#16 Oregon Baseball 2016 Preview

Oregon Ducks
Overall Rank: #16
Conference Rank: #4 Pac-12
 Oregon Logo
For the third straight season, Oregon was eliminated from the NCAA Tournament at the Regional stage. Last season the Ducks went to Springfield, Missouri and came away with a couple losses at the hands of Iowa. They managed to beat Canisius in-between, but it was a big opportunity for Oregon to reach the Super Regionals. The 2016 campaign will be another opportunity for this program to make a big NCAA Tournament run, but hosting a Regional would be very helpful.
2015: 38-25, 16-14
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: George Horton
Field Players:
Oregon must move on without their best hitter, Mitchell Tolman. He belted 20 doubles and led the team with 42 RBIs and a .468 slugging percentage. Phil Craig-St. Louis will be the new top hitter on the team after hitting .296 with two homeruns and 38 RBIs. There is not much power in this lineup, but Matt Eureste and Austin Grebeck reached double digits in the doubles department last season. Both Eureste and Grebeck also have some speed, but both need to get on base more consistently in order for Oregon to generate runs. Nick Catalano, Jakob Goldfarb, Mark Karaviotis and Tim Susnara were also regular starters last year and will likely retain their starting roles.
Garrett Cleavinger was one of the best relievers in college baseball last season and he will be extremely tough to replace. Cleavinger made 37 appearances, went 6-2, sported a 1.58 ERA and led the team with nine saves. The good news is that starting pitchers Cole Irvin and David Peterson are both back. In 2013, as a freshman, Irvin went 12-3 with 2.48 ERA. He missed the 2014 campaign and came back last year after Tommy John Surgery. But his return was not quite as impressive as his freshman campaign. He went 2-5 with a 4.10 ERA in 16 starts. In 79.0 innings pitched, Irvin struck out just 44 batters and allowed the opposition to hit .267. Another year after the surgery, expect Irvin to get closer to his 2013 numbers. Peterson, a big 6-6 lefty, had a solid freshman campaign and pitched a team high 82.0 innings. He went just 4-6, but struck out 81 batters.
Who to Watch:
Oregon gets a couple key pieces back from injury, most notably Matt Krook. Krook is much like Irvin, but a year behind. In 2014 he had a great year, but then missed a season with an injury. This is Krook’s first year back after his Tommy John Surgery, but he can either fill in that role left behind by Cleavinger or step into a starting role. He is a superb talent and has the ability to turn Oregon’s staff into one that can dominate. First baseman and outfield A.J. Balta missed his sophomore season, but had a promising freshman year in 2014. He could emerge as the power hitter this team needs.
Final Projection:
The schedule is tough though, both in and out of conference play. The Ducks travel to Oregon State, UCLA, Arizona State and Stanford. Of all the presumed top teams in the Pac-12, only Cal comes to Eugene. There are also trips to Tuscaloosa, Starkville and East Lansing sprinkled throughout the early part of the season. Maybe a Pac-12 title is asking too much, especially with that schedule, but if this team can finally stay healthy, they should be a very dangerous squad come tournament time.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Phil Craig-St. Louis, OF, 216
Hits: Phil Craig-St. Louis, OF, 64
Home Runs: 3 tied with 2
RBIs: Phil Craig-St. Louis, OF, 38
Runs: Phil Craig-St. Louis, OF, 33
Stolen Bases: Austin Grebeck, OF, 8
Wins: Stephen Nogosek, P, 6
Innings Pitched: David Peterson, P, 82.0
Strikeouts: David Peterson, P, 81
Saves: Kohl Hostert, P, 1; Cooper Stiles, P, 1
Madness 2016 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#25 Parker Kelly
Madness 2016 Draft Rankings:
#17 Matt Krook