College Chat With Will Kimmey

Moderator: Will Kimmey will begin taking your college questions at 1:30 p.m. ET.

 Q:  Clark Pingree from Los Angeles, CA asks:
Who is your early pick for player of the year?

Will Kimmey:
Obviously it’s really early, but Arkansas lefty Nick Schmidt needs to
be in the conversation. He’s been brilliant thus far. Shane Robinson’s
in the discussion, Andrew Miller and Daniel Bard of North Carolina are
in there, Joba Chamberlain at Nebraska, Max Scherzer at Missouri, Brad
Lincoln’s been great hitting and pitching for Houston, and Josh
Rodriguez has been all over it with only the bat at Rice, especially
this weekend vs Fullerton.

 Q:  Mike from Waco asks:
Just wondering how close Baylor is to breaking back into the rankings?

Will Kimmey:
Baylor is in the discussion. I think we’d know more about the club had
it gotten in that series against Cal two weeks back, and that would
have either given it a second strong series win that would have
generated more momentum this week, or a loss that might have had it a
bit further back from contention. Baylor’s in that next group of 10-15
clubs on the doorstep.

 Q:  Michael Black from Starkville, MS asks:
good do you think Mississippi State baseball team is going to be? The
team looks great! Is this the year for MSU to get back to the College
World Series?

Will Kimmey:
There are only two teams that have won every game they’ve played this
year, Georgia Tech and Mississippi State. Both have some similarities
in that Tech’s pitching was a tad above average last year and all of it
returns, and MSU as a team was a tad above average in 2005 and almost
all of it returns. The difference for MSU will be can the collection of
players improve from the experience and become great, or will we simply
see a second year of above average. (Same feel for GT’s pitching, but
man can it hit.) We’re still not sure on MSU, because it has yet to
play a real measuring stick of an opponent. That said, not losing yet
is still a strong start, and I’ll say this is a super-regional club
that needs an upset to reach Omaha.

 Q:  J.P smith from texas asks:
Who do you think is the best player on Texas A&M

Will Kimmey:
This weekend it was either Austin Creps or Josh Stinson, but given age
and talent it’s probably freshman RHP Kyle Thebeau. He’s been
sensational thus far despite not getting tons of run support, something
that might rattle other first-year players.

 Q:  Come On Boys… from asks:
it gonna take to make you guys knock Texas and Pepperdine out of the
Top 25?? Both teams are barely .500, enough said…the lack of offense
from both of these “powerhouses” makes watching games on gamecast even
less fun…Will Kimmey you’re still the man!

Will Kimmey:
Both started high, and we’re not normally going to run someone from the
top 10 to out. Both are in the 20s at this point because they’ve
struggled at times, but also shown flashes of being solid clubs (Pep
with series wins vs. Oregon State and at Tulane, Texas beat Rice)
despite those struggles. It’s hard to say how many other top 25 teams
might have similar records playing schedules like those of Pepperdine
and Texas. But records are records, and sitting in the 20s, either club
can be gone with a bad week. Hard to rip UT’s offense this week,
though. It was the defense and pitching that did it in.

 Q:  Kevin from Morrisville, NC asks:
I know it’s early in the year but who would be your 8 CWS teams right now?

Will Kimmey:
Here’s eight, write em down and make fun of me in two months: Clemson,
Rice, North Carolina, Cal State Fullerton, Arkansas, Tennessee,
Nebraska and . . . Texas.

 Q:  Doug from McLean, VA asks:
is 10-3 with wins over Florida and Missouri among others. How close are
the Demon Deacons to getting their first top 25 ranking from BA in 3

Will Kimmey:
Wake’s pulling up to the party and considering coming inside. It gets
North Carolina at home this weekend, not a bad opponent against which
to earn an invitation. Or be pushed away.

 Q:  Mike from Little Rock, AR asks:
know that Ole Miss did not do as well as they should have this week,
but we got two solid starts from Cody Satterwhite and Lance Lynn. Do
you see Ole Miss as a contender in the SEC and do you think the combo
of Chris Coghlan and Zack Cozart is the best left side of the infield
in the country?

Will Kimmey:
That’s a nice left side with Coghlan and Cozart and it’s hard to think
of one that’s clearly better. Satterwhite and Lynn both showed the
reasons they can become true aces. I think we’re going to know a ton
more about Mississippi when it gets back from UCLA this coming weekend.
UCLA swept a strong NC State team on the road this weekend and can
really pitch and play defense. Still, I like Ole Miss in the hunt in
the SEC West, though I’d take Arkansas to win that division right now.

