Top 25 Chat With Aaron Fitt

 Q:  Tim from Pittsburgh, Pa asks:
Scott Bittle (Ole Miss) did it again this weekend. He is definitely making a HUGE case to be a first-team all-american and may be the nation's #2 pitcher behind Strasburg. Your thoughts?

Aaron Fitt: Hello everyone, sorry for the slight delay. Bittle has been outstanding, but can you really leap him over Mike Leake, Josh Spence and A.J. Morris? Check out their numbers — pretty otherworldly. Kyle Gibson's got to be in the mix somewhere, too.

 Q:  drew from new orleans asks:
What are the chances for the Green Wave to reach the post season? It looks pretty dim right now. How many bids will CUSA get this year?

Aaron Fitt: It's still early enough that Tulane could get hot and earn an at-large bid, but it sure doesn't look too likely, and I'll be leaving the Green Wave out of my regional projection that will be posted tomorrow. At this point, Tulane's best bet might be to run through the CUSA tournament. CUSA is looking an awful lot like a three-bid league right now...

 Q:  Doug from Fountain Valley asks:
Hi Aaron, At this point how many teams from the SEC and the Pac 10 get to the post season field of 64?

Aaron Fitt: I think either Stanford or USC will emerge as a third team from the Pac-10, but at this point it's hard to see that league getting more than three, which is pretty shocking. I think the SEC gets eight this year.

 Q:  Phil from Saline, MI asks:
Seems like Chris Fetter has been on the Michigan roster for the last decade. I don't believe he has ever been drafted despite his solid stats and physical stature. Is he a take it or leave it senior sign in June or is there any real interest in him as a pro prospect?

Aaron Fitt: You're right, he's never been drafted, but I know some guys liked him last year. He is an actual prospect as a senior sign - I got a report last week that his velocity has climbed back up into the 89-91 range, and he's got a very advanced feel for pitching. One scout I've talked to compared him to Andy Sonnanstine because of the way he varies his arm angles and commands his stuff. He's a wonderful college pitcher who's also got a real chance in pro ball.

 Q:  David from Austin, TX asks:
If AJ Morris threw a Change UP or at least had a 3rd pitch, would he be in consideration of the first round?

Aaron Fitt: He did flash a changeup last summer in the WCL, but it sounds like it's been mostly fastball-slider this year. With an improved change, I think your statement is probably correct. Amazingly, a number of scouts still seem to view him as an arm strength guy who's still more of a thrower than a pitcher. But the guy's 9-0 with an ERA around 1 — he's got to be winning people over at this point. I'm actually surprised he hasn't generated more of a draft buzz in the scouting community. We'll see if it picks up as June approaches.

 Q:  Robert Stock from Southern California asks:
Am I a pitcher or a catcher? Have you seen my changeup?

Aaron Fitt: I have not personally seen Stock's changeup, but I am officially ready to pronounce this: you are a pitcher.

 Q:  Brian from Arkansas asks:
How much stock do you put into mid week games? For instance ASU vs. Ark last week....Ark won two, but if they played on the weekend I would take ASU 2 out of 3 everytime. Do you agree? On a side note I do believe the mid week games show depth, which is important.

Aaron Fitt: Yeah, I think you're right — Arkansas doesn't have any arms to match up with Leake and Spence. And you're right that depth does matter. If one team sweeps another team in two midweek games, I think that is significant. More significant than one midweek win, though not as significant as a weekend series. That's pretty obvious, but still worth saying, I think.

 Q:  Nick from Dallas, TX asks:
How far do you think TCU can go in the NCAA tournament this year? Do they have what it takes to potentially get to Omaha.

Aaron Fitt: I think TCU is a very strong Omaha sleeper. Deep, versatile pitching staff and a solid, experienced lineup. Assuming Ben Carruthers can continue to hold down shortstop, I really like that team's chances of making a postseason splash. He's probably their key player — he's stabilized the middle infield since swapping places with Taylor Featherston. I still think Featherston will be a quality college shortstop, but probably not this year. He's just a lot more confident at second base right now.

