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College Chat with Will Kimmey

Moderator: Will Kimmey will begin taking your questions at 2 p.m. ET

 Q:  Bob from Charleston, SC asks:
Any chance of Charleston hosting a regional?

Will Kimmey: Signs point toward no. I'm not completely aware of the school's financial situation, but I am sure it won't be able to out-bid other schools in its region such as South Carolina or Georgia Tech, which also figure to be in the running to serve as host sites. Plus, despite a gaudy record for the second straight year, it's not going to have the RPI to earn one on merit. It looks like a solid two seed in someone else's house come June.

 Q:  Joe from Bay Area asks:
With the draft approaching at the end of the season, in what round do you think Cal Bear Friday starter Adam Gold will be taken? Thanks for all that you do here Will.

Will Kimmey: His strikeout numbers have been strong during his career and he's beaten some good teams, but his success comes from throwing his slider over and over again. I'd say his best pro profile is as a middle reliever, using that slider, and it's hard to see him going much earlier than rounds 8-10.

 Q:  from asks:
What are scouts saying about Evansville RHP Fred Jones?

Will Kimmey: Jones throws his fastball in that high 80s, low 90s range but his money pitch is a great slider. He's got a changeup as well. Tough weekend for the Aces, getting swept away from the lead in the Mo. Valley.

 Q:  Seth from Tallahassee asks:
What are the chances of the Big 3 in Louisiana hosting this year? Tulane, LSU and UL-Lafayette?

Will Kimmey: Go ahead and mark down Tulane and very likely LSU as long as the Tigers finish .500 in the SEC. Those schools have the record and will draw. Lafayette is a very veteran team and with that gaudy of a record, will merit consideration. The Cajuns played host to a regional the last time they advanced to Omaha, so there's a chance, but also the opportunity for that veteran team to get sent to one of the other La. schools as a 2-seed, which wouldn't make Tulane or LSU breathe very easily.

 Q:  Timmy from Miami asks:
Obviously no player is more offensively sound than Miami 3b Ryan Braun, but how does Braun compare defensively with other 3b's? Do scouts have him playing the left side of the infield in the big leagues or the outfield?

Will Kimmey: Seems like most say his infield actions will lead him to the outfield. But with his footspeed, we can see a guy that, while he has the power for the OF corners, could start off in center field and see how that goes. Think about him sort of how JD Drew's outfield skill set goes, with speed, power and the ability to play center with an arm for right.

 Q:  Adam from Atlanta, GA asks:
With their starting pitching starting to come around and the gritty come from behind victory on saturday to go on to sweep a top 20 team in a three game set, don't you have to consider Georgia Tech as a favorite to go deep into the tournament in Omaha this year?

Will Kimmey: I'm not yet convinced on the arms, really. I love those bats, which should carry the Jackets at least to supers and maybe to Omaha. Winning once they get there could be tough, because Omaha has become more about pitching than scoring a ton of runs. Hyde and Wood have been solid of late, but what scares you about Tech, and this is being picky, was that in Miami Cesar Carrillo silenced the offense and the Canes scored a good number of runs off that staff even in defeat. So there are concerns, but again, these are picky.

 Q:  Trevis from Columbia, SC asks:
Who are your favorites in the SEC to make it to the CWS at this point in the season?

Will Kimmey: How can you note like Florida thus far? In a league where you could probably put all the teams in a hat and shake them out differently each week, the Gators are on top, having won four series already. If I've got to pick CWS teams now, here's a fun group: Texas, Tulane, Fullerton, Long Beach State, Arizona, Miami, Nebraska, Oregon State. I know, everyone, that I left out your favorite team, but I can only pick eight.

 Q:  LeFonz from Milwaukee asks:
Will, thanks for these always informative chats. What can you tell us about Tulane's Brad Emaus?

Will Kimmey: At times, he's the best hitter on that team. A lot of times. He's second on the team in homers and his average and on-base numbers show you why Rick Jones moved him from the bottom of the order to No. 2. He's played solid defense at third base (a tough spot for freshmen in college baseball with aluminum bats and the bunt) and been clutch enough to deliver at-bats like Saturday's walk-off home run.

