College Top 25 Chat

 Q:  John from Oxford, MS asks:
Zack
Cozart has been on a tear as of late with a 14 game hitting streak and
is hitting .450 in the toughest conference in the country. I was
wondering where he stands when it comes to the upcoming draft. It would
seem that he is proving critics wrong about his bat by hitting so good
versus some of the best pitchers in the country.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Hi everybody. Today’s chat might move a bit slowly as I try to eat my
frozen beef Stroganoff while answering your questions, so bear with me.
(I have defiantly ignored the instructions to let it stand in the
microwave for two minutes so I can get to your questions.)

Aaron Fitt:
Cozart has definitely helped himself with his hitting during SEC play,
and I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody pops him late in the first
round — that’s where he projected anyway heading into the season, bat
questions or no. But it would be premature to say that he has
completely allayed all concerns about the bat. Scouts have a long track
record with Cozart, they’ve seen plenty of him over the years. They
didn’t just decide there are hitting questions because he got off to a
slow start.

 Q:  Brandon from Atlanta asks:
After
sweeping NC State this weekend and jumping back into the rankings, how
do the Yellow Jackets look going into their last 3 ACC series against 3
powerhouses? What do they have to do in those games to host a Regional?
Also, how about their big game with Georgia on Tuesday at Turner field,
what are your thoughts?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Georgia Tech still has quite a long way to go, and it’s going to be
very difficult. The remaining schedule includes trips to Clemson (which
has its back to the wall and will probably a very stiff challenge at
home this weekend), South Florida (watch out for this series — that’s
a solid club, even after getting swept by Rutgers) and North Carolina,
plus a home series against Florida State. Good luck finding anyone in
the nation with a harder schedule down the stretch than that. I think
it’s quite unlikely the Yellow Jackets will fare well enough against
that stretch to host a regional. If they go 5-4 in those nine ACC
games, they’ll be 18-11 in the league, which might be good enough. But
I’m not so sure it will be, because Tech’s first-half resume is very
uninspiring.

 Q:  Paul from Nashvegas asks:
When
will people start talking more about Casey Weathers?! Not only does he
actually have more wins than David Price, he routinely strikes out the
side to close out the 9th, and has even gotten 2 wins in 4-inning
relief appearances (as a closer). His only fault was giving up the
steal of home plate against Bama, but otherwise he’s unstoppable. Will
we be seeing him in the majors someday?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think we talk an awful lot about Weathers on this website… just
last week, we released our updated College Top 50 prospects list for
the 2007 draft, and Weathers rocketed up the list to No. 11. His stuff
is simply awesome, and it’s amazing how much he’s improved since
converting from the outfield. I believe you’ll see him in the majors
fairly quickly.

 Q:  Scott from Goose Creek, SC asks:
Which ACC team has the easiest road to a national seed?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
At 15-3 in the league, Florida State is in the driver’s seat,
obviously, and its remaining schedule is challenging but not
overwhelming: at Miami, at Maryland, home against Clemson, at Tech.

 Q:  Mike from Danville, CA asks:
Donato Giavanatto. Best name in college baseball?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
As much as I’d like to go off the board on this one, I’m afraid I’ll
have to go with John Manuel favorite Caleb Glafenhein of East Tennessee
State. Just no way around it — that’s a great name. I’ll listen to
other nominations, though.

 Q:  Kris from Tallahassee asks:
Florida
State takes two of three from the number two team and Vaderbilt loses
to two unranked teams during the week. How is FSU not in the top spot?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Listen to the podcast. It was a very tough call this week, but you
conveniently neglected to mention that Florida State also lost a
midweek game to an unranked team. Granted, Florida is better than
Lipscomb or MTSU, and North Carolina is better than Tennessee, but the
‘Dores also swept their series. Vandy went 3-2 against an inferior (but
still decent) schedule, and FSU went 2-2. Had FSU gone 3-1 on the week,
it would have been a no-brainer — we’d put Florida State at No. 1. But
there just wasn’t enough compelling reason to bump the incumbent No. 1
team.

