Cal Baseball: Bears Open Season Friday With Many Questions

Jake Curtis

Cal lost a lot of talent from its 2019 squad, which reached the NCAA postseason for the first time since 2015 and finished 32-20. And the Bears will need a number of players to emerge this season to get to the postseason for the second year in a row.

"We lost our three top pitchers based on ERA," Cal head coach Mike Neu said in the video. "Three of our top hitters. We're obviously aware of that. Most of those guys actually that we lost last year had big years for the first time, and moved on to the draft. I think we're in a similar situation."

The Bears had a number player emerge in 2019, and they hope that will happen again.

Granted, Andrew Vaughn had already established himself as a star entering the 2019 season. He was the Golden Spikes Award winner in 2018 as the best player in the country, and he followed that with an outstanding 2019 season, which led to him being the third overall pick in last June Major League Baseball draft. He was named the D1baseball all-decade team, and if you look at the other names on that list it's pretty impressive group.

But Jared Horn, who was the Bears' standout starting pitcher last season, had done nothing in previous season to suggest he would go 6-2 with 2.06 ERA in an all-conference season as the Bears top pitcher.

Catcher Korey Lee was not even a regular in 2018, but he emerged as a star last year, and was taken in the first round of the MLB draft.

Cameron Eden raised his batting average more than 100 points from 2018 to 2019 and he was taken in the draft as well.

Those players are all gone, leaving a team built around position players Quentin Selma (.311, 10 homers), Darren Baker (.306, 21-for-21 on steals) and Brandon McIlwain, who missed most of last season with a broken foot. The Bears also lost their top two starting pitchers (Horn and Arman Sabouri) and will hope Sam Stoutenborough (8-5, 4.52) and Grant Holman (3-3, 482) can lift their games like Horn did.

Neu and his staff did a lot of tinkering early in the season last year, and probably will do more this season until the Bears find the right combinations.

Cal opens its season Friday with a three-game series at Long Beach State. Its first home game is Feb. 21 against St. John's.

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