Top 25 Chat: May 17

Aaron Fitt talked about the upcoming College World Series field





Aaron Fitt: Hi everybody — let's get right to it.

    Trevis (Columbia): Are USC and UF both locks for National Seeds now or could this weekend's series cause one of the teams to slip if they dont win the series? Also, who do you like this weekend in that series?

Aaron Fitt: Both teams are pretty close to locks, although I suppose either could be on the national seed bubble if it is swept this weekend and goes 0-2 in Hoover. But I don't see either of those things happening, and I see both getting national seeds. I'm taking the Gators to win two of three on the road next weekend, but that is one of those series that really could go either way — those are two outstanding, evenly matched clubs.

    Brandon (Fayetteville,AR): Short of a 4-0 week on the road and at least a SEC tourney championship game appearance, are the Hogs national seed chances dead?

Aaron Fitt: I'd say you pretty much summed it up. Losing three of the last four series has really put the Hogs behind the eight-ball when it comes to a national seed.

    JC (san diego): Who do see as the first college pitcher to go off the board in the draft? I looked at the BA mock draft which had pomeranz going #2, but he's walking way too many hitters and ranaudo has been downright bad. Seems to me that the best college pitchers for this years draft all have ceilings as #3 starters. Do you think this pushes some of the high school arms higher up in the draft?

Aaron Fitt: I do think the answer is Pomeranz. The walks are a bit of an issue, but I don't think he has any uncorrectable control problems. He pitches off his fastball very well, and it has excellent boring life and good velocity. His curveball can be devastating, and he has good feel for a changeup, and he's a proven big-game pitcher and tough competitor. I think he can be a No. 2 starter in the big leagues, and I think he's the top college pitcher on the board. That said... I think you make a pretty good point about the top college arms underperforming or dealing with injury issues, and I do think the top high school talents will benefit.

    thomas (columbia, sc): Aaron, Huge series in SEC this weekend, Gators and Gamecocks!! How do you see it playing out? Who has advantages: hitting, pitching, defense, coaching, intangibles?? Should be fun!!

Aaron Fitt: A lot of questions today about that big series, and understandably so. I'm going to withhold my analysis until Thursday's Weekend Preview, when we'll break down that series in depth.

    Jeramey (Atlanta): I got a chance to check out the Miami Ga Tech series over the weekend. What can you tell me about Harold Martinez, he looked pretty tough to me, and what a 1-2 punch in the middle of that order with Grendal and Martinez.

Aaron Fitt: Martinez has good power and is a strong defender at third base. Some scouts question his ability to hit premium fastball velocity, but if your fastball is in the 80s, he can hit it a very long way. He and Grandal do make a fine middle-of-the-order duo. Amazing how good Grandal has been this year — he's got to be right in the national Player of the Year discussion.

    Jeramey (Atlanta): 2 pretty big series coming up this weekend with alot riding on who wins the Clemson FSU series and UVA Miami series. Who do you like in both series?

Aaron Fitt: Florida State has been winning ugly lately, and I think Clemson finds a way to win that series at home. I like Virginia on the road — the Cavs are just absurdly good, and they're just as dangerous on the road as they are at home.

    Vanilla Ice (Ice Ice Baby): If Eric Erickson is healthy, how far can Miami go with Hernandez and Erickson as the top 2 starters and then seniors Santana and Gutierrez rounding out the starting rotation?

Aaron Fitt: One more Miami question: I wonder whether the Hurricanes are good enough to beat elite competition. The 'Canes are 0-4 in series against Top 25 teams this year, and while it's good that they have beaten up on the soft part of their schedule, I just don't think their pitching is good enough to make an Omaha run´┐Żespecially if the path to Omaha runs through Gainesville.

    Michael (Shreveport,La): With Centenary and Oral Roberts splitting their series this weekend who do you think will emerge from the Summit?

Aaron Fitt: I love Ed McCann's Gents, but does anybody really have the guts to pick against Oral Roberts in the Summit? I don't.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Aaron, thanks for the chat, and of course for the continued great work this year. There is still a bit of baseball to be played this year but in your opinion who have been the top position player and pitcher this season?

Aaron Fitt: I'll tell you what, Joe, the race for the Player of the Year award is more wide open than it has been since I started at BA in 2004. In each of the past six seasons, the clear front-runner had emerged by this point in the season. Not this year. It looks like Anthony Rendon's getting hot again for Rice, and if he keeps it up he just might be the guy to beat. But Gary Brown, Michael Choice, Zack Cox, Yasmani Grandal and Zack MacPhee are all right there with him or ahead of him, as far as hitters go. I suppose Pomeranz has to remain near the top of the pitchers list, along with Danny Hultzen, Chris Sale, Chance Ruffin, Barret Loux and maybe still Alex Wimmers.

    Josh (Mobile, AL): Being from SC and a Gamecock alumnus, it's great to cheer for Coastal Carolina as well, but can anyone please explain how they could have an RPI higher than ours when their SOS is weak (103), and they've only played 1 series against a good team (San Diego) and lost it—at home. They only have 4 more wins than us, so are those 4 wins against powerhouses like High Point and whatnot are what make their RPI that much stronger? The same with Louisville—bad conference and only 2 good series wins (UCONN, MISS), yet they're #5 in Boyd's rankings. Seems to me the RPI doesn't know the difference between sweeping an SEC team and sweeping a Big South or Big East team.

