There are some two-way players in the sophomore class with insane tools. Everyone knows about Texas A&M lefthander/outfielder Brooks Raley, who is electric in every phase of the game. Middle Tennessee State outfielder/righthander Bryce Brentz can do everything short of walk on water—and one coach who faced him this year said Brentz played like Jesus Christ, hitting the ball 600 feet to all fields. That might have been a bit of hyperbole, but just look at his numbers: Brentz is hitting .478/.531/.981 with 21 homers and 55 RBIs, and he’s 4-2, 4.07 as MTSU’s Friday starter.
"His bat stays in the zone longer than anybody we’ve faced," another coach said of Brentz. "He is not a fluke. He’s a mid-major guy just going off as good as anybody I’ve seen."
Then there’s Arkansas center fielder/righthander Brett Eibner, who has plus speed, plus raw power and a 95 mph fastball off the mound. Eibner got off to a brutally slow start with the bat, but he’s come on strong in all phases recently, and he carried the No. 12 Hogs to a big midweek win against No. 9 Oklahoma on Tuesday. Eibner homered twice, including a game-tying two-run shot in the ninth, then drew a walk-off bases-loaded walk in the 10th to give Arkansas an 8-7 win.
Eibner now has 10 homers on the year. I’m not sure if he’s a center fielder or a pitcher in pro ball—my gut says he’ll be a power pitcher—but I have a feeling he’ll be a first-round pick in 2010, one way or the other.
To the mailbag:
Do you agree that the Ivy League needs a new format for their conference championship? Dartmouth won the Red Rolfe (Northern) Division with a 16-4 record, while Princeton and Cornell are tied at 10-10 and have a one-game playoff (today) for the Gehrig (South) division title. Meanwhile, Brown finished 15-5 and was left out. For eight-team conferences like the Ivy League, do you think a four-team playoff is suitable with only a 20-game regular season?
I don’t think the current format is suitable at all, and neither do the Ivy League coaches, who have twice voted to change the format, only to have the proposal defeated by athletic directors or university presidents. Both proposals would have added two teams to the playoffs, but both were likely defeated because they added an extra week to the playoffs, as well. But not all Ivy League schools have the same exam schedule, so the logistics were a roadblock.
As you might imagine, Brown coach Marek Drabinski is none too pleased about being left out of the postseason picture after his team’s fine regular season. In fact, this is the fourth time in Drabinski’s 13-year tenure that his team has finished with the second-best record in the Ivy League but been left out of the playoffs in favor of a Gehrig Division team with a worse record.
"A lot of the parents are upset, a lot of people are upset, and I don’t blame them. I’ve been through it before, but these guys have not, so it’s tough to swallow," Drabinski said. "Something’s got to change with the process of Ivy League baseball, the playoff format. I think the ultimate goal of any postseason tournament is to have the best teams go on to the postseason tournament.
"I’ve already started a proposal to fix it—get rid of divisional play, just have one league and get as many divisional games in as we can. I’ve talked to most of the coaches, and I think we’re all in agreement that we need to try and fix this and get the two best teams in there at the end of the year."
Drabinski is optimistic that his proposal will get passed this time around, because it will not add another weekend to the playoff schedule. The two teams with the best records after the 21-game conference schedule will meet for the Ivy League championship, plain and simple.
"I’m hoping the presidents will see that this isn’t any increase in games or missed class," Drabinski said. "It’s just fairer for the league."
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