2020 College Baseball Top 25 Chat (3/9/20)
Teddy Cahill: Welcome to this week's college baseball chat. Another fun weekend of action in the books and it's time for your questions. Also, I'm on time for the first time in a couple weeks, I think. So let's get to it.
Wes A (Jacskon, MS):
- Is it time to consider Ole Miss a legitimate threat? Their pitching seems as solid as ever and hitting is off the charts.
Teddy Cahill: Yes. I moved Ole Miss into my Eight for Omaha field in this morning's Off the Bat. It's been an impressive start to the season. Nikhazy and Hoglund are as legit as expected as a 1-2 punch, there's good depth behind them and the offense is rolling. That was probably my biggest question coming into the season and it's been answered very well. The Rebs are on a 14-game winning streak going into a big week with ULM - also one of the season's pleasant early surprises - and then a big home series against LSU to open SEC play.
Leland Jr (Palo Alto):
- How does the Stanford team look this year so far?
Jeff (Long Beach, CA):
- Trying to examine the Dirtbag's schedule and potential. Why is there no recognition of UCSB in the poll? Has Tulane just feasted on cupcakes, they also seem to be ignored?
Teddy Cahill: I really wanted UCSB this week. I did. But we still have too many teams to rank everyone that merits it. I wrote plenty about the Gauchos in Off the Bat this morning though, so check that out for more in-depth thoughts on the subject (https://www.baseballamerica.com/stories/acc-excitement-ucsb-highlight-college-baseballs-weekend-off-the-bat/). As for Tulane, it's a loud start. I think the team is good and have been very impressed with the pitching, particularly. To rank Tulane over some of the other options at the back of the Top 25, however, requires believing in Cal State Fullerton. We aren't quite sure what to make of the Titans. Again, too many teams for 25 spots is the essential problem we're working with.
- Do you still think vandy is a top 10 team. In my opinion they are all there losses are by no more then 2 runs. At the end of the year do you think they will host a super regional?
Teddy Cahill: Well, we don't have the Commodores in the top 10. So, I guess not? But I also still have them in my Eight for Omaha, so maybe? I don't know if they host a super. There's so much between now and then and, tbh, it's kind of random who hosts supers. UNC and LSU hosted supers last year and they were pretty bubbly as regional hosts for a lot of May. UGA and GT did not, despite being top-four seeds. So, you never know. But I do think Vanderbilt gets to Omaha.
Josh J (Madison, AL):
- Where is Auburn?
Teddy Cahill: Auburn is winning the Horizon League because realignment has gotten insane. Seriously, it's 8-0 against Horizon League teams. Truly wild. And also three wins against Chicago State! Did Auburn move to the Chicagoland? Seriously, the Tigers regretfully got squeezed out because the resume is so soft right now. 13-3 looks great on paper until you realize that those 13 wins came against Alabama A&M, Chicago State, Illinois-Chicago, Oakland and Wright State. There's one regionals team in that group and it'll be the Horizon League's autobid between UIC and Wright State. Auburn has not left The Plains. It lost all three games against UCF, the best team it's played. What about that says Top 25? It is unconventional to drop a team like that, but we've got too many teams for 25 spots. I have no doubt Auburn will be back. But this week, it just got jumped by Pepperdine and Virginia.
Justin (Tucson, AZ):
- Nick Gonzalez wins the Golden Spikes Award?
- Odds of Nick Gonzales going 1-1?
Teddy Cahill: Not feeling like either of these happens. In the draft, I find it hard to believe that you're going to convince Al Avila that a 5-foot-10 second baseman from New Mexico State is who to take with that pick when the likes of Torkelson, Martin, Lacy and Hancock are on the board. There's just so much on the line for everyone in Detroit that stepping out that significantly is a risk that I don't see them taking. As for the Golden Spikes, Gonzales is going to be penalized for playing in the WAC and at altitude. And, again, there are going to be other strong candidates. Noah Song was a finalist last year with insane numbers. But I think people are going to be skeptical about numbers in a conference like the WAC, as they were with Song in the Patriot League. Gonzales comes with more draft hype than Song, but if Tork or Lacy continue the seasons they're having, I think it's going to be hard for Gonzales to win the award.
Commodore Jack (Murfreesboro, TN):
- You dismissed my comments last week, but you can't deny them now. Under no circumstance should Tennessee ever be ranked before SEC play. They got an early start on their usual mid-season collapse this weekend. Conference play will be unkind to them per usual. They will be in a dogfight to even make it to Hoover at the end of the season. Am I wrong? And I know Vandy only got one win this weekend, but we all know they will be an Omaha contender when it's all said and done.
