College Top 25 Chat: March 26
Good afternoon, everyone. Just scarfed down some pizza, I'm ready to go — let's chat!
Steve L. (Corvallis, OR): Surprised you dropped
Arizona in the rankings since they won the weekend series on the road
against Oregon State. Did you expect Arizona to dominate and they
Well, we expected Arizona not to get swept
at home in two midweek games by New Mexico State. Taking two of three in
Corvallis mitigated that somewhat, but on the balance we've been more
impressed with UCLA and Texas A&M, so we moved them up and dropped
Arizona just a couple of spots.
Jason (Minnesota): Aaron,
Despite Vandy's poor start, their start to the SEC schedule went larger
to form. Being swept at Florida and a home series win against Georgia
was highly likely even before the season started. Do you think Vandy can
keep the ship righted, and finish above .500 to be considered for a
That's a fine point, Jason — the
Commodores just have to put the preconference schedule in the rear-view
mirror and treat the SEC as its own season. Conference play does give
teams a chance for a fresh start. I thought Tyler Beede's start Saturday
was very encouraging for Vandy, and moving Will Clinard into the
rotation makes sense to me. Ideally you'd love to have him at the back
of the bullpen, but the 'Dores have had trouble taking leads late into
games because of their starting pitching. Clinard has a chance to
Ralph (Montana): How many of these college
pitchers are going to go in the top 10 this year. It seems as thought
right now there are at least 5 or 6 that could be there.
Right now, I see Appel, Zimmer, Gausman,
Wacha and Stroman as strong contenders for the top 10. I would drop
Chris Beck out of that group (I would have pegged him as a top 10
candidate heading into the year).
ScottAZ (Phx, AZ): as an ASU fan I have to ask
whats up with Jake Barrett? He was 95-97 as a freshman but now sits
91-92. Is it still just rust early in the year, is he holding something
back, or is there some concern?
I saw him sitting 93-94 in both appearances
last weekend at UCLA, with a really good power slider at 85-87 and a
dirty changeup at 80 that I did not expect. I don't think there's the
slightest reason for concern — I think he has improved his command, and
if that means throwing 93-94 instead of 95-97, so be it.
Mike (Chicago): Since Louisville fell out of
the top 25 they have gone 8-1 with the only loss coming in a 2 game
split with #16 Mississippi. What else do they have to do to get back
into the top 25?
I know it, and Louisville has been right in
the thick of our top 25 discussions each of the past two weeks,
especially this week. It came down to Louisville, Missouri State and San
Diego for one spot, and frankly we had some difficulty deciding between
the three — all were worthy, I think. We talked about Louisville some
in today's podcast — like how some of those young hitters have
developed, and I still really like the bullpen, though I expected a
little more out of the starters than we've seen so far.
Luke (Minnesoooota): While I agree that Purdue
has a very solid club this year, and are deserving of a top 25 ranking-
don't you think the 6 spot climb to #19 is a tad generous? Going 2-1
over an average OSU team (IMO), doesn't seem to add up to that large of a
jump in my eyes.
I agree with you, Luke — that was higher
than I really wanted to move Purdue (just as No. 18 was higher than I
really wanted to move Texas), but this was an ugly week for the
rankings, with teams 18-20 all posting losing weeks (Georgia, Oregon
State, NC State), and team 23 getting swept (Texas State). We had a lack
of teams to move up into the vacuum, so Purdue and Texas got bigger
bumps than they probably deserved.
Steve L. (Corvallis, OR): Will Tyler Smith (Avg. 0.463, Slg % 0.597, OB% 0.538) ever make the Weekly Stat Roundup?
He's really gotten off to a brilliant start
for the Beavers, which surely is opening some eyes amongst Northwest
scouts. That stat roundup is for guys we anticipate as top-five-rounds
prospects, and I haven't gotten a sense that Smith is that kind of
prospect, but we'll have to do some more asking around to see how much
of a bump his draft stock has gotten from his performance. He does have
tools and athleticism — very nice player.
Ron D. (Fayetteville, NC): Any thoughts on
Campbell University who extended their nation-leading win streak to 18
games with a Big South sweep of Winthrop over the weekend running their
overall record to 23-3?