Aaron Fitt: Boyd Nation would tell you the teams at the back of the schedule matter too. South Carolina has played 13 games against teams outside the top 200 in the RPI. Coastal has played six, and Louisville has not played any. That's the difference. And I'm not arguing that those other teams have more impressive resumes than South Carolina because of the RPI, I'm just explaining why the RPI favors those other teams.

    Arkham (Danville, PA): Aaron, If the truth is somewhere in the middle, is UCLA's truth shaded more toward the 22-0 start or the inconsistent last month? And what does the truth say about their postseason chances? Thanks!

Aaron Fitt: Keeping in mind that UCLA still has won three of its last four series, I would say the truth is closer to their last month. I don't think that team is a juggernaut, but they are very good, and capable of beating anyone when their pitching is on. I think the Bruins have a legit shot at getting to Omaha, but I don't see them getting past Cal State Fullerton if those two meet up in super regionals, which seems almost inevitable.

    Seth (McDonough, GA): At this point you have Virginia Tech ranked ahead of Georgia Tech. I know that VT took the series in Atlanta but given the overall body of work do you believe that Virginia Tech is better than Georgia Tech and will go farther than the Jackets in the tournament?

Aaron Fitt: Virginia Tech's overall body of work is just much more impressive. Both teams won home series against Miami. Virginia Tech won a head-to-head series AT Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech won a series AT Florida State, while GT did not even play the Seminoles. The Hokies have had the much more difficult conference schedule, which explains why they trail the Yellow Jackets in the standings, but their body of work is more impressive. And if Jesse Hahn returns to form, I think Virginia Tech is a legitimate threat to make a deep postseason run. That's a big "if", however, and I'd feel safer betting on Georgia Tech to get to Omaha than Virginia Tech. But it's close.

    David (Louisville): With Louisville dropping the marathon game down in Nashville and the bats going silent at home last Friday, do the Cards have to sweep the rest of their games (including the Big East Tourney) in order to stay in the discussion of a 1 seed?

Aaron Fitt: I think Louisville is in very good shape to host a regional as long as it doesn't get swept next weekend. But it needs to finish very strong to have a shot at a national seed, and if UConn holds on to win the conference, it's hard to imagine the No. 2 team in the Big East getting a national seed, but maybe it could happen if the Cardinals win the conference tournament.

    Chuck (Wichita): So is K-State a lock for the tournament now after the series victory over KU?

Aaron Fitt: I still don't think the Wildcats are a lock — they had lost their previous three series before this weekend, and they're still just No. 38 in the RPI, according to WarrenNolan.com. If they get swept at Texas A&M next week, they could be in trouble.

    Peter (Vancouver (WA)): Aaron : Can you talk about Washington State and the job Donny Marbut has done there. Will we keep him or will he leave WSU and look for greener pastures like most other of our coaches in the past. I hear him being linked to jobs such as USC and others that might come open. And what seed would the Cougs be as of today?

Aaron Fitt: He's done a terrific job up there. The Cougars were one of the nation's most surprising teams last year, and he has guided them into the Top 25 again this year in an extremely competitive Pac-10. I'm sure Marbut will be an attractive candidate for other jobs out there, but I'm sure he's also very proud of the foundation he's built in Pullman. The Cougars would probably be a No. 2 seed if regionals started today.

    Mac (Columbia, SC): What else does South Carolina need to do to move ahead of Florida? They have been ranked ahead of us all season. We just swept Arkansas on the road, while Florida pulled out 3 1 run games against a 3 win (in the SEC) team in UGA. We have more overall wins and less losses than they do. I know you're going to say to win this weekend and it takes care of itself, but we're operating with little to no margin of error with respects to a national seed. And don't even get me started on Coastal Carolina being ranked 5th ahead of USC...

Aaron Fitt: Florida has only lost one series all year; South Carolina has lost three. Those series early in the year do still count. Florida did not deserve to have any team leap in front of them — they did sweep their series, after all.

    Cole (San Francisco): What's going on with UC Irvine this year? Pre-season Top 10 Team, lost a couple of early tournament games and series to drop out of the Top 25, only to have won their last four series to jump back into the Top 25. With so many upperclassmen returning, I thought they might be a stronger and more consistent team. Do you see them continuing to play well down the stretch to earn a #2 seed? If so, where do you see them going? Staying out West or heading out of the region. I can tell you where I'd prefer.....going to another region outside of the West Coast. Your thoughts.

Aaron Fitt: I'm with you, I thought the Anteaters would be an elite team this year, and they have not been. I still think they can be dangerous in the postseason, however. That pitching staff is actually deeper and better on the whole than it was a year ago, and the lineup has some punch with Jeff Cusick and Brian Hernandez having big years. Maybe this is an over-simplification, but I think the Anteaters just missed Ben Orloff more than anyone realized. But it seems they are peaking at the right time, and they are certainly experienced and well coached. Their RPI means they're likely to end up as a No. 3 seed, but they'll be the best, most dangerous No. 3 in the tournament.

