College Top 25 Chat With Aaron Fitt

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

    Jake (Charlotte, NC): What do you think about
    the Clemson South Carolina series next weekend? After watching Clemson
    so far this year the line-up seems to be solid throughout.

Aaron Fitt: Hi everybody. I’m chatting from the lobby
of my hotel here in St. Petersburg, so we’re going to go fast and
furious today — I’ve got to catch a flight in about an hour. That is
going to be a heck of a series between two very evenly matched teams.
South Carolina has plenty of good hitters, but you can’t escape the
fact that the Gamecocks are without their best overall player right now
(Jackie Bradley Jr.). I’ll make that the tie-breaker this weekend and
take Clemson to win two out of three, but it really could go either
way, just as this past weekend’s ECU-South Carolina series could have.

    MJ (New York): Miami improved to 5-1, which is
    good, and seem to be scoring more runs than anyone thought they might
    at this point and Erickson and Hernandez are as good as advertised. But
    the day 3 starter, Jason Santana, struggled for the 2nd straight week
    and has given up 10 earned runs in only 8 1/3 innings. Is that day 3
    starter cause for concern? Erickson and and Hernandez can't win every

Aaron Fitt: That is one of the most significant
concerns about Miami. I suspect we’ll see somebody like Jerad Grundy
get a shot at that job at some point.

    J.Rice (Georgia): What is your prediction for the Keith Leclair Classic in ECU with West Virginia, Illinios, Western Carolina, and ECU?

    After 2 weeks are in the book who is your favorite in the SOCON? Elon, CoC, WCU, GSU, Citadel or other???

Aaron Fitt: I think ECU should go 3-0 this weekend.
Illinois is a solid club though, and West Virginia has a good Friday
guy (Jarryd Summers) and a couple of big bats in Gyorko and Buckner.
WCU is off to a strong start as well — there are no pushovers in that
event, but the Pirates are on a different level from those other teams,
I think. As for the SoCon — your guess is as good as mine. John Manuel
and I debated the SoCon at length in the preseason, and we came to
different conclusions — he picked Elon, I picked CofC, with Georgia
Southern right there as well. Certainly Western Carolina and The
Citadel are also capable of winning that league; I wouldn’t be
surprised by any of those five. But today, I’ll go with College of

    Mike (Fresno, CA): How far is Fresno State out
    of the top 25 right now? They are 5-2 after winning 3/4 against
    Nebraska and after winning 2/3 at Washington. Are they top 30? Top 35?
    Fresno State, as you know, usually gets off to slow starts before they
    turn it on as the season progresses. They play a four game series
    against Oregon this weekend. Is it possible for them to jump into the
    top 25 with a series win? (I realize Oregon had a bad showing at
    Hawaii). Let me know....

Aaron Fitt: Fresno has definitely put itself in the
discussion, but right now it’s behind that group right outside the Top
25 (which includes Western Kentucky, New Mexico, Vanderbilt, Ohio
State, Oklahoma). I would put St. John’s, Alabama and Florida
International in that next group with Alabama. As always, there are
more teams that I like than we’ve got room for in the top 25…

    CD (Cols, Ohio): Aaron- After watching Ohio St. in person what did you think? Do you think Michael Stephens is a pro prospect?

Aaron Fitt: They’re a very good college baseball team
— physical, experienced, tough. Wimmers is a stud, obviously, and I
like Wolosiansky and the freshman who threw yesterday, McKinney; both
those guys are physical strike-throwers in the 87-90 range. They’ll
keep the Buckeyes in most games, and Ohio State’s offense will win most
of those games for it. Stephens is a heck of a college player, and
he’ll get a chance in pro ball, but I wouldn’t call him a big-time

    Mike (Boston, MA): Despite Paxton's departure,
    the Cats rotation has been excellent thus far and the bats haven't even
    heated up yet. What has surprised the BA staff most about the team to
    earn the #23 spot?

Aaron Fitt: Two things have surprised me to varying
degrees. I was surprised by the win against a Coastal Carolina team
that I am extremely high on; and I’ve been surprised how little
Kentucky seems to be distracted by the Paxton situation. I figured that
would affect them at least a little bit, but so far they’ve been
perfect. I’m not surprised by their strong pitching without Paxton —
the three guys in that rotation are all legit. That rotation has a
chance to be very special. John Manuel made a great point on today’s
podcast: Kentucky was expecting to lose Paxton last summer anyway, so
they had already prepared for life without him. Now they’re just back
to where they probably should be anyway. Losing Paxton is not a
crippling blow for them like losing Andy Oliver was for Oklahoma State
in the 08 regionals. He was a sophomore ace that they were counting on,
not a senior whose return was an unexpected bonus.

    Steve L. (Albany, OR): What do you think of the Arizona St. vs. Oregon St. matchup on Friday Night?