 Q:  Joe from Chantilly, Va asks:
Any consideration for Geroge Mason? The lead the nation in wins last I checked, including a sweep of UNC Wilmington. What do their chances of making a run in the tournament look like?

Aaron Fitt: Yeah, Mason was in the mix, and if they had closed out that sweep against Towson, they might have gotten that last spot. Same goes for Kent State against Toledo. When you're playing that kind of competition, you really do have to sweep to make a splash. I think Mason is physical enough to mash its way to a win or two in a regional, but I don't think it has the arms to win a regional.

 Q:  Peedee the Pirate from Middle of the Atlantic asks:
How bad did my Pirates hurt themselves after the 1 and 4 week? They need to beat UNC Wilmington and couldn't close the door on Friday night vs. Rice. What are your thoughts?

Aaron Fitt: Pretty bad week. I think ECU's bats were exposed a bit: they can really punish middling college pitching, but they might not have enough firepower to beat the top college arms. The fact that ECU's bats were really silenced in four of their five games this week is pretty disconcerting, because they were supposed to be able to at least count on their bats, even if there were pitching questions. I think ECU's chances to host a regional took a major hit last week.

 Q:  Drew from Yorba Linda asks:
What are your thoughts on Cal State Fullerton's young pitching staff and the success they are having?

Aaron Fitt: I love the weekend rotation — all three of those guys can really locate with three-pitch mixes, and they're all very composed. There's no reason Fullerton's young staff can't sustain its success. But Michael Morrison's bout of wildness Friday night was a bit of a concern. They need him to be a dependable rock at the back of the bullpen. That is one thing that could really come back to haunt the Titans. Great starting pitching is great, but you've got to be able to close games out.

 Q:  Jon from Lexington asks:
What does UK have to do to have a realistic shot at the tournament?

Aaron Fitt: Correction on that last answer: I meant Morrison's meltdown on Thursday. As for Kentucky, boy, it looks bleak at 4-11 in the conference and 18-16 overall. First off, the Wildcats have to find a way to make the conference tournament. That's going to require a serious hot streak over the final five weeks. Fortunately, Mississippi State and Tennessee are still to come on the schedule, but neither of those series are gimmes. They are very winnable, however.

 Q:  Eric from Huntington Beach, CA asks:
The hammer has finally come down on UCLA. And does the pac 10 realize they might only get 3 bids (OSU, ASU and one other)? They might have to their bids to the Big west, WCC, And WAC. Do you see this happening or just because it is the pac 10 they will get 4 or 5 bids?

Aaron Fitt: Yup, you can bury UCLA — their regional chances are shot. I suspect the Pac-10 will get no more than three bids, and the Big West and MWC are most likely to benefit. Big West could be a five-bid league, MWC could get three. Maybe the WCC has a shot at three also, and the WAC could get two if Hawaii finishes second in the league — they're on track to get an at-large bid anyway.

 Q:  Trey from Greenville, NC asks:
Do you take ECU's rough week as a subject of a possible let down the rest of the season or just some tough competition? Besides the game in Wilmington, ECU has been winning or was in a position to win the other 4.

Aaron Fitt: I was in Chapel Hill last week, and ECU was never in position to win that game, I'll tell you. Those bats were just plain shut down. I still think ECU's better than most of the rest of the conference, but that series against Southern Miss in two weeks will be critical. Don't sleep on Tulane this weekend either — the Green Wave is absolutely good enough to win that series this weekend at Turchin, which could send the Pirates into a tailspin. They need to refocus in a hurry.

 Q:  Bryan from San Francisco asks:
I hate to be one of those guys, buuuuuuuut...I gotta ask, when you were naming your mid-season awards did you even consider Troy Channing at St. Mary's for freshman of the year? He's hitting over .400 with 15 bombs. Seems worthy of some recognition.