 Q:  Brad from Houston asks:
Will, I see a minimal shakeup in the top 25. How do you justify the Ragin' Cajuns leapfrogging Ole Miss and Mississippi State, when the competition is much softer in the SBC rather than the SEC?

Will Kimmey: The SEC is a tough league for sure, but you can't stay in the top 25 by losing, even against good teams. At some point you've got to win. Ole Miss hasn't won a series in April. Today's the 18th. Mississippi State is just a .500 team in that league right now; the Top 25 teams win. This will happen all year in the SEC, because it cannibalizes itself. It's a fact of SEC life, ask the coaches. On another point, I won't disagree that 11 SEC teams could do well in the NCAA tournament this year, but I also feel that only teams that can go .500 in their league deserve to play in the postseason. Share the wealth. If you're not one of the best several clubs in your conference, no matter what conference, how can you reasonably be expected to win the title? Still, expect nine to make this year's field easily, if not 10.

 Q:  Scott from Jacksonville, FL asks:
Will, Love your section of Baseball America...A-Sun is having a pretty stong year. Do you ever see the conference getting a regional bid? UCF should be in the running this year. It would be nice to see before the conference gets dismanlted next year.

Will Kimmey: Some team has to get an regional bid, the league is guaranteed one. As for a second, that team is Troy, which is 15-3 and actually a game ahead of Central Florida in conference. If you meant a hosting bid, don't hold your breath.

 Q:  Scott from Durham, NC asks:
Hey Will, I know that you are local to Duke. There has been some disturbing news coming out in the last few days concerning steroids and the struggling Blue Devil program. I know that this is a part of the national discourse at this time, but the current players at Duke who spoke anonymously seem to indicate that there is a rampant problem nationwide, and some of it involves the summer leagues and the fact that athletes aren't tested outside of the season. What is your take and how serious of a problem is this for those of us with children who are getting into high school varsity ball?

Will Kimmey: The Duke situation is more a problem with, as one former player said, the program really struggling under Bill Hillier the last several years. That some of the players used steroids is disturbing, yes, but I wouldn't directly attribute the use to the coach, but rather the players. High school and college players want to be pros and look up to pros, and when the pros are improving their numbers by using steroids, isn't it only natural to expect the college or HS players to follow suit? It's hard to know how much college coaches know, sort of like with professional general managers and managers. What's scary is that in either case it helps them win, and help with success could mask any reason to seek help for a suspected steroid user. That's a cynical view, yes, but you've got to believe an accurate portrayal in at least a few instances. It's surely a problem, and there are rumblings across the country about steroids this year. Most NCAA baseball players only get tested during the postseason, so the summer would be the most obvious time to use, being how far it would be from the next test.

 Q:  Cardinal from Stanford asks:
Will, what's up with our team? First swept on the road at ASU, now almost out of the top-25 at BA! Help me figure this out...are we just young or not having things fall into place for us this year? I guess we won't be hosting a regional either....

Will Kimmey: It's safe to assume everyone thinks of pitching when they think of Stanford, but that's been an area of concern the last two years. A great offense masked the problem last year, but there aren't as many Cardinal runners circling the basepaths this year, and a 4.23 team ERA , plus 17 games in which opponents have scored more than five runs is the culprit. The Cardinal are 6-11 in those games, 1-7 when allowing eight or more runs.

 Q:  LeFonz from Milwaukee asks:
Is Matt Weiters going to return to catching full-time next year Georgia Tech, and can he catch in pro ball? If not, does his bat project well to play an infield or outfield corner in the bigs? Thanks.

Will Kimmey: Some pro scouts questioned his bat heading into last year's draft, but Wieters has struck out just seven times this year and is killing ACC pitching. We had Joe Savery as our midseason freshman of the year, but with Wieters mashing and now closing at times, he's probably the leader right now. He'd be a nice choice at catcher for as long as he can handle it, and has been catching Jason Neighborgall recently, not an easy task with that kind of stuff. His bat ought to play whereever on the field, judging from this year. There will also be more time to dissect both his swing and defensive skills the second half of the year as more scouting reports circulate among Tech's opponents.