 Q:  John from Tempe asks:
ASU is on an 11 game winning streak. Do you think they have a shot at a top 8 seed and are they the favorite in the pac?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Yes, and yes. It helps that ASU gets both UCLA and Arizona at home.
That Oregon State trip will be tough, but I’m starting to think the Sun
Devils might be able to simply overpower OSU, no matter how many grand
slams Mitch Canham hits (see the top 25 tracker for more details about
Canham’s big weekend). And even if the Beavers hold serve and win that
series at home, they’re already 4.5 games behind ASU in the standings.
That will be tough to overcome.

 Q:  Kevin from Fort Huachuca, AZ asks:
The
way the regionals are set up, if ASU and UofA both win their regionals,
will the committee most likely set it up so they play in a super
regional even though both may be in the top 8 come the end of the
season?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Well, there’s no way both of those teams will end up as top-8 national
seeds; if they did, they would not have to play each other in a
super-regional, because the top eight seeds do not have to meet until
the CWS. I think an ASU-UofA super-regional is entirely possible, but
there are other West Coast teams who could factor in here as well, like
Pepperdine, Fullerton, San Diego. It’s possible the committee would
match those teams up with the Arizona teams in supers.

 Q:  kevin from poway, ca asks:
usd
and pepperdine, tied for first in the wcc, set up just right for the
big weekend series right? can you give all the west coast fans your
thoughts on the two teams? thanks for the great work!
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think last week I gave USD the edge because of starting pitching. But
if Pepperdine’s Brett Hunter can deliver another outing like his gem
yesterday, that edge is really neutralized. Hunter’s the key, in my
mind; he’s capable of dominating, but he’s been less consistent this
year than all three Toreros weekend starters, so I’ll continue to give
USD the edge at home.

 Q:  H. Dillo from Spokane, WA asks:
After
4 strong weekends in WCC play, do you see any chance of Gonzaga making
the tourny? They have good wins over USD and OSU, and with a fairly
strong offense and great pitching at times from Harmon and Mortenson,
they could ruin some seasons for teams with timely play.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I do think the WCC is good enough to be a three-bid conference, and
Gonzaga is clearly that third team, with a 9-3 conference mark. The
Zags did play a tough nonconference schedule early, but what hurts them
is they only went 2-7 against Arizona, UC Riverside, Arizona State,
Oregon State and Missouri. Then again, it’s a cold weather team facing
mostly good warm weather teams early in the season, so that’s about
what you’d expect. Only the elite cold-weather teams (like Oregon State
or maybe even Michigan) do much better than that. Long answer short, I
do think Gonzaga has a chance, but if you put me on the spot at this
moment, my gut says they don’t get it.

 Q:  mark from Houston asks:
What do you think of the Friday and Saturday starters for Ole Miss. Are they the best 1,2 punch in the coutry?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Lance Lynn has been unbelievable, racking up huge strikeout numbers,
and Will Kline is a very steady Friday starter. But I don’t think it’s
the best one-two punch; I’d probably go with Travis Banwart and Aaron
Shafer of Wichita State by a hair over Brian Matusz and Josh Romanski
of San Diego.

 Q:  Daniel from Baton Rouge Louisiana asks:
Just
wondering your impressions on LSU the last couple of weeks after wining
three out of four SEC seires two against top 25 teams! It seems they
are really starting to play better baseball, whats their chances at
making a regional somewhere?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Give the Tigers their due–they’ve now won SEC series against
Mississippi State, Mississippi and Alabama, with a home series loss to
Auburn mixed in the middle. Right now you’d have to consider LSU the
seventh team in the SEC, behind Vandy, Arkansas, South Carolina,
Mississippi, Mississippi State and maybe Florida. If you think there’s
any chance that fewer than seven SEC teams get into the NCAA
tournament, you’re crazy, so at this point you’d have to project LSU as
regional team. Personally, I don’t think any team with a sub-.500
conference record should make the postseason, and the Tigers remain
8-9. And beware: trips to Arkansas and Vanderbilt remain on the
schedule, though home series against Florida and Tennessee are winnable.

