It's a little less than two months away from the beginning of the college baseball season, and the hype around Arizona's top player has begun.
Bobby Dalbec, who is projected as a first or second round pick in this year's MLB Draft, was named a Louisville Slugger 2nd-team preseason All-American.
The announcement lists Dalbec as just a third baseman, with Wake Forest's Will Craig getting 1st-team honors at the position. Craig hit 13 home runs and batted .382 in 2015 for the Demon Deacons.
But it is expected that Dalbec will play a crucial role on the 2016 pitching staff, just like he did in 2015.
"It's up in the air right now," Dalbec told me back in November about whether or not he'd be a starting pitcher or not. "I think it's leaning more towards me being a bullpen guy, but you never know what could happen. I've been working short, second and third, and I've thrown one or two innings every Sunday."
Dalbec played for Team USA and in the Cape Cod League this past summer. He struggled a bit with Team USA, but it was a huge learning experience for him.
"Now I know what Cubans throw," he joked. "It was fun. It definitely gives you a new perspective, and having USA on that jersey across your chest is a really good feeling."
"(Cubans) throw everything," he said about what he had to face. "A lot of located off-speed from the two countries we played against, but it was cool. It was a good learning experience. I had a little skid with Team USA but I tried not to get down in a hole or in a rut."
In 2015, the Arizona slugger hit a Pac-12 leading 15 home runs, to go along with his .319 batting average and 53 RBI with the Wildcats. He also posted a 3.21 ERA in 21 appearances on the mound, striking out 48 batters in 61 2/3 innings.
Dalbec is one of seven players from the Pac-12 selected to the preseason All-American list. He's joined by Cal's Daulton Jeffries, WSU's Ian Hamilton, OSU's KJ Harrison, ASU's Colby Woodmansee, Oregon's Matt Krook, and Stanford's Cal Quantrill. It's interesting to see that no Pac-12 team could land multiple players on the preseason list.
All eyes will be on Dalbec and JJ Matijevic this year as Arizona looks to return to the postseason for the first time since 2012. The season starts February 19th at Rice.