College Top 25 Chat With Aaron Fitt

Q:  James from Miami asks:
What about Stetson? They just swept a hot Kennesaw State. Aren’t they worthy of a top 25?

Aaron Fitt:
Good afternoon everyone. I’m a little groggy today from a long weekend
of traveling and the onset of allergy season, but I’ll try to cover as
much ground as possible. Stetson would be in my top 30 right now, based
on the strength of its overall season. In fact, the five teams that are
right outside the rankings for me this week are Stetson, San Diego,
Louisiana-Lafayette, Ohio State and North Carolina State, in no
particular order. All have worthy cases for inclusion in the top 25.

 Q:  Logan from Homer, NE asks:
Gearrin’s numbers are Nintendo like! 30 IP 5 Hits 48k’s!!! He doesnt
just do this against the likes of Elon and Jacksonville. He has done it
against Miami, Auburn and GA as well. Ive never seen him pitch, but you
need to start finding out whats in the water in Macon! Those numbers at
any level are unreal. I take him over Moskos, Fields, Cecil any day on
sheer preformance.

Aaron Fitt:
The numbers are insane, and let’s not insult Elon and Jacksonville —
both regional teams a year ago that are dangerous this year as well
(just ask Florida State how dangerous Jacksonville is). If we’re
judging solely performance, Gearrin’s had the best season of any
reliever in the nation, and maybe of any pitcher in the nation. He’s
improved his draft stock as well, but not above Moskos, Fields or
Cecil. Those guys have serious power stuff.

 Q:  Brandon from Atlanta asks:
do you think the Yellow Jackets look after sweeping the Terps this past
weekend? And what chances do they have this weekend in Miami?

Aaron Fitt:
I think Tech is starting to come together. The pitching has been much
better of late, particularly Duncan and Turner. That Miami series is
very interesting, almost a mirror matchup between two teams that
entered the season with dynamic offenses but struggled on the mound
early and are starting to get more consistent pitching of late. Give
the Canes the edge at home next weekend, but it could go either way.

 Q:  alex kovaler from moscow, russia asks:
Who is the best team in the big west this year?

Aaron Fitt:
At this moment, I’ll stick with Cal State Fullerton, though I really
think UC Irvine is good enough to make a run for the conference title.
Of course, if Riverside or Long Beach gets hot, both of those teams are
capable of winning the league as well. Those are four legitimate teams
atop that league, though it looks like the grind of 20 games against
ranked teams is starting to take its toll on the Dirtbags. This
weekend’s series against Oral Roberts will be LBSU’s first against an
unranked team in more than a month, but this one won’t be a pushover
either. Oral Roberts is a solid club that beat Arkansas in a midweek
game last week.

 Q:  Alex from Pinehurst asks:
not quite the outing I was hoping to see from the ECU Pirates at Tulane
this weekend, but things happen. What were your thoughts of ECU’s
performance at Tulane? What are your thoughts on TJ Hose? He pitched
well enough to win again against another top tier Friday night starter,
but the Pirate hitters let him down by not being able to hit with men
on base. How do you see the HUGE series with Rice shaping up this
weekend? I think the Pirates are primed to take 2!!

Aaron Fitt:
Give Hose credit — he continually rises to the big games.
Unfortunately for him on Friday, the Pirates were up against Sean
Morgan, who’s a big-time pitcher in his own right. He was a bit wild on
Friday and got himself into some jams by issuing six walks, but he’s a
power pitcher who has a knack for getting the big strikeout when he
needs it. I really think the Pirates could take this series against
Rice; ECU is a very good home club, and I think ECU’s starting pitching
actually matches up favorably with Rice’s.

 Q:  Charles from Denton, TX asks:
usually only follow my Texas Longhorns in baseball, but a frind
convinced me to go to a TCU game with him this past Saturday vs. UC
Santa Barbara. I saw Sam Demel TCUs closer pitch Saturday night and was
very impressed with him. He hit 96 with his fast ball, and was a
constant 93 or 94. His curve also impressed me as two Gaucho batters
ducked away from the ball before it fell in for a strike. My question
is where do you see Demel going in the MLB draft, and do you think he
has the tools to close in the major leagues?

Aaron Fitt:
Nice report, similar to what I’ve been hearing about Demel all season.
His stuff is lights out, and I think he’s improved his stock to the
point where we can start talking about him in the same breath as the
Cecil-Kunz-Gearrin group.

 Q:  Josh Mitchell from Lumberton Texas asks:
Is FSU that good? or is that there schedule is weak and they haven’t got to the middle of there acc scedule yet?

