#32 Arizona Baseball 2018 Preview

Arizona Wildcats
Overall Rank: #32
Conference Rank: #4 Pac-12
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Arizona had to battle its way through the 2017 season after coming ever so close to winning the College World Series in 2016 when they fell to Coastal Carolina. The Wildcats did a very nice job of reloading their roster and survived some growing pains, especially on the road, and made their way back to the NCAA Tournament. Fast forward to the post season and Arizona was quickly eliminated from the Lubbock Regional as Sam Houston State defeated the Wildcats twice in a little bit of minor upset. Now, a more experienced team returns for head coach Jay Johnson and the battle tested nature of this program should keep Arizona in position to win 40 plus games in 2018.
2017: 38-21, 16-14
2017 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Jay Johnson
Key Departed Players:
JJ Matijevic, IF, .383 BA, 10 HR, 65 RBI, 9 SB
Jared Oliva, OF, .321 BA, 4 HR, 54 RBI, 10 SB
Kyle Lewis, IF, .275 BA, 0 HR, 26 RBI, 7 SB
JC Loney, P, 3.11 ERA, 89.2 IP, 71 SO
Cameron Ming, P, 2.78 ERA, 77.2 IP, 60 SO
Key Returning Players:
Alfonso Rivas III, OF, .371 BA, 7 HR, 63 RBI
Mitchell Morimoto, OF, .323 BA, 1 HR, 24 RBI
Cal Stevenson, OF/P, .311 BA, 4 HR, 30 RBI
Nick Quintana, IF, .293 BA, 6 HR, 38 RBI
Cesar Salazar, C, .284 BA, 2 HR, 34 RBI
Cody Deason, P, 3.86 ERA, 53.2 IP, 49 SO
Michael Flynn, P, 3.29 ERA, 52.0 IP, 49 SO
Tylor Megill, P, 5.55 ERA, 35.2 IP, 36 SO, 3 SV
Alfonso Rivas is the best returning all-around player for the Wildcats. He is very versatile at the plate and hit .371 last season with seven homeruns and 63 runs batted in. Cal Stevenson and Nick Quintana will provide additional homerun power as they combined for 10 homeruns and 68 runs batted in last season. Cesar Salazar and Mitchell Morimoto are steady performers that will add to the overall depth of the lineup. The loss of JJ Matijevic and Jared Oliva won’t be easy to replace, but the overall depth of the lineup should keep them in almost every game. Cody Deason and Michael Flynn will anchor the weekend rotation and will be looking to build off strong 2017 seasons. Deason is the highest regarded MLB Draft pitching prospect on the roster heading into the season so look for him to take the ball on Friday nights. Flynn was 5-0 last season and did an excellent job of commanding the strike zone as he only walked 13 batters in 52 innings. Tylor Megill is back and will have the first shot as closer in 2018 after tallying three saves in 2017. One point of emphasis for Megill in 2018 will be lowering the opponents’ batting average against him as teams hit .311 in 2017. If the pitching can keep the team earned run average at around 4.00, then the Wildcats will contend all year long in the Pac-12 conference race.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament