Aaron Fitt: Hello everybody, on a tight schedule today so let’s get to it.
Seahawk Fan (Wilmington, NC): UNCW's 2B Michael Bass, .431./518./628/20sb. What more does he have to do to be a legimate Draft Prospect?
Aaron Fitt: I think he will get a chance in pro ball as a nice senior sign, because he can obviously really hit, and he runs and defends — does a lot of things well. But he is a 5-foot-9 college second baseman, and he doesn’t really have a major league carrying tool, so he won’t be a big-time prospect.
Frank (DC): Aaron, you're on the board and looking for a pitcher. Who do you take between Ryne Stanek and Brady Shipley and why ?
Aaron Fitt: Hmm, that’s a tough one, Frank. Braden Shipley is so exciting because of his athleticism and the looseness of his delivery, and obviously the quality of the stuff. But I like Stanek’s track record a little more, and his stuff is also electric. Once he gets into pro ball, I could really see Stanek putting it all together and avoiding these little early-season funks that have affected him each of the last three years. He’s done it against better competition and done it for longer, and I think he’s got a chance for four legitimate major league pitches. I’ll take Stanek.
David (Mississippi): Dudy Noble was rocking Saturday with more than 14,500 fans will the atmosphere in Nashville be as electric this weekend? Will a series win for Mississippi St jump them into a National seed ahead of Arizona St or Indiana?
Aaron Fitt: I would have loved to have seen that in person — that kind of crowd at a college baseball game, that’s just bonkers. Obviously Vanderbilt draws on a different scale, but that place should indeed be rocking this weekend. I think that series is bigger for the Bulldogs than the ‘Dores, who basically look locked into a national seed. But if MSU wins that series, yes, I think they’ve got a nice chance at a national seed.
John (Jackson, MS): Aaron, you were bullish on Mississippi State early in the season. Now MSU is showing why (9-2 in last 11). The schedule is also tough for the dogs, as they do not play Georgia, Tennessee, or Missouri this year in SEC play. This weekend State had 14,500 at the Saturday game to rank as second alltime for on-campus college baseball games. Why aren't the dogs moving up faster? They are 32-10 with a brutal schedule and 4 one-run SEC losses. What are the odds they attain a national seed?
Aaron Fitt: You’re right, they are playing better of late, although it should be noted that the last three weekends the schedule has lightened up considerably (Florida is playing better now, but those guys are still just a couple of games over .500, and A&M is really struggling, and Auburn is in last place). MSU would have moved up more if it had swept Auburn, but we were more impressed by South Carolina sweeping Kentucky this weekend, so we jumped the Gamecocks over MSU. There aren’t many other teams in the rankings that have lost four weekend series this year. So while I remain bullish on the Bulldogs — still think that team is going to Omaha — I don’t think the resume is top-10 caliber yet. They need a signature series win against a good team, and they’ll have a chance to get it this weekend.
Mike (Sun Belt): Aaron, A lot of disrespect for the Sun Belt around the country as far as the polls go. Especially when you see teams like New Mexico and South Florida making some lists. Why do you think is the case and what do you see come Tournament time for the No. 4/5 rated league in the country.
Aaron Fitt: You guys know I hate the word “disrespect,” and it especially does not apply here — we have ranked both South Alabama and Florida Atlantic this year, but both teams have holes that keep them out of the Top 25 right now. In South Alabama’s case, getting swept by FAU hurt, and we weren’t going to bring in the Jaguars on a 2-2 week. FAU just lost a serie at UL-L. Troy is coming on, and the Trojans are on our radar, but they lost a series at Western Kentucky last week. And WKU is 21-19 and just lost a series to South Alabama. So what I’m saying is all those teams are beating up on each other, and that’s why none of them is in our Top 25. New Mexico, on the other hand, leads its conference by three games and has won six straight weekend series, and has played a solid schedule, including a midweek split at Arkansas two weeks ago. Still, there are enough good RPI teams in the Sun Belt for it to get two or three bids on Selection Monday.
Stretchy (Rocky Mount NC): Did everything turn out of with your Dad in Boston last Monday?
Aaron Fitt: Yes, thanks for your concern. He was at Mile 25 when the blasts occurred, so he was safe, just rattled like everybody else. What a scary week.
Russell (Austin, Tx): I have pretty much given up on Texas this year. Do you expect Texas to don anything in the near future?
Aaron Fitt: Yeah, this is looking like a lost season — 5 straight series losses to start Big 12 play? That’s unbelievable, for the University of Texas. Somehow the ‘Horns still have a decent RPI, so I suppose if they really really caught fire in their last 12 games, maybe they could still sneak into a regional. But I don’t see that happening. Still, I can’t imagine this program staying down for long. This won’t be a situation like USC has endured — it is much more difficult to win at USC than it is at Texas, which is a public school with incredible resources and fan support and everything else, not to mention the winningest coach in history.
Jennie (Palo Alto): Hi Aaron, how do you see Stanford finishing the regular season? How far do they have to go before they crack the top 25 again?
Aaron Fitt: Check the rankings, Jennie — they’re already there! The remaining schedule is very difficult, but I think Stanford is coming on at the right time. Still don’t love their pitching after Appel, which gives me pause… But for now, I’m cautiously optimistic about their chances to hold their own down the stretch and get into a regional.
Jacob (corvallis): what in the world happened with the beavers in that Saturday double-header? i'm still in shell shock. it seemed like kavin Keyes was the only beaver to show Saturday, being left of base 3 times in game one and producing all 3 runs in game 2 with a triple
Aaron Fitt: One of the more stunning results of the season — and I liked Washington a bit coming into the season, but that was a nine-win team coming into the weekend, and Oregon State is elite (I still believe that to be the case). Just one of those days — it is, after all, baseball.
