Expected contenders have few holes to fill

Fall workouts can be fun or grueling.

For many teams around the country that have few holes to fill this fall, workouts will be physically challenging and fun. For those that have several holes to fill, workouts could be grueling with coaches using competition to find out different roles.

Virginia and Florida State have the fewest holes to fill this fall.

The Cavaliers welcome back most of their pitching staff with two-way star Danny Hultzen leading the way. They also welcome back several key offensive cogs, including Dan Grovatt, Jarrett Parker and Steven Proscia.

The Seminoles welcome back the bulk of their team. Tyler Holt and Stephen Cardullo will again spearhead one of the nation’s best lineups. The pitching staff also is in good shape with weekend starters Sean Gilmartin, Brian Busch and Mike McGee back.

The fall will be more interesting to some than others.


Key losses. P Robert Poutier, P Andrew Carraway, P Matt Packer

Analysis. After taking a step forward last season with a trip to the College World Series, the Cavaliers enter fall workouts ready to once again compete for a national title. The Cavaliers have the chore of replacing three talented pitchers, but otherwise are in great shape entering fall workouts. Dan Grovatt, Jarrett Parker, Tyler Cannon and Steven Proscia all are back at the plate. On the mound two-way star Danny Hultzen hopes to build off a fantastic freshman campaign and Robert Morey also is back after compiling a 3.33 earned run average last season. Virginia also welcomes back relievers Tyler Wilson and Kevin Arico. The Cavaliers could be the nation’s top team in February.


Key losses. P Austin Wood, 1B Brandon Belt, C Preston Clark, 3B Michael Torres, 2B Travis Tucker

Analysis. The Longhorns returned to their usual ways with a trip to the CWS championship series last season. They fell short against LSU but hope to earn a seventh national title next spring. To do that, the Longhorns must replace some holes at the plate, but otherwise are in great shape. Texas must replace veteran offensive starters Brandon Belt, Preston Clark, Michael Torres and Travis Tucker. It also must replace All-American reliever Austin Wood. There’s plenty good news, though. The Longhorns will have the nation’s best weekend rotation with Chance Ruffin, Cole Green and Taylor Jungmann leading the way. UT also returns Brandon Workman, who likely will become a closer this fall. Texas has few worries entering fall workouts.

Florida State

Key losses. SS Jason Stidham, P Jimmy Marshall

Analysis. It will be a fun fall for the Seminoles. Florida State must replace position player Jason Stidham and pitcher Jimmy Marshall, but is in fabulous shape entering fall workouts. The Seminoles return a potent and experienced offensive lineup with Tyler Holt, Mike McGee, Stephen Cardullo and Stuart Tapley leading the way. The pitching staff also appears to be in good shape with the returns of weekend starters Sean Gilmartin, Brian Busch and McGee, a two-way star. Geoff Parker also returns after making 31 appearances on the mound last season. The Seminoles would like to establish more consistency on the mound this fall, but they’re in a great situation. This FSU team could be better than the 2008 team, which made it to Omaha.

Ohio State

Key losses. P Jake Hale, 3B Justin Miller

Analysis. This Ohio State team has the ability to make it to Omaha. The Buckeyes must replace stud reliever Jake Hale and power-hitting infielder Justin Miller. But the team as a whole is in great shape. The Buckeyes welcome back leading hitter Ryan Dew in addition to Dan Burkhart, Zach Hurley, Michael Stephens, Cory Kovanda. They also return ace pitcher Alex Wimmers in addition to Eric Best, Drew Rucinski and Dean Woloslansky. The Bucks made a small statement by reaching the Tallahassee Regional title game last season, but Omaha will be the expectation next spring. It will be a fun fall in Columbus, Ohio.


Key losses. P Ryan Berry, 2B Brock Holt, P Jordan Rogers

Analysis. The Owls could have a tough time replacing ace pitcher Ryan Berry, but should be just fine without position player Brock Holt and reliever Jordan Rogers. The Owls are hoping ace pitcher Mike Ojala can come back and pitch at some point next spring. In the meantime, the pitching staff enters fall workouts with Taylor Wall as the headliner. The Owls also look for Matt Evers to return to his freshman form. There are some questions on the mound, but the offense is in fabulous shape. Anthony Rendon was our Freshman Player of the Year last season and returns for his sophomore campaign. Rice also welcomes back Michael Fuda, Steven Sultzbaugh, Chad Mozingo, Rick Hague, Diego Seastrunk, Jimmy Comerota and Jeremy Rathjen. This team will be fun to watch at the plate this fall.

