Baseball America College Podcast: Preseason All-Americans
On this week's edition of the Baseball America college podcast, Teddy Cahill and Carlos Collazo break down the Preseason All-America teams and Vanderbilt's JJ Bleday, a first-team Preseason All-American outfielder, joins the show.
The Preseason All-America teams, voted on by MLB scouting directors, included three unanimous selections: Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, Texas Tech third baseman Josh Jung and Duke lefthander Graeme Stinson.
Rutschman and Jung aren't big surprises as unanimous selections after their All-American sophomore seasons, but Stinson doesn't have quite as much track record. Still, he is the top-ranked pitcher in the draft class.
"Seeing that swing-and-miss stuff, he's struck out 14 batters per nine (innings) over the course of his college career," Collazo said. "It's just really impressive pure stuff and he's a guy who, again, if he puts it together and starts and works deep into games this year, he's going to fly off this board come June."
Not only was Bleday voted a Preseason All-American, but Vanderbilt enters the season as the top-ranked team in the nation. Bleday said the Commodores aren't focused on the preseason rankings and are trying to stay within themselves as they prepare for the season.
"There's always going to be a target on Vanderbilt's back," Bleday said. "You've got to embrace it and take it as an opportunity to not prove anyone wrong, but to just go about your business professionally and be a good role model on and off the field."
Vanderbilt last year fell just short of a trip to the College World Series, losing in three games to Mississippi State in the Nashville Super Regional. Bleday said the Commodores aren't dwelling on that loss, but are motivated by it going into this season.
"It was an unbelievable series," Bleday said. "For me, personally, it was the best baseball I've ever been a part of in my career. At the same time, it's in the past. We're taking it as motivation, absolutely. We were a game away from making it to Omaha and that stung a little bit. But at the same time, we're going to use it to motivate us to get better."