College Top 25 Chat

Aaron Fitt answered plenty of college questions

 Q:  Blackie from Cincinnati, OH asks:
Hi Aaron. Can you talk a little bit about some players with great numbers who aren't getting much pub yet? Trent Mummey of Auburn seems to be one of the best sophomor hitters right now. His vitals say he's on the smaller side, and profiled as lead-off, so is he more a college hitter or is he making a case as a pro prospect? Also, Manny Ott of LSU has outrageous peripherals. Is he getting it done more with stuff or with guile? Finally, any word on whether Kent Matthes' excellent senior season is generating any draft buzz?

Aaron Fitt: Hello everyone, let's get going. You bring up three interesting SEC prospects. Mummey has 11 home runs, but as you ascertain, he profiles more as a speedy table-setter in pro ball. He's definitely a pro prospect, however. Matty Ott does indeed have outrageous peripherals (34-1 K-BB in 21 IP), and he's a legit closer for the Tigers. His emergence is absolutely huge because it allows Paul Mainieri to keep Louis Coleman in the rotation, where he's been very good. Ott is similar to Coleman — both use lower arm slots to generate deception and life, and both work in the 88-91 range. Matthes has solid tools and has been on the prospect radar for some time, but he's finally figured it out this year, and I think he'll be a very good senior sign this year. Check out his strikeout-walk ratio compared to past years—he's made huge strides there.

 Q:  Justin from Texas asks:
Aaron, I'd love to get your thoughts on Baylor's Logan Verrett ... is he the top freshman pitcher in the nation right now? He's 7-0 with a save (2-0 in Big 12), 2.25 ERA and a 42:7 K:BB ratio in 32 innings ... and those stats don't even do justice to how important he's been for Baylor so far. If he's not the top freshman then who is?

Aaron Fitt: Verrett's a guy that absolutely needs to be in the national freshman of the year discussion, along with Virginia's Danny Hultzen (who has been the ACC's best pitcher to this point in the season). And you're right, Verrett's impact on that staff has been huge. He carried the bullpen early on when Willie Kempf was scuffling, and now he's shored up the weekend rotation while Craig Fritsch and Shawn Tolleson battle inconsistency and arm soreness. He's got really good stuff too - I saw him in Houston with an 89-92 mph fastball and an excellent power slider around 82.

 Q:  wolf from Kent,Ohio asks:
AF: A question and a comment. What is your take on how the weather has affected quality Northern teams versus the majority of your top 25 teams from the better weather areas? I have attended games both North and South. Up north, it seems an average gameday is 40 degrees with 15-25 mph northern winds blowing in versus 70 degrees and balmy southwestern winds blowing out, favoring the southern hitters production and power numbers. What would be HR balls hit up north are flyouts as the ball flight differentials due to air temperature and severe winds blowing in can be an overall difference of 150 feet, or more! Did you also notice that once ranked Kent State who scored below average on your defensive tools grade is just about leading the Nation in fielding percentage? Imagine if their touted offense hasn't had to play the majority of their games in the worst of offensive weather conditions? The forecast is upper 40's with northern winds 15-30 mph blowing in, as usual.

Aaron Fitt: The Northern teams have to deal with those conditions every year, which is why teams like Kent State are usually much better at the end of the season than they are early. As for Kent State's defense, that has been a pleasant surprise. Their coaches said entering the season that defense was their biggest concern, and that has been addressed. Now they just need Brad Stillings and Kyle Smith to live up to their significant potential. Both have battled inconsistent stuff and command this spring, though I'm sure the weather hasn't helped. On the whole, I think Kent State is on track to finish around where we projected it to finish: atop the MAC, in a regional and with a real chance to win a regional.

 Q:  James from Huntington Beach, CA asks:
I have always enjoyed your Tuesday chats during the season over the years. But I am always miffed at how people keep asking the same question as to why there team is not ranked. It is simple you break it down in segments of sweeps and winning weekend series and consistency. But I have to ask the question. It is the quest of the teams to make the regionals and set them up in for positioning in the tourney? And ultimately host a regional or super regional? But that really does not matter at all (IE Fresno St) To me it is who is hot at the end plus having a complete body of work with regards to your season. Would you not agree?

