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October 12, 2007

Wallace, Thompson headline rankings

Rivals.com power rankings by position:
Pitcher | Catcher | First base | Middle infield | Third base | Outfield | Head coach

The time is now.

Sure, the season doesn't start for another four months, and the national champion won't be crowned until next June. But ask any coach fall workouts are important.

Not only does it help team chemistry, it also allows some players to elevate their game to another level.

As teams continue workouts, we take our first look at the nation's best players.

In last season's power rankings, we broke down each category with 10 players. In the new version, we've expanded the field to 15 players per position.

Though some positions have unfamiliar faces, the first base category is the opposite.

Arizona State junior Brett Wallace leads the charge, while North Carolina sophomore Dustin Ackley is close behind. Miami's Yonder Alonso and South Carolina's Justin Smoak are also outstanding, while California's David Cooper and Wake Forest's Allan Dykstra strike fear into opposing pitchers.

The middle infield category looks different.

Texas A&M veteran Blake Stouffer, who moved from utility player to strictly second baseman this fall, is leading the way. Vanderbilt's Ryan Flaherty and Baylor's Beamer Weems have the total package, while Rice's Aaron Luna assumes a greater role.

The outfield category leaves something to be desired.

Texas' Kyle Russell and Vanderbilt's Dominic de la Osa headline the outfield, while Coastal Carolina's Tommy Baldridge and Florida State's Jack Rye are close behind. The list finishes with Texas Tech's Roger Kieschnick and Texas' Jordan Danks.

Unlike the outfield category, the third base and catcher positions are strong.

Vanderbilt's Pedro Alvarez, South Carolina's James Darnell and Oklahoma State's Matt Hague are the leaders at third, while Florida State's Buster Posey and Arizona State's Petey Paramore have the same roles at catcher. The Palmetto State duo of Clemson's Doug Hogan and South Carolina's Phil Disher are also gaining ground.

Perhaps most important, Virginia's Jacob Thompson, San Diego's Brian Matusz and Arizona's Preston Guilmet lead the pack on the mound. UC Irvine's Scott Gorgen and Ole Miss' Lance Lynn are close behind, while California's Tyson Ross hopes to finally lead his team to the postseason.

Much like the pitching category, the head coach category has stability.

Oregon State coach Pat Casey tops the impressive list, while Louisville's Dan McDonnell and Cal State Fullerton's Dave Serrano earned rave reviews following magical 2007 campaigns.

McDonnell guided the Cardinals to the College World Series, while Serrano did the same with his previous team UC Irvine.

Though much time separates fall workouts from the regular season, our first edition of the power rankings should give coaches, players and fans alike an idea of where everyone stands in the college baseball community.

As we aim for perfection, the lists will be updated following fall workouts.

Rivals.com power rankings by position:
Pitcher | Catcher | First base | Middle infield | Third base | Outfield | Head coach

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at kendall@rivals.com.