College Top 25 Chat: April 4
Good afternoon, all — hope you enjoyed the
weekend. We've got a nice Three Strikes going live on the College Blog
soon, with items on Oklahoma State, Troy and Kansas State's Nick
Martini, so be sure to check that out. Let's get to the chat.
Steve L. (Corvallis): What are the Beavers chances at home this coming weekend against the Sun Devils?
Pretty good, I'd say. Arizona State is the
better offensive team, of course, but Oregon State has held its own
offensively, certainly more than a year ago, and I really like the
Beavers' pitching. That Friday matchup between Sam Gaviglio and Brady
Rodgers should be a good one. ASU is really good, but I think OSU can
win that series at home — really could go either way. The Pac-10 seems
to have compelling matchups every week, because there are just a lot of
good clubs in that league. Imagine if Oregon and Washington State can
barrt (tupelo ms): how can you justify lsu
still at no. 17 and alabama at 21st. alabama has the best record in the
sec. they have beaten some quality teams. lsu has been poor quallity at
best. friday night lsu almost lost. satruday they got the crap beaten
out of them. to there credit they played well sunday. even though
alabama lost sunday. they are still winning.......
LSU has a better weekend series win
(sweeping Cal State Fullerton) than anything on Alabama's resume, and
that Fullerton series is largely responsible for LSU's ranking. Both
teams took two of three from Ole Miss. I'm impressed with and pleasantly
surprised by Alabama, but now the schedule starts to get more
challenging, with a road series at Vandy. I'll be very interested to see
if the Crimson Tide can keep it up.
Dan (Austin): Oklahoma's Michael Rocha has been
outstanding this year (7-0, 0.97 era, 47 k, 6 bb, .154 oba). Where
would you rank him nationally among the starters this year? How is he
viewed as a draft prospect?
Performance-wise, he's right up there with
the top pitchers in the nation (Hultzen, Jungmann, Bauer, Pope, Randall
are the guys that come to mind for me). The Sooners compared him to
former South Carolina ace Blake Cooper coming into the year, and I
really like that comparison — I think they are similar guys. Cooper
went in the ninth round last year, and I suspect Rocha could go in the
Randall (Phoenix): What is the condition of ASU
outfielder Cory Hahn? Also, what are the chances of the Devils
competing in the post-season this year? And lastly, will we see former
ASU coach Pat Murphy back in the college game next season?
Arizona State has been tight-lipped with
info about Hahn's condition, out of respect for him and his family. I
know there is a lot of concern for him out there, and I wish I had
something I could tell you, but I can't. As for the postseason, my gut
says the NCAA does not rule on the appeal before selection day, so the
Sun Devils will be in the postseason this year, even if they have to sit
out next year. That's not based on anything other than a hunch — the
NCAA is a notoriously slow-moving, bloated bureaucracy — except when it
comes to making sure Auburn football players are ruled eligible even
though their dads solicited thousands of dollars in benefits,
apparently. And lastly, yes, I do think you'll see Murphy coaching in
college somewhere next year. I know he strongly wants to get back into
the college coaching ranks, and I wouldn't be shocked to see him land in
the SEC somewhere next year...
Will (Alexandria, VA): Aaron, thanks for taking
my question! Believe it or not, we've reached the midpoint of the
regular season already- the first half has FLOWN by! From what you've
seen, what 3-5 teams do you feel MOST confident will slug through a
regional and win a SR series to appear in Omaha?
Indeed, this is the halfway point, and
we'll be rolling out our Midseason Report content all week, in place of
our usual content. As for teams that could slug their way to Omaha (as
opposed to riding dominant pitching), I'd say Oklahoma, Arizona State
(maybe not a lot of home runs, but I still think that team will score a
lot of runs down the stretch — and I'm assuming they'll be in the
postseason for now) and Florida State.
Matt (Topeka, KS.): I got a chance to see
A&M this weekend. Michael Wacha looked dominant yet again. I know it
is super early but is he a top 10 pick for 2012? Also who are the
sophomores (or class of 2012)vwho have really seen their stock rise this
I think he's a first-rounder, but I don't
know about Top 10 — I'd like to see a better breaking ball out of him
before making that leap. I love how he pounds the zone with his plus
fastball, and he's got a really good changeup, but the breaking ball is
still a work in progress. I do think he fits into that "stock rising for
2012" category you're talking about. I think Hudson Randall has to be
in that group too, and maybe a guy like Christian Walker.
