College Top 25 Chat: Feb. 23

 Q:  Tim from Scottsdale, AZ asks:

looks good, but I did attend those games. UW-M put 82 MPH fastballs on
a Tee for ASU. Do you still feel ASU will finish as a top 10 team when
its all said and done?


Aaron Fitt:
Hello everyone, sorry I’m late—a hectic morning here in Gainesville
was topped off when the restaurant where I had set up my laptop decided
today was a good day to implement its new closing-at-2 p.m. hours, so I
had to scramble back to the hotel lobby for wireless. Let’s get going.

Aaron Fitt:
Certainly you have to keep the ridiculous numbers the Sun Devils put up
this weekend in perspective — this was Milwaukee’s first time outside,
and those guys just aren’t in ASU’s league anyway. But it was very
encouraging to see all those new faces contribute, and I suspect this
is the beginning of huge things to come for Carlos Ramirez and Josh
Spence, to name two. I really like this ASU team, and I do believe
they’ve got a shot to make an Omaha run.

 Q:  Douglas from Plano, TX asks:

Top 5 Freshman debuts this weekend?


Aaron Fitt:
Gerrit Cole takes the cake — his stuff was just ridiculous this
weekend, according to BA’s Dave Perkin (be sure to read Dave’s report
over on the draft page). Cole topped out at 98 and showed an insane
mid-80s power breaking ball. I was extremely impressed with Nick
Maronde yesterday for Florida — he’s going to be a good one. I haven’t
gotten a report on Sonny Gray’s stuff, but it looks like he was pretty
dominant for three innings in relief, and I hear he’s been throwing
smoke this spring. It sounds like Taylor Featherston was very
impressive for TCU, as was Taylor Jungmann for Texas and the Rice duo
of Rendon and Rathjen. It’s really a great freshman class.

 Q:  Louis from Elko, NV asks:

Gonzaga’s successful tournament in Phoenix, how close are they to the
top 25? Fields, Martin and the Freshman Carpenter were all impressive
especially Carpenter who was touching 95 and is extremely advanced.
Could be a surprise team.


Aaron Fitt:
The Zags started the year a long way from the top 25, so they weren’t
really in the discussion today, but they definitely put themselves in
position to be a factor in the rankings if they can keep this up over
the next few weeks. Glad to hear Carpenter looked so strong — he’s a
very exciting arm for them. That looks like a pretty balanced team that
could push for the WCC title. What a fun race that is going to be,
between USD, Pepperdine, Santa Clara and Gonzaga.

 Q:  Mark from Phoenix, AZ asks:

How is Baylor still ranked that high after playing very poorly against an average pacific team?


Aaron Fitt:
I assure you, I was not blown away by Baylor’s lackluster weekend, and
we did not move the Bears up in the rankings very enthusiastically.
There was just a vacuum after the top four teams, so UC Irvine and
Baylor benefited—hey, college baseball is about winning weekend
series, and the bottom line is the Bears did that, even if it was ugly.
But they’ll have to play much, much, much better to have a chance
against top-10 competition this weekend at Minute Maid.

 Q:  Clint from Omaha, NE asks:

report on how Phegley(IU) looked behind the plate? I know he tossed a
couple runners out Sunday. Also how did the Purdues Dan Black look at
catcher(did he player there)? It seemed like he was getting the Bonds
treatment Sunday with 5 BB’s.


Aaron Fitt:
I wish I had gotten a look at Phegley, but I missed the Hoosiers.
Scouts I chatted with are really down on his defense—sounds like he’s
bulked up so much that he’s really stiff behind the plate. I was very
impressed with Black—he’s got a cannon back there and made a couple of
great throws Saturday against USF. Like I said on the blog, he’s a
6-foot-4 switch-hitting catcher with big power—pretty nice package. I
thought his receiving looked fine, too.

 Q:  Joe from LA asks:

dominated the series against Long Beach striking out 30 and despite a
rather quiet weekend from Green. Are the Trojans that good, or are the
Dirtbags that bad?


