College Top 25 Chat: May 23




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Aaron Fitt: Hey everybody — let's keep this tight, because I've got a plane to catch for Birmingham shortly. Reminder: I'll be hosting the on-field batting practice show with Eric Saninocencio at noon ET on Tuesday — you can watch it live at the SEC website.

    Shannon (Gainesville, FL): Thanks as always for entertaining our questions, Aaron. Can you give your picks for the SEC awards (coach, player, etc.)? And how about your thoughts on how the conference race played out? Seems a bit fitting that things ended in a three-way tie with all the jockeying that went on through the season.

Aaron Fitt: I agree, it was a fitting way to end the season — those are three true juggernauts, and it's hard to separate them from each other. My picks: Ray Tanner for Coach of the Year, Mike Zunino for player of the year, Michael Roth for pitcher of the year, and Karsten Whitson for freshman of the year.

    Greg (Los Angeles): How many pac 10 teams can expect to make the tourney? Are the Bruins a lock for a 2 seed? Thanks!

Aaron Fitt: Six, assuming Arizona State remains eligible, which I expect it will. Bruins will be a No. 2 or a 3 in Fullerton, I suspect — I'd probably bet on a No. 2 seed.

    Jason (Austin): Do you think Texas did enough this weekend by taking 2 of 3 from Texas A&M to earn a top 8 national seed, or do they need to make the finals of the big 12 championship?

Aaron Fitt: I think they did enough this weekend, barring an 0-3 showing in the conference tournament. A 2-1 showing should cinch it, and 1-2 might be good enough, depending on what the Aggies do, I suppose.

    @Jaypers413 (IL): We know Cole and Bauer are first rounders, but about in which round do you see their battery-mate Adam Plutko going in?

Aaron Fitt: He'll be a first-rounder in 2013.

    Ben (Leland Grove): I know BA will release their Draft top 200 list tomorrow, so in preparation, could you give us your personal overall Top 5? thanx

Aaron Fitt: I know this sounds crazy to put the high school guy No. 1, but I might go Bundy, Rendon, Cole, Bauer, Hultzen.

    Jason (Virginia): Aaron, Depending on results from other conferences, do you think the 3 SEC Champions are each still in contention for the #1 Overall Seed if they win the SEC Tournament?

Aaron Fitt: Absolutely! No. 1 national seed is wide open, I think.

    Cal (Easton, MD): Do you see Christian Walker as a first round pick next year? do you think Billy Butler is a good comp for him?

Aaron Fitt: I like that Billy Butler comp. I haven't beared down on 2012 draft statuses, especially in that part of the country (I'm doing SoCal for our draft coverage), but seems like he could be a first-round candidate because of the bat — a CJ Cron type.

    Jason (Austin): I watched Ross Stripling on Sunday and he was very impressive, what kind of prospect do you see him as? Could he be a 1st round draft pick, because you hear alot about Stilson, but not much about Stripling.

Aaron Fitt: He won't be a first-rounder — the stuff is good but not elite. Thinking more along the lines of 5-8 rounder.

    Matt (Cincinnati OH): It looks like FSU took the foot off the accelerator after clinching the ACC in Game 1 v. Clemson. Do they still warrant a Top 8 national seed after dropping the final two?

Aaron Fitt: Right now, it looks like FSU and Georgia Tech are competing for the ACC's third national seed — good luck sorting that one out. The team that does better this week probably has the inside track.

    Carolina Man (SC): I always hear how superior the SEC is, and deservedly so, but the ACC has to be as deep or deeper this year (6 ranked teams,as opposed to 4)...the SEC is very top heavy. How do you feel? Does Clemson host?

Aaron Fitt: Yes, the SEC is top-heavy, no question about it. Only one team in the West even reached the .500 mark, after all. The ACC's top 6 compare favorably with the SEC's top six, for sure. Clemson has a real shot to host, but I still wouldn't bet on 5 ACC hosts.

    Walt (Chicago): Aaron, I don't understand how/why some of the pundits consider A&M ahead of Rice in the mix for national seed and regional hosts....or why they're ranked higher in the polls. They have the same W-L record, they each won a share of their conference regular season championship, but Rice has the higher OOC record, RPI and SoS, the far superior road record and record over the past 15 games, and the Owls are 2-0 in head-to-head competition with the Aggies this season. What say you?

Aaron Fitt: You make a fine case. I think part of the reason the Aggies have been ahead all season is because they led the Big 12 for a lot of the year, whereas Rice trailed USM almost all year. Now that Rice has finished strong, I think it is time to revisit the notion that A&M is ahead of Rice in the pecking order. I'll break it down in this week's stock report, but it's entirely possible Rice has the better resume, as you suggest.

