#23 Texas Baseball 2014 Preview

Texas Longhorns

Overall Rank: #23
Conference Rank: #4 Big 12
#23 Texas Baseball 2014 Preview
Texas Team Page


Following a year in which Texas went 27-24 overall, 7-17 in the Big 12, which resulted in the Longhorns missing both the conference and NCAA tournament, legendary head coach Augie Garrido returns for his 18th year at Texas with a team loaded with its best players from a season ago. It was the first time since 1998 that Texas baseball missed the conference tournament, but the near-future is very bright with the top hitters and pitchers back in the burnt orange in Austin.

2013: 27-24, 7-17
2013 Postseason: None
Coach: Augie Garrido

Field Players:
Five of the six top hitters from 2013 are back for Texas, including outfielder Mark Payton, who was number one offensively last year in a wealth of categories. Of note that the categories Payton was a leader in were batting average (.393), hits (70), doubles (11), slugging percentage (.545), on-base percentage (.483), plus he tied for first in runs batted in with 29. His .393 batting average was 12th nationally. Payton will be one of many bats the Longhorns will rely on to return to the national stage this season. C.J. Hinojosa returns following a season in which he hit .309, while recording 29 RBIs, which tied him with Payton for the team lead. The shortstop was selected to the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team roster over the summer. The other top bats coach Garrido will look to as both offensive forces and table-setters include Jacob Felts (.272 batting average), Brooks Marlow (.250) and Weston Hall (.226). Texas will go into 2014 without Erich Weiss, who hit .299 last year and elected to leave early and sign with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Although Texas does have the majority of its top bats back, they did not produced high enough in 2013, so a rise in performance is hoped for to allow the Longhorns to make a return to tournament play.

Texas will return four of its seven pitchers back this season that had an earned run average of under-3.00. The top three pitchers who had enough innings pitched to qualify are back in 2014. Dillon Peters, who posted a 1.97 ERA in a team-high 86.2 innings is the top returner. The junior had a 6-3 record in 14 starts and struck out 57, while walking 24. Right-handed pitcher Nathan Thornhill was 3-6 last season in 14 appearances, 13 of which were starts. The senior compiled a 2.21 ERA with a team-high 60 strikeouts and only walked 15 batters. The third qualifying pitcher back for the Longhorns is Parker French, a junior right hander. The Texas native was 4-5 with a 2.68 ERA a year ago. He fanned 46 over 77.1 innings of work. In the bullpen, Texas will need to replace its closer. Corey Knebel grabbed nine saves last season but he is now in the Detroit Tigers system. Ty Marlow did pick up two saves last year with a 2.16 ERA in 33.1 innings, which could put him in the closer spot for 2014.  

Who to Watch:
After posting the nation’s 12th-best batting average, Texas is thankful and happy that Mark Payton bypassed the majors and returns to Austin looking to lead his squad back to not only the conference tournament, but the NCAA tournament. Payton was a unanimous Big 12 first-team selection last year as he compiled the best average for a Longhorn since Dustin Majewski hit .401 in 2002 and only three players in the past 37 years have put together a better batting average at Texas. The senior has seen his average rise each season, going from .263 as a freshman, to .322 as a sophomore, and then last season’s mark. If he continues his upward trend, not only will he continue to lead his team, he could put together a record season for a Longhorn while becoming a very notable player to watch both in conference and nationally.

Final Projection:
With the number of notable returns for Texas and head coach Augie Garrido, who needs 19 wins to tie Gordon Gillespie (1,893) for the most wins by any college baseball coach at any level, it seems Texas will back in the national scene and top 25 in 2014. The return of Payton is a huge boost for the Longhorns. Combined with the other notable returners both at the plate, in the field and on the mound, it should amount for a successful season in Austin. Although it might be tough to jump Kansas State and Oklahoma State, UT will look to go from last to first. Even if the Longhorns finish third or fourth, it will be a big turnaround. With a production uptick from the returners, mixed in with a strong recruiting class, Texas will return to the NCAA Tournament in 2014.  

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: C.J. Hinojosa, IF, 191
Hits: Mark Payton, OF, 70
Home Runs: Ben Johnson, OF, 3
RBIs: Mark Payton, OF, 29; C.J. Hinojosa, IF, 29
Runs: Mark Payton, OF, 27
Stolen Bases: Weston Hall, OF, 11; Taylor Stell, IF/OF, 11

Wins: Dillon Peters, P, 6
Innings Pitched: Dillon Peters, P, 86.2
Strikeouts: Nathan Thornhill, P, 60
Saves: Ty Marlow, IF/P, 2

Madness 2014 MLB Draft Rankings:
#59 Lukas Schiraldi
#80 Dillon Peters
#95 Parker French
#121 John Curtiss

Madness 2014 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#4 Andy McGuire
#21 Kacy Clemens


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