Top 25 Chat With Aaron Fitt

Q:  Alex from Concord asks:
Well the weekend was condensed and cut short in Greenville this weekend, ECU came away with a monster comeback against Oklahoma St Thursday night. BUt as impressive as teh comeback was, the performance of true freshman Kevin Brandt against the powerful Oklahoma St line-up was even more some. The split was disappointing, but ECU showed they have the potential offensively and pitching wise to be a player. What you think?

Aaron Fitt: Hi everyone — we're going to go rapid-fire today, as I only have an hour before my airport shuttle arrives. You're right, ECU is a solid, all-around club that will be a major factor down the stretch. For what it's worth, I had the Pirates as team No. 26 in my personal top 25 rankings today.

 Q:  Stanley from Spokane, WA asks:
How close is Gonzaga to cracking the top 25? What are your thoughts on them so far?

Aaron Fitt: Another very strong weekend for the Zags! They've now put themselves in the 25-32 range, I'd say. Man, the WCC is loaded this year...

 Q:  Jim from Ft. Myers asks:
what are your thoughts of Miami sweeping Florida in Gainsville? Are the Canes that good or are the Gators that bad? Thanks for your time.

Aaron Fitt: I definitely don't think the Gators are bad at all—they swept a very good Louisville team last weekend, and every scout I talk to down in that area tells me the Gators are legit. They should push to host a regional by the end of the season. It makes what Miami did that much more impressive. It looks like those new faces have integrated very nicely for the Hurricanes.

 Q:  Taylor from Houston asks:
Aaron, I was looking for you at MMP over the weekend. That was some extremely good ball. I think I was most impressed with Rice - they look very good. How were 3 wins over top 10 teams not enough to jump them up a few more spots? I know the teams right in front of them all had good weeks, but I figured these wins - quality wins - would carry a little more weight. Thanks.

Aaron Fitt: As I wrote in great detail on the College Blog all weekend, I couldn't have been more impressed with the Owls—they played phenomenally in all phases of the game. I think they're probably a better team than, say, UC Irvine, Baylor or Arizona State. But the fact remains that Rice is the only team in the top 13 that has lost a weekend series. As impressive as the Owls were this weekend, it doesn't change what they did last weekend. And all the teams ahead of them in the rankings performed well—I was also impressed with the Bears and the Anteaters, though not as much as I was with Rice, but then again, both of those teams won their series last weekend.

 Q:  Tim from Seattle, WA asks:
Thanks for taking my question. I saw a pretty good UCSB team vs my Huskies on Sunday. Where does UCSB stand in the grand scheme and what are your thoughts on the Ford kid who threw on Sunday?

Aaron Fitt: I've got the Gauchos battling with Cal Poly for third in the Big West. I really like that UCSB club—great pitching (and Ford has a very nice arm and good command), and some quality veterans in the lineup. Probably in the 30-35 range right now in the rankings.

 Q:  Carlton from Columbus, Ohio asks:
Is Ohio State getting any consideration for the top 25? I think Michigan and Ohio St. are the teams to beat in the Big ten. Any thoughts?

Aaron Fitt: The Buckeyes have been dynamite so far—better than I expected, in fact—but Notre Dame is still really their only quality win. Cincinnati and UConn are decent too, but both are middle-of-the-pack Big East teams, I think. With Ohio State's schedule, those guys are going to have to keep this roll going for a while to get top 25 consideration.

 Q:  Alex from Omaha, NE asks:
Danny Hultzen or Ryan Carpenter?

Aaron Fitt: Wow, that's tough. Hultzen, but not by much. His two-way ability gives him the edge. I like him ever so slightly more as a pitching prospect, too.

 Q:  Mike Weathers from Long Beach asks:
Should I be worried about my team this year?

Aaron Fitt: Uh, yes...

 Q:  Taylor from Houston asks:
Aaron, thanks for taking my questions. Who do you think was the big winner this weekend in Houston? Rice looked the best, UCLA got a tough draw. Gerrit Cole was fun to watch - he's going to be the real deal. Looks like he needs to control himself in that first inning. Berry is back, very impressive. Alex Wilson looked strong too. Rendon is an exciting player. Thoughts?

