College Top 25 Chat: May 9
Aaron Fitt will answer your college baseball questions beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Good afternoon everybody! It was another
great weekend in college baseball, the sun is shining here in Laguna
Beach, I'm in high spirits and ready to go.
josh (beaumont): Fsu,unc,gt,florida or texas!! Who gets a national seed out of this group?
I'm still leaning toward the three teams I had as national seeds in last week's stock report: Florida State, Florida and Texas.
Greg (Los Angeles, CA): Are the Burins back?!
I don't know about the Burins, but the
Bruins played pretty well this weekend! That was what I expected to see
from them all season�simply dominating pitching and enough offense to
get it done. Oregon's had a rough year, but still, that's a nice road
series sweep for UCLA. I've never quit believing UCLA could be a very
dangerous team in the postseason, and maybe it's starting to come
together for those guys.
Shannon (Gainesville, FL): Big weekend coming up in terms of the SEC race. Who do you see winning the series in Nashville, going by pitching match-ups?
Talked about this in today's podcast at
length: I think I'd give the edge to Vanderbilt. As great as Hudson
Randall is, I'd give the edge to Sonny Gray on Friday, and Garvin gets
the edge over Brian Johnson on Saturday. That's going to be a heck of a
series, but I like the home team.
John (Greensboro, NC): What are your thoughts
on UNCG and the run they have made in the recent weeks? They are sitting
in second in the SoCon and have won eight of their last nine.
Today's Three Strikes (which should be
posted shortly) delves into the success of the Spartans. I'm simply
amazed that UNCG has won series against the four most talented teams in
that league�Elon, Georgia Southern, Samford and College of Charleston,
and the latter two were on the road. As Mike Gaski put it in today's
Three Strikes, Greensboro isn't a sexy team, but it's fundamentally
solid, and it will be dangerous in the SoCon tournament.
Joe (Lexington, SC): At what point does Micheal Roth get into the Pitcher of the Year conversation?
He's already there, Joe! He's right on the
short list of candidates, along with Trevor Bauer, Danny Hultzen and
Taylor Jungmann, the way I see it. Roth is the strong favorite for SEC
pitcher of the year honors. Amazing season!
Shannon (Gainesville, FL): So the Gators
dropped to No. 8 after a tough series loss in one of the toughest places
to play in the country. Ouch. Even with the top-ranked RPI, give it to
me straight — are they in danger of losing a national seed?
No, I don't think so. A three-spot drop for
losing two of three at Arkansas was admittedly harsh, but Florida has
the same overall record as Texas and Florida State (which is, of course,
3-1 against the Gators this year), and the Longhorns and Sun Devils
only have one series loss apiece, while Florida has two. That is why we
dropped the Gators behind those teams.
ScottAZ (Phx, AZ): Your person prediction: ASU
will/will not participate in this year's postseason.
Most people out here are pretty optimistic that the NCAA will drag their
feet and not come to a decision by the May 16th cutoff thus allowing us
I think they will participate in this year's postseason, for the reason you suggest.
Harry (Jackson): What do the Ole Miss Rebels
have to do to get into the NCAA tourney with the home series against Moo
U, @ARKY, and a possible Hoover trip left on the schedule? Thanks
again for everything and HOTTY TODDY!!
If the Rebels make it to Hoover, I think
they're in. If not, they still could squeeze their way in, but it will
be dicey. Hoover is the goal. Winning that series against South Carolina
was absolutely huge for Ole Miss.
Kurt (Tallahassee, FL): Thanks for taking our
questions. Can you please explain how Arizona State jumped Florida
State? Arizona State went 3-0 to Long Beach State (RPI 68) and 1-1 to
BYU (RPI 127). While Florida State went 1-0 to Jacksonville (RPI 48)
and 2-1 to UCF (RPI 28). Neither of Arizona States opponents even had a
top 50 RPI. In fact, one was barely in the top 150. Normally, I would
say that is just the typical west coast bias, but Florida State is a
bubble team for one of the top eight seeds in the NCAA tournament. Your
rankings figure considerably into the mix. Can you please explain?
