College Recruiting Chat With Aaron Fitt

Moderator: Aaron Fitt will answer questions about college recruiting beginning at 3 p.m. ET.

    David (San Diego): How do you feel about USD
    recruiting class? I know that they lost a few to the draft but how do
    you think they did overall? They have a strong group coming back and
    with the recruiting class do you you think they will have a strong year
    out West?

Aaron Fitt: Hello everyone, and welcome to the first
college baseball chat of the 2009-2010 season. I’ve spent the last few
weeks immersing myself in recruiting classes, and I’ll try to get to as
many of your questions as I can. Let’s start with the Toreros — their
class is very solid and just missed the Top 25 (in fact it was probably
No. 26). They did get hit pretty hard by the draft — losing Evan
DeLuca in particular was stunning — but Sam Wolff and Mike Dedrick
have premium arms, and Andrew Walter looks like he’ll be an impact arm
as well. That’s a solid core, and Matt Moynihan is one of the most
athletic newcomers in the entire nation, but he must do a lot of work
with his swing. That’s why USD didn’t quite make the top 25 — there
isn’t quite enough offensive punch in this class. Jake Williams, for
instance, sounds like a truly elite defender at first base, but his bat
is a major question mark. But to answer your second question, USD is
most certainly the early favorite in the WCC in 2010. I’d be shocked if
the Toreros don’t make an appearance in the preseason rankings,
potentially in the top half of the rankings.

    Richard (Ft. Lauderdale): Why is Miami's class rated so low?

Aaron Fitt: I guess it all depends on your
perspective; there are 300 or so recruiting classes out there, and
Miami’s rates as the 17th-best out of all of them. I think that’s a
pretty high ranking. The Hurricanes certainly could have been a few
spots higher — it helps that they’ve got a blue-chip shortstop in
Stephen Perez, who will be a star in the ACC — but there wasn’t a
whole lot of separation between most of the teams in the 10-25 range.
They all have good classes, and I just tried to stack them up the best
I could.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Aaron, awesome work
    as always; great to see some college talk in the fall! Obviously it's
    difficult to gauge what a freshman may or may not do right away, but
    what are your expectations of Purke in his first year? Especially
    curious since he is probably 2 and done.

Aaron Fitt: Thanks, Joe. I know this is setting the
bar high, but I expect Purke will step right into the weekend rotation
from Day One, and I really wouldn’t be shocked to see him as the Friday
starter sooner rather than later — and that’s saying something because
TCU will have one of the deepest pitching staffs in the nation. He’s
very, very good, and he’s not raw.

    Mike (Atlanta, Ga.): What do you think about
    the Georgia State recruiting class that includes 10 Junior College
    transfers? Will it be enough to return to the NCAA Regionals in June
    2010?

Aaron Fitt: I think it was a very good class, probably
the best class in the CAA this year. Obviously they got a big-time
power arm in David Buchanan, an unsigned sixth-round pick, although I
think he’s got a long way to go with his command. Landing Mark Micowski
from Vermont was a huge — he’ll make a big impact for them
immediately, and I suspect guys like Rob Lind and Charley Olson will as
well. UNC Wilmington has to be the favorite in the CAA next year, I
should think, but Georgia State and James Madison will be right in the
mix. That league is usually very competitive, and I suspect it will be
so again.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): A little OT, since
    this is a recruitment chat, but who do you see as the top collegiate
    player in the land as we head into next spring?

Aaron Fitt: I will answer any college baseball
questions today! I’m going with Christian Colon on this one — the guy
can do everything, and he’s a true winner.

    mike (kansas city,ks): How was the recruiting class at Oklahoma State?

Aaron Fitt: Solid class, certainly, though the Cowboys
did get hurt in the draft by losing three players taken in the top two
rounds. Here’s what I wrote about OSU’s class in my recruiting
notebook, which is free content on the website right now: Oklahoma
State lost three players who were drafted in the top two rounds, but
the 17-member class it brought in is filled with tough, gritty
ballplayers who should fit nicely in Frank Anderson’s system. No player
fits that mold better than outfielder/first baseman Devin Shines, the
son of Mets third base coach Razor Shines. The biggest star in OSU’s
group could be lefthander Andrew Heaney, who can run his fastball up to
92 and has advanced feel for pitching.