    Brian (New Jersey): How about Tulane third baseman Rob Segedin, he is hitting .436 with 27 doubles and 14 homeruns. Does he get Conference USA POY over Duffy? Where do you see him going in the draft this year?

Aaron Fitt: Obviously Anthony Rendon needs to be right in that discussion, too. The final weekend could very well decide that race, but those are three very strong candidates. I'd expect Segedin to be drafted no later than the third round, and maybe as early as the second.

    Spike (Columbia, SC): I heard you on the podcast today ragging a little on The Citadel's resume. I just wanted to point out that if The Citadel wins the regular season title in the SoCon, it will have done so despite playing the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th place teams all on the road. Obviously the Bulldogs have their work cut out this weekend against a red-hot Georgia Southern squad in Statesboro, but I think if The Citadel winds up winning a top-10 league, and doing so with easily the most difficult road schedule in the conference, it is richly deserving of an NCAA bid.

Aaron Fitt: If the Bulldogs win the SoCon, they're probably safe, but a few things worth pointing out: (1) they are 1-8 vs. the top 50, (2) they lost their last two series before this weekend, (3) they lost a home series against Indiana State in April, and (4) they were swept in two home midweek games against VMI in March, and they have generally not beaten any of the quality teams they have faced midweek. Give The Citadel credit for largely taking care of business against the soft underbelly of the SoCon (they are 10-2 against teams outside the top 200, and 10-4 against teams 101-200), but I want more quality wins from my at-large candidates.

    A Concerned Heel (Chapel Hill): The Tar Heels just can't seem to close out games this season but still have a respectable record and an RPI in the top 30. Even with a sweep of VT this weekend nothing is guaranteed for the Heels. They could potentially finish 14-16 in the ACC, 36-20 overall and still miss the ACC tournament. Is there precedent to have the Heels sneak into the NCAA tournament as an at-large without making the ACC tournament?

Aaron Fitt: That has never happened in the ACC, although the SEC and Big 12 have both sent teams to regionals that missed their conference tournaments. And if UNC sweeps a very good Virginia Tech team this weekend but does not get any help from Georgia Tech or Duke, maybe the Tar Heels do have a shot at an at-large spot even without a conference tournament berth. But I think it would be a remote shot. And if the Tar Heels do not sweep that series and miss the conference tourney, I don't think they have a shot at an at-large.

    Bob (Chicago, IL): Aaron, if CCU and USD were to rematch for a 3 game series on a neutral field, what do you think the results would be this time?

Aaron Fitt: USD's pitching is elite and gives it a chance to beat any team in a three-game series. But I do think Coastal is the better team overall, and I would not bet against the Chanticleers in a rematch.

    Jeremy (Shawnee, OK): What do you see for the Oklahoma Sooners in the postseason. Does the Big 12 have anyone besides Texas who could be a National Seed and Regional Host?

Aaron Fitt: Texas is the only national seed, for sure, but I suppose Oklahoma could still host a regional if things break the right way. For starters, the Sooners need to boost their mediocre 12-10 conference mark this weekend at Kansas, and they need some other host candidates to struggle down the stretch.

    Jason (Virginia): Aaron—I was wondering why no movement for Vanderbilt this week, after winning mid-week versus Top 10 Louisville, and a weekend road sweep.

Aaron Fitt: We debated jumping Vandy way up, and we debating flipping Vandy and Rice, but in the end we just decided to err on the side of stability in the rankings. Rice won its most important conference series of the year against Southern Miss (albeit in sloppy fashion and with a midweek loss against Oklahoma State thrown in), and Oregon had a 4-0 week, too. Vanderbilt has been up and down this season, but it looks like the Commodores are peaking at the right time. Let's see what they do against Arkansas this weekend — could really see Vandy winning that series, too, but it won't be easy.

    Jay (Austin): Anthony Rendon vs. Zack Cox. Who do you pick with the game on the line and who do you pick in the draft? Cox seems to have a much better average, but Rendon has better power, hits in a pitcher's park most of the time and turns hits into outs in the field.

Aaron Fitt: I'm high on Cox — who wouldn't be? — but I would answer Rendon to both questions.

    Mike (DFW): I saw the TCU/Air Force series this weekend. That was a crazy series. With TCU losing that game on Saturday, how much is that going to hurt TCU? Also, since yall keep track of weekend series records, do you think this will hold any kind of weight when deciding hosting and seeding? TCU is the only school that hasnt lost a weekend series.

Aaron Fitt: That loss was a significant blow to TCU's national seed hopes. The Horned Frogs now have two losses this year against Air Force, which is No. 255 in the RPI. I see TCU hosting a regional but not earning a national seed.

Aaron Fitt: OK folks, that's all I've got time for today. Reminder that you can follow me on Twitter (@aaronfitt), and if I did not answer your question here today, try me on Twitter and I'll try to get to as many questions as I can. Until next week!