Pac-10 Baseball Preview

Believe it or not, college baseball season is almost here. The Bootleg kicks off its preseason coverage with the annual Pac-10 Preview. Read on for a complete rundown of every team in the conference, a projected order of finish, and other facts and figures from around the Pac-10.

1. Arizona State Sun Devils

2006 Overall Record: 37-21
Pac-10 Record: 14-10 (2nd)
Postseason: Lost in Regional

Two seasons ago, a veteran Arizona State club reached the College World Series winning multiple games in Omaha.  Last year's team was one of the youngest in the conference with a bevy of talented freshmen and sophomores again reaching the postseason, but ultimately falling in a regional played at Rice.  Few teams in the country can match the 2007 Sun Devils top-to-bottom when it comes to pure talent and now they have the experience to go with that talent thus making ASU The Bootleg's preseason pick to win the Pac-10 Conference.

There may not be a more explosive offense in the country than what we're going to see out of Tempe in '07.  Arizona State hit a robust .319 as a team last season scoring an impressive 7.6 runs per game.  Of the 13 players that saw regular time in the starting lineup, ten are back including the entire middle of the batting order.  Junior third baseman Eric Sogard (.353, 9 HR, 50 RBI) has already earned Preseason First Team All-American honors and is an early candidate to challenge for Pac-10 Player of the Year this season.  Meanwhile, a trio of sophomores are destined for huge years at the plate led by do-everything Ike Davis (.329, 9 HR, 65 RBI).  The 2006 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, Davis hit fourth for ASU last season and ended the year second in the conference in RBI.  A first baseman, Davis can also pitch as the lefty logged 47 innings as a freshmen (many as a starter).  He often struggled on the mound with a 2-3 record and a 7.42 ERA, but the superstar should certainly see improved results on the hill in addition to his expected banner year at the plate.  Davis, who will again bat in the middle of this lineup, could also see time in the outfield in addition to first base and pitcher.

The other two notable sophomores are DH/first baseman Brett Wallace (.371, 7 HR, 32 RBI) and catcher Preston Paramore (.318, 3 HR, 35 RBI).  Both saw substantial amounts of playing time as freshmen and should only build on that success as sophomores.  Meanwhile, junior shortstop Andrew Romine (.375, 0 HR, 13 RBI), who missed most of 2006 because of injury, should anchor the middle of the infield.  The only significant losses at the plate for the high-octane Sun Devils were the #1 and #2 hitters in last year's lineup: Willy Fox (.312, 2 HR, 32 RBI) and Colin Curtis (.335, 6 HR, 54 RBI).

For the Sun Devils to contend seriously for the national title, the pitching will have to improve.  Last year, ASU compiled a 4.88 team ERA and six of their top nine hurlers have moved on.  Returning, however, are two experienced starting pitchers in junior Josh Satow (4-2, 4.78 ERA) and sophomore Jeff Urlaub (5-3, 4.82 ERA).  Both Satow and Urlaub saw significant time in the starting rotation during the Pac-10 season a year ago and should lead this pitching staff in 2007.  Davis also saw plenty of action on the mound last season while Joey Parigi (1-2, 3.86 ERA) has joined the club from Texas where he was one of Augie Garrido's top relievers in '06.  There are also a handful of very talented JC transfers who should push for immediate time on the mound for Pat Murphy's club. 

Arizona State should score runs at a high rate this season barring major injuries.  In a year where the conference may be down in terms of dominant starting pitchers, the sky is the limit for this offense.  If a couple more arms emerge to join Satow and Urlaub, this team could find themselves playing in Omaha come mid-June.

2. Stanford Cardinal

2006 Overall Record: 33-27
Pac-10 Record: 11-13 (T5th)
Postseason: Lost in Super Regional

The Cardinal had an up-and-down 2006 regular season filled with quality wins and bad losses.  After just barely squeezing into the NCAA Tournament, Stanford rolled through the Austin Regional with dominant victories over host Texas and N.C. State.  The Cardinal were then swept away by eventual national champion Oregon State in the super regional round.  Despite a sub-.500 conference record, only OSU advanced further in the postseason among Pac-10 schools last season. 