Aaron Fitt: Should be a dandy. I’ve been quite
impressed with Oregon State so far. We wrote a lot about how important
Greg Peavey’s development would be for the Beavers, and it looks like
he’s really turning the corner. And Waldron has been very good on
Fridays. Pat Casey told me today that the Beavers do plan to insert Sam
Gaviglio back into the rotation when he fully works his way back from
the hamstring issue he had, but I suspect it will still be Waldron this
Friday. He and Blair will be a fun matchup, assuming Spence is still
sidelined. But ASU is more dangerous offensively, and that’s an
offensive yard — favor the Sun Devils.

    Bob (Chicago, IL): Aaron,

    What are your thoughts on CCU this past week going 5-0 with 3 quality wins (UCI 2x and NCSt)?

Aaron Fitt: The big development there was Jimmy
Birmingham’s two strong starts. Everyone knows about Coastal’s one-two
punch with Wheeler and Meo, but the Chanticleers are showing they’ve
got good depth, too.

    Ross (Houston, TX): How excited are you to
    watch the Astro's College Classic with three top ten teams, two great
    arms in Bettis and Tepesch? Also will you be there blogging?

Aaron Fitt: I will be there blogging and twittering (I
guess I should say tweeting, but I feel silly typing that word), and
I’m very excited. Houston has a big arm on Friday too — I’ve heard
Michael Goodnight has been up to 94.

    Mark (Orlando): Is there any worry that Florida could fade throughout the season while depending on so many freshmen?

Aaron Fitt: On the contrary, I think Florida will get
stronger over the course of the season as those freshmen gain
experience. That team is so deep that none of the freshmen will be
overburdened to the point of wearing out down the stretch. That team is
insanely deep all over the diamond, and folks I spoke with this weekend
who saw them last weekend raved about their arms, especially Brian

    Derek (Los Angeles): UCLA is looking great,
    and I think at 19 they are very underrated with their pitching staff.
    What do you believe their chances are of making it to the CWS? Also do
    they have the best 3 weekend starters in college baseball?

Aaron Fitt: Let’s break this down, UCLA’s rotation vs.
Texas’ vs. San Diego’s. Cole and Jungmann are a push on Fridays, with
A.J. Griffin a bit behind. On Saturday, it’s Bauer, Workman or Solis. I
mean, take your pick there, but Bauer has actually had the most success
in college, so let’s give him a slight edge. On Sunday, it’s Rasmussen,
Dicharry/Green, or Kyle Blair. Rasmussen and Blair both need to throw
more strikes, but both are capable of dominating. It’s just really
tough… but to answer your question, I think maybe the answer is UCLA.
Texas goes deeper, though.

    Brendon (Sunnyvale, CA): Rough weekend for
    Stanford all around, but the one bright spot of the week might have
    been the 3 appearances by freshman Mark Appel...3 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0
    R...any chance you think we could find him in the rotation if snodgress
    and mooneyham continue to struggle. And does UC Santa Barbara pose any
    threat to Stanford at home this weekend, or should we expect a Stanford
    bounce back?....Thanks

Aaron Fitt: Appel is a big-time prospect just like
Snodgress and Mooneyham. If he gets results and they don’t, I would be
surprised to see him supplant one of them. The Gauchos have good
pitching, but I do expect Stanford to bounce back at home.

    Harry (Jackson, MS): Will Ole Miss go to Omaha this year??

Aaron Fitt: No.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Aaron, thanks for
    the chat! Another great weekend of college ball, and in one of the most
    high-profile match-ups Gerrit Cole trumped Sonny Gray. After two
    extremely dominating starts could Cole, even as a sophomore, being
    emerging as the best pitcher in the land?

Aaron Fitt: I would not be at all surprised to see
that happen this year. His stuff is just insane — it’s better than
Ranaudo’s stuff or McGuire’s stuff or Sale’s stuff. he just hadn’t
shown the kind of polish and command that those other guys had, but it
appears he’s taking that leap forward this year.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Aaron, should we
    read much into Matt Harvey's great outing over the weekend (as it was
    against Maine)? Are people in Chapel Hill optimistic that this is the
    real Harvey showing up?

Aaron Fitt: Our reports say Harvey was outstanding —
it wasn’t just a matter of dominating a cold-weather team. He showed
good command and threw quality strikes. Maybe he’s turning the corner

    Jeff (Washington DC): If LSU and Virginia were
    playing this weekend in Omaha, best of 3 for the national title, your
    money would be on UVA?
    What if we knew LSU and Virginia will be playing in June in Omaha, best
    of 3 for the national title, today your money would be on UVA?

Aaron Fitt: My money would be on UVa., yes. Especially if Ranaudo’s unavailable…

    Nick (Florida): Just wanted to get your
    thoughts on FIU??? A very explosive offense and early on seems to have
    very strong pitching as well. Has Turtle and the gang done it again???

Aaron Fitt: I think he has. We picked FIU as the Sun
Belt favorite, and that was a very good series sweep this weekened
against Oral Roberts. We’ll have more on the Panthers in an upcoming
Weekend Preview in the next couple of weeks.

