Baseball America

College Baseball Chat with Aaron Fitt

 Q:  Kevin from Tempe,AZ asks:

Where do you project Petey Paramore getting drafted this June? I don’t
think there is anyone that runs a pitching staff like him.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Hello everyone, thanks for stopping by. Feb. 22 is just two days away,
so it’s finally time to plunge into college baseball season. Hopefully
you’re all as excited as I am.

Aaron Fitt: I think
Paramore could go anywhere from the end of the first round to the early
third round. Switch-hitting catchers with power don’t grow on trees, so
I suspect he’ll be in demand if he can post another solid season. It
looks like he’ll have to work with more new faces on that ASU pitching
staff than previously expected, as Jason Jarvis and Devin Fuller have
been ruled academically ineligible (read more details on the college
blog today). This is a huge blow for ASU, but not entirely unexpected
— the possibility that those two might not be eligible came to our
attention in early December, which is one reason we were cautious when
ranking the Sun Devils in our preseason top 25. Losing those two power
arms really changes the complexion of that pitching staff.

 Q:  Dan from Los Angeles asks:

How
screwed is ASU’s bullpen if Jarvis is ineligible all season? I thought
they were thin to begin with, only having Dorado, Brule, Brader, Blair
among some others.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
As I said, they could be in some trouble. I wouldn’t be shocked if Mike
Leake ends up in the bullpen at some point, because Satow, Franzblau
and Blair are all better suited to starting and would leave ASU with a
solid weekend rotation. Leake was good in the bullpen at times last
year. The problem then would be a hole in the crucial No. 4 starter
slot…

 Q:  John from Southern California asks:

Would
like to know the criteria that was used to rate Brandon Crawford as the
best returning defensive shortstop in the Pac. I know that there are
returning players that have better stats and also performed better last
summer.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
There are a number of good defensive shortstops in that league, and I
really like Grant Green defensively, but coaches voted for Crawford by
a hair. Crawford has all the tools you could want in a shortstop —
range, hands, instincts, arm strength. He needs to be a little more
consistent, but he’s capable of being a great one.

 Q:  Alex from Niwot, Co asks:

What
can we expect out of Stanford this season? With Sean Ratliff, Jason
Castro, and Adam Gaylord, sounds like a nice 2-3-4, as well as some
decent arms returning.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Lot of Pac-10 questions early on today. Stanford will have its work cut
out for it to make a regional in that league (you have to think UCLA,
Arizona, Oregon State and Arizona State are likely to finish ahead of
the Cardinal, and Cal is a popular sleeper choice). But I think
Stanford is up for the challenge — the pitching staff looks very
promising, with Jeremy Bleich and Jeff Inman giving the Cardinal two
potentially elite arms. Erik Davis needs to take a step forward, but I
think he’s ready to do so. The outfield is athletic and exciting, with
August, Gerhart and Ratliff. I just can’t believe Stanford could be
kept out of regionals again — there’s too much pride, tradition and
talent in Palo Alto.

 Q:  Doran from asks:

Better prospect for the 2009 draft: Joe Kelly or Jason Stoffel?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Stoffel. Better command, better breaking ball.

 Q:  Sam from Kentucy asks:

Give me your top 5 unknown players, who will be household names (in college baseball) come June.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Hm, not exactly sure how you define “unknown”, but I think Kentucky
righthander Scott Green and Kent State righty Chris Carpenter are two
major breakout candidates who haven’t done much in their collegiate
careers to date, and you could throw Ryan Perry of Arizona into that
mix too, although he’s surely starting to become more known in college
baseball circles since he was voted a first-team All-American by
scouting directors. Other breakout candidates: Miami shortstop Ryan
Jackson, a defensive whiz who made huge strides with the bat this fall,
and Baylor outfielder Aaron Miller.

 Q:  Brian from Nevada asks:

Aaron:
What does the draft look like for UNLV 3b/1b Xavier Scruggs? I remember
him being mentioned as one of the top players in Alaska two years ago,
he had a fairly solid Sophomore campaign at UNLV, and he hit 7 hr’s
this summer in the Northwoods League. Does he have the potential to be
a Top 5-10 round guy?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Scruggs has tremendous raw power, which he showcased in the Northwoods
League last summer, where he won the home run derby. One thing that
depresses his stock is that he’ll certainly be tied to first base in
pro ball, as scouts don’t think he’ll be able to play third. Still, I
think he could go in the top 10 rounds, particularly if he continues to
improve his offensive approach and lay off breaking balls in the dirt,
an area where he made progress last summer.

