College Top 25 Chat: March 17

 Q:  Taylor from Houston asks:

No Texas A&M this week? Please explain…


Aaron Fitt:
Hello everyone, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Thanks for taking a few
minutes to put away your hoops brackets and talk some college baseball.
Let’s get to it.

Aaron Fitt: As usual, decisions at the
back of the rankings were difficult. I would like to get Texas A&M
back into the top 25 because I think it’s a top 25-caliber team, but
Nebraska has had the more impressive season so far, beating better
competition on the whole and sweeping a road series this weekend, while
the Aggies took two out of three at home against a comparable opponent.
Really it came down to Texas A&M against East Carolina for the last
spot, and we gave the Pirates a slight edge on the strength of their
good showing at the LeClair classic last week. Could have gone either
way, really.

 Q:  Bill from Atlanta, GA asks:

am humbled by FSU’s sweep of my Jackets this weekend. When they pulled
the the 2 out rally in the 9th Friday to win after we’d come from
behind, I had a very bad feeling.
Listening on the radio, I was struck by their raucous crowd. I really
believe they spooked the Tech pitchers and young players. Clearly, GT
will have to learn from this weekend to continue a promising season.


Aaron Fitt:
Florida State traditionally plays so well at Dick Howser Stadium, and
sometimes they will simply overwhelm quality opponents by feeding off
their boisterous crowd. I was very impressed with what the Seminoles
did against a very good Georgia Tech pitching staff, but I was not at
all surprised they won that series at home. Tech’s offense is suspect,
and I think they’re likely to have trouble scoring runs during the
heart of the ACC season.

 Q:  Rich from St. Louis, MO asks:

Rank ’em: Tanner Scheppers, Aaron Crow, Brian Matusz?


Aaron Fitt:
I love all three. I think Matusz is the safest — he just seems like a
lock to be a big league starter with all his outstanding secondary
stuff — but I think the other guys have higher ceilings. Matusz seems
like a No. 2 or No. 3 starter at the big league level to me, whereas I
could see one of the others being a true ace. But Matusz has the best
combination of durable frame, decent upside and likelihood to reach
that upside, so I’ll stick with him first. This will probably come as a
surprise, but I think I like Scheppers next, just because he’s got less
effort to his delivery and is just scratching the surface of his
potential. Can’t go wrong with any of the three, though.

 Q:  Rich from St. Louis, MO asks:

the scouting report on Scott Gorgen and Bryce Stowell? Gorgen is off to
an incredible start(7 hits allowed in 30 innings).


Aaron Fitt:
Stowell is the better pro prospect, with a bigger frame and a firmer
fastball, but Gorgen is, in my opinion, the best pitcher in college
baseball, with an otherwordly changeup and an effective fastball that
tops out at 90. His aggressiveness is what really sets him apart.

 Q:  Andrew from Athens, GA asks:

After a solid week (splitting with FSU and taking 2 of 3 from Arkansas), where does UGA stand in the rankings?


Aaron Fitt:
The Bulldogs are on the radar, as they have been since the preseason,
but there are still a lot of teams ahead of them in the line for the
top 25. I love that Georgia has gone out and played a very challenging
schedule and emerged in decent shape, but they also lost both of those
series against Pac-10 teams and are just one game above .500 overall.
Good losses are better than bad losses, but they’re still losses.

 Q:  Mark from St. Charles, MO asks:

Biggest surprises and disppointments this year? Teams and players.


Aaron Fitt:
Surprises: UC Irvine has hit better than I expected, and Florida State
has pitched better than I thought it would. For players, I’ll go with
Marcel Champagnie of Arizona State, who has come out of nowhere to hit
.403 and stabilize the middle of the Sun Devil infield.
Disappointments: Fresno State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Oregon State. As
for players, it’s Kyle Russell of Texas (.255 with one homer after
leading the nation in long balls a year ago) and Kiel Roling of Arizona
State (.160-.317-.320).

 Q:  Harry from Jackson, MS asks:

did Ole Miss drop so much this week after so much emphasis was put on
winning SEC road games earlier in the year with Arizona beating Georgia
(now 8-7)?


Aaron Fitt:
We cut Ole Miss some slack last week after a 2-3 showing, but the
Rebels followed it up with a lackluster 3-2 week—that’s .500 ball over
the last two weeks. When we gave credit to Arizona for going on the
road to beat Georgia, the Wildcats did not have those other recent
losses on their ledger, the way the Rebels do. And Mississippi was playing an MSU team that has been very disappointing so
far — Georgia is a better club. As a general rule, I don’t like to
drop teams that win their weekend series, but sometimes we make
exceptions, particularly when we gave the Rebels a bit of a mulligan
last week.

 Q:  Craig N. from Arizona asks:

ASU is now #1 in your poll! They have a great team, but the bullpen
worries me a little bit. Where do you see them come season’s end?


Aaron Fitt:
In Omaha, which is where I said they would end up in my “Eight for ’08”
predictions after last year’s CWS. They just have so much firepower
that it’s hard to see them losing a regional or super-regional at home.
I don’t think the Sun Devils will win it all, though.

