College World Series Capsules

We tried something a bit different this year with our preseason Top 25 capsules, using the 20-80 scouting scale to grade each team in various facets of the game. The experiment seemed to be well received by readers, so in the interests of accountability and fun, let’s revisit and revise our preseason grades for the eight teams that reached the College World Series. Here’s how we explained our grading system in the preseason (we’ll use the same criteria here):
 
Scouts grade prospects on how their tools compare with those of an average major leaguer, but for our Top 25′s purposes, we rate talent relative to an average NCAA tournament team. In addition to grading our top 25 teams on typical tools like hitting for average, hitting for power, speed and defense, we have divided the fifth tool (arm) into two categories: starting pitching and bullpen. We’re also giving teams a grade for Experience/Intangibles—think of it as a team’s “makeup”, if you like. For each category, a grade of 50 is solid-average, comparable to a typical NCAA tournament contender; 60 is above-average; 70 is well-above-average; 40 is below-average; and 30 is well-below-average. Twenty and 80 are the extreme limits in each direction.
 
Finally, each team is given an Overall Future Potential (OFP) grade. In this case, the OFP represents our assessment of a team’s overall strength and its chance to win the College World Series.
 
Six of the eight CWS teams appeared in our preseason Top 25, and their preseason grades are referenced below. We also graded Virginia internally, though those scores were never published because the Cavaliers did not make our preseason rankings. But we’ll publish our internal preseason assessment of UVa. here. Southern Mississippi was not graded in the preseason and will be subjected to the scrutiny of the 20-80 scale for the first time below.
 

TEXAS (No. 1 national seed)

 
Season In A Nutshell: The Longhorns earned the No. 1 national seed by winning the Big 12′s regular-season and tournament championships. They were pushed to the brink in regionals (as much as a team can be pushed to the brink and still sweep its regional), pulling out a win in a classic 25-inning game against Boston College and overcoming a four-run, ninth-inning deficit to beat Army on a walk-off grand slam. Texas was one of just two teams to be pushed to a third game in its super regional (against Texas Christian).
 

Who’s Hot (postseason numbers):

• So. OF Kevin Keyes (.400/.500/1.050 with three homers and eight RBIs in 20 at-bats)
• Sr. LHP Austin Wood (0-0, 1.02 with 18 strikeouts and four walks in 18 innings)
 

Who’s Not (postseason numbers):

• Fr. SS Brandon Loy (.138/.194/.172 in 29 at-bats)
• Jr. OF David Hernandez (.200/.294/.200 in 15 at-bats)
 

2009 Draft Picks (2):

• Jr. 1B Brandon Belt (fifth round, Giants)
• Sr. LHP Austin Wood (fifth round, Tigers)
 
GRADING THE LONGHORNS

 

Starting Pitching

Preseason: 65

Revised: 65
 
The Longhorns have four quality starters who all have good stuff, but they lack an elite ace in the Mike Leake/Alex White category, though Chance Ruffin comes close.
 

Bullpen

Preseason: 60

Revised: 60
 
Austin Wood is one of the nation’s premier closers, but his heavy workload is a concern. Austin Dicharry is a talented middle reliever but just a freshman, and this unit lacks depth after that duo.
 
Hitting

Preseason: 60

Revised: 40
 
Texas ranks in the bottom third of the nation in scoring, batting and slugging, though there are enough tough outs and patient hitters up and down the lineup to prevent the offense from being a glaring weakness. The ‘Horns also excel at playing small ball, as you’d expect from an Augie Garrido-coached team.
 

Power

Preseason: 50

Revised: 35
 
No Longhorn hit more than eight homers this year, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story. Brandon Belt, Kevin Keyes and Cameron Rupp are each strong enough to go on a power surge at Rosenblatt Stadium, which is much more conducive to the long ball than Disch-Falk Field.
 

Speed

Preseason: 45

Revised: 45
 
Texas doesn’t have many burners, but there is average speed throughout much of the lineup. The team’s fastest runner, center fielder Connor Rowe, has just three stolen bases.
 