 Q:  AUTOGRAFFIX.com from Stoughton, WI asks:

Illinois
State University produces a few Professional Baseball Players. With
this in mind, why can’t the program win more games? Will ISU ever reach
the College World Series?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think the Redbirds will be solid this year, with a veteran weekend
rotation of Jim Sajewich, Tyler Cox and Eric Thiesen and a very
intriguing prospect in catcher Kevin Dubler. ISU’s problem is that
Wichita State has had such a stranglehold on the Missouri Valley
Conference for so long, and lately programs like Creighton and
Evansville and perhaps even Southern Illinois have established
themselves as the Shockers’ strongest competition. That league isn’t
ever going to get five regional berths, so the Redbirds need to finish
in the top two or three in the league to have a chance. I don’t see
that happening this year.

 Q:  from Tucson, Az asks:

What
is your opinion of TJ Steele, from what I hear from local scouts this
guy is a freak athlete who has been Arizona s best hitter in the fall
and winter. They say if he keeps this up he could be a first rounder,
what do you think about that? Also what about the other Arizona
outfielders, like Jon Gaston, Diallo Fon, and Hunter Pace, where do you
see all these guys going in the draft?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Steele has first-round tools, and if he proves his offensive approach
has matured this spring, he could absolutely sneak into the first
round. Arizona will have an athletic outfield featuring Steele in
center, Gaston in right and Pace in left — he has beaten out Fon for
that job, and while I think Fon is still the better draft prospect,
Pace brings toughness and energy to the Arizona lineup. The coaching
staff there compares him to UCLA’s Jermaine Curtis for that reason.
Those kind of guys are invaluable to a college lineup.

 Q:  John from Morgantown, WV asks:

Aaron,
Why does BA consistantly give no love to WVU’s Tyler Kuhn? The kid has
proven he can hit with both wood and aluminum and he constantly puts up
numbers. Far better then some of those listed. What’s the deal?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I’m a big fan of Tyler Kuhn — I ranked him the No. 4 prospect in the
Valley League in 2006, and I think he’s a very good all-around player
and a winner. But draft status is about more than numbers, and while
Kuhn’s tools are decent, they’re not standout tools. He does not
profile as a shortstop in professional ball, but I still think he could
be a great senior sign for some club that wanted to make him into an
offensive second baseman.

 Q:  Eric from Long Beach asks:

In
the world of the Feb 22nd start date I am sure clubs now must have a
steady 4 starters instead of 3. Plus more additional bullpen help.
Playing every weekend and a few more weekday games adds to this years
excitement. Will teams now explore recruiting heavier on pitching than
hitting?
I am heading to the Rice/LB State matchup this weekend.
Pretty good matchup early. How do you see this one turning out?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
There’s no question you’re going to see more and more emphasis on
recruiting pitching as long as there is a compacted schedule, because
you must have at least four reliable starters and preferably five, plus
a deep bullpen, to survive a 56-game schedule in 13 weeks. That’s one
reason Rice and Long Beach State are in good shape in 2008 — both
feature deep pitching staffs. That should be a very fun series — check
back on Friday for a detailed look at that series in Weekend Preview.

 Q:  Jesse from Field asks:

Hi
Aaron,
I know your very busy and receive hundreds of e-mails everyday, I really
appreciate what you guys do over there. UCLA has very high expectations
going into this season. I don’t see them having a single hole. They
have speed and consistancy in Curtis, Carithers and Crawford at the top
of the order, then major power with Decker batting 4th and Cohen
batting 5th, then a bunch of guys they can mix in. There pitching is
solid with Brooks, Murphy and Brewer. Do you see any holes at all?
Thanks

 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Nope. And that’s exactly why we ranked them No. 1 in the preseason.