Aaron Fitt: I agree with everything you said. Spot-on.

 Q:  Brendon from Sunnyvale, CA asks:
After an extremely sluggish start, where do you see Stanford finishing in the Pac-10? Will the lineup improve, or is this a sign of a tough season?

Aaron Fitt: It's going to be a tough season offensively, as we expected heading into the year, although the bats should get a little bit better. Right now I see the Pac-10 like this: Arizona State, UCLA (yeah, yeah, I know), Oregon State, Stanford, Cal. I really like Cal's offensive talent but really worry about their pitching. I'll take Stanford's pitching-and-defense recipe over those guys. The big surprise to me has been the way Oregon State has swung the bats—those newcomers have come up big for the Beavers.

 Q:  Taylor from Houston asks:
Is Texas' offense in trouble? They did put up 9 twice and 6 this past weekend, but they've had some low scoring games against weak competition. Early season funk, or subpar offense? We'll find out in the next few weeks with that schedule coming up.

Aaron Fitt: I don't think it's a great offense, but I think it's pretty good. Augie Garrido told me last night that he was very pleased with the way his guys swung the bats in Workman's no-hitter; sounds like they're starting to wake up. Kevin Keyes hasn't really started hitting yet, but trust me, he will. When he does, the Longhorns will have a power-hitting centerpiece in the lineup.

 Q:  Kevin from Germany asks:
Who is your favorite to win the sec? I know LSU would be the obvious choice, but Georgia looks really good. Do you think the dawgs youth will hurt them down the stretch?

Aaron Fitt: Those are the top two teams, in that order. Georgia has been fabulous so far, but some of those youngsters are bound to have their struggles at some point this year. I don't love their defense, either. The pitching, however, is very special. Alex McRee has been as good as expected in the rotation through two weeks.

 Q:  alex kovaler from moscow, russia asks:
Aaron, Fullerton sure got a great series win against Stanford this past weekend. But after the earlier series loss to TCU, how capable are the Titans' young pitchers considering they will get quite a battle from UCI and Cal Poly this year.

Aaron Fitt: I think what you saw this weekend was closer to the real Fullerton pitching staff. Renken, Witten and Pill should make for a very solid weekend rotation, and I expect Michael Morrison will come around. I don't have any concerns about Fullerton—that team's in good shape. In fact, if I were redoing my preseason rankings today, based on what I expect the rest of the year, I'd keep the top four teams in some order, then go Fullerton fifth and Rice sixth.

 Q:  Jon from Hattiesburg, MS asks:
Lots of teams off to good starts against good competition, so I can't be too angry my Southern Miss Golden Eagles (7-1) haven't broken through yet. But it's still impressive enough that they've outscored their opponents 96-22, isn't it? That's an average run difference of 9! If they take their series this weekend against Fullerton, do they enter the poll top 20?

Aaron Fitt: The Golden Eagles have been insanely good so far. The most eye-opening thing about their start is the way they have swung the bats—I knew they'd play good defense, pitch OK and be scrappy offensively, but I really did not expect this kind of offensive barrage. With a series win against Fullerton, USM will definitely be in the rankings, maybe in the top 20.

 Q:  Jack from Fort Mill, SC asks:
South Carolina gives up 2 hits to Clemson and goes on for a 3-1 win at Clemson and they are not in top 25? OK, maybe that's OK, but Clemson still at #19?

Aaron Fitt: It was a nice win for South Carolina, but come on, it was one game, and we didn't get to see how the rest of the series would have played out. South Carolina's knocking on the door of the rankings, but they've only played four games, and three were against Duquesne. That sweep of Charlotte was very impressive for Clemson last week, and I believe in the Tigers' talent—that's why we started them at No. 19, and I actually like them better than that. We're not going to blow up the rankings because of a two-run loss to a solid South Carolina team.

 Q:  brian from bakersfield, ca asks:
what are your thoughts on usd's weekend? looks like their pitching staff that you guys have talked about so much showed a bit better this weekend. can they get far with the bats they have in their lineup?

