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BYU baseball picked tied for last in Big 12 preseason poll

By Big 12 conference - | Jan 25, 2024

BYU's Jacob Wilk hits the ball during a WCC game against Saint Mary's at Miller Park in Provo on Saturday, March 25, 2023.

TCU was selected as the preseason favorite in a vote by the league’s head coaches in the 2024 Big 12 Baseball Preseason Poll, slotting into the top spot for the second consecutive season. Coaches were not permitted to vote for their own team.

The Horned Frogs received 11 first-place votes and are coming off a season that saw TCU win the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship and advance to the semifinals of the Men’s College World Series. Texas, who received the other two first place votes, is in second place, ahead of third place Oklahoma State. Texas, Oklahoma State and West Virginia shared the 2023 regular season title.

Texas Tech, who is looking for an eighth consecutive bid to NCAA Regionals, slots in fourth, followed by Kansas State, who is coming off a 35-win campaign, the program’s most since 2013. Oklahoma and West Virginia, who each reached NCAA Regionals a year ago, are tied for sixth.

Kansas follows in eighth, as Houston leads the quartet of new members in ninth place. UCF is 10th and Baylor is 11th while BYU and Cincinnati tie for 12th.

The top 10 teams in the Conference standings will qualify for the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship in Arlington, Texas, May 21-25.

BYU also didn’t have any representation on the 2024 Big 12 Preseason Baseball Awards that were announced Wednesday.

West Virginia infielder JJ Wetherholt was named Preseason Player of the Year to highlight the 2024 Big 12 Preseason Baseball Awards. Texas’ Lebarron Johnson Jr. was Preseason Pitcher of the Year while TCU two-way player Payton Tolle was named Preseason Newcomer of the Year and Texas outfielder Will Gasparino was tabbed Preseason Freshman of the Year.

Wetherholt was the Big 12 Player of the Year in 2023, earning unanimous All-America honors as he won the Division I batting title with a .449 average. The Mars, Pennsylvania native had 42 extra-base hits, including 16 home runs, and stole 36 bases in his sophomore season. The infielder who bats from the left side is projected as the nation’s top draft-eligible prospect by several publications and was named an Academic All-American by College Sports Communicators.

Johnson Jr. was picked a 2023 second team All-American and first team All-Big 12 selection after working his way into the weekend rotation. The righty from Jacksonville, Florida finished the season with an 8-4 record and a 2.91 earned run average, highlighted by a one-run shutout in the second game of the NCAA Coral Gables Regional. The economics major held opponents to a .231 batting average in his redshirt sophomore season, and his 86.2 innings pitched ranked fourth in the Big 12.

Tolle was a unanimous All-American in 2023 and was named a finalist for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year while at Wichita State. The two-time AAC All-Academic Team selection posted a 9-3 record on the mound for the Shockers a season ago, posting eight quality starts. At the dish, the Yukon, Oklahoma native hit .311 with 13 home runs, splitting time at first base and DH when not pitching.

Gasparino, a right-handed outfielder from Los Angeles, was rated as one of the top 75 prospects in the Major League Baseball Draft before eschewing professional ball to play in Austin. He helped Harvard-Westlake High School, a program that has produced MLB stars such as Max Fried, Lucas Giolito and Jack Flaherty, to a CIF State Championship in 2021.

In addition to Wetherholt and Johnson Jr., Texas Tech infielder Gavin Kash, Oklahoma State outfielder Nolan Schubart, TCU starter Kole Klecker and Kansas State relief ace Tyson Neighbors were unanimously selected to the Preseason All-Big 12 team.

All 13 Big 12 squads open the season Friday, Feb. 16.

Big 12 Baseball Preseason Poll

1. TCU (11) – 143

2. Texas (2) – 131

3. Oklahoma State – 119

4. Texas Tech – 107

5. Kansas State – 98

T6. Oklahoma – 85

T6. West Virginia – 85

8. Kansas – 67

9. Houston – 56

10. UCF – 45

11. Baylor – 36

T12. BYU – 21

T12. Cincinnati – 21


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