Top 25 Chat: March 12

 Q:  Alan from Chapel Hill, N.C. asks:
State seems to have serious pitching problems. Matt Spencer, who left
UNC for ASU this year, came to Chapel Hill as a pitcher. I see he’s
hitting well, but is Murphy planning to use his arm?

Aaron Fitt:
Good afternoon everyone. Sorry for the delay on the chat (and on Three
Strikes and Tracking the Top 25. We’re having some internet issues, so
please bear with us while we try to get all that content posted for
you). Pitching has been the question with Arizona State all year, and
it’s the reason we have been slow to run them up our rankings as fast
as some other polls have. Clearly it’s still an issue, after the Sun
Devils dropped two out of three against Long Beach State. I don’t think
there’s any chance you’ll see Spencer on the mound. I think there’s a
much more likely chance you’ll see Jason Jarvis pitching for them soon.
That’s the possibility Pat Murphy is counting on, I think.

 Q:  The Deacon from Wake Forest asks:
The Deacon himself demands some love after a great weekend against
Virginia. How do you feel about this Wake Forest Team? Whether it is
hitting one week or starting pitching the next, they seem to get it
done. What Prospects do they have to offer as well? Any Top 5 Round

Aaron Fitt:
You’ve got to love what Wake Forest is doing right now — that’s a
great series win against a very, very good Virginia team. I think that
early West Coast trip will pay dividends and make the Deacons tougher
for ACC play. Gotta love the way Rick Rembielak’s boys don’t ever quit
— Sunday’s walk-off win was their fifth walk-off win of the season.
Willy Fox has been a huge addition for Wake after coming over from
Arizona State; he leads the team in batting and had a monstrous weekend
against the Cavs. And Josh Ellis has yet to give up a run in 14 innings
of work, with an 18-3 strikeout-walk ratio. That’s almost Corey
Gearrin-esque. Allan Dykstra, of course, is the best prospect on the
team. He’s now slugging .661 and appears impervious to any sophomore

 Q:  Ryan from Florida asks:
beat #3 South Carolina on Tuesday but is not ranked? Apparently they
proved themselves as a legit contender for the top 25. Looking at their
schedule, they did lose 23 this weekend to UTSAm but both those games
by 1 run; perhaps an innocent stumble. Is that the reason why the Super
Regional Cougars aren’t ranked?

Aaron Fitt:
As I blogged earlier this week, beating South Carolina put the Cougars
right in the mix for the top 25, then they promptly fumbled their way
right out of that mix by dropping two games to UTSA. That’s really a
series they have to win. And we’re never going to bring a team into the
rankings that just dropped a weekend series, anyway.

 Q:  Bunky from Columbus, Ohio asks:
you guys ever talk about baseball in the Midwest? How far can Ohio St.
go this year? What do you think of Matt Angle & JB Shuck?

Aaron Fitt:
I’ve devoted plenty of words on the blog and in weekend preview to
teams like Ohio State, Michigan, Miami (Ohio), Evansville, Central
Michigan and Kent State. I passed along a detailed scouting report on
Ohio State in weekend preview two weeks ago– go back and look at that
report for my opinion about the Buckeyes. I think it’s a regional team.
The Big 10 is going to be very fun this year, because I think Ohio
State, Michigan and Minnesota are all legit. Heck, even Penn State has
been playing decent baseball, giving UNC a nice run last weekend and
playing Wichita State tight this weekend.

 Q:  George from Atlanta asks:
Georgia Tech need to rethink having Matt Wieters as a closer? Seems
like it was asking a lot this weekend to have him start all three games
at catcher and then go to the mound in the ninth inning of the Sunday
game with Virginia Tech.

Aaron Fitt:
That’s something we discussed in the weekly college podcast this
morning, and I think you’re exactly right. Wieters has a 9.00 ERA
through five appearances this year (7 IP), and I think fatigue has to
be a factor. Catching is demanding, and it’s got to be difficult to
spend three days behind the plate and then go to the mound for the
ninth inning Sunday. I think there are enough quality arms back there
with Danny Payne and Brad Rulon that the Yellow Jackets can afford to
put Wieters in a less demanding pitching role. Of course, given Tech’s
issues in the rotation, maybe the solution is to move one of those guys
to a starter’s job (Payne?). That’s idle speculation on my part, but it
could be an option if Chris Hicks doesn’t get on track.