Arizona State was already ahead of Florida
State in last week's rankings, so we left them in that order — no
jumping. The Sun Devils have been ahead of FSU since March 21, when FSU
had that 1-3 week. Comparing the two, ASU has a 17-7 mark against the
top 50 compared to FSU's 13-9 mark, and ASU has just one series loss
compared to two for FSU.
Ben (Leland Grove): Has Winkler pitched himself into the first round yet, in your opinion? Or is he still more of a sandwich rounder?
Probably a sandwich to second-rounder in this extremely deep draft class.
Grant (NYC): In your gut, who goes off the board first at this point - Hultzen or Bauer?
Toss a coin... my gut says Hultzen goes No. 3, Bauer shortly after. But who knows, at this point?
Slim (TN): Does Southern Miss have a serious chance of being top 8 national seed?
Absolutely. The biggest strike against
Southern Miss is an 0-2 record against the top 25 in the RPI, but the
rest of their vitals are strong, especially a 24-10 mark against the top
100, a gaudy RPI and overall record, and their strong position atop the
C-USA standings. USM probably needs to win that final series against
Rice to really break into the top 8, though.
Travis (Fort Worth TX): What do you make of the
frogs losing with Winkler on the bump on Friday, then getting great
performances from Mitchell and Miller to take two of three from OK state
in Stillwater? Will this series win get the Frogs a regional for the
third straight year? How do you see them doing in the post season if
Maxwell and Purke return strong in the coming weeks, with the offense
anchored by Rivera, Coats, Elander, and Featherston?
The Frogs showed a lot of gumption this
weekend, for sure. I watched the Sunday game on TV, and I was impressed
with TCU's offense, which did a really nice job driving the gaps and
staying patient. That was a must-win series for TCU to have any shot at
hosting, and now it's right in the mix, although competition remains
thick for those last few spots (Oklahoma and Arkansas might still have
an edge over TCU because of the RPI, and OU's head-to-head edge over
TCU). Maxwell and Purke returning is obviously critical for TCU to make
another deep run — not because Miller and Mitchell (who is a stud)
aren't capable starters, but because the staff lacks depth without Purke
and Maxwell. If you can then move Miller and Mitchell into bullpen or
NO. 4 starter roles in the postseason, you're in much better shape, I
Jack (California): Hello. Love your responses
to our questions. When you look at the polls, it is a surprise that no
Big Ten Teams are listed. Michigan State is 30-14 and has been beating
up on the rest of the Big Ten and everyone else they have played.
Considering these teams have limited playing conditions for over the
half the seasson and mostly develop late in their seasons, why aren't
the Big Ten teams giving more consideraton. Another example is
Minnesota. Late bloomers, having swept Indiana (when they had the
highest RPI) and recently Michigan.
Thanks for the kind words, Jack. Michigan
State is the only Big Ten team in the top 25 discussion, and it was in
the discussion this week, but an 0-1 record against the top 50 and just a
1-1 mark against the top 100 is tough to overcome. The Big Ten in
general is down this year, so just sitting atop that conference is not
enough to make Michigan State a top 25 team.
Josh (Wilson, NC): What other players from
Conference USA, beyond Anthony Rendon, have the potential to get drafted
in the early rounds in the upcoming June draft?
Certainly BA Vollmuth is going to be
drafted pretty well, as one of the better power bats available in this
college class. I see him as a top-two-rounds guy. Zach Wright and Mike
Wright at ECU have gotten some buzz, but not in that elite category.
Same goes for Dillon Napoleon and Ryan Woolley at UAB. Rendon and
Vollmuth are probably the only real high picks.
