BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Vanderbilt University has been predicted to win the 2020 Southeastern Conference baseball championship as voted by the league’s 14 head coaches in the annual preseason poll released Thursday. The Preseason All-SEC First and Second Teams, as determined by the head coaches, were also announced.
Vanderbilt garnered eight first place votes, Florida had two, while Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia and Mississippi State each had one. The Commodores were predicted to win the SEC Eastern Division, while Arkansas was the favorite to win the SEC Western Division.
Since 1996, the SEC has named a regular season champion as well as a tournament champion. Prior to 1996, the tournament champion was considered the SEC champion.
Points were compiled on a descending basis for each division. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team, and each coach also voted for one team as an overall conference champion.
For the sixth consecutive year, two Preseason All-SEC Teams were selected by the SEC head coaches. Thirteen schools were represented on the All-SEC teams with Mississippi State and Vanderbilt leading the way with five selections. Arkansas garnered four selections, while Auburn had three. Arkansas claimed an SEC-best four first-team accolades.
Kentucky first baseman T.J. Collett (pictured) was chosen to First-Team All-SEC. Collett has long been known for his prodigious power, swatting double-digit home runs each of the past two seasons despite battling a myriad of injuries, including one that caused him to miss the final 20 games of the 2018 season.
Collett enters the 2020 season needing 16 hits to join Kentucky’s career 100-hit club and 40 percent of his career hits have gone for extra bases. The senior from Terre Haute, Indiana is expected to play first base this season after primarily serving as the team’s DH his first three seasons.
The 2020 regular season for SEC teams begins Feb. 14, with conference play set to begin March 13.
The SEC led the nation with 10 selections to the NCAA Baseball Tournament in 2019, six teams in the Super Regionals and four teams in the College World Series.
2020 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason Poll
1. Vanderbilt (9) – 87
2. Florida (3) - 77
3. Georgia (2) – 76
4. Tennessee – 50
5. South Carolina – 48
6. Missouri – 32
7. Kentucky – 22
1. Arkansas (5) – 82
2. Mississippi State (4) – 73
T3. Auburn (2) – 67
T3. LSU (3) – 67
5. Texas A&M – 44
6. Ole Miss – 38
7. Alabama – 21
() – First place votes
SEC Champion: Vanderbilt (8), Florida (2), Arkansas (1), Auburn (1), Georgia (1), Mississippi State (1)
2020 SEC Baseball Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team
C: Casey Opitz, Arkansas
1B: Cade Beloso, LSU*
1B: T.J. Collett, Kentucky*
2B: Justin Foscue, Mississippi State
3B: Austin Martin, Vanderbilt
SS: Casey Martin, Arkansas
OF: Daniel Cabrera, LSU
OF: Alerick Soularie, Tennessee
OF: Heston Kjerstad, Arkansas
DH/UTL: Matt Goodheart, Arkansas
SP: Emerson Hancock, Georgia
SP: Asa Lacy, Texas A&M
RP: Tyler Brown, Vanderbilt
C: Ty Duvall, Vanderbilt
1B: Josh Hatcher, Mississippi State*
1B: Rankin Woley, Auburn*
2B: Noah Campbell, South Carolina*
2B: Harrison Ray, Vanderbilt*
2B: Riley King, Georgia*
3B: Tyler Keenan, Ole Miss
SS: Jordan Westburg, Mississippi State
OF: Jud Fabian, Florida
OF: Tyler Gentry, Alabama
OF: Rowdey Jordan, Mississippi State*
OF: Zach DeLoach, Texas A&M*
DH/UTL: Tanner Allen, Mississippi State
SP: Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt
SP: Tanner Burns, Auburn
RP: Cody Greenhill, Auburn
*Tie (ties are not broken)
UK Athletics Photo