Jan. 27, 2011
DURHAM, N.C. -
Baylor baseball enters the 2011 season ranked 16th nationally in Baseball America's Preseason Top 25, released by the publication Thursday. It marks the 11th time the Bears have garnered a preseason ranking since Baseball America began ranking teams in 1981.
The Bears' preseason No. 16 ranking is tied for eighth-best in program history. Baylor received its highest preseason ranking in program history at No. 8 in 2009. Prior to that, the Bears had been ranked in 1987 (21st), 1998 (13th), 2000 (10th), 2001 (20th), 2002 (16th), 2003 (10th), 2004 (13th), 2005 (10th) and 2008 (15th).
Baseball America ranks the Bears third among four Big 12 Conference programs in the preseason poll. Oklahoma checks in at No. 5, with Texas at No. 6 and Texas A&M ranked 21st. The Pac-10 leads the way with six ranked teams, followed by the Big 12, SEC and ACC with four apiece.
Baylor returns 19 letterwinners from a 2010 team that went 36-24 and finished as the runner-up in both the Big 12 Championship and NCAA Fort Worth Regional. The Bears return eight starting position players, including a pair of 2010 Freshman All-Americans in Max Muncy and Logan Vick, and 11 pitchers, with All-Big 12 performers in Logan Verrett and Brooks Pinckard.
Baylor also returns All-Big 12 honoree Joey Hainsfurther, who is expected to move from third base to catcher, and Academic All-American Chris Slater.
The Bears welcome 13 newcomers to the roster, including a trio of pitchers who were selected in the 2010 MLB Draft. Tyler Bremer (36th round, Chicago Cubs), Trae Davis (29th round, Texas Rangers) and Dillon Newman (49th round, New York Mets) all turned down professional contracts to play at Baylor. Additionally, Pinckard (18th round, Chicago Cubs) chose to put off a professional career to return to Baylor.
The Bears open the 2011 season Feb. 18-20, hosting Oral Roberts for the QTI Powers Opening Weekend Classic at Baylor Ballpark. First pitch for the season opener is slated for 4 p.m.
2011 Baseball America Preseason Top 25
3. Texas Christian
7. South Carolina
8. Cal State Fullerton
11. Arizona State
12. Florida State
20. College of Charleston
21. Texas A&M
22. Louisiana State
23. St. John's