I touched on that streak in today's Three
Strikes — Campbell is one of those teams that has gone from way off the
radar to a team of interest, but until the Camels beat an opponent with
a top-100 RPI, it's hard to get too excited. Winning 18 in a row is
difficult against anybody, but that series at Liberty in two weeks will
tell us a lot more about just how good this team is.
Arkham (Danville, PA): Aaron, Curious to hear
your thoughts on the UCLA offense and its chance to remain potent over
the course of the season. Thanks very much.
A scout asked me this weekend which is the
best college offense I've seen so far this year. I have yet to see
Stanford, Florida or Florida State in person, so I thought about it and
answered UCLA. I really do believe in that offense — it's really deep,
experienced and athletic. There may not be much power other than
Gelalich, but the lineup is stuffed with accomplished line-drive
hitters. That offense is for real.
Matt (Buffalo, NY): What do you think of San
Francisco pitcher Kyle Zimmer. He is 2-1 with a 1.62. He has 47
strikeouts and 6 walks. Where do you think he will go in the draft.
If the draft were today, I feel pretty
strongly that Zimmer would be one of the top three picks, and quite
possibly No. 1 overall. Go back and read my Draft Blog post on him
around Week 2 or 3 for more info — he's a very exciting talent.
Andy (Baton Rouge, LA): Thoughts on the
LSU-Arkansas series in Baton Rouge this weekend? Should be a couple of
excellent pitching matchups on Friday and Saturday. Have to think LSU's
offense will have to step it up for the Tigers to have a chance to win
I like Arkansas considerably more than I
like LSU this year, and I think Arkansas is good enough to go into Baton
Rouge and win two of three, just as Florida was good enough to win two
of three on the road against South Carolina. That said, LSU's pitching
will allow it to compete against anybody all season long, so the Tigers
are entirely capable of winning that series. I expect runs to be hard to
come by for both teams, so it will come down to which team gets the
timely hits. I think Arkansas is a better offensive team that is more
likely to get more big hits against front-line pitching, but it should
be a very competitive series.
Brian (Camden, Ar): I know no.1 Florida has the
best weekend rotation in college baseball but who has the second and
third best in your oppinion also who has the best bullpen if its not the
no.3 razorbacks they have to be close to the top
The only flaw for Arkansas is the lack of a
real consistent No. 3 starter — Randall Fant has had a tendency not to
pitch very deep into ballgames. I love that Arkansas bullpen, and of
course the one-two punch with Baxendale and Stanek is exceptional. I'd
give Texas A&M an edge for rotation quality over Arkansas —
Wacha/Stripling is just as good or better of a duo atop the rotation,
and Rafael Pineda has been better as the No. 3. If Forrest Koumas can
return to last year's form, South Carolina has a chance for an elite
rotation as well, and LSU's group (Gausman/Eades/Nola) might be better
than any of them outside Gainesville. As for the bullpen, I'd put
Arkansas right there near Florida. I thought Rice had the country's best
bullpen coming into the year, but so far that group has not met my
expectations. I still think it has a chance to be special by season's
Greg (New York): Hey Aaron,I know this is
college talk but now that Lucas Goilito is sidelined,although its not
serious.Do you think this hurts his chances of going #1 in the draft???
It certainly hurts his chances of going No.
1 — I don't think there's any way he goes No. 1 now, when there will
be plenty of other high-ceiling guys who have played all spring. You
have to imagine this increases the odds he winds up at UCLA, because
under the new draft rules a team can't take a gamble on Giolito at the
end of the first round and pay him, say, $4 million. Of course, maybe
the injury will make him realize the risk of being an elite athlete and
make him more likely to sign for less, just to get his pro career
started. That will be fascinating to watch.
jb (SC): Alright, is it time to hit the panic
button for Clemson? I get the feeling that this team just does not have
the answers yet and may find themselves at home when the post-season
rolls around this year.
Now that we're six weeks into the season,
and Clemson is a .500 team that has been swept twice in conference play,
I think it is very fair to ask that question. The thing is, coming into
the year, I figured Clemson would be a rather average offensive team
(we even gave them a 50 hitting grade on our 20-80 scale in the College
Preview). But I thought the pitching would be good enough to carry the
Tigers, and it just hasn't been. Yes, I'm worried about Clemson. With NC
State looking much improved, and Wake Forest, BC, Duke and Maryland all
showing they are capable of beating quality opponents, a regional
appearance is no longer a shoo-in for Clemson. With a quality Miami team
coming to town this week, Clemson could find itself having to dig out
of a big hole just to make the ACC tournament.