Aaron Fitt: It's hard to play six games in one week—just ask Missouri or UCLA how hard it was to play five games last week. That kind of schedule really taxes a pitching staff, and I thought it spoke very well of the Toreros that they were able to go 4-2. And they did score 10 runs against some pretty good Oklahoma pitchers, so they're capable of an occasional outburst.

 Q:  Kirk from Little Rock asks:
Aaron, thanks for the chat today! Who are your top 8 teams for Omaha at this point in the season?

Aaron Fitt: It's never to early to revise and predict, is it? I'll go with our top four teams (LSU, Texas, UNC and Texas A&M), as well as Cal State Fullerton, Rice, Clemson and TBD... if you ask me today, I'm leaning toward Arizona State for that last spot, but I'm not as sold on that one.

 Q:  Tex from Austin asks:
So we know where everyone stands, is Baseball America now admitting that the key to their rankings is to schedule creampuffs and then beat the heck out of them? Specifically, is it better to start 9-0 at home against northern teams that won't sniff an outdoor practice for another couple weeks or to start 5-2 — all but one away from your home field — having played post-season level (perhaps even Omaha-caliber) schedule?

Aaron Fitt: A series loss is a series loss, Rice fans. A series win is a series win. We're not necessarily going to jump a team up for beating up on "creampuffs", but neither are we going to punish them in the rankings for taking care of business. We're certainly not going to jump another team over them when it has already lost a series—I don't care how tough their schedule has been.

 Q:  Dominic from Dallas TX asks:
TCU is off to a great start against some tough competition. Do you think anyone in the Mounatin West has a legitimate shot at keeping them from winning a conference title? And is hosting a Super Regional an unrealistic goal for them this year?

Aaron Fitt: Nobody is going to sniff TCU in the Mountain West this year. And if the Frogs can keep this run going for another week against Baylor and Wichita State, I think they you can seriously start thinking about them as a potential super regional host. The conference schedule will make it awfully tough on them RPI-wise, but the strong early-season nonconference and midweek schedule gives them a chance.

 Q:  Trey from Greenville, NC asks:
I was curious as how Oklahoma State split with ECU this weekend and they moved up two spots in the poll and ECU isnt getting any love after sweeping a regional team the first weekend and beating a regional team and a top 25 team the second weekend in a row.

Aaron Fitt: ECU is team No. 26. Oklahoma State moved up because it had a solid week and was already in the rankings (the Cowboys got in last week over ECU because we like their talent, on the mound anyway, slightly more than ECU's, so they were closer to the preseason rankings). If ECU had been at 25 last week, the Pirates probably would have moved up two slots. Instead, they moved from about team 30 to team 26.

 Q:  Nick from Albany, NY asks:
Hi Aaron, can you tell us more about Long Beach State sophomore shortstop Devin Lohman? I've heard some reports that he could be the next great LB middle infielder, yet I didn't see him on your top 50 sophomore prospects entering the season. Does he have the potential to be in the category of a Tulowitzki or a Longoria? He did hit .341 in about 41 at bats for Chatham last summer.

Aaron Fitt: I don't think he's got a Longoria/Tulo kind of bat, but he's a very slick defender with good speed and the ability to barrel up the ball pretty consistently. He wasn't too far out of the top 50 sophomores list, but that class is just loaded—competition was very thick.

 Q:  Mack from LA asks:
Injury rumors from the weekend that I was hoping you could say were either smoke or fire: 1. Sammy Solis at USD has a torn labrum (explaining why he didn't throw this weekend). 2. Gavin Brooks at UCLA is also done with a mystery ailment. 3. Martin Virramontes started the LMU game and went one inning and was pulled. 4. Gabe Cohen at UCLA didn't get an at bat vs. UCI - is he hurt again or is Coach Savage sick of his not producing and the team being 2-7?

Aaron Fitt: Solis will be fine—he and A.J. Griffin have some slight tendinitis in their shoulders, and both will be ready this week. Cohen pulled up lame trying to run out a ground ball on Friday, so his status is a little unclear. Haven't heard anything about Brooks or Viramontes...

