2018 Conference Previews: American Athletic Conference | BaseballAmerica.com


(Patrick) #1

BA isn’t as high on the Coogs as others are and doesn’t have us in the Top 25. They do have us making the field though, but predict UCF as the champs.

Houston: The Cougars last season went 42-21, won the American Tournament and hosted a regional for the second time in three years. They return the bulk of a pitching staff that ranked 15th in the country with a 3.43 team ERA. Righthander Trey Cumbie (10-2, 2.04), the co-American pitcher of the year, returns to lead the pitching staff. Lefthander Aaron Fletcher (2-1, 2.40, 8 SV) and righthander Fred Villareal (1-2, 4.25) figure to take on significant roles in the pitching staff. The lineup will see more changes this spring after catcher Connor Wong, infielder Jake Scheiner and outfielder Corey Julks were all drafted in the top 250 picks. The Cougars will be looking for a bounceback season from first baseman Joe Davis, who hit 14 home runs during a Freshman All-American campaign in 2016 but played through injury much of last season and hit .299/.368/.451 with eight home runs. Davis and junior outfielder Grayson Padgett (.309/.402/.414) will be counted on to lead the offense. The American has been topsy-turvy since its creation in 2014, but Houston has been one of the constants. The Cougars have made regionals in three of the last four seasons and are aiming for a return this year.