College Top 25 Chat: March 21
Hi everybody! Let's get right to it.
Jonathan (Troy, AL): Still no Troy in the Top 25?? Are they in the picture? They are 16-4 and playing some really good baseball right now.
Hi Jonathan. Troy is very much in the
picture. We had a group of teams with good records competing for the two
open Top 25 spots this week, but all had holes in their resumes. Auburn
was easy, after beating Alabama and Arkansas this week. But then Oregon
State, UC Irvine, Troy, Southern Miss, Texas State and East Carolina
(with Oregon and Stetson also in the mix) all garnered support for the
last spot. But all of those teams were just a couple of quality
victories shy of being rock-solid top 25 teams. Troy has the edge over
Southern Miss because of the head-to-head series win, but the rest of
Troy's resume is just a bit shy when it comes to really quality wins. We
wound up going with the team we thought had the best overall talent:
Alex (Concord): How about that East Carolina pitching staff!?
It's a very good staff, certainly the
strength of that team. Seth Maness, Mike Wright and Kevin Brandt are
dogged competitors who throw strikes and mix speeds well, and all three
threw well this weekend against Rutgers. I really like Brad Mincey in a
bullpen role — he and Seth Simmons have both been money at the back of
that pen. ECU's pitching will carry it to a lot of wins this year.
Jeff Sullivan (Belchertown MA): Still early, but how far has George Springer fallen on draft boards? Still in the top ten?
He's doing fine. He entered the season as
the No. 2 college position player on the board after Rendon, and he
still might be that guy, just because of his upside. His tools are just
so loud — it's huge raw power, big-time speed and defensive ability.
We've said all along that there's some risk with Springer — he's not a
finished product as a hitter, but you draft him for his upside. He's
certainly still a likely top 10 pick.
Marc (Tallahassee): Hi Aaron,
I know at the beginning of the season and in the preseason your rankings
are determined primarily by evaluating a team's talent and potential.
By the end of the season, I assume it shifts almost entirely to being
production focused. At what point in the season are we now for your
rankings system. Are you still heavily focused on potential, split
evenly between potential and production, or giving more weight to
You've got a great handle on our rankings,
Marc! It's a sliding scale, starting with 100 percent potential-based in
the preseason and gradually shifting more toward results as the season
progresses. We're somewhere in the middle of that scale right now, and
we are certainly starting to lean more toward production. For instance,
even now, I still believe UConn can be dangerous by the end of the
season—but that's not even close to a Top 25 resume, so the Huskies are
out. And of course, UConn's probably going to have to win the automatic
bid just to make a regional, after scuffling through the pre-conference
Scott (St. Louis): What a dominating pitching
performance from the Gators, shutting down the LSU attack. It looks
like UF's weekness, and it is a small one, is its offense. Austin Maddox
has been MIA and Brian Johnson has also been slow to start this year.
With their pitching, they may not need much. The starters get a lot of
credit, but their bullpen has been phenominal. What are your thoughts?
I don't see the offense as a weakness,
honestly. Maddox and Johnson will get going, and when they do Florida
will be even more dangerous — I'm really not worried about those guys.
Daniel Pigott's emergence has really been a major development for the
offense (as I write about in today's Three Strikes). But you are correct
in ascertaining that the pitching staff is the team's greatest
strength. It's just absurdly deep, and that depth loomed large in the
Sunday game against LSU.
Jeff Sullivan (Belchertown MA): After Gerrit Cole, who is the best college RHP in the draft?
Plenty of candidates, but I'd probably lean
toward Sonny Gray by a nose over Taylor Jungmann and Matt Barnes, at
this point. You could take any of those three guys, though, and it would
be tough to argue.
Billy (Tallahassee, FL): Wow! 3 games, 3 extra
inning affairs for the Seminoles vs. Caviliers. Will college baseball
see a better regular season series the rest of the year? 3 one run ball
games is crazy.
Yeah, that's as exciting a series as you'll
see all weekend, I'll wager. Two very evenly matched teams that played
at a high level. I think if you played that series in Tallahassee, maybe
you'd see three extra-innings games with Florida State taking two of
them — but who knows? Clearly those two teams are the class of the ACC.
Matt (MD): Aaron, I was wondering if you could
give an 20-80 type scouting report for Taylor Jungmann? His early season
results are very impressive, but I'm wondering if the lack of Ks is an
indication that his ML-upside is limited?
Not at all — he can just be very efficient
when he needs to be, and that was the case Friday. He's a mature guy,
and he knows he can trust his defense to make plays behind him, allowing
him to conserve his pitch count. It's probably a 60-65 fastball, a 60
curveball, a 55 slider and a 55 changeup — just a really nice package.
Maybe he's not a future No. 1 starter in the big leagues, but I know
scouts who think he can be a No. 2. That's a pretty darn good upside.
Michael (Charlotte NC): A10 baseball- URI had
some nice road wins this weekend and has played a strong schedule as
well. They are coming to Charlotte this weekend for 3. Is Rhody for real
and ready to challenge for conference title or did their opponents this
weekend just play poor games?
I think URI is for real. In fact, I chatted
with Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan today, and he went out of his way
to say how impressed he was with Rhode Island when the Gators played a
three-game series against those guys. It's a scrappy lineup filled with
tough outs, led by speedy sparkplug Jeff Cammans and the athletic Tom
Coulombe, and coach Jim Foster told me last week he's really excited
about his young arms. They do a great job developing pitchers at URI,
and that staff should continue to get better as the year progresses. URI
has six solid senior pitchers that can help carry the load, and a
quality junior lefty in Chris Pickering, but Foster says watch out for
freshmen Kevin Lee and Nick Narodowy as the season goes along. Sophomore
Anthony Pisani has also seen a velocity spike, into the 91-92 range.
j hudgins (hattiesburg,ms): Where does BA
vollmuth stack up with the other top college bats this year. He has 7hr
already and is slugging .710. Any other pro prospects on the southern
thanks for the chat
He's got easy power potential, and that's
his best tool. He still strikes out a lot, which has always been a knock
on him, but he's also drawing plenty of walks, which is a good sign. I
think he's probably a third baseman at the next level, but I think he'll
hit for enough power to have a bright future at the hot corner.
Talented guy, and has a chance to go in the top two rounds, I think.
Dave McLean (Eugene, OR): What do you think of
Oregon State's Sam Gaviglio? He had a perfect game until the 8th inning
on Friday at Long Beach State, and has pitched 38 consecutive scoreless
innings. He is 4-0 this year, with a 0.00 ERA.
He can just really, really pitch — moves
the ball in and out, has good sink and run on his fastball, can go to
the slider or changeup whenever he wants. See today's Golden Spikes
Spotlight (in Three Strikes) for more on Gaviglio.
Jeff Sullivan (Belchertown MA): First college catcher taken Susac or O'Brien?
Susac — his stock is really on the rise.
He's made huge strides at the plate this year, and he crushed a homer at
Blair Field against Andrew Gagnon on Friday. I wouldn't be at all
surprised to see Susac wind up in the top 10.
Steven (New Orleans): I'm curious as to why
Southern Miss is not ranked in the Top 25? Reason I ask is due to our
strong RPI, the strength of C-USA, beating two of your Top 5 teams this
weekend (CofC, UConn),record of 15-3 and being #25 in Collegiate
I've already addressed USM's omission —
biggest reason is the series loss to Troy, and this weekend was really
the first time they've beaten regional-caliber competition. They also
have a series split against Louisiana-Lafayette. The RPI is meaningless
this early in the season (do you really think East Tennessee State is
the 12th-best team in the country? They're No. 12 in the RPI), and we
certainly don't consider other Top 25 polls when putting together our
Steven (Atlanta, GA): Georgia Tech has been on a
hot streak recently sweeping their first two ACC series, though not
exactly baseball powerhouses. What do you expect from Tech's young team
at Georgia on Tuesday and Miami this weekend?
Tech's pitching is really, really good, and
its young hitters have answered the call through the first five weeks.
That's a dangerous, talented team, and I'd have to peg it as the
favorite against Georgia and Miami, even on the road.
Butch (Arlington, TX): Is there a team or teams
that you believe were built around power that are now struggling
because of the bat changes? if so will this change the makeup of players
recruited to improve chances of creating offense\runs rather than
waiting on a 3 run bomb offense?
North Carolina State is the perfect example
— that team scored a lot of runs last year, but its offense just has
not adjusted to the new bats. There is no question teams will have to
start shifting their recruiting efforts toward athletes — speed guys
and sure-handed defenders — and strike-throwers.
Joe (Greenville, NC): East Carolina misses after a 5-0 week while sporting the nation's best team ERA at 1.67. What else do they have to do?
Beat a team with any chance to go to a
regional. ECU has played one team that fits that description —
Virginia, and it lost two out of three there. Give ECU credit for
winning that one game on the road, but that's not quite enough to make
it a top 25 team.
Bob (Texas): What is going on with the Big 10?
Two mediocre teams from 2010 in Purdue and Penn State are leading the
conference while the winner from last year in Minnesota is plummeting.
Whats your take on Purdue? Are they a legit NCAA team?
