Baseball America

College Top 25 Chat With Aaron Fitt

Moderator: Aaron Fitt will answer your college questions beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Aaron Fitt: Good afternoon, everybody. I’m joining you from Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport, where I’m happy to report they have free wifi! Had a great time here in Fayetteville — thanks to everyone on Twitter for the food recommendations (I ate well…). Let’s chat!

Matt (Dallas): If the season ended today, how many Big 12 teams make the tournament?
Aaron Fitt: If the season ended today… wow, two? Maybe three? Oklahoma, and I think the other two would be Kansas and Kansas State, and I’d put them in that order (I like KU’s resume better). Texas and Baylor would be on the wrong side of the bubble for me if the season ended today. In this week’s Stock Report, I’ll take a closer look at the Big 12 going forward (rather than if the season ended today), and frankly I’m not sure what conclusions I’ll arrive at.

Aaron Fitt: By the way, Happy Patriot’s Day to all of our Massachusetts readers! My dad is probably chugging up Heartbreak Hill as we speak…

@Jaypers413 (IL): How much has Renfroe's stock risen over the past few weeks in your eyes? Could he be a top 10 pick?
Aaron Fitt: I think it’s really taken off. I talked with some scouts about him a few weeks ago and they still had some reservations; then, after seeing how he handled that Arkansas staff and has continued to rake in the SEC, I’ve talked with some of the same scouts and they’re really on board. He feels more like a 15-30 guy to me, but if he keeps tearing up the SEC, I could see him as a top 10 talent. There aren’t many players out there now with a better combination of tools and performance against elite competition.

Bill (Atlanta, GA): GT's hard fought series win over UVA was a relief, but the Jackets are still struggling at the plate and win when the inconsistent pitching staff has a good game. With red-hot NCS and red-hot Clemson the next two weeks, how do their hosting prospects look at this point?
Aaron Fitt: You’re right, this is a very big stretch for the Jackets. I thought that Sunday win against UVa. was crucial, obviously — it keeps the Jackets in the national seed discussion, long-term. I’ll break down the hosting race in more detail in this week’s Stock Report, but right now I’m still feeling pretty good about Tech’s chances. I have to imagine those bats will wake up soon; I still really like the talent and experience there.

Matt (Lafayette): I believe I have identified flaw in Alex Bregman’s game. The guy hits a very catchable line drive. He squares up a pitch in 90% of his at bats, but most of them are screaming liners that stay 5 feet off the ground. He finally got one about 10 feet off the ground that went over everyone and out for a home run on Sunday. If he gets this problem corrected, he’ll hit about .750 with 50 homers. I’ve never seen someone hit the ball consistently hard like he does. What do you think?
Aaron Fitt: I think your analysis is pretty spot-on! How about that sac “fly” he hit to left field on Friday? Thing was hit about 120 miles an hour (or so it seemed). I’m going to have to self-impose a Bregman embargo so I don’t make everybody sick of hearing about him, because he’s special.

Glenn (Baton Rouge): How about some love for the LSU bullpen outdueling Arkansas’ pen in Sunday’s finale? 6.2 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 0 R versus Arkansas’ 7.1 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 2 R. Both pens were phenomenal, but LSU’s unheralded bullpen got the job done in a big way on the road.
Aaron Fitt: That is the thrust of today’s Three Strikes column — check it out! Link is on our home page.

Drewbie (Pine Bluff): If LSU is the #3 team in the country, don’t you think Arkansas is probably #3b? I thought them Hogs fought LSU pitch for pitch and if it weren’t for a few errors and bad calls by the officials, Arkansas could have won the series. Can Arkansas still get in the top 8 despite the bad RPI?
Aaron Fitt: All right, let’s just have a little LSU-Arkansas section of the chat (heaven knows there is enough interest in those two programs…). Arkansas did play LSU tough and could have won the series, although I don’t think there any calls would have swung it the other way. Don’t forget, LSU was robbed of extra bases on a blown call down the line earlier Sunday — and the Tigers already had the lead when that call in the 10th started another rally. Yes, that insurance run helped, but I don’t really believe Arkansas would have scored a single run against Chris Cotton anyway. I still think LSU is a much better defensive and offensive team than Arkansas, but the Hogs do have the pitching to keep them competitive against anybody. But they have had three losing weekends now, while LSU hasn’t had any, and a number of other teams have lost 0 or 1 series. So Arkansas passes the eye test, but it does not pass the resume test, when it comes to being a top-five team. 12 games against teams outside the top 200 in the RPI really kill the Hogs’ chances for a national seed, especially since they have lost those two big home series against MSU and LSU. If those two Sunday games had gone the other way, I’d feel much better about Arkansas as a national seed contender.

Jeff (D.C.): Having been to college parks across the country, how much more difficult is it for a team to go into an environment like LSU went into this weekend and win versus UNC going to Blacksburg or UVA going to GA Tech? VT and GT have great RPIs and presumably great teams, but not 10,000+ fans and a football game environment behind them.
Aaron Fitt: I certainly think it is more difficult, but when you’re talking about high-level college athletes, they get used to it. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t take Colin Moran or Kent Emanuel very long to adjust to playing in front of SEC crowds, just like Alex Bregman or Chris Cotton have — those kinds of guys are unflappable. Great players are great players, regardless of the atmosphere.

Jeremy (Mississippi): With Southern Miss carrying a 7-game win streak into tomorrow night's game against Ole Miss, with a win do you think USM can carry this momentum throughout the rest of the season and maybe make a post season run?
Aaron Fitt: If you recall, we ranked Southern Miss in the preseason Top 25, because we liked their upside, and now they’re starting to play like we expected them to. It took a while, but like Florida, the Golden Eagles are now above .500 overall, and they have won three straight series, including pretty solid series wins against UCF and Tulane. Looking ahead, USM has three relatively tough road series against Memphis, ECU and Houston, but none of those teams is a juggernaut, and if Southern Miss plays like it is capable of playing, I could see that team winning every series the rest of the way, and maybe even getting itself into a regional. That RPI has a long way to go, though…

Adam (Mississippi): Will Mississippi St host a regional this year? Do they still have a shot at a National seed or am I just asking too much?
Aaron Fitt: Top-10 RPI, 30-9 overall, finally above .500 in the SEC, gaining momentum — yeah, I’d say the Bulldogs are on track to host at this stage. The RPI will keep MSU in the national seed discussion if it can hold its own down the stretch. I could see Mississippi State going 10-5 in its final five weekends, finishing 18-12 in the league. If they do that, I could see them getting a national seed.

bill (hamilton,nj): Hey, Aaron...a few teams that were previously ranked or were projected as NCAA teams have fallen on hard times of late....Notre Dame, Houston(60 RPI), Texas, Georgia Southern, Virginia Tech, Florida Gulf Coast and Texas A&M.
Of those teams, which ones are still in decent NCAA at- large shape and which ones are in serious jeopardy? Thanks...

Aaron Fitt: I’m going to break this down in detail in this week’s Stock Report, so I’m going to dodge the question for now, but it is a very good question — you just reeled off a bunch of very intriguing teams that have found themselves in bubble territory. The season certainly is a roller coaster…

David (Knoxville, TN): Would Florida and Mercer be in your 26-30 range? Mercer is beginning to look like a 2 seed and UF now has 10 wins vs. the current BA top 25.
Aaron Fitt: Mercer would be, but the problem is the Bears lost a series to North Florida, which has lost only one series (to South Alabama, which lost to Mercer). But the Ospreys are building a decent resume too — team of interest. Florida has played a very difficult schedule and is certainly starting to round into shape — I always trusted that coaching staff to get that young team going. But they need to get a little farther from .500 to really get into Top 25 consideration.