 Q:  Bob from Santa Clara asks:

I
was just wondering where do you see Tommy Medica going in the draft
next, what type of prospect is he? It seems to me he is a little bit
underrated, considering he hit in the .370′s as a freshman and then
this summer with Team USA he won the starting job over from Petey
Paramore by the end of the summer.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Medica’s a solid prospect — I don’t know that I would call him
underrated, as he is on our top 50 sophomores list that will be posted
online tomorrow. He’s one of the nation’s best defensive catchers and
has a solid line-drive bat, and if he can learn to hit for a little
more power his draft stock will benefit greatly.

 Q:  walter from Plano, Texas asks:

I
see so many different opinions on Jordan Danks. What are your thoughts?
First rounder? I see he ia an all american again…does that mean that
outfield is a week position in college this year? Thanks…

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
He’s one of the most talented players in the nation, but he has been
the last two years also, and he’s really yet to tap into his raw
potential. Major league scouting directors voted him easily onto the
All-America first team, but I think that is more a product of the very
weak crop of college outfielders than anything else. I do think he has
a better chance to tap into his talent than another toolsy but raw
Texas outfielder, Drew Stubbs, had.

 Q:  Steve from Louisville, Kentucky asks:

Do
you see the Cardinals as legit this year after their great run last
year? And where do you see 3B Chris Dominguez in the draft this June?
Thanks as Always

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I see Louisville as a definite regional team and borderline top 25 team
thanks largely to its strong returning pitching staff. The Cardinals’
offense relied heavily upon seniors last year like Isaiah Howes, Boomer
Whiting, Logan Johnson and Chris Cates, so the key for Louisville will
be how the newcomers fit in. Dominguez has some of the best raw power
in the country, but he needs to show that his offensive approach has
improved in order to be drafted in the first few rounds. Regardless, I
see him going in the top five rounds, just based on his power potential
alone.

 Q:  Jarred from San Luis Obispo, Ca asks:

How
do you think Cal Poly will fare this season with a lot players
returning and most of the staff returning as well, and what do you
think of Wes Dorrell?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Poly finished second in the Big
West behind Long Beach State and earned a regional bid. Dorrell is a
solid prospect behind the plate, I like other returning bats like Brent
Morel and Logan Shafer, and the pitching staff should be solid with
Eric Massingham at the front of the rotation and Derrick Saito at the
back of the bullpen.

 Q:  DM from Miami asks:

What
are your thoughts on Coastal Carolina this year? Will they host another
regioal in Myrtle Beach? Do they have what it take to advance to a
super regional?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Coastal should be very strong again — my colleague John Manuel even
picked the Chanticleers as his 2008 Omaha Sleeper in the College
Preview issue. They’ve got some key players back, like outfielders
David Sappelt and Tommy Baldridge and ace righty Bobby Gagg. I think
David Anderson will be moving into the weekend rotation, and the
bullpen should be improved. Certainly Coastal will be the class of the
Big South again.

 Q:  Ray from Rice asks:

How good is Rice frosh shortstop Rick Hague?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
He’s very good, and he’s been even better this spring than Wayne Graham
expected. As Coach Graham told me yesterday, Hague can hit “beyond
anything we dreamed of for a freshman.” He could make people forget
Brian Friday sooner than you think.

 Q:  Justin from Lamar asks:

Justin
Walker from Lamar had a huge summer for the La Crosse Loggers this
summer, waht do you think his draft stock is like, he is a tall,
projectable lefty who throws in the mid to high 80s with pinpoint
control of four pitches? Also what do you think about his summer
teammates, Brett Jackson and Eric Thames, they both had great summers
and are fine athletes,

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The key to Walker’s draft stock will be whether or not he fills out his
frame and adds more velocity. A lefthander with his excellent feel for
pitching can go a long way with an average fastball, but Walker’s
probably rates as a tick below-average right now. I still see him as a
potential top-five-rounds pick. Jackson is another great breakout
candidate for 2008 — he can really run and play defense and could be a
major factor for Cal this year coming off his strong summer in the
Northwoods. Thames is a physical specimen who showed a glimpse of his
significant potential last summer; he’ll need to carry that momentum
over into the spring to give Pepperdine’s offense some much-needed
punch.

