Top 25 Chat: May 11




Moderator: Aaron Fitt will chat about the weekend in college baseball and the Top 25 beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.

    Grant (Phoenix): No Josh Spence again this weekend for ASU. When is he due back?

Aaron Fitt: Hi everyone, welcome to the top 25 chat. Bad news for Sun Devils fans: Spence has a strained tendon in his middle finger and is unlikely to pitch again this year, though there is a very slim chance he could try to pitch out of the bullpen again this year. That's horrible news for the Sun Devils, but let's not bury their chances — maybe Jason Franzblau is up to the task of filling Spence's shoes. He sure did a nice job with that this weekend.

    Henry (Nashville): Bryce Brentz had a big weekend both on the mound and at the plate. Is he the best 2 way player right now not named Brooks Raley, and is he a possible 1st round pick in the 2010 draft?

Aaron Fitt: Yes and yes. And Brentz can give Raley a serious run for his money. That's saying something, considering one coach told me this year that Raley might be the best player ever in the history of the Big 12. At this very early juncture, Bryce Brentz looks like a very strong bet to be a first-round pick next year—the guy is a beast.

    Corey (Gainesville): What does Florida have to do to secure a regional host? Are they still in the running for a national seed?

Aaron Fitt: Still in strong position to host, and that RPI (sixth, according to Boyd's World) means the Gators still have a good shot at a national seed, too. In order to host, they simply need to avoid falling on their faces next week against Kentucky and in the SEC tournament. A strong SEC tournament run could very well give them a national seed. After LSU, the SEC is quite muddled right now. I think Ole Miss, Alabama and Florida will be separated down the stretch. At this point, it appears all three of them have separated themselves from Georgia and Arkansas, both of whom got cold at the wrong time.

    Robert (Va.): Does George Mason have any shot at an at-large bid with a series win over JMU and a decent showing in the CAA tourney? Have you seen a league as jumbled in the middle as the CAA this year?

Aaron Fitt: I actually addressed this a bit in Three Strikes today (which should be posted shortly) — I do think the Patriots are in strong position to to earn an at-large bid as a backup plan. Sure, their resume doesn't have many quality wins, but they'll be rewarded for their consistency and solid RPI. As for the CAA, this is nothing too unusual — remember 2007, when there was a four-way tie for first place?

    Adam (Miami): What are your thoughts on the Sun Belt Conf? How many bids will they get and will FIU be one of them?

Aaron Fitt: At least two, probably three. The Panthers really helped themselves this weekend by sweeping South Alabama, but their RPI (61st) is still not great, and Troy (52nd in the RPI, a game better in the conference standings) is also playing well right now and has the inside track at the Sun Belt's third bid, behind Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee State. The Blue Raiders are not a lock yet, but I like their chances and their talent.

    Harry (Jackson, MS): What must the Ole Miss Rebels do to host a regional and is becoming a national seed out of the question?

Aaron Fitt: It could come down to next weekend at Arkansas. If the Hogs sweep or maybe even win two out of three, they could steal Mississippi's hosting slot. I still like Mississippi's chances though. If the Rebels win that series and make a deep run in Hoover, I could see them getting back into the national seed discussion. Like I said, the SEC is still very open right now after LSU.

    Ben (Atlanta by way of Baton Rouge): Besides Ranaudo, Coleman, and Ott, it seems the Tiger's pitching staff struggles. They get a good game from Ross occasionally, but he just doesn't seem to be as clutch as the other three. Do they have enough arms to make it through the regionals and deep into Omaha?

Aaron Fitt: That is the question with LSU, and I think your assessment is spot-on. But LSU and UC Irvine are the top two teams in the nation right now, and both lean heavily on three pitchers (in Irvine's case, it's Bibona, Bergman and Pettis). If you've got three money guys, you can go a long way by riding whichever arms are hot after that — especially when you have a talented offense capable of getting hot and carrying you for a while, like LSU has. So, yes, I think they have enough arms to make a very deep postseason run.

