College World Series Breakdown: Bracket Two
Looking at Arizona State, Clemson, Oklahoma and South Carolina
In our preseason Top 25
capsules, we used the 20-80 scouting scale to grade each team in
various facets of the game. 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. Scouts grade prospects on how their
tools compared to those of an average major leaguer, but we're rating a
team's talent relative to an average NCAA tournament team. For each
category, a grade of 50 is average, comparable to a typical
NCAA tournament contender; 60 is above-average; 70 is
well-above-average; 40 is below-average; and 30 is
We have four categories for position
players—hitting for average, hitting for power, speed and defense—and
two for pitching: starting pitching and bullpen. We also give teams a
grade for experience and intangibles—think of it as a team's "makeup"
if you like. Finally, each team gets 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
Seven of the eight CWS teams appeared in our preseason Top 25 (and six
were in the top 15), and their preseason grades are referenced below.
Oklahoma was not ranked in the preseason (it was No. 28 in our
unofficial internal rankings) and will be subjected to the scrutiny of
the 20-80 scale for the first time. These are the teams in bracket two,
which begins play on Sunday. For the teams in bracket one, which
begins play on Saturday, click
Season In A
The Sun Devils opened the season with a 24-game winning streak (the longest in Division I this season) and cruised to their fourth straight Pacific-10 Conference title. After waltzing through the Tempe Regional, they won a pair of tense 12-inning games against Arkansas in super regionals to reach their second straight CWS. And they did it all without last year's Pac-10 pitcher of the year (Mike Leake), player of the year (Jason Kipnis) and coach of the year (Pat Murphy).
• So. 2B Zack MacPhee (.481/.500/.630 in 27 AB)
• So. 1B Riccio Torrez (.476/.577/.810 in 21 AB)
• Sr. OF Kole Calhoun (.368/.571/1.000 with 4 HR and 7 RBI in 19 AB)
• So. LHP Mitchell Lambson (1-0, 0.00 with 13-1 K-BB in 8 IP)
• Sr. 3B Raoul Torrez (.167/.375/.333 in 18 AB)
• So. SS Drew Maggi (.192/.250/.346 in 26 AB)
2010 Draft Picks
• Jr. RHP Seth Blair (supplemental first round, Cardinals)
• So. RHP Jordan Swagerty (second round, Cardinals)
• Jr. RHP Merrill Kelly (eighth round, Rays)
• Sr. OF Kole Calhoun (eighth round, Angels)
• Sr. LHP Josh Spence (ninth round, Padres)
• So. SS Drew Maggi (15th round, Pirates)
• Jr. LHP Jimmy Patterson (18th round, Rays)
• Sr. 3B Raoul Torrez (21st round, Diamondbacks)
• Jr. C Xorge Carrillo (23rd round, Padres)
• So. RHP Jake Borup (23rd round, Phillies)
First-team All-American Seth Blair gives Arizona State a dependable ace with a power arm. Funky righty Merrill Kelly and fastball/slider artist Jake Borup are steady workhorses with 21 combined wins, though neither is overpowering. They've been good enough to withstand the losses of Leake and Josh Spence, who missed the season with an injury.
Arizona State has three dominant relievers in flame-throwing righties Jordan Swagerty and Jake Barrett, plus rubber-armed lefthander Mitchell Lambson. Freshman righty Brady Rodgers is a strike-throwing long man who doubles as a capable fourth starter.
The Sun Devils have a deep lineup filled with patient line-drive hitters who can handle the bat. They rank 16th nationally in batting and excel at using the gaps, as evidenced by their 37 triples, most in the country.
ASU ranks seventh out of the eight CWS teams in home runs per game. Senior Kole Calhoun (17 homers) provides pop in the middle of the lineup and is a proven performer on the Rosenblatt stage. Just one other Sun Devil is in double digits in homers: Riccio Torrez with 10.
The Sun Devils have stolen 134 bases, eighth-most in the nation, led by burners Maggi (35 SB) and MacPhee (19 SB). Even the regulars with average or slightly worse speed are threats to run in ASU's high-pressure offense.