 Q:  Marty from Wilmington, DE asks:
Will, I know it’s still somewhat early, but I was wondering if you’ve heard any buzz about a northern based regional this year. We’re starving for one. Thanks

Will Kimmey: Rutgers served as a host before, but not to great acclaim. Beware of St. John's, however. The Red Storm lead the Big East and play in a ballpark built for a pro team, the former Queens Kings, which moved to Brooklyn. That'd be an attractive host site if StJ's can win the league and be a No. 2 or 3 seed. Oregon State is also in the mix, being in the Northern part of the West Coast, though given your Delarare home, I'm guessing you wanted the Northeast.

 Q:  Walt from College Station, TX asks:
The Ags seem to have as much talent as anyone in the Big XII, but are a miserable 5-10 in the league. Are they the most underachieving team in the country? Do they still have any shot at sneaking into a regional?

Will Kimmey: Aside from Cliff Pennington, most of that reliable talent comes on the mound. A&M has just not been able to score enough consistently to win games. Sitting at 8th in the league right now, it needs a really strong finish and a strong Big 12 tournament. It's looking more and more like the Big 12 can get six total bids, with Missouri, Nebraska, Texas and Baylor looking very safe today, and Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and A&M battling for the last two spots. The last five weeks of league play are obviously vital to this, and there will need to be some separation between at least two out of this group to make their resume look better.

 Q:  Kirby Bucklee from Fairfax, VA asks:
I was suprised to see GMU omitted from your midseason NCAA brackets. Do you see the CAA possibly getting 3 reps. to the tourney this year?

Will Kimmey: Mason and Virginia Commonwealth were the two teams I picked from for the league's last bid. UNC Wilmington seems like a lock now with an 11-1 start and huge lead. The CAA isn't strong enough, and hasn't been since losing Richmond and East Carolina a few years back, to generate more than two bids. And that might be pushing it if GMU and VCU can't pick up the pace and UNC W wins the tournament.

 Q:  ICCCougar from The Great U.S. of A asks:
After watching Miami and North Carolina on TV this weekend I was wondering why the ACC is so highly rated every year, yet they fail to produce in the postseason both on the regional (and super regional for that matter) level as well as in Omaha? Neither Miami or North Carolina would finish (in my opinion) in the top half of the SEC. Heck, Kentucky might give both of them a run for their money, and UK doesn't even realize (with its' Ohio and Missouri Valley-like schedule) that it is even in the SEC anymore!

Will Kimmey: It's a weird thing that the ACC hasn't won the CWS in some 50 years. It's hard to say that's a league characteristic, because none of the coaches or players have been around that long, but fact is fact. It's fair to point out Miami has reached Omaha the last two years and won the CWS in 99 and 2001, and almost 96, as an independent, so there's pedigree there. I think you'd have to concede at least Georgia Tech and Miami would be among the top half of the SEC this year. Florida State's club reminds me of the way Arkansas plays, Clemson might be reasonably compared to Mississippi State and North Carolina to Vanderbilt, so all of those teams would be in the mix there.

 Q:  Jay from Rosenblatt Stadium asks:
Will a top-two finish in the Missouri Valley Conference and 40+ wins get Creighton an NCAA bid? If not, what do they need to do to get in?

Will Kimmey: I think the top two from the Mo. Valley should get in, yes. Creighton's in a good spot today, with a 2.5 game lead. It still must face Wichita State and Evansville, but even splitting those six games would keep it in a good spot for the postseason. The only mark against the Jays is the club's schedule, which is very weak outside of the two games against Nebraska, with another coming up. If these three MVC teams are all close, Creighton could be seen as No. 3 if schedule or RPI is a factor. It won't be, obviously, if Creighton can win the regular-season title.

 Q:  Chris Martin from Boise, Id asks:
Just how good is Oregon State? Their pitching staff seems unbeleivable! They almost took 2of 3 from Arizona at Arizona. Could they be a team that could be seen in Omaha?

Will Kimmey: If you follow these chats weekly, you know I'm a pitching guy. Oregon State has the best staff in the Pac-10 right now, and it held up pretty well against Arizona, which I'd rank neck and neck with Georgia Tech as the nation's best offense. We also saw over the weekend that OSU can score some runs when needed. Even though the Beavers lost the series, I come away impressed with the club for how it played. We'll just say I'm more impressed, obviously, with Arizona for winning the series.

