Moderator: Will Kimmey will begin taking your college questions at 1 p.m. ET
Longhorns #1??? from asks: What
does this weekend’s sweep of the longhorns say about the national
champs?!? I know San Diego is no slouch but man, that longhorn office
was awful…and whose #1?
Will Kimmey: Welcome to the first of many college baseball chats this year. We’ve got an hour every week, so here goes No. 1.
The sweep of Texas by San Diego says that this isn’t the national
champion. The 2005 national champ is gone now, this is a different
Texas team. Sure it was a rough opening weekend for the Longhorns, but
that’s a young lineup facing some very good arms in Butler and Couch
right out of the gate, and on the road. It’s ambitious scheduling, and
that’s what can happen. Longhorns fans don’t need to cancel their
reservations to Omaha just yet, as these are talented players who will
get better with experience and have the best possible coach for this
Will Kimmey: Clemson’s your new No. 1, by virtue
of being No. 2 in the rankings at a point when the first 10 teams in
the rankings have earned three total wins. That’s a reality of college
baseball when there’s no uniform start date. Not saying it’s good or
bad, just that it is.
Jordan from Pittsburgh asks: Stanford
used young talent on the hill and at the plate to sweep Cal State
Fullerton. I was kind of upset to see Stanford only ranked 19th behind
Fullerton, who is ranked 9th. Why is this? Also do you think this
Stanford team could be a CWS contender?
Well, realize that Stanford improved from somewhere in the 26-35 range
to No. 19, which is quite a jump–we’re talking about 10 spots for
winning three games. Fullerton drops four spots after losing a road
series. It’s hard to justify jumping teams more than 10 spots on a
weekly basis. If Fullerton keeps losing, it keeps sliding down.
Stanford will keep sliding up as it wins. Also realize rankings are
also relative to other teams in the Top 25. Teams can’t always rise or
fall as much as one might like because of performances of other teams.
Contending for the CWS is part of playing for Stanford, I think coach
Mark Marquess will tell you. The Cardinal was a tough team to handicap
before the season because it’s always hard to decipher just how much
freshmen there will play, no matter how talented they are. John
Mayberry Jr., a first round pick, barely played as a freshman. Now that
Stanford has unwrapped all these young guys, we’ve got to see how they
perform with expectations. My expectations for the club, at this early
juncture, are that it has a strong shot to be a super-regional club,
but might lack the experience to push another round past that.
Bill Dictus from Madison, Wi asks: Is USC going to have a hard time getting runs in for Ian Kennedy this season after losing some of their big producers?
It depends on who’s on the mound for the other club, and LBSU’s Jared
Hughes will hold down plenty of hitters. USC scored 6 times in the
second two games of the weekend, and that’s enough to win most weeks.
Jeff Clement’s loss is real, but look for Lucas Duda to have a nice
power year (I’ll predict double-figure homers) and Cyle Hankerd ought
to show pop as well. Looks like the pitching might be more a concern
for the Trojans right now after yielding 17 runs in the last two games.
jeff sullivan from belchertown mass asks: What team will have best offense this year?
I’ll take Georgia Tech here. It scored 9.3 runs per game last year and
returns seven regulars, including Matt Wieters and Wes Hodges,
All-Americans both. Also watch freshman Luke Murton, younger brother of
Cubs OFer Matt, to enjoy a nice year.
Benji Vazquez from Miami, Florida asks: How
do Jay and Valencia match up to other 3-4 batters in the country? they
both are definately huge parts of the hurricanes offense as well as
defense and seem to be two great players.
This is a duo most coaches could live with. Jay hit .408 last year and
Valencia should reach double figures in homers this season. But in the
ACC alone, I’d probably take the 3-4 hitters from at least Georgia Tech
(Wieters, Hodges) and maybe Clemson (Harbin, D’Lessio) and North
Carolina State (Bates, Still).
