Early Predictions: Eight For Omaha In 2016
The 2015 College World Series just wrapped up, but it’s not too early to take a (way too early) look ahead to the 2016 CWS. Plenty can change between now and next spring — with the draft signing deadline still a few weeks away, we don’t yet know what the composition of every roster will look like. With that caveat in mind, here’s our first attempt to predict the 2016 CWS field.
This exercise isn’t as futile as you might think. Five of the eight teams in Aaron Fitt’s eight for Omaha at this time last year reached the CWS in 2015 (Virginia, Vanderbilt, TCU, Florida and Cal State Fullerton). Two other CWS participants, LSU and Miami, were listed in Fitt’s “eight more for super regionals” category.
Kendall Rogers also hit five of eight last year (Virginia, Vanderbilt, TCU, Florida, LSU). One other CWS participant, Cal State Fullerton, was in his “ten more to watch” category.
As a preview, we’ve listed one of the five from each writers’ Eight for Omaha:
Aaron Fitt’s Eight For 2016
The Golden Bears were one of college baseball’s better surprises in 2015, finishing 18-12 in the Pac-12 and nearly upsetting Texas A&M in the College Station Regional. They’ll lose just one drafted player from this year’s team (Chris Paul), but the rest of the club returns nearly intact. Starters Daulton Jefferies, Matt Ladrech, Ryan Mason and Jeff Bain will be back in a strong rotation. Closer Dylan Nelson is gone, but key bullpen pieces Erik Martinez and Alex Schick will return. And aside from Paul, the entire lineup is back, led by athletic outfielders Devin Pearson and Aaron Knapp and power plants Lucas Erceg, Mitchell Kranson and Brett Cumberland. Expect Cumberland and Preston Grand Pre to take big steps forward as sophomores, anchoring the middle of the diamond. Cal baseball is officially recovered from the administration’s attempt to cut the program in 2011; it could find itself back in Omaha in 2016.
Kendall Rogers’ Eight For 2016
The 2015 season was fully expected to be a rebuilding year for the Beavers, and Pat Casey’s team still managed to finish near the top of the Pac 12 and get to the NCAA postseason. Now, the Beavers are loaded and ready for yet another College World Series run in ’16. Sure, the Beavers will lose ace righthander Andrew Moore and very athletic outfielder Jeff Hendrix, but OSU pretty much returns everyone else. Freshman stud righthander Drew Rasmussen and Travis Eckert will spearhead the pitching staff, along with talented reliever Mitch Hickey, while the Beavers welcome back a vast majority of their offensive lineup, including first baseman/catcher K.J. Harrison, middle infielders Trever Morrison/Christian Donahue/Caleb Hamilton, Joe Gillette, Kyle Nobach, Logan Ice, Billy King and Elliott Cary, among others. OSU also has a great chance to get shortstops Nick Madrigal (17th round, Indians) and Cadyn Grenier (21st round, Cardinals) on campus this fall.
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