    Alex (Fairfax, VA): If they place a third regional in Florida (Stetson, C. Florida, FIU, wherever), what are the chances Clemson gets sent down there as the #1 seed? Seems like that's the toughest RPI-related question: what do you do with the #9 (but 6th in the ACC) Tigers??

Aaron Fitt: I could certainly see Clemson as a No. 1 seed on the road somewhere, and if Stetson hadn't stumbled in the last two weeks, that scenario would make sense. But I have a feeling there will be enough viable No. 1s that host in other regions (see: state of Texas) that Clemson will wind up as a No. 2.

    Bill (Memphis): Vanderbilt seems more complete this year (both offensively and defensively) than the David Price team, but has stuggled toward season end losing 4 of their last 9 after leading in every game. One of your "national scouts" suggested that Vanderbilt (including the coaches) tended to get "tight." Do you see this as an obstacle for them getting to Omaha?

Aaron Fitt: I think that "tight" issue is overblown. I don't see anything getting between Vandy and Omaha this year — that team is too good, too well-coached, to prepared.

    Bill (Virginia): Strong finish to the season for JMU, 8-2 in May, 10 straight CAA wins, pitching improving, RPI around 60. Not a lot of quality wins for the Dukes but any hope for an at-large bid with a few wins in the tournament but not winning it?

Aaron Fitt: I wouldn't count on it. Teams with RPIs in that range never get at-larges, and I don't expect JMU's to rise appreciably even with a strong week in the CAA tourney.

    Alex (Fairfax, VA): The stock report comes on Wednesday, but it's that time of year: throw us a bone. Has UNC passed FSU (only 5th best ACC record) as the 2nd ACC seed? Is a 3rd ACC seed (GT, UNC, or FSU) competing with Oregon State (leading Pac-10 but weak RPI) for the 8th spot? Gotta think 3 SEC, Arizona State, someone from Texas (UT or now #10-RPI Rice), plus 2 ACC, and (the 8th?) are leading the charge...

Aaron Fitt: Thinking I'll try to move Stock Report up to Tuesday this week. I'm thinking 3 SEC, 3 ACC, Texas (probably) and one Pac-10 team (probably).

    Jordan (Newport Beach): Hello Aaron My Trojans (USC) are out but my next favorite team is looking very good. Cal State Fullerton is running on all cylinders. The beginning of year they played some 'experience' players who just weren't getting it done and 5 front line players were hurt. Now they have 4 freshmen in the lineup playing like juniors and playing very well and all but one player will be back from their injuries; Anthony Trajano and he should be back by the Regionals. Do you think people have forgotten about Fullerton? Do you see them in Omaha?

Aaron Fitt: Fullerton has been a little under the radar, it seems like, but you're right: the Titans seem to be peaking at the right time. I really do like their Omaha chances — really think that pitching staff will carry them, and the lineup is good enough, if not as explosive as it was the last two years.

    Alicia (Oakland): Where do you think Stanford LHP Chris Reed will get drafted next week? He's had a great year.

Aaron Fitt: Could be as high as the sandwich round, no lower than the second round.

    Joe (Colorado): Why does TCU stay at 10 with a perfect 4-0 week?

Aaron Fitt: Lots of good teams in the top half of the rankings that mostly keep winning.

    Trent (waco, tx): It seems to me that the ball is coming off the bat harder now than it was at the beginning of the season. Do you feel the BBCOR bats get hotter with use? Or are the players just getting more used to hitting with them?

Aaron Fitt: I think it's easier to hit in warm weather than cold weather, generally speaking. And yes, I think the players have started getting used to them. It definitely was an adjustment.

    Patrick (Greenville, NC): ECU has won 6 of its last 7 games, and are playing pretty well at the end of the season. Depending on how they do in the CUSA tournament, where do you see them going for regional's and can you see the pirates making a run in the Tournament?

Aaron Fitt: I'm thinking a 2 seed in Chapel Hill, Columbia or Charlottesville. The pitching staff is certainly good enough to carry them to a nice postseason run.

    Jamie (Austin): Are Mikie Mahtook and George Springer really twin brothers? Their stats are almost identical with Mahtook being slightly better.

Aaron Fitt: Both are elite athletes, too, with big-time tools. A scouting director told me this weekend he likes Mahtook even better than Springer, which is the first time I've really heard that.

    Dave (Houston): Is jungmann the favorite for POY or do you have another favorite right now?

Aaron Fitt: At this point, my three finalists would probably be Jungmann, Bauer and CJ Cron. Great race between those three, I think.

    Jacob (Orlando): Brad Miller was just named ACC Player of the Year, but still no mention of him around the top 100 prospects? Kid has a hell of a stick, and scouts at the games think he can stick at SS.

