Arizona is the second highest ranked Pac-12 team, trailing UCLA at No. 3. Arizona State is the only other conference team in the Top 25 at No. 14, while Oregon State and Stanford round out the expansive poll at No. 49 and No. 50, respectively.
The Wildcats went 10-5 last spring before the Covid-19 pandemic derailed college baseball from completing a full season. Arizona returns 11 position players and 11 pitchers, making the Wildcats one of the more experienced teams out west.
Arizona will be led offensively by sophomore outfielder Ryan Holgate, a top-100 MLB Draft prospect according to D1Baseball and MLB Pipeline. Fellow outfielder Mac Bingham earned Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American honors last season.
The Wildcats bring back four starting pitchers including Chandler Murphy, also a 2020 Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American. Murphy went 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA over four starts.
It’s not just experience that makes Arizona one of the top preseason teams.
The program’s freshman class is considered one of the best in school history. It helps that only one recruit, Nick Yorke, was lost to the shortened 2020 MLB Draft (first round selection by the Boston Red Sox).
The class includes two 2019 Perfect Game All-Americans: catcher Daniel Susac and outfielder Chase Davis.
With such high expectations, the 2021 season could be a make or break year for head coach Jay Johnson, who has not led Arizona to the postseason since 2017, when the Wildcats lost in the Regionals.
Arizona has not released its 2021 schedule yet but plans to do so early next year.