 Q:  Deege from Pa asks:
Is Maryland close to cracking the top 25 soon. They have won all 5 of their weekends so far.

Aaron Fitt:
Maryland has pushed itself into the picture after going to Raleigh and
taking a series from NC State. Pretty impressive the way they knocked
Brackman around on Friday, and we got positive reports about their
pitching all weekend. I especially like Ryan Moorer as a Saturday guy,
and Brett Cecil is absolutely filthy.

 Q:  Eric from Huntington Beach asks:
thought Long Beach should have moved up more on the rankings than just
2 spots. They took care of business and whacked ASU 2 out of 3. What is
the reasoning?

Aaron Fitt:
The Beach sure did take care of business, and they Dirtbags never cease
to amaze me. I think it’s time to stop doubting those guys. That said,
I don’t think you can jump LBSU over Texas A&M or Coastal, which
both swept their weekends.

 Q:  Brandon from Myrtle Beach, SC asks:
love the fact that BBA respected Coastal Carolina’s weekend sweep,
despite the mid-week loss to Clemson. While it may go overlooked, the
ninth inning come-from-behind win against Bethune-Cookman after a
horrid bullpen showing really showed the guts, pride and determination
that this squad has. With that said, how do you see the Chanticleers
faring heading into a second-half schedule primarily comprised of some
difficult away games?

Aaron Fitt:
You hit on the exact reason I like Coastal’s team so much — guts,
pride, determination. They play hard, they play smart, they play above
their talent level (which isn’t to say they don’t have talent, of
course). Looking at the Chanticleers’ schedule, the toughest weekends
left are trips to Troy April 6-8, Nebraska May 4-6, and Winthrop May
18-20. The next three weekends should be very winnable home series
against Eastern Michigan, Radford and Charleston Southern. That Friday
game against Eastern Michigan ace Jeff Fischer should be a good one.
Fischer has taken his lumps the last two weekends on the road against
South Carolina and Arizona, but he can pitch.

 Q:  Alex from Pinehurst asks:
How about those ECU Pirates!? What a weekend. Glad to see you have them
ranked, but surprised none the less. I figured they would be in around
the #30 mark, just outside. What did you think of the Fullerton series?
How do see the Pirates season playing out? You originally predicted
them to finish 4th.

Aaron Fitt:
I don’t know how much longer I can go if our web issues continue —
it’s taking me about 10 minutes to post a single question. But I’ll
push on as long as I can… Really a statement weekend for the Pirates.
I certainly didn’t expect them to sweep that series, but when they did
it was hard not to think about them for the top 25. They’ve got a
similar resume to Southern Cal, who we brought in last week on the
basis of a strong schedule and a big weekend sweep of Georgia. As for
CUSA, I still believe Tulane will come around and finish second behind
Rice, but I think third place is a toss-up between Southern Miss and
East Carolina. And I wouldn’t be completely shocked if one of those
teams finished second, because clearly Tulane has some issues,
particularly on offense.

 Q:  Joseph from Fairhope, AL asks:
you talk a little bit about this weekends series between Ole Miss and
Vandy? How do you think Kline will match up against Price on Friday
night (Best pitching matchup this year?)? After taking care of UCLA
this past weekend, do you think that the Rebs will be able to get the
series win against Vandy?

Aaron Fitt:
I don’t want to spend too much time talking about this series, which
will be the focus of Friday’s weekend preview, but I can tell you that
I’m really looking forward to it. Vandy has just steamrolled everybody
since that opening weekend in Houston, but now we’ll get a chance to
see how the ‘Dores hold up against a very good SEC team. It’s also a
chance for Ole Miss to make a serious statement. I think it could go
either way, but right now I’ll take the Commodores at home. Price-Kline
is a dandy of a matchup, but David Price is just pitching out of his
mind right now.

 Q:  Dale from Thousand Oaks, Ca asks:
too bad the finale to the Pepperdine vs Oklahoma State game was rained
out on Sunday. Who do you believe would have won on sunday, and how far
will these teams go into the post-season?

Aaron Fitt:
Pepperdine’s been a bit vulnerable on Sundays with Robert Dickmann,
though he pitched very well last week in a win against Western
Carolina. But Oklahoma State is a different animal; I bet the Cowboys
would have knocked him around a bit. Idle speculation, of course. It’s
a shame that last game was rained out — really an intriguing series.

