As chronicled here previously, UCLA returns a lot of players who had to step up early due to injuries in 2014, two key members of the 2013 CWS squad who missed the 2014 season due to said injuries, and the entire 2014 weekend starting rotation.
As we said at the time, the future looked brighter than 2014. That is not saying much, since last season was one to forget, easily the worst of the John Savage era.
But Baseball America has taken this one step further. Every year, after the CWS, the Baseball America staff surveys the landscape and picks eight teams most likely to make it to Omaha. And for 2015, the Bruins are on the list.
Here is what Baseball America says about the 2015 UCLA team-
The Bruins followed up their national championship by missing regionals, as injuries to their two best everyday players (Eric Filia and Kevin Kramer) proved too much to overcome. But Filia and Kramer will be back as fourth-year juniors next year to lead an offense that should benefit from all the experience gained byTy Moore, Trent Chatterton, Luke Persico and Christoph Bono in 2014. Infielders Nick Valaika and Sean Bouchard have the potential to be impact freshmen, making the lineup deep and versatile. But UCLA’s pitching will be its strength again, highlighted by an intriguing rotation of James Kaprielian, Grant Watson and Cody Poteet. The Bruins could also get 2013 All-America closer David Berg back for his senior year, because there’s a decent chance he will decide not to sign as a 17th-round pick by the Rangers.
As they note, things can change. But it is refreshing to have a program where succeeding at the national level with a top-notch coach is the expected norm (see TIARA's basketball program for a contrast).
Cal State Fullerton is the other West Coast team tabbed as one of the eight for Omaha in 2015. The rest of the list is weighted with SEC teams (Alabama, Florida, Vanderbilt), Big 12 teams (Texas, TCU) and Virginia from the ACC.
One step down from the elite eight are eight more teams, including Arizona State. One further step down are nine teams, including Stanford and $C. The momentum seems to have shifted from the Pacific Northwest, if Baseball America proves to be correct in their forecast.
UCLA football is just around the corner. And now we have a predicted stellar season coming up in baseball, to tide us over until the 2015 football season.
Go Bruins !!