Defense

Preseason: 65

Revised: 70
 
Statistically, Texas is the best defensive team in Omaha, ranking fourth in the nation with a .979 fielding percentage. The veteran infield has really gelled around a stellar freshman shortstop, Brandon Loy.
 
Experience/Intangibles

Preseason: 55

Revised: 60
 
Only fifth-year senior Preston Clark remains from UT’s last Omaha team team (he redshirted on the 2005 national title team), and numerous underclassmen play very big roles on this club. But Texas also has veteran leadership from key seniors (Wood, Clark, Travis Tucker and Michael Torres) and the winningest coach in college baseball history in the dugout. And this group has proven tough and resilient thus far in the postseason.
 
Baseball America OFP

Preseason: 65

Revised: 65
 
Despite its No. 1 overall seed, Texas probably isn’t the favorite in Omaha thanks to its sometimes impotent offense and lack of players with CWS experience, but the Longhorns are still a very strong national title contender. The question is: Will their style of play, which makes them so tough to beat in the spacious dimensions and turf of Disch-Falk, translate to Rosenblatt against a field chock full of teams with comparable arms but better bats?
 

CAL STATE FULLERTON (No. 2 national seed)

 
Season In A Nutshell: Fullerton garnered the No. 2 national seed thanks to the nation’s best Ratings Percentage Index, which was bolstered during a grueling nonconference schedule. The Titans finished five games behind UC Irvine in the Big West but annihilated every opponent they have faced during their 5-0 run through the postseason.
 

Who’s Hot (postseason numbers):

• Sr. 1B Jared Clark (.565/.583/.913 with 11 RBIs in 23 at-bats)
• Jr. OF Khris Davis (.478/.556/1.043 with four homers and 10 RBIs in 23 at-bats)
• Seven other Fullerton regulars are batting .357 or better in the postseason, and six are batting better than .400.
• No Fullerton pitcher has an ERA higher than 2.40 in the postseason. The staff’s ERA is 1.80 in five NCAA tournament games.
 

Who’s Not (postseason numbers):

• None.
 

2009 Draft Picks (7):

• Jr. OF Josh Fellhauer (seventh round, Reds)
• Jr. OF Khris Davis (seventh round, Brewers)
• Sr. 1B Jared Clark (12th round, Rockies)
• Sr. C Dustin Garneau (19th round, Rockies)
• Jr. RHP Michael Morrison (29th round, Tigers)
• Jr. RHP Kyle Witten (41st round, Mariners)
• Sr. 2B Joe Scott (42nd round, Rockies)
 

GRADING THE TITANS

 

Starting Pitching

Preseason: 55

Revised: 60
 
Fullerton has three strong righthanded starters in sophomore Daniel Renken and freshmen Noe Ramirez and Tyler Pill, but relying on freshmen (even good ones like these) can be a risky proposition in Omaha. Staying in the winner’s bracket is crucial, as depth is a weakness with this unit.
 

Bullpen

Preseason: 55

Revised: 55
 
The Titans rely on three key relievers: freshman lefthander Nick Ramirez (who has settled into the closer role) and righties Kyle Mertins and Ryan Ackland. It’s far from an overpowering group, and it’s certainly not the deepest pen in the field, but it has gotten the job done.
 
Hitting

Preseason: 65

Revised: 70
 
Take your pick of glowing adjectives to describe the Fullerton lineup; it’s deep, versatile, experienced, savvy, athletic and explosive. There are no easy outs in the order, and Titans drive opponents mad with a high-octane West Coast style of play, applying constant pressure through bunts, hit-and-runs and every other trick in the book.
 
Power

Preseason: 40

Revised: 45
 
The Titans have more power than they did a year ago, with three double-digit home run hitters (Clark, Davis and Nick Ramirez). Davis, in particular, has blossomed into a premier power hitter as a junior.
 

Speed

Preseason: 65

Revised: 65
 
The Titans have speed up and down their order, and their speed plays up because they are so aggressive on the basepaths. All nine regulars have at least six stolen bases, and six are in double digits. Gary Brown might be the fastest player in the nation.
 