Ben (Leland Grove): How optimistic are you about Springer's latest numbers? Is he still top 10?
Wade (Chicago (Wrigley Field)): Hey Aaron,
If you could choose your dream starting weekend rotation using only
active college players, who would it be? If you were making a rotation
out of only Freshmen hurlers that are active, who would that consist of?
Wow, tough question, but fun. I'll take
Danny Hultzen, Gerrit Cole, Taylor Jungmann and Sonny Gray as my
four-man rotation, in some order. As for freshmen, I'm building for the
future around Karsten Whitson, Dylan Covey, Austin Kubitza and Adam
Plutko (with apologies to Kurt McCune, who has outperformed them all).
Kent Emanuel isn't far from that group, either, in addition to the other
big names (Gausman, Stanek, Simms, Vanegas, etc.).
Kyle (MO): Is Anthony Meo a potential 1st rounder? How would you evaluate his pitches?
He's a definite first-rounder. It's a
plus-plus fastball at 94-96, a devastating hard slider in the mid to
high 80s, and he's making progress with a curveball and changeup, but
it's mostly fastball-slider. It's an electric arm.
jb (SC): What is going on at Clemson? I realize
they have been fighting the injury bug but this team is way too
talented to be flirting with .500 and getting beat up like they have
been...a mjaor disappointment!
Major disappointment is right. Yes,
injuries have a good deal to do with it, but they just haven't been
pitching and playing defense. That .959 fielding percentage is ugly —
all of their infielders need to do a better job, and that will take some
pressure off the pitching staff. I'm starting to hear fans say that
this is 2008 redux for Clemson, but I still don't think so. This team is
too talented offensively to miss the postseason. The schedule gets
easier now, and I think Clemson gets back on track and into a regional,
tough it will not host, as we thought it would coming into the year.
Kanten (Wilmington, NC): Lets talk about the
ACC coastal division and how wide open it is for the top 3 teams. Do you
think Virginia, Ga tech, and Carolina could all possibly make it to
Omaha? Or at least host a regional? It will be interesting when these
teams start playing each other.
I think one of those three makes it to
Omaha, and my money's on Virginia. Georgia Tech and UNC have been
outstanding here in the first half, but I feel like both teams have
played a bit over their heads. They're both really good — I think
they'll both host regionals, and both could certainly make deep
postseason runs, but I still don't feel as confident in those two clubs
as I do in Virginia. Those freshman classes at Tech and UNC have really
been stellar, but freshmen often tend to wear down in the second half of
the long college season. We'll see how the Jackets and Tar Heels
Marc (Left Field, Texas): Good weekend for the
Horns. Bats seem to be coming around. I noticed the "RPI Needs Report"
shows no way that Texas can secure a Nat'l Seed. What are your thoughts
on how much stock to put into those numbers? My assumption is that Texas
can most certainly play themselves into a Top 8.
I think it's still way too early to worry
much about the RPI. Texas can absolutely be a national seed, and in
fact, I would bet that it will be.
Thomas (California): How about them Gonzaga
Bulldogs? Streaking to say the least. Ryan Carpenter has been talked
about being taken in the top few rounds this year. Freshman Marco
Gonzalez has gone 3 straight complete games for wins. How comparable
will he be Ryan Carpenter when he gets to be a junior?
I like Marco, whom Conor Glassey ranked as
the No. 6 prospect in the West Coast League last summer. He's a
three-pitch mix guy with a very good changeup, solid curve and a
fastball that has reached 91 at times, and he's very athletic. He's not
as projectable as Carpenter, whom you could envision being a
low-to-mid-90s guy consistently down the road, but he can really pitch.
Shannon (Gainesville, FL): Is anyone better
than Hudson Randall right now? Back-to-back complete games, the latest
against Tennessee with a measly 74 pitches, and he's lowered his ERA to a
paltry 0.54. He hasn't allowed a single earned run in 30.1 innings
dating back to the first inning against Rhode Island. In three
conference starts against LSU, South Carolina, and Tennessee, he is 3-0
with a 0.00 ERA, 10 strikeouts and zero walks in 24.2 IP. He's allowed
one walk in almost 50 innings, seven starts. ONE. Do you think switching
him and Brian Johnson around in the weekend rotation was inevitable?
