Baseball America College Top 25 Chat
Teddy Cahill: Welcome to our first Top 25 chat of the year. t was great to be able to get out to the ballpark to watch games this weekend. I know I'm thrilled we finally have some games to talk about. So let's get to your questions. Tucker (Raleigh, NC): I think I saw on my timeline you were in Myrtle Beach this weekend? Which team impressed you the most and which one , presumably between UVA, NC State, and Coastal, is most likely to be a national seed in 3 months? Teddy Cahill: I was in Myrtle Beach over the weekend for Coastal Carolina's tournament. It was a strong field with three ranked teams and some good mid-majors in Appalachian State, Kent State and Old Dominion. Long term, I think Virginia is most likely to be a national seed. We had the Cavs at No. 4 coming into the season, and I've had them as a CWS team as far back as the early Eight for Omaha I did in June. There are some things they'll have to figure out on the pitching staff, but the talent is there. Connor Jones looked great on Friday, and offensively they looked solid all around. Coastal also looked good when I saw them Sunday, showing some good fight to edge Virginia. The Chants have big aspirations this year, and it is an exciting, veteran team offensively. Jace (California): Why is UCLA still ranked above North Carolina who beat them 2-1 and really outplayed them friday and sunday nights. Teddy Cahill: At Baseball America, our rankings work on something of a sliding scale. At the start of the season, they are about where we project teams to finish. Then, as the season goes on, they become less about projection and more about results. This early in the season, we're still operating a lot on projection. Matt W (Leesburg, VA): Coming off of their worst season in a long time, where is South Carolina currently on your radar? Top 30 or Top 50? What did you like about this weekend against an outmatched Albany team (if there is anything to take from it)? Teddy Cahill: We had South Carolina in our preseason Field of 64 (http://www.baseballamerica.com/college/2016-projected-field-64crystal-ball/), so, I guess somewhere in the Top 35 or so? The Gamecocks are an intriguing team with a lot of young talent. If some of their sophomores like Alex Destino and Clarke Schmidt make a jump this season, they could be dangerous. As for this weekend, I'm not reading much into it. I think it was just important for a lot of guys to make their debuts and get their feet wet. Frankly, the whole first month of the season for South Carolina is going to be about figuring out how all the new pieces fit. SEC play starts with a tough Arkansas team and it should just be building to that series. Robert (New Orleans): How close is Tulane from being in the rankings? What do they need to do to get there, and what can they do better? Teddy Cahill: We talked about Tulane both in the preseason and again today. The Green Wave is very close to the rankings. If they go out to San Diego and show well in a pretty good field in the Tony Gwynn Classic, they may find themselves in the rankings. Keith (Tallahassee): Well, FSU had quite a weekend against lowly URI. Is there enough promise from this series to heighten expectations, or are the Noles still likely headed for, by FSU standards, an average year? Teddy Cahill: It was a great start to the season for Florida State, but I don't think you can take much from a series like that. Much like South Carolina's sweep of Albany, this was more about getting everyone's feet wet and getting adjusted to new roles on the team. This weekend's series against College of Charleston will be a much better measuring stick. That's a great early-season series, really. CofC won a series against a solid Nebraska team this weekend and looks to have a solid team again this year. I will say, however, that it was great to see freshmen pitchers Cole Sands and Tyler Holton start their careers so well. I'm very excited to see how those two develop this season. Mike (Atlanta): How much potential does Ga Tech have this year after bringing in a top 3 class? A lot of freshman looked good for them this weekend. Teddy Cahill: I think Georgia Tech has a chance to make some noise this year if those young pitchers make quick adjustments to the college game. That was a really impressive class that recruiting coordinator Bryan Prince put together - we ranked it No. 4 in the country. Jonathan Hughes went right into the rotation and pitched well Sunday against Virginia Commonwealth. Georgia Tech's first ACC series comes