College Top 25 Chat: Feb. 28
Hi everybody, sorry I'm a couple of minutes late. Let's get going.
Arkham (Danville, PA): UCLA? Bauer and Cole? Uh-oh?
I wouldn't say "uh-oh." It's just one
weekend, and I'd be surprised if both of those guys lose in the same
weekend again this season. Of course, I was very surprised it happened
this weekend. Bauer's stuff was good—he was 93-94, a scout told me, and
his secondary stuff was good, including his "reverse slider"—and I
think the delay affected Cole, who threw nine pitches Friday and then
had to wait until Sunday to continue his outing. Weird weekend, but tip
your hat to San Jose State. That's a pretty good club that just won a
Brian (New York): Any Northeast teams surprize you this weekend? Do you see any making some unexpected noise this year?
Stony Brook is the obvious answer — did
not expect the Seawolves to open their season by taking two of three
from a veteran, talented Florida Atlantic team. Stony Brook is the
favorite in the America East, and Nick Tropeano gives it a chance to win
Marc (Tallahassee): Two part question here:
1) Is Taylor Jungmann poised to have one of the best years ever for a
division I pitcher? What is the record for complete game shut-outs in a
2) After playing such a weak schedule and remaining undefeated (with the
exception of a loss to the Philadelphia Phillies), what do you make of
Florida State? They seem to have a lot of good hitters in the lineup
that hit for both average and power, and some solid, though maybe not
dominant, starting pitching.
Jungmann is off to the best start of any
college pitcher, obviously, with back-to-back shutouts. He has
dominating stuff, and he came out of the gate in midseason form, with
great command of four really good pitches. He was a preseason first-team
All-American, and I'm willing to bet he'll be a postseason first-team
All-American. He looks like the very, very early front-runner for
College Player of the Year at this point. I think you've summed up
Florida State pretty well. Very good lineup and a solid pitching staff.
The 'Noles aren't loaded with overpowering arms, but they compete, they
throw strikes, and I think the staff is deeper than it has been in
Joel (KCK): Another dominating performance by
Danny Hultzen this weekend. Are his accomplishments so far the results
of facing lesser competition or is he the real deal? From everything
I've heard he's more of a high floor guy than a high ceiling guy.
Exactly what kind of stuff does this guy have, and how do you think it
will translate to the pros?
The competition he's faced has been decent
— UAB isn't bad, and East Carolina should contend for regionals. He's
just extremely polished, and he does have good stuff. His velocity's
been up a tick — he's sitting 89-92, reaching as high as 94, and he has
a superb changeup and a nice breaking ball. He can just really pitch,
and he's so athletic and competitive. It's not front-of-the-rotation big
league stuff, but he can be a very solid mid-rotation big league
starter, I think.
Kurt (Tallahassee): Not that poll positions
really matter that much, but how did your staff justify dropping FSU a
position after starting 7-0? I realize VMI & Hofstra were cream
puffs, but Jacksonville U is 6-2 (and one of the losses is to FSU). All
the other polls moved us up one to two spots. Just curious. Thanks
for your coverage of college baseball.
It was a bit of an awkward week in the Top
10. We very seldom drop teams that win weekend series, especially teams
that sweep weekend series, but this week we slid Arizona State, Florida
State and Clemson each down a spot to make room for teams that have
leapt over them. We do like to reward teams that challenge themselves
early, and those three teams really have not done so. They've certainly
taken care of business, but I'm frankly more impressed with Cal State
Fullerton taking a series at No. 4 TCU, or Stanford being 4-3 after road
series against Rice and No. 3 Vanderbilt, plus a midweek game against a
talented and red-hot Cal team. Stanford lost two games by one run on
the road against a loaded Vandy team, then won the Sunday game. That's
an awfully good 2-2 week, and we felt Stanford has shown more by its
performance against marquee competition than those other three teams
have shown by beating up softer opponents.
RSN (Georgia): So far what are your thoughts on
the SOCON? CofC(7-0) and Elon(5-2) are off to great starts and
GSU(6-2),WCU(5-2) and App St(5-2) off to decent starts. Citadel(3-5)
has struggled big time with loses to Towson, 2-Gardner Webb, 2-Wright
St. Do you still have just one team projected to make a Regional? And
if not who gets in. thanks
I won't revise my field of 64 until
midseason, but certainly the SoCon has a chance for two or three bids,
as usual. We were going out on a limb predicting just one SoCon team for
regionals, frankly, and it looks like Elon and Georgia Southern won't
be terribly affected by the new bats. Both those clubs look like legit
regional contenders, and I like Western Carolina too. It's early yet,
too early to really know how the SoCon will shake out, but I do still
think Charleston is the class of the league.
