Moderator: Will Kimmey will begin the first college chat of the year at 11:30 a.m. ET
Jason from Cal Berkeley campus, CA asks: What’s
the prognosis for Bears pitcher Brandon Morrow? Will he be in the
rotation this year or the closer? I read he was pitching at 95-mph for
much of the Cape Code League.
Will Kimmey: Good morningafternoon everyone. We’re live from Chicago, and I’m excited for the college season.
Morrow is slated to start, and coach Dave Esquer wants it to be on
Friday nights. He’ll get that opportunity and holds a giant key to the
Bears’ season. If he continues to imrpove his command as he started to
in the Cape (where he was 95-99), he’ll match up with the Pac-10’s
circle of Friday aces that includes Kennedy, Buck, Reynolds, Lincecum,
Melancon, Huff. We’re talking premium picks here.
Fred from La Palma, Ca asks: With
Cal State Fullerton coming up short last year in the Super’s what do
you think there chances are of making it back to Omaha in 06? More
importantly who do you see stepping up into the weekend pitching roles
(Fri, Sat, Sun) and who will be coming out of the pen? Seems like the
hittingdefense will be unbelievable this year again…
If you’re Fullerton, your chances always seem to be good. It’s a
program that under Augie Garrido and George Horton is a consistent
national contender. This year is no different. All eight position
players on the field each game will be juniors or seniors, and the
lineup scored 7.4 runs per game last year. Wes Roemer starts out as the
ace, with Vinnie Pestano a solid closer. After that the questions are 2
and 3 starter and the answers are likely sophomore righty Jared Clark
and junior transfer lefty Ryan Paul.
Joe from Long Beach, CA asks: Great,
just friggin’ great…first my Trojans lose to the Longhorns, now you
got Texas ranked #1? Please tell me something good about Ian Kennedy
Ian Kennedy led the nation with 158 strikeouts last year and his 12
wins are as many as any pitcher returning to Division I. Feel better?
How ’bout this: the chances of Texas taking the basketball title and a
trifecta fell greatly after Duke destroyed the Horns hoopers in New
Jersey and then Tennessee did the same in Austin.
Zack from Reno asks: With
Rice leaving the WAC where do you now see it as a conference ? Fresno
State is always rated high at the beginning of every year and the flop,
do you see it happening again this year ? Where does Nevada- Reno who
placed well in the WAC last year and returns a whole pitching staff sit
in your rankings ?
That league certainly slides down. Rice won it every year during which
is was a member and now is the favorite in Conference USA (though
Tulane will give it a strong run this year). Fresno hasn’t been rated
high in a few years, but Mike Batesole has three strong recruiting
classes in school now and a group of Beau Mills (22 HRs as a fr.), Nick
Moresi (.352, 11 HR, 13 SB) and senior Doug Fister, the highest drafted
player to return as a senior, make the Bulldogs the fave in the Wiggity
Michael from Woodland Hills, CA asks: I
am shocked that you see Pepperdine as a top fifteen team. Top 25, fine,
but in all seriousnous what is it that you see that makes this team a
top team? Do you realistically see them making a run at Omaha this year?
Be shocked then. This team was a win away from winning a regional at
Long Beach last year that included both LBSU and Southern California.
It returns the WCC’s pitcher of the year in Paul Coleman and best
freshman arm in Barry Enright. The offense returns every key hitter
aside from Steve Kleen, and replaces him with transfer Justin Tellam,
who went boom 11 times at UNLV last year. Chad Tracy is the best hitter
in the WCC and one of the nation’s best as well. This is a talented,
Patrick from Sandpoint, Idaho asks: I’ll
ask what everyone else is thinking:
Right off the top, who are your top 10 preseason college players for
the ’06 draft right now in January. It’d be interesting to see the
comparision to later this year come draft time.
Pat, you’re a team player. Here we go: Andrew Miller, Max Scherzer,
Daniel Bard, Drew Stubbs, Ian Kennedy, Evan Longoria, Matt LaPorta, Wes
Hodges, Dallas Buck, Kyle McCulloch, Joba Chamberlain. That’s 11, I
Joshua from Tallahassee,Florida asks: How
good of a baseball player is Gavin Dickey down at UF? Is he a top 10
round guy? He has great tools from what ive seen but is very raw
because of his football career. So in essence, prospect or suspect?
He’s a great athlete who’s talented, but like a lot of players who have
split time between two sports, he could become a lot better at either
simply by specializing. I’d say his physical gifts of speed and
strength would make some team take him in the top 10 rounds for sure,
but he’s likely to stay four years to keep playing football as well.
David Owen from Alabama asks: what
kind of year do you think Birmingham Southern will have, and do yo
expect Blake Martin (3rd best prospect in the Northwoods League) play a
big part in their success
The Panthers might scrap in the Big South, where I’ve got a strong
returning Winthrop club as the favorite. Coastal Carolina is in that
mix as well. I really like Martin, a projectible lefty with a good arm
and nice breaker. Brandon Hynick will be the ace of that staff and
likely the best hitter as well. They’ll miss Adam Tucker and his 25 HRs
from last year, though, and might come up short at the plate.