 Q:  david feibig from austin texas asks:

how good can bayloe be

how about the young pitchers

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Baylor can be very good — I picked them in my “Eight for Omaha”
immediately after the 2007 CWS. For that to happen, that hugely
talented sophomore class needs to collectively take a major step
forward, and guys like Kendal Volz and Craig Fritsch will be crucial
pieces on that pitching staff. We’ve also gotten good reports on Shawn
Tolleson, coming off TJ surgery.

 Q:  Carlton Dargusch from Columbus, Ohio asks:

Who are the top pro prospects on Ohio State’s team?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Righthander Jake Hale and lefty J.B. Shuck could both go in the top
10-15 rounds. Pitching should be a strength for the Buckeyes,
particularly if Dan DeLucia bounces back strong from injury.

 Q:  Terry Bevington from CA asks:

With
the Pac 10 picking UCLA to finish 3rd in there own conference, and the
low rankings in other polls, do you still think ranking the Bruins #1
was a responsible choice?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Yup. It was absolutely the right choice. Read our preview material and
tell me if you see any weakness on that UCLA team. There isn’t one.

 Q:  Billy from Raliegh asks:

Quick one: Best pitcher in the Big South?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
With apologies to Bobby Gagg, who I really like, I have to go with
VMI’s Michael Bowman, who is a better pro prospect and had a fine
summer in the Coastal Plain League.

 Q:  Craig from Tampa, FL asks:

With
staff ace Robert Woodard’s graduation, is the projected UNC weekend
rotation of White, Warren, and Harvey good enough to carry the Heels
back to Omaha?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
If I didn’t think it was, we wouldn’t have ranked UNC fifth in the
preseason. UNC has a chance to produce the No. 1 pick in the 2009
(White) and 2010 (Harvey) drafts, with a ground ball machine who has
performed very well on a big stage in between them in Warren. That
staff is also deep, with guys like Rob Catapano and Mike Facchinei
coming off very strong falls, not to mention a dynamite group of
freshman pitchers. Pitching depth will be crucial this year, and UNC
has it.

 Q:  Barry Badrinath from Compton, CA asks:

could you see 7 pac-10 teams making the tournament this year?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I see seven regional-caliber clubs in that league for sure, but I don’t
think there’s any way the Pac-10 actually gets seven bids.

 Q:  Jimmy Mad from Harrisonburg, Va. asks:

What
do you think about the CAA? Can they go back to the days of multiple
bids? Can JMU rebound back to the top after a disappointing 2007 season?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The only way I see that league getting two bids this year is if Old
Dominion gets upset in the CAA tournament, in which case I think the
Monarchs will have a solid at-large resume. James Madison will need its
stable of promising young arms to develop ahead of schedule to have a
shot to make a regional this year.

 Q:  Kevin from Va. asks:

Do you see the uniform start date sticking around long term?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I do, although I also believe something’s got to give, because 13 weeks
just isn’t long enough to play 56 games. I’d really like to see the end
of the season pushed back a week or two, but my gut says the more
likely result will be a reduction to 50 or 52 games.

 Q:  John from Miami, FL asks:

Is
Miami’s offense this year their best since the Burrell/Huff/Michaels
days and how does it rank among the best offenses of recent years?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The Hurricanes have a chance to have a very special offense, with
power, speed and versatility. They have three first-team preseason
All-Americans in Alonso, Weeks and Raben; Sobolewski is a born hitter
with power, Tekotte is another preseason All-American with great speed
atop the order; Jackson and DiNatale are poised for breakout years; and
Grandal is one of the nation’s top freshmen. If Miami’s pitching staff
holds up, look out, and even if the pitching staff struggles, look out,
because the Hurricanes are going to score runs by the bushel.

 Q:  Chris Gardner from Sherwood, Oregon asks:

What
do you think are the chances of the Beavers winning a third straight
title? I like to think it’s as good a chance as last year if not better
based on the fact that we didn’t lose much and had such a good
recruiting class.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I would never count out the Beavers, and at this point I really
wouldn’t be surprised to see them dogpiling in Omaha again this year.
But the reason I left them out of my Eight for ’08 after last year’s
CWS was that I believe they’ll miss Canham and Barney in the postseason
more than anyone realizes. I saw a lot of Oregon State over the last
three years, and one thing that struck me last year was that OSU won
the 2007 CWS because of its swagger and belief in itself more than
anything else. Canham and Barney had an awful lot to do with that.