    Elliott (Gainesville): How does this Florida class stack up with the #1 classes of the past few years? It seems like a truly special group.

Aaron Fitt: Interesting question. Last year’s top
class, ASU, relied heavily on juco stars like Josh Spence and Carlos
Ramirez, who helped lead the very young Sun Devils to Omaha right away.
This class is built more around high school players, many of whom will
be immediate impact players, but Florida has enough talent returning
that it can afford to ease some of these players in, so you might not
see the full impact of this class until 2011. But of the recent classes
that ranked No. 1, I think this has a chance to be the best since
Vandy’s 2005 class, which contained Pedro Alvarez and Ryan Flaherty,
among others. Baylor’s ’06 class was a massive disappointment, and the
jury is still out on San Diego’s ’07 class, which has been hampered by
injuries to guys like Sammy Solis and Victor Sanchez.

    Ryan (Ocala): Who is a sleeper player in Florida's class that you think could emerge into an All-American?

Aaron Fitt: Sticking with the Gators, I will give you
two: Hudson Randall and Nolan Fontana. Scouts in Georgia couldn’t
believe Georgia and Georgia Tech let Randall get out of the state — he
can really pitch, he’s a fierce competitor, he’s got a great
sinker/slider mix and very good feel for a changeup. And Fontana sounds
to me like a lefthanded-hitting Christian Colon type of player.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Aaron, give me a player who wasn't a Top 200 HS Prospect that you really think has a chance to be a star down the road.

Aaron Fitt: I’ll add the clarification, first of all,
that the Top 200 rankings we reference are not just Top 200 high school
players — they are our overall Top 200 rankings from the Draft
Preview, and they included college players, so being in the Top 200 is
a pretty significant accomplishment. I’ll give you a handful of players
on this one: Kenny Diekroeger at Stanford, Josh Elander at TCU, Sam
Selman at Vandy (one scout predicted to me this month that Selman will
be a top-five overall pick by the time he leaves Vandy), Ronnie
Richardson at UCF, Cody Stubbs at Tennessee, Taylor Rogers at Kentucky,
Chad Kettler at Oklahoma, Richie Shaffer at Clemson. Those are all
players that I evaluated as being on par with Top 200 players.

    JAYPERS (IL): What kept Jacob Stewart from signing with Philadelphia, and do you think this was the best move for him?

Aaron Fitt: It was clear from the beginning that
Stewart was going to be a tough sign — it was going to take a lot of
money to keep him from going to Stanford. Everyone knew that, which is
why he slipped to the 14th round, when he was a second- or third-round
talent. I’m not privy to all the details of that negotiation, but I
have a feeling that Stewart could blossom at Stanford and leave there
as a high first-round pick. When it comes to raw talent, no player in
the country aside from Matt Purke can beat Stewart, but he is very raw
and needs some time to develop. If it clicks for him at school, he
could really cash in as a junior. Of course, he could also take a
Michael Taylor track and put it all together after a year or two of pro
ball.

    Jake (oakland): Slightly off-topic, but are BA's draft report cards coming soon? Thanks.

Aaron Fitt: They’ll be rolled out one division per day
starting Thursday. They’ll also appear in our latest issue, which went
to press last week.

    Mick (Chicago): Can you give us a paragraph on
    the state of the game? My friends and I complain about kids not playing
    pick up games in the park anymore, especially baseball. Is there enough
    talent to go around? If you look at the number one skill position
    shortstop, colleges have very lean pickings.