Aaron Fitt: You're right that it's usually the hottest team that wins the title, and not necessarily the best team, but I don't think it's accurate to say that postseason positioning and hosting is irrelevant. No matter what Long Beach State tells you, it's historically been a lot easier to get to Omaha if you can host regionals and/or super regionals. That doesn't mean there aren't exceptions, of course...

 Q:  Anthony from IL asks:
Eastern Illinois seems to be getting it done. I don't think they get enough credit even if they are in the OVC. They have proven to beat big time teams, and are a consistent hitting team along with a solid pitching staff. Where's the recognition here?

Aaron Fitt: Eastern Illinois is off to a great start. Expect to read about the Panthers in an upcoming Weekend Preview.

 Q:  John from Houston, Texas asks:
Aaron, Have you considered adding Middle Tennessee to the Top 25? I know they haven't played a strong out of conference schedule, but they have only one loss in conference play and are 20-4 overall. What will it take for the Blue Raiders to break in?

Aaron Fitt: We wound up debating Middle Tennessee State and San Diego with Virginia and Minnesota for our final two spots this week. In the end, we didn't feel strongly enough about any of the teams outside the rankings and decided to stick with the status quo, but MTSU is right there in the mix. Another solid week ought to push the Blue Raiders into the rankings, in all likelihood. That team is a bit of an unproven commodity, so it takes longer to break into the top 25. But it's hard to ignore what those guys have done so far.

 Q:  Jackie from Fort Collins, CO asks:
Still no love for UC Riverside....they went 2-2 against ranked opponents including a win over top-ranked Fullerton. I know the third game in the series got out of hand, but the Highlanders won the first game and the Titans needed extra innings to win the second, showing they can compete against the best.

Aaron Fitt: That was a solid weekend for Riverside against the nation's No. 1 team, but you're never going to break into the top 25 for losing a weekend series, I don't care who it was against and how competitive it was. If the Highlanders had already been in the rankings, they almost certainly would have stayed put after this week, but they did not do anything to climb into the rankings from outside.

 Q:  Phil from Texarkana, TX asks:
Hi Aaron, saw that Scott Bittle was moved in to the rotation this weekend for Ole Miss, and pitched flawlessly. Two questions: 1) Is Ole Miss better with him in the pen or in the rotation, and 2) Does this help, hurt, or not effect his draft stature?

Aaron Fitt: I do think it's better for Ole Miss on the whole because that Sunday starter spot had been such a black hole. But you saw both sides of the coin Sunday: Bittle gave the Rebels seven shutout innings, but they didn't have Bittle back there to close it out, and LSU scored twice against Jake Morgan to win it. Whether or not he stays in the rotation longterm depends on who steps up: somebody like Morgan in the pen, or somebody like Aaron Barrett in the rotation. As for his draft stock, I think it can only help. Bittle's already shown what he can do in the bullpen. Now scouts are getting to see him mix his pitches and see how he holds up over longer outings. Assuming he keeps pitching like he did this weekend, this could really help his stock a lot.

 Q:  Will from Oceanside, CA asks:
Aaron, thanks for your great work! Are the USD Toreros back on track after a series sweep of Pepperdine? Or are the Waves that bad? I've read a few things talking about Pepperdine's RPI, which led me to believe that the Waves high ranking was kinda tainted. Did the series sweep mean anything for the Toreros?

Aaron Fitt: I think USD has certainly reaffirmed its place as WCC front-runner. See Three Strikes for more on USD, Pepperdine and the WCC.

 Q:  Greg from Los Angeles asks:
UCLA seems to have had a great week, beating USC and Pepperdine during the week and taking 2 out of 3 from U of A this weekend. Are they finally rebounding and using their potential or were they just lucky this week?

Aaron Fitt: The Bruins have now won three straight series against solid teams (East Carolina, USC and Arizona) to get back to 10-14. I think they're going to be a solid regionals team. After seeing them play five times this year, I don't think they're a top-15 team as I thought heading into the season — after Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole, the rest of their arms are just average, really, and the lineup is about the same after Casey Haerther. I see UCLA as a No. 3 regional seed somewhere. If they stay hot and finish second in the Pac-10, they'll be a No. 2, but I don't know that they're talented enough to pull that off, even in a down Pac-10.

 Q:  Carlton from Columbus, Ohio asks:
If Ohio State takes two of three from Minn. will they be ranked? I know they lost to Rollins but they did one hit Miami.