 Q:  Bob from Winthrop Ma asks:

Hi Aaron. Do you think Zach Putnam will be one of the best half-dozen pitchers in college baseball this year? As always, thanks.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I’m a huge believe in Zach Putnam, and I really wouldn’t be surprised
if he winds up among the six best pitchers in the nation this year.
There’s not a consensus on him, but I think there will be by the end of
the year.

 Q:  jose from los angeles asks:

Are there any juco guys who rate with the best prospects in D1 for the 2008 draft ?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
One guy I’m bullish on right now is Colby Shreve from CC of Southern
Nevada — we’ve got a feature on him running in the next issue. He and
teammate Taylor Cole are very intriguing prospects, and I see Shreve in
particular as a potential first-round pick.

 Q:  Greg from San Diego asks:

Are
the selections of pre-season All-America teams primarily based on
results from the previous year or projections as to how end-of-season
All-American teams will shape up?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Our preseason All-America teams are voted on by major league scouting
directors, so they are heavily weighted toward potential over past
results.

 Q:  Andrew from Inman S.C. asks:

How
will Clemson’s pitching compare to the rest of the nation and ACC and
will Clemson be able to make another run at Omaha this season

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think Clemson’s pitching has a chance to be very exciting, and one of
the two best staffs in the ACC (along with North Carolina). D.J.
Mitchell and Ryan Hinson are very talented juniors with experience and
good stuff, and Graham Stoneburner was a revelation in the fall — he’s
got big-time power stuff. Trent Rothlin and Craig Gullickson head a
very strong group of freshman arms as well, and redshirt freshman Josh
Thrailkill is the x-factor; if fully healthy, he brings yet another
outstanding arm to that staff.

 Q:  Fonz from Toronto asks:

It
seems that Alex White of UNC and Kyle Gibson of Missouri are brought up
in discussing top pitchers for the ’09 draft. How does Ryan Berry of
Rice compare to those two? His numbers last year were pretty good.

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Berry is certainly one of the most accomplished pitchers in that
sophomore class, and I expect him to be a rock again this year for
Rice. But as far as pro potential goes, he just plan doesn’t have the
kind of electric arm that White, Gibson and Strasburg have. I see Berry
as more of a supplemental-to-second-round pick, whereas those other
guys could be top-five overall picks.

 Q:  Chris from College Station, TX asks:

Give
me your thoughts about Texas A&M’s team this year? Where do you
think they’ll finish with a powerful Texas team, pitching-rich
Missouri, and up-and-coming Baylor?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think A&M will be right in the thick of it with those other
schools. The key will be how some of the Aggies’ power arms develop,
guys like Kirkland Rivers and Barret Loux who have mountains of
potential but have yet to prove themselves on a big stage (Rivers’
performance in the Big 12 tournament notwithstanding… I want to see
him produce for a full season, and I think he’s capable of it). A
healthy Jordan Chambless could be a huge plus for A&M, and I think
Kyle Thebeau is a nice breakout candidate.

 Q:  Willie from Southern Ohio asks:

You mentioned Carpenter from Kent State. How do see the Flashes overall for 2008 ?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I really like Kent State — I see the Flashes as the team to beat in
the MAC and a super-regional sleeper. That weekend rotation of
Carpenter, Kyle Smith and Brad Stillings has a chance to be special.

 Q:  Jimmy from Bozeman, Montana asks:

Aaron,
What will be your first trip of the season? Where do you plan on going this year? Beaver fan in Bozeman!

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Weather permitting, I’m hoping to see Kent State-UNC Greensboro on
Friday, East Carolina-South Carolina on Saturday, and Arizona-Georgia
on Sunday. Then next weekend I’ll be out in San Diego for that
star-studded tournament featuring Missouri, San Diego, Fresno State,
Cal, San Diego State and Cal Poly. I’m fired up for college baseball’s
Opening Day on Friday — enjoy it everyone. Thanks for stopping by the
chat, and be sure to come back for more College Preview content
tomorrow and the year’s first Weekend Preview on Friday.

College | #2008 #Chat

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