Texas Tech put together yet another strong campaign in 2019. Now, the Red Raiders want that elusive national title in 2020, especially after earning the No. 6 spot in D1Baseball.com's preseason top 25.
Below are a few facts to consider when breaking down the 2020 Texas Tech club:
2019 record: 46-20 (16-8 Big 12)
Coach (record at school): Tim Tadlock (281–146 in seven seasons)
Ballpark: Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park (5,500)
Postseason history: 15 regionals (active streak: 4), 4 CWS trips (last in 2019).
TEXAS TECH FALL REPORT: How the Red Raiders are preparing for the 2020 season
In this preview of Texas Tech's 2020 season, we've graded the Red Raiders in each characteristic of the game: Hitting, power, speed, defense, starting pitching, bullpen and experience/intangibles. But before we begin, let's present our projected lineup for Texas Tech in 2020.
Texas Tech's projected lineup
|C||Braxton Fulford, Jr.||.298/.388/.419||4||34||0|
|1B||Cole Stilwell, So.||.268/.408/.407||3||22||1|
|2B||Brian Klein, Sr.||.315/.406/.440||3||57||0|
|3B||Jace Jung, Fr.||Fr.--San Antonio (MacArthur)|
|SS||Cal Conley, RS-Fr.||Transfer--DNP in 2019|
|LF||Kurt Wilson, Jr.||.227/.317/.386||4||17||2|
|CF||Dylan Neuse, Jr.||.298/.408/.494||8||51||18|
|RF||Max Marusak, So.||.235/.301/.353||1||12||10|
|DH||Tanner O'Tremba, So.||.261/.367/.402||2||20||2|
Texas Tech's projected weekend rotation/closer
|SP #1||Micah Dallas, So.||7-2||4.03||76||84||28||0|
|SP #2||John McMillon, Sr.||4-3||3.40||47.2||67||35||3|
|SP #3||Bryce Bonnin, Jr.||7-1||4.08||64||65||45||0|
|Closer||Clayton Beeter, RS-So.||0-3||3.48||20.2||40||20||8|
Grading the Red Raiders: Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.
The Red Raiders had a potent offensive lineup last season with Cam Warren, Josh Jung and Gabe Holt leading the way. All three are gone but look for Tech to somewhat reload.
Dru Baker, Brian Klein, Braxton Fulford, Dylan Neuse and Cody Masters will be headliners. Baker is an athletic player who showed big-time flashes last season, Klein is a steady hitter with a consistent offensive approach and Fulford took a big step forward from an offensive standpoint this past fall — this after hitting .298 with nine doubles, four home runs and 34 RBIs last season. Masters is yet another athletic guy in this lineup who should hit for power and make things happen with his legs, while Neuse is the catalyst after hitting .298 with 12 doubles, six triples, eight home runs and 51 RBIs last season.
There are several intriguing fresh faces to watch in this lineup. TJ Rumfield has a quality left-handed bat with impressive potential, Jace Jung (brother of Josh) is a solid hitter with power potential, Cal Conley is more known as a defender but can also make things happen with the bat and Max Marusak and Dillon Carter are both seasoned hitters who should have solid 2020 campaigns. Carter is a high baseball IQ guy who hits well from the left side. There’s also Tanner O’Tremba, who can drive the baseball to all fields.
Texas Tech should be able to beat you a variety of ways this season, including with a mix of power and speed. Sure, there are holes from an offensive standpoint, but we still like this lineup’s upside.
There’s no doubt the Red Raiders have some tough departures from a power standpoint — losing both Cam Warren and Josh Jung, who totaled 33 home runs last season. However, Tech still has plenty of power potential on this team — particularly gap power.
Braxton Fulford took a sizable step forward from a power standpoint during the fall and should hit for more power after smacking four home runs last season, while fellow catcher Cole Stilwell also has some pop. Kurt Wilson and Cody Masters also have some power potential, while Neuse is the top returning power hitter after hitting 12 doubles, six triples, eight home runs and 51 RBIs last season.
TJ Rumfield is a hard-hitting left-handed bat to watch, Klein has gap power, Jung has impressive power potential for a young hitter and Dru Baker is another ultra-athletic guy who can hit for some power. Meanwhile, keep an eye on Tanner O’Tremba, who hit three home runs last season and has big-time power potential. Look for O’Tremba to hit anywhere from 7-12 home runs this spring.
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The Red Raiders had one of the better runners and base-stealers in college baseball last season in Gabe Holt, who swiped 28 bases in 31 attempts. Holt is no longer with the Red Raiders but look for this team to once again be able to assert themselves from an athletic standpoint.
