The 5 Biggest Sets of Shoes to Fill in Pac-12 Baseball

PAC 12 baseballOver the course of the offseason, we’ve been listing the five biggest sets of shoes to fill in each of what the college football world calls the “Power Five.” Previously, we did this for the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, and Big 12.

Today, we wrap up with the Pac-12.

Before we get going, just a reminder on the (admittedly arbitrary) rules created for this series. First, you will only see one player per team on the list. That’s just for variety’s sake. Second, the list doesn’t take into account how equipped the program is to replace the production. We’re just taking into account how much production is on the way out.

Let’s get to it.

David Peterson – Oregon

Coming into the 2017 season, Peterson had enjoyed a nice career in Eugene. After all, he had been a pretty reliable starter for the entirety of his time there.

In 2015, he started 14 games. He had a 4.39 ERA, struck out 81, and limited opponents to a .257 batting average in 82 innings of work. In 2016, he backed that up in his 13 starts. He had a 3.63 ERA, 61 strikeouts, and a .239 opponent batting average in 74.1 innings.

His 2017 season, however, was on another level, as he bested just about every career-high statistic to that point.

He threw 100.1 innings over 16 starts. He had a 2.51 ERA, an absurd 140/15 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and a .237 opponent batting average. He also allowed just two home runs on the season, and he uncorked just three wild pitches after having seven in 2015 and nine in 2016.

It’s no surprise, then, that he was a first-round pick of the New York Mets after the season, leaving a huge hole in the rotation for the Ducks heading into 2018.

Griffin Canning – UCLA

Interestingly, Canning’s career followed a similar trajectory to Peterson’s.

The UCLA righty was a contributor from the start. In 2015, he appeared in 15 games, with 11 of those starts. Over 63.2 innings, he had a 66/6 strikeout-to-walk ratio, a 2.97 ERA, and a .229 opponent batting average. In 2016, he started all 15 games in which he appeared. In 109.1 innings, he had a 3.70 ERA, a 95/21 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and a .262 opponent batting average.

But in 2017, he combined the dominance of the 2015 season with the durability of the 2016 season. He pitched in 17 games (all starts), putting up a 2.34 ERA, a 140/32 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and a .213 opponent batting average. After surrendering 28 extra-base hits in 2016, he allowed just 18 in 2017.

After the season, he was selected in the second round by the Angels, giving UCLA head coach John Savage and his staff a real challenge in replacing his production.

K.J. Harrison – Oregon State

Harrison came to Corvallis at just the right time. The 2014 OSU team had been an outstanding bunch, leading the team to a 45-14 overall record and a 23-7 Pac-12 mark. After the season, though, the Beavers lost a ton of talent to the draft, including big bats like Michael Conforto and Dylan Davis. To start building things back up, the Beavers needed some middle-of-the-order boppers to emerge.

Enter K.J. Harrison, who came to OSU rather than sign with the Cleveland Indians as a 25th-round pick out of high school.

As a freshman, he burst onto the scene and hit .309/.401/.527 with 12 doubles, three triples, ten home runs, and 60 RBI. As a sophomore, he hit .265/.381/.525 with 14 doubles, four triples, ten homers, and 47 RBI. He also cut his strikeouts down from 53 to 38 in his second season.

He put a capper on his career as a junior by hitting .313/.382/.498 with 13 doubles, nine homers, and 43 RBI. He also swiped seven bases for good measure, after having stolen just five total between his first two seasons. Harrison never put up monster numbers that found him at the top of NCAA leaderboards, but he was just the type of player that OSU needed at the time, and he was incredibly consistent throughout his career.

Jayson Rose – Utah

The story of Utah winning the automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament as the Pac-12 regular season champion in 2016 might be one of those strange stories that we’re telling and re-telling for decades to come. And when you remember specific players from that team, Jayson Rose will probably be first and foremost on the list.

That 2016 season was easily his best in a Utah uniform. He threw 109 innings over 16 starts, all the while sporting a 2.89 ERA and a .205 opponent batting average, to go along with 106 punch outs. He seemed to wear down as the Utes got into postseason play, but there’s no doubting how big a role he played in getting his team into a regional.

Now, that’s not to say that he wasn’t reliable in his other seasons in Salt Lake City, because he most certainly was. In 2015, he threw 84 innings over 15 starts. He had a 3.54 ERA, 68 strikeouts, and a .263 opponent batting average. Then, to end his career in 2017, he had a 3.35 ERA, 82 strikeouts, and a .241 opponent batting average in 94 innings across 15 starts.

After the season, he was an eighth-round selection of the Milwaukee Brewers, leaving Utah with huge shoes to fill on the weekends.

Colton Hock – Stanford

This list is littered with guys who had incredible consistency, durability, and longevity for their respective programs. Perhaps they didn’t always have eye-popping stats that jumped off the page, but each of them were contributors from the beginning of their careers all the way to the end.

Colton Hock is a little bit different in this way. In his first season, 2015, he struggled a little bit. He had a 5.25 ERA, he allowed six homers in 36 innings of work, he uncorked seven wild pitches, and his 20 walks were probably more than he would have wanted.

The 2016 season was a different story, however, as he emerged as nothing short of one of the most dominant closers in the country. He threw 57.2 innings over 27 appearances, all of which were in relief. He had a 2.03 ERA, 61 strikeouts, six saves, and a .186 opponent batting average.

In 2017, he came back and put up similar numbers. He once again appeared in 27 games, this time throwing 47.2 innings. He had a 2.08 ERA, 16 saves, a 35/11 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and he limited hitters to a .211 batting average.

In 2018, Stanford will get Tristan Beck back in the rotation after he missed all of 2017 due to injury, and the likes of Kris Bubic and Erik Miller will give new head coach Dave Esquer plenty of options in the rotation, but they’ll have questions to answer without Hock on the back end of the bullpen to close things out.

Honorable mentions, in no particular order

J.J. Matijevic- Arizona
Joey Morgan- Washington
Quinn Brodey- Stanford
Jake Thompson- Oregon State
Noah Bremer- Washington
Dallas Carroll- Utah
Brett Hanewich- Stanford
Chris Castellanos- Stanford
Eder Erives- Arizona State

About the Author

Joseph Healy
Growing up in Houston, Joe Healy was introduced to college baseball at a young age, and it was love at first sight. Like most good love stories, that love has only grown throughout the years. When he's not at the ballpark, he enjoys tacos, college football during the fall, and the spectacle that is American politics. He holds a B.A. in Political Science from Sam Houston State University and a Master's in Public Administration from Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville.