Baseball America

College Top 25 Chat: April 26

Aaron Fitt: Good afternoon, everybody. Let’s talk about another fun week in college baseball.

    Arkham (Danville, PA): Hey, Aaron. Curious to
    know your prediction for this weekend's UCLA-ASU series. Maybe a
    day-by-day rundown per pitching matchup? As always, thanks for chatting.

Aaron Fitt: What a huge series that is — going to be
a great matchup. I’m going to save my analysis for Thursday’s Weekend
Preview.

    allen (baltimore): it looks like this years draft is light on left handed pitching. any sleepers.

Aaron Fitt: I’d say it’s pretty strong on lefthanded
pitching at the top, thanks to Drew Pomeranz and Chris Sale. But after
that, only two college lefties with a real chance to go in the top two
rounds are San Diego’s Sammy Solis and UCLA’s Rob Rasmussen. If you
want a sleeper, how about Daniel Bibona? College fans know all about
this guy — he’s a consummate winner for UC Irvine. He may not have
huge stuff, but I’ll bet he carves out a nice career for himself as a
big league reliever in the Randy Flores mold.

    Todd (My mom's basement): FSU at 4? Is that a joke?

Aaron Fitt: What’s so funny? The Seminoles are 3-1
against Florida and 11-5 vs. the Top 25 (granted, three of those are
against Georgia, but even so, 8-5 against the Top 25 would be very
solid).

    Mike (Austin): Why no love for TCU after their
    weekend sweep? That is their third straight sweep of the year. Also
    noticed they didn't move up last week either after going 4-0.

Aaron Fitt: This week they got jumped because they
lost another midweek game to Oklahoma, and Coastal is red-hot right now
and needed to be rewarded in the rankings. Last week there was simply
no room to move up, because all five teams right in front of TCU won
their series. But regular readers know how high I am on TCU. I think
that’s an Omaha team, provided they don’t have to go through Austin to
get there.

    Glenn Clarke (Laguna Niguel): The Titans are 12 of their last 14. Will their slow start preclude them from a top 8 seed come tournament time?

Aaron Fitt: Their slow start, coupled with the overall
weakness of the Big West, is likely to prevent the Titans from getting
a national seed.

    Frustrated Tiger (Clemson, SC): What is going
    on at Clemson? These guys could not win an inter-squade game right now.
    This is starting to look like the past few years but the same excuse
    (no experience) can't be used ever year...somehthing has to change!

Aaron Fitt: Things certainly seem to be snowballing
for the Tigers. Talk about finding ways to lose — that Sunday game was
gut-wrenching. (EDIT): Richie Shaffer made a bad freshman mistake on the basepaths with the bases loaded in the ninth, straying too far from first base, and UNC catcher Jacob Stallings made a heads-up play to pick him off. Obviously that’s a huge win for the Tar Heels, but it’s also a tough way to lose for Clemson. Now Clemson gets to try to end its slump against
Chris Sale…

    Bryan (Topeka, KS): How poorly has Chad Bettis
    been handled this year by Texas Tech? He was a starter, then reliever,
    then starter, then reliever. Now he is in some sort of "flex" role. I
    saw him throw three innings in Lawrence on Sunday in the first game of
    a double header, then come back and throw four more in the second game!
    How has this affected his draft stock, and should the coaches be strung
    up? Thanks!

Aaron Fitt: The Red Raiders like using him in that
flex role, and I don’t think there’s any problem with it. It gives him
an opportunity to impact multiple games in key spots if needed early in
a series, and if he doesn’t get used up he can start later in the
weekend – that’s hardly unheard-of. It doesn’t hurt his draft stock at
all; in fact, it shows that his arm bounces back pretty well, which
will be a valuable quality for a reliever in pro ball, which is how he
profiles. Of course, pitching 3 2/3 innings on Sunday morning, then
coming back and throwing 2 1/3 innings three hours later is a little
bit different. That doesn’t strike me as the best thing for his arm.

    Dave (San Diego): University of San Diego is
    playing some very good baseball right now. With the current hitting
    they are getting and their weekend rotation how far do you think they
    can go? Is a Super Regional thinking a little too much? Also, out of
    their great recruiting next year, baseballs version of the FAB 5 who do
    you think will end up on campus Wolters, Covey, Sweeney, Bryant or
    Littlewood. They all seem to be high draft possibilities.

