College Top 25 Chat: April 2
Hi everybody! Wild weekend in college
baseball resulted in the first real shakeup near the top of the rankings
this year. I'm sure we'll have plenty to talk about today. Let's get to
Chris (California): Hey Aaron what are thoughts on Oregons Jake Reed?
Really like him. I was a little aggressive
with him in our Top 200 Prospects meeting before last year's draft,
ranking him No. 128, but he has justified that ranking and more so far.
He's just a guy with an advanced feel for pitching at a young age, the
ability to mix speeds and locations with three quality pitches, and
plenty of projection left in that frame. It's a loose arm with a lot of
upside, I think. Oregon really, really needed him to be very good right
away in order to have a good season after losing Christian Jones and
Cole Wiper and Sam Johnson, and his success is one of the biggest
reasons for the success of the Ducks.
Jeff (Washington D.C.): The final two games
were very tightly contested, but were you as shocked as I by how much
Arkansas was dominated by LSU this weekend? LSU outhit Arkansas .336 to
.171. LSU's starting pitching lasted 8 innings longer and struck out
twice as many batters. Most surprisingly was LSU's superiority in
relief. LSU's relievers pitched 8.2 innings, 5 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 11
SOs. Arkansas' relievers threw 14 innings, 18 hits, 7 runs, 3 walks,
only 9 strikeouts. Arkansas struck out 40 times this weekend! Bad
weekend or should the alarms be going off in Fayetteville?
Yeah, the 40 strikeouts/5 walks for
Arkansas hitters this weekend might have been most jarring for me. That
LSU staff is really good, but I agree with you — the way LSU's bullpen
out-performed Arkansas' bullpen was the biggest surprise of the weekend.
I felt strongly that Arkansas had a decided advantage in the pen coming
into the weekend. But no, I don't think there is any reason for
Razorbacks fans to panic. I still firmly believe that Arkansas will be
an Omaha team — there are just too many quality pieces in place. Losing
two games in walk-off fashion against a quality LSU team in a tough
environment doesn't change my overall view of the Razorbacks, despite
their 10-place plunge in this week's rankings. That's more a function of
Arkansas' rather underwhelming overall body of work. That nonconference
schedule was soft, and Arkansas failed its biggest test this weekend.
The Hogs had to be behind LSU after a sweep, and there was only so much
room for LSU to come up. Messy week in the ranking room.
Joe (New York): Quick question...is the top 25 based on the specific team's potential or how they have fared thus far in the season?
Now that we've reached the midway point of
the regular season, you're seeing the emphasis of the rankings shift
more and more toward resumes — which is why Arkansas fell so hard today
even though I believe in that team. Potential still weighs into it, in
the form of residual effects from the preseason rankings. Arkansas, for
instance, entered the season at No. 4 and did nothing to drop until this
weekend, so its high ranking kept it from falling too far this week.
Jillian B. (Miami, FL): When is the last time a BA #1 went the whole season with the top ranking?
It's never happened in 31 years.
Steve L. (Corvallis): What is going on with
ASU? They are 3-6 in league play. They have probably only lost 8 games
in league play for the past 2 years. Thanks for the chat!
This is an atypical ASU team, and not only
because it won't be in regionals. The Sun Devils are almost always an
imposing offensive club, but this group really isn't. I like the ability
of the top four in the lineup (Aplin, Marrero, DeMichele and Ruiz), but
Aplin and Marrero really have not performed at a level as high as I
expected from them, and the rest of the lineup really is a work in
progress, as Tim Esmay keeps saying. I do like the Rodgers/Williams duo
in the rotation and Barrett at the back of the bullpen — those guys
should make the Sun Devils competitive in most series. But this never
figured to be a juggernaut ASU team like we've grown accustomed to
Yolander A. (Whittier, CA): Pepperdine.....regional team or not?
Tough one. I'll have a better answer for
you when I crunch some numbers and do my projected Field of 64 this
week. Pepperdine's stout nonconference schedule has allowed it to build a
strong RPI, which gives it a real chance at an at-large bid if it can
get back on track in the WCC — which I think it is good enough to do.
But this weekend was a setback, certainly. Considering Gonzaga also has a
strong RPI and could wind up competing with Pepperdine for an at-large
spot out of that conference, the head-to-head series could loom large.