Nate from Harrisburg asks: After
seeing Joba Chamberlain during the CWS last year, I was convinced his
stuff was definitely in the first round of this year’s draft. There may
be some conditioning questions, but he continued to dominate over the
summer in the MINK league. What are your thoughts on him and his draft
He looks like a first-rounder right now, scouting directors say. He’ll
need to have another solid year and continue throwing his four-pitch
mix for strikes. The only thing I could see as cautions are if he can
continue to keep his weight in check (a big part of his breakout last
year) and how he deals with another season of heavy work, as last year
was his first such season.
Nate from Harrisburg asks: Is Vanderbilt SO. LHP David Price the next big college baseball pitching prospect? He seems to have all the ingredients.
There’s no question about it. He’d be in the mix with Miller for No. 1
in my opinion because he’s got similar attributes in his size, build,
lefthandedness, velocity and breaking ball. Some scouts watching Team
USA last summer liked Price better than anyone on the field. He ranked
second in the SEC in strikeouts per nine last year as a freshman.
Steve from Owlton asks: Will,
I went to Georgia Tech and love the Jackets. I like their team. Even
still, folks at BA have been skeptical of the team. I’m frankly
surprised you have them at number four given recent history. What are
the chances of getting out of the Super Regionals and what do you think
is different this time?
Thanks for the disclosure. It’s hard to pin a past of letdowns on a
college team, because the players do change considerably every few
years. As for Tech, the staff there always does a good job of bringing
in all kinds of talent, as rated by scouts and BA. Whether that talent
falls short, or doesn’t add up to a great team, or wasn’t really that
talented in the first place are all considerations. Maybe it’s our
fault four overrating them. Maybe they fall short. Maybe it’s somewhere
in between. I can’t tell you why this year will be different, if I
could, I might be hired to coach some team. This fact still remains:
Tech’s got a great group of players–the offense was second in the
nation in runs last year and all the key arms return.
Scott from Huntington Beach, CA asks: What’s
the status on moving the start of the college baseball season back a
few weeks? I know the warm weather schools typically start their season
in early February which obviously puts the “Northern” schools at a huge
disadvantage. Which “Northern” schools have a chance to crack the Top
25 rankings this upcoming season? Notre Dame? St John’s? Wichita State?
It’s still on hold and being debated. It’s a sticky issue that I’m sure
will be discussed tonight at the Division I coaches meetings I’ll be
attending here in Chicago. I see it ultimately coming out with a
universal start date in mid-February, a compromise between the March 1
date and a Feb. 1 date. I agree there’s a disadvantage, but even March
1 doesn’t neutralize it. I am in favor of a universal date, because it
still will help some of those teams, but I also understand that holding
back some of the warm-weather schools will likely serve to strip us as
fans of some of the good nonconference matchups we are treated to early
in the year.
Will Kimmey: Notre Dame is right in there on
the cusp of the 25 with a very veteran team that lost only one starting
position player from last year’s NCAA club and also returns its ace in
Tom Thornton. Wichita State will be young, but talented, and could
reclaim the MVC. I like Ohio State in the Big 10, with Purdue as a
sleeper because of Mitch Hilligoss and Jay Buente.
Joe from NY asks: Where’s
Vandy on the poll? Best freshman class in years of college baseball.
Alvarez will be 3 year SEC player of the year candidate. Power arms
galore. Strong veterans up the middle.
I’ve got no Vandy this year. That’s a talented class of freshmen, but
that’s a real tough way to break them in playing the strong SEC
schedule. It will be a good learning year and building year in
Nashville, and you’ll see a very good Top 25 club there next year. I
feel the same way about Auburn, actually. Heck, Kentucky’s also a lot
better this year. The SEC is just so deep, there’s no easy team or
series to get fat on.
Ryan from Greenville, SC asks: Is there any word from ESPN concerning their plans for college baseball this season and if so will the SEC be included?
ESPN will definitely have some college baseball on this year, though it
might be less than you saw last year, unfortunately. The ratings were
beaten by softball last year (so shame on all of you for not tuning in)
and that might lead to some cut back, as there’s a thought that
overkill (having three games a weekend on) meant lower ratings across
the board and one per week might concentrate an audience. I still think
it will be a presence on ESPNU, but not as much on ESPN and ESPN2. The
SEC and ESPN both seem to want to work things out, and SEC coaches
weren’t really pleased with how that went for them last year. (One
actually found out about it by reading BA.) I think the SEC gets in the
running in ’06.
Seth from Tallahassee, Florida asks: How do you see Tulane finishing the new C-USA?
