2021 College Baseball Top 25 Chat (2/22/21)
Teddy Cahill: College baseball is back! And it was a thrilling Opening Weekend - still rolling today with some games. Let's get to the questions.
- What do you think about San Francisco? It seems the hitters are strong and pitching is definitely playoff caliber
Teddy Cahill: I genuinely don't know what to think of San Francisco after it won a series at UCLA. On the one hand, the Dons went 9-8 last season and were picked fifth in the WCC preseason coaches poll. On the other hand, USF won a series on the road against the Pac-12 favorites in a way that didn't seem at all fluky. And, while last season's record was mediocre, it was heating up at the end and had just won a series against Cal (although Cal was not particularly good in 2020). USF has real upside on the mound. The bigger question is how well is it going to hit? The early returns were great. The Dons added some important transfers in the offseason, like Jordan Vujovich, who homered twice at UCLA. The WCC looks like it's going to be very competitive this season and USF is certainly a part of that.
Top Dawg (Everywhere):
- How many legit draft prospects does Louisville’s offense have? Seems like nearly the entire lineup could get taken at some point.
Teddy Cahill: While Louisville's offense is legit, let's just start by acknowledging that facing Bellarmine, which is in its first season of Division I baseball, is not exactly indicative of much of anything. Now, that said, the Cardinals have three potential first-round picks this year - Alex Binelas, Henry Davis and Levi Usher. Luke Brown is one of the fastest players in the country. Lucas Dunn doesn't have as much upside as some of his teammates but he'll play pro ball for a while. Cameron Masterman has real power, Tim Borden is a solid all-around infielder and Christian Knapczyk comes to college with a lot of upside. So, yeah, pretty much the whole lineup is draftable over the next few years. That's par for the course at Louisville these days. This year could be really special, however, if Binelas, Davis and Usher play to their potential this spring.
- Are you streaming Kumar Rocker right now on SEC Network+?
Teddy Cahill: I actually have Texas Tech and Mississippi State on now. I'll probably throw Vanderbilt's doubleheader on tomorrow.
- Thoughts on Evan Shawver's first start against Clemson and where you see him in regards to the top college left handed pitchers in this year's draft?
Teddy Cahill: I did not see this live. I did, however, put on this game in the background while I was writing late last night. So, I can't claim I was locked in at all. But what I saw was solid. That Clemson offense is good and he shut it down for five innings. Shawver is someone I'm looking forward to seeing more of this year - frankly, I didn't see him last year and really wish I could have gotten a Cape look on him or something. Right now we don't have him in the top tier of lefthanders - guys like Jordan Wicks and Seth Lonsway - but he could be a solid pick. I know he's been working on his changeup to go with his powerful fastball-breaking ball combo and it could really round out his arsenal. And he's a Clevelander, so that's a big check mark on the positive side of the ledger.
- Miami took the weekend series against Florida. Was it was impressive Miami or a disappointing Florida? Or a little of both?
Teddy Cahill: Both, for me. Miami deserves credit for going to Gainesville and fighting for that series win. When the Canes went down 5-0 in the first inning on Saturday, I didn't see them coming back. But they did both in that game and in the series. The offense showed up in a big way after only scoring eight runs in this series a year ago. But it also was disappointing from Florida's perspective. That bullpen is supposed to be the best in the country, but it struggled in some big spots. It just wasn't the clean baseball we've come to expect from the Gators. That said, if this is where UF is starting, I feel good about where their upside is. Because they still very nearly beat a very good Miami team two out of three times. Clean up just a few of the miscues and UF is rolling.
Keegan C. (Nebraska):
- If Nebraska-Omaha manages to come up with another upset of Oklahoma, does it change perception about how important the Round Rock Classic is in boosting RPI and resumé for the postseason?
Teddy Cahill: I'm sure it will change perception, but it shouldn't. These weekend, neutral site tournaments only mean so much for RPI. You're playing one game against each of these teams. So, even if Oklahoma tanked (which I don't see happening), it would only be one of three games on the weekend and it would be happening on a neutral field, which lessens the RPI impact. I think the Round Rock field is already facing a more urgent weekend than expected. Only Auburn is above .500 coming out of the weekend. A bad weekend for any of the teams in Round Rock - except the Tigers - is going to put them in a hole coming out of the gate.
- With a good showing in a three game road series against (now #2) UVA, how close is UConn to sniffing the Top 25? Would a series win on the road this coming weekend against Southern Miss put the Huskies in the conversation?
Teddy Cahill: I don't think this weekend materially changed how I felt about UConn. The Huskies were relatively in the mix for the Top 25 coming into the year and by winning a game in Charlottesville, they kept themselves in the mix. A series win at USM wouldn't absolutely put UConn into the T25. It would definitely keep it in the mix and if the right things around the country happened, the Huskies could get in. But that's not a series win that would force us to find a spot for UConn no matter what.
Karl of Delaware (Georgetown, Delaware):
- Delawarian Zack Gelof, now Virginia's veteran 3rd baseman - does he go in the 1st round of the major league draft?
Teddy Cahill: I'm a fan. I like Gelof a lot. We have him ranked as a second-round prospect right now and if I had to guess today, I'd have to agree with that projection. He could hit his way into the first round but right now I'm more comfortable with saying comp round or second round.
- Will Caleb Pendleton be a breakout prospect this season?
Teddy Cahill: I suppose it depends on what you mean by breakout, but I'm going to say no. It's hard for freshmen catchers because of how much is being asked of them. The other thing is FAU has good catching depth - 2020 starter Nicholas Toney is back and is solid himself. Maybe Pendleton forces the issue, but I'd see more of a 2022 jump from him.
- Besides SEC Network and ACC Network for streaming NCAA baseball, what are your favorite ways to see games online?
Teddy Cahill: ESPN+ is a great one to mention as well. The Big 12 and American are all on there, as well as several other conferences. Although it doesn't come with your cable subscription, I think it's a good deal.
- If I was going to tune in on streaming services for a "much watch" Friday night starter or two, who are the top starters to watch? Who's the Saturday starter to watch? Sunday?
Teddy Cahill: Well, the obvious ones for Friday night are Kumar Rocker and Jaden Hill, who Joe and I picked as our pitcher of the year favorites. On Saturday, Gunnar Hoglund at Ole Miss and Jack Leiter at Vanderbilt. On Sunday, I'd prioritize Hunter Barco at Florida and whoever Virginia ends up throwing on Sunday (right now that's Mike Vasil).
Teddy Cahill: That'll do it for today. Thanks for the questions. It's great to have college baseball back and get back in this rhythm. We'll be back here next week with more to talk about.