Aaron Fitt: If Ohio State takes two of three from Minnesota, the Buckeyes will probably be ranked. I've just been waiting for some quality wins to give their gaudy record some weight, and Minnesota is a quality opponent for sure.

 Q:  Wesely from Monroe NC asks:
Good day just a quick question. Watched fox this weekend and saw this LHP from Duke throw and he was electric.No hitter for 6 plus. To be honest I never heard of him but I was curious and looked up his stats both at school and the Cape. The stas are awesome and was wondering where does he stand. They had him 88-90 and had some 92. Also what is up with my boy at UNC (Harvey) seems like two tuff outtings .Is he healthy.Also the announcers at Fox college sports Network do a great JOb

Aaron Fitt: I attended Chris Manno's outing for Duke Saturday, and he was very good indeed, but I had him sitting in the mid-80s and topping out at 88-89. See Three Strikes for more on Manno, and on Harvey. Don't worry about Harvey — his stuff is fine, he's completely healthy. He's just going through a little trouble with his command, but he'll be fine.

 Q:  rob from norman asks:
Neil medchill from ok state is having a monster year. Is he getting any 1st round consideration given that there aren't many college outfielders

Aaron Fitt: He's very good, with solid tools across the board, and I think he could probably go in the top three or four rounds in June, but I don't think he has the standout tools to go in the first round.

 Q:  Andy from Houston, TX asks:
Rumor has is that Rice's #1 and #2 are hurt. If this is true, do you think Rice will still reign as C-USA champion?

Aaron Fitt: The rumor is true — read last week's College Blog for more details. Fortunately, neither is hurt seriously, and both will be back (Ojala possibly as soon as this weekend). I still like the Owls to win CUSA, although not if those two guys suffer some setbacks that keep them out for an extended period. There is a steep dropoff from Berry and Ojala to the rest of that staff.

 Q:  jason from New Orleans asks:
What is going on with the green wave. Pitching is there, fielding is there, but timely hitting is no where to be found. Do you think that they will be able to solve this soon? Do you see them making a regional this season?

Aaron Fitt: I think you pretty much nailed it: timely hitting is an important ingredient to success. This weekend is absolutely huge for Tulane. There is no better time to catch Rice than now while Berry and Ojala are banged up. If Tulane's going to make a run in CUSA, it has to take advantage of this opportunity.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Why is jerry sullivan getting no love this year? Who are the best prospects in oklahoma for the draft this year?

Aaron Fitt: Sullivan really hasn't been great this year: he's 2-3, 4.67. He's still a solid prospect, but the best prospects in Oklahoma are Andrew Oliver and Tyler Lyons at Oklahoma State.

 Q:  Jeff from Phoenix asks:
Aaron - Is there a better Friday/Saturday pitching tandem better than Mike Leake and Josh Spence at Arizona State?

Aaron Fitt: Not through six weeks. And really, I see no reason those guys can't keep it up. They both really know how to pitch and are fierce competitors.

 Q:  Pat from Indiana asks:
Where you you see Kentucky LHP James Paxson going? He's got to have the most helium of anybody. Would the top three rounds be too optimistic? He got pretty roughed up in that 20-19 loss against USC this weekend, but other than that he's been pretty stellar.

Aaron Fitt: Heading into this weekend, I heard a lot of buzz on Paxton as a top-half of the first round kind of guy. I haven't gotten a report on his stuff from this weekend, but assuming he didn't blow out his arm, I'll say that top three rounds is way, way too conservative with this guy.

 Q:  Dave from Troy,NY asks:
Do you think Robert Stock's appearance in the starting rotation signals that he may be ready to give up hitting and become a full time pitcher? And if so,where does he fit as a pitcher in the draft? Thanks

Aaron Fitt: I'm starting to think his pro future in on the mound, at least. I'll wait to see how he holds up in the rotation before making any pronouncements on his draft stock, but he does have a very good arm.

 Q:  Andy from Baton Rouge, LA asks:
What are your initial thoughts on the LSU-Georgia series in Athens this weekend?

Aaron Fitt: Should be a great one. I expect Anthony Ranaudo to bounce back and LSU to win the series on the road. Of course, Georgia's playing great baseball right now and clearly has a ton of talent, especially on the mound. I certainly wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised if UGa. holds its home-field advantage and wins the series, but if you want my prediction, I'm taking the Tigers to win two of three.