Eddie (Orlando): Any chance the A-Sun gets 3
bids, or is the longest survivor between Jacksonville and ETSU in the
conference tournament going to be the only at-large team? Do you think
that qualifying for the NCAA tournament should stop at the end of the
regular season instead of giving schools a chance for a ''bonus'' round
of strengthening profiles and resumes by playing in conference
I think three bids is possible if
everything breaks right — if Jacksonville and ETSU both finish strong
and all the favorites with at-large chances (like Fresno and TCU) win
their conference tournaments, but two is more likely. The conference
tournament isn't really a bonus round — the leagues that don't have
conference tournaments are still playing regular season games that last
weekend, so it wouldn't be fair to give those teams an extra weekend to
pad their resumes but not the teams that have to play conference
Luke (Atlanta): BA's bias for western teams is
glaring. Arizona State jumps Florida State and Oregon State jumps Vandy
(Really?). Vandy won the series (away series) and lost a game 2-0 when
Alex Meyer pitched a CG and the losing pitcher went 8 and gave up two
runs. Care to explain?
I dare say YOUR bias against facts is
glaring! Where did this notion come from that ASU jumped FSU? As I said
earlier, the Sun Devils were already ahead, and Oregon State was already
ahead of Vandy. We considered jumping Vandy back over Oregon State this
week, but taking 2 of 3 against a 5-19 Kentucky team didn't impress me
more than Oregon State taking 2 of 3 from a talented and ranked Cal
team, even though the Beavers also lost a midweek game.
Jason (New Orleans): Hey, what are the Waves
chances of getting an at-large bid if they finish out the regular season
5-1 and getting to 3rd or 4th place in the CUSA league standing before
the CUSA tournament begins?
Thanks for the chats!
Talked about this a little on today's
podcast — Tulane has quietly put itself back in the at-large hunt over
these last two weekends with series wins against UAB and Memphis. There
is still plenty of work to do, but Boyd's RPI Needs Report says Tulane
can finish inside the top 45 with a 6-0 finish. I think 5-1 might be
enough, combined with a couple of wins in the conference tournament. The
rest of those C-USA teams keep beating each other up, and there's not
really a clear-cut fourth team ahead of Tulane in the pecking order
(though I still like UCF's chances better because of its RPI edge,
thanks in part to those 2 midweek wins against Florida and a series win
against Rice). Of course, Tulane won the head-to-head series at UCF...
that league is awfully muddled after the top two; even ECU's resume
isn't rock-solid, though the Pirates are in pretty good shape for an
Neil (Texas): Aaron. Im not a cal fan, but
dropping Cal out of the rankings after 3 close games against the #2 team
in the country is a bit surprising.
It's not just based on this weekend. Cal is
just 3-11 against the Top 25 — that's not getting it done. Cal beats
the teams it should beat but does not beat the better teams it faces in
the Pac-10. I still love Cal's talent and believe that is a dangerous
team, but its resume is not Top 25-caliber.
James (Irvine): I know Irvine has a good record
but their schedule has been really weak this year and they already lost
a series to Fullerton. I know they took 2 of 3 from Cal Poly this
weekend but should I have a concern about making the regionals?
Yeah, UC Irvine is on the bubble, no
question. The Big West is not very strong this year, leaving the
Anteaters very little wiggle room in the RPI. Boyd's RPI Needs Report
says Irvine needs to finish 9-2 just to finish in the top 45. I think
that's doable, and I think Irvine is definitely a regional-caliber team,
and ultimately I think it will be in regionals, but it's going to be
close. We know the committee leans heavily on RPI in its
George (Fort Worth): If you were the manager of
a team playing in game 3 of the best-of-3 cws championship series, and
you could pick any pitcher in the country to give the ball to, who would
Taylor Jungmann has been my default answer
to this question for maybe two years (after all, he was dominant against
LSU in the CWS Finals as a freshman), and he remains my choice. That
guy is as dependable as it gets. He has dominating stuff, incredible
feel for pitching and command, and world-class competitiveness.