    Carlos (San Diego, CA): It's was a choppy week
    for USD and normally I wouldn't be concerned but 1) their offense seems
    to be meager again and 2) their schedule only gets tougher. What do you

Aaron Fitt: USD’s bats were quiet this weekend, but I
don’t think you’ve got much to worry about. You don’t have to hit a ton
when you’ve got one of the nation’s best pitching staffs, but the
Toreros will hit better than they did this weekend for sure.

    John (Michigan): Aaron, I noticed you really
    didn't mention anything about Michigan State. What type of team do they
    have, and what type of prospect is their Friday night starter AJ
    Achter/RHP? Thanks.

Aaron Fitt: Unforuntately, Michigan State was one of
the few teams I did not get a chance to see this weekend. I’d say
Achter fits into the 10th-15th-round range.

    JC (STL): What is your take on Bryce Bretz
    from Middle TN St? In a down year for impact type bats it appears he is
    almost a lock for a Top 15-20 pick. Is he a left fielder at the next
    level? Is he a fast mover? Or will there be a big learning curve due to
    the competition difference?

Aaron Fitt: I don’t know about a lock for top 15 or
20, but he’s got a pretty good chance to go in that range. I like him
as a right fielder at the next level — he’s got a big arm out there. I
do think you’ll see a learning curve with him in pro ball, though; he’s
got some things to work on with his approach. That said, he’s a gifted
natural hitter.

    Mike DiMartino (Newtown Ct): Aaron, have you
    ever seen a game with as many bloodlines as Saturdays Vandy vs USC
    game? (Vandy: Mike Yastrzemski, Regan Flaherty. USC: Jordan Hershiser,
    Cade Kreuter, Richard Stock, Adam Dedeaux.)

Aaron Fitt: Great call, Mike! That’s pretty insane. And sitting on the bench you had Jack Armstrong and Shane Boras.

    David (Fort Worth): Even though its still
    early in the season, does TCU's road series win at Cal State Fullerton
    make them a viable choice to be a national seed come postseason play in
    spite of Fullerton struggles?

Aaron Fitt: I think it does, yes.

    JC (STL): Is TX going to hit enough to stay at
    or near the top all year? Their pitching is 2nd to none as we all
    know...but you have to score against top talent to win and get to Omaha.

Aaron Fitt: Yes, the Longhorns will hit enough. See
last week’s Weekend Preview for a scout’s take on their team; he
expressed no concerns about their bats, and I’m with him.

    mrbig (New Orleans): How concerned should Rice
    be that SS Rick Hague has 11 K and 1 BB in his first 31 plate
    appearances? How happy should they be that 3B Anthony Rendon has 11 BB
    and only 2 K in only 31 PA? Does Rice have anyone that will hit well
    enough in front of and behind Rendon so opposing teams are forced to
    throw him strikes? Thanks!

Aaron Fitt: Hague has gotten off to a slow start, but
he’s been through slumps before and come out on the other side, and
he’ll do that again. I think Rice would be happy if Rendon had a few
less walks and a few more fat pitches to hit, but the guy gets on base
at an impressive clip. Michael Fuda has gotten off to a great start in
front of Rendon, but they do need Hague to bounce back. I think Steven
Sultzbaugh will eventually provide some protection also. That lineup is
good beyond Rendon; don’t let the numbers fool you.

    JC (STL): What is your take on LeVon
    Washington? Most analyst have him in the Top 10-20 prospects but
    recently KLaw left him off the Top 50 on his list and in the comments
    he got questioned on it. He said his arm is a 20 and he couldn't
    possibly put him in the Top 50 with that. The guy can hit...and he has
    speed. Did he just come off an arm injury and he is still healing.

Aaron Fitt: I talked with more scouts this weekend who
confirmed what we have heard about Washington: that he’s down to a 60
runner after showing 80 speed once upon a time in high school. That is
a bit of a concern, and so is the arm. He is by no means a lock for the
top 50 picks, but that bat is very special, and there aren’t a lot of
great bats in this class, especially from the college ranks. I bet he
goes safely inside the top 50, and quite possibly in the 20-30.

    Matt Holt (Atlanta): What are your thoughts on
    the Yellow Jackets so far? They dropped a game to a less than
    impressive Xavier team on Sunday but also did commit 4 errors in doing
    so.. Do you see them as an Omaha team this year?

Aaron Fitt: They certainly have Omaha caliber talent.
The question is whether they will play up to their talent when it
matters most in June. But on paper, there’s no real weakness with that
team, though there are a few defensive issues.

    Don (Scottsdale): How do you see the PAC-10
    shaping up this year? Stanford fell flat on its face after last week's
    success, ASU and UCLA look all right (but probably have not been tested
    at all).

Aaron Fitt: ASU hasn’t been tested at all, but UCLA
has been. That’s a quality week for the Bruins, going 3-0 against Long
Beach, Vandy (and Sonny Gray) and USC. For now I’ll stick with our
preseason order of finish at the top of the Pac: ASU, UCLA, OSU,

Aaron Fitt: Sorry to cut this short, but I’ve got a
coke-related laptop mishap to attend to, and then I’ve got to catch a
flight. See you all next week from Houston!