ASU Baseball: Previewing the Pac-12 Conference

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 23: Travis Buck
OMAHA, NE - JUNE 23: Travis Buck /

After four teams made the NCAA Tournament in 2018, ASU baseball will be in the midst of a strong Pac-12 going into 2019.

As the Sun Devils get ready for another baseball season, their Pac-12 counterparts are doing the exact same. The road will be tough for the Devils if they want to reach the postseason for the first time since 2016, as the Pac-12 is as strong as any conference in the nation in 2019.

Here’s a look at how the rest of the conference stacks up before Opening Day.

Oregon State

In 2018, the Conference of Champions lived up to its name, as the Oregon State Beavers came out on top in Omaha. This season, the Pac-12 has three schools ranked in’s Top 25 to start the year with UCLA checking in at No. 5, OSU at No. 8 and Stanford at No. 12

The Beavers will have a tough road ahead of them if they want to repeat as champs. Their lineup is looking noticeably thin after losing key starters Nick Madrigal, Trevor Larnach, Cadyn Greiner, Steven Kwan, Mike Gretler and Luke Heimlich to the MLB Draft or graduation. Catcher Adley Rutschman, the nation’s top college prospect according to Baseball America, is still there, but the pieces around him are much less impactful than last year.

In order to make it back to Omaha, they will need strong play from the returners they have and breakout performances from their younger pieces.


The consensus favorite to take home the Pac-12 title this year is UCLA. After a brief postseason run last year that led to defeat in the NCAA Regionals, the Bruins will have most of their team still intact with impact freshmen to lead the charge.

The three-headed monster of an outfield consisting of Chase Strumpf, Michael Toglia and Jeremy Ydens is still there and should only get better during their last season together. The only major losses the Bruins suffered were pitchers Jake Bird and John Olsen and infielder Daniel Amaral.

The depth UCLA has should allow them to find replacements very easily. With 10 recruits in Perfect Game’s Top 500 rankings, in which eight fall within the Top 250, the Bruins have the youth and the experience that could lead to a shot at Omaha.


The third ranked Pac-12 team is Stanford, another team that met its fate during the regional round in 2018. Much like Oregon State, Stanford lost some of their bigger pieces, including Nico Hoerner, Tristan Beck, Kris Bubic and Beau Branton.

Even though those players are gone, their core of Andrew Daschbach, Brendan Beck, Tim Tawa and Kyle Stowers is one of the best in the conference. The biggest concern is pitching, as Tristan Beck and Kris Bubic were their one-two punch in 2018. If they can overcome the loss of those the two, the Cardinal should give UCLA and OSU a run for their money during conference play.

Other Notable Teams

The fourth team that made the NCAA tournament out of the Pac-12 last year was Washington. After a cinderella run to Omaha in 2018, the Huskies lost a few key pieces in A.J. Graffinino, Joe DeMers and Levi Jordan. But the heart and soul of the squad, Joe Wainhouse, gained another year of eligibility after missing most of 2017 due to injury.

If Wainhouse performs like he did in last year’s tournament, he can single-handedly lead the Huskies back to the promised land.

Two teams that were just off the bubble for last year’s tournament were Cal and Arizona, both of which were at least 10 games over .500 at the end of the season. Led by one of the best pure hitters in the country in Andrew Vaughn, Cal is a dark horse candidate to take the Pac-12 title and make deep postseason run.

As for the Wildcats, their core of Nick Quintana and Cameron Cannon is very promising, but the loss of 14 players from last years roster may put a dent in their chances.

USC and Oregon are usually baseball powerhouses, but last season, both teams finished far below expectations. USC will be without their top hitter from 2018 in Dillon Paulson while Oregon will have to find a replacement for pitcher Matt Mercer. Both teams are expected to finish in the lower half of the Pac-12, but with some elevated play from their returners, they could very easily get hot and find themselves in the postseason.

Rounding out the Pac-12 are Washington State and Utah. Both programs had disappointing seasons in 2018, and 2019 is not looking much brighter. Both squads had team ERAs over 5.60 and team OPS under .740.

More. ASU Baseball: Analyzing Sun Devils’ non-conference schedule. light

Unless their fresh faces turn their programs around, both the Utes and the Cougars should see more of the same from last season.