at Florida State next month, and that looks like it'll be a fun one. Brent (Florida): Three freshman to watch out for in the SEC? Teddy Cahill: I only get to pick three? Alonzo Jones at Vanderbilt, Brady Singer at Florida and Antoine Duplantis at Louisiana State. Nick (Tennessee): Was vanderbilt's strong showing this weekend a product of a stronger than expected lineup or a bad USD pitching staff? Teddy Cahill: I don't know that Vanderbilt's lineup wasn't expected to be really good. Jeren Kendall, Bryan Reynolds and Will Toffey were all Preseason All-Americans. Ro Coleman was pretty good for them last year. And Alonzo Jones was my preseason pick for SEC Freshman of the Year (http://www.baseballamerica.com/college/2016-college-conference-preview-sec/). That all sounds pretty good. One player that did step up this weekend, I thought, was Kyle Smith. If he can take over from Zander Wiel at first base, that is definitely a good sign for Vanderbilt's offense. Randy Ferguson (Fort Worth): OSU had a mixed weekend in Arlington. could have been 4-0 with some key hits, but also could have been 1-3 with key hits against them. Was this due to the competition they faced being better than expected? Teddy Cahill: Well, the pitcher they faced on Opening Day, Joel Kuhnel from UT-Arlington, is legit. He'll make the Mavericks tough to beat on Fridays all year. Still not quite the results Oklahoma State was looking for this weekend and it's only going to get tougher this weekend when the Cowboys head to North Carolina for a series. Jim K. (Southern California): What happened to the high hopes at USC? They were dismal, even in their win on Sunday, all weekend. How worried would you be if you were Coach Hubbs? Teddy Cahill: Southern California's series loss to North Dakota was no doubt the most surprising result of the weekend (you can read more about it here: http://www.baseballamerica.com/college/bat-coastal-carolina-rallies-north-dakota-stuns/). That's a disconcerting loss, no doubt. That said, it is just one weekend. The Trojans have plenty of time to get things figured out. USC has Wake Forest at home this weekend and it will be interesting to see how it reacts to this weekend's result. Matt (Louisiana): Does North Dakota have a legit shot to win the WAC? Anyway they could be an at large if they beat the Crimson Tide this weekend? Teddy Cahill: The WAC is a tough league to figure out. Grand Canyon was thought to be the best team in the conference coming into the year, but isn't eligible for the NCAA Tournament as it reclassifies from DII to DI. That makes the race for the autobid a bit more wide open. North Dakota lost a lot from last year's team, but showed this weekend it won't be overmatched in any environment. As for the second part of your question, I consulted with Jim Shonerd, our resident bracketology expert, and our appraisal is it would be very difficult for the Fighting Hawks to get an at-large. UND plays a lot of road games, which is good for the RPI, but it would need to really boss the WAC in addition to winning these nonconference games. And it would also need teams like Alabama and Southern Cal to have good seasons to make those wins more impressive. That's all a long way off though. For now, North Dakota was one of the best stories of opening weekend. Taylor (Tampa): What's your take on FAU after this weekend? Teddy Cahill: That was a nice weekend for Florida Atlantic. We discussed bringing them into the Top 25 and if the Owls keep it up, they may be in the rankings before long. Conference USA as a whole had a pretty good weekend, and FAU should be a big factor in that league's race this spring. Greg (Gainesville): I'm looking at Florida-Miami on paper, and the Miami pitching staff just doesn't impress me. Three lefties on the weekend, and the UF lineup in right-handed heavy. That seems like it favors Florida pretty heavily, right? Teddy Cahill: Let's close today's chat with a look at the big series this coming weekend. Florida should be favored in this series regardless of whether Miami starts three lefties or not. It is in Coral Gables, but the Gators are the No. 1 team in the country for a reason. The overall depth of talent on their roster is very impressive. But it should be a fantastic series between two rivals with national championship aspirations. I know I'm excited to see how it plays out. Teddy Cahill: Thanks to everyone for your questions today. As always, if I didn't get to your question, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll try to come back and answer there.