College Top 25 Chat: Feb. 26

Moderator: Aaron Fitt will chat about the new College Top 25 rankings at 2:30 p.m. ET.

 Q:  Ryan H. from Dana Point asks:
about Brian Matusz again! USD beat a tough Wake Forest team two out of
three… Whats your opinion at this point with those guys… Is Omaha a

Aaron Fitt:
Hello everyone, let’s get right to it. Matusz might be the biggest
story in college baseball in the first month. If I had to pick a player
of the year at this point, it would be him. Double-digit strikeout
games in four of his five starts — he’s unreal. And he’s doing it
against good teams, too. Right now, he’s the best pitcher in the
nation, and he gives that USD club some true legitimacy.

 Q:  CavMan from Hooville, Va asks:
is your take on the boys from UVA? We all know Doolittle’s potential as
a high draft pick, but what about Brandon Guyer and Casey Lambert?
Guyer has the potential to be a 5-tool player, and Lambert, although
slight in size, has put up some pretty gaudy numbers in his career
(2.70 ERA in 140+ innings, 32 saves, and averages a little less than a
strikeout per inning). Do you think either of these guys could go in
the top 10 rounds?

Aaron Fitt:
Like most of the teams in the top half of the rankings, Virginia is
red-hot right now, doing it with the bats and on the mound. Guyer has
good tools and could wind up being a top-five-rounds type of guy, but
I’m not as sure about Lambert. I think Lambert is a terrific college
player, deceptive and reliable, but I’m not sure how well his stuff
will play in pro ball.

 Q:  Paul from Livermore asks:
UC Riverside gets some respect, their FridaySaturday starters are as
good as anyone in the country and Doug Smith can teach even Troy
Percival to hit. What do think there chances are of winning the Big

Aaron Fitt:
Anyone who’s read these chats or our blog this year knows that we’ve
got plenty of respect for Riverside. There’s more to “respect” than the
rankings — I have respect for many, many schools that might not be in
the top 25. As I’ve been saying all spring, I think the Highlanders
might have the best pitching staff on the West Coast, and I think
they’ve got a legitimate chance to win that conference. Also keep an
eye on UC Irvine, which has won seven in a row. More on the Anteaters
later in the week.

 Q:  james from new york asks:
know this year is a deep catcher’s draft, but where do you see COFC’s
Alex Garabedian in it? Also, COFC is off to a pretty good start this
year, when are they gonna be shown some love and put in the top 25?

Aaron Fitt:
The first tier of catchers would probably be Wieters, Arencibia,
Canham, Donaldson, and maybe Andrew Walker at TCU. I’d put Garabedian
in the next group, along with guys like Jeff Dunbar at UC Riverside and
Danny Lehmann of Rice. Lehmann and Dunbar probably have better
catch-and-throw skills than Garabedian, but he’s got the better bat.
Scouts really like his size and strength. CofC is off to a solid start,
but their schedule has been very soft. They’ll get more consideration
for the rankings when they test themselves.

 Q:  alex kovaler from moscow, russia asks:
is struggling, but the new fullerton pitchers are surprising everyone.
What’s the outlook for fullerton in the super tough big west?

Aaron Fitt:
It just shows you how high Roemer has set the bar for himself that you
could say he is “struggling” after he just struck out 12 guys. But he’s
got two losses already, matching his total from all of last season.
I’ll bet he rises to the occasion against Rice next week though. What a
matchup that will be. You’re right, the Titans have gotten good outings
now from Jeff Kaplan and Sean Urena, and they needed it, because that
allows them to keep Jorgenson in the bullpen, where he can be a
stabilizing force. I think think Fullerton’s the favorite in the Big
West, but that’s an awful good conference, which could have four teams
in the top 25 next week if Irvine keeps cruising along.

 Q:  Redhawk from Oxford, OH asks:
did you think about the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks after going to Winthrop
and taking two out of three on their first weekend outside on a
baseball field since the fall?

Aaron Fitt:
As you’ll see in Three Strikes very shortly on the College Blog, I was
very impressed with Miami’s weekend. We thought seriously about
bringing the RedHawks into the top 25 based on this weekend… they’re
in the discussion, along with Irvine, Southern Cal, Auburn, Kentucky,
Michigan, Arizona, Stetson and South Florida. We’ve got quite a few
teams on our follow list right now, a testament to the parity in the
college game right now.