Minnesota did at least win a series at
Sacramento State this weekend, and I still like the Gophers to win the
Big Ten's automatic bid — they'll round into shape in conference play,
as they did a year ago. But Purdue does look like it will be a
significant factor. That's a good offensive club (as evidenced by its
.331 batting average and 14 homers, which is hard to do with these bats,
even though though the Boilermakers haven't really faced any real good
pitching staffs yet except for Vanderbilt, which shut them out in a
midweek game). The jury is still out on Purdue because of the
competition level it has faced so far, but it's an older club with some
firepower in the lineup and a few good arms, most notably Brad
ScottAZ (Phx, AZ): Whats the latest on ASU's
appeal? It would be a shame for them to miss out on the post season.
They look like they could make a 3rd straight CWS
The Arizona Republic's fine ASU beat man,
Jeff Metcalfe, reported late last week that a hearing has been set for
May 16, just two weeks before selection day, to address ASU's appeal. It
would certainly be a shame if the Sun Devils don't get a chance to make
another Omaha run, because I agree with you — that's an Omaha-caliber
Mike (MS): As far as new teams to enter the
rankings, Oregon State goes 2-1 on the weekend against a 10-9 Long Beach
State team while USM goes 3-0 and beats 2 top 20 teams and no
ranking.....confused. I realize you are going to put certain programs
in first over others, but this one is cutting it a little thin. Big
weekend coming up...USM v. Tulane to start conference, shapes up to be a
Last Southern Miss question. Both teams
have two nice wins on their resumes against preseason top 25 teams that
are no longer ranked: both beat UConn, and OSU beat Oregon while USM
beat CofC. Other than that, their resumes are pretty similar, but Oregon
State does not have a losing weekend (USM does), and I like Oregon
State's talent just a smidge better (though it's very close — Southern
Miss is talented too).
John (Charlotte): Can Gardner-Webb Running Bulldogs get any love?
You know it's not your day when even the
Gardner-Webb fans are giving you a hard time! Gardner-Webb has been a
nice story so far. It's an offensive team, and the offense carried it to
a real nice series win against St. John's last weekend. Dusty
Quattlebaum and Daniel Merck give the Bulldogs a couple of real nice
anchors in that lineup — both have been hitting and flashing some
power, and Merck can run, too. Big South sleeper? Maybe so — let's wait
Nick (Tallahassee (FL)): So Florida State goes
1-3 this week, but all three of those losses are to #1 Florida and #3
UVA, and all three were extra inning affairs on the road. I can tell by
your rankings you still have faith in Florida state, only dropping them
one spot to #7. But as a fan, I am concerned with FSU being able to
finish (we were leading late in all three games). How much confidence
can a team gain from having a week like FSU had?
I don't think Florida State has much to
worry about. When you're playing elite teams on the road, these things
will happen. FSU showed a lot of resilience in holding on to win that
Sunday game, even after Virginia came back the last time. That's a
confidence builder, I think, after three heart-breaking losses earlier
in the week. I really like FSU's bullpen, which is deep and has a
variety of different looks, not to mention a rock at the back with McGee
(though, clearly, he is not infallible).
jb (SC): Can South Carolina's bats scratch out
enough against Florida's pitching to make this weekend a success for the
Gamecocks? It seems to me like the SEC is very top heavy w/ SC, Vandy,
and UF at the top....then everyone else. What are your thoughts? Thanks
for the great coverage as always!!
I like South Carolina's team a lot... but
obviously, I like Florida's team better than any other team in college
baseball, and I'm not prepared to pick any team to go into Gainesville
and win a series. Florida has swept five straight weekend series,
because its weekend rotation is really good (considerably more steady
than South Carolina's, at this point) and its bullpen is superb. Doesn't
mean South Carolina can't win the series, but the Gamecocks will
certainly be an underdog.
Rob (College Station, TX): Now that Ross
Stripling has stepped in and taken over the Sunday starter role for
Texas A&M, do they have the second-best weekend rotation in the Big
12 (after Texas) with Stilson, Wacha and Stripling?
I think so, and I think you can make a case
that the Aggies have just as good a rotation as Texas, given Cole
Green's inconsistency. You have to give Jungmann an advantage on
Fridays, but John Stilson really is not far behind, and Wacha has been
better than Green. Both teams have elite staffs.
Bill (Memphis, TN): My 13 year old and I
watched the weekend series between Vanderbilt and Mississippi State.
Sonny Gray and Grayson Garvin both looked dominant and Vandy jumped out
to 4-0, 6-2, and 8-4 leads in Sunday's game before multiple pitchers
failed to hold the lead. Do you think this was a fluke or will the lack
of a dominant closer stand between Vanderbilt and a trip to Omaha?
A fluke. Vandy's bullpen is outstanding,
with Mark Lamm and Navery Moore dominating in the late innings most
days. Sunday was really the first hiccup for Moore.
OK folks, that's it for today. Remember: we
here at Baseball America respect your favorite team's program, even if
you're not quite in the Top 25. There are a lot more good teams in
college baseball than there is room in the Top 25. See you next week.