    Wes Porter (Yuba City, California): What a year it has been for the WAC. There has not been one team who has maintained a top spot in the standings all year. At this point, it seems like it is up in the air in who will win the league tournament and earn a spot in a regional. What is your take on the WAC and what do you see happening in the WAC tournament?

Aaron Fitt: Right now San Jose State looks like the best team in that league; certainly the Spartans have been the most consistent, going 10-1-1 in weekend series this year. That's a solid if not explosive club, and right now I think that's who I'll take in the WAC tournament — but really, it's a crapshoot. I wouldn't be surprised by any team in that league winning the tournament. It all depends who gets hot at the right time.

    Brian (Charleston, SC): Do you see a scenario where 5 teams from the ACC would host a regional? I know the SEC has had 5 teams host recently.

Aaron Fitt: I don't think it's too likely, because the SEC and Big 12 also have no shortage of worthy hosts. But some very strong hosting candidates are going to be left out in the cold in the ACC. Florida State and Georgia Tech are locks, and UNC will host as well barring a collapse over the next two weeks in line with what happened in Raleigh this past weekend. Right now, I think Virginia has the inside track over Clemson for the fourth spot, with Miami falling back after this weekend. Clemson is still a very big factor in this thing, though.

    Tyler (OC, California): Aaron, With UCI holding onto the top spot for the past couple of weeks, do you think any of their players are going to be worthy of a top two round draft consideration either in this years draft or the 2010 draft.

Aaron Fitt: The 'Eaters really have no players with a chance to go in the top two rounds this year or next — it's just a bunch of skilled, unflappable veterans who play extremely well together. My draft sleeper for them is a freshman for 2011: Tommy Reyes. He might have the most raw talent on the team, and he's made a nice impact as a freshman.

    Brandon (Fayetteville,Ar): Am I going to be watching the Hogs play regional baseball at home?

Aaron Fitt: I don't think so, but it's not too late to turn it around. Momentum can shift in a hurry, especially in the SEC.

    Ross (Richmond, Va): Elon joined the poll at #22 this week, is there any chance of them slipping into a 1 seed if they win out in the conf tourny? Also what chances would you give them of reaching a Super Reagional?

Aaron Fitt: I really have a hard time seeing the Phoenix as a No. 1 seed, despite their RPI and the way they obliterated the SoCon. It's just not a great record against area powers like UNC and ECU, and the Pirates would probably get a crack at a No. 1 seed before Elon. As for Elon's regional chances, I'd say that offense is capable of bludgeoning its way to super regionals, but I'd worry that a quality pitching staff like UNC's or Virginia's or Clemson's could slow those bats down a bit, and Elon's pitching does not look up to the task of carrying the burden.

    John (Atlanta, GA): Do you think Cal State Fullerton has a good enough team to make it to the college world series? Do you think they will win?

Aaron Fitt: Yes, and quite possibly. I will be quite surprised if the Titans aren't in Omaha, and they are on my short list of top national title contenders. Honestly, I still have them higher on that list than UC Irvine, despite the Anteaters' amazing season. But both are legitimate national title contenders.

    Matt (Bakersfield, CA): Please tell me that UC-Irvine has assured itself of hosting a Regional and (if they advance a) Super Regional at this point with the lofty record and resume. Between UCI, Fullerton, and ASU, which West coast teams are in line to host?

Aaron Fitt: That's a lock. It better be, because I am planning to shuttle back and forth between Irvine and Fullerton for regionals! All three of those teams will host.

    Kanten (Sanford, NC): Carolina's offense struggled this past weekened in Raleigh, Is this a cause for concern for the Heels or will they get it together.....

Aaron Fitt: It is cause for concern because Jimmy Gillheeney reinforced that the Tar Heels can be silenced by a quality lefthander. Then again, Jimmy Gillheeney won't be in the NCAA tournament, and there aren't a lot of other Gillheeneys out there...

    Pat Murphy (Tempe, AZ): Can my two All-Americans of Kipnis and Leake carry my team to Omaha despite losing our dominant 2nd starter Josh Spence for possibly the remainder of the year?>

Aaron Fitt: I have my doubts. But never say never.

