Florida State announces freshman INF Drew Mendoza is out 4-8 weeks after breaking his thumb.
Moderator: Teddy Cahill will be here at 2 p.m. ET to chat about the new Top 25, powered by Louisville Slugger
Teddy Cahill: My streak of tardiness unfortunately continues this week as podcast recording again delayed me. But let’s get to your questions.
Cole (Portland, OR): I have seen better overall Beaver teams...but this is the grittiest club in my years of watching Beaver baseball. Where does Pat Casey rank in your eyes with the all time greats?
Teddy Cahill: I liked this question so much I posed it to John Manuel in the podcast today, so I recommend you listen to his full answer there. The short answer is that he fits with the likes of Marquess and Tanner, who have two titles, but are just off all-time greats like Ron Frazier, Skip Bertman and Augie Garrido.
jb (SC): There is a lot of baseball left to be played but what about the coaching job that has occurred in Clemson? Andrew See has to be one of the most underrated pitching coaches in the country.
Teddy Cahill: The job that staff has done in the last two years has been very impressive. I think we spent a lot of time giving credit to Monte Lee last year for what he accomplished in his first season and he was very deserving of that. But it’s also important to note what See and Bradley LeCroy have done. That pitching staff has made a big jump this year, largely with guys that were already at Clemson. And LeCroy has done a great job recruiting players to Clemson for a decade. Logan Davidson has been a great addition this year and obviously Seth Beer’s impact last year was incredible. Very impressive all-around job by that coaching staff and that team this year.
Darrin (Port Saint Lucie): How is Florida ranked ahead of FGCU when FGCU has beaten them twice head to head?
Teddy Cahill: While FGCU does have the two midweek wins against Florida, Florida’s overall body of work has been more impressive than FGCU. I really don’t want to come off like I’m disparaging the Eagles in any way, I’ve been really, really impressed by them. We just like Gators’ overall resume more. They’ve played the 13th hardest schedule in the country and have some really nice series wins, most obviously this weekend against LSU.
Eaglesfan (Florida): With the blistering start that FGCU has had should us fans be worried about 19 of our last 30 games on the road? Or is this team good enough to take 23/30 giving them 45 wins?
Teddy Cahill: I wouldn’t be that worried about it. FGCU does have a road sweep of UNC Wilmington already and won in Gainesville. So it’s not like they’re going to be intimidated by the road. And three of the road games are at 3-18 NJIT. But, as any coach will tell you, playing on the road in any conference isn’t easy. So FGCU is going to have to be ready to play on the road against teams like North Florida and Lipscomb, not to mention midweeks in Miami and Tallahassee. I don’t know if FGCU can finish 23-7, but that would be a really strong couple months.
Dion (Los Angeles, CA): What to you make of Long Beach State? The Dirtbags are fresh off a sweep of Fullerton, have a solid series win against North Carolina and a strong mid-week win against TCU. However, series losses against Oklahoma and Arizona State have made for an inconsistent season so far.
Teddy Cahill: Beach is one of the hardest teams to get a read on. But I think that’s really a product of the schedule. The Dirtbags are willing to play anyone, anywhere and already had a really ambitious road schedule before the Oklahoma series was moved to Norman the week of opening day. I really like Beach, and have since last summer. Just outside the Top 25 right now. It’s just hard to put a team in the rankings that is 13-9 and has two series losses, even if they have played the fifth hardest schedule in the country. But I think they’re going to be very much in the mix at the top of the Big West and will be a really tough out in the NCAA Tournament.
Tracy Oliver (Dallas, TX): Who do you think the best team is in the big twelve?
Teddy Cahill: For me, it’s still TCU. But Texas Tech has made a strong case for itself. The Red Raiders offense is rolling again this season and its young pitching staff has excelled again. That series next month in Lubbock should be a fantastic showdown.
Owen (Little Rock, AR): With the Hogs having won their first 2 series in SEC play and Bama' coming up this weekend (hoping they take care of business). How do you see the LSU series shaping up if they can keep the bats hot? Thanks! Woo Pig 🐷
Teddy Cahill: I had no idea our chat system could handle an emoji. I am impressed. Arkansas is off to a nice 5-1 start in SEC play and has played well all spring. That matchup against LSU in two weeks should be a good one. The Tigers have to go to Baum, but it’s hard to pick against LSU in that one, even on the road. If Alex Lange can keep pitching like he did Friday at Florida, LSU has the pitching to handle Arkansas’ potent offense. And the Tigers have the ability to put up some big numbers on the scoreboard. But that series has all the makings of another fun weekend in the SEC.
Logan (Oxford, Ms): What does Ole Miss need to do in order to finish the series? Ole Miss beat Kentucky at first and then dropped the next two. Could have happened against Vanderbilt as well. What do they need to do to put the series away?
Teddy Cahill: I think what you’re seeing out of Ole Miss is just what happens when you have a really young team. There are going to be ups and downs. It’s a team that’s still learning how to play on the road and how to close out series. I think they just need some experience, which they’re getting. The Rebels have also played two rather talented teams in Vanderbilt and Kentucky. Winning series in the SEC is just hard.