ASU's .976 fielding percentage ranks 11th in the nation. The Devils have athletes all over the field, especially up the middle in second baseman MacPhee, shortstops Maggi and Deven Marrero and center fielder Johnny Ruettiger. And brothers Riccio and Raoul Torrez might be the best defensive corner infielders in Omaha.
Heading into the season, it was unclear how the Sun Devils would handle the uncertainty surrounding Murphy's ouster and a looming NCAA investigation into rules violations. It has become abundantly clear, however, that this group of Devils has uncommon toughness, leadership, focus and drive. Intangibles have even more to do with Arizona State's success than the team's outstanding talent.
Arizona State, the No. 1 national seed, enters the College World Series as the favorite to win the championship. ASU is a complete team that has proven its resilience over and over again.
Season In A
Clemson returned almost every regular from last year's super regional team and started this season ranked 15th. After a hot start, the Tigers slumped in the middle of the season before catching fire again late and sweeping Florida State in their final weekend series to steal the Atlantic Coast Conference division title. After slugging its way to the Auburn Regional title, Clemson dropped the opener of its home super regional against Alabama before storming back with wins in the next two games, punching its ticket to Omaha for the first time since 2006.
• So. 3B John Hinson (.500/.563/1.071, 5 HR, 10 RBI in 28 AB)
• Jr. OF Jeff Schaus (.455/.457/.545, 10 RBI in 33 AB)
• Jr. LHP Casey Harman (1-1, 1.56, 17-1 K-BB in 17 IP)
• Fr. C Spencer Kieboom (.217/.280/.348 in 23 AB)
• Sr. RHP Tomas Cruz (9.00 ERA in 2.1 IP)
2010 Draft Picks
• Jr. OF Kyle Parker (first round, Rockies)
• Sr. 2B Mike Freeman (11th round, Diamondbacks)
• So. 3B John Hinson (13th round, Phillies)
• Jr. OF Jeff Schaus (27th round, Indians)
• Jr. LHP Casey Harman (29th round, Cubs)
• Jr. C John Nester (39th round, Athletics)
Though Clemson ranks eighth out of the eight CWS teams in ERA, the starting rotation is decent. Ace lefty Casey Harman and undersized righty Scott Weismann have pitched well in the postseason. And though lanky lefthander Will Lamb has fallen out of favor recently, he is capable of twirling a gem when he has his good command. Freshmen Dominic Leone and Scott Firth have also made starts in the postseason; Leone pitched well against Alabama in super regionals, while Firth struggled in regionals.
The bullpen is Clemson's Achilles' heel. The staff lacks a dependable closer (six different players have saves, and five have multiple saves). Senior changeup artist Tomas Cruz has spent the most time in the role in his career, but he was shelled against Alabama and isn't reliable. Sophomore righty Kevin Brady has the power stuff to dominate, but his command comes and goes. He will be a key figure if Clemson is going to make a deep run in Omaha.
Clemson is the highest-scoring team in Omaha; its 8.8 runs per game average ranks 14th in the nation. Like Florida State and Arizona State, the Tigers will make pitchers work (they have drawn 359 walks, third-most in the country). The deep lineup is filled with quality line-drive hitters, led by Jeff Schaus, John Hinson, Brad Miller and Mike Freeman. Clemson is vulnerable against lefthanded pitching, with seven regulars who bat lefthanded.
Clemson ranks 31st in the nation in home runs per game and features the most fearsome heart of the order in the CWS in second-team All-American and first-round pick Kyle Parker (21 homers), plus Hinson and Schaus (15 homers apiece). Miller, Freeman and Boyd also provide occasional pop.
Like Florida State, Clemson is efficient on the basepaths, with 102 steals in 126 tries (80 percent). Hinson, Lamb, Freeman and Miller are all average or better runners.
Clemson lags far behind the other seven Omaha teams in fielding percentage (.963; the next closest is UCLA at .970). The biggest reason is Miller's play at shortstop. He has excellent range and a strong arm, but he has committed 29 errors (.897 fielding percentage). He let a routine grounder go right through his legs in the ninth inning of the super regional clincher against Alabama, nearly leading to a Crimson Tide comeback. He'll need to be much sharper in Omaha.