Aaron Fitt: He got plenty of consideration and was on our midseason all-freshman team that we never wound up releasing. Channing is right there with Rendon and had a fine case to be top offensive freshman at the midway point. Pretty amazing half season. Just give Rendon the edge for being the best hitter on the nation's No. 2 team, which has relied on its offense more than its pitching. He's had a huge impact for a potential CWS team.

 Q:  Mack from LA asks:
I saw that Pepperdine's Cole Cook was named WCC Pitcher of the Month. He's listed as a redshirt freshman, his opponents have a .163 BA against him and he's 5-2 - those are some good numbers. What do you know about him?

Aaron Fitt: He's a very intriguing prospect, a true power arm with a huge pro body. He touched 92 in high school and has always been a guy with loads of projection. Not surprised at all to see him clicking like he has — he's got big-time potential.

 Q:  Andy from Baton Rouge, LA asks:
If this weekend is any indication, Blake Dean may be getting back on track at the plate. But how do you think his early season struggles have affected his draft stock?

Aaron Fitt: Scouts were really scratching their heads watching him earlier this season — he just looked lost. But I don't think too many people really jumped off the Dean bandwagon — they were just waiting for his inevitable hot streak. The fact that he's such a streak hitter can be a good thing and a bad thing for his stock. The larger issue is what it always has been with him: his defense is a liability, and if he's a DH or even a left fielder in pro ball, he's going to have to hit a ton. He's a very talented hitter, but that's a tough profile.

 Q:  warren from gulfport, ms asks:
What do you think happened to Arkansas this weekend against Vandy, was Vandy's pitching that strong or was it just one of those weekends in the SEC for Arkansas' bats?

Aaron Fitt: Minor and Cotham are legit — they can shut down any offense in the country on any given day. We all know about Minor, and Cotham is 90-93 with a good breaking ball and good changeup. I think Vandy is just hitting its stride right now and will be much better in the second half than it was in the first half. Arkansas will be fine, but it doesn't have that kind of pitching to match up with those guys. I like Dallas Keuchel, but the rest of that stuff is a great big question mark. It certainly doesn't look like TJ Forrest is the answer on Saturdays. I think pretty soon we'll see what Brett Eibner can do in the weekend rotation — at least he's got a big power arm.

 Q:  Jo Bob from Arkansas asks:
Any chance of Arkansas rebounding after a tough home series loss? Do you see them hosting a super regional?

Aaron Fitt: Put it this way: Arkansas drew 20,000-plus fans for two midweek games against Arizona State. I have a feeling they'll be hosting a super regional, if they can get that far. As for rebounding, next weekend could be tough for those guys at Georgia (I'd probably take UGa. to win two out of three), but Arkansas has proven resilient this season. That's a team that finds ways to win, even when it's not always pretty. But eventually, winning that way tends to catch up with teams that lack reliable pitching, no matter how tough and well-coached they are. Don't get me wrong: Arkansas has a talented, physical, athletic, powerful lineup and a good defense. There's a lot to like there. But if there's one thing we've learned in the last week or two, it's that teams with true quality arms can beat teams with good offenses but suspect pitching (see ECU, Alabama, Arkansas).

 Q:  James from Norfolk asks:
Devin Harris is having a great season for East Carolina. As a redshirt soph., will he be drafted this season and if so, what round?

Aaron Fitt: Lot of interest in the Pirates today! Harris has big-time tools: 60 major league raw power (at least), 60 arm, 60 speed. There were a lot of questions about his bat coming into the year, but it's pretty impressive the way he has hit. He'll be drafted pretty high, I think. He still swings and misses a lot and needs to fine-tune his all-around game, which will keep him from being an elite draft. But I bet he goes in the top three to five rounds.

 Q:  Steven from Chapel Hill, NC asks:
I know that Dustin Ackley gets all of the press, but where do you see Kyle Seager going in the draft? He seems to profile as an offensive-minded 2B in pro ball and all the kid does is hit. He's actually hitting 13 pts better than Ackley without the protection in the lineup that Ackley has. Interested to hear your thoughts.

