Baseball

2018 Texas Tech Baseball Preview: Predictions

After previewing the team for the past month, we make predictions on Texas Tech and the Big 12 is upcoming season.

After a month of previewing the season, from the schedule to each position, we are just one day away from the College Baseball season. Excitement is an understatement for myself. Now before we go into predictions, let’s take a look at our previews from the past month.

TEXAS TECH BASEBALL PREVIEW
Jan. 18 – Texas Tech Baseball Schedule Jan. 25 – Texas Tech Infield Feb. 1 – Texas Tech Outfield Feb. 8 – Texas Tech Pitching Feb. 15 – Texas Tech / Big 12 Predictions

Okay now time to get into our expectations for the 2018 season. Let’s start out with what I think the starting line-up will end up being. As I mentioned in our previous previews, it’s going to be difficult to figure out what the mastermind Tim Tadlock will do (he may not even really know), but here’s my crack at it.

Players Position (Stats)
1. Grant Litte SS (.335/.405/.476, 52 runs, 34 RBIs)
2. Michael Davis 2B (.269/.358/.446, 29 RBIs, 6 HR)
3. Josh Jung 3B (.306/.453, 43 RBIs, 55 runs)
4. Cam Warren 1B (.182/ .250/ .273, 4 RBIs, 3 runs)
5. Cody Farhat CF (.343 / .438/ .569, 32 runs, 22 RBIs)
6. McMillon/Rheams DH (.229, 8 HRs, 14 RBIs / .133, 2 HRs)
7. Connor Beck RF (.289/ .345/ .382, 12 runs, 9 RBIs)
8. Zayne Willems C (Transfer from Alvin CC)
9. Gabe Holt LF (Freshman from Veterans HS (Ga.))
Reserves Position (Stats)
Clay Koelzer C (.263/ .333, .972 FLD %)
Brian Klein MIF (.266, 20 RBIs, 16 Runs)
Kurt Wilson INF/OF (Freshman from Alrington Martin)
KC Simonich OF (Fresman from Lemont Township (Ill.))
Braxton Fulford C (Freshman from Lubbock Monterey)
Starting Rotation Position (Stats)
Steven Gingery LHP (1.58 ERA, 91.1 IP, 107 Ks, .186 BAVG)
Davis Martin RHP (3.07 ERA, 44 IP, 37 Ks, .259 BAVG)
John McMillon RHP (1.75 ERA, 29 Ks, .143 BAVG)
Ryan Shetter RHP (3.71 ERA, 74 Ks, .249 BAVG)
Erikson Lanning LHP (3.12 ERA, 18 Ks, .267 BAVG)
Key Bullpen Position (Stats)
Jose Quezada RHP (3.55 ERA, 52 Ks, .236 BAVG)
Caleb Killan RHP (3.55 ERA, 35 Ks, .194 BAVG)
Jake McDonald RHP (5.31 ERA, 17 Ks, .295 BAVG)
John Henry Gonzalez RHP (6.52 ERA, 28 Ks, .295 BAVG)
Andrew Davis RHP (2.70 ERA, 3 Ks, .000 BAVG)

As you can see above, I’m keeping Little at the leadoff spot, where he saw success last season. Michael Davis has familiarity in the second spot from previous seasons, and Josh Jung did well in the three-hole. Here’s where it got difficult.

I’m choosing Cam Warren in the clean-up spot based on his performance in the summer leagues and his potential. The first basemen for Tech have a history in this spot. Outside of halfway through Eric Gutierrez’s senior season (when he was moved to the sixth spot), the first baseman has batted fourth for Tech in the past four years.

In the fifth spot, I have Farhat. The junior was consistent for the Red Raiders last season with a .343 batting average and sneaky power. In the sixth, I chose whoever is at DH. Kind of like Gutierrez in this spot in 2016, the DH will be able to hit home anyone on base.

For the seventh spot, I put Connor Beck, who has experience and did well last season batting here in the lineup. The last two are Zayne Willems and Gabe Holt, who are fairly new to the program. Tadlock has a history of putting catchers near the bottom of the line-up, so Willems goes here. I put Holt ninth because of his speed and having back to back speed players (with Little) may get tiring.

Class of 2018:

Due to the timing of my arrival at Staking the Plains, I was not able to review the class. There isn’t a story from Texas Tech’s athletic site like in year’s past, however, the Red Raiders boast one of the top classes in the nation. They aren’t Top 25 like usual, but they are at No. 27, which is still very good. It also looks like as of now that they won’t lose any high school guys to the draft and they still have plenty of time to add some more players.