 Q:  Jim from Houston, TX asks:
had a good weekend and could have been better if they would have held
onto the 5-0 lead on Rice. How do you see the Huskers as a team? I
think that Jake Opitz and Ryan Wherle are two of the best players in
the Big 12!

Aaron Fitt:
The Huskers are a very solid club — I heard from one talent evaluator
today who likes them even better than Arkansas, because of their power
arms and experienced hitters who don’t make easy outs. Opitz and Wehrle
comprise one of the best middle infields around — slick double play
tandem, and both can hit. Real nice weekend for Opitz, going 6-for-10.

 Q:  Ethan from Macon, Ga asks:
may not be a rankings question, but seriously, Cory Gearrin has put up
some sick numbers. How did he slip by so many Div 1 schools after JC?

Aaron Fitt:
Gearrin is pretty filthy, and I’m not surprised how well he’s pitching
after what he did in the Cape last summer, striking out 41 in 27
innings. The thing is, he was a virtual unknown when he arrived in
Cotuit, having gone undrafted and mostly unnoticed by DI schools. But
he is so tough to pick up because of his low-three-quarters arm slot.

 Q:  Heath from Kansas asks:
are your early impressions of Wichita State after a nice weekend sweep
of Hawaii? Are they a legit contender to make it to Omaha for the first
time since 1996?

Aaron Fitt:
Just a terrific swing through Hawaii for the Shockers, who went 7-0
against Hilo and the Rainbows. I absolutely think that team is a legit
Omaha contender — one of the most balanced teams out there, with power
arms in the rotation (Shafer, Banwart) and the bullpen and plenty of
speed and power in the lineup.

 Q:  John Donley from Florida asks:
Florida State dominate the ACC like they are dominating the other teams
right now? How has Dennis Guinn and Bryan Henry been doing since the
first weekend?

Aaron Fitt:
To answer your first question: No. Quite simply, no one is going to
dominate the ACC this year — there are too many good teams. I like
Florida State, but I still don’t believe the Seminoles are better than
UNC, Clemson, Virginia or even Miami, despite the Hurricanes’ shaky
start. I do believe FSU will be able to compete with all those teams,
but dominate? No. As for Guinn and Henry, well, you’ll be hard-pressed
to find a player in the Florida State roster with ugly stats, and those
two are no exceptions. Guinn had another good weekend and is hitting
.439 overall, and Henry picked up his third win and owns a 3.38 ERA.

 Q:  Roy from Lafayette, La asks:
the Ragin’ Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette being 8-0 right now, what will
it take to enter the rankings? And do you see any sign of possibly
seeing the Ragin’ Cajuns of 2000 again and maybe making a return trip
to Omaha? With their deep lineup and good pitching, they should be a
force throughout the season.

Aaron Fitt:
That’s a good team that hasn’t gotten much attention this year because
they haven’t really played anyone, but the Cajuns can make a statement
this weekend in a three-game series at Southern Miss. Lafayette was our
preseason pick in the Sun Belt, and I’ll stand by that, but I’m going
to withhold further pronouncements until we find out how they fare
against stronger competition.

 Q:  Jonathan from Germantown asks:
do you think the South Carolina, Clemson series will turn out, and do
you think the Clemson Tiger pithcers can make it through the season?

Aaron Fitt:
South Carolina has been playing better baseball so far this year, so at
this moment I’ll give the Gamecocks the edge this weekend. As for the
Clemson pitching, I don’t think there’s too much to worry about. I
think Zocchi, Kopp and Hinson is a strong rotation, and if one of them
should falter, Josh Thrailkill looks pretty good early on.

 Q:  Frank from Myrtle beach asks:
How good is the NC-State Pitching Staff? Where do they rank in the ACC and the Country?

Aaron Fitt:
It’s pretty darn good. If you’re a Wolfpack fan, you’ve got to feel
good about what Brackman’s been doing. Everyone knew he’s got great
stuff, but he’s also getting results. Shutting down Coastal on Saturday
was very impressive, because Coastal can score some runs. Stallings and
Surkamp look like solid options for Saturday and Sunday. Right now, I’d
rank the ACC pitching staffs as follows: Virginia, North Carolina,
Clemson, Florida State, NC State, Miami, followed by Wake Forest or
Georgia Tech.

