College Top 25 Chat (March 12, 2018)

Teddy Cahill: This week’s chat is coming to you live from LA, site of the Dodger Stadium Classic. I just ate a huge burrito, so let’s get to these questions before the food coma sets in.

Kevin (Evansville, IN):

    Do you think that Pat Casey’s 4 game suspension will have any effect for Oregon State’s series against Cal?

Teddy Cahill: We’ll start with the new No. 1 team, Oregon State. Pat Casey picked up a suspension after bumping an umpire Friday. He’s already served two games of the suspension, but will miss the start of the Cal series. But, no, I don’t see it making a difference. The Oregon State coaching staff is very experienced and Pat Bailey and Nate Yeskie are more than capable of helming the ship for a few days.

Steve (Washington):

    Are you factoring in the return of Nick Madrigal at OSU when you bump Oregon State up to number 1?

Teddy Cahill: Not in any sort of huge way, no. Madrigal is part of what makes the team a national title contender and there’s still some projection left in the rankings, so in that way, it helps the Beavers. But Oregon State is also 15-1 and a really good team even without Madrigal.

Ben (SC):

    How big are the gaps between the top 10 teams, do you see different tiers forming within the top 5/10 or is everyone pretty even? Also, to this point in the season what are the 3 teams that surprised you the most?

Teddy Cahill: Oregon State and Florida remain a clear 1-2 for me, but Stanford and Kentucky have made a case to join that group. And after that, it’s kind of a jumble at this point. If I tiered it out for you today, it would probably change next week as these teams get into conference play. Like, Texas A&M looks fantastic. It’s also about to get by far its biggest test yet when it goes to Auburn this weekend. I don’t think anyone has really separated. As for three surprises: North Carolina in a bad way, Auburn in a good way – though I thought the Tigers would be good, I didn’t see them at No. 13 going into SEC play – and East Carolina.

Ethan (Raleigh):

    What do you think NC State’s ceiling is? How does the lineup compare across the ACC and the country?

Teddy Cahill: The ceiling is the roof. Oh, wait, that’s the wrong North Carolina school. Honestly, I have no idea. I know only a little more about the Wolfpack today than I did a month ago. It’s been good to see NC State win a bunch of games it should, but it’s played all of one game against a team we projected to make a regional in the preseason – and it lost that game. It’s played all of one road game and that trip was just an hour down the road to play a sub-.500 team. NC State looks like a regional team, just like it did a month ago. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it handles the trip to Clemson this weekend. That should give me a much better idea of what the Wolfpack have, exactly.

Will (Greenville NC):

    Teddy, East Carolina is playing good ball right now despite recent injuries. Do you see the depth in their lineup as being a big plus for them? Also, if they wanted to think about hosting a regional, would it require them winning virtually every series they have left and someone in front of them falling apart?

Teddy Cahill: Oh man, I thought I had a few more weeks before we got to the questions about hosting. The best shot for East Carolina (or any American team) is to win the league. Anything beyond that is tough to figure right now because RPI hasn’t normalized yet. I was impressed by the depth of the Pirates’ lineup when I saw them a couple weeks ago. It’s clearly one of the strengths of the team and they’ve put up a lot of runs as a result. And there’s still room for improvement. Turner Brown is not going to hit .200 all year. Getting him going would be a boost.

John Mica (New York):

    Did the SJU Red Storm just hit a speed bump with getting swept at Kansas or are they really not the team to beat in the Big East? The starting pitching seemed to let them down over the weekend.

Teddy Cahill: Definitely still the team to beat in the Big East, for me. Part of that is the conference. This looks like a rebuilding year for Xavier. Creighton hadn’t done much before this weekend, though the series win at Minnesota was loud. Butler is off to a great start, but has a nonconference strength of schedule of 272. Seton Hall doesn’t look to be in top form. So even if St. John’s has some work to do – and it’ll have to regroup after this weekend – it still is in a good position in the conference. And Kansas is good. The Jayhawks are going to make some noise in the Big 12 and while we didn’t have them in a regional in the preseason, they were very close and have been impressive so far this season.

Brent (Durham):

    Coastal Carolina dropped off the rankings. Do you see them making a come back?

Teddy Cahill: Yes, I think we’ll see Coastal again this season. I certainly didn’t see that weekend coming from the Chants, but they look like they’ll be contending at the top of the Sun Belt again this season. And it’s important to remember that Coastal’s schedule is front loaded. It’s played 18 games already, which I believe is the most in the country. Now that its tournaments are done, things settle down and the Chants can condense the pitching staff and set it up to play three games on a weekend instead of four. I think Coastal’s in pretty good shape at this point.

Jeramey (Locust Grove):

    Casey Mize was just flat outstanding on Friday night. 9ip 0bb 0h 13 ks and still bringing it at 95+ in the 9th, with + stuff all night. Is he the best in the SEC or would that accolade belong to Singer from Florida? Thoughts on the two and who is more likely to thrive at the next level? Thanks

Teddy Cahill: I’m not ready to move off Brady Singer as the best pitcher in the country or who I would take 1-1, but I know you’ll find evaluators out there who would tell you Casey Mize is ahead of him. Mize is exceptional and that was an outstanding start Friday night. Mize had an All-American season last year and picked up right where he left off. What Singer did on the biggest stage in the sport is probably the separator for me. Ultimately, we’re splitting hairs here. They’re both outstanding.

Jordan (Hattiesburg):

    The Southern Miss pitching staff looked pretty good over the week. If Southern Miss can heat back up with the bats how good do you think this team could be with hot bats and a good pitching staff?