    Rex (Lodi): If UCLA takes two of three from Fullerton and two of three from ASU and then wins its two midweek games against the Dirtbags and Irvine do they have a shot at getting an at large?

Aaron Fitt: A slim shot. That would make the Bruins 30-26 overall, but they'd still be on the bubble in the RPI (which is currently 85th). According to Boyd's World, the Bruins need to go 7-1 down the stretch to finish with an RPI around 45, which is bubble territory. I think UCLA basically has to win out. If the Bruins do that, I think they sneak in based on their strength of schedule and conference standing.

    Brad (Chicago, IL): Is the Big Ten looking like a three-bid league still? OSU took 2 of 3 from Illinois this weekend, and Minnesota is one-half game ahead of the two of them for the Big Ten lead right now. If one of them wins the conference tournament, do all three get in to regionals?

Aaron Fitt: It's definitely at least a two-bid league, and I still think it'll probably wind up a three-bid league. If Illinois wins the conference tournament, I think Minnesota definitely gets in and Ohio State probably does. If Minnesota or OSU wins the automatic bid, Illinois is very much on the bubble, but I think it probably gets in. If Indiana wins the conference tournament (which could very well happen), one of those other three teams is probably going to get left out.

    David (San Diego): How many teams from the WCC get into the regionals. Does USD make it in? Also, do you think San Diego State will make a regional?

Aaron Fitt: One WCC team, though if LMU gets the automatic bid, Gonzaga deserves an at-large (but might not get it). I think San Diego's done.

    ASU fan (Flagstaff, AZ): All I hear about Kipnis is how hard he is to profile as a major leaguer. The kid may not be a 'prospect tools' guy but he is a straight up ballplayer when it comes down to it. I've also heard he can play 2B. Where do you see him going in the draft come June and what position will he play his major league career at; CF, LF, 2B? Thanks!

Aaron Fitt: I see him as a mid-second rounder. It seems like he'll probably get a shot at second base in pro ball, and if he can handle it, he's got a real chance. But he's a tweener as an outfielder. There have been thousands of great college players who are straight-up ballplayers and gamers that haven't made the big leagues. I'm not saying Kipnis won't, but the simple truth is he is a tricky one to profile. That does not take away from the fact that he's a hell of a player at the college level, and he's got a real chance at the next level, too.

    Kyle (San Antonio): With a mid week win over Rice and a sweep this weekend to claim the regular season Southland crown, has Texas State secured a spot in the tournament?

Aaron Fitt: Without question. Texas State was the hardest team to leave out of the rankings this week — we had the Bobcats as team No. 26 this week. That's a wonderful season, and Texas State has earned itself a security blanket in case it fails to win the automatic bid.

    Jim (Des Moines, Iowa): What is you take on the Missouri Tigers? I see they are number 25, Do you think they can be a legit super regional team. When you have a stud like gibson on friday night, and tepesch who as flashed signs of brilliance, and an offense that is on fire right now!

Aaron Fitt: The Tigers are finally showing glimpses of why they were so highly regarded in the preseason, when we had them (admittedly over-ranked) at No. 10. I still have plenty of questions about the pitching staff and the offense, but they're playing well at the right time, and at least the staff is deep enough to give them plenty of options. They really need the Dr. Jekyll Tepesch to show up in the postseason, though.

    Dan (Fairfield, CA): Why doesn't Tim Wheeler (1.267 OPS, 14 SB in 16 attempts)ever get mentioned in top half of the first round discussions? Especially in a year where there are so few position player prospects at the college and prep levels. Is it strictly because of the relatively weak competition that the Hornets face?

Aaron Fitt: I think he's right there in that discussion, actually. He's one of the best athletes out there, and he's performed. I think he's got a real chance to go in the top 15, though I don't speak for all of our draft writers, each of whom have their own opinions.

    Jason (St. Louis): If Eastern Illinois, out of the Ohio Valley Conference, ends up with 40 wins and falls short in their conference tournament...Could you see them receiving an at-large bid??!!

Aaron Fitt: Yes, I think they're in pretty good shape, as long as they don't fall flat on their faces in the conference tourney.