Which leads me to lean toward a tentative "no" for Pepperdine getting a
bid, but I reserve the right to change it in my midseason field of 64
projection this week.
Steve (San Diego): A few years ago you listed a
few programs you felt were up and coming. For the most part you were
right with your projections. So how about naming three programs that
you feel that are outside the Top 25 that you feel will get to that
level and stay over the next few years. Then three programs that are in
the bottom half of your Top 25 that you feel in the next few years will
become an upper half program? Thanks for your chat!
I think San Diego has a chance to return to
national prominence — that program has been a top 10 in the not too
distant past, and a new ballpark next year should be a huge boost. NC
State is another program in the back half of the rankings that will be a
major factor on the national level over the next three years, thanks to
that stellar freshman class. Southern Miss is in that same category as a
team that could make a leap from the very good to the elite level in
the next three years. I'm very intrigued by several Mountain West
programs — I love the foundation Ray Birmingham has built at New
Mexico, I think Tim Chambers has UNLV going in a very good direction,
and Air Force will continue to improve under Mike Kazlausky, though I'm
not projecting them to be a top 25 kind of team. Those are three
coaching staffs with a lot of energy and three programs with positive
momentum, I think.
Wayne (Berkeley): Aaron, do you see this
weekend series victory from Cal, a move in the right direction. It looks
like they have had some trouble at the SS position, and their pitching
staff has not clicked as of yet with Justin Jones having some bad
outings. Where do you see Cal going this year, and do you see the
effects of losing a year of recruiting since last years fiasco?
It was almost a must-win series for Cal,
which hadn't won a series since Week 3 against Lehigh. The Pac-12 is so
deep that it won't be easy for Cal to dig out of its early hole, but
this weekend provided a much-needed RPI boost. You're right that Derek
Campbell has struggled to replace Marcus Semien at short (fielding just
.882), and Cal simply won't go very far if Justin Jones can't turn his
season around. I think people forget just how valuable Erik Johnson and
Kevin Miller and Dixon Anderson were for last year's Golden Bears.
Without those guys and with that lost recruiting class, this pitching
staff is thin. I think it will be tough for Cal to overcome that
Tom (Columbia, SC): Hey, looking at the top 25
poll it looks like there are a lot of teams located either in the
southeast or on the west coast. How many regionals do you think the
folks out west will get? Thanks
Four feels like the right answer: Arizona,
UCLA, Stanford, Fullerton. I'd give Oregon or Oregon State a chance at a
fifth West site.
Eric (Grand Junction, CO): Where do you see Peter O'Brien, Preston Tucker and Ross Stripling as senior draftees?
They'll all go safely inside the top 10
rounds, and I could see O'Brien going around that third round again, and
Tucker in that 4-6 range. Stripling feels more like a 6th-10th round
type. It is a great year for seniors — that will be a theme of this
week's Midseason Report.
Rory (Golden, CO): So I know New Mexico
wouldn't be in the field of 64 if the season ended today due to there
slow start, but since a 2-9 start they've gone 10-5 with series
victories against Fresno St and TCU along with sweeps of San Diego St
and Gonzaga. If they continue to play like this, do you see them getting
an at-large bid?
I can't see that RPI (currently No. 103)
climbing enough to make that a viable possibility. But I could certainly
see the Lobos winning the MWC's automatic bid again. I still like TCU,
but New Mexico has proven it can hang with the Frogs and even beat them,
and UNM's confidence level is growing.
Frank (Idaho): Sorry but just about any team in
the top 25 would be ranked top 5 if they had FSU schedule. What a joke.
We go through this every year with saying their pitching is so much
improved. FSU is not the #2 team in the nation.
Then who would you suggest is? Florida
State has shut down a very good UCF offense twice with midweek pitching.
FIU is a capable offensive team that got off to a slow start, and the
FSU staff dominated that lineup in a sweep. Virginia isn't what it was
last year, but it is no pushover — it swept Clemson (which just took 2
of 3 from Miami) and pushed NC State to the brink this weekend. Florida
State's schedule is not Florida's schedule, which is one reason we kept
the Gators ahead of the Seminoles (along with the head-to-head results).
But Florida State is 24-4 against a decent schedule, and its pitching
has certainly exceeded my expectations to this point.
Matt (Tallinn, Estonia): Which is the true
statement after Oregon's sweep of ASU? Oregon is a Pac-10 title
contender or ASU is a mediocre baseball team?