First or second really. That team lost six hitters who appeared in 60
games, plus Brian Bogusevic, from the lineup, but still should have a
great offense thanks to excellent depth last year and some fine
recruits. Mark Hamilton, BRad Emaus and Nathan Southard are a nice
punch returning, and Warren McFadden, Aja BArto and MAx Kwan will be a
great freshmen trio. There are still plenty of arms as well, with
Gomes, Crowell, Morgan in the rotation and Latham at the end. Dealing
with Katrina and playing the games in New Orleans Zephyr Field, rather
than at Turchin, will be issues to overcome, but it won’t submarine the
Gary from North Carolina asks: Can
you give your thoughts on UNC-Wilmington’s upcoming season and the CAA
in general. I know the conference power ranking was down significantly
last year and wonder if you see a rebound taking place.
Wilmington loses three starters from last year but returns nearly every
position player, including John Raynor and Matt Poulk. I also like
Virginia Commonwealth in that league, in what should be a close race.
Righty Marold Mozingo and infielders Scott Sizemore and Sergio Miranda
should join that Wilmington duo in the race for conference player of
Chase from Oxford, MS asks: If
every junior had returned Ole Miss would have assuredly been a top-five
pick, but what does the situation look like now after losing their five
best pitchers plus Head and Pettway in the middle of the order?
Will Kimmey: If every Ole Miss player came back, that’d be the No. 1 team. But that’s not reality, nor did anyone ever expect it to be. This year a lot will depend on freshmen Lance Lynn and Cody Satterwhite bringing it on the mound from day one. Chris Coghlan and Zack Cozart are the best left side of the infield in the SEC, and Mark Wright’s also back, so scoring won’t be a big problem for the Rebs.
jamie from columbia,sc asks: With
Clemson having their entire lineup(position players)and most of last
years pitchers returning, are there any newcomers who could come in and
make an impact? If so who?
I’d say Steve Richard, a transfer from Maine who led the America East
in wins. He’s in the 90s and moves to closer for the Tigers. He ought
to be a shutdown type out there and will make a very big impact.
Russ from NY asks: Who are some of your preseason candidates for Freshman of the Year?
Texas OF Jordan Danks is just the ninth freshman to be selected to a
preseason All-America team since 1983, so he’s the favorite. I still
really like Warren McFadden at Tulane. Tennessee’s Josh Lidblom, the
Mississippi duo and USC’s Ryan Cook should be very good on the mound.
And South Carolina’s duo of Reese Havens and Justin Smoak are very
legit options as well.
Luke W from Palm Beach Gardens, FL asks: Can Oregon State replace the offense they lost with Jacoby Ellsbury and company?
Tyler Graham moves to CF and the leadoff spot as a senior, but his OBP
was 100 points or so less than Ellsbury’s. Darwin Barney and Mitch
Canham as sophomores should both take on bigger offensive roles. I
think losing Andy Jenkins might be as big a problem as Ellsbury, as
Jenkins was the main leader and the key power guy.
Brian from Indiana asks: I’m guessing (ND) Jeff Samardzija’s future lies in the NFl, but as of right now where would he go in the MLB Draft.
He’s in the low 90s from the hill and is a great athlete, if you’ve
seen any football this year. He’ll split time between the spring
football workouts and making his starts on the weekends, but might miss
some starts for football stuff. He could be a second rounder in both
Kiley from Orlando, FL asks: What
are you thoughts on UCF’s team? They got one of their best recruiting
classes and will be leaning on a number of young players, but veterans
like Tim Bascom, Taylor Meier, and Matt Horwath are still around. Do
they have the talent to sneak in the Top 25 and how do their draft
I like those arms a lot, but losing Howell and Brown after last year
cost the team a ton of offense and I don’t think’s there’s enough this
year to win CUSA. Making the tournament is a strong possibility.
Brian from Knoxville, TN asks: Any chance on Luke Hochevar returning to the Vols? He still has not signed.
His very public liasons with two agents and negotiations with the
Dodgers are giant eligibility red flags. No more Ho’ for the Vols.
Still, they’ll be good on the mound with Adkins, USF transfer Ty Pryor,
freshman Josh Lidblom and Craig Cobb all back, as well as JC power arm
Frank the Tank from Miami asks: Why
the lack of respect for the University of Miami? I understand they lost
a lot of talent, but Fresno State ahead of UM? Please Explain…
Why do I lack repect for Miami? I respect that program. Look at the
history. I just don’t see Miami as one of the top 25 teams right now.
The Canes are in the 26-35 range for sure, but that was largely a
two-man team of Braun and Carillo last year, and they’re both gone. I
still like Jay and Valencia and Perez, but don’t see enough right now
to say that’s one of the nation’s best 25.
j.p. smith from chicago, ill asks: who do you think is the best college player?
Will Kimmey: We’re going to end here. We were just debating our choices for college player of the year in this hotel room, where includes Aaron Fitt and Kevin Goldstein are watching and ridiculing me during this chat. Fitt’s pick: Ian Kennedy. KG’s pick: Wes Hodges. My pick: I want to take Matt LaPorta, but think he might get pitched around a bit too much after last year, so I’ll go Max Scherzer, but really like the Kennedy pick as well.