Teddy Cahill: People in glass houses, etc.
- Is Torkelson the best offensive draft prospect since Bryce Harper? Do we maybe have to go back even further to find someone better on the offensive side of the ball (expected peak)? Seems like he's very far superior to Vaughn from last year's draft. Thoughts?
Teddy Cahill: Kris Bryant was pretty good. That's who I've been comping Tork to for a couple years now. Would agree he's superior to Vaughn but I don't think there's a vast gulf. Andrew Vaughn is a really good hitter. I think Torkelson is a little more traditional and has a history of playing in the outfield that you might be able to buy into. Ultimately, I'd be quite happy to take him first overall.
Michael (Los Angeles):
- How much are the Dirtbags exceeding your expectations? Coming off of a 14-40 2019 season, along with a complete overhaul of the coaching staff and zero players in the top 200 draft prospects, is the success that Long Beach is having the result of "scrappiness" or just the showing of the talent that they had last year?
Teddy Cahill: Beach was not as bad as its record last season. There was a lot going on there. But there are some good newcomers in and Eric Valenzuela is really good at his job. Two Big West coaches picked the Dirtbags to win the league in the preseason poll. The talent isn't anything new, I don't think. Adam Seminaris is probably pitching his way into that top 200 mix and there are good underclassmen who could be there in time. They're a talented team playing really well right now.
- It's early, but Florida has seemed to be much improved since the down year last year, especially the pitching of Mace and Leftwich. How have they been able to rebound so well?
Teddy Cahill: Florida is definitely much improved. I think a lot of it comes down to a lot of players being more experienced. Mace and Leftwich are juniors now and took jumps they needed to/were expected to make. It added another top-five recruiting class and this one is delivering right away with Rivera and Barco and Hickey. Fabian is way, way better than he was as a true freshman who graduated early to join the 2019 team. They've found a good groove and are playing the kind of baseball you expect the Gators to play. It's been a spectacular first month for them.
Keegan (Broken Bow, NE):
- The Big Ten has been a disappointment so far. Why do you think this is and who in the Big Ten is still poised to turn their season around?
Teddy Cahill: Well, there's no question it's been a disappointment at the top of the conference. But then you look and see Iowa has been a solid 8-5 and Northwestern is better and Maryland is off to a good start and Indiana looks like it hasn't missed a beat. Ohio State, Michigan and Minnesota have been disappointing, but that's not the whole conference. I definitely like Michigan to get the ship righted. The Wolverines are banged up right now and have yet to play a home game. I think they'll get it fixed up. Ohio State has to turn it around, right? Minnesota's record will get better but unless it finds more depth on the mound it won't hit its ceiling.
Sam Iam (Turtle Rock):
- Any teams in the Pac 12 that pose a threat to UCLA and Arizona State in the conference or are those 2 teams far and away the cream of the crop of the conference?
Teddy Cahill: The short answer is no. The long answer is that you should look for the podcast when it goes up this afternoon because I have a lot of thoughts on this subject there. Rant isn't the quite right word for it, but animated monologue might get to the truth of the matter.
Abel (Lyon, France):
- Is Rick Vanderhook's job in jeopardy at Cal State Fullerton? Rhis years team just has zero fight, inconsistent pitching, and a lame duck offense. Is it time for Fullerton and Vanderhook to part ways? I would assume CSUF would be able to hire almost anyone they would want.
Teddy Cahill: Hi, Abel! Always good to hear from the chat's France-based Fullerton fan. Let's start with the fact that Fullerton would absolutely not be able to hire anyone it wanted. It's a good job but it can't compete on money with bigger schools and I don't know that it's so much better than a lot of other schools in the area that a coach would necessarily jump for it. So, if Fullerton decides that it needs/wants to make a change, it needs to be honest with itself. But it would have a solid candidate pool, I'm sure. I don't think I'd be inclined to make a coaching change but the stakes are high at Fullerton. I'd like to give Vanderhook's new staff another season to get it turned around because I really believe in the staff he's put together. There hasn't been as much talent at Fullerton as we're used to seeing the last few years and it takes some time to correct that.
James B (Seal Beach):
- Thank you for the great chats again this year! Thoughts on the So Cal Baseball Classic and UCLA in particular? I thought they were lucky to win against Vandy as Kumar was uncharacteristically wild in that game and a Vandy had more hard hit balls but were hit right at fielders.