Tech has a pair of seasoned base stealers in Dylan Neuse and Max Marusak, who each finished last season with double digit stolen bases. Cody Masters and Dru Baker are both athletic guys who can make things happen with their legs, while the same can be said about Wilson, the two-way talent.
Who knows how Texas Tech will line up on Opening Day from a positional standpoint? Though the Red Raiders have some guys slated to be in certain positions, coach Tim Tadlock has made it abundantly clear there are some athletes on this team and isn’t afraid to move some guys around.
For instance, Dylan Neuse could play anywhere from third to shortstop to center field. Neuse likely will play shortstop or center field on Opening Day. Assuming that happens, Jace Jung will occupy third base and is a sound defender, while up the middle, veteran second baseman Brian Klein is back for another season. If Neuse doesn’t play short, look for Miami transfer Cal Conley to end up there. Conley is a high-quality defender who has impressive instincts. Klein is also a stable defender. Behind the plate, Braxton Fulford is a high-quality catch and throw guy, while the Red Raiders also are excited about young Nate Rombach, who showed excellent defensive skills during fall workouts.
In the outfield, Cody Masters and Dru Baker are all very athletic players, while Max Marusak is athletic with an impressive ability to track down balls.
Tech has athletes across the diamond, and that bodes well defensively.
Starting Pitching: 60
Tech feels good about its starting rotation for good reason. The Red Raiders have an experienced front-line starter in sophomore right-hander Micah Dallas. Dallas blossomed as a freshman last season and has a fastball up to 94-95 mph, along with good command of multiple pitches. He takes the mound with an impressive, mature presence and is a perfect Friday guy.
The Red Raiders received a big boost when right-hander John McMillon decided to return for his senior season. McMillon has a big-time arm with a quality slider and has made yet another jump on the mound. He can get up to 100 mph with his fastball, but as a starter, he will comfortably sit in the mid 90s. Finally, look for junior righty Bryce Bonnin to take a massive step forward. Bonnin showed flashes of brilliance last season and is ready to take the next step, sitting in the 93-96 and up to 97 mph range, along with quality secondary offerings.
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Also keep an eye on sophomore left-hander Mason Montgomery. He’s yet another guy who showed flashes last season, and he’ll get up to 93-94 mph with the fastball along with quality secondary stuff. He looks primed to take a sizable step forward.
The Red Raiders have a plethora of options from a bullpen standpoint. The leaders at the backend are two-way talent Kurt Wilson and right-hander Clayton Beeter. Wilson’s stuff and overall command of the zone has improved, and he’ll get up to 95-98 mph with his fastball, while Beeter is another big-time arm with an ability to get up to 97 mph with his fastball.
Transfers Austin Becker and Jakob Brustoski also will factor into the equation. Becker has big-time upside and headed to Lubbock from Vanderbilt. He has a premium arm with a fastball ranging 92-95 mph, while Brustoski is a very interesting specimen. He’s a 6-foot-2, 237-pounder, who surprised some during fall workouts with a fastball up to 97-98 mph. It’ll be interesting to see how his stuff translates to big-time college baseball.
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Freshmen Andrew Devine, Eli Kerim, Steven Vasquez and Brandon Hendrix are other quality arms to watch. Devine is a smallish 5-foot-9, 160-pounder with a big-time arm and delivery, sitting 93-95 mph with his fastball during fall workouts. Meanwhile, Kerim is a converted catcher who was 92-95 with his fastball in the fall, Vasquez has excellent pitchability and Hendrix has a big-time arm and should be fresh after not throwing much of the fall. Hunter Dobbins, who showed an improved breaking ball during fall workouts, also could log significant innings out of the pen.
In essence, the Red Raiders have a multitude of power weapons.
Texas Tech has become an Omaha mainstay during the Tim Tadlock era, and that trend shouldn’t change in 2020.
Yes, the Red Raiders have a few key holes to fill from an offensive standpoint, including the Big 12’s Player of the Decade in third baseman Josh Jung. But time and time again the Red Raiders have displayed an ability to quickly bounce back from key departures. That should continue this season, too, with the return of Kurt Wilson, Cole Stilwell, Braxton Fulford, Tanner O’Tremba, Dylan Neuse, Max Marusak and others. It’s basically a situation of guys waiting their turn and now getting their time in the sun.
Tech also has plenty of experience on the mound. Micah Dallas was a Freshman All-American last season and is back for more, while hard-throwing Bryce Bonnin is ready to take a sizable step forward this spring. Finally, the bullpen is loaded, and the Red Raiders got an early Christmas present when right-hander John McMillon decided to return to the Hub City for his senior campaign.
Tech isn’t without some question marks, but all signs point to another stellar season.