Tony (Chicago): How about the St. Louis
Billiken's out of the A-10 winning 13 straight. Will they win the A-10
title? What seniors have a shot at getting drafted?
Yeah, a Billikens question in the chat! As I
mentioned in today's Three Strikes, Saint Louis' winning streak (like
Cambpell's) has come against soft competition, but 13 straight is 13
straight, and it makes Saint Louis a team of interest. The Billikens'
best prospect is probably sophomore lefthander Damian Rivera (though he
hasn't gotten off to a great start and he's not eligible for the 2012
draft). Closer Travis Parker and catcher Connor Gandossy have chances to
be late senior signs. As for the A-10, I think that league is pretty
wide open now that Charlotte has gotten off to a slow start. So maybe
this is the year for the Billikens.
chris (Myrtle Beach): what are your thoughts on Coastal Carolina's Josh Conway?
Like him quite a bit — had him 89-93 in
the Cape last summer, with a solid-average to plus slider and a
solid-average changeup. It's a quality three-pitch guy, good feel for
pitching and a competitive streak. Only question scouts had about him
was his long-term durability, because he's not particularly physical,
but I like the stuff and the makeup, and he's gotten off to a terrific
start this spring.
Blackie (Cincinnati (OH)): Hi Aaron. Thanks for
the great Mike Wacha game report. I was surprised to hear about the
slider, and had read in the off-season that Wacha was working on a
cutter. Did he confirm that he's throwing a slider, and is there any
relation between the pitches. Anyone who's followed him knows that the
absence of a reliable third pitch has been his primary weakness, and
it's good to hear that he's wisely continued using his curve as an early
count strike as he was at the end of last season.
Wacha and Rob Childress both talked about
the slider and made no mention of a cutter, and I didn't see a cutter,
so it seems that's not part of his attack. Childress mentioned that the
curveball has really improved and is not just a show pitch�he says it's a
pitch Wacha can put hitters away with. It did have good shape and
depth, and it will be interesting to see if Wacha starts throwing it
more as an out pitch, because he did not really use it that way Friday.
I'll have more on Wacha tomorrow on the College Page.
Rodney (Austin): Hey, Aaron. Keep up the good
work. My texas longhorns are very slowing creeping up in your rankings.
Can you tell me what you formula is for ranking them 19th with a 13-9
As I mentioned earlier, it had a lot to do
with the teams ahead of them losing, leaving us with no better
candidates to fill out the top 20. That 13-9 record has also come
against a stout schedule, which matters. And Texas has played well over
the last two weeks, getting the offense going, in particular.
B (Springfield): Missouri State gaining any
traction towards the top 25? The pitching staff led by Pierce Johnson
has been very good and the Bears appear to have more offense than they
have had in a while.
I really like that Missouri State team —
wrote about them in today's Three Strikes as well. I really like the
experience in the lineup, and the pitching staff is excellent. I've
gotten some reports that Missouri State is a very dangerous club, and I
believe it. As mentioned above, the Bears and Louisville were right in
the mix with San Diego for a top 25 spot.
Justin (South Carolina): Do you like Matt Price better out of the bullpen or starting for the Gamecocks?
I think he just belongs in the bullpen —
he gives that team so much confidence when he's back there. It makes
everybody believe they're going to win every close game. In some ways,
it can be harder to find a shut-down closer like Price than to find a
weekend starter. Price's makeup just makes him special at the back of
Justin (Toronto): After a consensus top 3 of
Stanford, UCLA, and Fullerton in California, how would you rank the
second tier of teams like USD, Irvine, Cal, USC, etc...? Could you see
any of these second tier teams surprise some teams and maybe win a
That's a tough one. I think San Diego is
the next team (which is why we moved the Toreros into the rankings), but
I think that group with USC, Cal, Irvine, Pepperdine, Cal Poly and
Fresno State is all jumbled together — none of those teams has
separated itself from the pack yet. They've all shown signs of
considerable promise, but all of those teams have holes, too. They all
strike me as regional-caliber clubs, but they won't all make regionals.
