Moderator: Will Kimmey will begin taking your college questions at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Travis from Columbia, SC asks: Will,
SEC play starts off this weekend. Now that you’ve had some time to see
all the teams play who would you pick as favorites to win the East and
West at this point in time?
Right now, I’d take Arkansas in the West, but narrowly over Mississippi
State (I think Ark has a better offense). In the East, wow, it’s tough
to call. Florida hasn’t really hit and Tennessee hasn’t played enough
good teams to show up its hand. I’ll take South Carolina there.
J.P. from IL asks: At this point, who do you see KC taking as their #1 in June and why? Did Bard’s stock improve after his recent performance?
It’s a pitching draft, and most of those arms are righthanded. Andrew
Miller’s being lefthanded with great stuff is a separator, and he’s the
guy now. Bard simply had another great weekend. He’s been that good
each start, as has Miller. Most players aren’t going to see their draft
stock fluctuate a whole bunch week to week, unless they do something
that’s very out of character.
Daren from New York asks: What
do you think about the KU Jayhawks? Played Clemson very tough in SC. A
couple of key guys injured as well, but team is playing very well I
think. Will they make some noise in the Big 12? Maybe a run to the
I think they’re one of the nation’s best 25 teams right now. (Then
again, after about the first 16, you could toss the next 20 or so in a
hat every week and see what shakes out). KU has nice veteran pitching
in Land, Fairchild, Quick and Czyz, and a veteran lineup with Ritchie
Price, Milner and Schweitzer. Getting Ryne Price healthy will help, but
with Schweitzer at second in his stead and Preston Land at first, the
younger Land has been able to make some nice contributions. I say KU
gets back to NCAAs this year.
Jason from Duluth, GA asks: Is
it possible for Miss. State to sweep Tennessee at home this weekend?
Last year we played them pretty tight in a two game rain shortened
series (both games on Sunday being 7-inning 1-run affairs).
Sure, and it’s more possible than say, South Dakota State sweeping
Nebraska. The UT-MSU series is a battle of youth versus experience, and
you have to like Mississippi State playing at home against a young team
that hasn’t played a road series in front of a vocal crowd yet. I’d
still hedge and take MSU 2 games to 1, though I might flip the pick if
this series were played in the second half of the conference schedule,
as UT’s kids will be much more mature by then.
J.P. from IL asks: Josh Rodriguez: Potential 2nd rounder, or no such luck?
That’s a very fair estimate. He’s really swinging the bat well despite
the elbow trouble that’s kept him off shortstop. Teams would rather see
him play the field to gather info, but they saw him last year and over
the summer, so the injury won’t hurt him much. His continuing to rake
every week will help plenty.
Max from Louisiana asks: With 5 previously unranked teams making it in, who do you think has the most potential to move to the top and why? Thanks.
It’s a toss up between Georgia and Washington. Both teams have pitched
well, and Brooks Brown and Tim Lincecum are two high quality Friday
starters. Washington is a very physical team, with nice power in guys
like Matt Stevens and Curt Rindal, while Georgia gets most of its juice
from Josh Morris, but has some very nice hitters in Beckham, Side,
Robbins and Piesel. Both teams are well equipped to make conference
runs, because the SEC and Pac-10 are both wide open this year.
Paul from Glendale, CA asks: How
close is UCLA to entering the Top 25 after going 5-1 the last two
weekends against ranked opponents including a sweep at NC State?
UCLA has really impressed lately. If it keeps improving at this rate,
the NCAA tournament might come into focus. Still, there’s an 11-11
record to contend with (albeit against a very strong schedule).
Ryan from Albuquerque asks: The
most interesting thing happened in Albuquerque this weekend. OSU pushed
J. Nickerson to Sunday (which was snowed out and was forcasted all
week.) That is the first time I have ever seen a top PAC 10 adjust
their pitching rotation so one of their “studs” wouldn’t have to pitch
against a MWC team. Shouldn’™t a MWC team adjust to a Pac 10 team?
Oregon State started lefty Anton Maxwell between RHPs Dallas Buck and
Jonah Nickerson for the entire 2005 season, and that worked out OK.
Maxwell missed his first start of the year, so this was the first
chance OSU to revert to the rotation it used last year. This sort of
set up, splitting your aces, can work fine when you play all three
games, because really it doesn’t matter too much so long as all three
pitch, but when there’s a game lost, it hurts way more to have thrown
your No. 1 and 3 instead of your 1 and 2.