Aaron Fitt: Actually, I think we've got him in the 60s in our overall top 200 — see last week's position rankings, where Miller was in that second-round range, I believe.

    Jeff (Atlanta, GA): Even though Georgia Tech won the series against UNC, does UNC have the inside track for a national seed because of their sweep of UVA?

Aaron Fitt: Yes, because of the UVa sweep, the No. 1 RPI, and the stellar record against the top 25 in the RPI (11-5) and the top 100 (31-12).

    Ben (Columbia, SC): What advantage is there to have a high national seed? Are you paired up with a "weaker" regional for the super regional or is it just a matter of geography?

Aaron Fitt: There's no real advantage — the pairings are based on geography. If you're a national seed, it doesn't really matter where you're seeded (at least, not until Omaha, assuming all the national seeds made it there, which they never have and probably never will). That's one of the reasons I use a Stock Report format for most of the year instead of a full field of 64 projection — being a national seed is what matters, not which national seed you get.

    Ryan (Owasso): I'm a concerned Oklahoma State fan who fears this is what we are - a team that might get good enough starts to surprise a team, but really lacks any depth to do damage. Any reason I should expect anything other than two games & out in both the Big 12 tourney and whatever regional we wind up in?

Aaron Fitt: I think you're probably right — the Cowboys are good but not great. That doesn't mean they can't win some games in OKC, but I don't think that's an Omaha team, or even a super regional team, really.

    Steve (Long Beach, CA): What do you think the odds are on Arkansas hosting a regional? Do the Hogs have any work left to do in the SEC Tourney to secure the hosting role?

Aaron Fitt: Right now, I'd probably have Arkansas as a host, but the Hogs definitely can't afford an 0-2 showing in Hoover. I'd say they need at least 2 wins to feel good about their chances.

    David (Los Angeles): From what you know, does Gerrit Cole typically throw so many sliders to lefties? The pitch only has the largest platoon split, could explain some of his problems. I was disappointed he didn't use his changeup more against an aggressive Cal lineup but there is no doubting the stuff. Bring on the Fullerton regional please.

Aaron Fitt: He really has not thrown the changeup much either of the last two times I've seen him, including against Cal. He threw it a lot more earlier in the season, but it was also better earlier in the season — some scouts have told me it was a 70 changeup in the first half of the year, but it hasn't had as much action lately.

    Stan (Anaheim, CA): What's the status on ASU's post-season eligibility?

Aaron Fitt: Status quo — they're in for now, unless the NCAA rejects their appeal before selection day, which most people don't expect to happen. If the appeal is later rejected after selection day, ASU would have to sit out the 2012 postseason.

    JAMIE (Hook Em, Texas.): The horns have been scoring runs with smoke and mirrors scorcery all year. How far can their pitching actually take them?

Aaron Fitt: To Omaha.

    Jason (Okmulgee, OK): Was the final regular season series loss to Baylor the final nail in the coffin for OU's hopes of hosting a regional or will a strong showing this week in OKC have them staying in Norman next week?

Aaron Fitt: I think the Sooners are still right in the mix with TCU and Arkansas.

    Adam (Sanford, Nc): Hey Aaron, how bout those Pirates?! If the Pirates sweep the tourney, is there an outside shot that we could host?

Aaron Fitt: Probably too little, too late, I suspect. Will be a solid No. 2 seed somewhere.

    Tim (Lincoln): Who are the best candidates to replace Anderson at Nebraska?

Aaron Fitt: I threw Minnesota assistant Rob Fornasiere's name out there on Twitter, but I suspect the Huskers will start their search by looking at established head coaches — think Brad Hill, Rob Walton, Rob Cooper, Scott Stricklin.

    Phillip (Atlanta): Aaron, love the podcast and chat! What does Georgia Tech have to do to be a national seed?

Aaron Fitt: I'm thinking it comes down to out-performing FSU in the ACC tourney.

    tom (sc): Do you think they should have a three way tied for the sec or head to head to determined conference winner

Aaron Fitt: I kind of think that co-champions are stupid when you've got a clear head-to-head tie-breaker...

    Jake (Fullerton): Will Cal State Fullerton get a national seed? Why or why not?

Aaron Fitt: I don't think so — 3-7 vs. the top 25 in RPI, 6-8 vs. top 50. Does not compare well with other nat'l seed contenders.

    Steve (Austin): how many wins will wayne graham get before he retires ?

Aaron Fitt: 2000? I want to see him coach until he's 95!

    Jeff (Atlanta, GA): Assuming the ACC gets three national seeds (UVA, UNC, and GT/FSU), GT and FSU will battle on Thursday for the last one. So...FSU or GT...who do you think will get it?

