College Top 25 Chat: April 11
Trace (Fairfax, VA): Do you feel LSU's 4-6 record in one-run games is due to bad luck or the result of a weak bullpen?
A little of both, I think. Certainly, LSU
needs Matty Ott to get back on track, but Kevin Berry had been pitching
well until giving up Saturday's game, and Ott has shown flashes of being
his old self. But Ott was rock-solid when he was a freshman, and that
was a huge reason LSU won the national title. The Tigers need a somebody
to emerge as a shut-down guy again, because they really were in
position to win both those games Saturday and Sunday, and instead they
suffered two crushing losses.
MJ (Miami): What are your thoughts on Miami at
this point and where do you think they end up? They are 21-11 and
appear to be flying under the radar a bit. It still seems they struggle
to hit with any consistancy but they are starting to play alot better
and their pitching has been really good. After this weekend their
schedule gets considerably tougher with a home series against FSU and
road series at UNC & Virginia. But this team is only getting better
it seems and could be a real sleeper in the NCAA tournament.
It's tough to know what to make of the
Hurricanes, because they are 0-6 against the two really good teams
they've played (Florida and Georgia Tech), but they have taken care of
business against the soft underbelly of their schedule. Really, their
season is shaping up a lot like it did last year, when they also lost
series against Florida and Georgia Tech (as well as Virginia and Florida
State) but beat all the teams they were supposed to beat, and wound up
hosting a regional. I worry about Miami's offense—just one regular is
hitting better than .300, but at least Harold Martinez has picked it up
offensively, which is a huge key. Not having Stephen Perez hurts
defensively, because Martinez made 2 errors at short this weekend, and
he's just not really a shortstop. But you're right, the pitching is very
solid, and I do like Miami's athleticism. That said, I wouldn't put
Miami in the same class with the ACC's top four, which all seem more
balanced than Miami—and all are much better offensively.
Trace (Fairfax, VA): John Savage has been
giving Trevor Bauer a long leash when it comes to his pitch counts,
averaging 122 per start for the year and leaving him out there for 134
on Saturday. Do you think this will affect how teams view Bauer on
There is simply too much gnashing of teeth
out there about pitch counts. Every pitcher is different, and Bauer is
most different at all — he is conditioned to throw a lot. He's so much
like Tim Lincecum in so many ways, and this is one way. Lincecum also
threw a lot of pitches in college, and he has not broken down in pro
ball. There is no evidence that throwing 122 pitches per game once every
seven days makes a guy more likely to break down than throwing 100
pitches every five days, like they do in pro ball. The guys who rail
against college coaches over pitch counts need to get a life.
Trevis (The Ray): Enjoy your analysis and your
I realize that Virginia only has three losses (just one to a ranked GT
team this weekend) and they are stacked, but you had a chance to make it
#1 vs. #2 this weekend at the Ray. If the Gamecocks can take the series
against Vandy, do you think that will be enough to move them to #1
despite what Virginia does or will poll logic cause the teams to move up
It's awfully tough to jump any team over
another team with Virginia's resume, but you never know. If South
Carolina sweeps Vandy, say, it might force its way into the No. 1 spot
even if Virginia goes unbeaten next week, because that will give the
Gamecocks series wins at Florida and vs. Vandy. As impressive as it has
been for Virginia to win series vs. FSU and at Ga Tech and sweep at
Clemson, South Carolina's hypothetical resume would be even more
impressive, I think. We'll cross that bridge when/if we get there.
Suzi Callis (Winnetka, Ill.): How close is
Georgia to making the Top 25? After a terrible start, the Bulldogs are
8-4 in the SEC with three straight series wins. They're starting to look
like they could be the fourth-best team in the league.
John and I had that very same discussion in
today's podcast. Georgia has a better record than any team in the SEC
West, and it has taken care of business against the West three weeks in a
row. Georgia has managed to dig itself completely out of that deep
early-season hole and put itself back into the Top 25 discussion. I use
that word — "back" — because we actually did discuss Georgia for the
preseason Top 25, based solely on its talent. In the end we held off —
Georgia did go 5-23 in the SEC last year, after all — but we expected
Georgia to make a regional and thought it was talented enough to be a
Top 25 team. But I'm amazed that the Bulldogs have been able to make
this kind of turnaround after their horrible start. What a credit to
that coaching staff and those players — really a resilient bunch.