Clemson's lineup is loaded with returning starters from last year's super regional team. Coach Jack Leggett knows his way around Omaha, having made the trip five previous times. The Tigers proved resilient in bouncing back from their midseason swoon and from a gut-wrenching loss to Auburn in the regional finals.
If the conditions at Rosenblatt favor hitters, Clemson is most suited to capitalize thanks to a powerful, explosive lineup. The Tigers also have the most glaring weaknesses of any Omaha team: a shaky bullpen and shaky defense at shortstop. As the only regional No. 2 seed in the CWS, Clemson must be regarded as the biggest underdog. Of course, that label has been kind to recent champions Fresno State (2008) and Oregon State (2007).
Season In A
The Sooners lost several key players from a 2009 team that earned a national seed but failed to win its home regional, then reloaded with a deep recruiting class and emerged even better in 2010. After a sluggish start to Big 12 Conference play, OU finished on a 23-6 run, winning its last five weekend series, sweeping its home regional and toppling Virginia in the Charlottesville Super Regional.
• So. OF Cody Reine (.435/.519/1.087, 5 HR, 13 RBI in 23 AB)
• So. C Tyler Ogle (.450/.607/.800, 2 HR, 6 RBI in 20 AB)
• Jr. RHP Bobby Shore (2-0, 0.59, 11-2 K-BB in 15 IP)
• Sr. RHP Jeremy Erben (2 SV, 0.93 ERA, 10-2 K-BB in 10 IP)
• So. 1B Cameron Seitzer (.143/.357/.286, 1 HR, 1 RBI in 21 AB)
• So. 3B Garrett Buechele (.167/.355/.333, 1 HR, 3 RBI in 24 AB)
2010 Draft Picks
• Jr. 2B Danny Black (14th round, Marlins)
• Jr. RHP Zach Neal (17th round, Marlins)
• So. 3B Garrett Buechele (18th round, Rangers)
• Sr. RHP Jeremy Erben (22nd round, Diamondbacks)
• Sr. RHP Jason Chowning (28th round, Astros)
Oklahoma had no trouble replacing its entire weekend rotation from a year ago, as junior-college transfers Zach Neal and Bobby Shore gave the Sooners a pair of innings-eating strike-throwers. They have plenty of other options, including righties Michael Rocha and Jack Mayfield, plus lefties Ryan Gibson and J.R. Robinson. No starter has overwhelming stuff, but all are competitive and have good feel for pitching.
Oklahoma's pitching depth translates to the bullpen as well, as Rocha, Mayfield, Gibson and Robinson all can start or relieve. The anchor of the pen is bulldog rigthander Ryan Duke, a two-year closer with a low-90s fastball and good secondary stuff.
Oklahoma ranks in the middle of the CWS pack in batting and scoring. The Sooners have a versatile offense that applies pressure with its aggressiveness at the plate, and its ability to hit-and-run and sacrifice and use the gaps. The lineup features a nice blend of athletic sparkplugs (Chris Ellison, Danny Black, Caleb Bushyhead) and physical mashers (Garrett Buechele, Cameron Seitzer, Max White, Cody Reine).
Oklahoma is the most powerful team in the College World Series, with home run threats from the left side (Seitzer and Reine) as well as the right (Buechele and White).
Ellison, Bushyhead and Black are good runners, but there is little speed in the lineup after that. The Sooners are aggressive on the basepaths.
The Sooners, who rank 12th in the nation in fielding (.976), are rock-solid at third base (Buechele), second base (Black) and center field (Ellison). Bushyhead has developed into a passable though not exceptional shortstop.
The Sooners have no players with Omaha experience. Coach Sunny Golloway won a national title as an assistant on Oklahoma's 1994 team and his squad is well coached. The Sooners don't beat themselves and excel at exploiting cracks in opponents' armor.