 Q:  Matt from Sacramento asks:
Hi Aaron, how many regional bids do you see the Pac-10 receiving this year and do you think UCLA and Stanford will recover in time to make the postseason?

Aaron Fitt: Four. UCLA in, Stanford out. Cal is the fourth team, for me.

 Q:  Concerned Frog from Ft Worth, TX asks:
The frogs posted a disappointing week against Baylor and San Diego State. Is it panic time for TCU?

Aaron Fitt: Don't panic — TCU is a good, balanced club that will still be a No. 2 seed in regionals. But hopes of hosting a regional look awfully dim right now.

 Q:  Dave from Richmond asks:
The Southern Conference has had a nice start to the season. Are any of those teams close to being included in the top 25?

Aaron Fitt: College of Charleston is the closest, but we weren't quite ready to bring in the Cougars after a 2-2 week, which included a thrashing at the hands of South Carolina. Western Carolina isn't far behind, but losing the head-to-head series against CofC puts the Catamounts behind in the pecking order.

 Q:  Tim from Pittsburgh, Pa asks:
How about the A-10? Preseason favorite Charlotte is near the bottom of the league and Dayton, Rhode Island, and Xavier have all been looking great! Have to love the Rams lineup and their first two pitchers are excellent. Along the same lines Xavier has been getting excellent pitching with Rosenbaum, Deeg, and Muransky really giving great innings.

Aaron Fitt: Charlotte's 1-5 start in the A-10 is one of the biggest surprises anywhere. I don't think I'm buying yet on Dayton, but Xavier and URI are solid clubs. I'd put my money on one of those teams to win the league at this point.

 Q:  JAYPERS from IL asks:
Your thoughts on all of the bloggers who find fault with Strasburg's delivery and think he's the next Mark Prior (the recent version)?

Aaron Fitt: They need to get a life. I'm not saying his delivery is flawless. I've heard scouts express concerns about the torque he puts on his shoulder with his follow-through, but it wouldn't stop any of them from taking him first overall in a heartbeat. Is there a chance he breaks down at some point? Sure, but there's a chance every pitcher will break down. There are no glaring red flags with this guy, his stuff is ridiculous, and his performance is even more ridiculous. Those bloggers should find a better use for their time.

 Q:  Ben from Leland Grove asks:
At this point, who seems like the most probable collegiate player to get picked #2 behind Strasburg and why?

Aaron Fitt: Kyle Gibson. Best combination of present stuff, projection and performance. He's really learned how to command his fastball, which was always the biggest concern with him. He's always had a nasty slider.

 Q:  Bill from Atlanta asks:
Glad to see you've got GT in your top 10 - I hope we can live up to it the next two weekends against UNC and UVA. You list us as 4-2 against Top 25 teams. Who do you have us playing in the Top 25 other than Miami. I can't figure it. Thanks.

Aaron Fitt: That's a mistake — I will correct it. Very impressive weekend for the Yellow Jackets, obviously. I think Tech is a very solid club, probably the second-best team in the ACC. But North Carolina is the best team, and I think the Tar Heels will exorcise some of their bad history in Atlanta with a series win this weekend.

 Q:  Bay area baseball fan from Bay area, CA asks:
Even with tommy medica out to an injury(I assume this is the case), what is wrong with Santa Clara? I feel they had high hopes heading into this season, but what has happened to the broncos?

Aaron Fitt: Medica has a separated shoulder and is likely to miss the rest of the season. Santa Clara's biggest problem is it's missing three of its projected key players in Medica, Jon Hughes and Ryan Rieger. I think the Broncos are in trouble.

 Q:  Dean from Madison asks:
How high has Rich Poythress strong start sent him up the draft rankings? I heard talk about getting into the first round - how high can he go? Thanks.

Aaron Fitt: Right now he looks like a lock for the first round. He's probably the best power hitter in the college crop, and there's not a ton of other power out there. I think he goes in the top 15, if he can keep this up.

 Q:  Matthew from Chandler, AZ asks:
With Leake and Spence so strong on Friday's and Saturday's and a new lineup developing are the Devils legit National Championship contenders this season?

Aaron Fitt: Absolutely.

 Q:  Moe from Williamsburg Va asks:
With UVA, after 2 weekends of rought games, being such a young team and showing that they can atleast play with the big boys, what do you think the future holds for this squad? Thank you for your honest opinion.