 Q:  Robert from Greenville, NC asks:

for putting us back in the Top 25! Was wondering if you guys have taken
notice of Harrison Eldridge this year? He is batting .453 with 17
stolen bases. Friday night against URI shows you what he is made of.
While at the plate, he got nailed on the kneecap with a fastball, then
steals second on the next pitch! Oh yeah, Harrison is 5-7 (maybe) 160
lbs! I think you guys should look into to doing a story about one of
college baseball’s biggest little guy!


Aaron Fitt:
Eldridge has always been a favorite of the Baseball America staff. One
of the grittiest guys in college baseball, and a darn good player to

 Q:  Nick from Orlando, FL asks:

you were to put the ACC up against the SEC this year in an ACC/SEC
Challenge, who would pick as your winner? Has there been any discussion
about picking one weekend out every year and matching up the ACC vs the
SEC. I think it would be great for fans, teams, and college baseball.


Aaron Fitt:
Fun question. Most years, I would take the SEC simply because of its
superior depth, but the ACC has gotten much better at the bottom —
just look at Duke and Boston College winning series this weekend
against Virginia and Clemson. Vandy and North Carolina would be a
dynamite series at the top, and so would South Carolina-Florida State;
I would give the advantage to the home team in that one, but I’ll take
Vanderbilt in the other series, because Cary hasn’t proven to be much
of a home-field advantage so far for the Tar Heels. You could match
Miami up with Kentucky, and as good as Kentucky has played, I’ll go
with the Hurricanes. These conferences are really even this year — I
would love to see something like that become a reality, but I think
it’s a long shot at the very best.

 Q:  mike from boston, ma asks:

Kentucky had a great week and had their way with the Tide. Are the Cats this good or is ‘Bama in for a long year?


Aaron Fitt:
A little of both. Kentucky is a legit top-25 team, maybe even a top-15
team, but I don’t think the Wildcats can keep this up forever. Alabama
is in for a long year.

 Q:  Steve L. from Corvallis, OR asks:

How does Oregon State fall out of the Top 25 when they went 2-1 this past week with HUGE wins?


Aaron Fitt:
The Beavers just aren’t a top 25 team right now. We don’t usually drop
teams after 2-1 weeks, but I’m very, very concerned about the OSU
pitching staff. The guys who were supposed to be veteran rocks (Mike
Stutes and Jorge Reyes) while the freshmen got broken in have both
struggled mightily. Oregon State is 7-6 — we cut the Beavers slack for
a few weeks because they’re the Beavers and they were No. 7 in the
preseason, but it’s time they start playing better and proving they’re
a top 25 team on the field. They’ll have a chance to do that this
weekend against a very good Pepperdine club.

 Q:  Geoff from Irvine asks:

superb week for the UC Irvine Anteaters, their offense is in a groove
with the catalyst Linton setting the table with 87 stolen bases a game,
the pitching led by Gorgen who has a never before seen pitch called the
change up which owns everyone, taking this into the start of the Big
West in a couple weeks, how do you see them faring? League Champion?


Aaron Fitt:
Irvine’s much better than we thought it would be heading into the
season . . . but I still like Long Beach State to win the Big West.

 Q:  M. Green from Orlando, FL asks:

is UCF in the rankings? 16-1 this season (while missing their best
player), including a win over #4 Missouri (along with a few other teams
that made last year’s postseason). The team is hitting .348 (only 1
starter hitting below .310 with two hitting .450), averaging 9.8
runs/game, while holding opponents to .260 average.


Aaron Fitt:
For a team to come from outside the preseason top 50 and crack the top
25, it needs to prove itself against a good schedule. UCF has not yet
done that. Next week, the Golden Knights will be 22-1, after sweeping
Wagner, and we still won’t know how good they are. That’s frustrating.

 Q:  Ian from War Eagle Country asks:


What were your impressions of the opening weekend in SEC play?


Aaron Fitt:
I thought Vandy showed a lot of grit to win that series against South
Carolina. I was very surprised to see the Tigers of LSU and Auburn each
swept by teams that I figured would finish in the bottom half of the
SEC standings, Tennessee and Florida. I expected LSU and Auburn to be
considerably improved; they need to show that they are. I think
Arkansas’ youth on the mound is catching up with it.

 Q:  Chandler from LA asks:

it is time to drop Michigan and place the Waves in at #25. You
mentioned they are on the cusp and with three teams dropping out, you
would think #26 (Pepperdine) would be in.
Anyways, thanks for all the work and updates. The poll is usually spot


Aaron Fitt:
As I mentioned in today’s podcast, I really wanted to bring Pepperdine
in again, but after a 3-2 week, there were simply other teams that were
hotter and more deserving. It seems like every week the Waves have one
loss too many to break into the rankings. But if they go 3-1 this week
against Fullerton and Oregon State, they will be ranked next week —
guaranteed. Michigan, meanwhile, had a 3-1 week and took one out of two
from a legit top 25 team in Coastal Carolina, at Coastal. That’s
certainly enough to remain in the rankings.

