College Top 25 Chat With Aaron Fitt

 Q:  Marty from Wilmington, DE asks:
Aaron,
I know they’re playing with heavy hearts, but from a purely baseball
performance standpoint, has Georgia Tech played themselves out of the
tournament to this point? Nine of their ten ACC wins have come against
Duke, Maryland, Va. Tech and Boston College.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Good afternoon everybody. Wild weekend in college baseball — let’s get to it.

Aaron Fitt:
You make a good point about Georgia Tech’s lack of quality series wins,
and if that trend keeps up they could find themselves on the outside
looking in. But they’re still 17 in the RPI, and it’s hard to imagine
the ACC getting less than six bids this year, especially since right
now the league has the top three teams in the top 25 — the first time
that’s ever happened in the 27 years of the BA rankings, by the way.
After Miami, Florida State, UNC, NC State and Virginia, who’s the sixth
team? It’s not Clemson. The Yellow Jackets have three of their last
four series at home, winnable series against a good Coastal Carolina
team, Wake Forest and Clemson, followed by a trip to Virginia. I think
the Yellow Jackets are pretty safe, unless they fall on their face over
the last four weeks.

 Q:  Marty from Wilmington, DE asks:
Aaron,

As of today, who do you have in the NCAA’s from the ACC and SEC? Thanks

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I just told you the six from the ACC. From the SEC, I’ll go with
Georgia, South Carolina, Vandy, Ole Miss, Kentucky, Florida and Auburn,
with Arkansas on the bubble. I think Auburn gets in because its
remaining schedule is very manageable: the Tigers should win series at
Alabama, home against Mississippi State and LSU. Even if they lose at
Ole Miss, they should be in good shape. Arkansas will also be in decent
shape if it can go 6-6 down the stretch against Ole Miss and
Mississippi State (both on the road) and Alabama and South Carolina
(both at home). Tennessee and LSU have tougher finishing stretches and
are likely to find themselves on the outside looking in. I don’t think
Alabama will hold up well down the stretch either, although the Crimson
Tide is in the mix right now as well.

 Q:  Marty from Wilmington, DE asks:
Aaron,
Just curious. Is it unusual for this time of year to have the #4 and #5
teams in the BA rankings to have a combined 22 losses? Thanks
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I don’t think it’s terribly uncommon for very good teams that play
tough schedules to be near the top of the rankings with double-digit
losses at this stage. Last year, for instance, Rice and Texas had a
combined 20 losses at about this same stage, and they were ranked No. 6
and No. 7.

 Q:  Andrew from Irvington, NY asks:
Considering
the round robbin that Texas A&M, Missouri and Nebraska still need
to go through. Can Oklahoma State break through and get the regular
season crown for the Big 12? Their remaining season is 3 home series
against the bottom 3 teams in the league. I guess I’m asking you to
handicap the rest of the Big 12 regular season.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
We went through that exercise here last week, and I took Missouri by a
nose over Nebraska. But a lot has changed in a week, because Oklahoma
going to Austin and getting a sweep puts the Cowboys in a great spot.
You could easily see Oklahoma State going 8-1 or 9-0 down the stretch
in home series against Kansas and Texas Tech, followed by the Bedlam
series against Oklahoma. If that happens, the Aggies will need to win
two out of their three remaining series against Missouri, Nebraska and
Texas to hold onto the Big 12 lead. And going 5-4 in those nine games
might not be enough. Now, A&M could certainly do better than
that—I thought it was very impressive that the Aggies were able to go
to Baylor and get a sweep. Right now, A&M is in control, but this
race is really still up for grabs, and OSU has put itself squarely in
the mix.

 Q:  Eric from Long Beach asks:
I
would choose Miami, UNC, Fl.St. Texas A and M, Stanford ASU, Rice and
Georgia as my super regional hosts right now. The only question would
be getting 3 from the ACC. I see Georgia getting in as the SEC
champion. It is very wide open. How do you see it if playoffs started
today?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
If regionals started today, I would agree with you on all of those
except for Texas A&M. I think Nebraska would still get the edge
because it has still beaten better teams in conference play as well as
nonconference play, and that is reflected in the RPI (where Nebraska is
15, A&M is 22). Of course, if A&M continues to play as well
down the stretch as it has to this point, the Aggies will clearly pass
Nebraska, and could be a very high national seed.

 Q:  Chris from Minneapolis asks:
What
are the chances of Minnesota juniors Nate Hanson and Matt Nohelty being
taken in the first 10 rounds? What does their draft stock look like?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
My gut says Nohelty goes in the top 10 and Hanson goes 10-15. Both very
interesting sleepers — especially Nohelty, whose speed is a legit plus
tool to go along with a solid bat and strong defensive skills.