Randall is a machine. The biggest question
for Florida about how to set up the weekend rotation is which day works
best for Johnson with his two-way role. Some two-way players are best
when they pitch on Friday at full strength, rather than playing a
position for a day or two first. Others might find that pitching Friday
takes a big toll on them and affects their offense the rest of the
weekend. There are different schools of thought on this, and it varies
from player to player, so it's not as simple as just putting the best or
hottest pitcher in the No. 1 slot.
Jon (Hattiesburg): Southern Miss continues to
be on fire; but should they have major concerns about their pitching
depth as the season goes on? Rice and ECU are still on the horizon, and
Southern Miss fans are thinking we're prime to host a regional.
I wouldn't be worried about USM's pitching
depth. You've got three reliable weekend starters, a strong bullpen with
a veteran anchor — I think that staff is in good shape. Southern Miss
certainly might wind up hosting a regional — I'm starting to think the
Eagles might be the best team in CUSA, though I think Rice will still
have something to say about that.
Matt (MD): Aaron, can you rank the 2011 draft
college arms after Cole at this point in the season including Hultzen,
Grey, Bradley, Jungmann, Barnes and Purke? How many of them profile as
We'll have our midseason top prospects update soon!
Bill (Atlanta): I am thrilled at the Yellow
Jackets upcoming series hosting UVA, while also quite concerned.
Virginia seems to sweep through opponents on the road with ease. On the
other hand, I think GT is the best they have yet faced away from home.
Is there much chance for a Jacket series win?
With Geogia Tech's pitching, it has a
chance to win any series, anywhere — especially at home. That's going
to be a very compelling series that could go either way. I do like
Virginia a bit more than Georgia Tech overall because of its experience,
but I don't necessarily like UVa. more than Tech enough to make up for
the natural advantage of playing at home.
Jeffrey (New Orleans): As a Tulane fan, should I
believe that Rick Jones will eventually be able to get top tier talent
(particulary offensive talent as we had 2 blue chip pitchers succumb to
injury recently) back to Tulane (as he was able to do from 2000 to
2006)? We routinely finished in the top 25 in recruiting but haven't had
a class ranked that high in a few years now. Katrina was 6 years ago
and we have upgraded the facilities. We are looking at back-to-back
seasons of not even making the conference tournament.
This year's team had plenty of talent,
earning a Top 25 ranking and playing up to that ranking for the first
five weeks or so. But injuries have just ravaged Tulane this year —
it's a shame. But I suspect Tulane will be very good next year, assuming
LeBlanc and McKenzie make strong recoveries from Tommy John surgery.
This year's not a lost cause, but my expectations for Tulane have
diminished greatly — I no longer think that's a regionals team, without
Eddie (Orlando): The more Georgia keeps
winning, the more that is helping Stetson out for an at-large bid if
they don't win the A-Sun, right? Do you think 40+ wins, with 20 of the
them in conference play, a 3 game sweep over Georgia and a win at
Florida St., and a solid showing in the conference tourney get them in?
Also, when will Baseball America start unveiling their tournament
projections for the field of 64?
The resume you describe is an at-large
caliber resume, yes. And our midseason field of 64 projection will come
out this week — tomorrow, I believe.
Jared (Charlotte, NC): Charlotte 49ers....Any
consideration? I realize the A-10 isnt very good and that hurts them but
23-6 record, their pitching has been unreal and have beaten some decent
clubs including UNC along the way.
Yes, Charlotte was in a group of four teams
that got strong consideration for our one open Top 25 spot this week
(Texas State and Rice were the other two, along with Oklahoma State,
which got the spot). I profiled Charlotte in Weekend Preview two weeks
ago — very good pitching and defense, very athletic club, will have to
grind for runs. Seems like a lot of teams fit that description this year
(Troy and Alabama are constructed similarly, to name two other teams in
that 20-25 range).
Mke (San Diego): WCC action starts next week.
Who would you say is the favorite to win the league at this point? Do
you feel it is only a one team league come tournament time? Who do you
feel are the top five prospects in the league?
I'll go with Gonzaga at this point, but I
think that's the most wide-open conference in college baseball. It does
look like a one-bid league, though — none of those teams did well
enough in the preconference schedule to put itself in good position for
an at-large bid. I'll give you three top prospects for this year's
draft: Ryan Carpenter (Gonzaga), J.R. Graham (Santa Clara), Martin
Viramontes (LMU), Jason Wheeler (LMU), Calvin Drummond (USD).
Bullwinkle (Frostbite Falls, Canada): A few
years ago, Rhode Island was snubbed while Baylor received an at large.