Torero Alum from San Diego asks: How
much did Butler raise his draft stock with his performance. Also
Besides Stubbs and Wheeless the other players for Texas did not look
very good including Danks.
Or is it that USD is a lot better than people realized because it
seemed that a lot of their players could of started for Texas. what do
Scouts already knew about Butler, as he enjoyed a fine season as a
sophomore. It was indeed a strong start, but that one alone doesn’t
jump him into the first round. I touched on the Texas offense earlier,
and as you said, aside from Stubbs and Wheeless, most of those guys not
named Peoples and Kainer were playing their first Division I games on
the road against a good pitching staff. They’ll get better; there’s
always an adjustment period. But I do think the weekend was a nice bump
for USD, which showed that the West Coast Conference has two teams that
might be of Super-Regional caliber this season.
tiffythetitan from Oakland, CA asks: Is
Cal State Fullerton going to be kept in check anytime they face a lefty
on the mound? I went to the game on Sat and all the lefties in
Fullerton’s lineup didn’t look too good or confident when Stanford
threw a lefty on the mound. Stanford was even able to leave in the
fatigued reliever and the Titans couldn’t muster much of anything
Jeremy Bleich and Sean Ratliff are the two lefties of whom you speak.
They were both big time recruits with power stuff. I think facing those
kind of arms for the first time (you can’t think there are a lot of
scouting reports floating around on them in their first college games)
will give anyone trouble. I’ll agree it was surprising to see Fullerton
struggle more at the plate than on the mound, because scoring runs with
that veteran lineup wasn’t a problem that George Horton saw entering
the year. We’ll see how the bats look this week against a game UNLV
Jay Mills from Austin, TX asks: Who
do you believe the most impressive team will be this weekend at the
Minute Maid classic? Do you see Texas bouncing back against teams like
Rice and Tulane or just falling even further behind?
That’s a tough call, as Texas will have the advantage against Tulane
and Houston in that it already has three games under its belt, a huge
help when breaking in young players on a big stage. And playing in a
pro park is a big stage. UT facing Brad Lincoln on Friday night is
another tough matchup for an offense that needs to build confidence,
and seeing either Savery or Degerman the next game won’t help either. I
think Rice and Texas are the class of the event, with Tulane right
there as a close third.
Alan from So Cal asks: It
seems like USD recruitng class maybe a little under rated at # 12 of
your dandy dozen. Their freshman looked a lot better than Texas’s
freshman. What your take? Matusz looks like the Angels made a mistake
not giving him what he wanted because his breaking ball was
unbelievable. Is their a better freshman pitcher in the nation? if
there is who is it?
Realize that being ranked 12th means there were 273 classes rated
lower, so underrated might be a strong word here. Matusz was strong,
but he did allow both runs Texas scored in its first 18 innings of
play. Heck, his teammate Josh Romanski threw three scoreless on
Saturday, another reason we liked this class back in October.
Stanford’s aforementioned lefties can be considered in this breath, and
you’ve got to like Winthrop righthander Alex Wilson after he shut down
Miami for eight innings two days after the Hurricanes hung a 16 up
against the Eagles. Ike Davis has been solid at Arizona State, and I
expect Cody Satterwhite to impress at Mississippi.
Todd Keys from Houston, TX asks: Does Rice’s dominant win over Central Missouri mean anything at all considering CMSU was preseason #4 for Div. II?
Not to discredit CMSU, because that’s been a strong Division II
program, but it’s still a Division II program, and one that’s taking
part in a massive rebuilding effort this year. Rice is a good team,
yes, but that result might be taken as little more than an exhibition
game as far as extrapolation goes.
Jerry from Albany, NY asks: Brandon
Morrow. Wow. Do you see him raising his stock into the top-5 in the
upcoming draft? Out of all of the hard-throwing college RHPs, he seems
like the biggest wildcard.