 Q:  Taylor from Chapel Hill asks:
Hi Will, thanks for your time. I'm sure by now a lot of people know about some of the things that have been coming out about the Duke program. I just wanted to get your take on the whole thing. Any ideas on a new coach if it comes to that? Is Duke a good situation for a new coach with all of this happening now? Can it be another Tulane or Vanderbilt?

Will Kimmey: If Duke wants to commit itself to winning in baseball, it's a sleeping giant. The Tulane and Vandy comparisons are very fair, and Duke has a better national name in the sports world thanks to its basketball success. The Blue Devils are very strong in nearly every other sport except football, and selling that education and a chance to play in the ACC (and live near Baseball America, ha!) makes recruiting easier to a degree. I've got coaches calling all the time curious about that job, and it could enjoy a Vandy-like rise with the right hire and care by the administration.

 Q:  UKFan from Crevetucky U.S.A. asks:
Is Coach Cohen going to get fired at the end of the season? With the amount of money the school has recently pumped into the program and the continued lack of success the new regime has endured it seems logical to me. Gosh, I never thought I would long for the days of Coach Keith Madison. What is going on here!

Will Kimmey: I think you're way off base here. Kentucky is much more competitive than last year, even if the SEC wins total is roughly the same. That's a hard league to rebuild in, and Cohen basically inherited a bare cupboard with no time to recruit players for 2004. So there's not a lot of talent in the upperclass ranks this year, but that means more scholarship money and playing time for younger players. If there's no improvement in a few years, then I'll be with you in wondering what's going on.

 Q:  Will (Concerned Cougar) from Charleston asks:
How good is Jay Heafner at Davidson? He is among the statistical leaders in many categories and is carrying a usually terrible offense to the top of many national charts.

Will Kimmey: Reading the SoCon stats report, he's bunched in there with all those pesky College of Charleston hitters, which lead the nation collectively in batting. He has a Barry Bonds effect on that lineup for sure, and also closes for them. Very legit college talent there, sir.

 Q:  Travis from Columbus, Ohio asks:
With preseason favorites Michigan and Ohio State in the cellar of the conference, does Illinois have the power to steal the Big Ten away from Minnesota? Also, does the Big Ten have what it takes to place two teams in the NCAA tournament?

Will Kimmey: The Big 10 standings just prove I'm a fool. I've been behind Ohio State and Michigan nearly all year, but four weeks into league play, those guys are bottom feeders. Minnesota is no surprise, really; the Gophers are winning that league nearly every year recently. Illinois has enjoyed some runs a few years back, and at 20-10 overall could push for an at-large bid even if it fails to win the tourney. It's likely that if the regular-season and tourney titles are split between two of the league's top teams (these two especially) you'll see both get in.

 Q:  Cameron from Michigan asks:
Hey Will, Just wondering what you think about the Mid-American Conference this year? Who do you think will win the MAC and can any of these teams suprise a big school in a regional?

Will Kimmey: The three leaders, Miami (Ohio), W. Michigan and Ball State are all solid clubs, but I don't see how all three make the tournament. Two go if the season and league tourney titles are split between this group, but if an outsider earns the automatic, you'll see two deserving teams sitting at home, unfortunately.

 Q:  Dave from Fullerton asks:
Will, thanks for taking the time today. With two western teams in the top 8 this week, four western teams in the top 16 and three more at the back end of the top 25, how many western teams (and which ones) do you think would be hosting regionals if the season ended today?

Will Kimmey: Arizona and Fullerton are locks. Write them down. Oregon State and Long Beach State can each be considered strong contenders for the third, and there's a chance you could still see an Arizona State or Stanford push in there. Mostly like three of the first four I mentioned, but all four in that group are deserving.

 Q:  Mark from Sparks NV asks:
How do you think the WAC will play out and will 2 teams make regionals?

Will Kimmey: I've got just one if Rice wins the league and two if it's not Rice (who would then earn an at-large). Fresno and Hawaii have the best schedules of the rest of the lot, but would really need a push to dig out from their conference holes. San Jose and Nevada each have a shot to win the league still, with Nevada having a series win against SJ, but losing to Rice and SJ sweeping Rice. Those three really are in the mix, for basically 15 spots, depending on how other leagues turn out.

Will Kimmey: That's it for today. Thanks for all the questions and see you next week.

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