 Q:  Brandon from Wichita asks:
The
Shocks keep winning series and are finding ways to win games. Will it
be hard for them to move up the ladder or will all these sec and acc
teams ahead of them beat each other up enough for the shocks to move up
a few spots, or will it have to wait until the Cal State Fullerton
matchup (weekend preview worthy) to see if Wichita is worthy of a
higher ranking?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The Shockers have a huge series coming up this weekend against
Evansville, the defending MVC champs–this is one we’ve had circled on
our calendars at BA all year long. Wichita has a nice four-game padding
between it and the Aces, but that could change in a hurry if things go
awry this weekend. If the Shockers take care of business at home, their
stranglehold on the MVC will tighten. I am a major Wichita State
believer, and I think it’s only a matter of time before they move up in
the rankings ahead of some of those ACC and SEC teams ahead of them.

 Q:  Jack from Jackson, MI asks:
I
love reading your chats, they’re very informative. So how about the MAC
this year, Eastern Michigan is leading the way with a 12-1 record after
playing that brutal early season schedule. Fischer, Biddle and Hoffman
have been almost untouchable and you add that with Hehr and Lehrman’s
hitting they’re pretty good. Do you think they have a chance to win the
tourney or get an automatic bid?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I like the pitching staff, but I still think Central Michigan is the
favorite in that league. If the Eagles doesn’t win the automatic bid,
they have no chance at an at-large bid–that 16-15 overall record is
not very impressive, and games against Northwood, Spring Arbor,
Madonna, Olivet and Concordia will absolutely kill their RPI.

 Q:  kraig from orange asks:
First
off, I would like to extend my prayers to the VIrginia Tech family and
friends. It was nice to see their school rally around a college
baseball game to bring some school spirit. Ok, now down to it. UC
Irvine was in the driver’s seat, then they lost 2-3 at home to Cal
Poly. Then UC Riverside takes 2-3 at Cal Poly to move into a first
place tie. This weekend might be the biggest matchup nobody knows
about. Cal State Fullerton @ UC Riverside. Friday night is the biggest
mound matchup in Roemer v Simmons. Tell me Aaron who wins the series,
and how will the conference shake out?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Huge series, and I plan to be on hand Friday night for the
Roemer-Simmons duel. I’d love to go out on a limb and take the
Highlanders to win that series, but every time I’ve picked against the
Titans this year I’ve gotten burned, so I’m more than a little gun-shy.
I guess I’ll stick with Fullerton until further notice.

 Q:  BL from Bozeman asks:
Thanks
for the chat, Aaron, and for the great work you guys are doing. I ask
this before the new podcast is posted, but how close is Creighton to
the top 25? Are the Blue Jays playing their way into regional
consideration?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The Bluejays have won eight straight and are 27-11 overall, plus 12-3
in the conference. They’ve already played Wichita State and Evansville
(and won the latter series), so you’ve got to figure they’re in very
good shape in the conference race. The MVC is at least a two-bid
league, and right now Creighton has a better case than Evansville for
that No. 2 spot. They are in the top 25 picture as well, though that
picture is a little crowded.

 Q:  Marc from Austin asks:
Texas
right fielder Kyle Russell parked 3 more HR’s this week against Rice
and Nebraska, he’s now on pace to hit 30 by the end of the regular
season. Describe him in 5 words or less, and more importantly, how will
the Horns fare in Stillwater this weekend with the Big 12 on the line ?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Locked in. Twig-thin, but so strong. (“but” and “so” don’t count
against me in the word count — those aren’t real words!) As for this
weekend, it’s a tossup, but the Horns showed they can win a tough road
series this weekend against Nebraska, and I think they could do it
again in Stillwater. As tremendous as that OSU offense is, I just still
worry about the pitching staff, though Oliver Odle was solid this
weekend.