Aaron Fitt: Very good, balanced club. Best offense they've had there since 2006, and maybe even better than the '06 offense. Plenty of quality arms, excellent speed, decent power, good defense. Virginia is a real threat to win a regional this year if they can just find ways to win tight games against good teams. They blew four winnable games over the last two weekends.

 Q:  willy from pitt asks:
Your college chats are the only thing that gets me through the day on Monday, Aaron. Brooks Raley: drafted as an outfielder or pitcher?

Aaron Fitt: Pitcher, but it's close. I just love pitchers with that kind of athleticism, although it almost feels like a waste to put a 70 runner on the mound. But he's an ultra-competitive lefthander with solid stuff and room for projection. It's a great package.

 Q:  Luke from Des Moines asks:
Is there any hope for Auburn or Tulane as regional teams?

Aaron Fitt: Yes and yes. After winning a critical series against Vanderbilt, Auburn is in pretty good shape to finish in the top eight in the SEC. If the Tigers can do that, they'll make a regional. Tulane needs to rebound from a terrible CUSA-opening series loss at home against a down Houston club, but there's no reason the Green Wave can't still finish in the top four of CUSA, which should be enough to make regionals.

Aaron Fitt: I've got time for a couple more.

 Q:  Chad from salt lake city, utah asks:
With the MWC having 3 teams in the top 25 TCU, New Mexico, and San Diego State can they really play with the baseball powers and could this conference be capable of becoming one of the college baseball powers?

Aaron Fitt: I think the jury's still out on the Mountain West. Clearly, the league is much improved, but New Mexico and San Diego State have yet to prove themselves as programs. You've got to believe TCU will be their, as they usually are. I believe Ray Birmingham will get the most out of his talent and that New Mexico will be a factor at the national level for years to come — that guy is really good.

 Q:  Phil from Chandler, AZ asks:
Instead of a previous CWS teams with recent dominating offenses (Pedroia/Larish/Ethier/Buck and Wallace/Davis/Paramore), it seems that Arizona State is using a nasty 1-2 pitching combination of Leake and Spence to go deep into games with some decent arms in the bullpen. I know that you were down on ASU to start the season, how do you feel about Arizona State's chances this season?

Aaron Fitt: I don't know if it's fair to say we were down on ASU to start the year. We ranked the Sun Devils 13th, which means we thought they were a super regional team with a chance to go to Omaha. Given how many new, unproven players were in the lineup, I think that was a pretty aggressive ranking of ASU. But to answer your question, I think Arizona State has a pretty good formula right now. Of course, remember that the 2007 CWS team had a pair of 13-game winners in Leake and another crafty lefty named Josh Satow. Spence is better than Satow, but the staffs are constructed similarly, and the '07 team had a better offense.

 Q:  Marvin from Tempe asks:
What do you expect from the Sundevils and Titans in Tempe this week? Will it be as meaningless as the Aggies and Titans a few weeks ago; no ranking changes, regardless?

Aaron Fitt: Two games against the same opponent can tell you more than just one game — anything can happen in one midweek game when a team probably does not have its best pitchers going. Two midweek games, though, tell you more about a team's depth. You're saying the A&M/Fullerton game was "meaningless" in the rankings because we kept A&M ahead of Fullerton, but you neglect to mention that A&M won a series against a top five opponent that weekend. That simply speaks louder than one midweek game. But that does not mean all midweek games are irrelevant in our rankings. Anyway, if either the Titans or Sun Devils sweep this two-game midweek series, that team will be established as the top team out West. A split won't tell us much.

 Q:  Pete from South Orange NJ asks:
Aaron, Your thoughts on Seton Hall's back to back winning weekend series against ND & Lousville and how do you think they'll do in the Big East this year ?

Aaron Fitt: Let's finish up with a Big East question. Winning back-to-back series against the two Big East favorites puts Seton Hall in the driver's seat going forward, and the Pirates could have swept Louisville this weekend had they found a way to win that 17-inning game Saturday. I don't think SHU's talent is great, and I suspect Louisville, St. John's and South Florida will finish ahead of the Pirates in the standings, but give credit where it's due. At the very least, Seton Hall showed it will be a factor this year in the Big East.

Aaron Fitt: That's all for today. Thanks for all the great questions, and see you next week.