Aaron Fitt:
I do think Boxberger and Couture make for a nice 1-2 punch atop the
rotation, but that Long Beach offense is going to struggle to score
runs all year. There’s just not a lot of punch there. Maybe the
Dirtbags can just play classic Dirtbag baseball and shock everybody
like they did two years ago, but I’m not betting on it, especially
where it looks like Cal Poly and UCSB will be real factors in that
league this year, and UCR won a series against a talented Cal team.
It’s starting to look like LBSU might be just the fifth or sixth-best
team in that league.

 Q:  Brian from Columbia, Mo asks:

pitching looked pretty suspect this weekend. Can experienced hitters
carry a team with only one proven pitcher. The sophomore arms of
Tepesch, Fick and Co. will improve, but can we really expect Ian Berger
to compete in the super tough Big 12 as a Saturday starter. He is far
from the top of the conference’s top Saturday guy. I’d take Loux,
Lyons, Tolleson, Workman over Berger any day.


Aaron Fitt:
You’re right, all those guys are better than Berger, and I’d take Texas
Tech’s Miles Morgan over him too (welcome back Miles—nice 11-strikeout
game this weekend in the first game back from a long injury absence).
He doesn’t ahve great stuff, and when he’s not locating he gets
pounded, as he did this week. But when he’s on, as he was in a game I
saw against San Diego State about a year ago this weekend, he can carve
teams up. Really though, for Missouri to live up to its preseason
top-10 billing, it needs Tepesch to grow into that No. 2 role. I hear
he was up to the mid-90s this weekend with a wicked mid-80s slider, yet
he got drilled; just shows you how important command is. I really like
Missouri’s lineup, but unless those sophomore arms take a step forward
(the way Michigan’s touted sophomore arms did), the Tigers are going to
be a disappointment.

 Q:  Brett from Princeton asks:

taking in the Big East/Big 10 Challenge this past weekend, what are
your opinions on Michigan’s prospects this season? The Wolverines lost
a lot off of last year’s squad both offensively and from the pitching
staff. Obviously, they got off to a strong start but do they have
enough to contend in the Big 10 and get back to the NCAA tournament?


Aaron Fitt:
I blogged Saturday that the Wolverines were the best team I saw at the
Challenge, and check today’s Three Strikes for more detail about their
power arms. I chatted with Bob Keller yesterday, and he was very
excited about his pitching staff—with good reason. I like the offense
too—Ryan LaMarre looks like he’s gonna be a stud, and Mike Dufek has
gargantuan power.

 Q:  Titan for life from Fullerton, CA asks:

TCU team is the real deal. What do you think of guys like Ellington,
Curry, and Carruthers? Also, what do you know about pitcher Cragin, he
was pretty solid Sunday.


Aaron Fitt:
It’s funny: Jim Schlossnagle says this is the smallest pitching staff
he’s had at TCU (13), but it’s still a very deep staff because the guys
at the bottom have good arms and are reliable—I think Cragin’s
exceptional outing Sunday is evidence of what Schloss is talking about.
Just wait until Greg Holle and Steven Maxwell hit their strides—that
staff has a chance to be extremely special. And those veteran hitters
you mention are quality college hitters who are going to give hitters
fits this year. I’m with you: that team is the real deal. They might
not leave the rankings again this year.

 Q:  Jack Anderson from Georgia asks:

attended the Oregon State Beaver Games this past weekend. I would like
to understand how the Beavers can be rewarded with being dropped from
the top 25. The 2 starting pitchers for Tennessee were of very good and
will beat many teams over the course of the season. In contrast,
Arizona State played a glorified HS team and gets rewarded. I’m quite
sure the pitching they saw was of no comparison to the Tennessee Friday
and Sat starters. Difficulty in schedule best way large the selection
committee room.


Aaron Fitt:
Yeah, we were harsh to the Beavers—that’s life at the fringe of the
top 25. Most weeks, going 1-1 at Tennessee will keep you right where
you are in the rankings, but this week there were other teams that were
more impressive that we evaluated similarly to Oregon State heading
into the year, and those teams needed to get into the rankings, so the
Beavers slid out. They’ll be the first team back in next week with a
solid weekend in Arizona.

 Q:  superfrog from fort worth asks:

much love for a team with a near sweep of #5, huh? Where will TCU be
ranked if we take the series from Ole Miss this weekend?


