Jan. 4, 2007
Los Angeles - The UCLA baseball team has been ranked No. 13 in Baseball America's pre-season top 25 poll and No. 26 in Collegiate Baseball newspaper's "Fabulous 40" pre-season poll. Led by third-year head coach John Savage, the Bruins return five starting position players and two starting pitchers from the 2006 squad (33-25, 13-10 Pac-10), which finished the season in the NCAA Malibu Regional.
After playing the most difficult schedule in the nation last season, as rated by Boyd's World, the Bruins' 2007 slate features 20 games against teams in Baseball America's top-25 poll. Likewise, UCLA will play 33 games versus programs listed in the publication's pre-season top-50 poll.
The Bruins' No. 26 ranking by Collegiate Baseball marks their highest pre-season selection by the newspaper since 2000, when UCLA entered the season ranked fourth. The Bruins will play 50 of their 56 games against teams either ranked in Collegiate Baseball's top-40 poll or among schools receiving votes.
UCLA returns six sophomores who exhibited promising freshman seasons in 2006. Shortstop Brandon Crawford earned a spot on the U.S. National Team last summer after hitting .318 and starting all 58 games at shortstop. Third baseman Jermaine Curtis led UCLA regulars with a .336 batting average in 50 games.
Catcher Ryan Babineau captured Freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball after throwing out 60 percent of all attempted base stealers and not committing an error in 445 chances. Outfielder Cody Decker posted a .302 average and belted five home runs in just 63 at-bats. Outfielders Blair Dunlap and Tim Murphy also impressed, as Dunlap earned a spot on the All-Malibu Regional Team and Murphy hit .254 despite breaking his wrist early in the season.
UCLA's incoming recruiting class gained a No. 13 ranking from Baseball America and features the 2006 Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year (Charles Brewer) and four players selected in the 2006 MLB Draft (Brewer, Raul Duran, Matthew Drummond and Casey Haerther). Brewer, a 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher from Scottsdale, Ariz., compiled a 19-0 varsity record and led Chaparral High School to three state titles.
Gavin Brooks, a 6-foot-3 left-handed pitcher from Vista, Calif., earned 2005 AFLAC All-America honors. Drummond posted a 10-1 record, a 2.10 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 67.1 innings as a senior at Paso Robles High School (Paso Robles, Calif.). Haerther, a powerful corner infielder from Chatsworth, Calif., recorded a .554 batting average with seven home runs and 38 RBI his senior season at Chaminade High School.
UCLA opens its 2007 season with a three-game series against No. 23 Winthrop (46-18, 17-7 Big South in 2006) on Friday, Feb. 2, at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Game time is slated for 6 p.m.
BASEBALL AMERICA PRE-SEASON TOP-25 POLL
|14||Cal State Fullerton||50-15|
records do not include ties
bold indicates UCLA opponent