Jordan (Hattiesburg): Do you believe Southern Miss has what it takes to claim CUSA? Also what do you think of freshman Matt Wallner. 3 home runs over the weekend. Can pitch well with a fast ball sitting around 91-94 hitting 96 at times.
Teddy Cahill: Yes, I think Southern Miss can go win CUSA. Year after year, that’s one of the best programs in the conference. They get good players in and they coach them up and they win a lot of games. For me, Southern Miss is the favorite right now. As for Wallner, I’m feeling really good about my CUSA freshman of the year pick. He’s been really impactful for them both at the plate and on the mound. He’s got a chance to be a special player.
Mick (Chicago): Are there any freshman middle infielders that are separating themselves from the rest, as best in their class?
Teddy Cahill: I already mentioned Clemson shortstop Logan Davidson, he’s one. Louisville’s Tyler Fitzgerald is playing third base, but he’s the shortstop of the future there and has been good. Grae Kessinger isn’t really hitting yet, but he’s going to be great. I’m sure I’m missing some guys, but those are a few off the top of my head.
James (Florida): Why isn't Drew Mendoza playing?
Teddy Cahill: Broken thumb
Zach (Chapel Hill): Think UNC winds up as a national seed?
Teddy Cahill: I think this is the first national seed question of the year, which is very exciting. I’m going to say no, but it could certainly happen. The issue for the Heels is that, unlike last year, the ACC is probably not going to be the top RPI conference and the West Coast is actually going to produce hosts/national seeds this year. So it feels unlikely that the ACC gets more than two national seeds. At this point, I’d put Louisville and Clemson ahead of UNC in the pecking order. But that could change. The top of the ACC is still sorting itself out.
josh (Beaumont): Florida state upcoming schedule, Florida 2 times, UNC series, Florida gulf coast 2 times Clemson series, is that one of the toughest stretches you seen in a while in a 3 week span?
Teddy Cahill: That’s a bear, no doubt. But I’ll go back to what Georgia had last year from April 5-May 8: midweek home-and-homes with both Clemson and Georgia Tech, at Texas A&M, vs. South Carolina, at Florida, at Vanderbilt, vs. Ole Miss. The Bulldogs went 6-13 in that stretch.
Ben (Miamisburg, OH): How do you quantify the performance of smaller school players like Justin Yurchak? He was pretty good as a freshman at Wake Forest and is hitting .500 so far this year at Binghamton.
Teddy Cahill: More than the small school aspect right now, the issue is that Yurchak has only played 12 games. That’s just a really small sample size. I like Yurchak a lot. He’s got excellent feel for the barrel. But you’re only looking at 48 at bats. Even if they were all against SEC/ACC/Big 12/Pac-12 competition, that would only tell you so much.
Dominic (Tampa): How close are the USF Bulls to being ranked? What are your thoughts on their pitching staff?
Teddy Cahill: They’ve been talked about the last few weeks. Losing two games last week meant they weren’t really in the mix this week, but it’s been a very nice start for USF. I’m eager to see how they do as they start play in the American this weekend at Tulane.
M Reumann (New York, NY): If I can make it to one and only one conference tournament this year, which one do you recommend I attend?
Teddy Cahill: The SEC. I enjoyed covering the ACC Tournament twice in Durham and I’m sure the atmosphere will be solid in Louisville this year. Never been to the Big 12 (or any others besides the MAC), but what the SEC has in Hoover is special. The crowds are great and the level of talent on the field is exceptional. It can be a grind with four games a day, but it is one of my favorite events to cover.
Ben (Miamisburg, OH): Given that Brendan McKay doesn't have elite velocity and good but not over powering secondary pitches, is he generating so many strikeouts because of elite command and control or is he just taking advantage of poor college hitting?
Teddy Cahill: I would not sell McKay’s secondary stuff short. It might not be plus-plus like Faedo, Lange or Bukauskas, but the curveball is a really good pitch for McKay. He does a really good job of mixing his whole arsenal and he pitches with above-average command. Basically, he’s just really good and hitters take a lot of bad swings against him.
Brett (Jax, FL): As we approach the halfway point of the season (I think this weekend marks the halfway point not the post season), are there any surprise teams (good or bad) that really stand out? It seems like everyone except OSU and Louisville (and they went 2-2 this week) have struggled at times. Who do you see surging from here on out and who do think may fade?
Teddy Cahill: FGCU is obviously a big surprise. I thought St. John’s would be good, but I didn’t think they’d be in the top 15. The way Kentucky has handled its very difficult schedule has stood out. And the turnarounds at Baylor and Oklahoma have been fun to see. I expect Long Beach State to get rolling here in Big West play. I think Houston is heating up at a good time. And, at some point, you figure Vanderbilt will get on track and roll off a bunch of series wins.
Teddy Cahill: That’ll do it for today. Thanks for all your questions. If I didn’t get to yours, leave it in the comments and I’ll come back and get it there.