College Top 25 Rankings Chat

 Q:  Joe from Carrollton asks:
week you answered a question about SDSU and the MWC, saying that SDSU
was you favorite to win the conference. Did you forget out the Horned
Frogs or do you still believe the Aztecs will take the conference?

Aaron Fitt:
Joe and everyone else, thanks for coming out to the chat. Joe, I
corrected myself on that very issue on the BA College Blog last week,
sorry if you missed that. San Diego State has played well to date,
competing hard but losing a series this past weekend against Southern
California. But we do think TCU is the better club; that’s why we have
TCU ranked, and not San Diego State. Nice job by the Horned Frogs this
weekend to beat a good Oral Roberts club.

 Q:  John from Raleigh asks:
do you make of Duke’s 6-0 start? Granted, they weren’t playing against
the ACC, but could they be turning things around there?

Aaron Fitt:
I wouldn’t make too much of it; it was Mount St. Mary’s and St.
Bonaventure. The Bonnies are the tougher team, that was a good series
win for the Blue Devils. However, Duke still figures to be at or neaer
the bottom of the ACC. Sean McNally has a tough road ahead of him to
compete in that league in terms of facilities, tradition . . . but look
at Vanderbilt; it can be done.

 Q:  Alex from Montclair asks:
Brett Wallace isnt on the top 50 sophmore list yet he is on fire at ASU. Where do you see him next year?

Aaron Fitt:
Wallace is an interesting guy, because he can really, really hit. We
left him off our top 50 sophomores list because of questions about his
body (6-foot-1, 250 is not exactly an ideal professional frame…), but
he actually handles himself fairly well around the first base bag, and
more importantly, he’s got a mature offensive approach and an
above-average hit tool. If the power continues to develop, his draft
stock could really climb, even despite his build.

 Q:  Mark from Tucson, AZ asks:
Arizona pulled out 1 win this weekend at Fullerton. They now are 9-2 on the season. Where are they in the top 25?

Aaron Fitt:
After the Wildcats beat Wes Roemer on Friday, I really thought they
were going to win the series–Brad Mills and Mike Colla have been
pitching really well, and Fullerton’s rotation had been shaky after
Roemer. But Arizona got steamrolled on Saturday and Sunday, as neither
Mills nor Colla made it through four innings. I still think that’s a
good team–and winning one game on the road against a top-12 team is
not too shabby–but we weren’t going to bring them into the top 25
after they just lost a weekend series, especially the way they lost the
last two games.

 Q:  Joe from Charleston, SC asks:
up here in Charleston watching the Cougars from the College of
Charleston go undefeated again. 4-0 to start the year and play George
Mason twice this weekend. After their Super Regional Appearance last
year, do you think if they win out this week they willshould be ranked?

Aaron Fitt:
We typically like to bring teams into the rankings after they’ve gotten
a few quality wins under their belts, and looking at that schedule,
it’s going to be a while before CofC has a chance to collect any of
those. Beating South Carolina on March 6 will help, but the first real
weekend test will be UNC Charlotte on March 16-18 and Western Carolina
the following weekend. Until then, it will be hard for the Cougars to
prove they’re legit.

 Q:  Jason from Atlanta asks:
The University of Kentucky had an impressive weekend, any reason why they have not cracked the top 25?

Aaron Fitt:
A very impressive weekend indeed, outscoring Furman 41-8. I want to see
how Kentucky’s pitching staff holds up before bringing them into the
rankings quite yet. Like College of Charleston, we won’t know how good
Kentucky is for about a month, because its schedule between now and the
March 16-18 series against Arkansas is incredibly weak.

 Q:  Michael from Falmouth, MA asks:
is that Sean Morgan can excel at Tulane but not in the Cape Cod league?
Where do you think he will fall in the draft, is he another Brian

Aaron Fitt:
Part of it is likely that the Cape Cod League comes after the college
season. Remember that Morgan threw 118 innings for Tulane last spring;
he was likely a little worn down by the summer. He’s got true power
stuff, though — I’d say could be a second-rounder with a good spring.

