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Pac-12 Baseball Team Preview: UCLA Hoping To Continue Upswing

High expectations have been laid upon this year’s Bruin team despite strong pitching departures.

Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

UCLA Bruins

  • Last Season: 30-27 (19-11)
  • Head Coach: John Savage
  • Best Returning Batter: Daniel Amaral (.282)
  • Best Returning Fielder: Daniel Rosica (267 putouts)
  • Best Returning Pitcher: Jon Olsen (2.86 ERA)

The Skinny

Most Bruin fans will tell you that 2016 (when the team finished 25-31) was a frustrating season for the UCLA baseball program. But with the help of an electric group of freshmen, UCLA rebounded in 2017 to get back to the NCAA tournament. Their season ultimately ended in the regional round.

The Bruins find themselves ranked nationally in the top 15 in every major set of rankings for 2018 so far. Despite losing quite a bit of pitching depth from the departures of Griffin Canning, Moises Ceja, and a few others, they have reason to be confident. Junior righty Jon Olsen returns after being named an All-Pac-12 selection in 2017. Olsen had the seventh lowest ERA in the league last season (2.86) and the third lowest opposing batting average (.201) with 80 strikeouts. Olsen may just be the best pitcher in this league who doesn’t play for OSU. Senior righty Jake Bird is also a name that a lot of MLB scouts will be keeping an eye on.

On the offensive side, UCLA has room for improvement, but loads of potential. The team had the second-lowest batting average in the Pac-12 last season (.258). That being said, they had some power in their bats producing 44 home runs. Players like sophomore Michael Toglia and junior Daniel Amaral lead the attack at the plate. Toglia hit eight home runs and drew 33 walks while Amaral returns the highest batting average on the team and tied OSU’s Nick Madrigal for most stolen bases in the league last season with 2017.

If one thing is going to get in the way of this UCLA team, it is simply youth and inexperience. Outside of the pitching rotation, the starting lineup will be almost all freshman and sophomores. As a result, they will most likely rely on the defensive leadership of redshirt junior catcher Daniel Rosica. This is a program on the rise and could definitely be a threat to OSU if they aren't careful. The final series of the year when UCLA comes to Corvallis should absolutely be circled on Beavers fans’ calendars.


Number To Know: 44

The Bruins led the Pac-12 in home runs in 2017 with 44 dingers.


Games Against OSU:

May 24th, 25th, and 26th in Corvallis


Pac-12 Baseball Team Previews:

USC

Arizona State

Stanford