman and junior college transfer Tyler Gilbert. USC will need these newcomers to perform well to improve off last season’s results.

Who to Watch:
USC does return 18 players who are either juniors or seniors, but the team’s success will largely rely on the incoming recruiting class. There are big holes to fill in both the lineup and pitching staff and this class has the talent to fill them. USC’s incoming class was rated the 25th best in the country by Baseball America and features a number of potential difference makers. First baseman Cole Young and junior college outfielder David Oppenheim should be starters from day one and fill two positions of need. Angelo Armenta, Adalberto Carrillo and Stephen Dubb all have the potential to see time in the infield. Armenta is the most likely of the trio to see time early, but should some of the returnee’s struggle; Carillo and Dubb could see time. The pitching department is the one in the most need and USC brings in seven newcomers there. Mitch Hart was a Perfect Game Third Team All-American, while Bryce Dyrda and Brad Wegman each earned California All-Region First Team honors from the source. Wyatt Driscoll, Mason Perryman and Jake Poulson are all right handers coming off solid senior seasons. Perryman was a member of the Oakland A’s Area Code Team in 2013, while Poulson was on Perfect Gam’s list of top 1,000 high school players. Junior College transfer Tyler Gilbert is the lone left-handed pitcher and he could provide a big boost to the staff after playing the last two years at Santa Barbara Community College.

Final Projection:
USC has a very favorable early schedule. With a lot of freshmen looking at big roles, getting them acclimated early in the year could be big for USC down the stretch. The Trojans will get a chance to see just how good their team is though in early March as they will compete in the Dodgertown classic with Vanderbilt, TCU and UCLA, three CWS caliber programs. If USC can get out to a start like they did last year, which is doable, and add a few more wins in conference, USC could be in good shape to end their nine-year NCAA Tournament drought.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Jeremy Martinez , C/DH, 185
Hits: Jeremy Martinez, C/DH, 55
Home Runs: Dante Flores, IF, 2
RBIs: Timmy Robinson, OF, 30
Runs: Timmy Robinson, OF, 24; Garrett Stubbs, C/DH, 24; Dante Flores, IF, 24
Stolen Bases: Timmy Robinson, OF, 7

Wins: Brent Wheatley, P, 4
Innings Pitched: Brent Wheatley, P, 73
Strikeouts: Kyle Twomey, P, 50
Saves: None


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