Late Friday night, Morrow was the story of the weekend. Texas and
Fullerton getting swept sort of changed the perspective some, but
Morrow’s outing is still a huge deal. He threw but 25 innings last year
because he just couldn’t command his stuff. He hit 98 mph Friday and
walked one batter in 6.1 innings while ringing up 12 K’s. That’s an
exclamatory start to the year. Repeated outings like this will thrust
him right into the mix atop the draft, but his history of control
struggles mean he’ll have to prove it.
Max from Louisiana asks: Will,
This is gonna be a fairly obscure question but Austin Redwine and
Charles Vartanian of Wofford pitched well this weekend, albiet against
a week Longwood team. Do they possibly have a shot at being a
meaningful pick in the draft come June? Especially 6’7″ Vartainian, as
a starter after being used as a 3-4 inning closer the past two years.
Vartanian’s a guy I’ve been following from afar since his freshman
year. His size and low to mid 90s fastball mean somebody’s going to
take a flier on him in the draft this year. He’s a beast of a pitcher,
but won’t get a lot of support there. Maybe his situtation ends up like
that of Bobby Parnell of Charleston Southern. He was a ninth-rounder of
the Mets last June who ended up in that organization’s top 20 prospects
Jeff from Osterville, MA asks: Where was Justin Tellam this weekend? He was the big back story in the UNLV Pepperdine series and he didn’t see the field!
Per his transfer agreement from UNLV to Pepperdine, he had to sit out
this weekend. I bonked in not thinking about that in the preview last
Friday and it didn’t strike me until late that evening. Kimmey, 0-1.
Willie Watson from Madison,Fla asks: Who has the top team in the SEC
Will Kimmey: That’d be Florida, with all those bats and a pitching staff that is young, but talented beyond Ball and O’Day.
from asks: How did Justin Masterson do in his big Division I debut?
It’s hard to tell if this is a serious question or a wise acre, but
Masterson got ripped in his Division I debut against Hawaii. He gave
six runs (four earned) on nine hits and four walks in 5.2 innings. Not
the start he wanted, obviously.
jeff sullivan from belchertown mass asks: Your prediction, who will be the college player of the year?Why?
I went on record in Jan. 5 chat as taking Max Scherzer, because he
dominated a year ago in one of the best two leagues in the country
during his first season as a starter. Opponents hit .163 against him.
One, six, three. He should be better this year. Yikes.
Tom Carkeek from Chicago asks: What do you make of the Tennessee-Florida Atlantic series?
I picked FAU for the upset last week–and I’ll go out on a limb like
that every week this year, just for the fun e-mail it generates by
picking against a Top 25 team–and the Owls nearly made me look smart,
something that’s hard to do. Tennessee showed it can score by banging
around Mickey Storey, and you’ve got to like the debut weekend of Tony
Delmonico. Fellow freshman Josh Lindblom didn’t get off to as a good a
start, but he’ll be there in a few weeks. I think it proved that FAU
should be a threatening team this year, one with a chance at
super-regionals. Also, you’ve got to like UT’s mettle. It’s a young
club, but played really well on the road. So, for me, both teams should
come away from the weekend feeling good about themselves.
Jim Gilmore from Denver asks: How far down the list is Nebraska, weren’t they in your preseason top 8 teams to watch?
Nebraska’s right there on the cusp of the Top 25. If we ranked 30
teams, you’d see NU in there. But 25 is the number we roll with, so
that’s where we are. Chamberlain and Dorn returning give you two nice
arms around which to build a staff, but the Huskers lost a lot of skill
and experience to the draft and graduation, including four important
hitters. Now, you’ve got injuries to Bohanan and Gerch to compound
that. None of this means Nebraska isn’t a good team. We know it is and
picked it third in the Big 12 and to make an NCAA appearance. It is
very capable of popping into the t25 at some point during the year.
Shawn Luddington from Oak Ridges, Ontario asks: What
are your thoughts on some freshman appearances like Justin Bristow and
Buster Posey? Also, will Russell of Texas get any ABs this year?