Teddy Cahill: I don't know that you can call what they did lucky. Did they catch Rocker on a good day? Sure. But the Bruins hitters had something to do with that. UCLA is really good. Disappointing loss to TCU on Saturday but a good weekend overall going into Pac-12 play. I think both the LA schools had good weekends out there. Was a tough ending for the Trojans, obviously, but beating TCU and Vanderbilt makes for a really nice weekend.
Jeramey (Locust Grove):
- The SEC season starts this weekend and has lots of good series to start with. UGA at Florida, LSU at Ole Miss, Arkansas at MIss St, etc.... I live in the Atlanta area and am looking to go somewhere this weekend in the SEC where do I go and why? Thanks
Teddy Cahill: I think the easiest drive is a solid option - just heading a couple hours down the road to see Auburn and A&M. Tanner Burns vs. Asa Lacy on Friday night should be a lot of fun. Now, if you're willing to expand your possibilities a bit further, I'd rank it 1. UGA-UF 2. LSU-OM 3. Ark-MSU. I think the Georgia vs. Florida series is self-explanatory. I lean LSU vs. Ole Miss over the Arkansas vs. Mississippi State but it's really close. I think the family aspect of LSU-Ole Miss is fun, as is just seeing LSU in a good road environment and how Ole Miss handles a team that typically gives it fits. But if you'd rather go watch Heston Kjerstad, Christian Franklin, Casey Martin, Justin Foscue and Jordan Westburg murder baseballs, it would be hard to fault you.
- With big 12 play starting this weekend if Tech still the favorite to win it? Who is Techs toughest competitor for the big 12 crown?
Teddy Cahill: Texas Tech has done nothing to lose its status as favorite. The pitching staff is legit - especially for its depth - and it has shown that it is still going to hit. Oklahoma looks like the biggest challenger. The Sooners also pitch it really well and probably have the conference's best rotation. The question is whether they can keep up offensively. But it's a solid conference with TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas all looking like they'll be in the mix as well.
- What does Texas have to do to crack the top 25?
Teddy Cahill: Win one more game last weekend in Houston? Sweeping all of Rice, Boise State and Cal State Fullerton is solid. But are any of those teams regional teams? It doesn't look like it. And, again, we have more than 25 teams for 25 spots. So Texas doesn't quite make the cut. The Horns keep winning games and they'll get in.
Eric Simmons (Thornton Colorado):
- Why isn't Notre Dame ranked after sweeping North Carolina on the road to begin ACC play?
Teddy Cahill: I was impressed by the Irish. That was not a result I expected. First ACC road sweep for Notre Dame since 2016 and the first time UNC was swept by an ACC team at the Bosh since 2015. Not a bad start for Link Jarrett in ACC play. But prior to this weekend, Notre Dame hadn't played a game against a projected regional team or a team that finished last year in the top 100 of RPI. And the Tar Heels suddenly have three straight losing weekends, raising some serious questions about them. So ND still has some work to do to get into the Top 25.
- How do you feel about Arizona baseball this year? They are off to an okay start and have struggled at times, but they do have a good series win against Houston and a midweek win at Texas. There pitching has been much improved so far, but do you think this will hold once they enter pac 12 play and where do you see them finishing in the pac?
Teddy Cahill: I have no good feel on the Wildcats. I think they're a regional team and the third-best team in the Pac. But I'm still trying to wrap my head around them. This week, when Arizona plays ASU and Oregon State will hopefully help provide some clarity.
Henry C (Rossmoor):
- How does this year's UCLA team compare to last year's that romped through the season but flamed out against Michigan in the Super Regionals? We seem younger and have fewer highly acclaimed players (Garcia, Strumpf, Toglia, Ydens) but the team seems to be playing good ball.
Teddy Cahill: I think the reason there are fewer famous players at UCLA is because the Bruins are younger. McLain is a first-rounder next year. Mitchell is a first-rounder this year. JT Schwartz looks impressive. Noah Cardenas is really solid. Michael Curialle has a chance to be a really good pick in a couple years. Bergin and Nastrini should be high picks next year. There just isn't as much draft buzz in 2020 specifically as there was in 2019. Overall, it's another really good UCLA team that can play really deep into June. Omaha contender, national title contender, all of it, it's all there again for the Bruins this spring.
Teddy Cahill: That'll do it for today. Thanks to everyone for the questions. Looking forward to another fun week of college baseball, especially with the Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC starting conference play. I'll be back here next week for more of your questions.