OPINION: Baseball ranks 38th in Hagemann’s NCAA baseball preseason poll

Then sophomore Daniel Carinci attempts to tag a diving player during the first game against Texas Tech on April 1, 2021. (File photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Fellow baseball beat writer Chase Hagemann has released his top-25 college baseball preseason rankings. Below is in-depth coverage of each Big 12 team on the list and where the Kansas State baseball team lands in the field.

#1 Texas

After finishing in the last four of the College World Series last year, the Longhorns are one of, if not the most, experienced teams in the country. The veterans are led by junior power hitter Ivan Melendez, sophomore infielder Mitchell Daley, graduate transfer (Kansas) Skyler Messinger and a loaded pitching staff with a combined record of 29-7 and a 2.61 ERA last season. It appears that Ty Madden’s loss in the MLB draw will not affect Texas as Tristen Stevens, Pete Hansen, Tanner Witt and Aaron Nixon all return.

#5 Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State has one of the most accomplished position rosters in baseball with several returning key starters and impressive transfers to Stillwater. The lineup hits average, but mostly with power, led by former two-sport athlete Nolan McLean. After giving up football to focus on baseball, the utility player who had a .936 OPS and eight home runs in just 139 at bats in his true freshman season is poised for stardom after a summer in the Cape Cod League.

The question with the Cowboys is not their stroke or fielding, but their pitching, where proven experience starts and ends with sophomore sophomore RHP Justin Cambell, who finished with a 7-2 record, 2.57 ERA and 102 strikeouts. However, don’t sleep over developing sophomore Bryce Osmond and Trevor Martin and Miami transfer Victor Mederos, who has grown a lot in the fall and is expected to bloom this season.

#9 Texas Tech

Texas Tech lost some players in the MLB draw, but like the revolver the Red Raider is holding, they keep reloading. The Red Raiders retained All-American Jace Jung, Cole Stilwell, Kurt Wilson, Easton Murrell, Cody Masters, Parker Kelly and Dillon Carter. They also acquired middle-infield Texas A&M transfer Ty Coleman. Texas Tech’s pitching is the mystery. However, pitcher Brandon Birdsell survived an arm injury and pumped 99 mph this fall, according to D1 Baseball. RHP Chase Hampton has only 44.1 innings to his name, but managed a 3.86 ERA. RHP Andrew Morris, LHP Mason Molina, RHP Trendan Parish and rightful Kyle Robinson will battle it out for the starting rotation as the bullpen is brimming with talent.

#13 TCU

Bad news: Longtime TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle is gone. Good news: The legendary Horned Frog program has a familiar face in its new headman – longtime assistant coach Kirk Saarloos. TCU acquired notable Arkansas transfer Caleb Bolden and three-year Oregon starter Brett Walker to replace key pitchers of the past season. The Horned Frogs also have veteran Austin Krobb, who struckout 96 batters in 85 innings.

While there are some questions about TCU’s bats, the Horned Frogs have always developed players well. Brayden Taylor is back after a .324 average and 12 long balls in 2021, while Luke Boyers, a .307 batter, also returns. If Elijah Nunez finds confidence after a rough end to the 2021 season and freshman infielder David Bishop continues to swing like he did this fall, TCU could make another run for Omaha.

(Image by Marshall Sunner | Collegian Media Group)
(Image by Marshall Sunner | Collegian Media Group)

#38 CHANCES STATE

After exhausting hours of thinking, K-State baseball is currently No. 38 in the country in my rankings as the team lost a lot of experience on the mound and on the diamond. Jordan Wicks, Carson Seymour, Kasey Ford, Eric Torres and Tyler Eckberg will all pitch into MLB minor league stadiums this spring, but head coach Pete Hughes found a promising group of transfers likely to hit the mound and the plate.

First up the hill is Arkansas transfer Blake Adams and Arizona transfer German Fajardo. These two names stand out when I look at the transfer portal, but Hughes emphasized that there is still plenty of competition in practice. The lone returning starting pitcher for the Wildcats is sophomore Connor McCullough, who started out strong last season but ran into some tough moments toward the end. If McCullough stays consistent, he’s going to be a tough match-up for any lineup in the country.

Some more beef is coming back for the BatCats in terms of position players. Preseason All-American Dylan Phillips is back, and he’s just seven home runs away from the K-State all-time home run record. Terrence Spurlin has recovered from his wrist injury and hopes to pick up where he left off in his fifth season. Sophomore shortstop Nick Goodwin looks set to improve in a solid freshman campaign, Cole Johnson is likely to add more power to a stacked outfield, and transfers Cash Rugely, Justin Mitchell and Jeff Heinrich add leadership and potential to the high “Omahattan” expectations for this ball club .

Last year, K-State defeated two of the four Big 12 teams in the Top 25 (Texas Tech, TCU) and narrowly missed an NCAA berth. The Wildcats are sure to exceed expectations by continuing their late season hot streak from 2021 and will make it into the NCAA tournament with a combination of experience, transfers and highly regarded freshmen. K-State will be tested early against number 18 Arizona on Feb. 18 in the 2022 State Farm College Baseball Showdown at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Here are my predictions for the Top 25:

No. 1 Texas

No. 2 Mississippi State

No. 3 Arkansas

No. 4 Vanderbilt

No. 5 Oklahoma State

No. 6 Florida

No. 7 Notre Dame

No. 8 Stanford

New. 9 Texas Tech

We will. 10 Ole Miss

No. 11 ECU

No. 12 LSU

No. 13 TCU

No. 14 Tennessee

No. 15 Georgia Tech

No. 16 Nebraska

No. 17 Dallas Baptist

No. 18 Arizona

No. 19 UC Irvine

No. 20 Long Beach State

No. 21 Duke

No. 22 NC State

No. 23 UCLA

No. 24 FSU

No. 25 South Miss

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No. 38 CHANCES STATE

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of Collegiate K-State baseball beat writer Chase Hagemann and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegiate. Send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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