#14 Oregon State Baseball 2015 Preview

Oregon State Beavers

Overall Rank: #14
Conference Rank: #2 Pac-12
#14 Oregon State Baseball 2015 Preview
Oregon State Team Page


Two conference titles, two NCAA Tournament appearances and a College World Series appearance headline Oregon State’s resume over the last two seasons. That’s an impressive run for a program that has burst on to the national scene over the last decade and the Beavers don’t look to slow down anytime soon. This year’s team was hit hard with departures, as eight players were drafted and signed with MLB teams last June, but a deep and talented recruiting class comes in to offset the departures. There might not be the same level of talent on the roster as the last two teams have had, but there is enough to believe that Oregon State won’t be leaving the national stage anytime soon.

2014: 45-14, 23-7
2014 Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament
Coach: Pat Casey

Field Players:
The Beavers have a tough task at hand as they need to replace four starters, including All-American outfielders Michael Conforto and Dylan Davis. Conforto and Davis were key cogs in the Beaver lineup throughout their collegiate careers and the duo combined for 14 home runs and 120 RBI’s last season. Both were picked in the top three rounds of last June’s draft, with Conforto going to the New York Mets as the 10th overall pick, and they leave big shoes to fill. Junior outfielder Jeff Hendrix will lead the returners as they look to offset those losses. A 39th round selection last June as a draft eligible sophomore, Hendrix led the Beavers in batting average amongst regulars, .351, and added 32 RBI’s. Senior Michael Howard should slide into an outfield spot alongside Hendrix and fill one of the holes. The former Baylor Bear hit .260 while starting 34 of the 43 games he appeared in and should see his production increase with more playing time. In the infield, three players who started at least 45 games return. Junior Gabe Clark is coming off a solid sophomore season in which he hit .280 and drove in 34 runs. Sophomore Trevor Morrison started all 59 games in his first season on campus, hitting .225, while classmate Caleb Hamilton hit .231 in 54 games. The Beavers are set behind the plate with sophomore Logan Ice returning. Ice boasted an impressive .393 on base percentage last year after drawing 40 base on balls en route to earning Pac-12 honorable mention honors.

The Beavers started those three sophomores last year, but they could be pushed for playing time by the incoming freshman if their offense doesn’t improve. Four newcomer position players were drafted in last June’s draft and all will have their sights set on regular roles. Infielder Joe Gillette was a 23rd round selection by the St. Louis Cardinals and he is a leading candidate to see regular playing time. Outfielder Elliott Cary, a Baseball America Second Team All-American as a senior, should help offset the loss of Conforto and Davis after winning the Gatorade Player of the Year award in Oregon a year ago. Catcher KJ Harrison and infielder Michael Gretler both are coming off impressive prep careers and could end up being impact performers as well for the Beavers.

Two-thirds of the weekend rotation and last year’s closer are gone, but Oregon State has an ace returning in Andrew Moore. Moore burst on to the scene as a freshman, earning First Team All-American honors after going 14-2 with a 1.79 ERA in 18 starts, but was overshadowed last season by Ben Wetzler’s dominant senior season and the return of Jace Fry. Now the lone starter left, Moore will need to carry the staff. Moore’s numbers weren’t as good as a sophomore, going 6-5 with a 2.77 ERA, but the numbers should get better in 2015 as long as Moore can improve on the .271 opponent batting average he allowed last season. Zack Reser, Jake Thompson and Trent Shelton are the only other returning pitchers to log more than 10 innings last year and they should all see prominent roles. Thompson started six of his 14 appearances last season, going 3-2 with a 4.25 ERA, and could be in the mix for a weekend rotation slot. Thompson struggled with command, walking 21 batters in his 36 innings, but he did keep hitters to just a .203 average. Reser and Shelton should anchor the bullpen. A redshirt senior, Reser had a great season out of the bullpen a year ago, with a 5-0 and 1.71 ERA in 26.1 innings of work. He will be in the mix for the vacant closer spot along with Shelton. Shelton picked up two saves in a limited 16 appearances last year. The Beavers are going to need other pitchers to step up if they are going to continue to have success. Sophomores Kevin Flemer and John Pomeroy both were highly touted recruits out of high school, but neither had much of an impact as freshmen. That could change with limited production returning. Incoming freshman Drew Rasmussen and junior college transfer Travis Eckert could also see big innings. Rasmussen was a 39th round selection in last June’s draft after going 11-1 with a 0.57 RA as a high school senior, while Eckert went 10-1 with a 1.20 ERA at Clark College last year.

Who to Watch:
There is no player more important to Oregon State in 2015 than Andrew Moore. The Beavers have been able to have so much recent success because of their balance between solid hitting and pitching. Without Moore, there is very little on this pitching staff. Moore threw 94.1 innings last season, which is more than the rest of the returnees threw combined in 2014. There is plenty of talent on the roster for Oregon State to put together a solid staff this season, but the players are unproven. If Moore can carry the staff early, it would allow the Beavers to find the right fits around him and put the team in a great situation down the road.

Final Projection:
Despite the losses, Oregon State should be in the mix for another Pac-12 title. The star power is gone from the lineup, but the is still a lot of talent remaining and this year’s lineup could be more balanced as there is more competition for playing time at each spot. The Beavers will be tested early with games against Michigan State, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State before the beginning of March. If Oregon State can get through that schedule early, the rest of the non-conference slate is winnable and would give the Beavers a chance to solidify their lineup and pitching rotation.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Trevor Morrison, IF, 203
Hits: Jeff Hendrix, OF, 60
Home Runs: Jeff Hendrix, OF, 2
RBIs: Gabe Clark, IF, 34
Runs: Jeff Hendrix, OF, 42
Stolen Bases: Trevor Morrison, IF, 8

Wins: Ben Moore, P, 6
Innings Pitched: Ben Moore, P, 94.1
Strikeouts: Ben Moore, P, 68
Saves: Trent Shelton, P, 2

Madness 2015 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#28 Joe Gillette
#35 KJ Harrison


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