Coastal Carolina’s run to the 2016 College World Series title was somewhat unprecedented in that the Chanticleers accomplished the feat in their first-ever appearance. But it also continued a trend in that it marked the fourth straight year the College World Series was won by a team for the first time. UCLA started it in 2013, followed by Vanderbilt and then Virginia.
Will this trend continue in 2017? It’s possible considering TCU (4 CWS appearances) leads off Athlon Sports’ preseason top 25, while the likes of Florida State (21 appearances), Texas Tech (2), Clemson (12), Florida (10) and UC Santa Barbara (1) are in the top 10. But the first spots in the poll also have plenty of representation from the sport's blue bloods, if you will, with LSU (6 CWS titles), Cal State Fullerton (4) and the aforementioned Commodores also landing in the top 10.
And the last member of the preseason top 10? None other than the defending champions, who are aiming to join an elite group by becoming just the sixth team to win back-to-back College World Series titles (USC, Stanford, LSU, Oregon State, South Carolina).
Here is Athlon Sports’ complete College Baseball Preseason Top 25 and All-America team for the 2017 season. This is just one of the features that can be found in Athlon’s 2017 Baseball Preview, which is available for purchase online and on newsstands everywhere.
Athlon Sports’ College Baseball Preseason Top 25
(2016 record listed)
1. TCU (49–18, 15–9 Big 12)
It’s good to be Jim Schlossnagle right now. The Horned Frogs maestro has a team stacked with talent that should get back to Omaha. Eight starters return, including 3B Elliott Barzilli (.339-7-48), C Evan Skoug (.301-9-51), the double-play duo of 2B Cam Warner (.300-6-43) and SS Ryan Merrill (.298, 11 SBs) and hulking DH Luken Baker (.379-11-62). The pitching staff returns 55 of 67 starts from last year and also gets incoming LHP Nick Lodolo, who was a first-round draft pick last June.
2. LSU (45–21, 19–11 SEC)
The experienced Tigers are looking to make amends for a Super Regional collapse against Coastal Carolina last June. SS Kramer Robertson (.324), 2B Cole Freeman (.329) and 1B Greg Deichmann (.288-11-57) all return despite getting drafted last summer. Alex Lange (8–4, 3.79) could be the top pitcher in the country, and LHP Jared Poche (9–4, 3.35) turned down the Padres as a 14th-round draftee. Expect big things from freshman flingers Hunter Kiel and Zack Hess, who were part of another top-10 recruiting class.
3. Florida State (41–22, 16–10 ACC)
Every year we ask, “Is this the year for the Seminoles?” And yes, indeed, this could be. Mike Martin has a full arsenal of arms back, including LHP Tyler Holton (3–4, 2.79) and RHPs Drew Carlton (8–3, 3.94) and Cole Sands (6–7, 4.13) who combined for 44 starts a year ago. SS Taylor Walls (.355-6-46) is a dynamic team leader and Brooks Wallace Award candidate, while Cal Raleigh (.301) and Dylan Busby (.323) combined for 24 HRs and 105 RBIs. Freshman 1B Drew Mendoza is a sure-fire future All-American.