 Q:  carl from washington, DC asks:
I
have been following college baseball closely for the past few years and
like football,
in-state rivalries generate hugh interest among college baseball fans.
But unlike football most baseball programs don’t shy away from playing
the little guys in order to fill out a 40 game schedule. I’ve noticed
that South Carolina plays nearly every D1 program in the state except
Coastal Carolina. They even schedule Presbyterian and USC-Upstate!! Is
there bad blood between these programs? It would be a great series.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
There is no bad blood between the baseball programs. But as I
understand it, South Carolina’s administration doesn’t want its
athletic teams to play Coastal stemming from Coastal dropping out of
the University of South Carolina system some years back.

 Q:  Bobby from KC, MO asks:
The
Missouri tigers haven;t won a game on sunday in 4 weeks. do you see
them mixing up the weekend rotation? If so who is likely to be changed?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
They already have mixed up the rotation, moving Kyle Gibson to
Saturdays and Ian Berger to Sundays. Berger has had two really bad
starts in a row, but I think they’re likely to stick with him, because
he’s a veteran guy who was simply dominant in the first half, and
chances are he’ll get it figured out, assuming he’s not injured.

 Q:  Charlie D from San Mateo, California asks:
At
this point, it looks like San Diego and Pepperdine are locks to make
the NCAA from the WCC. Do you see Santa Clara receving a bid?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: With a 21-15 overall record and a 50 RPI, I’d say it’s probably a longshot…

 Q:  Vijay Ramakrishnan from Cerritos, CA asks:
What
are the chances of UC Irvine hosting a regional after their collapse to
Riverside and a couple of weeks of inconsistent play?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
UCI’s chances certainly took a bit of a hit this weekend, but it seems
like the Big West should get two host sites. Right now, Irvine is still
in line to get one of them, but watch out for Long Beach, which might
be getting hot again and is currently a game ahead of Irvine in the Big
West standings.

 Q:  JE from Buffalo NY asks:
What
are your thoughts on our native son David Sappelt and Costal Carolina’s
chances on making it to Omaha? And ESPN U’s commentators said that they
think Sappelt will be a high round draft pick, where and how high do
you think he will go?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Coastal Carolina was John Manuel’s preseason Omaha sleeper, and they’ve
done nothing to make him look a fool as of yet. Sappelt is a terrific
college player, but a high-round draft pick? He’s about 5-foot-8, which
will depress his stock. He could still sneak into the top 10 rounds
because he’s got some power and good speed, but I suspect he’ll be back
for his senior year in 2009.

 Q:  Carmel from Crestview, FL asks:
Has
your opinion on THE USC baseball changed yet? Cisco had a great outing
and we are putting together some shutouts…see Clemson…Besides
Georgia has anyone in the country won more games against ranked
opponents than USC? I thought that after sweeping a road series at
Auburn and then taking 2 of 3 from #16 Ole Miss we would have broken
the Top 10 again…your thoughts?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
South Carolina and Georgia both have nine wins against teams ranked in
the top 25, while Oklahoma State and Long Beach both have 10. My
opinion on South Carolina remains the same after seeing a pair of their
games this weekend: it’s an outstanding offensive and defensive club
with solid but not overpowering college pitchers. I worry a little bit
about the bullpen, and about how the starters will hold up against the
top offenses (which Ole Miss simply does not boast). But as well as
South Carolina hits and defends, and as hard as its pitchers compete
and locate, I think the Gamecocks are a very strong Omaha contender.
They’re not back in the top 10 because the teams ahead of them are even
hotter than they are — San Diego and Rice are riding long winning
streaks, and Georgia has kept on winning since sweeping South Carolina
a couple of weeks ago.

 Q:  Bill from Atlanta, GA asks:
It
sometime seems to me that polls give short shrift to med-week games,
even in this new short season era of college BB. Wouldn’t a good record
in mid-week games demonstrate the kind of pitching depth that will be
really valuable come conference and NCAA time?
Thanks for answering these questions each week.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
That’s a good point, Bill, and it’s certainly a concern with Stanford.
But really, aside from Miami, Florida State and Arizona State, nobody
has dominated midweek games like perhaps they used to. And winning
weekend series is still the most important thing — if you can win
three games in a row, you’ll cruise through a regional and
super-regional, and earn yourself plenty of rest in Omaha.

 Q:  David from Oregon asks:
The
Pac-9 currently has 5 teams ranked in top 16 of Boyd’s RPI rankings. Do
you see them all hosting regionals except California (ASU 4, UofA 8,
Cal 13, Stan 14 and OSU 16)? I don’t think Cal can host because they
don’t have lights.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Cal can’t host, and Arizona still has a lot of work to do in the Pac-10 if it wants to host. Ditto Oregon State.