Josh (Clayton, NC): How far could NC State jump if they take two out of three or better from UNC at home? I know they are #6, but would they find themselves in the top 3? To me it looks like there are too many teams with higher RPIs and better records above them for State to rise higher than 5.
Aaron Fitt: Yeah, I don’t see the Wolfpack jumping LSU, Vandy, Fullerton or Virginia unless one of them has a bad week. Those teams have put together too impressive bodies of work.
Andrew (Miami): Loved how you called the Miami series on the back of starting pitching. Now the question: Can you comment on having only 2 SEC teams in the top 13, while you have 4 ACC teams there? How would you compare the conferences overall?
Aaron Fitt: I think the SEC is starting to look top-heavy. I mean, you’ve got two teams that lead their divisions by four and five games, respectively. Everybody else has kind of beaten themselves up. UNC and Virginia have been very consistent all year, NC State is very talented and now is red-hot, and Florida State has been very good with the exception of two bad weekends on the road. By contrast, South Carolina has been swept twice (once at home), Mississippi State lost four straight series at one point, Arkansas has had three losing weekends (and was just no-hit and swept in a doubleheader by Nebraska). I think all those teams are good, but their resumes are not as good as those four ACC teams (although Florida State isn’t far ahead).
Alex (Fairfax, VA): Hey guys, thanks for the chat. What are preseason faves Arkansas and NC State's chances of securing a national seed at this point? Arkansas has got a pretty favorable finishing schedule and at least 3 spots seem up for grabs.
Aaron Fitt: I feel like Arkansas is just too far back in the RPI (No. 60). That’s going to rise, but not enough for a national seed, I don’t think. N.C. State, meanwhile, has a top-eight RPI and is now in first place in its division. The Wolfpack gets both UNC and Florida State at home, making the remaining schedule navigable. Feels like a team on track to get a national seed.
James Hermann (Orlando, FL): A little concerned about LSU bats on Sunday. How do you see the Gamecocks invasion? Two big weekends in a row for the Tigers - SC and then UF
Aaron Fitt: I’m not the least bit concerned about LSU’s bats — you can’t score 11 runs every game. That is a marquee offensive team, but in the game of baseball, nobody goes undefeated. That South Carolina series should be fun; LSU is the more complete team and should win that series at home, but of course, we’ve learned that whenever we discount South Carolina’s chances over the last few years, the Gamecocks make us look silly. So I’ll take LSU, but with a little trepidation…
Lewis (Santa Clara): How many bids do you think the WCC will get this year?
Aaron Fitt: Anywhere between one and three. San Diego and LMU are in good enough RPI shape that they could get at-larges if they have solid finishes. I like Gonzaga’s resume but the Zags need to bolster their RPI. Lot of balls in the air in that league right now.
Chris (California): Aaron, with an abismal record against the top 25 I'm starting to worry about Oregon in the post-season. Are the Ducks for real?
Aaron Fitt: Feels a little like the inversion of last year. The Ducks found ways to win all of those close games against good teams last year, even when though they were usually the “underdogs.” This year, they are often the favorite, and the close games haven’t gone their way. Their style of play is going to lead to a lot of one-run games, and the nature of close games is that they can turn very quickly on a play or two. Still, I’m not really worried about Oregon in the postseason. I believe in that coaching staff and the makeup of that team. Definitely capable of an Omaha run.
Dan-O (LV): Aaron, can UNLV get an at-large bid if they don't win the MWC ?
Aaron Fitt: Got a chance, but I’m not seeing it right now. I’ll break that down in more detail in tomorrow’s Stock Report.
DB (Georgia): Aaron, what are you thoughts on the SoCon? Georgia Southern started off great but has lost 8 in a row and fell to 6th place. Western Carolina has been playing good lately with back to back sweeps vs Samford and Georgia Southern for a one game lead over Elon. Citadel swept App St this week after sweeping series at Georgia Southern last week. Who are the top prospects for this years draft in the SoCon? thanks
Aaron Fitt: Everybody’s beating up on each other, and it sure looks like a one-bid league to me right now. Certainly, the top prospect in the league is Samford’s Philip Ervin, and the No. 2 guy might be his teammate C.K. Irby… Not a lot of great draft-eligible pro talent in that league this year.
Dave (Troy,NY): Within the first handful of weeks of the season a questioner asked what was the matter with Colin Moran. Do you care to answer that at this point and do you think he compares favorably to Anthony Rendon at this stage? Thanks
Aaron Fitt: Yeah, obviously there was never anything to worry about (and I suspect my answer to that question earlier this year said the same thing). Moran is a really good player. He’s not as athletic as Rendon, not as gifted defensively, but he has made himself into a quality defender. He doesn’t has the quick-twitch swing Rendon has, but he is bigger physically, and I think that matters. I remember a scout questioning whether Dustin Ackley was physical enough to be an impact hitter in the big leagues; Rendon is a little more like Ackley when it comes to size, with a swing based on quick hands more than brute strength. Ackley has not hit in the big leagues yet, and we’ll see what Rendon can do (I’m optimistic).
bill (In a Cave in Atlanta): After watching NC ST demolish my Yellow Jackets, does the Clemson series essentially become a 'Bubble Survivor" series for the winner as far as Regional hosting/Number one seed concerned? Also, does Arkansas have a problem as far as NCAA"s being a 60 RPI right now? ?
Aaron Fitt: I think you’ve got it right. There are four teams in the ACC ahead of both those teams in the hosting pecking order, so only one of those two teams will have a chance to host (and that’s not even a guarantee). I think the loser of that series finds itself on the road for regionals.
Aaron Fitt: OK gang, I have to call a player, so that’s all for today. Thanks for joining me, and see you next week.