Bill (Atlanta): I was really interested in
seeing St. Johns in Atlanta this weekend after you were pretty high on
them. As you know, 18 shutout innings before they blew us up on Sunday -
largely GT's own fault. How close is a ridiculously young GT team to
being in the Top 25 with you? And, under your system, would they get
credit for going 2-1 against a team that was in your Top 25 at the time,
but not thereafter?
Thanks for the chat.
Georgia Tech was knocking on the Top 25
door — the Jackets beat two very good Northern teams over the first two
weeks, but the weather advantages for Tech temper those accomplishments
just a tad. Still, if Tech had gone 4-1 this week instead of 3-2, it
would probably have been in the rankings this week. I'm still very high
on Georgia Tech's pitching, and Matt Skole's return bolstered the lineup
this weekend. The Jackets should have some ups and downs with all the
young players in the lineup, but the pitching should keep them in most
games and prevent them from falling into any prolonged funks. Certainly
looks like a Top 25-caliber club. But there are a bunch of Top
25-caliber clubs that aren't in the rankings right now, as we wait for
the picture to clarify a bit.
Pat (Chicago): Tulane has had pretty good
pitching, thus far, but the fielding and hitting have not been good. If
we assume the fielding will come around, what are your thoughts on the
hitting? Is there a lack of talent or is it just that several of the
sophomores, that hit well last year, are just off to super slow starts?
I don't think Tulane will have an explosive
offense this year, but that's no change from my preseason opinion. I do
think the Green Wave will hit better than it has so far— those
sophomores will come around. Those guys aren't marquee talents, but
they're capable of getting on base and using the gaps. Chalk it up to
Benson (Brentwood, TN): Is there another team
in the country who can match the power arms of Vanderbilt? Against
Stanford they were running guys out of their bullpen throwing mid-90's
heat, and one of their top prospects (Armstrong) didn't even throw!
Also, assess the stuff and draft prospects of RHP Sonny Gray. Thanks!
Vanderbilt, UCLA, TCU, Florida, Texas and
Fullerton all have truly elite pitching, with power arms and depth. It's
very hard to separate those staffs for me. Vandy's bullpen has been
stellar so far—it's really solidified around Navery Moore, Mark Lamm,
Will Clinard and Kevin Ziomek. Gray is a likely top-10 overall pick;
when he's at his best it's 93-96 with filthy arm-side run and the best
power curveball in college baseball.
Tom (Jacksonville): What do you think about the
A-SUN overall? Stetson and Jacksonville's are off to good starts, what
is your take on these two teams? Do you see these two teams having a
shot at helping the A-SUN get more than one team in a regional in 2011?
I'm also very high on Mercer and think
Florida Gulf Coast will be a factor as well. Looks like a banner year
for the A-Sun, which really does have a legit shot to send multiple
teams to regionals. All of those teams look like regional-caliber clubs.
Ryan (Vicenza, Italy): Cal dominated the
competition at the Caravalle Resorts Tournament in Myrtle Beach, SC. Is
there any chance at all that they could field a baseball team in 2012?
As a Stanford supporter, it wouldn't be the same without our bay area
rival annoying us every year!
Cal is really good, and it's great to see
that the off-field stuff has galvanized that team — I think a lot of
people are pulling for those guys. Sadly, my sense is that the chances
Cal will field a team next year are slim; the announcement a couple of
weeks ago had the air of finality about it. I think there are some
people in that administration that are just hell-bent on killing
baseball in order to make a statement that the athletics department has
to tighten its belt just like the rest of the university. The program
and the players deserve so much better.
Mike (Chicago): I saw on twitter you got a
chance to watch Kyle Gaedele play this weekend. What were your
observations on him, and where can you see him getting picked in the
I thought he looked really good — very
athletic, very physical, good bat speed. He went 1-for-3 in the game I
saw, showing the ability to hit breaking balls, a nice approach, and hit
two balls hard — a single to center on a first-pitch slider, and a
hard line drive to the center-field warning track. I chatted with a
scout who was similarly impressed. Could be a top-three-rounds pick out
of Valparaiso this year, I think.