Aaron Fitt: Your point is legitimate, and the
thin-looking 2010 college draft crop seems to back up your claims. But
I will say that there are some very, very good young shortstops in this
freshman class (ASU’s Deven Marrero, Miami’s Stephen Perez, Michigan’s
Derek Dennis, Stanford’s Kenny Diekroeger and Oklahoma’s Chad Kettler
all look like bona fide stars), which gives college baseball a
much-needed talent infusion at that premium position. Compare that with
the 2009 draft, which produced just one college shortstop in the first
two rounds of the draft, and I’d say this class represents progress.
But this stuff is cyclical — the talent level in college baseball
tends to depend a lot on the current trends in major league baseball
when it comes to approaching the draft. When big league teams are more
aggressive about spending money to sign the top high school talent,
that leaves less talent for the college game, but when big league teams
are more conservative with their draft spending, that’s obviously a
good thing for college baseball. To answer your broader question, I
don’t think there’s any shortage of talent at the youth levels — no
reason for serious concern, anyway.

    Bryan (Tampa): FSU had a bad recruiting class and Miami's wasn't at their normal level. How long until UF baseball runs the state?

Aaron Fitt: I don’t think it’s accurate to say Florida
State had a bad class, it just wasn’t quite a Top 25 class. But FSU
still landed two very good recruits in Jayce Boyd (another guy that I
viewed as a de facto Top 200 player) and Devon Travis. However… I
think you’ll see Florida ascend to the top program in the Sunshine
State this year, and given all the young talent on that team and the
recruiting acumen of that coaching staff, there’s no reason to think
the Gators will let up anytime soon. Miami and Florida State have been
the superpowers in that state for a long time, and they will of course
continue to be very good, but I do believe that having Kevin
O’Sullivan/Craig Bell at Florida and Terry Rooney/Cliff Godwin at
Central Florida will ratchet up the intensity of recruiting battles in
that state.

    Christian (Maryland): What recruiting class tops the northeast region?

Aaron Fitt: I’d refer you to the region-by-region
breakdown in my recruiting notebook: I’ll take St. John’s in the
Northeast. Kyle Hansen gives that class a marquee player to hang its
hat on, and I also like Matt Carasiti and Jeremy Baltz.

    Josh G (Sacto, CA): Which SS will the Rays regret not signing more: Diekroger or Dennis?

Aaron Fitt: Wow, tough one. I’m very high on both of
those guys, but I think I’ll actually go with Diekroeger. One West
Coast coach (not from Stanford) told me that he thought Diekroeger was
the best player in the West this year, including players who signed.
That’s high praise. He’s an insane athlete who is a natural at
shortstop, and he’s going to hit too.

    Josh G (Sacto, CA): The Pac10 seemed to get a lot of recruits; is it the best baseball conference?

Aaron Fitt: It has had the most CWS success over the
years, so you could certainly make a strong case that it’s the best
baseball conference. And yes, this was a good year for Pac-10
recruiting — aside from the five schools that made our Top 25
rankings, Cal and Washington also brought in solid classes. But of
course, there was no shortage of talent in the Pac last year, and just
three teams made regionals out of that league. There were some very
talented teams in that league that underachieved sorely.

    Ryan (Greenville, NC): C'mon Aaron. NC State
    has a better recruiting class than ECU. I don't see how you can
    convince me of that. And not just better...you have them listed in the
    top 15, while ECU not even in the top 25. Please explain.

Aaron Fitt: Well, I don’t know that any Pirates fan
will ever be convinced that NC State has a better anything than ECU —
that’s the nature of rivalries, I suppose. I do think ECU has a good
class — I particularly like Tyler Joyner, John Wooten and Chris Gosik.
I think that’s probably a top 30 class, which is nothing to scoff at.
But NC State’s class really has a chance to be special. Felix Roque,
Rey Cotilla and Dane Williams (though he had Tommy John surgery) have
huge arms; Danny Canela is a great player, Tarran Senay has huge raw
power, and the class has solid depth. The Wolfpack did very well this
year.

    Jesse (NC): What are the player comparisons you are hearing for Ronnie Richardson?