At the plate, the two significant losses for the Cardinal are graduated middle infielders Chris Minaker (.364, 11 HR, 68 RBI) and Chris Lewis (.306, 8 HR, 48 RBI).  Departed catcher John Hester (.264, 2 HR, 25 RBI) also leaves a hole defensively for this team.  But, eight of the 12 offensive regulars are back and looking to improve on a .286 team batting average from a year ago.  Junior outfielder Michael Taylor (.325, 5 HR, 39 RBI) came on strong during the second half of '06 and figures to become a standout player in the conference.  He'll be joined in the outfield by senior Ryan Seawell (.313, 2 HR, 14 RBI) while redshirt junior Adam Sorgi (.322, 5 HR, 41 RBI in 2005) is back after missing all of '06 with an injury.  Stanford had an excellent freshman class last season and that youth led to quite a few growing pains at times, but the experience from a year ago should definitely pay off in 2007.  Sophomore first baseman Jason Castro (.283, 3 HR, 19 RBI) headlines the class at the plate.

On the mound, Stanford returns two very solid starting pitchers in junior Nolan Gallagher (5-5, 3.99 ERA) and sophomore Jeremy Bleich (4-4, 4.05 ERA).  Gallagher has seen significant action on the mound the previous two years while Bleich was a standout pitcher last summer in the Cape Cod League earning All-Star honors.  Stanford figures to have one of the top starting rotations in the conference this year, but still must deal with the loss of drafted ace Greg Reynolds (7-6, 3.31 ERA).  All total, Stanford returns seven pitchers who threw 20 or more innings from a year ago.

Stanford has the pieces in place for an excellent 2007 campaign and should be able to build on a strong finish from '06.  The keys will be finding the right people to fill the important roles of catcher, middle infield, and Friday starter plus the good health of Sorgi. 

3. Oregon State Beavers

2006 Overall Record: 50-16
Pac-10 Record: 16-7 (1st)
Postseason: National Champions

Oregon State burst onto the college baseball scene in 2005 when they won the Pac-10 and advanced to the College World Series (finishing 0-2).  Then with most of the team returning in 2006, the Beavers achieved college baseball supremacy by claiming the national championship.  After another Pac-10 title, OSU swept through their regional and super regional en route to their second straight appearance in Omaha.  Despite a loss in their first CWS game, the Beavers rallied to win their bracket thanks to four consecutive victories.  Then it was a loss to North Carolina in Game One of the Championship Series before bouncing back with a pair of wins to take home the title.  Oregon State has clearly established themselves as a contender in the Pac-10 for years to come, but it's going to be a bit of a surprise for the '07 Beavers to get back to elite status.

Outstanding pitching and defense is what often carried OSU in the last two seasons, but almost all of the stars in those departments have moved on.  Ace starting pitchers Dallas Buck (13-3, 3.44 ERA) and Jonah Nickerson (13-4, 2.24 ERA), who combined for 26 wins and 265 innings last year, were both drafted and are now in professional baseball.  Standout closer Kevin Gunderson (2.36 ERA, 20 Saves) also was a high draft pick last June.  Meanwhile, incredible defensive talents in second baseman Chris Kunda (graduated) and center fielder Tyler Graham (drafted) are no longer playing in Corvallis.  Not to mention, the losses of last year's Pac-10 Player of the Year Cole Gillespie (.374, 13 HR, 57 RBI) and solid #4 hitter Bill Rowe (.341, 6 HR, 56 RBI).  Add it all up and there will be plenty of new faces playing leading roles for Oregon State in 2007.

However, the cupboard is far from bare for the Beavers.  Four position player starters are back led by junior shortstop Darwin Barney (.330, 0 HR, 36 RBI).  The 2005 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year, Barney has US National Team experience and should be one of the top shortstops in the country this year.  Meanwhile, junior catcher Mitch Canham (.299, 7 HR 54 RBI) hit behind Barney in the #2 hole last season and is back to help lead this team both offensively and defensively.

On the mound, last season's #3 starter Mike Stutes (8-2, 3.10 ERA) returns to anchor the starting rotation.  Stutes, a junior, has loads of big-game experience thanks to last year's deep postseason run and should make Oregon State a tough team to beat on Friday's.  Junior Eddie Kunz (5-1, 3.61 ERA) was an excellent set-up man for Gunderson last year and is perhaps the top pitching prospect in the conference this year.  Meanwhile, junior Daniel Turpen (3-0, 2.90 ERA) returns after playing a key role out of the bullpen and as a spot starter in 2006.