 Q:  Matt from H’burg, MS asks:
you think that preseason polls are really fair? I know it is fun to
speculate, but causes for an unfair advantage. Some teams have to earn
their way in, while others have to earn their way out of the polls
(i.e, Pepperdine and Texas). I realize that both of those teams are
probably better than their records and that they have played tough
competition but just playing the hard schedule should not reason enough
to remain in the Top 25. What are your thoughts?

Will Kimmey:
Why are there rankings, because people who follow the game crave them.
If we ranked teams and no one in the country wanted rankings, there
wouldn’t be chats and my e-mail inbox would be empty. Neither is the
case, because people love rankings, they want to see where their team
is, where their favorite player stands among others, where he’ll go in
the draft, and then they want the incoming recruits ranked. No rankings
are ever perfect, but they make following the game fun. So we could
decide to not have a preseason Top 25, or a preseason All-America team
or prospects list, but you’d want them. As far as how fair are they to
the actual players? They probably shouldn’t matter. Baseball doesn’t
have the BCS. Every team can make the NCAA tournament by winning its
conference (or conference tournament), and from there, every team can
win the national title by simply not losing. So unlike college
football, the rankings cannot hold back anyone.

 Q:  Shane from Arapahoe NE asks:
Joba Chamberlin, Tony Watson, and Johnny Dorn pitching for Nebraska, is
there a better starting rotation in college baseball?

Will Kimmey:
It’s among the better ones for sure. I like what you get from Rice in
Savery, Degerman and Bell, I like what you get from North Carolina in
Woodard, Bard and Miller and I like Oregon State with Buck, Nickerson
and Maxwell. Long Beach State and Texas A&M also stand out.

 Q:  Matt from Hattiesburg, MS asks:
are your thoughts on C-USA this season and what are you early
projections on how the conference will fair come tournament time?

Will Kimmey:
I like Rice to top Tulane for the league title, with both as No. 1
seeds in regionals. Southern Mississippi, East Carolina and Houston
have the potential to give the league three more tournament teams, for
a total of five.

 Q:  Blake from Tempe, AZ asks:
Does the regional seeding change in 2006 (1-16)?

Will Kimmey: The No. 1 seeds will be ranked 1-16 starting in 2007. This year, there will still be just the 1-8 national seeds.

 Q:  J.P. from IL asks:
When do you expect Matt LaPorta to return? And if the draft were to take place today, where would he get picked?

Will Kimmey:
He took swings just before the A&M series and was to decide his
return at that point. You can obviously imagine how an oblique strain
might be stressed when whipping that bat around, and coming back early
might do more long-term harm than good. I’m no doctor, and I didn’t
even stay at the Holiday Inn Express, but it seems the course for
LaPorta is to get fully healthy before returning so it will lessen his
chances of re-aggravating the injury. He’s listed day to day. He’s
still a first-rounder, but a strain doesn’t mean he can’t hit.

 Q:  Aaron from Thomson, GA asks:
What do you think of Georgia Tech’s chances of getting back to Omaha this year?

Will Kimmey:
I think it hinges on Tech’s pitching. Gustafson, Hyde and Ladd have
thrown well thus far, and Wood has struggled some. We’ll see how they
progress as the season moves on. This team resembles last year’s a lot,
with really good hitting and solid pitching. The arms need to be a tick
or two better to make the next step.

 Q:  Cory from Hattiesburg,MS asks:
Is Southern Miss closer Daniel Best the best in the nation at his
position? His line (0.00 ERA in 9.2 IP, 3H, 11K’s and 4 Saves) is hard
to argue against. If not Daniel, then who?

Will Kimmey:
Hard to argue with that line. Neil Jamison didn’t allow an earnie all
year for Long Beach State in 2005, so there’s the bar, Mr. Best. There
are plenty of strong options out there, picking between Mark Melancon,
Brant Rustich (who was out this weekend with a blister), Blair
Erickson, Sean Watson, Chris Perez would be a nice start.

 Q:  Chris from Fayetteville, AR asks:
Are you impressed with the overall performance of the Razorbacks?
Excluding the loss the past week in Hawaii, what would you say their
strong points are (Besides Nick Schmidt)?