Josh (Mobile, AL): Hey Aaron, looks like our
injuries finally hurt us. Do you think South Carolina needs to win their
last two series to guarantee a National Seed, or can they afford to
lose one of them? Also, do you think we should put Neff back as a
starting pitcher? Thanks.
I think South Carolina would need to
completely collapse to fall out of national seed position. I don't think
you'll see Neff back as a starting pitcher; I don't get the feeling
he's 100 percent healthy like he was earlier this year. I do think it's
fair to worry if Holmes and Koumas can continue to thrive as starters
down the stretch the way they did early in the SEC season, but for now
you have to give them the benefit of the doubt, I think.
ScottAZ (Phx, AZ): Navery Moore's stats are pretty awesome. Any chance a pro team will try him as a starter?
His stats are pretty awesome, you are
right. I suppose someone could give him a shot as a starter, but he
seems pretty special in that bullpen role — just attacks hitters with
that power fastball and devastating power breaking ball.
Steve L. (Corvallis): Who is the best No. 3 starter for the Beavers? Wetzler, Nygren or Schultz?
I like Wetzler — really nice feel for pitching.
TJ (Westchester, NY): What do you think are the draft position's for UCONN's George Springer and Matt Barnes?
Both still locks for the top 15, I think,
and strong candidates to go in the top 10, though competition is fierce
in the top 10.
Nick (Tallahassee, FL): Florida State seems to
be in a somewhat good position, even though they don't have a solid #2
weekend starter and subpar hitting. What can you attribute to this?
Great coaching, as usual, and I do not
agree that their hitting is "subpar". Maybe you don't see the kind of
numbers you're used to seeing from Florida State, but in the context of
the new bats, it's still a very good offense. They grind out at-bats and
work up pitch counts, as they always do, and they've got experienced
hitters who use the gaps very well and can drive the ball out of the
park — I love that core with McGee, Ramsey, Travis and Boyd. Moving
McGee into the starting rotation was the right move, too. By the end of
the season, FSU should have a solid one-two punch with him and
Gilmartin, and Hunter Scantling has shown enough flashes this year to
believe he could be a third capable starter in the postseason.
Bob (Chicago, IL): Aaron, CCU is in the midst
of 37 straight innings w/o allowing a run. Is that impressive, or does
the fact that it is all against Big South teams make it meaningless?
It's certainly not meaningless — it
doesn't matter who you're playing, it's very difficult to throw four
straight shutouts in baseball, especially with metal bats (even
diminished ones). Radford has a winning record, too. Coastal seems to be
peaking at the right time.
Jim (North Carolina): Who are you top 3 highest drafted Seniors in this class?
In no particular order, I'll go with Cody Martin, Cole Green and Tyler Wilson.
Andy (GreenvilleSC): Clemson has been rather
hot lately winning 18 of their last 21 games including a huge series win
agianst Ga. Tech. It seems to be they have found a solid weekend
rotation with Leone, Meyer, and Sarat and hope getting Brady back soon.
What do you think their odds are of host a regional and super regional?
Maybe even getting a national seed? (Even though that is dreaming quite
Yes, Clemson has put it together, as you
had to believe it would. It just took some time to figure out the
pitching, but now it's in pretty good shape. I do think a national seed
is dreaming too big, despite the RPI, but Clemson has moved past Miami
as the fifth potential host out of the ACC (Miami tumbled to around No.
20 after this Hofstra weekend, while Clemson remains inside the top 10).
The Tigers probably need UNC or Georgia Tech to falter down the stretch
to host, though. It helps that UNC's remaining schedule is challenging,
but remember that Clemson still must travel to Florida State. If the
Tigers win that series, they could muscle their way into hosting
position regardless of what the Tar Heels and Yellow Jackets do. Should
be an interesting race.
CD (Columbus): Is Josh Dezse of Ohio State the
best two way freshman in the country? Upper 90's FB and batting around
.360. Future 1st rounder??