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Aaron, thank you for
the chat today. I've never really been keen on Deven Marrero as a
possible 1-1 guy so I may be picking on this unfairly, but has his so-so
season thus far dropped his stock for this year's draft?
You know, I think it has a little bit. I've
seen a good bit of Marrero over the last three years, and it seems he
always has quiet games with the bat every time I see him. Then you look
at the numbers, and you realize he's never really put up loud numbers
with the BBCOR bats. Marrero is a special defender, a true major
league-caliber shortstop — that is the scouting consensus, and I agree
with it. But he is not a great runner, and he is not special with the
bat. I know scouts who think similarly. I don't see Marrero as a 1-1
kind of guy at this stage, and he's feeling more and more like a middle
of the first round type.
Ronaldo (Danville, VA): It seems like it's
still is anyones league to win, but who is your pick to win the SOCON
and how many bids does the league get this year?
It is tough to get a read on the SoCon.
Elon has won series at CofC and vs. App State, but in between the
Phoenix dropped two of three to Davidson. Really, I think it's going to
be a free-for-all between those top five teams (CofC, App State,
Samford, Elon and Western Carolina), and I could see any one of them
winning it. If Samford can get Lex Rutledge going (and it looks like he
struck out three in a scoreless inning yesterday, which is encouraging),
I think I'm still most intrigued by that club. But it strikes me as a
one-bid league this year, with a chance for two.
Alan (Newport Beach, CA): Fullerton vs. ASU
midweek games tomorrow and Wednesday should be good ones. I have to
give it to Fullerton playing the schedule they are playing and most of
them are away games. Who do you like in these two games. I think they
each win one.
A split feels likely — neither one of
these teams gets swept, they're just too hard-nosed. You've gotta love
that Fullerton nonconference schedule. Count me among those who think
playing quality competition on the road early in the year makes your
team better in the long term. And Fullerton has more than held its own
against that schedule, even with a young pitching staff. So impressed
with the Titans' first six weeks.
Mike (Jackson, MS): Is there a team with a
better pair of true freshman in the field than USM? Barron (BA-357) and
Robbins (BA-411) are having an enormous impact on this young club.
Most thought Barron could push for frosh of the year in college baseball
and right now you could argue he is not even the best frosh on the
team. Sky is the limit with these two.
There's a reason we ranked the Southern
Miss recruiting class third in the nation last year (and if we had known
C.J. Hinojosa would not wind up enrolling early at Texas, I would have
ranked USM second). Barron and Robbins are the best duo of freshman
position players in the country — true cornerstone pieces for Southern
Miss to build its teams around. Sky is the limit, indeed.
Bill (Atlanta, GA): You were rougher than I
expected on the Yellow Jackets - maybe deservedly so. There were few
bright spots last week but Isaacs pitching in an error-free win Saturday
was one. I haven't given up on them yet.
Nor should you give up on them, because I
do still like the talent. But let's see Georgia Tech get healthy and put
together a string of quality all-around performances, especially on
defense. The last three weeks, Tech has not played like a Top 25 team.
wayne (camarillo ca): who's the best college hitter?
Right now, I think I have to say James
Ramsey of Florida State. Tyler Naquin of Texas A&M is, I think, a
better pure hitter, but Ramsey also can really hit and has considerably
more power than Naquin, making him more dangerous overall. I wouldn't
argue if you wanted to take Florida's Mike Zunino here, either (and as a
catcher, Zunino is the best prospect of the lot).
Ryan D. (Tampa, FL): Pepperdine: Bad weekend against a good team or just a decent team?
I think Pepperdine is a solid club — a
legitimate contender for a spot in regionals. This weekend it was
playing against a team that has the look of an Omaha club to me. A&M
is just at a different level, I think.
Jeff (Greenville, NC): You're thoughts on NC State vs UNC tonight, who takes the rubber match?
I'm very intrigued by the Logan Jernigan
vs. UNC's hitters matchup. The Tar Heels have a very patient,
disciplined lineup, and Jernigan has had some trouble with walks —
could be a recipe for trouble. Should be a very fun game (sounds like
yesterday's affair got a little testy — love those rivalry games).
Looking forward to watching on ESPNU.
OK gang, that's all for today. Thanks for coming by, as always!