Defense

Preseason: 70

Revised: 75
 
Fullerton has outstanding defenders everywhere on the diamond, especially up the middle with catcher Dustin Garneau, shortstop Christian Colon, second baseman Joe Scott and center fielder Josh Fellhauer. The Titans can’t quite match Texas for fielding percentage, but their defenders are even more talented and steady than those of the Longhorns.
 

Experience/Intangibles

Preseason: 60

Revised: 65
 
Fullerton’s confidence and history give it an edge against most teams before the first pitch is even thrown. Fifth-year seniors Clark, Scott and Garneau provide enviable stability, but young players on the mound keep this rating from being higher (though Fullerton’s freshman are very experienced for freshmen).
 

Baseball America OFP

Preseason: 65

Revised: 70
 
After steamrolling their way through the last two weekends, the Titans must be considered the slight favorite to win the national championship.
 

LOUISIANA STATE (No. 3 national seed)

 

Season In A Nutshell: LSU entered the season ranked No. 2 in the nation and enters Omaha ranked No. 1. In between, the lowest the Tigers dipped in the rankings all season was sixth. LSU won the Southeastern Conference’s regular-season and tournament titles, then made a perfect 5-0 run through regionals and super regionals (where they swept fellow superpower Rice).
 

Who’s Hot (postseason numbers):

• Jr. OF Ryan Schimpf (.450/.560/.950 with two homers and seven RBIs in 20 at-bats)
• So. RHP Anthony Ranaudo (2-0, 1.08 with 23 strikeouts and three walks in 17 innings)
 

Who’s Not (postseason numbers):

• Fr. OF Mikie Mahtook (.200/.333/.250 in 20 at-bats)
• So. OF Leon Landry (0-for-5)
 

2009 Draft Picks (6):

• Jr. OF Jared Mitchell (first round, No. 23 overall, White Sox)
• So. SS D.J. LeMahieu (second round, Cubs)
• Sr. RHP Louis Coleman (fifth round, Royals)
• Jr. OF Ryan Schimpf (fifth round, Blue Jays)
• Jr. DH Blake Dean (10th round, Twins)
• Jr. 1B Sean Ochinko (11th round, Blue Jays)
 

GRADING THE TIGERS

 

Starting Pitching

Preseason: 50

Revised: 65

 
The one-two punch of Anthony Ranaudo and Louis Coleman has been arguably the nation’s most formidable duo from start to finish this year; both are capable of dominating, even against good offenses. But the rotation is vulnerable after the top two, as No. 3 starter Austin Ross and the other starters have been inconsistent.
 
Bullpen

Preseason: 55

Revised: 55
 
Righty Matt Ott has had a dominant season in the closer role (as evidenced by his remarkable 63-4 strikeout-walk ratio in 46 innings), but he is still just a freshman making his first appearance in Omaha. Ott’s supporting cast is adequate at best, though Paul Bertuccini has been good in the setup role of late.
 
Hitting

Preseason: 75

Revised: 65
 
D.J. LeMahieu and Leon Landry did not make the anticipated leaps forward as sophomores, and freshman shortstop Austin Nola is an offensive liability. For those reasons, this offense is exceptional as expected, but it is still very dangerous, filled with patient gap hitters.
 
Power

Preseason: 55

Revised: 60

 
Ryan Schimpf leads the Tigers with 19 homers, but more physical sluggers Blake Dean (15), Sean Ochinko (seven), Jared Mitchell (nine) and Landry (12) have more raw power. Micah Gibbs, LeMahieu and Mike Mahtook give LSU occasional home run threats up and down the lineup.
 
Speed

Preseason: 55

Revised: 65
 
Mitchell, who also plays wide receiver for the LSU football team, has 35 stolen bases, leading a very athletic, fast lineup. Believe it or not, Mahtook (nine steals) is an even more freakish athlete. Schimpf and LeMahieu are solid runners, and Landry offers plus speed off the bench.
 
Defense

Preseason: 65

Revised: 65
 
This unit has gotten much stronger since the slick-fielding Nola was installed at shortstop, sliding LeMahieu to second base and Schimpf to the outfield. Mahtook is also a brilliant center fielder at times, though both Nola and Mahtook made freshman mistakes in the super regional. There might not be a team in the nation that can match LSU’s range in the outfield. Gibbs is a standout defender behind the plate.
 

