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Stock Rising

Aaron Fitt -

We got an e-mail recently that scouts who had been in to see early practices were raving about Southern California freshman catcher Robert Stock, the phenom who entered school early and skipped his senior year of high school. The e-mail reported that Stock was impressing in practice, flashing a 60 or 70 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale and showing 1.86-second pop times. Trojans coach Chad Kreuter, a former big league catcher himself, confirmed that Stock has adjusted very well to USC's intense daily catching program, which includes plenty of attention to footwork, blocking and throwing.

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2007 College Predictions

In the course of gathering information for the College Preview, we send out a questionnaire to coaches that asks them (among other things) to predict a national champion, an Omaha sleeper, a player of the year and a pitcher of the year for their conference. We've decided that Aaron Fitt and John Manuel, who spearhead our college coverage, should go out on that same limb. Here are our predictions for 2007's national honors (we'll throw in Freshman of the Year too).

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Three Strikes: Jan. 29

Aaron Fitt -

Strike One: Beaver FeverWith apologies to Dennis Green, it would be premature to crown Oregon State again this early, but the Beavers were certainly impressive in a season-opening four-game sweep of Hawaii-Hilo. Granted, that's exactly what they were supposed to do against a clearly inferior Hilo team, but still, you have to give them credit for doing it, and doing it with style. As we wrote in Friday's blog, Oregon State opened up 2007 with a combined no-hitter of the Vulcans, led by ace righthander Mike Stutes, who struck out seven in five innings before handing off to relievers Josh Keller, Mike Grbavac and Jorge Reyes. But the Beavers didn't stop there, winning both games of Friday's doubleheader by scores of 17-4 and 9-3, then taking Saturday's finale 10-2. The most encouraging thing about the sweep was the performance of OSU's starting pitchers, who cruised against Hilo's admittedly weak offense. Joe Paterson struck out seven and allowed just one unearned run in five innings in Friday's first game; Daniel Turpen struck out five and allowed just one earned run in four innings in the nightcap; and senior lefthander Anton Maxwell won his first game since April 1 of last year by holding the Vulcans to one run over five innings while striking out five. If Maxwell, an 11-game winner as a sophomore in 2005, can give OSU that kind of production on a regular basis this season, that pitching staff will be in great shape. We'll find out soon enough how good this staff really is, but Beavers coach Pat Casey had reason to be encouraged by his team's quick start.

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OU’s Reza Out 4-6 Weeks

John Manuel -

Oklahoma junior Aaron Reza will miss up to four-to-six weeks after breaking his left hand in practice this week, according to a press release by the school. Reza, the Sooners’ starting shortstop and a team captain, made 56 starts and hit .318/.420/.406 in his first season after transferring from Modesto (Calif.) Junior College.

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