Aaron Fitt: I've always loved Seager's pro profile, as an offense-oriented second baseman — you're exactly right. Honestly, he profiles more easily than Ackley, who has yet to prove he can play the outfield and doesn't profile well as a first baseman. I've got Seager pegged as a second-rounder in a draft thin on middle infielders.

 Q:  mike from easley, sc asks:
Arkansas moves up a notch????

Aaron Fitt: It's a 2-2 week that is better than Miami's 2-2 week (Arkansas did still win two games against the No. 1 team in the country), and Arkanas is still atop the SEC West, so yes, we slide them up a spot.

 Q:  Jim Bob from SE Des Moines asks:
FSU has done pretty well for themselves, considering their youth; most of their regulars are in the sophomore and freshman class. A team to fear in 2010, I would speculate. Do they have any shot at hosting a regional this year? They have good series wins against UNC, Clemson, and Auburn, and have the weak part of their schedule forthcoming.

Aaron Fitt: You nailed it. FSU weathered the tough part of their schedule well. If they can go 7-2 or 8-1 over the next three weeks against teams near the bottom of the ACC, they really could find themselves in position to host again. The Seminoles are very quietly putting together a solid season, though not without its ups and downs.

 Q:  Bob from Greenville, SC asks:
How close is Clemson to getting back in the top 25? What about their chances for hosting a regional? Thanks for the chat!!

Aaron Fitt: Very close, but it's tough to separate those three ACC Atlantic Division teams (Clemson, BC and FSU), because they've all beaten each other and lost to each other. We just decided to wait another week before ranking any of them. Clemson is 15th in the RPI right now, so they're very much still in the mix to host. The thing that hurts them is UNC, Miami, Georgia Tech and Virginia are all a bit ahead of them in the pecking order right now, and there's no way the ACC gets more than four host sites. That's the same thing that hurts Florida State's chances. Like FSU, Virginia is through the worst part of its schedule and could go on a late-season run to lock up a regional hosting slot. And it's hard to see UNC, Miami or Tech not hosting right now, unless one of them goes into a tailspin. I don't see it.

 Q:  Shane from Miami asks:
Aaron, are you surprised at all at USC's average performance thus far? I know Grant Green is starting to find his stroke, but do you think his stock has dropped?

Aaron Fitt: I think it's dropped just a bit. He's still a top-10 overall pick, but probably not the consensus No. 1 hitter on the board like he was heading into the season.

 Q:  Lionel from Nashville asks:
Auburn is on pace to shatter the school record for homeruns in a season, but their pitching has precluded them from having a great season. Do you think the pitching staff will be able to develop any kind of consistency such that we can make it to and do damage in the SEC/NCAA tourney?

Aaron Fitt: People I've talked to who have seen Auburn say it's a very good, physical lineup, but the pitching probably is not good enough to make a serious postseason run.

 Q:  Keith from Morgantown,WV asks:
Hey Aaron...can you please explain to me why WVU is getting no love from B.A.?? If Notre Dame or St.John's had WVU's conference and nonconference record (2-0 against SEC to highlight)...they'd easily be in the Top 25. I know you'll tell me about how you don't think they have enough pitching..blah blah blah. But they bottom line is that they're 10-2 in the Big East and have 26 wins etc. Can't wait to hear your thoughts!!!

Aaron Fitt: We've been monitoring West Virginia, waiting for them to get a series win against a quality opponent, and they finally did it this weekend, taking two of three from St. John's. But that's the first regional contender they've beaten this year, and St. John's is really a fringe contender, at best. Great weekend for the Mountaineers, and they're much closer to the top 25 now. That's an awfully good offense, that's for sure.

Aaron Fitt: Lots of great questions still in the queue, but I'm out of time for this week. Thanks everyone — stop by tomorrow for updated regional projections. See you here on the chat again next week.