 Q:  Jimmy from Akron asks:
What is your feeling on the University of Akron, who currently stand at 9-1?

Aaron Fitt:
The Zips have gotten decent pitching and pretty good offense, though
they’ve only hit five homers this year. Problem is, they haven’t beaten
anyone of substance, and they’re going to miss ace Tom Farmer this
weekend against Memphis and going forward. Farmer is still recovering
from minor shoulder surgery in the fall and probably won’t be back
until mid-April.

 Q:  Joe from Arizona asks:
is Brett Wallace going to get the recognition he deservers? .444 avg 25
RBI 16 BB 9 K in 20 games And he can field too, no errors this season.
Come on guys give him a round of applause.

Aaron Fitt: (Applauding)

Aaron Fitt:
As I’ve written a number of times already this spring, I really like
Wallace, whose bat, offensive approach and frame remind me of Billy
Butler but who is softer on his feet and plays better defense than the
Royals’ slugger.

 Q:  John from Lexington, KY asks:
SEC looks to be strong again this year. Who do you see as the teams to
beat as conference play gets started? Can UK compete with Vandy and S.
Carolina in the east? Thanks.

Aaron Fitt:
As good as all those teams are, I don’t think anyone can compete with
Vandy and South Carolina. I’m not saying those teams will run the table
or anything — the conference is so tough that every single team will
take its lumps. But those are the two best teams, and they’ll be left
standing at the top at season’s end.

 Q:  Matthew M. from Gator Land asks:
off what is going on with the Gators??? And second do you think it was
a good idea not to take the money that Boston was offering Matt Laporta
last year? Where is he falling in this years draft.

Aaron Fitt:
I don’t think LaPorta has hurt his stock at all. He came out of the
gates on fire, then he went down with a rolled ankle, but he came back
quickly and played through it and even continued to hit. If I were him,
and if the Red Sox were offering a million dollars last year (and I’m
not sure that they were), I would have taken the money. But he could
still end up making more than that when all’s said and done.

 Q:  Matt from Hattiesburg asks:
What will it take for USM to get in the top 25?

Aaron Fitt:
For starters, winning a series. They did that last week against
Louisiana-Lafayette, and if they had done it again this week against
LSU, they’d be in. But we don’t bring in teams that just lost their
weekend series, it’s that simple.

 Q:  Brook from Lansdale, PA asks:
What do you think of Robert Stock and Lonnie Chisenhall so far this season?

Aaron Fitt:
Chisenhall, our No. 1 freshman entering the season, has cooled off some
since his gangbusters start, but I still think it’s fair to say he’s
lived up to the lofty expectations, considering he’s filling the No. 3
hole for the nation’s No. 3 team. But Stock has been even better than
anticipated, especially off the mound, where his 94 mph fastball is so
good that he doesn’t even need to use his breaking stuff most of the

 Q:  Nick from East Rutherford, NJ asks:
Pedro Alvarez and David Price being the consensus #1 pick this year and
next, do you think that Brett Jacobson, Casey Weathers, and Dominic de
la Osa could round out that mix and also be first round picks?

Aaron Fitt:
I really believe Weathers could end up in the first round this year —
amazing how far he’s come in two years. Jacobsen also might have
first-round stuff, I think, but I’m not sold on de la Osa. Good player,
but certainly not first-round good.

 Q:  Ian from NH asks:
Is Brian Rike a potential 2nd-3rd round pick?

Aaron Fitt: That is the kind of buzz we’ve heard about Louisiana Tech’s Rike, the national home run leader with 11. He’s got legit talent.

 Q:  Stephanie from Montclair, New Jersey asks:
Who in your estimation is the player of the year? Pitcher of the year? Freshman of the year?

Aaron Fitt:
Decent question to end on. Pitcher of the year is easy: David Price.
Player of the year is tougher. I’d consider Kyle Russell at Texas,
whose nine homers have already nearly matched his 2006 total. Pedro
Alvarez’s numbers are very similar to Russell’s, and Brian Rike has 12
home runs already for Louisiana Tech. Right now, I’d go with Russell by
a hair. Freshman of the year, I’ll take Alex White (today’s website
cover boy) over Chisenhall.