Aaron Fitt: A super regional is certainly within reach
if they keep pitching like they have. That staff is good enough to
carry the Toreros a long way, and the bats have really come alive, too
(how bout James Meador’s big weekend?). As for the “Fab Five”, I asked
our high school gurus, Nathan Rode and Conor Glassey, and they both
agree that the Toreros can expect two of those guys to show up on
campus — likely Sweeney and either Bryant or Littlewood. Sounds like
USD fans should not get their hopes up for Wolters or Covey…

    Craig (Newport RI): Aaron,

    Where do you see a couple of Big East players going in the draft, Mike Olt and Jedd Gyorko ?
    Thanks

Aaron Fitt: I’ll say fourth round for Olt, second
round for Gyorko. Gyorko’s bat is safer, but Olt does have legit power,
he plays a very good third base and he’s a good athlete. Many scouts in
the Northeast have problems with his swing, but there are enough tools
to work with that somebody will take him in the top four rounds, maybe
the top three.

    Dean (Portand, OR): How far off the top 25 is
    Portland? I know they havent beaten a ton of impressive teams but they
    seem close to worthy. They even have a few pro prospects...your
    thoughts?

Aaron Fitt: Portland has put itself in the Top 25
discussion, and I wrote about them in today’s Three Strikes. But the
nonconference schedule was very weak; the Pilots probably need to win
that series against San Diego in two weeks to break into the Top 25.
Solid club, though, especially on the mound.

    Travis (Florida): Which confrence is the strongest the ACC or SEC? Will either confrence get 3 national seeds?

Aaron Fitt: The SEC is stronger because it is deeper,
and the teams at the top are generally comparable. I suppose if both
Ga. Tech and FSU finish strong, the ACC could get three national seeds
(it helps that UVa., GT and FSU are all finished playing each other),
but I think the SEC getting three is more likely. If South Carolina
continues playing well, its RPI will continue to climb, and right now
Arkansas and Florida look like solid national seeds.

    Nick (Atlanta, GA): What do you think of
    Georgia Tech after this past weekend? I realize we had an awful
    weekend, but how come it doesn't seem like anyone is really considering
    us to be a contender to finish atop the ACC, despite the fact that we
    are still leading the conference?

Aaron Fitt: Who doesn’t think Tech isn’t a contender
to win the ACC? Last I checked, the Jackets are still ranked No. 8 in
the country. That’s a good deal of respect, if you ask me.

    Zach (Seattle): Thanks for the insight every
    week into CBB. The Pac-10 has to be the toughest conference this year,
    everyone just keeps beating each other up. As for my beloved WSU
    Cougars, what are their chances of getting an at large bid this year?
    Where do they have to finish up in conference play/overall given the
    strength of the conference? Do you think the conference could get 7
    bids? Thanks again.

Aaron Fitt: With series wins against Arizona State and
Oregon State, Wazzu’s case is starting to come together, but the
Cougars are still just 5-7 in the league and 54th in the RPI, so there
is work to do, and the remaining schedule is tough. But the good thing
about a tough remaining schedule is the Cougars control their own
destiny — there are plenty of opportunities to make statements. At the
end of the day, I think the Pac-10 ends up producing six regional
teams, with OSU and WSU competing for a possible seventh spot,
depending on how the next few weeks go.

    Dave (Atlanta): Hi Aaron, I watched the
    matchup of the Tech's this past weekend, and the Hokies really seem to
    have pitching depth and hitting. Their LHP Wright looked really solid
    as the Friday starter, and their Offense is explosive. Do you see them
    making a deep run to Omaha?

Aaron Fitt: Virginia Tech would be an exciting Omaha
sleeper, for sure. That team is very talented and experienced, and will
be extremely dangerous in regionals.

    Fred (Houston): How does Ranaudo's and
    Pomeranz's poor outings in front of a large number of scouts hurt their
    draft stock? Are they still legitamite top 10 picks?

Aaron Fitt: There were all sorts of mitigating
conditions there — both had gotten prepared to pitch Friday, then had
to come back the next day and get ready to start again. The wind was
gusting out to center, the strike zone was small (according to some
reports). All in all, I don’t think any club that liked Pomeranz and
Ranaudo in the top 10 picks will change its mind based on Saturday.

    Jim (Pittsburgh): Still no love for the Panthers after a sweep at WVU?

Aaron Fitt: Pitt is not far out of the rankings — probably in that 26-28 range.

    Disappointed Pirate (Walking the Plank): A
    year after losing to UNC in a Super Regional, my ECU Pirates are in
    danger of not even making the tournament. I know they've had some
    players dismissed, but this is just flat out awful. We can't lose games
    to Campbell and NC State at home. What's going on in Greenville?