Experience/Intangibles

Preseason: 65

Revised: 60
 
Give coach Paul Mainieri credit for pulling the trigger on the major midseason lineup shakeup, but Nola and Mahtook have even less experience than most freshmen because they have not been starters all season. Given their key defensive positions, their youth could be a significant factor. But the Tigers also boast many veterans from last year’s Omaha team.
 

Baseball America OFP

Preseason: 70

Revised: 70
 
The Tigers have been among the favorites to win the national title all season long, and there’s no reason to downgrade their status now.
 

NORTH CAROLINA (No. 4 national seed)

 
Season In A Nutshell: North Carolina turned in another very consistent regular season and cruised unchallenged and unbeaten through regionals and super regionals (where it hammered East Carolina in two games). The Tar Heels are making their fourth straight appearance in the College World Series.
 

Who’s Hot (postseason numbers):

• Jr. 1B Dustin Ackley (.545/.593/.955 with two homers and nine RBIs in 22 at-bats)
• Sr. OF Garrett Gore (.478/.478/.870 with three homers and 10 RBIs in 23 at-bats)
• Sr. RHP Adam Warren (2-0, 1.93 with 16 strikeouts and one walk in 14 innings)
 

Who’s Not (postseason numbers):

• None.
 

2009 Draft Picks (7):

• Jr. 1B Dustin Ackley (first round, No. 2 overall, Mariners)
• Jr. RHP Alex White (first round, No. 15 overall, Indians)
• Jr. 3B Kyle Seager (third round, Mariners)
• Jr. C Mark Fleury (fourth round, Reds)
• Sr. RHP Adam Warren (fourth round, Yankees)
• Jr. LHP Brian Moran (seventh round, Mariners)
• Jr. RHP Colin Bates (37th round, Athletics)
 
GRADING THE TAR HEELS

 

Starting Pitching

Preseason: 75

Revised: 70
 
No staff in Omaha has a top three that can match White, Warren and Matt Harvey for stuff and big-game experience. White and Harvey have battled spotty command at times, but both have pitched well down the stretch. Patrick Johnson gives UNC a quality fourth starter, or another bullpen option.
 
Bullpen

Preseason: 65

Revised: 60
 
Moran’s impeccable command makes him an elite closer capable of pitching multiple innings at a time, and Bates is a solid righthanded setup man. This unit isn’t quite as deep as anticipated entering the season, but Johnson and Nate Striz give UNC two more righthanded options with power stuff.
 
Hitting

Preseason: 55

Revised: 55
 
Ackley is the nation’s undisputed best hitter, and he has a solid supporting cast led by Seager, Fleury and freshman switch-hitter Levi Michael. The bottom half of the order is far from intimidating, but that group has done a great job getting on base in the postseason to give Ackley and Seager RBI opportunities.
 
Power

Preseason: 40

Revised: 50
 
Ackley already five more home runs than he hit over the last two seasons combined, and Fleury and Michael are also in double digits in homers. Seager has just four long balls but has excellent power to the gaps.
 

Speed

Preseason: 55

Revised: 50
 
The Tar Heels don’t run much, but Ackley has plus-plus speed, and Seager, Michael, Mike Cavasinni and Ben Bunting are all good runners. The lineup has no base-cloggers.
 
Defense

Preseason: 55

Revised: 60

 
North Carolina has steady defenders at every position and is particularly strong on the infield corners with Ackley and Seager. Shortstop Ryan Graepel and Michael are a good double-play tandem.
 

Experience/Intangibles

Preseason: 70

Revised: 75
 
Remarkably, Warren, Gore and Cavasinni have been to Omaha four times (though they have not all been central contributors for all of those runs). Every key player except Michael has Omaha experience.
 
Baseball America OFP

Preseason: 70

Revised: 70
 
Like LSU and Fullerton, the Tar Heels have been on the short list of top national title contenders all season, and that is where they remain.
 