GatorDennis (North of Fla.): Kent State
currently has a PsRPI of 24 and an SOS of 43. As the SOS starts
declining, will winning be enough for a potential at-large bid? Also,
can you comment on the 3 weekend LH starters(Chafin/Starn/Hallock) and
senior captain Ben Klafczynski(.377/.479/.623, 7 HR) as far as the 2011
I suspect the MAC will drag Kent State's
RPI out of at-large territory, which is too bad because I have no doubt
that's an at-large-caliber team. Very experienced team, very balanced,
very dangerous. Chafin is the only real marquee prospect on that team,
but I've spoken with some scouts who think he's a first-rounder, and I
think there's no way he lasts longer than the sandwich round. (For more
on him, check out our Golden Spikes Spotlight in Three Strikes two weeks
ago). Klafczynski is a really good college player who's had an amazing
career there, and he could make a nice senior sign for somebody, because
he can do a lot of things — very physical, athletic, and he's got some
Ben (Leland Grove): About where would Mahtook go off the board if today's date was June 6th?
About No. 15, I'd say.
Hank (Pegram, TN): Another dominant start
(without his best stuff) for Vandy's Sonny Gray, and then a donut put up
by Grayson Garvin before the sweep of UA was completed on Sunday. Is
there a deeper pitching staff, top to bottom, than that of the
Commodores? Who are their 5 top pitching prospects, regardless of
class, and where do you see them being taken?
A veteran national crosschecker told me
last week that he thinks Vanderbilt has the best college pitching staff
he's ever seen. That's a pretty strong statement, but it's a testament
to Vandy's depth and the quality of its front-line options. Sonny will
go in the top 10 picks, Garvin could find his way into the sandwich
round (he's got helium), Navery Moore could go in that range as well,
Lamm figures to go in the top three. Clinard is good, Taylor Hill is
solid, Ziomek might wind up as a first-rounder in two years. Armstrong
is the wild card — guys who have seen him throw 97 in the past might
still be in love with his upside, but his price tag probably won't drop
even though his innings have. He's one of the great x-factors for the
next two months leading up to the draft.
Chompiras (Buena Vista Social Club): Do you
think clubs are adjusting their statical analysis because of the new
Bats? Also why not go with wood bat? seems like the logical step.
A lot of scouts I've spoken with are still
trying to make sense of the new bats, and trying to figure out how to
digest the new numbers. No question, some adjustments have to be made to
statistical analysis, but I doubt anybody really has all the answers
yet. I did speak with a scout last week who thinks the wood bats would
perform better than the BBCORs, because he thinks the wood have bigger
sweet spots. Something to consider...
BL (Bozeman, MT): If Gonzaga gets out of the WCC, does it have enough starting pitching to get to Cody Martin and get through a regional?
Sure it does — Ryan Carpenter, Tyler Olson
and Marco Gonzales make for a pretty nice weekend rotation. That sweep
of USD this weekend really cements Gonzaga as the WCC favorite, in my
mind, and I do think that team is capable of making some noise in a
regional. Gonzaga has found itself in our Top 25 conversation, also.
Tim (Houston, TX): What is C.J. Cron's draft
outlook? I haven't really heard alot about him since Houston's coach
said he was the best hitter he's ever been around (including Anthony
He's putting up absurdly good numbers even
with the new bats, which is why he was our midseason All-American at
first base. Strikes me as a sandwich-round type in this draft, as deep
as it is.
Bill (Hamilton,NJ): Looking at the Nolan RPI,
UCLA is at 83. That is an extreme high number for an at large.
Conversely, Kent is at 28. Granted there's quite a bit baseball left,
but wouldn't Kent have a better chance as an at large today than UCLA?
In fact, how could a 83 get an at-large?