    Seth Wise (McDonough, GA): Given that Georgia Tech took 2 out of 3 from Florida State this weekend, what do you think the chances of Tech getting a top 8 seed in the NCAA tournament?

Aaron Fitt: Very strong.

    Chris (Louisville): How in the world is Western Kentucky not in the top 25. The Sunbelt is sending at least two teams to the regionals. They are 37-13 with a great RPI? Thanks, Chris

Aaron Fitt: WKU was team No. 27 for me this week. I really believe in that team's talent and believe it is a real threat to win a regional. It will be a dangerous No. 2 seed in regionals. But the 0-0 record vs. top 25 teams kept the Hilltoppers out of the rankings this week — we opted for Missouri, the No. 2 team in one of the nation's best conferences (the Big 12).

    John B (Arlington, VA): ECU has been pitching really well as of late and their offense has been pretty dominant all year. I know UNC is a regional host lock and UVA is up there too, but Coastal has fallen lately (9-9 over last 18 games) and Clemson is lingering. Assuming the Pirates have a 4-0 or 3-1 week so finish out the regular season, where do they stand hosting a regional? GO PIRATES!

Aaron Fitt: I'd say ECU is in the mix if Clemson and Virginia both falter. Coastal's out of the discussion for me. I suppose it's also possible that ECU, UNC and either Clemson OR Virginia could host, especially if the Pirates make a deep CUSA tournament run.

    JAYPERS (IL): Approximately which round does Robert Stock fit into at this point?

Aaron Fitt: Around the third round, as a pitcher, of course.

    Ron (DC): Pretty clear top eight at this point, right? UC-Irvine, Arizona State, Texas, LSU, Cal State Fullerton, Rice, UNC, GaTech.

Aaron Fitt: Looks about right, but I still think there's a chance one of those West Coast teams could be hosed by geography. With only three likely sites out West, will the committee really make all three national seeds, meaning all three would have to face teams from other regions in super regionals? Given the current economic climate and the committee's stated commitment to reducing travel costs, that seems unlikely. But all three certainly deserve it at this point, which complicates things, of course.

    Paul (Richmond,Va): Went to UVA DUKE on friday night and watched Hultzan pitch against Manno. Can you tell me where Manno is on the list for this years Draft. He was lights out against my Cavs and this is by far our best lineup in years. To be honest I was quite impressed

Aaron Fitt: I've heard some buzz on Manno lately — his fastball command, plus changeup and competitiveness make up for his lack of physicality. Don't be shocked if he sneaks up into the top three or four rounds, though 5-7 might be a safer bet.

    Gabe (boxford,mass): My friend can you tell me who in the acc will make the NCAA. Is Duke,BC VT in the running

Aaron Fitt: I still think BC has a shot, though its position is precarious. Duke and Virginia Tech are out — the Devils had a chance to make a run before blowing a 9-3 lead late Saturday against Virginia. That was a killer.

    Maddog (Ashburn, VA): Aaron: Does Georgia playing their way out of hosting a regional and Miami's recent struggles help Clemson's chances in hosting? Or will it still, ultimately, come down to UVA versus Clemson for a regional as you previously forecasted?

Aaron Fitt: Still think it comes down to Clemson v. UVa., although having Miami out of the picture certainly helps. Now it's down to a two-team race, unless of course the Hurricanes run through the ACC tourney. I don't think Georgia has any bearing on it — Georgia's hosting slot will just get shifted to another SEC team like Alabama.

    Tim (Long Beach): How many bids do you apiece do the Pac-10 and Big West get? If it came down to a UC Riverside or UCSB vs. UCLA, who gets that bid?

Aaron Fitt: I don't think any of those three will be in regionals. The Big West looks locked in as a three-bid league. Amazingly, the Pac-10 has just one lock (Arizona State) right now, though it still has a chance to get two others (Oregon State and Washington State). Or I suppose Stanford could play its way in, but it basically has to win out. Two or three is most likely. OK folks, that's it for today — thanks for all the great questions, as usual. See you next week!