ARIZONA STATE (No. 5 national seed)

 

Season In A Nutshell: The Sun Devils were ravaged by the draft last June but reloaded with the nation’s top recruiting class. Despite one of the least experienced rosters in the nation, ASU dominated the Pacific-10 Conference and cruised through regionals and super regionals with a 5-0 record.
 

Who’s Hot (postseason numbers):

• Jr. OF Jason Kipnis (.429/.500/.810 with two homers, six RBIs and five steals in 21 at-bats)
• Fr. OF Johnny Ruettiger (.462/.667/.462 with four steals in 13 at-bats)
• The entire pitching staff, which boasts a 2.00 ERA in the postseason
 

Who’s Not (postseason numbers)

• Jr. 3B Raoul Torrez (.067/.176/.067 in 15 at-bats)
 

2009 Draft Picks (6):

• Jr. RHP Mike Leake (first round, No. 8 overall, Reds)
• Jr. OF Jason Kipnis (second round, Indians)
• Jr. LHP Josh Spence (third round, Angels)
• Jr. C Carlos Ramirez (eighth round, Angels)
• Jr. 3B Jared McDonald (21st round, White Sox)
• Jr. 3B Raoul Torrez (32nd round, Angels)
 
GRADING THE SUN DEVILS

 

Starting Pitching

Preseason: 55

Revised: 70
 
ASU has a pair of All-Americans leading its rotation in Leake and Spence, fierce competitors with impeccable command and savvy. That duo is hard to top, and sophomore righty Seth Blair has more arm strength than either of them, though he’s not as consistent. Matt Newman and Jason Franzblau give ASU decent starting options if it falls into the loser’s bracket.
 
Bullpen

Preseason: 45

Revised: 55
 
Freshman lefthander Mitchell Lambson has been a revelation in the closer’s role thanks largely to an outstanding changeup. Another freshman, righty Jordan Swagerty, is the primary setup man, and Franzblau and Newman can also work in relief. Experience and depth are concerns with this pen, but Leake and Spence generally pitch very deep into games anyway.
 

Hitting

Preseason: 65

Revised: 55
 
Plate discipline is Arizona State’s strongest asset offensively (ASU’s 358 walks are third-most in the nation). The Sun Devils excel at driving up pitch counts and taking advantage of opposing bullpens. The offense isn’t nearly as explosive as it was a year ago, but there are tough outs from leadoff man Drew Maggi to No. 9 hitter Zack MacPhee.
 
Power

Preseason: 55

Revised: 50
 
Kipnis and Ramirez make for an intimidating duo in the middle of the lineup, while Calhoun and Newman both have occasional pop. But this offense is not built around the long ball.
 
Speed

Preseason: 50

Revised: 65
 
Five Sun Devils have reached double figures in stolen bases, led by Kipnis’ 26 and Maggi’s 20. Arizona State has a very athletic lineup without any real plodders; even Ramirez moves OK for a thickly built catcher.
 
Defense

Preseason: 50

Revised: 55
 
The infield, which features four new starters from a year ago, was a question coming into the year, but it has come together nicely around the silky smooth Maggi. Ramirez and Kipnis are standouts up the middle.
 

Experience/Intangibles

Preseason: 50

Revised: 45
 
Two years ago, coach Pat Murphy said his Sun Devils had not been punched in the mouth all season heading into Omaha, and when somebody finally did give them a slug, they were knocked out. Likewise, this group has seldom been pushed to the brink, and this will be the first taste of Omaha for every Devil except Leake. How the freshmen and junior college transfers respond under pressure will be critical.
 

Baseball America OFP

Preseason: 55

Revised: 65
 
Preseason expectations were considerably lower for this group than last year’s, so it’s slightly ironic that the 2009 team has already gone farther in the postseason than the 2008 edition. Perhaps Murphy will finally capture his first national championship when least expected. Arizona State certainly has the talent and the grit—and, especially, the pitching—to pull it off.
 

ARKANSAS

 
Season In A Nutshell: Ranked No. 22 in the preseason, the Razorbacks climbed as high as No. 11 after sweeping a two-game midweek series against Arizona State in early April, but they followed that peak by losing five of their next six SEC series to finish the regular season. But coach Dave Van Horn infused his team with energy by getting more freshmen involved, and the Hogs got hot at the right time, going 5-0 in the Norman regional and the Tallahassee super regional.
 