Furthermore, Kent SOS is 36, UCLA 120. Granted , UCLA is a quality team,
but how can they justify a bid unless they win the Pac 10 at this
If the season ended today, of course you'd
be right — UCLA would be out of an at-large spot (although it's in
first place in the Pac-10, so it would get an automatic bid), and Kent
State would be in. But conference play is just starting, and UCLA's
conference is very strong. All the Bruins have to do is go 17-11 down
the stretch to finish in the top 45 of the RPI, according to Boyd's
World's RPI Needs Report. Kent State can't finish in the top 45. I'm not
saying Kent State doesn't deserve a bid just because it's likely to
wind up with a lower RPI — but the committee leans heavily on the RPI
as a crutch, and it simply does not give at-large bids to teams outside
the top 50 or so in the RPI.
Taylor (Houston): What is Purke's draft status right now? I know he's maybe slid a bit, but is he still top 5? Top 10, top 3? Thanks.
Slid out of the top 3, but still safely in
the top 10, it seems. The consensus seems to be that he's been passed by
fellow lefties Hultzen and Jed Bradley, at least for now. A big thing
I've heard: Bradley does a much better job pitching inside to
righthanded hitters than Purke, who has had some trouble commanding to
his glove side. But his fastball velocity has been fine.
shawn (Fort Worth): Aaron- very loyal follower
and I love your write-ups. Is the TCU-OU game tomorrow the game of the
week? Also, is it safe to say that the weekend rotation of Winkler,
Purke, and Maxwell might be the toughest in the country when the
regionals roll around? Purke is about 80-85% and Maxwell isn't fully
there either and look at what they have done by not going the full 100%.
Thanks again for the time.
Very good slate of midweek games —
Rice-Texas A&M, Florida-Florida State also on top — but that
TCU-Oklahoma game is very compelling, for sure. I think you are correct
that TCU hasn't started firing on all cylinders yet, and when it does,
look out. TCU hasn't seemed like a dominant club in the first half, but I
still believe that team will be very dangerous again in the postseason.
Jeramey (Atlanta): Virginia was in town over
the weekend and are they tough. I was really impressed with how well
they hit and battle. It seemed like everytime they had 2 stikes on
them, they hit foul ball after foul ball. Their is not an easy out in
that lineup. Hultzen is better than advertised. WOW, he can flat out
pitch and doesnt seem to get rattled at all. Someone I havent seen much
about but was realy impressed was the closer Kline. He had electric
stuff on Friday and seems to be a power closer. He reminded me of the
Gator closer from last year Chapman. Is this a fair comparison and
where do you rate Kline in college and at the next level? Thanks
Yes, Virginia is the real deal — as you
point out, there are no easy outs in the lineup, especially with Keith
Werman getting hot this weekend. Kline is a big-time power arm — an
unsigned sixth-round pick out of high school, so he's got the pedigree.
He showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman last year, and he has been
one of the nation's best closers as a sophomore. I suspect he'll move
into the weekend rotation as a junior, and he's got a chance to be a
Dave (Birmingham, AL): There is a 4 way lead
for first in C-USA between Houston, UAB, SoMiss, and Rice. Do you see
UAB or Houston sticking around the top until the end? I know UAB has
the pitching to do it just not sure if they will score enough. Thanks.
Impressed with UAB and Houston — scrappy
teams that will battle every weekend — but still like ECU, UCF and
Memphis better by the end of the year, and maybe Tulane if its patchwork
pitching holds up. What a competitive conference, though, as I wrote
about in today's Three Strikes.
Eddie (Orlando, FL): Any chance of the A-Sun
getting a 2nd bid, assuming Stetson keeps winning at the rate they are
going at and wins the conference tournament?
East Tennessee State has a real shot at it,
with its strong RPI, and ETSU is sitting in second place right now.
Jacksonville has a shot too, especially after sweeping a road series
against Mercer this weekend — huge weekend for the Dolphins.
steve (York pa): Could you please grade out Gerrit Cole using 20-80 scale? Thanks for chatting.