Oregon State lost a ton of key players from last year's championship club and thus can't be expected to even repeat as Pac-10 champions in 2007.  But enough talent returns combined with a solid freshman class and Pat Casey's coaching to make the Beavers contenders again.  And the 2007 recruiting class could be the best in the country if it isn't gutted by the draft this June, so Oregon State isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

4. Arizona Wildcats

2006 Overall Record: 27-28
Pac-10 Record: 12-12 (4th)
Postseason: none

The Wildcats could be a trendy pick to enjoy a breakout season in 2007 thanks to essentially all of last year's team returning from a club that finished strong.  Arizona struggled for much of '06 thanks to key injuries on the pitching staff and an offense loaded with freshmen.  But the Wildcats started to get hot at the very end of the season finishing with five straight conference wins over the likes of Arizona State and USC to garner a fourth place finish in the Pac-10.  Now, Andy Lopez should feature a club that won't have to wait until May to find their groove.

At the plate, Arizona returns seven of their ten regulars.  The middle infield combo of Jason Donald (.332, 6 HR, 49 RBI) and Brad Boyer (.323, 2 HR, 38 RBI) that led the offense last year have moved on, but every other key starter is back.  Junior third baseman Colt Sedbrook (.339, 6 HR, 34 RBI) hit near the top of the lineup last season and should do the same in 2007.  Senior outfielder Bill Rhinehart (.333, 6 HR, 48 RBI) has as much experience as any hitter in the conference and should do plenty of damage in the middle of the order.  Meanwhile, an excellent sophomore class led by first baseman Brad Glenn (.288, 10 HR, 32 RBI) and outfielders Jon Gaston (.297, 5 HR, 28 RBI) and T.J. Steele (.312, 0 HR, 33 RBI) should give the Wildcats a very solid offense this year.

And while the Wildcats have all kinds of returning talent at the plate, it doesn't match the production coming back on the mound.  In fact, there is no team in the conference with more people coming back on the pitching side.  All three starting pitchers from 2006 return this year.  Sophomore Preston Guilmet (3-7, 4.80 ERA) was pressed into the role of Friday starter as a freshman and he certainly deserved better than his 3-7 record indicates.  Guilmet threw 93 innings last year as a rookie.  Senior Brad Mills (6-5, 4.70 ERA) was drafted last June, but elected to return for one more year in the desert while junior David Coulon (4-3, 6.83 ERA) also has plenty of experience as a starter.  Finally, sophomore Daniel Schlereth saved seven games to go with a 4.56 ERA last season as a freshman and should again play a key role on this pitching staff.  Standout reliever Mark Melancon (2.97 ERA, 4 Saves), who missed much of last year because of injury and is now playing pro ball, is the only loss to the pitching staff.

No team in the conference has as much returning as Arizona while the freshman class also received top 25 recognition.  There's no reason to think Lopez will not have this Wildcat club playing into June this year.

5. UCLA Bruins

2006 Overall Record: 33-25
Pac-10 Record: 13-10 (3rd)
Postseason: Lost in Regional

UCLA's turnaround last year under John Savage was one of the most remarkable stories of the 2006 college baseball season.  In just his second year at the helm, Savage went from 15-41 to 33-25, finished third in a very competitive Pac-10, and reached the NCAA Tournament (before losing quickly in a regional hosted by Pepperdine).  The Bruins have some of the best young talent in the conference this year, but had a school-record (tied) 12 players drafted off of last year's team. 

UCLA returns six of their 11 regular starting position players led by the dynamic sophomore duo on the left side of the infield.  Savage didn't hesitate last season in placing Brandon Crawford (.318, 6 HR, 30 RBI) and Jermaine Curtis (.336, 0 HR, 21 RBI) at shortstop and third base respectively last year as frosh and the move paid off as each hit over .300 while hitting in the top two spots in the batting order.  Now both are sophomores and with the losses of some key seniors, they'll be expected to lead this team from an offensive standpoint.  Senior first baseman Tim Stewart (.301, 6 HR, 25 RBI) and sophomore DH/catcher Cody Decker (.302, 5 HR, 13 RBI) are a pair of other returning .300 hitters that should help carry the load.  Most of the outfield, however, is gone which includes the graduated Chris Jensen (.325, 6 HR, 36 RBI).

On the mound, the Bruins were not a deep team a year ago.  Top two starters Hector Ambriz (8-7, 3.65 ERA) and Dave Huff (7-4, 2.98 ERA) carried the load as the duo combined for 243 innings.  Unfortunately for UCLA, both hurlers were high draft picks last June and thus are now playing in professional baseball.  Third starter Tyson Brummett (6-7, 4.52 ERA), a senior, is back and he worked 97 innings last spring.  However, top relievers Paul Oseguera (1.66 ERA) and Josh Roenicke (4 Saves) have each moved on. 