I don't think Oregon is a Pac-12 title
contender, but I don't think "mediocre" is the right word for ASU. I
think it will prove to be a good ASU team — just not a great one. Maybe
we're quibbling over semantics here...
Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Aaron, thank you for
all the awesome work as always. We are close to the mid-point of the
season (probably actually a week away I suppose), you have Ramsey,
Zunino, Naquin, and Gelalich leading the charge, but who is the POY at
You'll have to wait until later this week to find out! Those are some good names...
Greg (Fullerton, CA): I know you're fond of the UCLA bats so who in the lineup is the best pro prospect?
Jeff Gelalich has really elevated his draft
stock. But don't sleep on Tyler Heineman — a backstop who can really
catch and throw and has a nice contact bat. Have a feeling he's going to
get drafted well too.
Mick (Chicago): Does the man you have pictured
on your front page Alex Yarbrough have the talent to project to play at
the highest level, and will he remain in the middle infield?
I certainly think his bat will play at the
highest level — the guy was born to hit. I have my doubts about whether
he is athletic enough to stick in the middle infield in the majors, and
whether he'll have the power for a corner. Strikes me as a bit of a
tweener — maybe a future utility bat off the bench.
Matt (Oxford): Aaron, what is it exactly that
UK is doing so well? What do you predict to happening in this weekends
series Ole Miss at Kentucky?
What aren't the Wildcats doing well? They
are playing at a high level in all phases, and they're doing it without
any unibrowed wunderkinds! The rotation is solid, the bullpen is solid
and has a dependable closer in Trevor Gott, the lineup is explosive
(powerful and athletic), the defense is sound. That said, this is a
quality Ole Miss team that is also playing at a pretty high level right
now. When two good teams meet in the SEC, it is often wise to pick the
home team to win two of three, and that's what I'll go with in that
Trevor (Hillsboro, OR): Interesting role
reversal with the Beavers. Starting pitching gave up 1 ER in 23 IP this
weekend, and relievers struggled. Bryant is looking human. If Boyd and
Bryant get their stuff going, how good is this OSU team?
I don't get the sense there's any real
reason to worry about Boyd and Bryant. I think those guys will be fine,
which makes Oregon State very dangerous, indeed, if those young guns in
the rotation keep on pitching like this. That team has a lot of upside,
and so far it has gotten a lot out of its talented youngsters.
Pirate Nation (Greenville, NC): Not sure how you leave ECU out again:
#24 AZ St 16-12, RPI 50 and SOS 151
#25 Texas 15-11, RPI 36 and SOS 24
NR ECU 19-8, RPI 20, SOS 32
We do not base our rankings on the RPI,
which is inherently flawed and is particularly unreliable this early in
the year. The only time I look at the RPI is when trying to project the
field of 64, because we know the committee uses the RPI as a crutch. I'm
not a fan of those SOS numbers either — who has East Carolina beaten
that really impresses you? I mean, I'm higher on Stony Brook than
anybody, but that was ECU's best series win before this weekend against a
decent UAB team. That said, if ECU had followed up that 1-3 performance
last week with a win against NC State and a 4-0 performance this week,
we would have ranked the Pirates. I think ECU is pretty good, I'm just
not blown away by the resume, no matter what the RPI and SOS numbers
Justin (Toronto): With Arizona sweeping
Stanford, and UCLA only having 3 losses since the opening weekend, how
much has the gap closed between them and Stanford in terms of their
caliber? Also, who tops the list for Pac 12 Pitcher of the Year so far?
I know Heyer, Plutko, and Mooneyham are all having very good years,
but have any of them separated themselves?
Right now, I think it's fair to say Arizona
has leapt past Stanford — a sweep is pretty loud. I'm not sure any of
those teams is really special on the mound — they all have
shortcomings, but they also all have very dangerous offense. The
difference is Stanford's offense has gone cold over the last few weeks,
while the other two keep on producing. I think Stanford's lineup is too
talented to stay down for long — it will bounce back... but you can no
longer argue that Stanford's offense is a clear cut above those other
two. As for Pac-12 pitcher of the year, I think that's as wide open as
the race to win the conference. I suppose I'd give a slight nod to
Mooneyham, but Brady Rodgers and Plutko are also in the mix, among
Have to cut this short, have to take a phone call. Have a great week, everybody!