I think he projects to have an 80 fastball,
65 slider and 65 changeup — a true big league ace. The stuff really
does compare pretty well with Strasburg's stuff. Strasburg's breaking
ball was a little better at the same stage, and I think Strasburg was
able to command within the zone a little better, but Cole is really
mymrbig (NOLA): I know a few BA staff members
were at Friday's Rice/ECU game. Thoughts on Rice freshman starting
pitcher Anthony Kubitza? What about reliever Tony Cingrani? Do the
Owls have enough offense to have a decent shot at Omaha? Thanks.
I loved Kubitza when I saw him at the
Houston College Classic (I broke him down in detail on the College Blog
after that start), and Conor Glassey was similarly impressed this
weekend. Conor said he was 87-90 and striking everyone out with his
nasty slider. Conor adds: "There's more in that arm, I think he could be
a monster. He's really tall, plenty of room to fill out." As for Rice's
offense, the jury is still out, but they need a whole lot more from
Ratterree and Fuda.
Jordan (Newport Beach, CA): Aaron — who do you
think is your biggest (disappointing) surprise of the year so far?
Oregon or UCLA? I still think UCLA can make a run. It seems like
Fullerton is putting it together at the right time — your thoughts?
Just for the record — I'm a USC guy and beating Stanford was a good
Oregon is certainly the answer — the Ducks
have one win in the Pac-10, and took a horrible series loss against a
Washington team that was really struggling. UCLA, at least, is in first
place. Agreed on Fullerton — I've never been worried about that club
this year, and I think that's probably an Omaha team.
Joey (Oxford): What is up with Ole Miss? Can they turn it around and make a run?
Things can turn around in a hurry — just
ask Arkansas, which went from three straight series losses to 6-6 in the
SEC and a game out of first in the West in one weekend. Ole Miss, like
Arkansas, hasn't been swept in any of its series losses, which is huge
for preserving its at-large position. At 5-7, Ole Miss is still very
much in the regional picture — the committee doesn't place nearly the
value on winning series that we do when we put together our Top 25. Ole
Miss should be able to take care of Kentucky at home this weekend, and
it really needs to sweep if possible, because Florida and South Carolina
are on deck the following two weekends. The Rebels don't look like
regional hosts, but I think they should be in regionals — pretty
similar to last year.
Josh (Tampa): Aaron, I saw your mid-point
projections for the tournament last week, and I must say that I don't
understand how you can still feel so positive about my Seminoles. You
have repeatedly said that the bullpen is improved and our bats can carry
us to Omaha, but I just don't see it. The Noles strike out at an
alarming rate (31 times vs UNC, 29 vs UMD, 25 vs Wake, and 35 vs UVA),
the bullpen gave up late inning leads in 5 consecutive games vs UF and
UVA, and have no pitching after Gilmartin (haven't won on a Saturday in
over a month). Please give me a reason to be optimistic for the second
half of the season, I'm drowning in negativity!!
You're taking me down with you, Josh! Those
are some alarming figures you rattled off... But all that said, Florida
State is still sitting comfortably in first place in the Atlantic
Division. One reason Florida State strikes out so much is because it's
so patient. When you're working a lot of counts, you're going to find
yourself in a lot of 2-strike situations, so you're going to strike out
more. But that's one of the reasons the Seminoles are so good every year
— they drive opponents crazy with their patience, drive up pitch
counts, get on base at a high rate. Last I checked, FSU was second in
the nation in walks (through last weekend). So I wouldn't worry so much
about the strikeouts. I still really like that veteran lineup. But the
bullpen, as it turns out, doesn't look like anything special. I still
they've it's got a bunch of useful parts, but a lack of shutdown, power
arms is hurting it. And Scott Sitz has really fallen on some hard times
— that's a concern.
Lance (Memphis, TN): Is Memphis getting into
the NCAA tournament discussion with this week's wins over Ole Miss and
Southern Miss (2 out of 3), or do they still have a ways to go?
Still quite a ways to go because of the
RPI, but I do like Memphis' team, and I wrote about it in today's Three
Strikes — check it out.