Jamie R. from Tampa, Fl. asks: Will,
who are the top 5 draft eligible position players available for this
years draft? Are there any ZimmermanGordon’s out there?
Evan Longoria, Matt LaPorta, Wes Hodges, Brian Jeroloman, Jason Donald
and Matt Antonelli look to be the early leaders. This crop doesn’t
boast a player in Gordon’s class, but you can see some Zimmerman in
Antonelli, and Jeroloman’s a polished enough defensive catcher to be in
the majors now.
John from Milwaukee asks: Will your the best! I was wondering what your thoughts are on Ryan Rohlinger, .397-4-15, and his Oklahoma Sooners?
Rohlinger and the Sooners are rolling with seven straight wins. OU
hasn’t played the toughest schedule thus far, with wins against Notre
Dame and Long Beach State and losses to Rice and Wichita State marking
its best four opponents, but winning is always good. Visiting Arizona
State this weekend should tell us exactly how much of a factor Sunny
Golloway’s first OU club will be in the Big 12.
Marshall Peters from Birmingham, Ala. asks: I
know UAB hasn’t played anyone, but if they defeat Mississippi State on
Tuesday will that begin to get them on the map? That would put them at
13-4. Will that be enough to enter the top 30-40 area? Thanks for the
Scheduling for a team like Alabama-Birmingham is always tough. If there
are too many tough opponents, it ends up with an ugly record, but if
there are too many weak ones, a gaudy records means little. Some sort
of balance seems best. One midweek victory isn’t going to rocket a team
way up the list, but it would take a small step in legitimizing a team
that hasn’t faced the nation’s most rigorous slate thus far. We’ll see
where UAB is once CUSA play begins and Rice, Tulane, East Carolina,
Southern Miss and Houston pop up on the schedule. It was neat to see
UAB’s Zac Ward going 13-for-21 with 10 RBIs last week.
Craig from Omaha, NE asks: Nebraska
won a solid 3 game series against Alabama without Joba. The 2,3, and 4
guys shut down the tide for only 4 runs in the sweep. The bats and the
errors seemed to be a problem for the huskers. Can this pitching staff
take the Huskers to the CWS alone?
It stands out when a team sweeps a solid opponent when its best player
doesn’t take the field. Still, Alabama isn’t really known for much
offense, and nor are too many of Nebraska’s opponents thus far. Slowing
down North Carolina State and Arizona stand out to me as the best two
pitching performances of the year for this staff. But there’s nothing
wrong with winning 2-1 if you can. That style has helped Texas,
Fullerton and Rice to titles in recent years, but Huskers fans are
going to feel a lot more comfortable if the club can score a few more
runs along the way.
Matt from asks: Will, could you give us an idea as to who you consider to be the next 5-10 teams on the cusp of breaking into the rankings?
Sure. North Carolina State, Winthrop, Ole Miss, Southern Miss, Hawaii,
Cal Poly, Long Beach State, Washington State, Texas A&M, Missouri
and USC all were discussed among that part of the rankings this week.
And there are a slew of other teams right near that group.
Hilario Garcia from Chandler, AZ asks: How
does ASU, who went into Texas and sweep through the Whataburger
classic, including an extra innings victory over #3 Rice, not move up
more than one spot in the rankings? What do the Sun Devils need to do
to prove that their admittedly young team is for real? They only played
3 games last week and won them all.
We believe ASU is for real. Being ranked 16th says that, as that means
we have about 270 teams behind the Sun Devils. Remember, rankings are
dictated not only by what your team does, but also by those around it.
Every team in this week’s Top 25 won its weekend series. I also think
that after Arizona State, there’s sort of a rift in the rankings, with
more space between ASU and the next few teams after it than between ASU
and the next 5-10 ahead of it.
Marc from Charleston, SC asks: How
many games does a team have to lose to drop in the top 10? Rice lost 2
games this week and has 5 losses on the season, yet they stand firm at
Rice stayed put because it still managed to win 2 of 3 on the weekend,
and no team made a strong enough case for passing it. It has played
nine Top 25 teams this year (more than any other team in the nation’s
Top 30 or so), with all of its losses coming to that group of
opponents. So five losses for Rice is a bit different than for a team
that has lost to much more inferior competition. Kansas, Texas and
Pepperdine have all played eight ranked opponents this year, and those
teams thusly have more losses than other teams in the Top 25. Losing to
good teams doesn’t hurt as much as losing to poor ones, and the
rankings reflect that.
