As we learned earlier today, Baseball America picked the 2011 Baylor Bears 16th in the nation in its annual Preseason Top 25. The BA poll might be the most respected in college baseball, as the writers take information from scouts across the nation into consideration.
Coming up with a preseason ranking isn't as easy as it seems, especially when it comes to college baseball, where teams often turn over more than half of their roster in any given offseason. The reason BA is so respected is because Aaron Fitt researches every team and knows exactly what holes they have to fill and who among the newcomers is likely to contribute.
With that in mind, let's take a look at what Fitt had to say about this season's Bears (16th capsule, about two-thirds of the way down the page).
Fitt uses the scouts' 20-80 scale to grade each team's hitting, power, speed, defense, starting pitching, bullpen, experience/intangibles and overall future potential. The ratings are relative to an average college baseball team with NCAA tournament aspirations. Here are the definitions of each rating:
80 - A team for the ages
We highly recommend reading each of the categories in the Baylor capsule, but here's a preview:
Hitting: 60 - "After fall ball, one Texas area scout said Baylor has the best offense in the state ..."
Additionally, Fitt held a Top 25 Chat this afternoon, and Baylor was mentioned twice. When posed with a question about which team in the 15-25 range he sees with the most upside, and if that team was Rice, Fitt said:
"I think that's fair. I do think Baylor, Cal and Arizona have intriguing upside, also."
Later, Fitt was asked about Baylor's pitching staff. Here's what he had to say:
"I love Logan Verrett at the front, and Brooks Pinckard is an electric closer at the back. In between, Josh Turley is going to be a star, and it's going to happen this year -- mark my words. When I started researching the Top 25, I was frankly surprised by how much I like Baylor's team this year."
Baylor opens the 2011 season by hosting the QTI Powers Opening Weekend Classic against Oral Roberts, with the series opener slated for 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 18 at Baylor Ballpark. That's all for now, but don't forget to follow The Kaye Zone on Twitter.
There were 301 Baylor student-athletes named to the fall 2010 Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll, and the Baylor baseball team accounted for 27 student-athletes on the list, 22 of which are members of the 2011 team.
Six members of the team have been on the Honor Roll every semester they've been at Baylor. Kolt Browder (five times), Steve DalPorto (three times), Lawton Langford (three times), Jon Ringenberg (seven times), Chris Slater (seven times) and Ross Speed (five times) have never been left off the list while at Baylor.
Eight other student-athletes were also repeat members on the Honor Roll. Trent Blank (two times), Dan Evatt (four times), Joey Hainsfurther (three times), Jake Miller (two times), Logan Verrett (three times), Logan Vick (two times), and Landis Ware (five times) were all repeat selections.
Being named to the Honor Roll numerous times is impressive on its own, but this year five Baylor baseball student-athletes made the list with perfect 4.0 grade point averages. Browder, DalPorto, Slater, Doug Ashby and former player Nick Cassavechia all achieved 4.0 GPAs.
A student-athlete can still be named to the list for their academic achievement after they have exhausted athletic eligibility. This is the case for five of the players named to the fall 2010 list. Cassavechia, Dustin Dickerson, Adam Hornung, Kevin Winter and Eric Udell were all named to the fall 2010 Honor Roll though they are no longer on the Bears' active roster.
Learning how to balance athletics and studies on the collegiate level can be difficult for any student, but nine student-athletes on the 2011 team were named to the Honor Roll after completing their first semesters at Baylor, including eight who graduated from high school this past May. These eight include Taylor Alspaugh, Ashby, Trae Davis, Nate Goodwin, Brad Kuntz, Dillon Newman, Grayson Porter and Sean Spicer. Additionally, junior transfer Tyler Bremer made the Honor Roll in his first semester at Baylor after transferring from Yavapai Junior College in Arizona.
If the 2011 Bears are as successful on the field as they are in the classroom, it should be a memorable year. Baylor opens the season with a three-game series vs. Oral Roberts, with the series opener slated for 4 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 18 at Baylor Ballpark. That's all for now, but don't forget to follow The Kaye Zone on Twitter.
Two of Baylor's three team captains for the upcoming season were listed among the "2011 College Top 100 Draft Prospects" (subscription required) released by Baseball America on Monday.
Junior RHP Logan Verrett checks in at No. 17, which places him 12th among pitchers and third out of 13 players who are ranked out of the Big 12 Conference.
Verrett was named second-team all-conference after going 5-3 with a 3.28 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 90.2 innings pitched last season. Though he's played just two seasons at Baylor, Verrett's name can be found throughout the program's record book:
ERA, Big 12 Career: 6th - 3.94
Junior RHP/OF Brooks Pinckard is ranked No. 96, which places him 11th among players from the Big 12. Pinckard was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 18th round as a draft-eligible sophomore in the 2010 MLB Draft, but he elected to return to Baylor for the 2011 season.
A standout two-way player, Pinckard was named first-team all-conference last season after hitting .305 with 12 doubles, six triples, two home runs and 18 stolen bases, as well as pitching to a 2.45 ERA with 12 saves in 23 outings. He has also worked his way into the Baylor record books despite playing just two seasons in Waco:
Total Sacrifices, Season: t3rd - 12 
That's all for now, but don't forget to follow The Kaye Zone on Twitter.
College Baseball Lineup released its preseason rankings Monday, and the Bears checked in at No. 26. CBL announced its preseason rankings in a Tweetdown, where it counted down the top 30 teams on Twitter, sending out one tweet announcing each team's rankings and another with information about those teams. Here's what CBL said after listing Baylor at No. 26:
Baylor's top hitter and picture are both named Logan - pretty impressive - as is the Bears returning lineup and bullpen which has few holes to fill.
Digging a little deeper, CBL said:
Back in 2005 Baylor appeared in its first CWS in nearly 30 years and with its success came a cache of top recruits. The team was on the cusp of being the next big thing in college baseball, but things quite haven't worked out as anticipated. While the programs hasn't fizzled by any means, they also haven't been the perennial powerhouse people in Waco had hoped they'd become. This could be the year they finally get back to Omaha. There is another crop of burgeoning talent on campus with leading hitter Joey Hainsfurther (.339, 2, 48) now a step closer to becoming an All Big XII performer and the extremely apt Brooks Pinckard is a top two way player (.305, 2, 28 and 2-4, 2.45, 12 SVs). The highest expectations are for a pair of players named Logan. Starter Logan Verrett (5-3, 3.28) fanned over a batter an inning last season (97 Ks in 90.2 IP) and Logan Vick (.329, 10, 27) paced the team in total bases without making a single error in over 100 chances.
Speaking of Hainsfurther, he's expected to see action behind the plate this season. The Bears gave him plenty of work at catcher during the fall, and there's a good chance he'll be the backstop when Baylor begins the 2011 season against Oral Roberts on Feb. 18.
The Bears return eight out of 10 starting positions players and 11 out of 15 pitchers from last season's team. For more on this year's team, check out the 2011 Baylor Baseball Quick Facts.
That's all for now, but don't forget to follow The Kaye Zone on Twitter.