Who’s Hot (postseason numbers):

• So. 1B Andy Wilkins (.583/.600/1.167 with three homers and 12 RBIs in 24 at-bats)
• Jr. RHP Mike Bolsinger (2-0, 0.00 with 11 strikeouts and three walks in nine innings over three relief appearances)
 

Who’s Not (postseason numbers):

• So. OF/RHP Brett Eibner (.200/.556/.200 in five at-bats; 1-0, 8.71 in 10 innings)
• Fr. OF Collin Kuhn (.188/.278/.250 in 16 at-bats)
 

2009 Draft Picks (6):

• Jr. LHP Dallas Keuchel (seventh round, Astros)
• Jr. LHP Stephen Richards (eighth round, Marlins)
• Sr. SS/DH Scott Lyons (15th round, Royals)
• Sr. SS/2B Ben Tschepikow (17th round, Royals)
• Jr. RHP Mike Bolsinger (33rd round, Athletics)
• Sr. C Ryan Cisterna (34th round, Angels)
 

GRADING THE RAZORBACKS

 

Starting Pitching

Preseason: 50

Revised: 45
 
Keuchel is a solid if not overpowering ace atop the rotation, with good command and a very lively fastball. Eibner has explosive stuff but is still learning to harness it. Freshman lefty Drew Smyly struggled mightily down the stretch before carrying a no-hitter into the ninth inning against Oklahoma in regionals to pick up his first win since March. No. 4 starter T.J. Forrest (2-6, 5.46) pitched his way out of the rotation by the end of the year. Keuchel is really the only reliable starter Arkansas has, but its title hopes will depend upon getting strong performances from the enigmatic Eibner and Smyly.
 

Bullpen

Preseason: 50

Revised: 55
 
Like so many of the Omaha bullpens, Arkansas places most of its trust in two key relievers: Richards and Bolsinger. The lefthanded Richards has a true swing-and-miss pitch in his wipeout slider, and the ability to miss bats is a major asset with runners on base. Bolsinger came up huge against Florida State in super regionals, pitching five strong innings after Keuchel’s outing was cut short by weather delays. Zack Cox and Justin Wells offer some depth.
 
Hitting

Preseason: 60

Revised: 40
 
Arkansas ranks 264th in the nation in batting (.273), but its bats have come alive in the postseason, producing a .328 average and 10.8 runs per game (up more than four runs per game from its season average). Tschepikow and fellow senior Chase Leavitt are the best contact hitters in the lineup, and freshman second baseman Bo Bigham has been a sparkplug since earning a starting role. Van Horn has plenty of options on his deep bench.
 
Power

Preseason: 65

Revised: 50
 
Led by corner infielders Wilkins and Cox, Arkansas was supposed to be a physical, home-run hitting team. That duo has produced 30 home runs, but the rest of the team has produced just 45. Tschepikow and Lyons have provided more power than expected, however, slugging a combined 17 homers.
 
Speed

Preseason: 50

Revised: 45
 
Tschepikow, Leavitt and Kuhn all have double-digit steals, but there is little speed elsewhere in the lineup. Wilkins is a smart baserunner who has stolen seven bags in eight tries.
 
Defense

Preseason: 60

Revised: 50
 
Arkansas was having issues on its infield before sliding Tschepikow from second to short and installing Bigham at second. That move stabilized the defense, though Tschepikow is really more of a natural second baseman. The Hogs’ outfielders cover plenty of ground.
 
Experience/Intangibles

Preseason: 60

Revised: 50
 
No Razorback has Omaha experience, and key contributors Bigham and catcher James McCann have combined to make just 45 starts in their careers. But Tschepikow, Leavitt, Lyons and Cisterna provide quality senior leadership. Van Horn is still looking for his first Omaha win in his fourth trip (two with Nebraska, one with Arkansas in 2004).
 
Baseball America OFP

Preseason: 50

Revised: 55
 
Arkansas is a clear underdog in its loaded half of the bracket, and everything must fall into place for the Hogs to have a chance at the championship. Staying out of the loser’s bracket will be key.
 

SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI

 

Season In A Nutshell: Southern Mississippi’s season appeared shot after its best player, senior shortstop Brian Dozier, broke his collarbone in mid-April. The Golden Eagles lost their last four Conference USA series after that, but they got hot in the CUSA tournament on their home field, reaching the championship game before losing to Rice. Southern Miss used that momentum as a springboard, riding its hot bats and emotion to the Atlanta regional title, then sweeping Florida in the Gainesville super regional. The Eagles have reached Omaha for the first time in retiring coach Corky Palmer’s final season.
 

Who’s Hot (postseason numbers):

• Jr. 1B Joey Archer (.480/.536/.720 with nine RBIs in 25 at-bats)
• Sr. OF Bo Davis (.435/.567/1.000 with four homers and six RBIs in 23 at-bats)
 

Who’s Not (postseason numbers):

• So. RHP Todd McInnis (1-0, 9.00 with 16 strikeouts and seven walks in 13 innings)
• Jr. LHP Jeff Stanley (0-1, 9.82 in 3 2/3 innings)
 

2009 Draft Picks (4):

• Sr. SS Brian Dozier (eighth round, Twins)
• Jr. RHP J.R. Ballinger (11th round, White Sox)
• Sr. 2B James Ewing (12th round, Mets)
• Sr. O Bo Davis (24th round, Padres)
 
GRADING THE GOLDEN EAGLES

 

Starting Pitching

Preseason: N/A

Revised: 50
 
Southern Miss has two dependable starters in McInnis and Ballinger, who both can run their fastballs into the low 90s. McInnis has outstanding command of all his stuff, and Ballinger’s heater has excellent movement. Finding reliable starters after that duo has been a challenge all season, however.
 

Bullpen

Preseason: N/A

Revised: 50
 
USM’s pen is anchored by sidewinding sophomore righthander Collin Cargill, who has racked up 13 saves. Another sidearmer, Jonathan Johnston, came up big in super regionals, but the middle relief is generally vulnerable.
 
Hitting

Preseason: N/A

Revised: 55
 
The Golden Eagles aren’t flashy, but they have mature, patient hitters up and down the lineup. Davis, Ewing and Kameron Brunty really make the offense go. Southern Miss could get a lift in Omaha from the return of Dozier, who has been cleared by doctors and could see some time at DH. He has been placed on the CWS roster.
 

Power

Preseason: N/A

Revised: 45

 
Southern Miss doesn’t have any prototypical mashers, but Davis, Archer, Brunty and Corey Stevens are all threats to go deep from time to time. Davis leads the team with 14 homers.
 

Speed

Preseason: N/A

Revised: 35
 
The Eagles rank 245th in the nation in stolen bases per game, though Davis and Brunty are plenty athletic and will pick and choose their spots on the basepaths.
 
Defense

Preseason: N/A

Revised: 50
 
Southern Miss ranks last of the eight Omaha teams and 100th in the nation with a .966 fielding percentage. Freshman B.A. Vollmuth has shown good range and a very strong arm since taking over for Dozier at shortstop, but he’s still prone to occasional errors. Davis and Ewing are strong defenders up the middle.
 
Experience/Intangibles

Preseason: N/A

Revised: 60
 
Southern Miss starts four seniors and seven upperclassmen most of the time. The Eagles are playing with supreme confidence and ride a huge wave of momentum into the CWS. The team has truly rallied around its outgoing coach.
 

Baseball America OFP

Preseason: N/A

Revised: 55

 
As the lone regional No. 3 seed to reach Omaha, Southern Miss is undoubtedly the underdog, but its recent run is somewhat reminiscent of Fresno State’s remarkable dash to the national title last year. Like Fresno, USM is an older club playing with house money. The Eagles are well coached and fundamentally sound, and they could play spoiler for one or two of the superpowers in their bracket. In order to follow in Fresno’s footsteps and win a surprising championship, Southern Miss must stay in the winner’s bracket, lest its lack of pitching depth be exposed.
 