From what I've gathered, Dezse sounds very
special — he showed power stuff even before arriving at Ohio State, and
he very well might find himself in that first-round range in two years.
Also got a strong chance for freshman All-America honors this spring.
Don Williams (Texarkana,Texas): What is your
thoughts on Coach Wayne Graham reaching 900 wins at a school like Rice
in twenty years ? I think it is an unbelivable acheivment given their
high standerds and the size of the school. I don't think he is
recoginzed as he should be on a national level.
He's one of the great coaches in college baseball history, and we've been saying it for a very long time.
Joe (Nashville): Aaron, I know you look forward
to getting this question every week but wouldn't it make sense for
Vanderbilt to be ranked #2 and OSU #3 since OSU lost twice last week and
VU lost only once? It just looks sort of odd for a team with 11
losses to be sitting ahead of a team with 6 losses. Is it that
Vanderbilt's incredibly weak schedule that BA doesn't respect? Just
BA has no respect for the Commodores,
that's what it comes down to! It's downright insulting to have Vandy
ranked No. 3, behind two other teams that are also in first place in
power conferences and have not lost a weekend series all year! Any time
you take 2 of 3 from a team that is 5-19 in its conference, you DESERVE
to jump ahead of a team that won 2 of 3 from a very talented (and
ranked) Cal team! There is no other reasonable position on this. The
only explanation is BIAS! (How's that? Just telling you what you want to
Matthew (Statesboro): Hey Aaron, thanks for
taking my question. I was wondering what you thought Victor Roache of
Georgia Southern stock was in the 2012 draft. He obviously has the power
to play at the next level. He has become much more patient at the plate
with pitchers not trying to give him something to hit out of the park.
What does he need to do or improve to have the scouts move him up the
1st round? Thanks
It's too early to talk about 2012 draft
stock — scouts haven't been bearing down on that, and neither have we.
But I can tell you that Roache has legit, monstrous power, and that's
the kind of tool that could carry him into the first round. He arrived
at Georgia Southern as a pretty raw Michigan high school product, and
his approach has improved by leaps and bounds. Special talent.
Cari (Jacksonville, Florida): Do you see
Florida sophomore catcher Mike Zunino making a run for SEC Player of the
Year? His conference numbers are ridiculous at .430/.485/.699 to go
along with 27 runs/13 doubles/4 HRs/22 RBI. He was pretty good last year
but these stats are shaping him up to be a first-rounder next summer.
Real strong candidate for SEC POY — in
fact, he might be the favorite, maybe a tick ahead of Aaron Westlake and
Christian Walker (Mikie Mahtook is fading in this discussion, I think)
because of his position and what he's been able to do in conference
play. I said in today's podcast that if the season ended today, Zunino
would be my choice for first-team All-American at catcher. As for the
2012 draft, forget about the stats — his tools make him a very likely
first-round pick. He's an elite catch-and-throw guy with real power
potential. Great package.
Michael (Dallas): Aaron Westlake has been the
best hitter on one of the best teams in college baseball. No one ever
talks about him as being a top prospect or a key component of the team.
Where is the love for the Vandy first baseman?
I talk all the time about my affinity for
Westlake — where've you been, Michael? He's big and physical with a
beautiful lefthanded swing and serious power potential — I even said
recently on a podcast, I believe, that I think he's one of the very best
power bats in this draft. I think he'll be a top-two-rounds pick, maybe
a sandwich pick, and he'll be an All-American.
FridayNightAss (Texass): My coworkers are
asking me why I'm staring at a screen with a photo of a man's tight,
padded undergarments. What should I tell them?
Tell them you're above distraction.
Greg (New York): Hey Aaron,any chance Lindor or Springer will go in the top five or is that too much to ask,thanks.....
I'd say there's a chance with both those
guys, sure — both have serious raw tools. But the 5-12 range is
probably more likely for both, just because the top of this draft is so
loaded with high-upside safe bets on the mound.
