After D1 Baseball ranked Kansas State No. 24 on their preseason rankings, the Big 12 backed that ranking by predicting the Wildcats will finish fifth in the conference this season. The Wildcats also had three players selected to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team.
Before the Big 12 expanded this season, only nine teams were competing. Now this season after BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF joined the conference, there will be 13 teams competing for a Big 12 Championship. The Wildcats finished last season in fifth place in the Big 12 with a 35-34 overall record and 13-11 int he Big 12.
The three Wildcats to be selected to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team were left-handed pitcher Owen Boerema, infielder Kaelen Culpepper, and reliever Tyson Neighbors. Neighbors was one of six players in the Big 12 to be unanimously selected to the All-Big 12 team.
Boerema finished the 2023 season with a 7-2 record on the mound with 95 strikeouts. Neighbors, who was also named a Preseason All-American by Perfect Game and the Big 12 Preseason Pitcher of the Year by D1Baseball, was the relief ace for the Wildcats in 2023. He has a league-high 11 saves, with a 5-1 record and a 1.85 ERA in 25 appearances from the bullpen.
Neighbors also competed for Team USA alongside teammate Culpepper last summer allowing three hits and four strikeouts in three and third scoreless innings. Teammate Culpepper is coming off his sophomore season where he was an everyday starter and a highly projected 2024 MLD Draft pick. The young junior had a career-best stat line of .325/.423/.576 with 10 home runs and 41 RBIs.
The Wildcats open their season on February 16 in Arizona at the MLB Desert Invitation against California.