Posey enjoyed a nice debut in a weekend where it seemed like anyone in
a Seminoles jersey would get two or three hits. But that start does
wonders for his confidence and maybe will help quell some of the talk
that Florida State would be better served with him on the mound more.
We’re still not sure what the answer is to that, but remember Bryan
Henry started 05 at third base and finished it as the Friday starter.
Then again, there aren’t any real candidates to replace Posey at SS.
Bristow hit down in the order and came up with three knocks in his
first weekend in a tough series loss to VMI. A solid, not spectacular
debut for him. You’ve got to think Kyle Russell’s talent means he’s
getting on the field at some point in Austin. If the offense continues
to struggle, that could come sooner or later. But realize there are at
least six OFers battling for time at Texas, so it’s a tough spot to
Barrett from Tuscaloosa asks: How
close was Winthrop from being ranked after winning a double header
against Miami and Does Alabama have a good chance of winning the series
against them this weekend?
Winthrop’s in the discussion, but it has to be in line after Stanford
and San Diego. The Winthrop-Alabama series now looks much more
treacherous, huh, Tide Fans? Why can’t the Throp go in and win after
knocking off Miami? It’s got a veteran lineup with speed and power, and
I’d expect Heath Rollins to allow fewer than the 10 runs he yielded
Friday to Miami. Now think where this team might be had projected No. 2
starter Mike Honce not been lost to surgery just prior to the season.
jeff sullivan from belchertown mass asks: What’s more powerful, LBSU’s lineup or rotation?
I think Long Beach State might have one of its better offense teams in
a while this year. Normally the Beach is all pitching, defense and
short game, but Perry and Espinosa look like nice pieces in front of
Longoria and Boatright. So, the pitching is still probably more
powerful, but the offense was more impressive because it was more of a
John from Dunedin, Florida asks: Has there ever been a bigger upheaval of ranked teams from the 1st weekend of college baseball; it makes you wonder
what’s coming up for UF, Clemson, LSU, Tulane, and other traditional powers?
This morning the top preseason six teams had earned 0 wins, the top
eight had 1 win, and the top 10 had three. Egads. Weird start to the
year, for sure. I think this shows parity, just like last year when
only one team (Texas) returned to Omaha from the previous year. The
unexpected is always more fun than if everything goes chalk.
Ken from Phoenix, AZ asks: Will,
I know we want to talk about the season’s kickoff, but your well
written write-up about the season’s starting date being pushed back
nearly a month, starting in 2008(?), was devastating news! The 2nd
semester is half over for many at that point, and lessoning the amount
of baseball played so it’s “fairer” for snowy northern schools is
backwards and just plain sour grapes, and will ruin much of what is
great about the college game. Why aren’t we seeing RIOTING in the south
& west at this slash & burn-the-game-down tactic?
Well, first of all this is just baseball, not civil rights, so there
won’t be a lot of rioting. Perspective, people. The uniform start date
doesn’t level the playing field, but it will make early matchups a tad
more even. The warm weather folk will still have the advantage of
wearing shorts and being outside in January and February, but at least
they won’t have played 10 games at a time when a Wichita State or Ohio
State hasn’t gotten in its opener. There’s a real difference here. The
compaction means teams will play four games nearly every week, so
roster makeup and scholarship distribution will likely change in favor
of pitching. I don’t really have a side on the issue, as I wrote
Friday, we as fans might lose some of the fun matchups. On the other
hand, if this legislation has the intended affect, and means more teams
from say the Big 10 or Big East get to be national players, it will
help grow the game. More parts of the country will have interest if
local teams are competing in super-regionals and in the CWS. Now, it’s
mostly just California, the Southeast and Texas. That’s a regional
sport to me. Do you think the game would reach a larger audience if a
big Midwestern school like Michigan or Notre Dame reached Omaha? I do.
Jon from New Jersey asks: Have
ESPN andor CSTV released their schedules for the season and, if not,
when can we expect those? Seems like some of these great early-season
matchups, like Rice-Texas at Minute Maid Park, might warrant some love
between the NFL season and the World Baseball Classic.