Aaron Fitt:
Florida State is very good, I have no doubt about that. But I think
you’re right that we need to remember they haven’t gotten to the meat
of their conference schedule yet. That’s why we opted to jump Vandy
over FSU for the No. 1 spot in the rankings this week. Vandy has
already faced the toughest part of its schedule, with a home series
against Mississippi and road trips to Arkansas and South Carolina, and
the Commodores survived it. Florida State’s three conference series
have come against Wake Forest, Boston College and Duke. This is the
ACC, so none of those teams are terrible, but none of them is in the
elite tier, either. It’ll be very interesting to see what happens as
the Seminoles get to the heart of their conference slate. One
advantage: FSU gets North Carolina and Clemson at home, though it still
must travel to NC State, Miami and Georgia Tech.

 Q:  Bob from Chicago asks:
Just curious what does Coastal Carolina have to do to see a more
significant jump in the rankings? They have the longest win streak in
the country, gave unc all they could handle with their #4 starter that
day, played well against clemson, and while their conference is not the
best by far, they are undefeated in conference at 6-0. Is this because
they have had a ton of home games and not played a good team on the
road other then @ unc and clemson?

Aaron Fitt:
Well for one thing, Coastal can’t really move up unless the teams ahead
of it lose — that’s just how the rankings work. Seldom do we move a
team down if it won its weekend series. But this is a very impressive
stretch by the Chanticleers, and I’ll be even more impressed if they
can go on the road and take a series from a tough Troy team this
weekend. That May 4-6 series at Nebraska is also a great chance for
Coastal to put itself on everyone’s map, not to mention help its RPI.

 Q:  Gary from Tallahassee asks:
week you indicated that you could have made either South Carolina or
Florida State #1 but because south Carolina had been ahead of Florida
State in the polls you could not justify putting Florida State ahead of
South Carolina. Last time I checked Florida state was ahead of
Vanderbelt in the polls. Both went 3-1. All things being equal should
Vanderbelt have jumped Florida State. Looks like Florida State is not
getting a lot of love. What does Florida State need to Accomplish to
get the top rainking Sweep NC State this weekend? more?

Aaron Fitt:
Well, I have a lot of respect for what Sean McNally has done at Duke —
that team has really improved in a hurry — but Florida State really
should have swept the Blue Devils. It’s much, much harder to go to
South Carolina and win two out of three than it is to go to Duke and
win two out of three. Last week, Florida State and South Carolina had
pretty comparable weeks (a home sweep against Boston College vs. a road
series win against Mississippi State), so we gave the edge to the team
that entered the week higher in the rankings — the Gamecocks. This
week, Vandy had a much more impressive weekend, and frankly I’m more
impressed by Vandy’s overall season, so we jumped the ‘Dores over the
‘Noles. Vandy has gone 26-4 against a much stouter schedule than FSU.
29-2 is impressive any way you slice it, but in this case it’s not as
impressive as Vandy’s 26-4.

 Q:  mike from mission beach, ca asks:
oh, the usd toreros lost their conference opener-to the zags! is this
the usual same usd team that does well non conference against tough
teams and then stinks it up in wcc play? what are your thoughts? thanks
for the hard work!

Aaron Fitt:
Actually, I think San Diego will be just fine. I hated to run the
Toreros out of the rankings this week, because Gonzaga is a decent
club, and the San Diego to Spokane trip is a tough one. USD has too
much pitching to fade too much.

 Q:  Daryl from Washington asks:
you think Pepperdine can make a run at Omaha or will it be 4 straight
losses in the final game of a regional? Do you think because the WCC is
not that strong the Waves are not ready to face the tough post season

Aaron Fitt:
First of all, I think the WCC is an underrated conference with more
good teams than you think. Every team in that league is good enough to
win a conference series against any other, as we saw this weekend with
Gonzaga, and I still believe Pepperdine and USD are very very good
clubs atop the league. Also, Pepperdine is a battle-hardened club that
has played the likes of Wichita State, East Carolina, NC State,
Oklahoma State and Minnesota in nonconference action. I really like the
Waves and think they have a legitimate shot at a super regional and an
Omaha berth.

 Q:  Rodney from Austin asks:
many question have been ask about big 12 baseball. What is your overall
propective of the big 12 in baseball, and in particular the Texas
Longhorns team and their outlook in the big 12 and nationally.

Aaron Fitt:
John Manuel and I discussed the Big 12 at some length late in our
podcast this morning, so I would refer Big 12 fans to that. It’s a very
good conference, where Texas is (in my mind) clearly the team to beat,
and Oklahoma State has an amazing offense, and Oklahoma and Texas
A&M are both very good clubs that can pitch, defend, run and get on
base. Nebraska has been a disappointment, losing its first three
conference series, but I still believe the Husker pitching will come
around. It better come around soon, however.