VIRGINIA

 
Season In A Nutshell: Virginia has arrived a year ahead of schedule with a team dominated by freshmen and sophomores. The Cavaliers absorbed a number of tough losses early in ACC play before catching fire in the last month, starting with a 4-0 run to the ACC tournament championship. The Cavaliers followed that breakthrough by winning their first regional (handing Player of the Year Stephen Strasburg his only loss of the season and beating then-No. 1 ranked UC Irvine twice on its home field), then going to Oxford and beating Mississippi in a riveting three-game super regional.
 

Who’s Hot (postseason numbers):

• Fr. 3B Steven Proscia (.385/.407/.577 in 26 at-bats)
• Sr. RHP Andrew Carraway (2-0, 0.87 in 10 innings)
• Virginia’s pitching staff has a 1.45 ERA in six postseason games.
 

Who’s Not (postseason numbers):

• Jr. SS Tyler Cannon (.160/.154/.280 in 25 at-bats)
• So. OF Dan Grovatt (.182/.333/.182 in 22 at-bats)
 

2009 Draft Picks:

• Sr. RHP Andrew Carraway (12th round, Mariners)
• Jr. LHP Jeff Lorick (20th round, Braves)
• Sr. RHP Robert Poutier (29th round, Padres)
• Jr. LHP Matt Packer (32nd round, Indians)
• Jr. SS Tyler Cannon (41st round, Pirates)
 
GRADING THE CAVALIERS

 

Starting Pitching

Preseason: 60

Revised: 60
 
Freshman two-way star Danny Hultzen gives Virginia a lefthander with firm stuff to throw at lefty-leaning LSU in its opener. Sophomore righty Robert Morey has a wicked slider and could blossom into a first-round pick next year. Carraway is a crafty veteran with excellent poise and command. Packer and Poutier can fill in as starters when needed.
 
Bullpen

Preseason: 55

Revised: 65
 
Virginia has the deepest, most versatile bullpen of the eight Omaha teams. Everything fell into place once Kevin Arico and Tyler Wilson settled into the closer and setup roles, respectively. Packer, who led the nation in ERA as a sophomore, is an outstanding swingman.
 
Hitting

Preseason: 45

Revised: 65
 
Virginia’s lineup goes nine deep. The Cavaliers wear out the gaps with hard line drives and also know how to work counts. Grovatt and Parker, in particular, are hitting machines, but there is no weakness in this lineup.
 
Power

Preseason: 35

Revised: 45
 
This is the most powerful Virginia team in coach Brian O’Connor’s six-year tenure. Parker (16 homers) is the only major home run threat, but five other regulars have five or more homers, adding a new dimension to the UVa. attack. Proscia, a former football star in high school, is a physical specimen with nine homers now; expect him to hit plenty more over the next two years.
 

Speed

Preseason: 60

Revised: 65

 
Five Cavaliers have recorded at least a dozen stolen bases, led by Phil Gosselin’s 24 and Parker’s 19. Another indication of Virginia’s fine team speed: It ranks sixth in the nation with 27 triples, and five different players have at least three triples.
 
Defense

Preseason: 60

Revised: 60
 
The Cavs rank 25th in the nation with a .972 fielding percentage, and their athleticism shows up all over the diamond—particularly in center field, where Parker is a human highlight reel. The infield, however, features three freshmen and a shortstop who converted from third base, so the unit has its hiccups at times.
 

Experience/Intangibles

Preseason: 40

Revised: 45
 
Make no mistake: this is a very young team, with just two upperclassmen in the everyday lineup and two more among the top six pitchers. The Cavaliers have never been to Omaha and could experience some jitters. But this team has proven poised beyond its years during its remarkable postseason run; perhaps its precociousness is an asset.
 
Baseball America OFP

Preseason: 50

Revised: 65
 
Inexperience is the only question mark facing a Virginia team with no significant weaknesses. The Cavs are balanced on the mound and in the lineup, and they have shown that they don’t back down from a challenge. UVa. looks like the very early front-runner for the 2010 national title, but who’s to say the Cavs can’t realize that potential a year early? From a talent perspective, they stack up with every team in the field.

College | #2009 #College World Series #Postseason

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