 Q:  Alan from NY asks:
Danny Worth of Pepperdine over Zack Cozart on the top 50 college prospect list? Where do you see Worth going in the draft?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Worth’s got a lot of helium right now– scouts seem to think he’s got a
better bat than Cozart, and he’s a better defender than Josh Horton,
who is generally regarded the best-hitting shortstop in this class.
Worth might have played his way into the first round, if he keeps it up.

 Q:  Matt from New Orleans, LA asks:
What
will it take for the Green Wave to get into the NCAA tournament? After
their showing against Houston, is the Wave in trouble of missing out on
the post season? Thanks
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I do think Tulane’s in trouble — an 8-7 CUSA record, looking up at
four teams in the standings… that’s not a good place to be. Tulane’s
pedigree is in its favor, but its body of work really isn’t that
impressive — lost series to Southeastern Louisiana, Loyola Marymount,
Southern Cal, Memphis and now Houston. I think the Green Wave must take
a series at Rice in a couple of weeks, because the rest of the schedule
leaves little chance to impress (UCF, UAB, Chicago State).

 Q:  Robert from Michigan asks:
Why
only #11 still for the Sun Devils. Do you honestly think that there is
a team that has more arms than they do bats in a playoff situation?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
The Stroganoff has gone cold, so I’ll take a couple more and then wrap
this thing up. As we discussed in the podcast today, John Manuel and I
both believe Arizona State is better than the 11th-best team in the
nation, but it comes down to those pesky poll mechanics again. Wichita
State’s playing well, so you can’t jump ASU over the Shockers.

 Q:  Jason Piraro from San Jose, Ca asks:
I
know that the WAC does not have any teams in the top 25 at the moment,
but I do believe that LA Tech very close to making it and has some
legitimate players. Brian Rike is batting .356, 10 2B’s, 20 HR’s, 60
RBI’s and is 15-16 of stolen bases. The whole line-up seems to be
crushing the ball. Jericho Jones (Pre-season WAC player of the year) is
looking average in this line-up. What is your take on the team and Rike?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Louisiana Tech was right on the cusp of the rankings before losing that
series at Hawaii this weekend. That was a big series in the WAC
standings–Fresno State now has the inside track. Rike is one of the
best power-speed threats in the whole country, comparable to guys like
Corey Brown, Matt Brown, and Grant Desme.

 Q:  Greg from Topeka, KS asks:
With
Jess Todd moving back into the weekend rotation, how do you see the
Razorbacks looking as a possible CWS team. Schmidt just got his first
loss of the year and Welker would have more wins if it weren’t for lack
of run support and the bullpen. They are tested more on the road and
neutral sites than most with Van Horn’s scheduling and should bode well
in the postseason…..sorry for the long question…..what do you think
about my Hogs basically?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
That early schedule is one of the reasons Arkansas is so tough down the
stretch — not many coaches would have the guts to schedule road trips
to Louisiana Tech and Troy the first two weekends of the year. As for
the pitching staff, I worry about the bullpen a little with Todd in the
rotation; I’d almost rather have Keuchel starting on Sundays and the
ability to bring Todd out of the bullpen whenever you need him most.
Losing Seibert was such a big blow to this team. Heading into the year,
with Seibert healthy, I thought Arkansas was an excellent darkhorse
national title contender. I still think the Hogs are capable of making
a run, but it’s going to be tougher with one of their best arms out for
the year. Pitching depth tends to loom very large in the postseason,
and while I love Arkansas’ front-line pitching, I think its depth is an
issue. Travis Hill needs to emerge as a more consistent presence in the
bullpen.

Aaron Fitt: Ok, that’s it for today. Great batch of questions. See you all next week, as the chat will come to you live from SoCal.

College | #2007 #Chat

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