UC Irvine

Key losses. P Noel Avison, SS Ben Orloff, OF Eric Deragisch

Analysis. The Anteaters spent several weeks as the nation’s top team last season and could be even better next spring. The ‘Eaters have the tough chore of replacing shortstop and leader Ben Orloff, but the core of their team is back this fall. Left-handed pitcher Danny Bibona decided to return to college and leads a pitching staff that includes weekend starters Crosby Slaught and Christian Bergman and reliever Eric Pettis. At the plate, Ronnie Shaeffer, Tommy Reyes, Casey Stevenson and Francis Larson are back in the mix this fall. Replacing Orloff’s leadership this fall will be incredibly tough, but the ‘Eaters have several players that have been through the rigors of an important season. This will be a fun team to watch next spring.

Georgia Tech

Key losses. P Zach Von Tersch, OF Luke Murton, C Jason Haniger

Analysis. The Yellow Jackets fell just short of making a super regional appearance last season, but the returning squad should be in a similar position to succeed next spring. The Yellow Jackets must replace position players Jason Haniger and Luke Murton and pitcher Zach Von Tersch, but still are in great shape entering fall workouts. The Jackets have one of the nation’s best ace pitchers in Deck McGuire. Junior pitcher Brandon Cumpton is expected to elevate his game and become a front-line starter. At the plate, the Jackets have much to be excited about. Tony Plagman, Jeff Rowland, Derek Dietrich and Matt Skole are back this fall and spearhead a talented offensive lineup. With few holes to fill, the Jackets could be in prime shape to make a run at Omaha.

Wichita State

Key losses. SS Taylor Brown

Analysis. Last season was a rebuilding campaign for the Shockers, but they still found a way to make an NCAA regional by winning the Missouri Valley tournament. Now the Shockers hope to take a step forward and get back to Omaha with a deep and experienced club entering fall workouts. The Shockers return almost every key hitter including Clinton McKeever, Tyler Grimes, Ryan Jones and Will Baez. They also welcome back three weekend starters in Jordan Cooper, Tim Kelley and Charlie Lowell. Additionally, the Shockers are ecstatic to have Remington Johnson and Chance Sossamon back this fall. The Shockers have the tools needed to make a CWS run.


Key losses. 3B Chris Dominguez, P Justin Marks, P Gavin Logsdon

Analysis. The Cardinals will be without their best hitter and pitcher this fall in Chris Dominguez and Justin Marks, but still are in great shape. Andrew Clark decided to return for another season and is a huge factor at the plate. The Cards also welcome back other offensive cogs such as Phil Wunderlich, Ryan Wright, Adam Duvall and Josh Richmond. On the mound, Tony Zych is expected to be a front-line starter next spring and Dean Kiekhefer and Gabriel Shaw also are big-time arms for the Cards. Louisville is one of many teams that have few holes to fill and the ability to get to Omaha next spring. Not much should change for UL.

South Carolina

Key losses. C Justin Dalles, OF DeAngelo Mack, P Alex Farotto, 3B Andrew Crisp

Analysis. The Gamecocks didn’t like the fact they lost Justin Dalles and DeAngelo Mack to the MLB draft, but are ecstatic with the return of Nick Ebert, who was a big-time power producer last season. The Gamecocks are in good shape at the plate and on the mound entering fall workouts. Jackie Bradley, Whit Merrifield and Parker Bangs will lead the offense. On the mound, right-handed pitcher Sam Dyson has the ability to be one of the nation’s best staff aces next spring. The Gamecocks also expect a lot from pitchers Blake Cooper and Nolan Belcher. This is a squad that could get the Gamecocks back to Omaha.

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Yahoo! Sports and Rivals.com. Follow him on Twitter and follow Yahoo! Sports College Baseball on Facebook. Send Kendall a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated Tuesday, Sep 8, 2009