With so many mid majors lurking around the Top 25 and having good RPI's,
what teams from the Cold Lands are possible at larges? Don't mean BCS
teams from Oregon, etc., but from second tier conferences.
At this point, I don't see any unless UConn
gets hot. Kent State has the talent and is currently inside the top 50
in the RPI, but that number will drop considerably as conference play
Bob (Chicago): Aaron,
Coastal Carolina got off to a bad conference start losing 2/3 to UNC-A.
After CCU swept Liberty are they still the conference favorites and
what do you see them doing this year?
Coastal made it clear this weekend it is
still the favorite in the Big South. Liberty couldn't beat Coastal last
year, and it kept the Flames out of regionals despite a 42-win season.
The Flames looked like Coastal's biggest competition this year too, but
if they still can't beat Coastal even when it is less of a juggernaut,
they're in trouble. The Chanticleers look like a No. 2 seed in a
Peter (Hendersonville, TN): Is there a better fastball-curve combo in this year's draft than that of Vandy RHP Sonny Gray?
BL (Bozeman, MT): Hi Aaron, thanks for the
chat. Nick Martini's streak is quite an achievement... what is his
offensive game like? K-State has a tough chunk of the Big 12 schedule
out of the way, it the Wildcats get it going can they still be a
regional team? Looks like a pretty important stretch coming up.
Martini is an athletic, speedy line-drive
hitter with great patience and quick wrists. He's a gap-to-gap type
hitter who does a really good job working counts. I wrote more about him
in today's Three Strikes. As for the Wildcats, I see their regionals
streak ending this year — it will be tough to recover from a 2-7 start
in conference play, and I think that hole is only going to get deeper
this weekend against Oklahoma.
Matthew (Savannah): Hey Aaron,
After going a few weeks into the conference schedule, how do you see the
Southern Conference playing out and how many teams do you think they
will get into Regionals
Seems like that's always one of the
toughest conferences to figure — just a lot of pretty evenly matched
teams in the top half of that league most years. This year is similar; I
still like College of Charleston's talent and think that team will be
in the mix at the top by the end of the year (a sweep against WCU this
weekend was a boost). Elon and Georgia Southern are sharing the driver's
seat now, and I'd say all three of those clubs have good shots at
making regionals, especially since leagues like the Big East and Big Ten
are likely to send just one team to regionals, and the Big West doesn't
look like more than a two-bid league. I think that creates openings for
teams in the SoCon and Sun Belt.
Dave (Mass): What will it take for UConn to get back in the top 25?
Probably about two more weeks like the one
the Huskies just had. UConn has work to do on its resume after that
rough first half.
Toast (Kaneohe, HI): Thoughts on Kolten Wong after a great series against Wichita State?
He's a great all-around player and a likely
top-half of the first-rounder. I think he's the nation's best second
baseman, and there are a lot of good ones this year.
Bobby (Santa Maria): Looks like another down
year for my boys at Cal Poly, but I've heard they might have a couple
decent draft prospects. What are you hearing on Bobby Crocker? Seems
like a nice package of speed in a big body. Also Jeff Johnson has had a
nice year as the closer, and Matt Jensen was a guy coming into the
Really like Crocker — very nice overall
tools package, good athleticism, strength in his swing. Johnson is a
big-time draft sleeper — Larry Lee told me last week his velocity has
jumped into the 92-95 range, and he's throwing a nasty 86-88
Scott (Nashville): It seems like half a dozen
Vanderbilt players have been mentioned as possible 2011 first-round
picks. How many first rounders do you think they can expect? What about
in the top three rounds?
In the first round (not counting
supplemental picks), I'd say one: Sonny Gray. Top three rounds, I'd say
five: Esposito, Westlake, Moore, Armstrong if he bounces back strong in
the second half, and I'll say Garvin too.
Will (Alexandria, VA): Aaron,
Is there no end to Ray Tanner's lineup magic? Is there another coach in
America who gets more from his pieces? It seems EVERY lineup move and
in-game pitching switch works to perfection. It's uncanny.
He pushed all the right buttons last year,
and watching the way he made the most of all his parts convinced us to
name him our college coach of the year — it wasn't just an automatic
thing because he won the national title. The guy can really, really
Lots of good questions left, but I'm out of
time — have to get ready for an interview with our midseason player of
the year, which will be announced this week, along with our midseason
All-America team and loads of other midseason goodies. Have a great
afternoon, and see you next week!