Will Kimmey:
Including the loss last week, I’m impressed. No one’s going undefeated.
I like the team’s depth of pitching after Schmidt (though Boyce has me
worried), as well as the athleticism and speed offensively. Danny
Hamblin’s a nice hammer in the middle of the order.

 Q:  Alex from Pinehurst, NC asks:
What do you think of the ECUFullerton series this weekend? Do you think ECU has a good chance of picking up a win or two?

Will Kimmey:
I think it’s great to see East Carolina travel across the country to
play an opponent of that caliber. It’s going to help that team get
better, whether it gets swept of comes away with three wins. Teams
playing a predominantly Eastern schedule can struggle with teams like
Fullerton that play a ton of push and drag, and steal bases and signs
all day. It can be intimidating, similar to teams facing Texas for the
first time. Plus, we haven’t even talked about making a trip that far
yet. I think ECU should be pleased to get one out there.

 Q:  Phil from High Point NC asks:
is Florida State the real deal or are they are product of an average
early season schedule? Also, have you noticed a trend of schools
outside of California, Texas, and Florida making the Top 25. This week
there are only 3 such schools in the Top 10 that come from these
baseball rich states!

Will Kimmey:
It’s hard to tell. That’s why we like to see teams play all comers
early on. Plus, it’s more fun to follow the games. Can’t imagine facing
Brown really helped Florida State much this weekend. When you beat
someone bad enough to pinch-hit two different pitchers, what are you
really getting out of the games? It’s also hard to argue against a
schedule like this when you look at Mike Martin’s track record. His
teams have reached super-regionals every year since ’99, so he’s
preparing his team the best way he knows and having success at it, so I
can’t argue.

 Q:  Heath from Iola, KS asks:
How close is Wichita State to cracking your top 25 and what do you think of Coach Stephenson’s team this year?

Will Kimmey:
The Shockers are off to a nice start at 13-2 despite not getting much
out of Derek Schermerhorn because of injury. But Damon Sublett has been
great at the plate and in closing, Matt Brown’s having a nice year and
the pitching is still getting he job done. Beating Oklahoma and losing
to Southern Miss are the two toughest games yet, and it’d be nice to
see WSU face a bit tougher nonleague competition. WSU is also in that
Top 25 waiting room we’ve been mentioning today.

 Q:  Dusty from Pullman asks:
State just won a share of their 3rd tournament championship of the
year. They are now 13-3, however they are getting barely any press, or
recognition in the rankings. Is it time that people take notice of this
very young team?

Will Kimmey:
Read Three Strikes today. This press pressed the Cougars button. A win
over Missouri early on is the best measuring stick we’ve seen yet. If
the Cougs keep winning as the weather keeps warming, you’ll be reading
plenty more about them. And don’t forget Jay Miller and Wayne Daman
Jr., two guys making big impacts who are the experience for a very
young club.

 Q:  Rick from Huntington Beach, Calif. asks:
that UCLA, a mediocre west coast team, goes east and sweeps a 13-1
North Carolina State. If you look at who these ACC and SEC teams play
in non-conference it is easy to see how they beat the RPI game in June.
Will Savage turn it around at Bruinville?

Will Kimmey:
UCLA has the starting pitching and defense to hang with any team in the
country, just needing a key hit or break late in a game to take a win.
The Bruins didn’t wait for anything free over the weekend, they made
their own breaks offensively. The young hitters will still struggle at
times, but it wouldn’t shock to see UCLA in the thick of the Pac-10
race, because there’s not really a team in that league that’s going to
pound opponents as Arizona did in 2005–series will be a lot closer.
Savage looks like a pretty good idea to me.

 Q:  mike from Columbus, Oh asks:
I know that it is early in the year, but is the Big Ten really as bad as their records show.

Will Kimmey:
Nah. Playing your first several weeks on the road, with that often
being your first time outside, teams are going to make errors and not
hit as well as they adjust to live pitching. Most of these team’s
opponents have already played games to shake out the kinks. You can’t
tell me the Big 10 doesn’t have good athletes, and just look at that
league’s track record in the tournament each year–even when limited to
one bid, the Big 10 entry is always at least a fiesty thorn if it
doesn’t pull one upset.

 Q:  Ed Dupuy from Houston, Texas asks:
big game tomorrow night in my home state of Louisiana. Who do you like
in the first meeting this year of the Tulane LSU rivalry and why?