The Bruins' sophomore class is, without a doubt, one of the best in the country.  Some of the sophomores - like Crawford, Curtis, and Decker - have already seen substantial playing time with impressive results.  Others didn't get a chance to play everyday last season because of the high quality juniors and seniors (which led to the 12 draftees).  UCLA is going to be young, but talented in 2007 and Savage definitely has the club from Westwood headed in the right direction (the freshman class is rated in the top 20 as well).  The Bruins could find themselves back in the NCAA Tournament this year and may just be one year away (if that) from achieving some really special down in Los Angeles.

6. USC Trojans

2006 Overall Record: 25-33
Pac-10 Record: 11-13 (T5th)
Postseason: None

The most storied college baseball program in the country has fallen on some hard times of late.  USC has missed the NCAA Tournament in three out of their last four seasons and then long-time head coach Mike Gillespie resigned this past offseason.  The inexperienced Chad Krueter takes over in 2007 and will have his work cut out for him this year.

The Trojans started strong last season, but limped to the finish line with a 3-19 record in their last 22 games - including ten straight defeats to end the year.  Offense was never much of a problem for USC as the club racked up a .313 team batting average, however four of the top five hitters from that team have moved on led by standout outfielder Cyle Hankerd (.383, 10 HR, 55 RBI).  All total, just four of their nine regulars are back in 2007 leaving many holes to fill.  One of those returning players, however, is junior third baseman Matt Cusick (.369, 4 HR, 35 RBI).  Cusick has produced from day one of his collegiate career and should be one of the top hitters for average in the Pac-10 this season.  Senior shortstop Hector Estrella (.289, 3 HR, 30 RBI) and junior first baseman Lucas Duda (.298, 3 HR, 36 RBI) are also back. 

On the pitching side, USC will have to deal with the loss of their ace Ian Kennedy (5-7, 3.90 ERA) who was drafted in the first round.  Two freshmen rounded out last year's starting rotation in Tommy Milone (7-4, 4.94 ERA) and Ryan Cook (4-4, 5.97 ERA) and each enjoyed mixed results.  Now a year older, both should (and need) to breakout and lead this Trojan pitching staff.  Plenty of talent returns in the bullpen as well with sophomore John Dunn (4.00 ERA, 63 IP), Paul Koss (6 Saves), and Shawn Olsen (4.85 ERA, 78 innings) all returning.

One of the strengths of this USC team will be their freshmen.  The Trojans have the highest rated freshman class in the Pac-10 while they also received the #3 ranking nationally by Baseball America.  Leading the way is catcher Robert Stock who was regarded as the top high school junior prospect in the country last spring.  Stock was granted early enrollment into USC and will begin his collegiate career this year.  And he can also pitch.

Stock is certainly not the only freshman expected to make an immediate impact on this team and it's going to be needed - especially on the hitting side - for the Trojans to have a chance at the NCAA Tournament this year.

7. Washington State Cougars

2006 Overall Record: 36-23
Pac-10 Record: 10-14 (8th)
Postseason: None

Washington State took major steps forward in Donnie Marbut's second year at the helm in 2006 recording a 10-14 conference record and winning 36 games overall.  The Cougars have traditionally been the worst team in the conference since the Pac-10 merger in 1999, but that's now starting to change.  Washington State surprised many last year and more than enough talent returns in 2007 for the Cougars to continue their upswing.

Offense was the strength of last season's WSU club as they hit .310 while scoring 6.9 runs per game.  Eight of their ten regulars are back including a pair of spectacular sophomores.  Outfielder/pitcher Jared Prince (.401, 9 HR, 58 RBI) burst onto the college baseball scene last year as both a hitter and a pitcher.  Offensively, he'll again lead this WSU attack with classmate Travis Coulter (.345, 2 HR, 27 RBI), a second baseman, should again set the table.  Other returning starters include junior first baseman Jim Murphy (.333, 8 HR, 46 RBI) and senior third baseman Jeff Miller (.285, 7 HR, 35 RBI).  The big loss at the plate is the graduated Jay Miller (.361, 0 HR, 37 RBI) who started in all four of his seasons up in Pullman.