Tripp (Charleston, SC): OK Aaron, I'm sure
you'll get plenty of these questions today, but break down the
Clemson-south carolina series this weekend for us. Though I'm a Clemson
fan, I don't see this as a good match-up for the Tigers with facing
three quality LHP over the series (and we know what Roth can do to this
line-up with that sidearm action to lefty batters). My thoughts are that
Weismann and Haselden (filling in for an injured Leone) will have to be
lights out and Brady just has to keep doing what he is doing in order
for the Tigers to take the series. What say you?
Looks like a great breakdown to me, Tripp
— does this mean I don't have to write Weekend Preview? Seriously,
you're dead on — Roth made Clemson's potent offense look feeble in the
CWS. The Tigers will have to do better against the lefties this weekend.
Love what Brady has done through two weeks; he's the biggest story for
Clemson, I think.
Bob (Danville): Why no love for San Jose State
after a huge series win ? Do you see the WAC as a potential 3-bid league
this year with Hawaii, Fresno, and San Jose ?
San Jose State jumped from off the map into
the Top 25 discussion this week, and we strongly considered the
Spartans for No. 25. Let's see if they can sustain this hot start — I
think they just might have the pitching to make a nice run this year.
Hard to see the WAC as more than a two-bid league, but then again, the
Mountain West got three teams in a couple of years ago, and that's a
comparable conference. Maybe this is the year for the WAC.
Dan (Lewisville, TX): Hi Aaron,
How close is SE Louisiana to cracking the polls after big Wins against
Tulane, Bama, South Bama and UCF this past week? Also, what are the
draft prospects of Jefferson and Boudreaux?
Very close — in that group with
Southeastern Louisiana, San Jose State, Georgia Tech, Miami, Tulane,
Arkansas, Ole Miss and St. John's just outside the rankings. SELA was a
good club last year, and it looks even better in 2011. Boudreaux is an
athletic shortstop who can swing the bat — got a chance to be a nice
draft this year, I'd say, although I haven't spoken with a scout about
him yet this spring to get a better feel for where he might fit in.
Efferson is a solid senior sign righthander — not overpowering stuff,
but solid stuff, and he competes hard and knows how to pitch.
Drew (Greenwood, MS): Aaron, What do the Rebels
have to do this Week to Crack the Top 25. Also what are your thoughts
on the way Austin Wright has pitched so far this season. Thanks for the
I'd say a weekend series win against Tulane
next week ought to put the Rebels in the rankings, provided there is
room. Ole Miss was a 26-35 type team for us heading into the year, and
it's gotten off to a solid start. Wright was solid each of the last two
Sundays, and I think that's very encouraging for the Rebels. He's really
a key piece — he's got big-time arm strength, but he had to show he
has the makeup and command to handle a weekend starter role for an SEC
team, and so far, so good.
Eric S. (Orlando, FL): I'm all for pitching and
defense, but there are entire teams in your top 25 who have yet to
homer this season, including two in the top 10. Is it possible we've
gone too far in the opposite direction from the late 90's? I don't want
#9 hitters with double digit homers, but I also don't want the home run
removed from the equation entirely.
The jury is still out on whether the new
bats will be a good thing or not, but it's clear that home run
production will be drastically down. I don't think homers have been
removed entirely, but hitters have to square balls up to hit them out,
instead of missing the sweet spot and still getting "metal bat" homers.
My gut says that's a good thing, but there is certainly a danger that
the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. I'm suspending
judgment until after the season, I think.
Bryan (San Francisco): I'm asking this question
from 30,000 feet in the air using Southwest's new WiFi...Anyway, it
looks like Oregon and Cal have potentially dominating pitching staffs.
Combined with UCLA, does the Pac-10 have the deepest pitching? Also,
what can you tell us about the three big arms at Oregon for the draft?
Those three staffs and Stanford's are all
loaded, and there are plenty of good arms at ASU, Washington State,
Arizona, Southern California and Oregon State also. So to answer your
question, yes, I think the Pac-10 has the deepest pitching this year.
Anderson's a polished four-pitch lefty who really competes — he's
somewhat similar to Danny Hultzen, but without as smooth a delivery.