 Q:  Ross from Sanford, NC asks:
Who has the best pitching in the country so far to this point? Also who in your opinion has the best hitting to this point

Aaron Fitt: The answer to both is easy: Texas and LSU, respectively. But I still think North Carolin and Texas A&M have the best staffs in the long term, just a tick ahead of Texas, San Diego, Georgia and UCLA. Baylor's in this discussion somewhere too.

 Q:  Dan from New Orleans asks:
Hey Aaron! I'm super jealous of your attendance at minute maid park this weekend. must have been a blast. how do you see the rest of Conference USA shaping up behind Rice at this point? Anybody near making the list?

Aaron Fitt: Rice, East Carolina, Southern Miss, Tulane. All four will make regionals, but that's it, I think.

 Q:  Mizzou fan from Columbia, MO asks:
What possible explanation can there be for ethe 2-7 start of the Misosuri Tigers? Have they buried themselves in too big a hole already?

Aaron Fitt: Very tough early-season road trip to Arizona, and their young arms struggled. I think they'll be fine now that the schedule eases up, putting less strain on the pitching. The Tepesch you saw yesterday needs to keep it going for them to have a real shot to make a deep postseason run. I still believe in the Tigers.

 Q:  Taylor from Houston asks:
Had Texas A&M beat rice to go 4-1 on the week would they have stayed #1 or would LSU still jump them with their large victories over weak competition? Thanks.

Aaron Fitt: Probably would have stuck with the Aggies, but it's close—Centenary is a bad loss. Then again, Rice would have been an awfully good win that probably would have canceled it out.

 Q:  Kanten from Fayetteville, NC asks:
Is the Carolina lost to Coastal a concern for Carolina or no?.....

Aaron Fitt: No—everybody loses midweek games now and then, especially against quality teams like Coastal.

Aaron Fitt: Got time for a couple more...

 Q:  Kevin from Kent, Ohio asks:
I saw Kent State moved up your rankings 1 spot. What do you make of all the runs they are scoring? Was there offense supposed to be this productive??

Aaron Fitt: Yes—see our preseason top 25 capsules for our glowing report on Kent State's offense heading into the season. I think I actually liked the offense even more than the arms over there.

 Q:  Jack Shephard from Houston asks:
I'm really surprised at your rankings after BA was personally on hand to watch the Houston Collegiate Classic this weekend. UCLA dropping out of the polls? They lost to three good teams, two of which they outhit, and showed great talent at pitcher. There are not 25 teams better than them. And how do you watch Rice take apart A&M and Baylor, and personally listen to A&M's coach proclaim Rice the best team in the state of Texas... then list Rice as the 4th best team in the state of Texas? Finally, we heard about the great pitching at Minute Maid this weekend, very impressive stuff from Baylor, UCLA, A&M, and Rice. Who impressed the most at the plate and defensively? Thanks

Aaron Fitt: Top 25 teams shouldn't have 0-5 weeks—you've just got to find a way to dig deep and get at least one win. That team is very talented, and I still think it will be a factor down the stretch, but this week was very discouraging. I'm disappointed with how that team seems to wilt when the going gets tough. I already addressed Rice. As for the hitters and defenders, I posted about this in Three Strikes today—check it out!

 Q:  Marco from San Diego asks:
Were you surprised to see USC drop 2 of 3 to Western Carolina? How has Grant Green looked so far?

Aaron Fitt: Surprised? Yes. The reports we got on USC this weekend were very discouraging. Sounds like they've got some huge, huge issues defensively. I'll tell you what, Chad Kreuter better get that thing turned around in a hurry...

 Q:  Ted from Tucson, AZ asks:
Georgia that good? or UofA that bad?

Aaron Fitt: Mostly the former, but I do think Arizona's in for a very trying season. The lineup is young and uninspiring, and I don't have much faith in the pitching beyond Guilmet and Stoffel, and Guilmet was hit hard this weekend.

Aaron Fitt: That's all for today, folks. See you next week.