 Q:  Mick from Chicago asks:

know Georgia Tech had a rough weekend, but I noticed that they have a
talented freshman SS Derek Dietrich batting in the 3 hole sometimes.
Can you give me a tools grade and/or ceiling on him?


Aaron Fitt:
Dietrich is a high-profile guy: he was the Astros’ top pick as a
third-rounder last June, and he has stepped right in and contributed
for Georgia Tech. He has true lefthanded power and arm strength, but he
does not profile as a shortstop down the road. He’s got a chance to be
a heck of a college player, particularly if he gets on the mound for
the Yellow Jackets in the next couple of years, and could be a
first-rounder in three years thanks to his bat or, potentially, his arm.

 Q:  Anthony from St.Louis asks:

Missouri’s starting pitching continuing to dominate and Baylor fresh of
a solid series win over Okie State, who do you like in this weekend’s
primetime Big 12 match-up? Any chance you will be joining me in
Columbia to watch?


Aaron Fitt:
I like Missouri at home; that pitching staff is scary-good. Should be a
great series between two of my “Eight for ’08” Omaha picks.

 Q:  Eddie from Lexington, SC asks:

you think South Carolina would have dropped so far in the polls if they
would have won the Friday 13 inning game against Vandy?


Aaron Fitt:
Of course not. That game was the difference between No. 7 and No. 13.
That’s baseball, I guess. You can play the woulda-coulda-shoulda game
almost every day if you want.

 Q:  Bob from Chicago,IL asks:

How much did Coastal Carolina’s split with Michigan effect their
ranking? Did it take away from their victory on the road over UNC
earlier in the week?


Aaron Fitt: Not really. The Chanticleers probably would have been ranked in the same spot even if they had beaten Michigan.

 Q:  Michael from Kansas city asks:

do you think of Nebraska pulling off a conference sweep on the road and
rolling off 13 straight? Even though it was against k-state it was
still impressive.


Aaron Fitt:
When we were doing our projected field of 64 in the preseason, we
deliberated between Nebraska and Kansas State for one of the final
at-large spots. We thought K-State was an intriguing sleeper, so we
went with the Wildcats and left Nebraska out. That decision looks
pretty foolish right now — that’s a big series win on the road for

 Q:  Matt from AZ asks:

offense has a different star each weekend, with Ike Davis leading the
charge this past one. With a huge game with UofA tomorrow, how do you
see that matchup and when does this offense slow down?if ever?


Aaron Fitt:
For me, Saturday’s win was crucial for Arizona State, because they were
able to get quality innings out of guys like Blair and Dorado and were
thus able to rest Josh Satow for Tuesday against Arizona. The Wildcats
have their own fresh arm ready for ASU in Mike Colla, but you’ve got to
give the Sun Devils the edge at home, with a rested Satow on the mound.

 Q:  Jason from New Orleans asks:

i know the Green Wave didn’t face the toughest competition this
weekend, but to win all 3 games a combined 39-0 has to be speaking that
the waves bats are starting to show up this season. With the starting
pitching of Hunt, Loup, and Broach, how far do you see the wave going
and do you see them winning the CUSA title?!
Thanks Jason


Aaron Fitt:
Tulane needed to beat someone better than Oakland to get back into the
rankings, but at least they took care of business and won in impressive
fashion. I really like that pitching staff, which is why we ranked
Tulane in the preseason. The Green Wave will be a contender for the
CUSA title this year, although that road still goes through Rice, of

 Q:  Joe from Easton, MD asks:

dangerous is Vanderbilt going to be if Alvarez comes back even close to
say 80 or 90%? Extremely impressive against South Carolina this weekend.


Aaron Fitt:
Those young arms are the key — I’m not worried at all about Vandy’s
offense, especially with Giobbi hitting the way he has. It’s guys like
Cotham, Lamm, Hill, Brewer and Reid who will determine how far Vandy
goes. So far, so good.

 Q:  joe from sacramento, ca asks:

about the cal bears. they beat a tough lmu team pretty easily and just
tore the cover off the ball. how far can they go this year


Aaron Fitt:
That’s a very good offensive club. David Cooper is one of the best
hitters in the nation, and he’s got protection thanks to Josh Satin’s
terrific bounceback year and the emergence of Brett Jackson. Jackson
and Jeff Kobernus are two of this year’s major breakout players, in my
mind. And the pitching staff has true anchors at the front and back
with Tyson Ross and Matt Gorgen, with quality veterans in between like
Craig Bennigson and Alex Rollin. Very good club, which is why we’ve got
them ranked 12th.

 Q:  Joe from Easton, MD asks:

Just for fun: one quarter of the way through the season (for most teams) who is the college player of the year at this point?


Aaron Fitt:
I’ll go with Brett Wallace, the best player on the nation’s best team
to this point. Not only is he hitting like crazy (.431 with seven
homers and 25 RBIs), but he’s helped the team immensely by shifting
across the diamond to third base and playing solid defense. There have
been a number of guys who have gotten off to great starts, but this
choice is easy for me.

Aaron Fitt: That’s all for today. Go get your brackets filled out over a pint of Guiness, and we’ll see you next week.