Not that I’ve seen. One school released last week that it would have
ESPNU games this year, and while the announcement was truthful, it was
also premature. The opponent had yet to sign ESPN’s contract at that
point. Expect a much smaller ESPN slate this year, with most of the
games on the U. CSTV’s schedule should look much like its slate last
year. Ratings were ugly for college baseball last year (and this is
your fault, college baseball fans, so watch more and make your uncle
and sister and best friend do the same), so ESPN’s big networks have no
real reason to want to blanket us with coverage for another year.
mike from texas asks: Which
freshman caught your eye this year as a possible freshman of the year?
Who is your preseason pick for freshman of the year?
Ike Davis is off to a nice start at Arizona State, pitching and
hitting. I like Jordan Danks’ chances, ugly start be darned. Reese
Havens and Justin Smoak should both be good at South Carolina.
Joe from asks: It
seems that the west coast is very powerful this year. Unranked teams
beating up on tops rank teams. Do you think they will get snubbed like
last year when the tournament comes..?
If the selection committee again stays blindly true to the RPI and only
the RPI, the West Coast will again get a raw deal. The RPI is slanted
toward the southeast and overrates teams from that area while
underrating teams from the West. Ask California or Cal Poly about this.
West Coast teams are taking measures to battle this problem, but the
measures are expensive–they are going out to schedule teams from the
East Coast more, and those aren’t cheap trips. Wonder why Oregon State
would fly out to play Coastal Carolina in April this year? Three
letters: R, P, I.
jeff sullivan from belchertown mass asks: Who will be the best college catcher come draft time?Jeroloman or Tracy?
Jeroloman might be the best defensive player at any position in college
baseball, and he can swing the club a bit, too. Tracy is surely a
better pure hitter and rates more as an average defender, which is fine
for a catcher that rakes. It’s a toss up and likely will depend on what
traits the drafting club wants. For now, Jeroloman rates slightly ahead.
steve from detroit asks: Who is your prediction to win the pac-10?
Will Kimmey: That’s Oregon State, with all its pitching back and intact.
Robert from Portland asks: With
Ian Kennedy and Dallas Buck on the Pac-10 getting all the recognition,
where does that put Jonah Nickerson? I know you guys dont have great
regards of him, but I think he is more complete pitcher than Dallas and
up to par with Ian.
Nickerson has great feel and his stuff isn’t anything to laugh at–ask
Pac-10 hitters–it’s just not up to the same standards as the other two
arms you mentioned. And stuff plus command makes stars at the next
level. Guys with better raw stuff will always get more chances to
refine their command, while command guys with stuff that’s not quite as
good normally fall into the mid-level starter mold or lower and have to
constantly prove themselves at each level.
Derek from Orlando,Fl asks: With
college closers making it up to the big leagues very quickly in the
past few years, which college closers this year have a good shot to
keep the trend going?
Blair Erickson at UC Irvine, Chris Perez at Miami and Mark Melancon at
Arizona are the class of the college closer lot this year and all could
end up as first-rounders.
Dave from L.A. asks: How
do you see Arizona State faring this year? They have a lot of young
players, and they play tough competetion but they seem that they are at
least super-regionals worthy.
This is a young, but talented club that will need to grow each week.
It’s got a realy rigorous schedule coming up, with games against Oregon
State, Houston, Baylor, Texas Tech, Rice, Texas, Texas Christian and
Oklahoma all before Pac-10 play starts. That stretch will either steel
the team and prepare it for a tough league, or a group of losses could
submarine the confidence. It’s ambitious, and Pat Murphy doesn’t shy
away from any competition. So that means you’re looking at a team that
could bust into supers, or maybe one that, if it hits an ugly losing
jag could need to battle late for a tournament spot.
That’s all the time we’ve got for today. I dropped you guys an extra 20
minutes because this is so fun. See you all next week, and thanks for