 Q:  Jake from Georgia asks:
Does Clemson’s 5-1 loss to George Mason hurt more than South Carolina’s 1-point loss to The Citadel in the rankings?

Aaron Fitt:
Not quite sure I understand the question completely, but both teams
fell one spot to accommodate the teams behind them, North Carolina and
Vanderbilt, who both have gotten off to very impressive starts to the

 Q:  ROGER from Raleigh asks:
Your Carolina Blue Blood is showing…..What about NC STATE?

Aaron Fitt:
What about NC State? The Pack has five pretty convincing wins so far,
but they’ve come against a weak William & Mary team and
Gardner-Webb. State is on the radar, but I’ll be much more impressed if
it beats Coastal and TCU next weekend.

 Q:  Jim from Washington, DC asks:
do you make of Florida State hitting .420 as a team through 9 games? Is
this team just hot, or are they really that good? Pretty crazy when a
kid can go 2 for 5 and drop his team’s batting average!

Aaron Fitt:
The Seminoles are really on fire right now–they’ve scored 114 runs and
just three have come via the long ball. Everybody in that lineup is
hitting right now. Hofstra’s not a great opponent, but FSU did it
against Tennessee and a decent UNC Asheville team too. There’s an awful
lot to like about that lineup, starting with the catalysts at the top
(Tony Thomas and Mark Hallberg). I love the explosiveness that
D’Vontrey Richardson brings, as well.

 Q:  Jim from SC Country asks:
I have to ask. How did South Carolina get all this amazing talent? With
Smoak, Havens, and now Lonnie Chisenhall, do you think that they are
the best team talent wise in the nation? Three first round picks? Could
we be seeing them at Omaha?

Aaron Fitt:
I’m not sold on Havens as a first-round talent yet, but your point is
still a good one. That team is loaded. That said, I bet Vanderbilt
winds up with as many high draft picks over the next two years, with
David Price, Pedro Alvarez, Casey Weathers and Brett Jacobson. The SEC
really is stacked this year, and right now I would bet on South
Carolina, Vandy and Arkansas all making Omaha runs.

 Q:  Casey from Seattle, WA asks:
State is 9-1 so far. Why do so many east coast teams get so much hype?
Yea, North Carolina is good but they just beat Seton Hall and jump to
number 1? Make them prove themsleves before throwing east coast teams
to the top.

Aaron Fitt:
Hard to believe anyone would accuse us of under-hyping the Beavers…
sometimes I feel like we run a new Oregon State story every day. The
Beavers are in the top 10, and they’ve had as impressive a start to the
year as anybody, but we’re not going to simply jump them over all the
teams who started ahead of them in the rankings and have continued to
win. North Carolina started in the Top 5 because of their extremely
high talent level, and they ascended to the top spot based partly on
that and partly on their impressive start. I love what Oregon State’s
doing, and I think the Beavers are one of the toughest teams in the
nation, but if you asked me right now which of those teams would win on
a neutral field, I’d take the Tar Heels.

 Q:  aaron from calabasas asks:
why is pepperdine only ranked 20th after taking 2 of three from wichita state? and could they have a shot of getting to omaha?

Aaron Fitt:
That was a solid win for Pepperdine, obviously, but at the same time,
the Waves were supposed to win that series. They were at home against a
cold-weather team playing its first games of the season, and Pepperdine
had been playing for weeks. Give due credit for holding serve (and
indeed we jumped Pepperdine over Tulane in our rankings), but don’t get
carried away. That said, the Waves do have good pitching, starting with
Barry Enright and Brett Hunter, and they’re an interesting sleeper team
for Omaha.

 Q:  scott from stillwater,ok asks:
If Oklahoma States pitching remains strong how do you think the season will go for them?

Aaron Fitt:
Very, very well. I love that offense, and the only question about that
team is its pitching. It was good to see freshman lefty Andy Oliver
pitch well on Sunday — he’s a key guy for them. Also, Gardner
continues to pitch well on Fridays. We’ll see how those guys do against
stronger competition, but so far so good. If they hold up, that’s a CWS
team, because the offense is scary.

