College Top 25 Chat With Aaron Fitt

Moderator: Aaron Fitt will chat about everything in college baseball at 2:30 p.m. ET.

 Q:  Wayne from New Jersey asks:
In 2006 the bottom four ACC teams won 27 games, 2007 31, 2008 34. It's now halfway through 2009 and they've won 20. Is the ACC now more competitive, or is the ACC elite losing top recruits to other conferences? Thanks!

Aaron Fitt: Good afternoon all, and I apologize for the slightly late start. John and I talked about this on the podcast today: I think the ACC is unquestionably more competitive top to bottom than it has been in recent years. Duke and BC, in particular, are much-improved, and Virginia Tech and NC State are both talented enough to win series, though neither looks like a regional team right now. Maryland is the only team left in the league that just looks a cut below everybody else.

 Q:  Umar from Irvine, CA asks:
Mr.Fitt, show some love for the the Anteaters in this chat. What really impressed you about them? Is Danny Bibona the college version of Greg Maddux?

Aaron Fitt: The Anteaters won a road series against their biggest rival, and that rival had also been playing better than any team in the country. I continue to be impressed with the weekend rotation — Bibona, Bergman and Slaught can all really locate and mix pitches. They're swinging the bats well enough to win, they're experienced and poised, and a good defensive unit. That's a very good club.

 Q:  Ernie from Lawrence, Kansas asks:
Aaron, Did Kansas St. get any consideration after their weekend sweep of Nebraska and what round do you see AJ Morris going in the draft ?

Aaron Fitt: We did talk about Kansas State today, but ended up deciding to wait to see if the Wildcats can string together multiple series wins, since they're coming off back-to-back series losses the last two weeks before this week. Morris has definitely impressed, and I think you'd have to name him Big 12 pitcher of the year to this point. He's a legitimate prospect, and I think he could go in the top two or three rounds.

 Q:  Anthony from IL asks:
Back again Aaron. Panthers taking 2/2 (Sunday rain out) aganist Murray St. in the OVC. They are now 21-5 with a 7-0 confrence record. Put up massive runs, with great pitching. Saw the write up on Nommensen, good stuff. Top 25 comign anytime soon? They have all the talent in the world to beat anyone at anytime.

Aaron Fitt: Eastern Illinois has put itself on the radar and earned a spot on our internal top 25 worksheet, but the resume just doesn't have enough quality wins against regional-caliber clubs to merit a spot in the top 25. Wins against Oklahoma, Bethune-Cookman and South Florida are nice, but that's it, really. I definitely think the Panthers are the best team in the OVC, though.

 Q:  Justin from Fort Smith, AR asks:
Still not sure why you guys are keeping the Razorbacks out of the top 10 or even top 5. Really?! They have the best record in the SEC right now 10-2 compared to LSU and Georgia, who you have ranked in the top 10. Please explain...

Aaron Fitt: The teams ahead of Arkansas keep winning games. Even Georgia, which lost a series to LSU this weekend, still went 3-2, earning two quality wins against a good Clemson team. We weren't going to hammer the Bulldogs after that week. Arkansas deserves to be in the top 10 based on what it has done this season, but so do the teams ahead of it. And at the end of the day, as much as I like Arkansas (I'll remind you that we were just about the only outlet to rank the Hogs in the preseason), I still think LSU and Georgia will finish better in the end. Both those teams are more secure on the mound.

 Q:  Jeff from Los Angeles, CA asks:
Cal State Fullerton was obviously going to fall in the rankings after a 3 loss week. Despite that, would they still be the #1 overall seed if you were projecting the tournament right now? Does anyone actually have a better resume to date for the season? The Titans are still #1 in the RPI by a very large margin because of the schedule. It looks like they have played 13 games (out of 27) against teams currently ranked in BA's Top 20.

Aaron Fitt: The Titans would certainly still be in that discussion. The only thing that might stop them from being the No. 1 overall seed is the two series losses, whereas Arizona State and UC Irvine haven't lost any. But... in my upcoming midseason field of 64 projection, I'm leaning toward the Titans as the No. 1 seed.

 Q:  Kevin from Los Angeles, CA asks:
Hey Aaron, love the weekly chats. My question to you, at one point in the season Pepperdine was ranked #12 in the nation. After a terrible losing skid the past and a half (7 in a row)and an even worse RPI ranking, do they have any chance of still making a regional? or are the Waves looking to watch the postseason from home this year?