Aaron Fitt: He’s really a pretty unique players. It’s
natural to want to compare him to Kentrail Davis because he’s short and
strong and a premium athlete, but I think he’s an even better runner
than Davis with a stronger arm, but he does not have that kind of power
potential. And he’s a switch-hitter.

    Paul (VT): Who are the best recruits coming out of New England this year?

Aaron Fitt: The best is Kyle McKenzie, a little righty
from Massachusetts with huge arm strength who went to Tulane. After
that it’s probably Michael Yastrzemski and Regan Flaherty, both of whom
are at Vanderbilt. A few others who are at top schools: I mentioned
Matt Carasiti (St. John’s); Dominic Leone (Clemson) is a smallish
righty with a smooth arm action and a good two-pitch mix; Evan Marzilli
(South Carolina) is an athletic outfielder who needs some polish, but
he could be a nice contributor down the road.

    Jim (Birmingham): What did you think of Coach Pawlowski's first class at Auburn?

Aaron Fitt: It’s a solid class that could look very
good if you include Drew Madrigal, who is scheduled to enroll at Auburn
in January. It’s a shame the Tigers lost Nick Franklin, Luke Bailey and
Cody Martin, but Garrett Bush sounds like a stud (he has touched 95 in
the past and has very good feel for his breaking stuff), and I’m
intrigued by 6-foot-7 lefty Cole Nelson, whose velocity jumped from the
mid-80s into the 91-93 range at times toward the end of the spring.

    Charlie (Jacksonville): How far can you see Florida going this season? Do they have a chance at winning it all?

Aaron Fitt: The Gators have the look of an Omaha team
at this early juncture. And if you’re in Omaha, then yes, you have a
chance to win it all.

    Heath (Kansas): What do you think of Wichita
    State's class, do you see any impact bats? The offense was a big issue
    last year, I have seen a few scrimmages so far and there seems to be a
    little more punch.

Aaron Fitt: Well, we did not give Wichita credit for
Johnny Coy in our rankings since he was a four-year transfer (from
Arizona State), but I do think he’ll be a valuable addition — he’s
extremely athletic and has plus raw power potential. Nathan Goro should
hit — he’s got a quick bat and some pop, and he’s also a smooth
infielder. Preston Springer brings some more power potential (he led
the Jayhawk League in homers in 2008), Micah Green adds some
athleticism though his bat is raw, and Travis Bennett had a very good
freshman year at Northern Iowa last year. So yes, there is some help
for the offense, but of course the jewel of this class is a pitcher in
Tobin Mateychik, who is extremely loose and projectable and already
pitches at 88-92 and touches 94.

    Joseph Roy (Seattle, WA): Regarding Oregon State's recent class, other than Susac, who stands out to you?

Aaron Fitt: Danny Hayes is going to hit — he’s got a
smooth inside-out swing and the ability to make consistent contact.
He’s a classic Oregon State corner guy, I think, a guy who is going to
hit a lot of doubles there. Tyler Smith has had a big fall and could be
the next in that Darwin Barney/Joey Wong tradition of slick-fielding
middle infielders who play with energy. Matt Boyd is a funky lefty who
should contribute pretty early on, and Tony Bryant has plenty of
projection, though his velocity was down in the spring.

    Ben (Atlanta): Virginia's class looks really strong. They are also returning just
    about the whole squad minus Carraway and Packer.
    How do you veiw the chance of a return to the CWS?

Aaron Fitt: Very, very good. UVa. is on the short list
of top contenders for No. 1 in the preseason Top 25 rankings. Anything
less than an Omaha trip will be a major disappointment for Virginia,
frankly. That is a national champion-caliber team. We’ll see how the
Cavs handle those kind of expectations — that’s uncharted territory
for that program.

    Richard (Lexington, KY): How is Cohen's first and second recruiting classes looking at MSU?

