#24 Cal State Fullerton Baseball 2015 Preview

Cal State Fullerton Titans

Overall Rank: #24
Conference Rank: #2 Big West
#24 Cal State Fullerton Baseball 2015 Preview
Cal State Fullerton Team Page


Cal State Fullerton battled their way through the 2014 season and still found a way to get into the NCAA Tournament with a trip to the Stillwater Regional. The Titans bring back a talented starting pitching staff in 2015 that should propel them back into the conversation as a regional host in 2015.

2014: 34-24, 14-10
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Rick Vanderhook

Field Players:
The Titans are always going to be a team that relies on execution and small ball to win games offensively. The 2015 season will not be any different in that regard as the top two power hitters from last season are gone for Cal State Fullerton. Infielder Tanner Pinkston is the top returning position player this season for the Titans. Pinkston hit .298 and drove in 19 runs. The Titans are also going to need increased productivity offensively from outfielder Tyler Stieb and outfielder Davi Olmedo-Barrera, as they combined to drive in 23 runs. If these two can put together a full season and double their runs batted in totals, that will help the Cal State Fullerton offense a great deal.

This will be the strength of this Titans team in 2015. Thomas Eshelman will be the Friday night starter in the weekend rotation this season. Eshelman has received preseason All-American accolades as he is one of the top returning number one starters in the country heading into the 2015 season. Eshelman was 8-3 with a 1.89 earned run average last season and did an outstanding job of getting deep into games as he threw five complete games. Justin Garza will be the number two starter in the rotation and he was 5-4 with a 3.22 earned run average and will need to continue to limit walks like he did a year ago to minimize the potential for big innings by the opposition.

Who to Watch:
The need for a closer to step up is very glaring heading into the 2015 season for Cal State Fullerton as they have to replace the 12 saves lost from the departures of J.D. Davis and Koby Gauna last season. The Titans should be in a fair amount of lower scoring games until the offense finds its groove so the bullpen is going to be a very vital component of the Titans success in 2015.

Final Projection:
One advantage of playing in the Big West is only having to play 24 conference games. It is an advantage because it allows Cal State Fullerton to go out and aggressively schedule out of conference games and spread those series out over the course of an entire season. The Titans will open the season down in Clearwater at the Clearwater Tournament where they will get good tests from South Florida and Louisville. Stanford will visit for the first weekend home series of the season starting on February 20th. The series against the Cardinal will set the tone for the battle to be one of the top teams in the West in 2015. Texas Tech pays a visit to Godwin Field as well starting on March 6th as the Red Raiders will be looking to build on their run to Omaha from a year ago. Cal State Fullerton also has three big time road series against Indiana, Nebraska and Maryland that will be excellent opportunities to really boost the NCAA Tournament resume. In conference play, the key series will be against UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine, and Cal Poly as all three of those teams have to come to Fullerton. Thus, if the Titans can go 6-3 or better in those series then they should end up as Big West Champions.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Tanner Pinkston, IF, 188
Hits: Tanner Pinkston, IF, 56
Home Runs: Tanner Pinkston, IF, 1
RBIs: Tanner Pinkston, IF, 19
Runs: Tanner Pinkston, IF, 16
Stolen Bases: Tyler Stieb, OF, 8

Wins: Thomas Eshelman, P, 8
Innings Pitched: Thomas Eshelman, P, 123.2
Strikeouts: Thomas Eshelman, P, 99
Saves: None

Madness 2015 MLB Draft Rankings:
#53 Justin Garza
#72 Thomas Eshelman

Madness 2015 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#11 Scott Hurst


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