Aaron Fitt: The Waves rank 151st in the RPI, which is definitely not a good thing for their at-large hopes. At this point, the WCC looks more like a two-bid league, with San Diego and Gonzaga as the front-runners for those bids, and LMU in the mix also. I do believe Pepperdine is talented enough to make a run, but there's no time to lose. The Waves have to finish very, very strong to make up for that lousy RPI.

 Q:  Tim from Pittsburgh, Pa asks:
Do you think Scott Bittle (Ole Miss) has established himself as a sure-fire first round draft pick this June? If so, what do you think he will be difficult to sign?Opponents are hitting .152 against him and his numbers stack up pretty nicely with Tim Lincecum's numbers from his days at Washington.

Aaron Fitt: I don't think he's a sure-fire first-round pick, because the one knock against him that existed last year is still there: his fastball is fringy. But I do think he'll repeat as a second-rounder, because his cutter and changeup are legit plus pitches. He's incredibly dominant at the collegiate level, and I think he's got a chance to be a good big leaguer, too.

 Q:  Alex from Concord asks:
Another big week in the books for the ECU Pirates. They went 5-0, including 4 wins on the road with one being at rival NC State (14-4 beat down) and a road sweep of CUSA foe UAB. What are you expecting from the Pirates this week with road games at UNC-CH and UNC-Wilmington plus a home series against Rice. Pirates need to take 2 from Rice and a win over UNC-CH would help the resume come hosting time. Pirates need a 3-2 week, a 4-1 week would be money!

Aaron Fitt: Here's the thing: ECU's lineup is absolutely loaded, but more importantly those guys are completely locked in right now. When a talented offense is riding a hot streak like this, look out. I fully expect ECU to win at least three games this week, and 4-1 is very realistic, I think. I saw the Pirates bludgeon NC State last week, and I'll tell you, that's the best lineup I've seen all year, even including Rice and LSU. Of course, the important thing is who will be playing the best come tournament time? If the Pirates' bats can get hot like this in June, they'll be in Omaha.

 Q:  Keith from Morgantown, WV asks:
Hey Aaron...thanks for the chat once again!! So when are my Mountaineers going to start getting some love?? While they have yet to play St. Johns, USF, or Notre Dame (who's highly overrated by your publication)...they still have posted an 8-1 clip in Big East play and probably have one of the top 10 offenses in the country. Can you discuss their postseason chances and some of their possible prospects for the draft?? Thanks.

Aaron Fitt: West Virginia's got some serious firepower. Like East Carolina, the Mountaineers have some experienced veterans who just really mash. It was good to see Joe Agreste get going this weekend — if he keeps swinging it like he's capable, that makes that lineup even better. It's the best offense in the Big East (which is saying something because Louisville and Cincinnati both have very good lineups too), but I still worry if West Virginia has enough pitching to hold on once the meat of the conference schedule hits. My gut says no. This is a very competitive league this year, with WVU, South Florida, Louisville, Notre Dame, St. John's and Seton Hall all looking capable of making a run. I have a feeling those teams are all going to beat up each other and hurt the Big East's chances to get more than two regional bids.

 Q:  Marc from Austin, Tx asks:
Texas had a solid 3-1 week vs Oral Roberts and @ OK State, how far off are the Horns in the Regional/Super Regional discussion? RPI bumped up a bit to #17 ... if we finish strong is a Top 8 still an achievable goal?

Aaron Fitt: I think that's still reasonable. Put it this way: if Texas acquits itself well over the last four weeks against Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor and Texas A&M, that RPI will take care of itself.

 Q:  Donnell Johnson from New Orleans LA asks:
How can Arizona St leapfrog LSU, when LSU BEAT a team that was ranked in the 5 in almost every poll on the road 2 out of 3 games, and ASU beat a Washington team no one really knows about. Just kind of strange to me. But ASU will not be there to long when ARKANSAS beats them twice at Baum Staduim.

Aaron Fitt: This was one of those instances when the midweek action was a tie-breaker. As impressive as LSU's weekend was, the Tigers still had just a 2-2 week after losing to Tulane. The Sun Devils had a 4-1 week, winning a conference road series and splitting two against the No. 1 team (Fullerton). It could have gone either way, but we went with ASU.

 Q:  Omaha SunDevil from Omaha asks:
Yay! ASU No1!! I don't think ASU deserves it thou. They haven't played many road games yet. They still have to play the Pac10s top teams. This weeks two game series with Arkansas will say a lot about them. How do you see the pitching stacking up? Is the offense ever going to come around?

Aaron Fitt: ASU's offense is never going to be as good as it was the last couple of years, so if you're comparing this unit to last year's, you need a new measuring stick. This is a solid college offense, and that's what it will be going forward. The Sun Devils are going to win more games with their pitching than their bats. But I think the offense is good enough to take that team pretty far when they've got Mike Leake and Josh Spence dominating the way they have.