Aaron Fitt: This first class looks simply outstanding.
The coaching staff has been extremely excited about this group for a
long time, and their excitement has actually grown after seeing the
players get on the field this fall. It’s a very deep class filled with
arms that are going to make an impact in the SEC. Mississippi State
needed a major talent overhaul, and this class fits the bill.

    marty kohl (omaha,NE.): Hi Aaron,Greetings
    From The Home Of The College World Series.Can I Expect Rice To Punch
    Their Ticket In 2010 As They Seem Real Good.Is Anthony Rendon The Top
    Returning Position Player Of Any Class.THANKS,Marty.

Aaron Fitt: I do think you’ll see the Owls back in
Omaha as usual in 2010 after a one-year absence. For my money, Rice has
the best offense in the nation heading into next season, and while
there are pitching questions, I think this recruiting class will
provide plenty of answers. It’s not a real flashy class, but it’s
filled with pretty polished arms who should contribute immediately. As
for Rendon, I think he might very well be the top returning player in
the nation, regardless of class. I was not considering underclassmen
earlier when I said Christian Colon is the best returning player in the
nation, but I would put Rendon right there with Colon, and maybe a tick
ahead because of his power and higher ceiling. He’s a very special
player.

    Jay (Newport RI): Arizona State's pitching
    should be fine with Leake being the only loss and Spencer, Blair,
    Lambson and Swaggerty coming back, Along with Barrett, Patterson, and
    Kelly coming in, but does their freshmen class bring in enough bats for
    them to return to the CWS?

Aaron Fitt: I think so. I left ASU out of the post-CWS
“8 for Omaha in 2010″ exercise partly because I was assuming Spence
would sign as a third-round pick. Having him back makes a gigantic
difference. Xorge Carillo will step right in and replace Carlos
Ramirez, I suspect — he won’t bring as much offense as Ramirez, but
he’ll be very solid defensively and with the bat. The biggest additions
to the offense, though, will be Marrero and Andrew Aplin. Marrero is
ready to play immediately and could be a marquee college shortstop;
Aplin was one of the best pure hitters in the West this spring and
plays with tons of energy. He is, in fact, one of my favorite “sleeper”
recruits in the nation this year — I think he’ll be an All-American
before he leaves ASU.

    Jesse (NC): How does the Tar Heels' pitching staff stack up this year?

Aaron Fitt: Much will depend on Matt Harvey, of
course. He’s got huge talent, and he looked very good in UNC’s fall
world series last week, sitting at 90-93 and touching 94-95 and showing
his usual sharp curveball in the 77-80 range and a good sinking
changeup in the low 80s. But it’s not really a question of stuff —
he’s always had stuff. If he commands his stuff, he will be an elite
Friday starter and a first-round pick. He needs to be more efficient,
throw fewer pitches, and keep his fastball down in the zone. At this
point, the jury is still out on Harvey. Behind him, I think Patrick
Johnson is poised for a huge year as the Saturday starter, and it helps
that they’ve still got Colin Bates for the back of the bullpen. They’ll
need some freshmen like Cody Stiles and Chris Munnelly and Mike Morin
to step forward early, but it does have the chance to be a strong staff
once again. The Tar Heels will certainly be relying on their arms to
carry them, because the offense will take a step backward without
Ackley, Seager and Fleury.

    Dexter (Easley, SC): Any chance Richie Shaffer pitches some at Clemson?

Aaron Fitt: I do think there’s a chance of that —
he’s got a huge arm, with a 90-93 mph fastball. He could actually be a
premium two-way player for the Tigers.

    Harris (New York): Hey Aaron, two part
    question — Which freshman position player do you see making the
    biggest impact as a freshman in 2010 and which do you see being the
    highest draft pick in 2012? Thanks!

Aaron Fitt: Interesting… I’ll go with Stephen Perez
from Miami for biggest impact as a freshman. In three years, I think
the highest pick (among position players) will be the same guy who was
the highest pick among position players out of high school this year:
Kenny Diekroeger, followed by Brian Goodwin from UNC. Of course, Jake
Stewart’s got a higher upside than any of them, but I’m not convinced
he’ll develop as completely as Diekroeger in three years.

    Justin (Austin, Tx): Where in the world are those Baylor Bears?!