 Q:  Carl from Fairfax, VA asks:
What
does Coastal Carolina have to do to move up in the rankings. They are
8-1 vs the ACC this year, toppled #2 UNC 11-4, beat UVA in
Charlotteville solidly, split with Michigan beat a 28 win Elon team.
They pass all the big tests and are on track to win 45 to 48 games.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
And the Chanticleers continue to climb up the rankings. But it’s hard
for them to move up too far when the teams ahead of them keep winning,
and Coastal is beating up on UNC Asheville, Charleston Southern and
Winthrop on weekends. Those midweek wins are very nice, and will help
Coastal build a solid No. 1 regional seed resume, but you can’t jump
the Chants over a team like Texas A&M, which is leading the Big 12.

 Q:  Stephen Strasburg from From a cloud up on high asks:
Foolish
mortals, can you not admit that it is I, not Crow, not Matusz, not any
pretender, who is the fairest flinger in all the land?! Shouldn’t I be
player of the year? I shall be reclining on a feather bed, eating
peeled grapes as I await your answer, Mr. Fitt.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Sophomores don’t usually contend for BA’s Player of the Year award, but
man, Strasburg is right in the mix. His seven innings of four-hit,
13-strikeout, scoreless ball on Friday look even more impressive after
UNLV scored 39 runs the next two days against Aztec pitching—and San
Diego State scored 34 of its own, showing how the ball flies out of
that place.

 Q:  Erin from Nevada asks:
Xavier Scruggs – over/under 4th round?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think he’s more likely to go in the 5-7 round range. He’s got massive
raw power, no question about it, and he’s improved his offensive
approach as a junior, but those numbers are also a little inflated
playing at UNLV, and some longterm defense questions linger.

 Q:  JIm from Fort Myers asks:

What’s your spin at the near melee at the end of the FSU-Miami game on
sunday. Did FSU not give Miami the respect they desire after winning
the series, by not coming out to shake hands. Or did Miami stuff FSU by
celebrating too much?

 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I wasn’t there, but judging simply from the video I saw online, Miami’s
celebration didn’t look excessive until after the Seminoles failed to
emerge for postgame handshakes. No matter who you blame, there’s no
defending the atrocious conduct of the Florida State fans around the
Miami dugout. That kind of behavior has no place in college baseball or
anywhere else in sports.

 Q:  JUTT from GLENDALE AZ asks:
can UC Riverside win the big west? how far out of the rankings is UCSB?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I don’t think the Highlanders have enough experience, talent or depth
to make a run at the conference title — remaining series against UC
Davis, UCSB and Cal Poly will all be challenging. UCSB was in the
discussion for the top 25 before losing that home series to Davis last
weekend. Now the Gauchos have some work to do to get back into the mix.

 Q:  Mitch Dowden from Leesville, LA asks:
How
does Texas’ post season chances look now that they have dropped out of
the top 25? And how does LSU look at this point in the season?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Texas will be in regionals — you can be sure of that. That brand name
is powerful, even if the Longhorns continue to slide to the point where
their resume is no longer regional-worthy. Besides, I suspect Augie
Garrido’s still got some tricks up his sleeve — he’ll rally that team
in the second half. However, LSU’s brand name has taken a significant
hit in recent years. The Tigers will have to play themselves in, and it
won’t be easy.

 Q:  Geoff from Newport asks:
Ollie Linton for the Golden Spikes Award?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt: Ollie Linton for President! I think I could get behind a Linton-Obama ticket…

 Q:  Chris from Florida asks:
After Buster Posey, who do you think will be the next three college catchers to go in the draft?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Petey Paramore, Tim Federowicz, and I suppose Jason Castro. The sleeper
is Jake Jefferies of UC Davis — he’s the guy climbing charts right now.

 Q:  Marty from Wilmington, DE asks:
Aaron,
How in the world do you jump UNC over FSU. FSU has a better conference
record, has a 5-2 mark versus the top 25 and has lost only to Georgia,
Florida, Wake, and Miami (2). UNC has a 0-0 mark versus the top 25 and
has lost games to Old Dominion, Duke, Maryland, Georgia Tech, and Elon.
I hope losing a home series isn’t the reason since they were hosting
the #1 team in the country while UNC was feasting on BC. Thanks
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
FSU still has the more impressive overall resume. But one team swept a
home series, and the other lost a home series. Obviously, the
competition level is not the same — but Florida State should still win
that series at home, and it did not. The Tar Heels won the games in
front of them. Incidentally, these two teams will finally meet this
weekend, so we’ll soon have a better idea how they stack up. Those will
be UNC’s first games this season against a ranked opponent, but I’m not
worried about the jump in difficulty — there are a lot of veterans on
that UNC team who have played a lot of good teams over the last few
years. They’ll be ready.