Will Kimmey:
The teams seem fairly even, though I like Tulane’s weekend pitching
better. Alas, this is a Tuesday game, so weekend pitching won’t be a
factor, and Trey Martin and Daniel Latham worked a lot against
Manhattan and could be limited. I like Louis Coleman and LSU to win at
home in a low-scoring game.

 Q:  Joe from Mississippi asks:
thanks for taking the time to answer questions. It seems to me that
left-handed pitchers are rare in this years crop of possible draft
picks. What are your thoughts on the southpaw situation this year?

Will Kimmey:
Andrew Miller will go first and then there’s a not a lot out there.
Dave Huff’s the next lefty off the board, but he’s not a guy who’s
going in the first 10-15 picks. He could sneak into the first if
someone wants a lefty really bad and values his intensity and ability
to make big pitches in all kinds of counts. He’ll be a solid pro, but
he’s not got potential ace written on him. I think Oklahoma HS LHP
Brett Anderson, the son of Oklahoma State coach Frank Anderson, is the
second-best lefty out there and he’ll be a sure first-rounder unless he
unequivocally tells teams he’s going to play for dad, and I haven’t
heard that’s going to be the case.

 Q:  J.P. from IL asks:
you think Jon Jay has the potential to be a late first rounder? If not,
what areas does he need to improve upon to increase his stock?

Will Kimmey:
Probably not. He’s a great hitter with baseball instincts, but he
doesn’t have the above-average speed or power you’d seek when grabbing
a corner OFer in the first round.

 Q:  Tmac from Atlanta asks:
How do you think Virgina will fare this weekend against Georgia Tech? Do the young Cavs have a chance to steal 1 or 2 wins?

Will Kimmey:
The Cavaliers have had Tech’s number the last two years, and they swept
the first ACC series at GT in 2004. Plus, UVa put up GT-like numbers
against St. Joe’s over the weekend. I’ve got one win there for UVa.

 Q:  Bill from Arlington, TX asks:
Other than Rice, Ga. Tech and, maybe Clemson, there seems to be a lot
of good teams vs. several dominant ones. How do you explain the growing
parity in college baseball?

Will Kimmey:
We talked about this in a meeting this morning, there just aren’t a ton
of great teams in college baseball right now. And that’s OK from a fan
perspective, if you like each week to be really unpredictable and you
like the chance that as many as 20-30 teams could make legit runs at
the title. Why is it happening? More schools are making a commitment to
baseball with facilities and coaching hires, so players are more
comfortable going to schools that aren’t just Texas, Miami, Stanford
and USC, to name a few traditional powerhouses.

 Q:  Bill L from Bozeman, MT asks:
When do you start keeping a close watch on the RPI? What of interest can you tell us about RPI to this point in the season?

Will Kimmey:
Maybe at midseason, but the later the better. The RPI tells you about
the records of your team, your opponents and their opponents, so it
changes dramatically every game because more data gets added to the
equation. It’s nearly pointless to use RPI now, with so few games
having been played. Personally, I like RPI to differentiate between
teams in the same conference, and to a lesser extent, the same region.
It doesn’t help much for teams in different geographic areas because
they don’t have an opportunity to play the same kind of schedule. For
me it’s best for conference opponents, because their league schedules
are obviously very similar, and you can really tell who has quality
wins or a quality schedule.

 Q:  Robert from New Orleans asks:
you think college baseball is changing from more of a hitter’s game to
a pitchers game? Also, are vertical curveball pitchers (such as
Degerman and Lincecum)seem extremely effective. Is this something new
and are they a wave of the future?

Will Kimmey:
Changing the bats in 1999 changed the game from a power-hitting
dominated one to a power-pitching dominated one. The last four NCAA
champs: Texas, Rice, Fullerton, Texas. All pitch, play defense and
scrap for runs. The curveball is a great pitch at the college level
because changing planes and eye levels makes it harder to make contact,
and contact from aluminum bats can be scary because of small parks and
the way metal bats cover up some flaws in swings. A swing and miss
pitch makes coaches (who call a lot of the pitches) more confident than
even a fastball, because if you hit a 95-mph fastball off a metal
handle, it might still get out of the yard. Plus, pitchers with great
breaking balls and average fastballs (Degerman, Wade LeBlanc come to
mind quickly) can still have great success because their plus breakers
are so darn hard to hit even when you recognize them.

Will Kimmey: That’s all for today. Thanks for all the questions.