 Q:  John from Peoria, AZ asks:
Mike Leake’s outstanding work out of the bullpen so far this year, do
you see him eventually taking one of the weekend starting spots? Or is
he more valuable as a reliever? Thanks

Aaron Fitt:
Right now it seems like Pat Murphy really likes having him in the
bullpen, where he can save the day whenever one of the starters
falters. Originally it looked like Parigi was going to fill that role,
but he fits OK in the rotation, and Flores and Satow are both solid
guys. That’s a neat little all-lefty rotation, and they bring the
righty Leake in whenever they need. One concern: he’s throwing an awful
lot for a freshman very early in the year (he worked 4.2 innings
Thursday and then came back to throw 6 more innings Sunday). He’s not a
real big guy at 6-foot, 160 — you have to wonder how well he’ll hold
up to that kind of workload.

 Q:  Drew from Fort Worth asks:
have two for you today and thanks for taking them. What are the chances
that the MWC gets more then one bid into the field of 64?
I got to see some great pitching from TCU this last week and I was
really impressed by the whole staff. Where do you see Arrieta and Demel
going in June?

Aaron Fitt:
I think two bids is a real possibility for that conference, especially
if SDSU can get some more quality nonconference wins. As for the TCU
arms, Arrieta is a sure first-rounder, and maybe as high as top-10.
People really like his stuff, size and feel for pitching — really the
complete package. Demel is another true power arm — could be
top-two-rounds type with a good spring.

 Q:  Bob from Greenville, SC asks:
Who are your 8 teams for Omaha at this point in the season?
Thanks for the chat.

Aaron Fitt:
Let’s go with North Carolina, Clemson, Vandy, South Carolina, Oregon
State, Virginia, Arkansas, Rice. Yeah, I know that’s three ACC teams
and three SEC teams. That’s a reflection of the power dynamics in
college baseball this year. Those are hands down the two best
conferences out there.

 Q:  Randy from Conway, SC asks:
does Coastal Carolina have to do to crack the Top 25? What is your
reasoning behind a 3-3 Evansville team (with 2 of those wins over
Lipscomb) being ranked higher than a 7-0 CCU team with wins over #7 at
the time UVA, Elon (45 wins ’06), UNC-Wilmington (42 wins, CAA champ
’06), and ODU (39 wins ’06), not to mention a solid Virginia Tech team?

Aaron Fitt:
Coastal is also on the radar. Folks, there are only 25 spots in the top
25, and there are a lot more than 25 teams playing every week. There
are a lot of teams with good cases for the rankings — Coastal, UC
Riverside, Texas A&M, Long Beach State, Florida Atlantic, Stetson,
Kentucky and Southern California are some of the teams we’re keeping an
eye on. But we’re not going to punish Evansville for being a
cold-weather team. The Aces did what they were supposed to this
weekend, going to Mississippi and coming out with a win, even though
the Rebels have been practicing outside and the Aces have really not.
That’s a significant advantage.

 Q:  Alex from Pinehurst asks:
6 games, ECU sits at 2-4 after an opening home series against a decent
Liberty team and being swept in LA by #15 UCLA. The Pirates played UCLA
tough over the weekend and should have won on Saturday if not for poor
baserunning mistakes and issuing way to many free passes. So how do you
think the Pirates season will play out? What about this Friday night at
home against Pepperdine?

Aaron Fitt:
That was a tough series for the Pirates, but there are some things to
like about that team. Harrison Eldridge is tearing the cover off the
ball, and Brandon Henderson hit a couple of homers this weekend — some
decent punch in the lineup there. Jamie Ray is a nice disruptive
player, and Dale Mollenhauer is a solid all-around player. They’ve also
got a few pretty good arms in Dustin Sasser, Mike Ostrander and Mike
Flye. It’ll be hard for the Pirates to finish ahead of Rice and Tulane
in C-USA, but third or fourth place is a reasonable goal, I think.
Pepperdine will be a good test next week (not this week) — that’s a
very good team, but ECU needs to win that one at home.

 Q:  johnnie from pa asks:
south carolina struggling with their starters.. why not move pelzer
back to the rotation.. or is it becasue he projects as a power arm in
the bullpen in the majors?