Aaron Fitt: Solid class, but it doesn’t have those
real blue-chip big names. Of course, Baylor didn’t have much luck with
the big-name guys in 2006, when its class ranked No. 1, so maybe the
Bears were better off going for gamer-types like Josh Turley, Max Muncy
and Logan Vick. All three of those guys should be very good players for
Baylor. Turley is a lefty with a ton of feel for pitching — he’s got a
chance to carve up the Big 12 for the next three years.

    Duke (Duke): Duke's class? Any chance they see the tournament?

Aaron Fitt: Marcus Stroman is explosive — I saw him
during an intrasquad about two weeks ago, and he was very impressive.
He’s got an electric arm (I saw him up to 93 with a tight slider), and
I think he’s going to be a very good shortstop as well. That was a
great get for the Blue Devils. The rest of their class is solid but
unspectacular. Losing Coffey and Baron to the draft really hurt.

    Sam (Columbia, SC): How do you think the teams from the Carolinas will stack up compared to each other next year?

Aaron Fitt: South Carolina and Clemson should be the
two best teams in the region — both look very good, and the Gamecocks
appear poised to get back to Omaha. Coastal Carolina, East Carolina,
UNC Wilmington and North Carolina should all be solid, and NC State
should rebound.

    Andrew (Spring Arbor, MI): How do you like
    Michigan's recruiting class and are there any immediate contributors
    that can help Michigan recapture the Big 10?

Aaron Fitt: It’s a phenomenal class, especially by Big
Ten standards. Derek Dennis is a legitimate marquee recruit, and I
think Patrick Biondi will be a very exciting player for the Woliverines
in the outfield. Both of those guys should make major impacts right
away.

    Donald (Austin): With 8 newcomers for the Longhorns- Which freshmen do you see as being on the opening day roster?

Aaron Fitt: I’ve got time for a couple more. Texas is
so strong on the mound that guys like Hoby Milner, Josh Urban and
Keifer Nuncio will not be counted on to fill key roles early. Cohl
Walla is still rather raw but has huge tools — I could see him
starting in the outfield from Day One. I also think Jonathan Walsh is
ready to step in and hit, though he’s far from ready behind the plate.
You should see him in the mix at first base/DH/corner outfield, because
his bat is a good one.

    Bill (Athens): What is the deal with UGA and Ga Tech classes, both are normally top 15 and neither is ranked this year, what's the deal?

Aaron Fitt: Georgia Tech has a very experienced roster
returning and had very few holes to plug — the Jackets only brought in
five new players. Luke Bard (Daniel’s little brother) is a very nice
recruit, however. Georgia did not target the kind of blue-chippers it
brought in last year but still brought in a decent class, though it
took a hit when Alex Wood had Tommy John surgery.

    Johnny (Valdosta): If you had to predict the eight teams in Omaha right now, who do you go with?

Aaron Fitt: In no particular order, Texas, Virginia,
Rice, Florida, Florida State, Cal State Fullerton, LSU, Arizona State.
Others that I am really, really high on: TCU, Arkansas, Georgia Tech, UC Irvine.  And a few more that are in the mix: South
Carolina, Georgia, Oregon State, Miami, San Diego, UCLA.

    jeff (boston): Who had a productive recruiting class in the Southern Conference? Is elon a lock to win the league again?

Aaron Fitt: Last one. Georgia Southern gets my vote
for best class in the SoCon (read my write-up on the Eagles in the
recruiting notebook). I also liked College of Charleston’s class,
particularly two-way talent Christian Powell and outfielder Daniel
Aldrich, who has nice lefthanded power potential. Elon is looking at a
rebuilding year after losing a boatload of seniors off last year’s
team. I think CofC, The Citadel, Western Carolina and Ga. Southern will
duke it out for the SoCon title in 2010. OK everyone, that’s all I’ve
got time for — thanks very much for stopping by. I enjoyed all the
terrific questions — it’s nice to have some college baseball talk
during the fall. Just 17 more weeks until the season starts!

College | #2009 #Chat

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