College Top 25 Chat (April 9, 2018)

Image credit: N.C. State SS Will Wilson

Teddy Cahill: Welcome to this week’s college baseball chat It was another fun weekend of college baseball with several upsets that led to a new-look top five. Let’s get to your questions.

Ethan (Raleigh):

    How soon can a team “clinch” a hosting spot and national seed? How close is N.C. State to either of those?

Teddy Cahill: North Carolina State is flying high right now and is up to No. 2 in the Top 25, its highest ever ranking. The Wolfpack faithful are understandably excited. The question of how soon a hosting/national seed spot can be clinched is an interesting philosophical one. I tend to be more conservative on that, I think. Florida, for instance, needs to go .500 the rest of the way to assure itself of a top eight RPI, according to Boyds World. Some might tell you that’s fait accompli. I would not. Maybe a month from now I would start talking about hosts being clinched. Either way, I don’t think NC State is that close right now. It’s RPI is 16, which means it still has some work to do. Winning the ACC would give it leeway, but I don’t think the Wolfpack can coast to a top-eight seed yet.

Anthony (Boston):

    What’s your level of concern at this point on Oregon State? Does Madrigal’s return smooth everything over, or is this team in actual trouble?

Teddy Cahill: Mike and I went into some depth on this on the podcast, which will be online later this afternoon. I know Nick Madrigal brings a lot to that team beyond his offense, but no, I don’t think his return fixes everything that ails Oregon State. The Beavers have a 5+ ERA in Pac-12 play. They got shelled Saturday at Arizona and weren’t able to hold a lead Sunday. The pitching, for me, right now is the issue. And I think the talent is there. They just aren’t quite as deep as they were last year and thus have less margin for error. I think they get it straightened out, but this also isn’t something that just came up over the last two weeks. They’ve been fighting this for a while now.

Will (Hattiesburg):

    Does USM’s chances of hosting get hurt by dropping one game of a series somewhat often like they have in their last 3 weekends?

Teddy Cahill: Yes. This week was bad for Southern Miss and when we update our Field of 64 Projection this week, I don’t think there will be a Hattiesburg Regional. Conference USA just isn’t good enough for Southern Miss to be going 2-1 every weekend. The margin for error the Golden Eagles have is much less than that this year. 25-5 in CUSA last year was good enough to get Southern Miss on the edge of the national seed debate. If it does that again this year, it’s probably on the hosting bubble. Losing even a single game on the weekend to an RPI 200+ team – as it did this weekend – is a killer.

BB (CT):

    Nice series win by UConn over UCF, how do you see them matching up in Wichita this weekend? Also, any updates of where you see Cate & Susi going in MLB draft ?

Teddy Cahill: That’s going to be a really interesting series. This will be Wichita’s first exposure to the American’s top-end pitching. Neither ECU nor Tulane, Wichita State’s first two conference opponents, have an ace like Tim Cate. How will the Shockers’ sluggers handle that? That’s the key to the weekend for me. Wichita plays really well at home, so I give it the edge, but it should be a good series.

Will (Greenville, N.C.):

    Thanks for the chats gentlemen I always enjoy them. Do you think East Carolina receiving a top 8 national seed is possible if they were to win the remainder of their weekend series, only if teams ahead of them lose, or is it possible for them to be in the top 8 on selection day if they continue to win, regardless of what the teams ahead of them do?

Teddy Cahill: If ECU wins every weekend series the rest of the year, that probably pushes it into a top-eight seed. Rolling through the American like that would probably be looked upon quite favorably and the Pirates would end up with a top-15 RPI. That probably gets it done regardless of what happens around them. It also probably is going to take something like that, however. Series against Cincinnati and Memphis aren’t going to be beneficial from an RPI standpoint and even Houston and Tulane are 100+ RPI teams. ECU really needs to clean up on those weekends.

Andrew (United Kingdom):

    Is Jonathan India for real? I know he was highly regarded out of high school but his numbers are eye popping considering his first two years. Can he stay in the infield in the majors or will be a super utility type with power?

Teddy Cahill: Oh, he’s for real. Longtime readers may remember that I have long been a big believer in Jonathan India. He’s been a big part of Florida’s success throughout his career and he’s really tapping into his potential now. I’ll be interested to see how he gets used in pro ball. If he’s going to hit for this kind of power, he profiles at third base, where he’s a very good defender. But he can handle second base for sure and maybe even shortstop, especially if he were picked by a team like the Rays or the Cardinals that are constantly shifting. He also could be a very versatile infielder, maybe like a Jose Ramirez (I literally just thought of that comp, but I like it). To summarize: I really like Jonathan India, both in terms of now ability for the Gators and pro potential.

Anthony (Boston):

    Could you see the CAA getting an at-large bid this year?

Teddy Cahill: I definitely can. Northeastern and College of Charleston both have the RPI for it now and don’t have to play out of their minds to maintain those marks. UNC Wilmington has a chance at improving its RPI to that level, though it has work to do in that regard. Charleston has a couple big series wins against Georgia and Kansas State. Northeastern beat Creighton and split with Missouri, both of which look like regional teams. Whoever wins this weekend’s series will add another solid series win to its resume. If they both keep it together in the second half, they both should be in at-large territory and I won’t be surprised if UNCW puts itself in that position. I don’t know that the CAA can pull off three bids, but two is looking increasingly likely.

Ty (Dimmitt):

    How legit is OU? They played a heavy home slate which has helped but did go on the road and take 2 of three from TCU although they seem to be scuffling at the moment.