 Q:  Alex from Wichita asks:
do you think of the Shocks season so far, and do you think they were
wrongly chosen as the No. 2 team in the valley behind startup
Evansville (who has not been nearly as imprssive thus far)?

Aaron Fitt:
Well, our publication picked Wichita State to win the MVC, so I’m
certainly not surprised by the Shockers’ success. Very very good,
balanced team. They were our preseason No. 10, and that’s where they’re
ranked now as well.

 Q:  Bill from Atlanta, GA asks:
does Ga Tech have to do to get back ranked? We’re clearly much better
on the mound lately and had a 5-0 week. Will a series win at Miami do

Aaron Fitt:
I think that’ll go a long way toward getting Tech back in the rankings,
yes. I don’t know that it will ensure the Jackets a spot… right now
I’ve got them behind the group that includes San Diego, La-Lafayette,
Ohio State, Stetson and NC State.

 Q:  TC from San Pedro asks:
the fact that there are an extraordinary amount of teams from the
eastern seaboard in the top 10 due to the fact that the teams out West
actually play competitive teams week in and week out, thus they lose
more games? Is this a down year for the West? I know you guys sleep on
the non-pac 10 school save for LBSU and CSUF, but come-on? You know
where the best baseball is played.

Aaron Fitt:
As a West Coast baseball sympathizer, I get a little tired of the
constant whining about how we don’t respect the teams out west. We
sleep on the non-pac-10 teams? Really? We’ve had both UC Irvine and UC
Riverside in our rankings this year, we’ve had San Diego in our
rankings for almost the whole season, we talked plenty about San
Francisco heading into the year (before that team proceeded to
underachieve), we’ve had Pepperdine in the top 15 almost all season.
Who am I missing that deserves more respect? If you’ve got one for me,
I’d love to hear it. The reason there are more Eastern teams at the top
of the rankings is because while the West Coast is pretty deep this
year, there are very few dominant teams (Oregon State would have
qualified as the only one before it got swept this weekend). I know
it’s hard to rack up a great record when you’re playing against a bunch
of very quality West Coast clubs, but the truly dominant, top-10
caliber teams can do it. Unfortunately, those teams are all in the ACC
and SEC this year.

 Q:  John from Columbus, MS asks:
was wondering what the scouts were saying about Zack Cozart and where
he might go in the draft. I know he started off slow but it looks like
he is coming alive as of late.

Aaron Fitt:
One of the best defensive shortstops in the nation, Cozart has a chance
to go at the back of the first round. His bat remains the question with
him, but I think it might be good enough to make him at least a
supplemental first-rounder.

 Q:  Sean from Brea, CA asks:
how come BA does not update record vs. Top 25 to indicate W-L versus
currently ranked teams? It doesn’t seem to make sense that a series win
over 13-14 UCLA is highlighted, while the same series win over Arizona
is not.

Aaron Fitt:
You’re referring to the Top 25 Tracker, and you make a fair point. But
really it’s just a matter of preference. We think it’s more relevant
where a team was ranked at the time of the meeting — a team that was
hot might have been ranked in the top 25 but fallen out of the rankings
later in the season, but that doesn’t make it any less impressive to
beat a team that was hot at the time. Of course, in UCLA’s case, the
Bruins were largely propped up in the rankings by their preseason
ranking, rather than by any hot streaks.

 Q:  Jim from MD asks:
Who are the top 10 catchers right now in college baseball? Where do you see them going in this years draft?

Aaron Fitt:
Fun question to end on — I’ll take a stab at it, and hopeflly I don’t
forget anyone. We’ve heard rumblings recently that Mitch Canham at
Oregon State has improved to the point that he might be the second
catcher off the board following Matt Wieters, even ahead of J.P.
Arencibia. Those three and Josh Donaldson at Auburn are the elite tier
for me, the guys with a chance to go in the first round. The next group
of guys that could go in the second-fifth round includes Ed Easley, who
has hit the cover off the ball at Mississippi State, Jackson Williams
at Oklahoma, Preston Clark at Texas, Andrew Walker at TCU. Then I’d
throw Michael Ambort of Lamar into the mix based solely on his bat,
even though his catching skills are a big question mark, and Jeff
Dunbar of UC Riverside based solely on his catch-and-throw skills,
though his bat has been awful. I stuck with draft-eligible guys for the
purpose of this discussion.

Aaron Fitt: That’s it for this week. Until next time…