 Q:  Don Williams from Texarkana, Texas asks:
With Rice missing two of their top three arms and still winning is this an indicator of their depth and what are your thoughts on the 2009 Owls at this point in their season.

Aaron Fitt: Mostly, I think it's an indication of the quality of that offense, which I think is one of the two or three best in the nation. I still don't think Rice is terribly deep on the mound, though Jared Rogers was much better this week than he was a year ago. Fact is, no matter how good this offense is, Rice won't go far in the postseason without Berry and Ojala. Fortunately, it sounds like both will be back for the stretch run, and Ojala maybe as soon as this week.

 Q:  Robert from Houston, Texas asks:
What do you make of such a strong Big 12 conference struggling across the board the way they are?

Aaron Fitt: How, exactly, is the Big 12 struggling across the board? Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas have all earned their top 12 rankings — those teams have been very consistent, for the most part. Texas A&M hasn't been a No. 1-caliber team, but is still a top 20 club easily, and Kansas State and Kansas have been even better than expected. Oklahoma State is about what we thought it was — a middle of the pack team in this loaded league — and Nebraska and Texas Tech are very competitive. Only Missouri has been really disappointing, and the Tigers have at least shown flashes of promise. The Big 12 is the best league in the country this year, and I think the results bear that out.

 Q:  Matt from Hattiesburg asks:
If you ask Corky Palmer, he will tell you that he believes Brian Dozier and James Ewing is the best middle infield combo in the country. With 35 double plays turned so far this season, which is 2nd in the country, where would you put Dozier and Ewing as far as middle infielders go. Also, do you see C-USA still getting four bids, or has it become a 3 bid league this season? Thanks.

Aaron Fitt: That's a really good combo, for sure. Those guys are slick defensively and both are very capable with the bat, too. I don't think it's better than Schimpf and LeMahieu at LSU or Wilson-Rutledge at Alabama (though the USM guys have had better seasons), but it's definitely up there. I really like Brock Holt-Rick Hague at Rice, too.

 Q:  Red from New Orleans La asks:
Louis Coleman had a good but not great outing on Sunday against Georigia.Do you belive him throwing 24 pitches on friday had an effect on his sunday start?

Aaron Fitt: He went 8 innings against a very good team — I don't think there's anything to worry about, there.

 Q:  Big Steve from PA asks:
Looking inside some numbers using LSU and Kent State as examples, can you explain the fine line between being everyones perceived darling versus everyone's perceived doormat? Kent State(21-6) has 5 non-con losses against teams with a winning% above .500. LSU(23-8) has 4 non-con losses also against teams over .500. At this point, the 5 losses by the Flashes don't look that bad considering one was to Heckathorn in a one run game, one to Wright State, who also beat Georgia, one to a solid UNCW team, and a two-game split with PSU, who just handled Michigan this past weekend. Top 25 teams have sustained some pretty bad losses against teams they should have beaten so far this season, but it appears they don't get penalized as much as northern teams for it. Take a good look at the non-con wins for LSU. Pretty stellar, wouldn't you agree? The hot potato skin you dropped a few weeks ago has been cooling ever since. Maybe you guys will be able to pick it up again some time soon.

Aaron Fitt: There's nothing wrong with Kent State's losses. The trouble is, they lack quality wins. That's why, if you're Kent State and you play in the MAC, there is much less margin for error in nonconference games than there is for LSU, which plays in the SEC. So, LSU lost a series to Illinois. The Tigers quickly had opportunities to redeem themselves against top-notch competition like Mississippi and Georgia, not to mention talented teams like Kentucky and South Carolina. And LSU has won all four of those series. Kent State, on the other hand, swept Northern Illinois and took two of three against Ball State over the last two weeks. Sorry, that just doesn't show me as much. The Flashes are still on our radar and were probably just a couple of teams back from the top 25 this week, but they'll have to keep winning to break back into the rankings, and they're going to be penalized for losses. That's just life in the MAC. You've got to make the most of your opportunities against quality teams, because that's your only chance to show how you stack up on a national level. LSU and its ilk get that chance every week.

 Q:  Dale from Fayetteville, AR asks:
Hey Aaron, what are your thoughts on the Arizona State/Arkansas series on Tuesday and Wednesday?

Aaron Fitt: If Seth Blair can replicate last week's outing at home against Fullerton this week in a hostile environment, I think it will be a split. Otherwise I think Arkansas slugs its way to two wins.

 Q:  Todd from Tallahassee asks:
How far do you see Miami going this year?