Oklahoma proved it can beat anyone by taking down a loaded Virginia team on the road in super regionals. There might not be a team in college baseball that has played better down the stretch than Oklahoma, and the hottest team usually fares well in Omaha.
Season In A
South Carolina, ranked No. 10 in the preseason, dropped series against East Carolina and Clemson in two of the first three weeks. The Gamecocks came on like gangbusters in SEC play, finishing 21-9. They swept through their home regional, then swept a tense super regional against No. 4 national seed Coastal Carolina to reach Omaha for the first time since 2004.
• Fr. OF Evan Marzilli (.500/.579/.875, 1 HR, 5 RBI in 16 AB)
• Jr. 3B Adrian Morales (.409/.480/.955, 3 HR, 7 RBI in 22 AB)
• So. OF Jackie Bradley Jr. (.353/.520/.765, 2 HR, 8 RBI in 17 AB)
• Sr. RHP Blake Cooper (2-0, 1.88, 17-6 K-BB in 14 IP)
• Jr. 2B Scott Wingo (.231/.412/.231 in 13 AB)
• Jr. RHP Sam Dyson (0-0, 9.95, 7-3 K-BB in 6 IP)
2010 Draft Picks
• Jr. RHP Sam Dyson (fourth round, Blue Jays)
• Jr. OF Whit Merrifield (ninth round, Royals)
• Sr. RHP Blake Cooper (12th round, Diamondbacks)
• Sr. SS Bobby Haney (22nd round, Giants)
• So. LHP Steven Neff (23rd round, Royals)
• Jr. RHP/DH Parker Bangs (31st round, Royals)
• Sr. RHP Jordan Propst (49th round, Royals)
South Carolina has a strong one-two punch in ace Blake Cooper and flame-throwing righty Sam Dyson, who can be as dominant as any pitcher in college baseball when he's on. The No. 3 starter spot has been a black hole all season. The Gamecocks have usually started senior Jay Brown on Sundays, but it has turned into a staff effort nearly every week.
South Carolina's deep bullpen might be its greatest strength. Redshirt freshman closer Matt Price is a quality anchor, and the rest of the pen provides different looks, with a nice mix of righties (Ethan Carter, Jose Mata, John Taylor, Parker Bangs) and lefties (Michael Roth, Tyler Webb, Steven Neff) who all use different arm slots, though none of them blow hitters away like Price can.
The Gamecocks rank sixth among the eight CWS teams in batting, scoring and slugging. The lineup is deep, as coach Ray Tanner employs multiple platoons in the middle of the order. Catalysts Whit Merrifield and Jackie Bradley Jr. are the constants. They make the offense go, and the Gamecocks battle for every at-bat lower in the lineup.
This team isn't as powerful as a typical South Carolina club, but it still ranks 25th in the nation (and third among CWS teams) in homers per game. Freshman slugger Christian Walker has just seven home runs but has emerged as the most powerful presence in the lineup, which features nine different players with seven or more homers. Merrifield (12 homers) and Bradley (11) lead the way.
Stolen bases are not a big part of South Carolina's game—it ranks 245th in the nation in steals per game. The lineup does feature a trio of plus runners in outfielders Merrifield, Bradley and emerging freshman Evan Marzilli.
Tanner's teams always play solid defense, and this unit is no exception. Its .975 fielding percentage is a point behind Oklahoma's, with the Gamecocks rating a slight edge on defense thanks to standouts at shortstop (Bobby Haney, who has a .972 fielding percentage) and behind the plate (Kyle Enders, who has thrown out 50 percent of basestealers). All three outfielders have outstanding range.
No South Carolina player has Omaha experience, but the coaching staff is loaded with it. Tanner has made three trips as a head coach, and assistant Chad Holbrook made three trips as a North Carolina assistant. It's a veteran team, with six upperclassmen regularly in the lineup and three more in the rotation. The Gamecocks are fundamentally sound in all aspects; they do not beat themselves.
South Carolina is a well-rounded club that has a chance to ride its pitching and defense to the title. The lack of a consistent third starter and an offense that has run hot and cold are concerns.