#28 Pepperdine Baseball Preview

Pepperdine Waves

Overall Rank:  #28
Conference Rank: #2 West Coast
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The 2012 season for Pepperdine was overall a very solid one with a16-8 record in the tough West Coast Conference and battling Stanford to the wire in the Palo Alto Regional Final. The Waves, under head coach Steve Rodriguez, will start the season with experience in the pitching rotation that should give them every chance to be in the mix for the West Coast Conference Championship and a berth in the NCAA Tournament once again.
2012: 36-23, 16-8
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Steve Rodriguez
Field Players:
The tried and true adage is that championships in baseball at any level start up the middle and, for Pepperdine, the ability to answer that question will go a long way in dictating their overall success in 2013. Zach Vincej, the 2012 Brooks Wallace Award winner for the best shortstop in college baseball, along with Joe Sever, provided a tremendous balance of excellent defense and clutch hitting in 2012. The duo of Austin Davidson and Sam Meyer, who combined for seven homeruns and drove in a combined 58, will be counted on more to bump those numbers up, and if they can both challenge the .300 mark in batting average, that will be a huge plus for the Waves in 2013.
There is plenty of experience coming back for the weekend rotation for Pepperdine in 2013. The combination of Scott Frazier and Corey Miller pitched over 200 innings and will provide a solid 1-2 punch to set the Waves up for Regionals when pitching depth is at a premium. Miller was 8-3 in 2012 in 16 starts and had very good control only walking 28 in 101.1 innings.  Frazier was 7-5 in 2012 and a big key in 2013 will be his ability to cut down on the hits to innings pitched as he allowed 104 hits in 103 innings of pitching last season. The bullpen should be anchored by Michael Swanner who had eight saves in 2012 along with an earned run average under three.
Who to Watch:
The Waves have a small incoming class.  Trey Williams was committed to Pepperdine but choose to go the College of the Canyons instead so he could be eligible for the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft. Jackson McClelland should compete for a spot in the rotation either in the third weekend slot or more likely one of the midweek starting slots. Infielder Cody Nulph and outfielder David Oppenheim should be able to provide some depth early on for Coach Rodriguez in 2013.
Final Projection:
The non-conference schedule for the Waves should give them plenty of opportunities to build a very strong RPI for the selection committee. An early season road trip that encompasses series against Texas A&M and Oklahoma, along with a single game in Waco against Baylor, will be a great litmus test early to see where Pepperdine is on a national scale. The conference schedule primarily will come down to how they handle preseason favorite San Diego the on the road the weekend of April 12-14. The result of that series more than likely will decide the conference championship and the automatic bid. If the pitching can stay consistent and the hitting can be balanced like in 2012, the Waves should be back in postseason play in 2013.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Austin Davidson, IF, 206
Hits:  Austin Davidson, IF, 57
Home Runs: Sam Meyer, IF, 4
RBIs: Sam Meyer, IF, 30
Runs: Austin Davidson, IF, 29
Stolen Bases: Aaron Brown, OF, 3
Wins: Corey Miller, P, 8
Innings Pitched: Scott Frazier, P, 103.0
Strikeouts: Scott Frazier, P, 69
Saves: Michael Swanner, P, 8
Madness 2013 Baseball Draft Rankings:
#74 Aaron Brown
#91 Scott Frazier