Aaron Fitt: The defense is absolutely abysmal, for
starters. I’m ready to pronounce that the Pirates will not be in
regionals unless they win the conference tournament — that 0-5 week
killed their at-large chances. ECU is down to No. 82 in the RPI, and
all of its remaining series are against teams with worse RPIs, so there
will be no real opportunity for the Pirates to move up.

    dave (houston): even though Virginia is #1, i
    think Texas has to be considered the favorite right now for the crown.
    there pitching staff has been lights out and there actually hitting the
    ball. what say you?

Aaron Fitt: I agree. I thought Texas was the favorite
in the preseason, when we ranked the Longhorns No. 1, and I have
continued to think so all season. No team ever stays atop the rankings
from wire-to-wire — you just can’t run the table in college baseball
— but weekly fluctuations in the rankings are not reflective of
changes in my big-picture opinion. For instance, I still think
Fullerton is an Omaha team, despite being ranked No. 13 and not in the
top eight. That said, Virginia would be my second choice for a national
title favorite, and the difference between those two teams is very
small. I would absolutely love to see a best-of-three series between
those two clubs — maybe in the CWS Finals?

    Ronny D (Irvine): Oregon Ducks quacking loud !
    3 series wins in a row (STANFORD,UCLA & USC) Good young players
    with great experinced coach. Do they have what it takes to fly all the
    way to Omaha?

Aaron Fitt: No. But they’ll be in a regional, which is
amazing in itself. A decade ago, if someone had told you Oregon would
win series against college baseball royalty like Stanford and USC, plus
a series against the No. 1 team in the nation in between, you’d never
have believed it. Heck, you might not have believed it one year ago.

    Will (Alexandria, VA): Hey Aaron, thanks for
    taking the time to chat every week! How many teams from SC will make it
    to the postseason? Do you think any will actually make it to Omaha?

Aaron Fitt: Five: Coastal, South Carolina, Clemson,
The Citadel and CofC. I think Coastal will be in Omaha, and I could
certainly see South Carolina getting there with the right draw.

    George P. (Atlanta): Is the RPI broken? I
    assume Boyd's calculations are working properly, but how else to make
    sense out of how the teams are ranked mathematically.

Aaron Fitt: I’ve given up trying to figure it out. I’ll say it: I hate the RPI.

    Nole Fan (Tallahassee): As a die hard Nole,
    it's definitely hard to ask this kind of question. When their bats are
    hot which is a lot of the time, they're almost impossible to beat, but
    they get in really big trouble when they play a team with good
    pitching. Do you think the Noles pitching staff is really strong enough
    to go to the big dance. It just seems like they may come up short in
    the pitching department to make it all the way. Your thoughts?

Aaron Fitt: It’s a valid concern, to be sure, but it’s
nice to be able to build a staff around a solid ace (Gilmartin) and a
reliable closer (McGee). In between, there are some decent pieces with
Busch, Gast, Parker and others, but those guys certainly are beatable.
They just need to keep Florida State in games and allow the offense to
do the heavy lifting, and that’s mostly the way the season has gone.

    Nik (Austin, TX): Hey Aaron,
    I've read a lot, and seen in person, just how down the Big 12 is this
    year and just how much a no-contest it is with the way Texas is
    playing. Just out of curiosity, I was wondering how well you thought
    Texas would fair in stronger conferences like the SEC, PAC 10, or ACC
    where the teams are much more well-rounded and consistently play at a
    high level? Do you think come post-season time Texas could match up
    well against other teams with stellar pitching like Virginia with
    Hultzen or UCLA with Cole, Bauer, and Klein?

Aaron Fitt: The Big 12 is down, no question. But Texas
is good enough to win any league in the country, and its pitching staff
is the best in the country, bar none.

    ScottAZ (Phx, AZ): What impact will the sanctions have on the ASU program present/future?

Aaron Fitt: I don’t think the recruiting will be
affected by the restrictions — Arizona State will always be Arizona
State and will always attract top players, especially since the Devils
will keep winning this year and next with the caliber of talent already
in that program. The loss of two scholarships will hurt, but it’s
nothing that will prevent ASU from competing. It’s a relatively
inexpensive public school, and players are used to giving back
scholarship money anyway, for the overall good of the program.

Aaron Fitt: OK folks, sorry to cut this short because
there are many great questions I haven’t been able to get to, but John
and I need to record a podcast and get that posted as soon as possible.
Thanks for stopping by, as always, and see you next week!

College | #2010 #Chat

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