On the mound, WSU held their own last year and will benefit from the return of their top two starting pitchers.  Prince (6-2, 4.53 ERA) also did plenty of damage on the mound a year ago while senior Wayne Daman, Jr. (6-4, 4.50 ERA) has plenty of experience.  Daman, Jr. has already made 31 career starts while his overall record stands at 16-14.  Ace closer Travis Webb (2.17 ERA, 8 Saves) is gone, but most other key relievers are back in 2007.

Washington State certainly doesn't have as many top level recruits as any of the other clubs in the conference, but it's hard to ignore the improvement under Marbut in his first two seasons.  Plus, a substantial amount of talent returns at the plate and on the mound led by the two-way player Prince.  The days of Washington State as a pushover appear over - now the question becomes, can they take another step forward and contend for an NCAA Tournament berth?

8. Washington Huskies

2006 Overall Record: 36-25
Pac-10 Record: 11-13 (T5th)
Postseason: None

The Huskies appeared destined for the NCAA Tournament in 2006 after a strong start to the campaign.  But then a lackluster final few weeks led to Washington finding themselves on the outside on Selection Day and thus 36 regular season wins wasn't enough to continue their season.  The '06 Huskies featured the Golden Spikes winner on their pitching staff in the undersized Tim Lincecum (12-4, 1.94 ERA, 199 SO in 125 IP), but were still unable to reach the .500 mark in conference play.  The offense led the conference in home runs (86), but finished near the bottom in batting average (.282).  Meanwhile, the pitching staff struggled mightily whenever Lincecum wasn't on the mound (5.87 ERA).  Now, the Huskies have to find a way to get to the postseason without the most dominant starting pitcher in the country.

Offensively, Washington figures to score their fair share of runs.  The Huskies used a lot of different players last season and ten of their 13 regulars are back in '07.  Junior outfielder Matt Hague (.395, 6 HR, 45 RBI) is one of the best pure hitters in the country and will be a force in the middle of the UW lineup.  Senior first baseman Curt Rindal (.350, 10 HR, 48 RBI) should join Hague in the middle of the order again while junior third baseman Matt Stevens (.239, 17 HR, 48 RBI) also returns.  The Huskies though will have to deal with two key losses in their lineup with the departures of Pac-10 home run champion Zach Clem (20 HR) and catcher Matt Lane (12 HR).

There are a lot of questions on this pitching staff now that Lincecum and #2 starter Kyle Parker (3-2, 6.86 ERA) are in professional baseball.  Most of the bullpen returns including junior Elliott Cribby (7-6, 3.76 ERA, 10 Saves).  Cribby had a fantastic sophomore season and he did make five starts, so a move to the rotation is very possible.  Sophomore Tyler Cheney (1-6, 5.27 ERA) made 12 starts last year and is another experienced returning arm.

9. California Golden Bears

2006 Overall Record: 26-28
Pac-10 Record: 9-15 (9th)
Postseason: None

The Golden Bears weren't terrible last year, but someone has to finish at the bottom, and Cal held that distinction in 2006 after posting a 9-15 conference record.  The Bears shouldn't be terrible in 2007, but there's so much depth again in the Pac-10 and with many holes to fill, Cal looks to have a long road ahead when it comes to returning to the NCAA Tournament.

Pitching kept the Golden Bears competitive last year as the club posted a very solid 3.92 ERA.  Flame-throwing Brandon Morrow (7-4, 2.05 ERA) was one of the top pitchers in the country, but after a first round draft selection, he is now in pro ball.  Third starter Michael Cooper (1-3, 5.31 ERA) and closer Jeremy Burchett (3.19 ERA, 5 Saves) are also gone.  Cal though does return an exciting young pitcher in sophomore Tyson Ross (6-4, 3.19 ERA).  Ross quietly (behind Morrow in the rotation) put up excellent numbers in his freshman campaign and looks ready to take hold of the Friday spot in the rotation.  The Bears need to find two other starting pitchers (most of the bullpen does return) though to challenge in this conference.

The reason California's pitching needs to impress is because this club struggled mightily at the plate in 2006 and the top hitters are all gone.  The Bears hit a dismal .260 as a team while scoring only 4.7 runs per game a year ago and the trio of Brennan Boesch (.313, 10 HR, 42 RBI), Allen Craig (.344, 11 HR, 32 RBI), and Chris Errecart (.268, 8 HR, 30 RBI) have all moved on.  The top hitter on this year's club could be Cal State Fullerton transfer David Cooper.  A sophomore, Cooper hit .305 with a pair of homers and 37 RBI as a key member of the '06 Titans that reached Omaha.  Junior infielder Josh Satin (.222, 2 HR, 20 RBI) needs to return to his 2005 form when he hit .348 as a freshman. 