Aaron Fitt: A regional final, or maybe a super regional. Not Omaha.

 Q:  Justin from Nor Cal asks:
Is the Big West more equally than expected this year? Fullerton, last week's #1, is now 3-3 in conference. UOP, who is normally at the bottom of the conference, is 4-2. Long Beach seemed to be rebuilding but they've won 7 of their last 8 and is 2-1 in conference. Santa Barbara and Cal Poly are each 3-3. And a very good Riverside team is 2-4. Are Irvine, Fullerton, Santa Barbara, and Cal Poly really that much better than everyone else? Could you see UOP, Long Beach, or Riverside sneaking into a regional?

Aaron Fitt: Riverside, yes. Pacific and Long Beach, no. I just don't think their nonconference resumes are going to get it done.

 Q:  Jeramey from Statesboro asks:
After Elon put a thumping on Georgia Southern last weekend, the Eagles respond with a sweep of CofC, which is huge. Is the So Con even more cloudy now? Who do you think wins the title and gets automatic bid? thanks

Aaron Fitt: Cloudier than ever is right. Those top five teams (Elon, CofC, Georgia Southern, Western Carolin and The Citadel) are all pretty close to me — they're all very offensive clubs with major pitching questions. I'll stick with preseason pick Elon to win the league, but it's a crapshoot.

 Q:  Blackie from Cincinnati, OH asks:
Hi Aaron. The post-Strasburg college pitching will no doubt be a letdown for hyperbole, but there seems to be some depth in terms of sophomore and frosh arms. Matt Harvey and Kyle Blair are currently tipped as promising for 2010, and young guys like Anthony Ranaudo and Danny Hultzen have been consistently good. Any other less obvious guys you think may break out? Austin Ross? Ryan Carpenter?

Aaron Fitt: Carpenter's a good one, and staying in the WCC I'm very high on several of Pepperdine's young arms (Aaron Gates, Cole Cook, Scott Alexander, Tyler Hess). I got another look at Louisville's Tony Zych on ESPNU yesterday, and he's another very intriguing power arm. Watch for him to climb some charts in the next two years, too.

 Q:  Pete from Denver (CO) asks:
Rough year for the pac 10 outside of ASU and OSU. Do you see any team out of the middle of the pac 10 (UCLA, USC, Cal, Stanford or even WSU) making a push or only two teams making a regional? Also is Corvallis a host site in your opinion?

Aaron Fitt: I still think two out of the UCLA-Stanford-Cal group will make it. Certainly UCLA's chances took a major hit this weekend at Washington State, while Stanford improved its position up at Oregon. This league is very down this year, and I think four bids is the max it will get.

 Q:  Trevor from California asks:
What's your opinion on Hawai'i and how far can you see this team going this year?

Aaron Fitt: Solid club but doesn't blow me away. I still like Fresno in the WAC, but I think Hawaii has done enough now in nonconference play to earn an at-large regional bid. I don't see the Rainbows as a super regional type team.

 Q:  Jeff from Los Angeles, CA asks:
Has BA considered changing games against Top 25 to currently ranked instead previously ranked? I still can't fathom how UC Irvine, Baylor and Rice get credit for a win against a Top 25 team by beating UCLA (11-17) at the beginning of the year, but Cal State Fullerton does not get credit for games against San Diego State and TCU? Those are just a few examples, every team probably changes a little.

Aaron Fitt: Two things: (1) Our system is not flawless, but in general the record against top 25 teams at the time of the meeting gives you an idea which teams were playing well at the time of the meeting. (2) It's simply not practical to go back and look at every team's schedule every week and try to count up which teams they have played might have entered or dropped out of the rankings. We always try to look beyond the simple numbers though and do not use top 25 record as a crutch: we examine the actual opponents a team has played. For instance, Arkansas is 0-0 against the top 25, but the Hogs have played a very solid, challenging schedule against many quality opponents.

 Q:  tyler from tempe, az asks:
Carlos Ramirez—throwing out over 60% of base stealers, has 10 HR's, and managing a staff that's by far the best out here since Bannister and Bane......first round pick?

Aaron Fitt: No, he doesn't have first-round tools, but he is a real impact player at the college level and a potential top three-to-five-rounds pick.

 Q:  Jeramey from Statesboro asks:
Top 8 seeds if the season ended today ASU, LSU, Rice, UNC, Irivine, Fullerton, UGA, Texas. Is this pretty fair? how does yours look?

Aaron Fitt: You'll have to check my upcoming midseason field of 64 projections, but I'd say you're on the right track.

Aaron Fitt: That's all for now, folks. Thanks for stopping by, and see you next week.