Greg (NYC): Hey Aaron, by now you've surely
seen the Man of Steal's catch on Sunday
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFXIa7qKcHQ). My question is whether
there is anything Tony Kemp cannot do? Furthermore, what's your take on
the weekend series between Vanderbilt and South Carolina? Who do you
Anything he cannot do? I'm not sure he can
hit the ball out of the ballpark, but man is he an exciting player. That
catch was amazing — it was very similar to the one Michael Lorenzen
made in right field for Fullerton yesterday (has anyone posted that
video online yet? The game was on ESPNU — I'd love to see a replay of
that catch, probably the best play I've seen all year, in person). As
for Vandy-SC — that's really tough. Hard to pick against the home team
in SEC series between pretty evenly matched teams.
Carl (Fullerton): Thoughts on Lorenzen in Fullerton and Ficociello in Arkansas?
Both guys are studs, and they're only going
to get better. Ficociello's got special bat speed and leverage in his
swing — he will hit for some serious power down the line. And Mike
Gillespie referred to Lorenzen as a "pretty special physical player"
yesterday — that's a good way of putting it. He can do it all.
Jeff (Oregon): After this weekend's games in the Pac-10, who would you say is the team to beat?
I suppose it's Oregon State! Two awfully
strong weekends to start conference play, especially to do it without
Susac this weekend. Long term, I worry about the impact of losing Susac,
but Parker Berberet is a very nice backup option. That league is wide
Mike N. (Deland): Is it possible for Stetson to
host a Regional? According to Warren Nolan and Boyd's world their RPI
right now is around 21 or 22. If they can get their RPI down to 16 or
better and win conference do they have the facility (being about 3,000
max) or will the NCAA just grant them a #1 seed at another location
I think the facility is fine — the RPI is
the greater concern, and the geography, because Florida and Florida
State are going to host, and Miami will probably wind up in better RPI
shape. Obviously that state won't get four hosts, and maybe not even
three — but Stetson is probably competing with Miami for a third.
Brett (Raleigh): Who do you have winning the SoCon? How many teams get in and who are they?
My opinion on the SoCon front-runner varies
by the day — I give up trying to forecast that league. Today, it feels
like Elon is the team to beat, then Georgia Southern, but will the
Eagles have a strong enough RPI to get an at-large spot? Going 1-2
against Mercer and Marshall last week didn't help. I still like CofC's
talent, but a series loss to The Citadel hurts — the Cougars need to
really get hot.
dave (palo alto): How much damage has been done
to Cal's program by being in limbo for the last several months? They've
lost an entire recruiting class and are way behind for next years
A significant amount of damage, I should
think. They have spent this spring looking for landing places for their
current players instead of recruiting. Once you fall behind in the
recruiting cycle, it's not easy to catch back up, and how enthusiastic
will players be about going to a place that tried to cut the baseball
program? The adminstration made life a lot more difficult for that
talented coaching staff.
Alex (Fairfax, VA): Hey Aaron,
How close is Miami to the top 25? After a 5-8 start (including the sweep
by Florida), they're 16-3, losing 3 at home to Georgia Tech, including 7
in a row. Have the 'Canes righted the ship?
Back in the top 25 discussion, but the 0-6
record vs. the Top 25 was Miami's undoing in these discussions.
Arkansas, by contrast, is 5-4 against the Top 25.
Joe (San Antonio): How are scouts looking at
Rendon's current season? Power numbers and average are way down from
last year but walks is way up. He's not seeing much to hit. Is his
draft stock falling?
Not really — holding steady at 1A/1B with Cole.
mymrbig (New Orleans): I assume the veteran
national cross-checker commenting on Vandy's staff didn't see Rice in
2003? The Big 3, Baker, and Aardsma was pretty ridiculous...
That was my first thought as well. I didn't say I agreed with him!
Colby (Little Rock): Aaron, do you think
Arkansas host a regional this year? Their RPI is 12 and over 27,000
turned out to watch the weekend series.
This weekend really breathed life into
Arkansas' hosting hopes, I think. There's a long way to go, and the SEC
West has really yet to sort itself out, but I think one team from the
West will host, and Arkansas is as good a guess as any.
OK everybody, tons of good questions left
— sorry I don't have time to get to them all, but that's all for today.
Thanks for stopping by!