Aaron Fitt:
The five teams right ahead of TCU were already ranked and all swept
their series. They did what they were supposed to do, so it didn’t seem
fair to jump somebody else over them, even as impressive as TCU was.
Now, if they go to Ole Miss and win that series, you can expect a very
large jump.

 Q:  Carlton from Columbus, Ohio asks:

do you think of Ohio States top two pitchers Alex Wimmers and Andrew
Armstong? Do you think OSU can compete for an NCAA berth?


Aaron Fitt:
I didn’t see Armstrong, but Wimmers was excellent. He commanded a
lively fastball up to 88, a good 72-74 mph curve and a solid changeup.
Looks like a legit Friday guy for the Buckeyes.

 Q:  Joe LeCates from Easton, MD asks:

I would assume we have to consider the weekend had by Kipnis to be the
top offensive performance of the weekend, but whom had the top pitching


Aaron Fitt:
There are a lot of candidates, but I’ll go with Alex Wilson’s
14-strikeout gem for Texas A&M. If he can keep that up, the Aggies
will justify our preseason No. 1 ranking—he’s the Sunday starter, for
goodness sake!

 Q:  Brian Stream from Been Waiting 9 Years!!!! asks:

little love for the WAC?? Which teams in the conference are set to
challenge Fresno? Is San Jose State finally prepared to make another
run to regionals?


Aaron Fitt:
You know, the team I like after Fresno is Nevada, which went 2-2
against an excellent Missouri team and a very dangerous Gonzaga squad.
They’ve got three real impact players in Kevin Rodland, Matt Bowman and
Shaun Kort. The starting pitching is a concern, but the bullpen showed
flashes of promise.

 Q:  ScottAZ from Phx, AZ asks:

Does this raise expectations for my Sun Devils or is this still a rebuilding year?


Aaron Fitt:
Who ever said it was a rebuilding year? Not us—we had them No. 13 in
the preseason. If anything, it was a reloading year, and nobody did it
better than ASU.

 Q:  Billy from ATL asks:

Who impressed you the most this weekend? Both team and player? Who disappointed the most?


Aaron Fitt:
Impressed: Texas and Gerrit Cole. Disappointed: Alabama (got to win
that SEMO series at home) and, believe it or not, Zach Kenyon from
Iowa. He was a big deal coming out of high school (and a ninth-round
pick) in 2007, and supposedly he’s thrown pretty well so far in
intrasquads, so I was looking forward to getting a look at him. But he
got absolutely bombed and showed poor stuff in St. John’s 12-run first
inning Saturday.

 Q:  Joe LeCates from Easton, MD asks:

Obviously it’s early, but any concern over Fullerton’s weekend?


Aaron Fitt: None for me. Witten and Pill will be fine in the rotation eventually, and that team will be very dangerous down the stretch.

 Q:  Jonathan from GA asks:

Aaron, when can we expect Andy Oliver to be cleared to play? Any news on that front?


Aaron Fitt: He pitched Saturday night and struck out 11.

 Q:  Greg from Fullerton asks:

hat is off to a fine TCU team – as much as I prefer seeing my Titans
win, the Horned Frogs really played good ball. If their SS isn’t caught
leaning the wrong way on a ball hit near him Friday night, two Titan
runs don’t score, the run in the bottom of the ninth is meaningless,
and TCU sweeps the series. The Fullerton bullpen appears to have some
holes, doesn’t it?


Aaron Fitt:
The bullpen is the one area where we had the most concern heading into
the year, but Ryan Ackland was very good back there, and Noe Ramirez is
going to be very good right away. They need Mertens, Rath, Kelly and
Nick Ramirez to pitch better, but I think Serrano will have those guys
sorted out soon. Just give them a little time.

 Q:  Todd from Columbia, SC asks:

the first week basically irrelevant in the polls? Clemson swept at
really good Charlotte team and didn’t move. Regardless, how about that
pitching performance from freshman Chris Dwyer?
I know if it is only 1 weekend, but the ACC fared MUCH better than the
SEC so far in the face for conference superiority.


