#8 Arizona Baseball Preview

Arizona Wildcats

Overall Rank: #8
Conference Rank: #4 Pac-12
Arizona College Baseball Top 44 Team Preview
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When you think of college baseball, this is one of the programs that automatically pops into your mind. Arizona has been among the strongest teams in the nation for years, partially due to a plethora of talent that has passed through Hi Corbett Field over time. Arizona put everything together last year in a season for the ages and delivered the program’s fourth national championship and first since 1986. The question is always asked after every championship, however: What are you going to do for an encore?

2012: 48-17, 20-10
2012 Postseason: College World Series champions
Coach: Andy Lopez

Field Players:
Seven letter winners are gone from a year ago, including many of the team’s top run drivers like Bobby Brown, Alex Mejia and Seth Mejias-Brean. Not to worry. The Wildcats have plenty of talent returning for another go-round, including Johnny Field, whose .370 batting average, 72 runs and 44 RBI were huge a year ago. Riley Moore (.301, 40 runs, 38 RBI) will also be key to the Arizona lineup, as will Trent Gilbert (.272, 34 runs, 42 RBI). Joseph Maggi (.326, 19 runs, 19 RBI) also hit well in 45 starts. Robert Refsnyder was Arizona’s home run hitter a year ago (eight) and he is now graduated, meaning Arizona won’t likely be a factor with the long ball unless some of the team’s new recruits bring booming bats with them. Arizona’s game is more small ball, full of doubles and RBI’s rather than towering moon shots.

This will be Arizona’s meat and potatoes once again as five key hurlers return to the lineup. Leading the way is Konner Wade, whose 11-3 record and 3.96 earned run average were impressive along with 37 walks and 105 strikeouts. Stephen Manthei (6-4, 4.29) was effective in 35 innings of work, as was James Farris (7-3, 3.97, 73 strikeouts) in 105 innings. Look out for Tyler Crawford, as he went 1-1 in 38 innings but displayed a good walk/strikeout ratio (7 walks, 18 strikeouts). Matthew Troupe should close some games, as he recorded six saves a year ago in going 6-1 with a 3.47 ERA. The team will miss Kurt Heyer’s 13-2 record greatly, but it is clear the returning pitchers will help the Wildcats’ chances more than hurt them.

Who to Watch:
All eyes are on Field this year, as he is the returning Pac-12 Conference batting champion and a force to be reckoned with at the plate. The preseason accolades are already piling up for Field, including fist-team All-American by College Sports Madness, a second-team All-America ranking by Louisville Slugger and a third-team ranking by Baseball America. He hit .533 with a grand slam, eight runs scored and 10 RBI in last year’s Tucson regional, and that was a big key to Arizona advancing further in the tournament. Arizona has plenty of talent at the plate, but this is the guy to keep an eye on in the future. He will polish his Major League Baseball draft status if that batting average or slugging mark go even higher.

Final Projection:
Last year’s championship was not unexpected, but no one entered the year suggesting Arizona was a lock for the title, either. The Wildcats were one of those right place, right time programs, having knocked off several SEC powerhouses in the postseason and swept South Carolina for the national title. There is certainly enough here for the encore to occur, but it would not hurt Arizona to develop one or two long ball hitters to diversify the lineup. The team could also use one or two more starters, but for now the cabinet has just enough essentials in it.

Projected Postseason: Baseball College World Series

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Johnny Field, OF, 257
Hits: Johnny Field, OF, 95
Home Runs: Johnny Field, OF, 3
RBIs: Johnny Field, OF, 44
Runs: Johnny Field, OF, 72
Stolen Bases: Johnny Field, OF, 11

Wins: Konner Wade, P, 11
Innings Pitched: Konner Wade, P, 136.1
Strikeouts: Konner Wade, P, 105
Saves: Matthew Troupe, P, 6


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