The Bootleg's Preseason All-Pac-10 Team:

C - Mitch Canham, Oregon State (.299, 7 HR, 54 RBI)
1B - Ike Davis, Arizona State (.329, 9 HR, 65 RBI)
2B - Travis Coulter, Washington State (.345, 2 HR, 27 RBI)
3B - Eric Sogard, Arizona State (.353, 9 HR, 50 RBI)
SS - Darwin Barney, Oregon State (.330, 0 HR, 36 RBI)
OF - Matt Hague, Washington (.381, 6 HR, 45 RBI)
OF - Bill Rhinehart, Arizona (.333, 6 HR, 48 RBI)
OF - Michael Taylor, Stanford (.325, 5 HR, 39 RBI)
Util. - Jared Prince, Washington State (.401, 9 HR, 58 RBI; 6-2, 4.53 ERA)

P - Jeremy Bleich, Stanford (4-4, 4.05 ERA)
P - Elliott Cribby, Washington (7-6, 3.76 ERA)
P - Tyson Ross, California (6-4, 3.19 ERA)
P - Mike Stutes, Oregon State (8-2, 3.10 ERA)

Pac-10 Notes
* 2006 truly was a special year in the Pac-10 when it came to pitching.  Four pitchers were drafted in the first round (first 21 picks) out of the conference:
- Greg Reynolds, Stanford (2nd overall)
- Brandon Morrow, California (5th overall)
- Tim Lincecum, Washington (10th overall)
- Ian Kennedy, USC (21st overall)
In addition, UCLA's Dave Huff was a supplemental first round pick (39th overall) while the Oregon State trio of Dallas Buck, Kevin Gunderson, and Jonah Nickerson were selected in the third, fifth, and seventh rounds respectively.  The loss of all of these standout pitchers could certainly lead to a slight "down" year in the Pac-10.

* The top eight strikeout pitchers in the conference from 2006 are all now in professional baseball (1. Lincecum - 199, 2. Nickerson - 133, 3. Reynolds - 108, 4. Kennedy - 102, 5. Huff - 100, T6. Morrow - 97, T6. Ambriz - 97, T6. Buck 97).  The top returning strikeout pitcher in the conference is Arizona's Preston Guilmet with 87.  The top returning ERA pitcher (fifth last season) is Oregon State's Mike Stutes at 3.10.

* Oregon State's Darwin Barney and UCLA's Brandon Crawford - both shortstops - were members of the US National Team last summer.  As a regular, Barney hit .258 with a home run in 93 AB's.  Primarily as a back-up, Crawford hit .257 with no home runs in 36 at-bats.   Ike Davis (Arizona State), Jared Prince (Washington State), and Tyson Ross (California) were invited to the Team USA trials.

* Final 2006 ISR rankings (from -
3. Oregon State
12. UCLA
15. Arizona State
18. Stanford
31. Washington
47. California
51. Arizona
52. USC
56. Washington State
The Pac-10 was the third highest rated conference behind the ACC and SEC.

* Pac-10 schools that were included in Baseball America's recruiting class rankings (Top 10):
(Ranking was given at the beginning of the school year when players were freshmen)
- Freshmen -
3. USC

- Current Sophomores -
2. Arizona State
9. Stanford

- Current Juniors -
2. Arizona State

In the Collegiate Baseball recruiting rankings, only Arizona State (#12 Freshmen, #2 Sophomores, #2 Juniors) and Stanford (#19 Freshmen, #11 Sophomores, #11 Juniors) have been ranked in the Top 20 in each of the last three years.

* The Bootleg's pick for the most exciting newcomer in the Pac-10 this year : USC freshman catcher/pitcher Robert Stock.  The top junior prospect in the country last spring, Stock received early enrollment into USC and should play a key role for the Trojans.  Other notable newcomers include Arizona's Jason Stoffel (freshman pitcher), Arizona State's Matt Leake (freshman pitcher/infielder), Arizona State's Brian Flores (junior pitcher - JC transfer), and Stanford's Toby Gerhart (freshman outfielder).

* The first game of the season involving a Pac-10 team: Thursday, January 25th, Oregon State at Hawaii-Hilo.  Most teams will begin their seasons on Friday, February 2nd.

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