Aaron Fitt:
A lot of teams swept this weekend—look at all the teams around
Clemson. Admittedly, most of them did not sweep a team as good as
Charlotte—that was a nice statement that Clemson (my preseason Omaha
sleeper in the college preview issue) is back. Dwyer was sensational.
Scouts who have seen him this spring were predicting a big year from
him—it sounds like his stuff is even better than it was last spring
coming out of high school. The Tiger just have a ton of great arms — I
love the depth of that staff.

 Q:  Justin from Ruston, La asks:

Tech scored 55 runs, gave up 13, and blasted 9 HRs on the weekend
against an admittedly weak opponent. Is this a sign of good things to
come? Do you see this team, which was probably the worst dissapointment
in the nation last year, making a run at a regional?


Aaron Fitt:
I do not. Grambling State is really not good, to put it mildly. I see a
lot of holes on that Louisiana Tech team that will be exposed against
better opponents

 Q:  Stephen from Eugene, OR asks:

guys, I know Oregon doesn’t deserve to be in the top 25 yet, or if they
will be at all this season. But can you tell me something about there
closer Drew Gagnier? I was at the opener up in Moraga this weekend, and
this kid was like 6′ 4” 230 throwing 93 to 95. How has he been flying
under the radar? Is he draft eligible?


Aaron Fitt:
He is indeed draft eligible, and he’s got a power arm with a good
cutter. Seems like a guy with some draft helium right now. I really
don’t expect the Ducks to sniff the rankings this year, but they’re
going to win some games. What a nice debut for Tyler Anderson on Friday
night, and I like the athletes at the top of the order and in the
middle of the diamond.

 Q:  Greg from Malibu, CA asks:

I’m stoked that college chats are beginning! UCLA played well this
weekend, go Bruins. Is Brooks ok tho? He struggled in his relief
appearance and him not being in the weekend rotation seemed a little
fishy to begin with.


Aaron Fitt:
Gavin Brooks is fine health-wise, but according to John Savage he’s
going through some mechanical adjustments right now. It’s starting to
look like the Bruins have enough arms that they could be just fine even
if Brooks never regains his freshman year form—Rob Rasmussen and
Gerrit Cole were superb this weekend. I don’t see Brooks jumping either
of those guys in the rotation at any point.

 Q:  BigSteve from PA asks:

to see the Kent State bats help retain your original #18 ranking.
Although the starters struggled and lacked command, the offense was
formidable. Their power guys use the middle of the field well, like
your report said. One of the Rohan HR’s and the Klafczynski game winner
were hit to the deepest parts of the UNCG field as were some of the
extra-base hits.
Two Q’s:
1. How many games do you think Kent State needs to win for an at-large
2. What do the scouts think of some of these solid hitters like Gallas,
Klafczynski, and Rohan?
As the season progresses, keep an eye on Sr. Jason Patton’s offense,
and the back end of the bullpen with LHP Chafin and RHP Brett Weibley
who hits 95mph.


Aaron Fitt:
Good stuff, Big Steve. You alluded to Conor Glassey’s report on the
Golden Flashes on the College Blog—well worth a read. With that soft
schedule, there’s no way Kent State gets an at-large with less than 40
wins, and it might take 45. They really need to win those two games
against UNC Wilmington in two week to have a shot at it, I think, but
certainly an automatic bid is Kent State’s most likely ticket to
regionals. I think Rohan will be a nice senior sign for somebody—he
has good power and is a very mature hitter. Scouts like Klafczynski and
Gallas the best of the hitters on that team; both are very good
athletes with a number of average or better tools.

 Q:  Alex from Concord, NC asks:

did you think about East Carolina’s sweep of Monmouth? I realize
Monmouth was not a great test, but are a Regional team from 2008. what
are you expecting out of the Pirates in the Keith LeClair Classic this
weekend? If Maness faces off agaisnt Oliver, should be a great game on


Aaron Fitt:
Monmouth actually was upset in the NEC tournament last year, but your
point is valid—that’s still a solid series sweep. The thing that
jumped out most to me was how well the starters after Maness pitched.
You knew Maness was going to be good, but Chris Heston and Mike
Anderson were very good also. That’s encouraging, because that ECU
offense is going to hit a lot, so if they can get just adequate
pitching, they’ll be very dangerous.

 Q:  L.J. Henson from Fayetteville, AR asks:

you think that the Arkansas Razorbacks have a legit shot at Omaha? I
know with a good season that they will host a Regional and Super
Regional because of the palace that is Baum!