Madison Boer is a power righty who was up to 94 with a good slider in
relief in the Northwoods last summer — if he keeps pitching like he has
through his first two starts, he could climb into the first few rounds
as well. I don't think Scott McGough has gotten off to a great start,
and he's a bit undersized, but he has a very quick arm and a quality
three-pitch mix of his own. Probably a top-five-rounds guy, maybe
Brad (Texas): How much has George Springer's moderately slow start adversely affected his draft stock?
Not at all, I'd say — see my Scouting
Report on UConn from last week's Weekend Preview. Scouts will be patient
with him; his tools are huge, it's only Week Two, and he plays for a
Johnny (Boston): What kind of prospect is your website coverboy today - Mark Lamm from Vandy?
Saw him last week — it was 90-93 with a
good slider and changeup. I'd say that makes him a pretty good prospect.
Vandy doesn't need him to start, but I wonder if he's got a chance to
do that in pro ball — seems he's got the stuff and maybe the feel for
Taylor (Houston): I read somewhere before
Sunday's game that the Texas A&M pitching staff had a ridiculous ERA
around something like 0.75, and now I see its 1.52. I know it hasn't
been against the best competition, but just how good is this staff? And
is Wacha a true high end prospect like I'm reading about everywhere?
Wish i could make it Saturday to see what should be a Stilson/Rendon
It's a very good staff, and yes, Wacha is a
high-end guy, I think. He's big and durable, a strike-thrower who works
downhill with a plus fastball and improving secondary stuff. I'm
looking forward to seeing him and Stilson this weekend in Houston.
Chris (Dana Point, CA): Soft bats are real, so
are teams playing differently?. The 35% reduction in HRs per batted ball
in play thru 10 days stat you forwarded via tweet was right in line
with many preseason predictions; big impact, but not a surprise.
Surprisingly I also heard that not a single base runner had tested
Florida Catcher Mike Zunino's arm in over 50 innings of work behind the
plate this year. Has this also been the case? Are teams being very
conservative on the base paths? Game situations dictate a lot, but if
well coached teams want to score against good pitching they are going to
have to put runners in motion. I predict FSU and Miami run (or at least
try to) against Florida this week. Your thoughts?
Some teams are playing conservatively, but
others are playing much more aggressively — like Baylor, which has 18
steals in 19 attempts this year. I think teams will have to take chances
to generate offense when they can, but they also can't afford to be
reckless with runners on base — it's a fine line. Against an elite
defender like Zunino, I think caution is probably prudent. Miami is a
speed-oriented team; I anticipate the Hurricanes, in particular, will
try to run this weekend.
Jonathan (Troy, AL): Any love for Troy after
winning the series against Southern Miss over the weekend? Troy is now
6-1 and have a really home-friendly schedule with 21 of their first 23
games at home.
Really a great series win for Troy —
mentioned it in today's Three Strikes. I thought FIU and FAU were the
teams to beat in the Sun Belt; through two weeks, Troy looks like it
will be a major factor, too. Lot of good teams in that league — should
be a fun race.
Tman (Myrtle Beach): S Carolina is currently
ranked 4th in BA national poll, yet would be only 3rd in the SEC east...
Although it is extremely early, how do you see the SEC east playing
out this year?
I still like those teams in the order we
have them ranked — Florida, Vandy, South Carolina. All three are legit
national title contenders.
Dane (Kentucky): I know LSU has a young
pitching staff, but I figured they would be ranked a little higher,
especially the way they swing the bats. Will the series against Cal St.
in a few weeks answer alot of questions?
Yeah, it's hard to really know how good a
team is when it plays at home against overmatched competition. I feel
like I know a lot more about Vanderbilt after two very tough road series
than I do about LSU after two easier home series. LSU's scheduling will
probably benefit it — that's a young team that needed to build
confidence early in the season — but we won't really know how good the
Tigers are until Fullerton comes to town in two weeks. But you have to
be encouraged by the way the youngsters (Gausman and McCune in
particular) have pitched so far.
Johnny (Oxford, MS): How do you have UCONN
still ranked at 2-4? I guess if you keep them in the ranking they can
improve to top ten once the week Big East season starts.
They were preseason No. 9 because they are
extremely talented and experienced. They had two tough weekends to open
the season, so they dropped to No. 22 — I think that's very reasonable.