Rich (Denver): Can you address the disparity
between rankings and RPI for certain teams - in particular TCU. Which
system is broken or is it a little of both? How do you see TCU or other
similar teams seeded?
The RPI works against teams in "mid-major"
conferences, that's just how it is. I think that's a major flaw in the
RPI. It doesn't matter how good those teams are, if they don't play a
power conference schedule, it is very hard for them to break into the
upper reaches of the RPI.
Bill (hamilton,nj): Couple of one bid
conferences...Colonial, American East, MAAC and Atlantic 10. All have
teams that could pull an upset in first round.
Who do you see coming out and making the NCAA"s in each league?
I'll go with James Madison, Stony Brook (feel very confident in that one), Manhattan and Charlotte.
Kevin (Myrtle Beach, SC): Any chance Coastal
can earn themselves a #2 seed in a regional, they have been pitching
more consistently with 4 consecutive shut outs (yes against Big South
With an 0-7 mark against the top 50 and an RPI in the 40s, Coastal looks more like a No. 3 seed to me.
Jeff (Columbia, SC): What can dislodge
Virginia? The lose to a vastly inferior opponent and get a "well they
won the series". Now the ACC gives it teams a week off when other
conferences are battling for tourney position (a meaningless concept in
the round robin ACC where no tourney team is eliminated and there is a
mercy rule.) The SEC teams fight week in and week out and cannot
dislodge a team from an inferior conference whose only defense seems to
be "They were number 1 first." Please spell out how Va. can lose the
number one spot?
56 games is 56 games — it doesn't matter
how you get there. Virginia has shown off its depth over and over again
in four- and five-game weeks — why punish them for taking a week off
for exams, like lots of teams (SEC excluded) do? What will it take for
them to lose the top spot? How about a single week where they lose more
than one game? Hasn't happened all year. And Virginia is unbeaten in 6
separate weeks, not counting last week where it only played one game.
Mark (Florida): Do you think Stetson will host a regional?
Matt (Jackson, MS): What are your thoughts on
Southern Miss Soph. P Geoffrey Thomas? He is 10-2 with a 2.56 era and
has improved dramatically since last season. Out of high school he was
drafted in the 12th round by the Astros. Any early indications as to
where he may possibly go after next season?
Thomas is a legit four-pitch guy who can
run it up there to 93-94 mph (though he pitches around 89-90), to go
along with a curveball, cutter and changeup. The biggest reason for his
jump this year has been dramatically improved command, but he also has a
terrific mound presence, and the team behind him really feeds off that.
Haven't gauged his draft stock yet — too early for that — but he'll
go a lot higher than the 12th round this time around.
Andrew (Minneapolis, MN): With the Big Ten as
poor as it is, the only NCAA bid seems to be coming from the Big Ten
tournament winner. Everyone seems to be riding high on Michigan St.
right now, but would it surprise you if Minnesota or Purdue ends up
winning the tourney and the bid?
I could see Minnesota pulling it off, but I
think Michigan State proved it is considerably better than Purdue this
weekend. That will be a one-bid league; I'm sticking the the Spartans,
with the Gophers as my darkhorse.
Kevin Towers (Arizona): I have two picks at #'s
3 and 7 in this upcoming major league draft..I want Trevor Bauer at
three cause I think he's available no doubt but I am looking for Jed
Bradley at #7.. What would be your choice of a lefty righty combo at 3
Bauer at 3 and Bradley at 7 could make good
sense. Or Hultzen at 3 and Jungmann or Barnes at 7 — I'd be fine
either way, if you want to take a college LHP and a college RHP. This is
a GREAT draft to have two picks in the top seven.
Levi (Texas): Any love for Princeton locking up the first automatic bid into the tournament?
Check today's Three Strikes, which is now posted on the College Blog!
OK folks, that's all for today. Thanks for the fun questions!