Aaron Fitt:
First, I think the Gamecocks are very happy with their rotation of
Harris Honeycutt, Jay Brown and Mike Cisco. Even in the loss to The
Citadel on Sunday, Cisco pitched very well for six innings. Once Arik
Hempy gets back, that will be one more quality starter in the mix, and
one more reason to leave Pelzer in the bullpen. Also, having a reliable
closer is very important in college baseball (see the last two CWS
champs – Kevin Gunderson and Huston Street were huge factors for both).

 Q:  Mike W from Nashville asks:
seems a little ridiculous that Clemson is still ahead of Vanderbilt in
the newest poll after Vanderbilt’s 3 decisive vitories and Clemson’s
one loss and necessary comeback for the victory on Sunday to take the
series over George Mason. Can you explain the reasoning?

Aaron Fitt:
We’re giving the Tigers a bit of a mulligan this weekend. Not a
complete mulligan — we did bump them off the top spot, after all —
but how much stock can you put in the first series of the year? I still
think Clemson is a better team all around than Vandy, thanks to a much
more dangerous lineup and a deep pitching staff, though it lacks the
star power of David Price.

 Q:  Russ from Deltona, FL asks:
What will it take for Stetson or an Atlantic Sun team to break into the Top 25?

Aaron Fitt:
The Hatters had a very impressive week, first beating a good
Bethune-Cookman team that was fresh off a sweep of Mercer (which was
fresh off a two-game sweep of Miami), then dismantling LSU 22-2.
Stetson’s in that group of teams just outside the top 25, and unlike
College of Charleston or Kentucky, the Hatters will get a chance to
prove themselves against solid competition, with upcoming games against
South Florida (two midweek games), Louisville (for three games),
another against BCC, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Central Michigan (for three)
and Florida. A few more wins against that schedule, and Stetson will be
in the top 25.

 Q:  Andrew from Kansas City asks:
I’m not complaining, but how close was Florida to breaking in to the Top 25 after taking two of three from Miami?

Aaron Fitt: On the radar, but lest we forget, the Gators lost their opening series at home against VMI.

 Q:  Henry Thompson from Tiburon, Ca asks:
Does USC,USF,CAL or Stanford have any probable first rounders or high picks?

Aaron Fitt:
It sounds like Aaron Poreda of USF could find himself in the first
round by season’s end — he has shown extremely impressive stuff early
(see today’s Three Strikes in the College Blog for more). Michael
Taylor and Nolan Gallagher of Stanford could both be supplemental
first-round types with good springs… both have undeniable talent, we
just need to see the results. Matt Cusick down at USC is a terrific
pure hitter who could go in the third-fifth round area, I’d estimate,
and closer Paul Koss could go higher than that. Some good guys in the
sophomore class too, with Tyson Ross of Cal and Jeremy Bleich of

 Q:  Alex from Nashville, TN asks:
Brett Jacobson and Nick Christiani, Who is better? And can they join Price over the next few months to form a dominant staff?

Aaron Fitt: Jacobson has better stuff and looks like a better pro prospect, but both should be solid weekend guys this year.

 Q:  Nick from Norfolk, Nebraska asks:
What are your impressions of Nebraska after this weekend?

Aaron Fitt:
This will probably have to be the last question for today. Nebraska’s
strength entering the year figured to be its pitching staff, and
there’s no reason to change that assessment, as Watson, Dorn and Shirek
looked good and Bird nailed down a couple of saves. You still have to
wonder where the offense is going to come from — there’s a lot of
pressure on Ryan Wehrle to have a big year.

Aaron Fitt:
Before I wrap up, I just want to correct a dumb mistake from earlier.
Huston Street was not on that 2005 Texas national championship team —
J. Brent Cox was the dominant closer on that squad. But the point is
still valid — with the exception of the 2004 Fullerton team, all of
the national champions in the 64-team era have had dominant relievers
(Rice’s David Aardsma in 2003, Street for Texas in 2002, George Huguet
for Miami in 2001, Trey Hodges for LSU in 2000 and Michael Neu for
Miami in 1999).

Aaron Fitt: Thanks for coming by, and we’ll see you next week.