Dec. 20, 2010
Tucson, Ariz. - The 2011 Cal State Fullerton baseball team will begin the season as the No. 12 team in the nation according to Collegiate Baseball and will feature Collegiate Baseball/Louisville Slugger Preseason first-team All-American pitcher Noe Ramirez and second-team utility player Nick Ramirez.
TCU headlines the publication's preseason Top 40 as the No. 1 team after finishing third at the College World Series in 2010. It is followed by Florida, UCLA, Clemson and Vanderbilt to round out the Top 5. The Titans will face the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth from Feb. 25-27, and will meet up with the Bruins in Fullerton on Mar. 29 and in Los Angeles on May 17.
Titan Head Coach Dave Serrano and the Titans look to pick up where they left off in 2010 after just missing a trip to the College World Series with a tough Super Regional loss to UCLA last June. The Titans were Big West Conference (21-3) and Fullerton Regional champions and finished the campaign with a 46-18 overall record.
All-American Noe Ramirez (Jr., RHP, East Los Angeles, Calif.) will headline a pitching staff, that on the outset, looks to be the Titans' strength heading into January. Ramirez was 12-1 with a 2.54 ERA a season ago despite missing about a month with a fractured wrist. He goes into the season as the projected Friday night starter. Returners Tyler Pill (Jr., OF/RHP, Covina, Calif.), Dylan Floro (Soph., RHP, Merced, Calif.) and Jake Floethe (Jr., RHP, Martinez, Calif.) have the early edge to round out the rotation come February.
Pill was 4-4 with a 3.36 ERA in 61.2 innings in 2010. Floro had a Freshman All-American season, posting a 7-2 record and a 3.26 ERA in his rookie season. Floethe has squad experience, but missed 2010 while sitting out due to transfer rules. The righty transferred from Fresno State after the 2009 season.
Of course, southpaw Nick Ramirez figures to to see his share of time near the end of games. He saved 11 ball games for the Titans in 2010 and posted 38 strikeouts with just 8 walks in 43.2 innings. He could get some help this season by transfer Chris Devenski (Jr., RHP/INF, Santa Ana, Calif., Golden West College), who will give Serrano a hard-throwing option form the right side.
The Titan lineup will have All-American Nick Ramirez (Jr., 1B/LHP, Anaheim, Calif.) and Freshman All-American Carlos Lopez (Soph., DH, Northridge, Calif.) returning to the middle of the order, and will also have All-Big West bats in Pill and Richy Pedroza (Soph., INF, Covina, Calif.). Ramirez provided a powerful punch in the Titans' order in 2010, batting .346 while belting 16 home runs and driving home a team-leading 75 RBI. Lopez hit .354 (7 HR and 54 RBI) and Pedroza served as a spark plug, hitting .331 with 22 RBI in 37 games.
The Titans also have 16 newcomers from their 8th-ranked (Collegiate Baseball) recruiting class to help round out the lineup.
Transfer Joe Terry (Jr., INF, Long Beach, Calif., Cerritos College) seems to have the advantage at the hot corner heading into the Spring with last-year's third baseman, Pedroza, shifting over to shortstop to fill the void left by Colon.
With platoon outfielders Austin Kingsolver (Soph., OF, Dana Point, Calif.) and Anthony Hutting (Soph., OF, Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) fighting for the centerfield spot, Michael Lorenzen (Fr., OF, Anaheim, Calif., Fullerton HS) has emerged as a frontrunner in left field, filling the spot in the line-up left by Brown.
Vacancies at second base and catcher will be up for grabs. Early projections have Matt Orloff (Soph., INF, Simi Valley, Calif.) and Blake Barber (Jr., INF, Modesto, Calif., Modesto JC) competing for the second base job, while Zach Tanida (Sr., C, San Diego, Calif.) and Nick O'Loughlin (Jr., C, Upland, Calif., Fullerton College) will battle for time behind the dish.
Cal State Fullerton will begin its season with a three-game, non-conference match-up with cross-town rival Long Beach State, Feb. 18-20. The first and last games of that series will be held in Long Beach, while the Saturday affair will be held in Fullerton as a part of a unique double-header with the visiting North Carolina Tar Heels.