ESPN Broadcaster Mike Rooney Joins the Baseball America College Podcast
On this edition of the Baseball America College Podcast, Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy are joined ESPN broadcaster, former Arizona State coach and all-around college baseball enthusiast Mike Rooney.
The trio spends the episode going through their respective predictions for the 2020 seasons, including national championship picks, Omaha sleepers, and national player and pitcher of the year.
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With Teddy selecting Vanderbilt and Joe picking Louisville based on the those being the top two teams in the rankings, Rooney came to his choice a little bit differently.
“I have this vision,” Rooney said. “What I think is going to happen is, and I have no science behind this, Vanderbilt is going to be in the finals, and this is where the dream gets blurry. They’re either going to play Arizona State or UCLA, and the West Coast team is going to win the national title. So because you guys aren’t asking for a dream, you’re asking for an actual pick, I’m going to go with UCLA.”
When it comes to Omaha sleepers, Teddy and Joe went with Coastal Carolina and Texas Christian, two teams no stranger to being in the mix to get to the College World Series. Rooney went off the board for a perennial regional team looking for its breakthrough, not dissimilar to CCU before its 2016 run.
“After doing conference previews, the team I can’t get out of my mind right now is San Diego State,” Rooney said. “They’ve been to a bunch of regionals, they think it’s the most talented team they’ve had.”
When it comes to player of the year, there are some obvious choices in sport, most notably Arizona State slugger Spencer Torkelson and Austin Martin, the do-everything superstar for Vanderbilt. Teddy and Joe selected those two, respectively, and Rooney didn’t stray from that line of thinking.
“I think if it’s a position player, you basically have to pick one of those two,” Rooney said. “I would pick Torkelson, just because I think the lineup is so dynamic and he’s going to have a lot of opportunities. It’s almost like, between the two of them, you’re just picking what style of player you prefer. I just think they’re both absolute game-changing players.”
In a year with a potentially unprecedented amount of pitching talent on display in the Southeastern Conference, it’s no surprise that the pitcher of the year choices came from that league, with Teddy selecting Vanderbilt’s Kumar Rocker and Rooney’s seconding Joe’s choice in Georgia’s Emerson Hancock.
“I’m going Hancock, although my gosh, there are so many choices here” Rooney said. “Hancock reminds me of Casey Mize in this regard. They’re built a little bit differently, but both of those kids, they’re basically strike throwers. That’s what’s natural for them is to be in the strike zone. It just so happens that everything they throw is a quadruple-plus pitch.”