TUCSON, Ariz. - Texas Christian University is ranked No. 1 in "Collegiate Baseball" newspaper's NCAA Division I pre-season baseball poll.
The Horned Frogs finished third at the College World Series last season and return a deep and experienced ball club for 2011.
Seven position player starters are back along with three Louisville Slugger Pre-Season All-American starting pitchers in LHP Matt Purke (16-0, 3.02 ERA,
142 K, 34 BB), RHP Kyle Winkler (12-3, 3.39 ERA, 92 K, 36 BB), and RHP Steven Maxwell (11-2, 2.70 ERA, 93 K, 34 BB).
TCU is the only team in the nation with three pre-season All-American pitchers. Offensively, the team hit .334 last season with 178 doubles and 101 homers. The defense turned 71 double plays while pitchers and catchers picked off 15 runners.
TCU suffered two big losses in All-American catcher Bryan Holaday, Easton's NCAA Division I Defensive Player of The Year last season (7 pickoffs, threw out 23 runners in 50 stolen base attempts over 68 games, .355 BA, 17 HR, 24 2B, 53 RBI) and 1B Matt Curry (.339, 18 HR, 26 2B, 65 RBI).
"I'm excited about our 2011 club," said TCU Head Coach Jim Schlossnagle. "We return our entire weekend rotation of pitchers and seven of eight position player starters who helped us go deep into the College World Series. Our starting pitching is superb with Matt Purke, Kyle Winkler and Steven Maxwell. If we can keep them healthy, it gives us a chance most weekends. We have other pitchers who are outstanding as well."
Schlossnagle said that he has two quality catchers to fill in for the loss of Holaday in Jimmie Pharr and Josh Elander.
"Jimmie hit .363 in 39 games for us last season with 7 homers and 9 doubles. If you average that out over an entire season, those numbers would have been outstanding. Josh played outfield for us last year, but he was drafted as a catcher. So he is outstanding as well. Replacing a guy like Holaday is almost impossible. But if we can get 70 or 80 percent of what he did, then we have a great chance of success. Losing Curry also hurts because he was an exceptional hitter. Both Holaday and Curry were elite defensive players as well."
One other loss is RHP Kaleb Merck (2-1, 1.47 ERA, 22 APP) who had a great summer in the Cape Cod League and was being looked at to be the closer. Unfortunately, he underwent Tommy John surgery and is out for the season.
As far as pro potential, three TCU players are expected to be picked in the first three rounds of next June's Free Agent Draft in Purke (1st round), Winkler (2nd-3rd round) and OF Jason Coats (1st-3rd rounds).
Schlossnagle said that sometimes handling success is more difficult than failure.
"We have been having success for a long time at TCU. Being at the College World Series magnified that. Our motto last Fall was to keep the blinders on and try to stay focused every day."
For a detailed rundown on the top 40 teams, see the Jan. 7, 2011 edition of "Collegiate Baseball" newspaper which also includes complete details of all top players in each NCAA Division I conference.
The "Collegiate Baseball" Newspaper poll is the oldest college baseball poll. Its birth took place during the 1958 college baseball season.
Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's
NCAA Div. I Pre-Season Poll
(As of Dec. 20, 2010)
Rank School ('10 Final Record)
1. Texas Christian (54-14)
2. Florida (47-17)
3. UCLA (51-17)
4. Clemson (45-25)
5. Vanderbilt (46-20)
6. Oklahoma (50-18)
7. Texas (50-13)
8. Texas A&M (43-21-1)
9. Oregon (40-24)
10. Stanford (31-25)
11. Arizona St. (52-10)
12. Cal. St. Fullerton (46-18)
13. Florida St. (48-20)
14. South Carolina (54-16)
15. Louisiana St. (41-22)
16. Connecticut (48-16)
17. Virginia (51-14)
18. Miami, Fla. (43-20)
19. Georgia Tech. (47-15)
20. Louisville (50-14)
21. Rice (40-23)
22. Arizona (34-24)
23. Wichita St. (41-19)
24. Coastal Carolina (55-10)
25. Auburn (43-21)
26. St. John's (43-20)
27. North Carolina (38-32)
28. San Diego (37-22)
29. Fresno St. (38-25)
30. Pittsburgh (38-18)
31. Washington St. (37-22)
32. Arkansas (43-21)
33. California (29-25)
34. U.C. Irvine (39-21)
35. College of Charleston (44-19)
36. Florida Atlantic (37-24)
37. Kansas St. (37-22)
38. Hawaii (35-28)
39. Baylor (36-24)
40. Kent St. (39-25)
Other Teams Receiving Votes: Florida International, U.C. Riverside, N.C.
State, Oregon St., Mississippi, Kentucky
, Southern California, Washington, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi St.
, Oklahoma St., Missouri, South Florida, Nebraska, Cal Poly, Long Beach St., U.C. Santa Barbara, Florida Gulf Coast, Liberty, Minnesota, Michigan, James Madison, Southern Mississippi, East Carolina, Central Florida, Central Michigan, Bethune-Cookman, Illinois St., San Diego St., Tennessee Tech., The Citadel, Texas St., Northwestern St., Oral Roberts, Louisiana Lafayette, Western Kentucky, Lamar, Portland, Pepperdine, Gonzaga, Nevada, New Mexico St., San Jose St., Charlotte, Mercer, East Tennessee St., Jacksonville, Georgia St., Tulane, Utah Valley St., New Mexico, Stony Brook, Iowa, Wisc.-Milwaukee, Canisius, Bryant, Jacksonville St., Dallas Baptist, Le Moyne.