#9 Oklahoma State Baseball 2016 Preview

Oklahoma State Cowboys
Overall Rank: #9
Conference Rank: #1 Big 12
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Oklahoma State showed flashes of brilliance in 2015; will 2016 be the year they take it all the way to the top? With a deep lineup and plenty of firepower back on offense, the Pokes can hit their way to a Big XII Championship. They also return the bulk of a staff that finished in the top ten in the country in ERA, but lose two excellent starters that accounted for nearly half of their wins and all but seven starts. If a new player steps into the Friday role with success, this group can book their trip to Omaha.
2015: 38-20, 14-8
2015 Postseason: NCAA Tournament
Coach: Josh Holliday
Field Players:
All-American Ryan Sluder leads a talented group that excels on defense and at the plate. The junior righty hit over .300 as a sophomore, flashing significant power with six home runs and 14 doubles. Leading hitter Donnie Walton is also back after hitting .326 last season, as is Dustin Williams who mashed six long balls a season ago. The Cowboys have one of the most balanced and potent lineups in the country, but lost a lot of speed on the basepaths with the graduation of Gage Green and Jacob Chappell.
While the Pokes return the bulk of their offense, they will be retooling among the pitching staff. Ten game winner Michael Freeman is gone, but junior Trey Cobb, who won five games in 2015, and righties Remey Reed and Connor Costello also are back, after posting sub 2.00 ERAs last season. While the staff is clearly talented, there are not a lot of experienced starters in the fold - no player had more than six starts in 2015 and none pitched a complete game.
Who to Watch:
Three All-Conference players are back in the fold - infielder Donnie Walton, outfielder Ryan Sluder, and outfielder/pitcher Corey Hassel form a steady core for a team that hopes to make it all the way to Omaha. Imposing freshman Bryce Verplank - a 6’4” right handed pitcher, and sophomore lefty Matt Wilson could both fill big needs out of the pen for Coach Josh Holliday as the season progresses. Junior first baseman Dustin Williams could be a big bat in the middle of the lineup after leading the team in RBIs last year.
Final Projection:
The Big XII should be a deeper conference than it was a year ago, and an ample test for a much deeper and more experienced Cowboys team. Should they survive and thrive, they will be well prepared for a College World Series run. The Cowboys should be the favorites to win the league, benefiting from a rebuilding TCU squad and a Texas team that hasn’t quite returned to glory.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Corey Hassel, OF, 199
Hits: Corey Hassel, OF, 62
Home Runs: Dustin Williams, IF, 6; Ryan Sluder, OF, 6
RBIs: Dustin Williams, IF, 38
Runs: Dustin Williams, IF, 37
Stolen Bases: Corey Hassel, OF, 13
Wins: Trey Cobb, P, 5
Innings Pitched: Trey Cobb, P, 58.2
Strikeouts: Trey Cobb, P, 53
Saves: Trey Cobb, P, 2
Madness 2016 Draft Rankings:
#36 Garrett Williams