Here’s a list of the players in the class per Perfect Game. They are listed from best rating to worst according to said website:

Player Position (School)
Max Marusak OF (Amarillo High)
Cole Moore C (Geogretown High)
Tanner O’Tremba OF (Parker Cherry Creek (CO.))
Jack Sellinger LHP (Spring Valley Christian, Las Vegas (NV.))
Jose Gonzalez 1B (Spring Klein High)
Micah Dallas RHP (Homeschool, Aubrey)
Dru Baker SS (Tomball Memorial)
Mason Minzey C (Bishop Foley Catholic, Rochester Hills (MI.))
Toby Rumfield 3B (Temple High)
Dryden Virden OF (Ballinger High)
Connor Denham RHP (Lubbock-Cooper High)
Cade Farr LHP (Forth Worth All Saints Episcopal)
Gabriel Castillo RHP (Sarita Kaufer High)
Noah Huerta LHP (Richomd Kempner High)
Jaden Fowler RHP (Lubbock Christian High)
Jack Gee 1B (McKinney North)
Mason Montgomery LHP (Leander High)
Taylor Pendley LHP (Celina Prosper High)
Trey Garlett RHP (Lubbock-Cooper High)
Hunter Dobbins 3B (Bryan James Earl Rudder High)

Preseason Prediction:

Here are my predictions for the upcoming season. The Red Raiders have won the Big 12 the previous two seasons (technically shared the regular season title with TCU last season, but they won the series with them so….). I believe we’ll see a third straight conference title.

Team Ranking (Last Year)
Texas Tech 1 (1)
TCU 2 (1)
Texas 3 (6)
Oklahoma 4 (3)
Oklahoma State 5 (8)
West Virginia 6 (4)
Baylor 7 (4)
Kansas 8 (7)
Kansas State 9 (9)

Big XII Winner: Texas Tech Red Raiders

I predict Texas Tech will win their third straight Big 12 title this season. It will be hard once again with the always tough Horn Frogs in their conference, but with two aces returning, half their lineup back and a dangerous bullpen, the Red Raiders have a good chance to threepeat as champs.

Sleeper Team: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Most people may be forgetting about the Cowboys because they finished eighth in the Big 12 and lost two of their best players. But they did win the Big 12 tournament last season and will have a lot of confidence and talent returning to the 2018 squad.

Disappointing Team: West Virginia Mountaineers 

Even though the Mountaineers did well last season, I think they take a step back this season. They have a rough road schedule that includes Texas Tech, TCU and Oklahoma, and a lot of them happen early in the schedule that could lower the confidence of West Virginia.

Big XII MVP: Josh Jung (Texas Tech)

Every year I’ve been watching the Big 12, the MVP award always goes to the best player on the regular season champion. Since I think the Red Raiders will win the Big 12, I believe that the award will go to Josh Jung. The sophomore did great last season, earning Big 12 freshman of the year honors and Big 12 second team honors while batting third. I expect Jung to develop even more this year and become a leader of this team.

Big XII Pitcher of the Year: Jared Janczak (TCU) 

It’s going to be difficult for Gingery to repeat as Big 12 pitcher of the year, not only because the Big 12 is hard but it’s going to be tough to repeat the performance he had. Janczak is one of the best players in the country as evident with his several preseason All-American honors.

Final Texas Tech Prediction:

There are definitely at least 40 wins in store for this team. They have a great chance to finish first in the Big 12 and host a regional. There also have a chance to host a super regional and make it to the College World Series. Maybe this year more than ever at Tech, the Red Raiders have a legit shot at the national championship. And this may be their best chance for a while.

Not that the Red Raiders will fall off after the season, but it’s hard to imagine them having the team and production when they lose Gingery and Martin at the top of the rotation after this season. Very rarely do we see teams with a one-two punch like Tech has. We saw it with Oregon State and Florida last year (the number one team and the eventual national champion), but these things don’t happen too often.

This is probably the best team (scratch that, THE best team) I have every seen at Tech to start the season, at least talent wise. The starting rotation is one of the most heralded around, the bullpen is full of dangerous arms, and the starting lineup has a lot of potential around it. Not the mention Texas Tech has maybe the best manager in college baseball.

Guys and gals, this is going to be a great season. Season tickets are already sold out, but you should take the chance to see this game during a weekend series at some point. If you’re in DFW, Tech will be at Baylor, Dallas Baptist and TCU this season. If you’re in San Antonio, the Red Raiders will play UTSA there. This is going to be a lot of fun. I can’t wait for tomorrow.

Oh I forgot to make my prediction. How about we win the whole damn thing? How does that sound?

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