Aaron Fitt: If FSU throws Gilmartin on Thursday, as I suspect it will, then I guess I'd lean toward the Seminoles by a nose.

    Dan (Omaha): Top 5 teams who you think can win it all?

Aaron Fitt: I feel awfully good about the top 5 teams in our rankings right now...

    gametime (miami): Duke kid hit 100 on score board this week. no news on it. kid can pitch do you know the kid. came in from rf.

Aaron Fitt: I think the scoreboard gun was a few ticks fast, but Marcus Stroman is a stud — a really legit talent. One of my favorite players in college baseball, a small, compact two-way player with a big-time power arm, and he's tough as nails. He's a Long Island kid who got some interest in the draft out of high school, but his size made it tough for anybody to sign him away from a Duke scholarship. He'll be a really nice pick next year, though.

    John (Omaha): Creighton - RPI 37, outright champion of #7 RPI conference despite 4 road and 3 home series, #2 most road wins in top 50, t-#1 most road/neutral wins in top 50, 1-0 vs top 50, 9-5 top 100 - How many conference tourney victories are required for an at-large berth? What are the chances a BCS team with a worse RPI and losing record vs. top 50 but more top-50 wins, ie Texas Tech or K-State passes them for a bid? What are the chances they lose their coach to Nebraska?

Aaron Fitt: I think 2 wins in the MVC tourney puts Creighton in comfortably, and 1 might be enough, but would probably make them sweat. If I were Nebraska, I would certainly look hard at Ed Servais — he's an outstanding coach, teaches the fundamentals as well as anybody in America, and obviously he's very familiar with the territory. Would Servais leave Creighton and TD Ameritrade Park for the Bluejays' rival? Not sure about that...

    Blake (Tempe): If ASU takes 2 of 3 at home this weekend against UCLA, are they a lock as a national seed?

Aaron Fitt: Probably.

    Casey (KY): Hey Aaron. Enjoy reading your stuff. Ole Miss didn't do themselves any favors this weekend needing to win just one of two games on Saturday. Are they in the field or not?

Aaron Fitt: They're on the bubble, and probably on the wrong side of it, but if Georgia and/or Auburn fail to finish above .500 overall, I think that helps Ole Miss quite a bit. And looking around the nation, I don't see a ton of bubble teams with better resumes than the Rebels, keeping in mind the committee's affinity for the RPI...

    Brian F (Indianapolis): Do you think the Big East will have more then one team (Uconn) in the post season this year?

Aaron Fitt: Only if the Huskies don't win the automatic bid.

    Alex (Fairfax, VA): Here's a follow up: if Clemson is a #2, do they end up in South Carolina, in a brutal regional??

Aaron Fitt: No chance.

    JetJock (Memphis): Do you think North Carolina is not getting the credit they deserve for the season they have had given their high RPI?

Aaron Fitt: I think they've gotten plenty of credit. As for the discrepancy between their RPI (No. 1) and their place in our rankings (No. 12), I would point out that UNC has lost four series this year — including a sweep at NC State and 2 of 3 at Wake Forest. Those series, plus their meltdown at Georgia Tech, keep UNC out of top 10 for now. But as John Manuel wrote in Three Strikes today, North Carolina's season has been absolutely remarkable, given the lack of premium talent on the roster that it had during its four straight CWS runs.

    Michael (SC): How do you like SC chances to repeat this year. They have a very deep talented pitching staff and they have quality hitting. They also have the experience from last year's title run(where they won 6 in a row in Ohama). Also, who is your darkhorse outside of the top 25 who could make a run at Omaha? I would have said ECU last week(but they are ranked this week).

Aaron Fitt: I still think Cal, Arizona and Stanford could be Omaha darkhorses. SC enters the conference tournament as the No. 1 team in the nation, so I'd say it's got a pretty darn good shot to repeat!

    David (Louisiana): UNC: 44-12, South Carolina: 44-12. UNC SOS: 3, South Carolina SOS: 31. UNC rank: 12, South Carolina rank: 1 It seems that luck (when you happen to lose your games) plays a role in a team's ranking. (I graduated from South Carolina, so I am not complaining, just curious.)

Aaron Fitt: Don't forget that South Carolina has only lost 1 weekend series this year, while UNC has lost four. We place a good deal of weight on weekend series.

    Brian (Omaha): How far down in the rankings do you have Creighton?

Aaron Fitt: In the 26-30 range. Might have been team No. 26 this week — the Bluejays got some support in our Top 25 meeting.

Aaron Fitt: OK everybody, I'm out of time. Thanks for all the great questions — really enjoyed the chat! I'm off to Hoover.