Aaron Fitt:
Very nice weekend for Arkansas, sweeping Washington State. Similar to
ECU, I was most impressed with how the Hogs pitched, because I don’t
have any concerns about their offense. The staff posted a 2.57 ERA and
a .175 BAA — pretty impressive.

 Q:  Josh from Fla asks:

What are your thoughts on the Elon/Auburn series? Elon could have easily swept the Tigers on the road.


Aaron Fitt:
Elon appears to be exactly what we expected: a boffo offensive team
with some significant pitching concerns. But that’s a talented Auburn
team they beat—gotta tip your hat to the Phoenix for taking two of
three at Plainsman.

 Q:  Brandon from Saint Louis asks:

How close is Michigan to cracking your top 25?


Aaron Fitt: I’ve got Michigan tied with Oregon for spot No. 26, with Coastal Carolina and Miami nipping at their heels.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:

you think talented Texas arms like Brandon Workman and Taylor Jungmann
can duplicate performances like they had this weekend? If so, how far
can the Longhorns go this year? Thanks.


Aaron Fitt:
Lightning round: Those guys are for real and will have plenty more days
this year like they had this weekend. Those are big, big arms.

 Q:  willy from pitt asks:

Dustin Ackley, .420 season batting average. Over/under?


Aaron Fitt: Over.

 Q:  willy from pitt asks:

the season progresses, who do you think will emerge as the Friday
starter/ace for the following teams: UCLA, San Diego, Texas A&M,
and Kent State?


Aaron Fitt:
UCLA: Rob Rasmussen. San Diego: Sammy Solis. Texas A&M: Brooks
Raley. Kent State: Brad Stillings. Rasmussen, Solis and Raley all have
Friday starter makeup and good stuff to match. Watch Solis: he’s going
to explode onto the prospect scene this year. I wouldn’t be surprised
in the least if he winds up on the postseason All-America team.

 Q:  Johnny from Gainesville asks:

is holding Florida back from being higher than 24? I know you saw them
this weekend, Aaron, but what did you think of the Gators?


Aaron Fitt:
All the teams ahead of them were already ahead of them and also swept
their series. I was certainly quite impressed with the Gators—read my
recap in Three Strikes on the College Blog. They’re going to play an
exciting West Coast style this year, and I’m very curious to see how it
will play in the powerful SEC. I have a feeling it will be quite

 Q:  Marco from San Diego asks:

What did you hear about Kyle Blair’s first performance?


Aaron Fitt:
Nothing yet, but I look forward to watching it on my DVR when I get
back home. I wish the MLB network televised games every week!

 Q:  Mike from Durham, NC asks:

Aaron! Steven Sultzbaugh had an excellent debut weekend for Rice. He
seems like a legitimate five-tool player, though he’s been under the
radar. If he continues to hit where could you see him getting drafted
this June? Top three rounds?


Aaron Fitt:
We’ve had him on our top 100 college draft prospects list since the
fall, which means we think he’s a top-five-rounds talent. I could see
him climbing into the top three with a good spring.

 Q:  Brian from San Diego asks:

went to the USD v. San Diego State game yesterday and SDSU’s starting
pitcher, Tyler Levigne, completely dominated USD’s hitters despite
seemingly having fringe average stuff. He is a strike thrower, kept the
ball down, but nothing really blows you away. Am I missing something
here or is Levigne a prospect? BTW, after watching USD the past 2
games, their offense looks anemic and they look grossly overrated at 11.


Aaron Fitt:
If USD had a better offense, it would have ranked in the top five,
because its pitching staff is absolutely loaded. The Toreros are going
to scrap and claw to score runs all year—that’s just how they’re
constructed. A lot of teams have been successful out West with strong
pitching and scrappy offenses. That said, the Toreros will have games
like Sunday’s where they just get shut down—offense is definitely the
weakness of that club. But they’ll hit better than they did this
weekend. Wait until James Meador, Jose Valerio and Zach Walters get

Aaron Fitt: OK folks, I’ve got a flight to catch.
Thanks for all the good questions, and I hope you enjoyed opening
weekend as much as I did. See you next week from Houston!