Teddy Cahill: If Southern Miss’ bats were firing on all cylinders and it had a “good pitching staff” that’s a team with an Omaha ceiling. The question is whether Southern Miss has that kind of pitching depth. I think the bats will get going – Matt Wallner’s on pace to hit four home runs and there’s no way he doesn’t hit for more power than that. But I think the questions about the staff are warranted at this point. It’s a solid group that’s definitely good enough to win CUSA, but Southern Miss will need some more arms to step up between now and June to reach its ceiling.

Leonel (Long Beach):

    At 5-11 for Long Beach State. Can we say this is a rebuilding year for LBSU? Pitching is spotty this year and offense is non-existence.

Teddy Cahill: I think that’s fair. We didn’t have Beach as a regional team coming into the season and it’s only gotten more banged up since then. I will say though that the schedule has been murderous and that the way the Big West is looking, it’s possible that one of these struggling teams is able to make a run in conference play like Cal Poly did last year. The Mustangs came up short last year, but they were also fighting to overcome two Omaha caliber teams in Fullerton and Beach. That won’t be the case this year.

Jason (Costa Mesa California):

    What’s going in with Cal State Fullerton?? I know they have played a tough schedule, but is this just not there year? Or do you think the tough scheduling will result in a run through the big west?

Teddy Cahill: To play off that last answer – Fullerton’s schedule has also been a bear. The thing is that Fullerton and Beach always schedule like that, but usually pick up a few more wins along the way. But once the Titans start seeing a little bit easier competition, they should be able to get back on track. I think Fullerton can still win the Big West, but this also is clearly a down year by its standards.

Patrick (Lake Forest, CA):

    What do you think of my boy Andre Pallante? Weak competition or is he shooting up the 2019 Draft lists?

Teddy Cahill: Guys typically don’t shoot up draft lists a year in advance on the basis of their first four starts. But he’s absolutely a player to watch for next year. And he’s been a big part of why Irvine has gotten off to such a good start. The Anteaters haven’t played a light schedule either – a touch easier than Fullerton and Beach, but those are mostly solid teams they’ve been facing and Pallante has been dominant against them.

Markk (Houston):

    Your thoughts on A&M’s weekend rotation so far?

Teddy Cahill: They’ve been really good. I also figured they would be really good, which is a large part of the reason Texas A&M entered the season ranked No. 10. Stephen Kolek and Mitchell Kilkenny are both ranked very highly on our Top 300 draft prospects list and while Jozwiak was more of an unknown, given the other options A&M has, he wouldn’t be in that rotation if he couldn’t handle it. I’m very eager to see what they do this weekend against Auburn.

Nathan (Galveston, TX):

    Ok, as a Hog fan, how concerned should I be with the struggles from Isaiah Campbell? I know he’s only a few starts into his comeback, but on a scale from 1-10? Right now, I’m at about a 6.5-7. Is that too high right now, or maybe am I not concerned enough?

Teddy Cahill: What am I missing? Campbell has one bad outing against a good Kent State team and you’re hitting the panic outing? He wasn’t outstanding the week before, but he also wasn’t the reason Arkansas lost to USC. I think you’ve got to have a little more patience given that he didn’t pitch last year and it’s not like he’s been getting lit up. It seems like he’s not been particularly sharp yet, but that will come. I trust Wes Johnson to get him straightened out.

Trent (Jacksonville):

    Your thoughts on Logan Gilbert performance this season.

Teddy Cahill: He’s putting up some really gaudy numbers and the reports have been impressive, as they were last summer on the Cape. He’s doing what he needs to.

Zach (NC):

    Any long-term concerns for UNC after a lackluster start?

Teddy Cahill: Yes. And I think I’d have these same concerns even if UNC had won a couple of the close games they’ve lost at East Carolina and Louisville. No. 1, losing Gianluca Dalatri for however long he misses is a blow. There’s depth to absorb that loss, but he was their one experienced weekend starter. No. 2, the lineup has been a something of a concern for me all year. It hasn’t done anything to assuage those concerns yet. I know others feel a lot better about the group than I do, but I think the Tar Heels are lacking a middle of the order presence. Martorano has five homers and maybe he can keep that production up, but they’re slugging .394 as a team. In today’s game, I don’t think you can get away with that. They really need Ashton McGee and Brandon Riley to get going. This team is better than its 8-7 record. But they need to start playing up to their talent and they need to get it figured out soon with ACC playing heating up.

Geoff (VA):

    Duke is off to a great start, having only lost three games so far, and they’ve all been to ranked opponents. We’ll see how the season pans out, as the ACC looks to be tough again, but how impressive is it that the program has even gotten to this point? What are your thoughts on the team?

Teddy Cahill: Chris Pollard should definitely be applauded for the job he’s done at Duke. This is a program that hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament for like 50 years before breaking through in 2016. It hadn’t been ranked in the Top 25 for 20 years before this week. But it’s also an ACC program that plays in one of the best Triple-A ballparks in the country, has an elite academic degree to offer and the brand to recruit all along the East Coast. Building the program certainly wasn’t easy for Pollard, but there are also a lot of really attractive things about it. As for this team specifically, it’s looking like it can live up to its expectations. We figured the Blue Devils would be strong offensively, and they’re getting their young pitchers to step up like they needed to. And they’re in the right division this year. The Atlantic looks like it’s there for the taking with Miami under .500 and UNC and UVA scuffling out of the gate. This could be a special season for Duke.

Teddy Cahill: That’ll do it for today. Thanks everyone for the questions. We’ll be back here next week to do this again.

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