College Baseball Central 2018 Preseason Top 25

It’s that time of year again! Opening day of the 2018 college baseball season is right around the corner, and that means it’s time to release our preseason top 25.

Photo Credit: FloridaGators.com

It shouldn’t be a huge surprise that Florida is the team perched atop the rankings to begin the season. The defending national champions are loaded once again. A pitching staff core of Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Tyler Dyson, and Michael Byrne is about as good as it gets in college baseball. Like last year, their lineup doesn’t blow you away at first glance, but they return a veteran bunch that found enough offense to win the program a national title in 2017.

The space between number two Arkansas and number three Oregon State was razor-thin, but the Razorbacks get the nod thanks to their balance as a team. They can beat you on the mound with returning ace Blaine Knight or Isaiah Campbell, they can win a battle of the bullpens with the likes of Matt Cronin, Jake Reindl, Kevin Kopps, Evan Lee, and Barrett Loseke, and they can out-slug you with the power of Grant Koch, Jared Gates, Carson Shaddy, Dominic Fletcher, and Luke Bonfield.

Oregon State can do many of those same things, perhaps some even better than Arkansas. Luke Heimlich and Bryce Fehmel can win plenty of games on their arms, led by Jake Mulholland, the bullpen can hold up their end of the bargain in marathon games, and a deep one-through-nine lineup will bury its fair share of opponents under extra-base hits. But the loss of Drew Rasmussen to injury once again is a blow, and the situation surrounding Luke Heimlich could serve as a continuing distraction. That, and Arkansas’ physicality in the lineup, placed the Razorbacks ahead.

Texas Tech and Florida State round out the top five. Texas Tech looks to have the best team in the Tim Tadlock era, and that’s saying something considering they’ve been to the College World Series a couple of times. You know the Red Raiders’ pitching depth is ridiculous when the likes of Dylan Dusek (who had a 1.94 ERA as a Freshman All-American in 2014) and Erikson Lanning, who started on the weekends for a CWS team in 2016, don’t necessarily have defined roles at this stage. Speaking of pitching, FSU might be in better shape in that regard than they have been in a while. Tyler Holton is a stud at the front of the rotation, Drew Parrish was incredibly steady as a freshman last year, and Cole Sands looks poised to make a jump in this, his junior season.

The west coast is well represented in the rankings this time around, even outside of Oregon State. Stanford, led by a one-two punch in the rotation of Tristan Beck and Kris Bubic, comes in at number nine. UCLA, number 11, returns a significant portion of a team that got into a regional in 2017, despite its youth, and their 2018 offense might be the most physical we’ve seen in Westwood in a while. Rankings stalwart Cal State Fullerton is back, at number 18. Colton Eastman is a fantastic piece around which to build a pitching staff, and early reports on JUCO transfer Andrew Quezada are fantastic. Fullerton is going to pitch, and pitch well, again.

The power conferences, as usual, dominate the rankings, but there are a handful of mid-majors interspersed throughout. Dallas Baptist comes in at 15, with a team that looks good enough to potentially host a regional, just as they did back in 2015. Fellow upstart Texas program Sam Houston State also comes in at 22. The Bearkats return just about all of the key pieces from a team that got to a super regional in 2017.

The conference breakdown of teams in the preseason top 25 is as follows:

SEC: 8
ACC: 5
Big 12: 4
Pac-12: 3
Missouri Valley: 1
Big Ten: 1
Big West: 1
Southland: 1
American: 1

1. Florida Gators 

Last season: 52-19
Postseason: National Champions

2. Arkansas Razorbacks

Last season: 45-19
Postseason: Regional

3. Oregon State Beavers 

Last season: 56-6
Postseason: College World Series

4. Texas Tech Red Raiders

Last season: 45-17
Postseason: Regional

5. Florida State Seminoles

Last season: 46-23
Postseason: College World Series

6. North Carolina Tar Heels 

Last season: 49-14
Postseason: Regional

7. Kentucky Wildcats 

Last season: 43-23
Postseason: Super Regional

8. TCU Horned Frogs

Last season: 50-18
Postseason: College World Series

9. Stanford Cardinal 

Last season: 42-16
Postseason: Regional

10. Louisville Cardinals 

Last season: 53-12
Postseason: College World Series

11. UCLA Bruins 

Last season: 30-27
Postseason: Regional

12. Texas A&M Aggies

Last season: 41-23
Postseason: College World Series

13. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Last season: 40-27
Postseason: Super Regional

14. Mississippi Rebels

Last season: 32-25
Postseason: None

15. Dallas Baptist Patriots

Last season: 42-21
Postseason: Regional

16. LSU Tigers

Last season: 51-20
Postseason: College World Series

17. Indiana Hoosiers

Last season: 34-24
Postseason: Regional

18. Cal State Fullerton Titans 

Last season: 39-24
Postseason: College World Series

19. Virginia Cavaliers

Last season: 43-16
Postseason: Regional

20. NC State Wolfpack 

Last season: 36-25
Postseason: Regional

21. Vanderbilt Commodores

Last season: 36-25
Postseason: Super Regional

22. Sam Houston State Bearkats

Last season: 44-23
Postseason: Super Regional

23. Houston Cougars

Last season: 42-21
Postseason: Regional

24. Texas Longhorns

Last season: 39-24
Postseason: Regional

25. Oklahoma Sooners

Last season: 35-24
Postseason: Regional

Others Considered: Duke, Clemson,West Virginia, South Alabama, South Carolina

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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.