Mike (Chicago): Minnesota has moved into a 1st place tie in the Big 10 and sport the best 1-2 punch in the conference with Tom Windle and DJ Snelton. How close were the Gophers to breaking into the ranking this week?
Aaron Fitt: I like the Gophers — that is a formidable pitching duo, certainly. Problem with their resume is the back-to-back series losses to Indiana State and Texas. Michigan State next week offers Minnesota a real opportunity to make a little noise, though.

Steve L. (Albany, OR): Is Andrew Moore, Oregon State, in the mix for National Freshman Pitcher of the year?
Aaron Fitt: We don’t give out a freshman pitcher of the year award, only a freshman of the year award. But I would call Moore and Thomas Eshelman the two top freshman pitchers this year, with Justin Garza of Fullerton also right there in the mix.

Jordan (Baton Rouge): Do you see Alex Bregman in the running for National Player of the Year as well as being the top candidate for Freshman of the Year?
Aaron Fitt: Funny, I was just talking about that possibility in the press box on Sunday. Yes, I think he’s got at least a chance to be the Player of the Year as a freshman, which would be historic. His all-around value is really high. (So much for my Bregman embargo. Darn.)

Joel (KCK): Is it time to start worrying about Carlos Rodon? He's been awfully erratic this season.
Aaron Fitt: Yeah, I think it may be time. I’ve preached patience with Rodon all year, but now we’re nine weeks in. He’s clearly not where he was last year, and I don’t know that he’s going to get there this year. Maybe he catches fire down the stretch and leads the Wolfpack to Omaha… but maybe not. Coming into the year, we all thought Rodon was a sure thing on Fridays. Right now, he’s not close to being a sure thing. I still believe in Rodon’s talent and makeup, and I think he’ll get it figured out. It’s just not a slam dunk anymore.

Ernie (South Orange, NJ): Aaron,

Seton Hall has been playing very well since their 0-9 start. Thoughts on their chances in the Big East tourney ?
Aaron Fitt: We actually talked about Seton Hall for a bit on the podcast today. Interesting club — solid RPI, played a really strong schedule and took lumps early, but now playing very well. Jon Prosinski is money in big games, the staff behind him is solid, and Zack Granite has been really hot at the plate, leading that offense. Those guys have a chance to get an at-large berth, although I’d probably still bet against it at this point. As for the Big East tournament, my money’s still on Louisville.

JAustinBears (Austin): What do you think Baylor has to do to secure a bid to the tournament from here on out? The Big 12 is having it's worst year since creating it and just wanted to know how many Big 12 teams you see making the tournament and which ones?
Aaron Fitt: I left Baylor out of the “if the tournament started today, would they be in?” question earlier, because the Bears are still trying to dig out of their early hole. The RPI isn’t too far from at-large range (in the low 60s currently), and Baylor has played well over the last four weekends. The OU series gives the Bears a signature series win, but the remaining schedule isn’t easy, with three road series (at TCU, at Kansas, at Texas Tech), plus a home series against Texas. Bears need to win at least three of those to put themselves in position for an at-large. A 10-5 finish (including, let’s say, 7-5 in conference) would put Baylor 29-22 overall, 14-9 overall. That feels right on the bubble to me.

Brad (Mississippi): My Rebels may have turned the corner and it looked like Wahl took a step forward this weekend. Assuming they build on their success of this weekend, where do you see these two falling in June?
Aaron Fitt: I thought the big thing was Mayers pitching much better this weekend — they need him to be that guy consistently. Wahl is a late first- to sandwich round guy for me.

Mike (Baton Rouge): Aaron, what are your thoughts on LSU's Cody Glenn? I'm just not sold on him right now
Aaron Fitt: I’m not either — that is my one lingering concern with LSU. Thought his stuff was very pedestrian yesterday.