Bill L from Bozeman, MT asks: I
remain intrigued by Nebraska’s start in relationship to where BA saw
the Huskers fitting into early-season polls. Can you comment on the the
thought process regarding the Huskers preseason and as the season has
Sure. Nebraska has answered a lot of the questions about the club. Luke
Gorsett, Ryan Wehrle, Nick Jaros and Bryce Nimmo have all played really
well, forming the nucleus of an offense that (aside from Wehrle, who
hit down in the order as a freshman) was unproven. Tony Watson, Charlie
Shirek and Jared Cranston have given the club pitching depth.
Bill L from Bozeman, MT asks: What can you tell us about Creighton this year?
After opening 1-2, the Blue Jays have reeled off 11 straight wins. The
best was a 5-4 win at Vanderbilt, so we’ve yet to see a full weekend
series against a top quality team, but that’s a great start for a club
that lost a lot of veterans from last year’s NCAA team. Chris
Gradoville, who hit six homers and drove in 18 runs in five games last
week, and Zach Daeges lead a sturdy offensive attack. Put Creighton in
the running for the MVC title this year, along with Wichita State and
Scott from New York City asks: Hey
Will. What’s your take on the Boilers of Purdue this year? They have
played 2 straight highly ranked opponents very tough and even beat Max
Sherzer on Friday. And #1 starter Jay Buente has outpitched everyone he
has faced so far.
Jay Buente has been great all year, proving he can match up with any
starter in the nation. Don’t look for Purdue to lose too much on
Fridays, and I think winning the Big 10 is very realistic right now.
Mitch Hilligoss leads that offense from the lead off spot, hitting big
homers and driving in runs when needed while providing leadership at
jordan from new orleans asks: what
do you think of the way Warren McFadden has been playing so far for the
green wave? could he be in the running for possibly freshman of the
Teammate Mark Hamilton referred to McFadden as my boy when I spoke with
him earlier this year, so I’ve got to say I’m pleased. That’s because I
picked McFadden as a darkhorse freshman of the year candidate before
2005 started, and he ended up taking a medical redshirt. That claim
carried over to this, his redshirt freshman year, so I’ve got to stick
by it. He leads Tulane in batting and doubles and provides solid
defense as well. He’ll be in contention, but it’s real early to hand
out awards right now. McFadden could be my favorite Green Wave, but in
covering 285 teams, you sort of develop one favorite for every team in
the country. Just to keep the LSU fans happy, I’ve got Jarred Bogany on
steve from alabama asks: What do you think about the Sun Belt conference so far this season?
South Alabama is the favorite there, so long as PJ Walters keeps taking
the mound. I also like Florida International. It nonleague record isn’t
as pretty as some other conference members, but FIU has played a very
aggressive schedule, and I think that will pay off when SBC play comes
Scott from Seattle asks: Besides ASU’s Ike Davis, what other Pac10 freshmen, if any, have made an impression on you?
I’ve got to start with Brandon Crawford, who has been sensational for
UCLA thus far, or Washington State’s Jared Prince, who’s done the same
up in Pullman. Write it down that those two will challenge Ike Davis
for the league’s freshman of the year mantle. We can’t talk about
Pac-10 freshmen without mentioning Stanford’s Jeremy Bleich or Joey
August. Tommy Milone and Ryan Cook are doing nice jobs as USC’s 2 and 3
behind Ian Kennedy.
Bill L from Bozeman, MT asks: Can
you handicap the three major West Coast baseball leagues (WCC, Big
West, Pac 10), and where West Coast baseball fits into the national
West Coast baseball seems first and foremost to me right now. Look at
the intersectional matchups, and most every team from the East that has
gone West has come home with an L: Baylor is the only team I can think
of that has traveled West and won, taking two of three at Long Beach.
Give me Pepperdine over San Diego in the WCC, but both teams should
make the NCAAs. Give me Fullerton, Long Beach and Cal Poly–that
order–in the BWC, and all three in NCAAs. As for the Pac-10 … well,
Washington State won 1 game out there last year, but I wouldn’t fall
out of my chair if the Cougars won the darn league this year. I’d still
take Oregon State and Arizona State as the favorites, but there’s not a
dog in the league. Sorting out this conference for NCAA bids will not
be easy and I have a feeling the standings will be closely packed from
top to bottom, where two or three games is the difference between your
best team and the seventh place one.
Will Kimmey: That’s
all I’ve got time for today. As regular as the request for lights at
Gene Hooks Stadium, we’ll be back next week to answer questions from
Nebraska to New Orleans to Nunavat.