Any preseason top 10 team that lost its first two weekends would have
fallen similarly in our rankings, and would likely have stayed in the
20s also. I believe in UConn's talent, even after two disappointing
weeks. It's February, and that's a Northern team that is still rounding
into shape. If they go 1-2 again this week, the Huskies will be
unranked. But I say this every week, I feel like: our rankings are not
based solely on won-lost records, obviously. Our evaluations of a team's
talent factor in, particularly early in the year. If you don't care
about our evaluations of a team's potential, feel free to just look at
standings to determine who the best teams are.
Kyle Warsaw (Newport Beach): Do you think the Anteaters have a chance of winning the Big West this year.
I like Irvine, and it looks like the No. 2
team in the Big West, but I still feel strongly that Fullerton will win
the Big West. Just a much more experienced pitching staff.
Mac (Ft Worth Tx): What are your thoughts about the Freshman pitcher for TCU, Andrew Mitchell?
He's a stud. He's got a 93-94 mph fastball
with heavy sink and a power curveball at 84. He's been lights-out in his
first three appearances — he's a real weapon.
J (Arkansas): I know Arkansas hasn't really
played anybody yet, but the freshmen look really good so far. The
pitching, though young, seems deeper than the past couple years. How
good can this team be by the end of the year?
Very talented young team — I'm looking
forward to getting a look at them out here in SoCal in two weeks,
especially Ryne Stanek. If the youngsters hold up, that team has a
chance to win the SEC West and make a nice postseason run.
Tripp (Charleston, SC): Aaron, I didn't bring
this up earlier as I try to make it a point not to "complain" about the
rankings; it always works itself out. I mention it now because of a
comment you made about FSU and Clemson getting bumped in favor of
Fullerton due to lighter schedules. I don't disagree with that one bit.
However, your rankings show the gamecocks leaking their way up three
spots to number 4 and they have wins over Santa Clara (3) and Southern
Illinois (3) and none of the six in particularly dominant fashion. If
strength of schedule is that much of an early factor how can those wins
justify a 3-spot vault into the top 5?
Just "poll mechanics" — South Carolina was
already ahead of those other three teams, and there was room for it to
move up with TCU and UCLA losing, and Texas having a 2-2 week. There was
a larger gap between TCU/UCLA and ASU/FSU/Clemson, so we did not want
to jump the latter three teams over the former two based on one week.
Maybe not a very satisfying answer — like I said, the Top 10 was a bit
messy today. Making the sausage is not always an easy, satisfying
Paul (SW Missouri): Thanks for the note on
Loyola Marymount in last week's Weekend Preview. They swept Nevada and
are off to their best start in more than a decade. I don't think this is
a middle-of-the-road WCC team, as the coaches voted before the season
started. What do you think?
It's hard to know this early — even Jason
Gill was just cautiously optimistic when I spoke with him last week, and
the WCC is really wide open, with not a ton of separation between most
of the teams in that league. But I really like LMU's pitching staff, and
I have a feeling it will carry the Lions toward the top part of the WCC
Jeff (The District): "I feel like I know a lot
more about Vanderbilt after two very tough road series than I do about
LSU after two easier home series."
The Vanderbilt/Stanford series was in Nashville, wasn't it?
Sorry, I meant to say I feel like I know more about Stanford.
guest (conn): I don't buy the "northern team"
excuse for UCONN as there are several nortern teams winning and bashing,
and pitching well right out of the gate. Overrated, probably they are.
I'm not saying it's an excuse — they've
still dropped from No. 9 to No. 22 in two weeks, and that's a
significant drop. I'm just saying that it's way too early to write this
team off. If you think they're overrated, that's fine, but I'm going to
disagree with you, and we'll see how the season plays out.
John (Fresno): Good prediction Mr. Fitt on
Fresno State being an Omaha caliber team year. They certainly have been
impressive so far this season. The pitching staff which has been a weak
part of the team in past seasons has looked great under the tutelage of
new pitching coach Steve Rousey.
After two weekends what are your impressions of the 2011 Bulldogs?
Very good, experienced offensive team that
has gotten a lot better on the mound. Great to see Derek Benny pitching
well on Friday — been waiting for him to make the leap, and it appears
OK everybody, that's all for this week — thanks for stopping by!