Teddy Cahill: Super legit. The Sooners were my preseason Omaha sleeper pick and I kind of wish we had found a spot for them in the Top 25, though they would have then been disqualified from being my sleeper pick, so this works too. It’s a really veteran pitching staff that has really lived up to its potential this year. The offense isn’t explosive – they don’t typically hit many home runs (though they did this weekend at TCU) and they don’t steal bases – but what they do is hit. And the way Steele Walker and Kyler Murray are going at the heart of the order right now, they’re scoring plenty of runs. The next three weekends are huge for Oklahoma with series against Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State in succession. This stretch is going to determine if they win the league or not.

Derek (Austin TX):

    Is there any team(s) in the big 12 that can give tech some trouble and possibly put a scare in their big title run? If so, what teams would u say can give them a run for their money? Prior to the season I would have said tcu, but the Frogs seem to be struggling and not as good as in years past.

Teddy Cahill: So, having said all those nice things about Oklahoma, I will say that Texas Tech is probably still the favorite in the league. The Red Raiders are the most talented team in the Big 12 and get both Oklahoma and Texas at home. But – and this is significant – Oklahoma already has a three-game lead on Texas Tech. So the Red Raiders have some ground to make up in the second half. They can definitely do it, but I think this is going to be a tight race again with Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State all in the mix.

Baseball fan (North Carolina):

    With the emergence of the talented freshman in Seymour, Muntz and Lanzilli, do you think WAke could salvage this tough start and still be a regional team?

Teddy Cahill: I’m of the opinion that the ship sailed on Wake when it got swept at North Carolina. Before last weekend, I felt like the Deacs still had a chance to dig out of the hole they put themselves in with such a bad start to the season. But even if it beats Duke tonight, Wake will be five games under .500. It still has series against Clemson, Georgia Tech and North Carolina State, two of which are on the road. Its RPI is north of 100. The path is there, but Wake really needs to light it up from here on out. I think the Deacs are a solid team, but I think they ultimately are too thin on the mound and left themselves with too much to do to make a regional.

Warner (NYC):

    Is Pat DeMarco in the running for Freshman of The Year and did any think he would have this type of impact right out of the gate?

Teddy Cahill: I haven’t dived too deeply into the Freshman of the Year race, but, at this point, probably not. I’ve been impressed with DeMarco so far this year, but right now he’s hitting .299/.469/.437 with three homers. That’s a very solid line and he’s been playing every day in the outfield, but having just written about Arkansas last night and looking at the numbers its freshmen Casey Martin and Heston Kjerstad are putting up, it’s hard to put DeMarco on that level. But we still have two months to go.

Eric Simmons (Thornton Colorado):

    Time to be concerned about Florida State after losing 2 out of 3 to Georgia Tech?

Teddy Cahill: I’m not concerned. Without Tyler Holton, Florida State just doesn’t have the same kind of potential we felt like they did coming into the season and typically the Seminoles don’t play as well on the road as they do in Tallahassee. But the they are still a really solid team and I still think they can get to Omaha. The way they lost Sunday was jarring, but I still like the overall group. Cole Sands is one of the best pitchers in the ACC and that’s a big advantage on Friday nights. The lineup is deep and talented. That’s a team that can win a lot of games.

Chris (Atlanta):

    After a tough start to the ACC slate, has Georgia Tech finally found the pitching to compete in the post-season? Curry, Thomas, English and Hurter have proven to be a solid rotation. Can they hold up and do they have enough quality in the pen? What is GT’s ceiling this year?

Teddy Cahill: As for the team that beat Florida State this weekend, Georgia Tech is looking solid right now. I think winning that series was really important for the Yellow Jackets to keep building on the momentum from sweeping Miami the week before. They’re pitching well right now and the offense has plenty of firepower. The bullpen is a real area of concern for me and I think that it will eventually catch up with the Yellow Jackets, but they can compete in the ACC and get back to a regional.

JR (New York):

    Who do you think comes out of the MAAC this season? What team do you see as going to the tourney?

Teddy Cahill: I still like Canisius. Losing that series at Monmouth was tough, but the Griffs have shown all season how good they can be. Manhattan is a solid team as well. That should be an intriguing series next month.

Eric Simmons (Thornton Colorado):

    Should college baseball have an NIT like College Basketball does?

Teddy Cahill: We’ll get out of here on this one. I don’t know. I used to like this idea a lot. It seems unfair that a team in a mid-major league can dominate the league all year long and then get upset in the conference tournament and just have its season end. A couple years ago when Kent State had Eric Lauer, it was disappointing that we didn’t get to see him matchup against a power conference ace in a reginoal. But when you consider the timing of the postseason relative to the draft and the trend we’ve seen in college football and basketball of players skipping bowl games or the NIT to protect against injury, I wonder what we’d really get in a baseball NIT. Does the 11th place team in the ACC or SEC really need to make the postseason? Would such a school really draw for the game? Would anyone watch on TV? Is it worth the extra expense of keeping kids on campus, away from summer ball or summer academic opportunities? I lean towards no. Though the Road to Kalamazoo does have a nice ring to it.

Nathan (Galveston, TX):

    How about now? Time to be concerned about Isaiah Campbell? I know Reindl stepped up, but can we really expect that kind of performance every weekend?

Teddy Cahill: All right, I lied, one more. No, still not concerned about Isaiah Campbell. When I talked yesterday with Dave Van Horn, he didn’t seem particularly concerned, so I won’t be either. Arkansas needs someone else to step up beyond Knight and Murphy. Campbell can definitely be that guy. The Razorbacks are going to build him back up and while yesterday’s start wasn’t great, I also got the sense it wasn’t as bad as the line. So we’ll see where it goes, but given that he’s coming off injury, I’m not going to freak out over one outing.

Teddy Cahill: Thanks everyone for all your questions. We’ll be back here next week for another chat after what should be another fun week of college baseball.

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