Kurt (Oregon): Still leaning Beavers over Ducks in the Pac-12, or has your position much since last week's Duck win in Corvallis?
Aaron Fitt: Still leaning Beavers, but I’ve got the Ducks as the No. 2 team in the Pac (even though ASU has played well lately and won the head-to-head against Oregon, which is why the Devils are ranked ahead). Long-term, I like Oregon better than Arizona State, but still like the Beavers better than either.

Brian (California): Who will rise to the occasion on Friday? Pepperdines Scott Fraizer or Gonzagas Marco Gonzales?
Aaron Fitt: I’ll be on hand for that one — really looking forward to it. My money is on Marco (he is something of a personal cheeseball of mine…).

John (Fayetteville): Does Arkansas make it to Omaha?

and

How was your trip to Baum Stadium? How does it compare to other venues?
Aaron Fitt: If I had to give you a yes or no answer right now on Arkansas to Omaha, I’d say yes. Baum was beautiful — right there in the top three or so ballparks in the country, I think. We talked ballparks on today’s Google+ Hangout, if you’re interested.

Stretchy (Rocky Mount Nc): The Tar Heels gave up 8 runs in back to back games to Vtech this weekend yet still swept the road series. How impressed are you with this team?
Aaron Fitt: That is a very dangerous Virginia Tech offense, and the hitting conditions were very favorable for the first two games of that series. I thought that would be a great test for UNC, and the Tar Heels aced it. They can win low scoring games, they can win slug fests — they are just a really good all-around team.

Chris (North Carolina): Do you think the CAA could be a two bid league this year? Possibly 3 with UNC-Wilmington, Delaware, and William&Mary? I know its a stretch, but seems like these 3 are playing some good ball this year. Who would you take?
Aaron Fitt: Probably two bids, and I think Delaware and William & Mary are both in the mix for the second one. I’ll tell you what: Jamie Pinzino is an awfully good coach. He worked wonders at Bryant, and he’s got that Tribe team playing way above expectations. I like William & Mary’s resume more than Delaware’s, and the Tribe won the head-to-head series between the two.

Will (Portland, OR): How will a guy like Tyler Smith do come draft day? Not super great numbers but solid defense and the heart of the Beavers. Does that count on draft day?
Aaron Fitt: I love him as a college player, and I hope he gets a chance in pro ball. It’s not big pro tools, but he does a lot of things well, and the intangibles are outstanding. I was surprised he went undrafted last year, but he won’t go undrafted this year. Could be a nice value senior sign.

Matt (Hendersonville, TN): Connor Harrell for Vandy has had a surge lately and even for Saturday's O'fer, he was brilliant this weekend against Mizzou. Could he be a first-rounder, maybe even eclipsing the prospects of teammate Gregor?
Aaron Fitt: Not even close — still too much swing-and-miss there, too inconsistent at the plate. He’ll be a top-10-rounds senior sign, I bet.

David (Monroe, LA): Since your previous projected field of 64, where you had Clemson as a 3 seed in a regional, they have not lost. Would hosting a regional be considered wishful thinking, or could splitting their last four ACC series (Miami, GT, Maryland, FSU) be sufficient?
Aaron Fitt: I want to see Clemson win a series against another good team before I get on board with that, but they are certainly putting themselves in the hosting discussion. That early road series win at N.C. State is looking like a very nice feather in Clemson’s cap, and the Tigers are taking care of business against ACC bottom feeders lately, but I’d like to see a series win against either Georgia Tech or Florida State, plus good performances against Miami and Maryland, to feel better about Clemson as a host.

Kevin (Columbia): What did you think of Michael Roth's major league debut?
Aaron Fitt: I couldn’t be more excited about it. Just a great story — if you’re a college baseball fan, and you’re not rooting for Roth in the big leagues, then you’re not a college baseball fan.

Aaron Fitt: Guys, it looks like there was an explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. I need to try to get in touch with my dad, so I’m going to end the chat here. Talk to you next week.

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