 Q:  Jacob from California asks:
What is your take on the Dirtbags? Playing a tough schedule and getting some good experience for the young ones.

Aaron Fitt:
The contrast between Long Beach and UCLA is rather striking. Both have
rather young teams dominated by sophomores and freshmen, and both have
played tough schedules, but the Dirtbags are 4-3 against the top 25 and
UCLA is 3-6 against the top 25. I didn’t think there was any way LBSU
would be 8-4 at this point in the season against that challenging
schedule. Terrific, terrific coaching job by Mike Weathers and his
staff so far.

 Q:  Albert from Miami asks:
does the University of South Florida need to do to crack the Top 25?
They are 9-1, and have swept two teams–Jacksonville and
Manhattan–which are top notch Regionals teams. The weekend starting
rotation may be as good as any in the country.

Aaron Fitt:
Like I mentioned earlier, South Florida is one of the teams on our
worksheet this week. Sweeping Manhattan is a nice showing, because that
Jaspers team has some big bats, led by Matt Rizzotti and Nick Derba.
But right now I’d have USF behind Stetson, which has a similar record
against a similar schedule but won the head-to-head matchup against
South Florida this week.

 Q:  Matt from Tempe, AZ asks:
can you have Miami and Texas ranked ahead of ASU with the extremely
average records those two teams have? I don’t think either of those
teams have played opponents that are far superior to who ASU has played
since the season started.

Aaron Fitt:
Obviously if you were to rank all three of those teams based strictly
on results so far in 2007, Arizona State would rank first, then Texas,
then Miami. But if you’re only judging teams by their records, you can
do that on your own — you don’t need us to put together rankings. We
started Texas and Miami considerably ahead of ASU because of better
pitching, and the gap has clearly closed as the season has begun to
play itself out, but I still believe both Miami and Texas have better
pitching than Arizona State and comparable offenses. Miami in
particular has struggled on the mound, but I think Scott Maine will
come around, and I like Eric Erickson in the rotation. The Canes just
need some answers in the bullpen.

 Q:  Bill from asks:
How is Kentucky not in the top 25? After their year last year and now they are 7-0? Jost wondering.

Aaron Fitt: Strength of schedule.

Aaron Fitt: I’ve got got time for a few more…

 Q:  Bill from Chicago asks:
there any reports on how Savery is throwing for Rice and how his arm
has rebounded from the shoulder problems he experienced a year ago?
It’s nice to see Rice playing it safe with him, particularly given all
of the grief Coach Graham gets for how he handles young pitchers. Also,
any word on why Matt LaPorta didn’t play Saturday and Sunday?

Aaron Fitt:
Savery has been throwing well, and reports are he feels good. The Owls
have wisely taken it slow with him, and he appears to be building up
his workload gradually. As for LaPorta, he injured his ankle, and it’s
unclear how much time he’ll miss. It doesn’t sound like he’s going to
be back anytime too soon…

 Q:  Taylor from Houston asks:
to see Texas A&M moved into the Top 25. How easy, or hard, was it
to slide them up into the 25th spot. Ten wins in a row is hard to
ignore, even against some weak competition. What can you tell me about
this team? Are these guys going to be a contender?

Aaron Fitt:
Competition for that last spot was tough, but we gave the edge to the
Aggies because of their winning streak (which includes a win against
Rice in addition to a bunch of wins against lesser competition) and
their talent. All those juco transfers have meshed very well there,
particularly outfielder Ben Feltner (who’s on an eight-game hitting
streak) and shortstop Brandon Hicks. It’s a speed, pitching and defense
outfit there, and the arms are very good. In 107 innings, the Aggies
have struck out 105 and held opponents to a .204 average. It’s also a
smart club, as you’d expect from a Rob Childress-coached group, with a
mature offensive approach (54 walks and just 59 strikeouts) and
intelligence on the basepaths (40 steals in 49 attempts).

Aaron Fitt: That’s all I’ve got time for today. Great questions, as usual. See you next week.