 Q:  Mike W from Nashville asks:
Who is the better sophomore starter for the Commodores? Minor or Cotham? Can these guys carry them deep into the postseason?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Cotham (actually a redshirt freshman) has been better of late, but
Minor’s still the money guy. We don’t know yet how far those guys can
take them, but I felt a lot better about Vandy’s pitching last year,
and that team lost at home in regionals. Which is simply to say that
anything can happen.

 Q:  Brian from Los Angeles, Ca asks:
Do
you see the Big West possibly getting 4 teams this year? No brainer
with Fullerton, Irvine, and Long Beach…But what about UC Santa
Barbara? 27-11, and just swept USC, including a 23-2 win. They seem
like a team worthy of a bid. What do you think? What do they have to do
to with their remaining games? (Fullerton, Irvine, Long Beach,
Pepperdine)
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
UCSB and UC Davis are right next to each other in RPI (42 and 43), but
Davis won the head-to-head series at UCSB, so give the Aggies the
inside track.

 Q:  alex kovaler from moscow, russia asks:
Aaron, How do you see the ASU-Fullerton mini series?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think they split, but if either team sweeps, I say it’s Fullerton.
The Titans’ pitching is in better shape than ASU’s — we’re starting to
see some of that attrition in the Sun Devils’ staff.

 Q:  Steve from Owltown asks:
Where
is the love for Rice? The Owls are up 2 spots riding a 10 game winning
streak including last week’s sweep of ranked Texas A&M and East
Carolina. How far do you think they can go?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Rice, Georgia and San Diego are all on fire, but it’s hard for any of
them to move up too much when the teams ahead of them keep winning. We
did jump Stanford up ahead of the other two Pac-10 teams in the top 10
because the Cardinal are in first place in that league and won the
head-to-head series against ASU.

 Q:  Jamie R from tampa, fl asks:
Aaron,
whats your thought on these curfew-shortened games? You have a huge
series, maybe the biggest of the season, decided by a early plane
flight. This would not happen in any of the other major sports. Start
the game earlier or get a later flight! This is why college baseball
will always be just a regional sport. Sorry, frustrated FSU fan.
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
You’re right, Jamie, it’s really small-time-ish, and it’s happening all
over the place, especially since the compacted schedule has caused a
lot of Sunday games to become slugfests, making them drag on longer.

 Q:  james m from bradenton, fl asks:
Aaron,
any chance for Buster Posey or Ike Davis to catch Beckham for POY?
Posey, specifically, is putting up insane numbers. .483 average thru 39
games? You kidding me?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Any one of those guys could win that award — what happens down the
stretch will decide it. And pitchers like Crow, Matusz and Strasburg
are very strong contenders. The race is much more wide open than it was
a year ago, when Price was a virtual lock from very early on.

 Q:  Andrew from Irvington, NY asks:
There’s
a comment on the Top 25 that no one is particularly standing out this
year. How’s your 8 for Omaha looking right now and do you have any
sleepers that could make some noise heading into the end of April?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Looking back at my eight for ’08 after the 2007 CWS, I still feel very
good about Miami, Michigan and Missouri, and pretty good about Arizona
State. Vanderbilt and Virginia are both very plausible, though I don’t
feel as good about those. Baylor and UCLA don’t look so good right now,
but I suppose both teams are capable of getting hot down the stretch
and making a long run. But it sure doesn’t feel like that’s too likely.
My “four to follow” look much more promising: North Carolina, South
Carolina, San Diego and Mississippi.

 Q:  Bob from Long Beach, CA asks:
Great
to see the Dirtbags bounce back. I know I shouldn’t get too excited
after sweeping CSUN, but it shows some signs of life. My question is
where do you see Peterson, Shaw, Worley, Espinosa, and Corder getting
drafted this June?
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
I think Peterson goes first out of that group, maybe as high as the
second round. I see Shaw, Worley and Espinosa all going in the 3-5
range.

 Q:  mike from portland asks:
Aaron,
with hard fought lost series battles to Cal & Stanford, then a nice
series W vs ASU. I gotta believe the Beavs are knocking on the door to
get back to top 25
 A: 

Aaron Fitt:
Hard-fought series losses do nothing to help a team’s resume — a
series loss is still a series loss (take note, Florida State fans). The
Beavers lost back-to-back series before this weekend (one of them at
home), so they’re still a ways from returning to the top 25. But that
was an awfully encouraging weekend down in Tempe. We’ve been waiting
all year for one of OSU’s very talented freshman arms to step up and
nail down a weekend starter spot, and it looks like Tanner Robles has
done so. Now they just need the real Jorge Reyes to come back.

Aaron Fitt:
Well, that’s all I’ve got time for this week — thanks for stopping by,
as always. See you next week from BA’s new world headquarters on the
other side of Durham.

College | #2008 #Chat

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