#24 San Diego Baseball Preview

San Diego Toreros

Overall Rank: #24
Conference Rank: #1 WCC
San Diego College Baseball Top 44 Team Preview
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The San Diego Torero baseball team had an excellent 2012 regular season winning 40 games and landing a berth in the Los Angeles Regional at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Unfortunately, in the Los Angeles Regional, the Toreros ran into a red hot upstart Creighton squad and a hot hitting New Mexico squad and were quickly eliminated in two games. The 2013 season brings back plenty of experience, talent, and motivation for the 2013 preseason favorites in the West Coast Conference battling it out with Pepperdine in the friendly confines of a brand new Fowler Park at Cunningham Field.

2012: 40-17, 15-9
2012 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Rich Hill

Field Players:
The Toreros will be paced offensively by junior third baseman Kris Bryant who had a .366 batting average, 78 hits, 17 doubles, three triples and 14 home runs. Bryant also drove in 57 and had a .671 slugging percentage. Bryant is one of those difference makers that you need in order to make a deep run at the College World Series. Freshman all-American from 2012, Andrew Daniel, burst onto the national stage hitting .339 with 78 hits, 18 doubles, two triples, four home runs and 45 RBI. Austin Bailey was also a freshman all-American last season hitting a solid .273. Thus, there is a nice balance of experience and youth in this San Diego lineup that should have them right in the mix of every game that they play. Another key for the position players will be to shore things up defensively and try to reverse a -21 differential in errors as San Diego committed 84 errors in comparison to their opponents 63.

Michael Wagner returns as arguably the fiercest, most difficult, closer in the country. Wagner had 19 saves in 2012 and should be a top front-line candidate to be the best closer in the country by season’s end. Wagner also displayed great control as he allowed just 20 walks in 59.1 innings during the 2012 season. The starting rotation should be anchored on the weekends by Dylan Covey, who was 6-3 in 16 starts with a 3.32 earned run average. Covey’s biggest challenge in 2013, besides battling aces of opposing teams, is to get his walk to strikeout ratio more balanced as he walked 43 and struck out 50 in 2012.

Who to Watch:
The freshman class is primarily pitching heavy, which will be very important as there are holes to be filled on the mound with two weekend starting pitching spots needing to be filled to complement Dylan Covey. Brandon Lewis, a dual sport athlete who also played football, could compete for one of those spots. Matt Bergandi is a highly touted catcher from Los Gatos that San Diego got away from powerhouses like Stanford and Pepperdine. Also, P.J. Conlon is a very highly regarded left handed pitcher who recorded a 10-4 overall record in two seasons, while posting a 2.15 career ERA and 111 strikeouts during his last two years of high school baseball. The Toreros beat out the likes of UCLA and Fullerton in the recruiting process.

Final Projection:
The Toreros will have a great early test in February when 2012 College World Series participant Kent State rolls into Fowler Park for a four game weekend series.  Other highlights in the non-conference schedule include battles with Cal-State Fullerton and Oregon State at home, along with a road game at Coastal Carolina.  The conference is very balanced and the likely series to decide the conference title is on April 12-14 when San Diego hosts Pepperdine. If a little more starting pitching depth can be developed, along with rock solid performances from guys like Bryant and Wagner, I would project the Toreros to be right there in the mix for the West Coast Conference Championship. Also look for San Diego to ride the momentum of the new park and be in position for a Regional hosting opportunity, which is gigantic in the post-season.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Andrew Daniel, IF, 230
Hits: Kris Bryant, IF, 78
Home Runs: Kris Bryant, IF, 14
RBIs: Kris Bryant, IF, 47
Runs: Kris Bryant, IF, 59
Stolen Bases: Kris Bryant, IF, 9

Wins: Dylan Covey, P, 6
Innings Pitched: Dylan Covey, P, 81.1
Strikeouts: Dylan Covey, P, 50
Saves: Michael Wagner, P, 19

Madness 2013 MLB Draft Rankings:
#4 Kris Bryant
#34 Dylan Covey


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