College Top 25 Chat With Aaron Fitt

Moderator: Aaron Fitt will chat about the new College Top 25 rankings beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.

    Jake (Charlotte, NC): What do you think about the Clemson South Carolina series next weekend? After watching Clemson so far this year the line-up seems to be solid throughout.

Aaron Fitt: Hi everybody. I'm chatting from the lobby of my hotel here in St. Petersburg, so we're going to go fast and furious today — I've got to catch a flight in about an hour. That is going to be a heck of a series between two very evenly matched teams. South Carolina has plenty of good hitters, but you can't escape the fact that the Gamecocks are without their best overall player right now (Jackie Bradley Jr.). I'll make that the tie-breaker this weekend and take Clemson to win two out of three, but it really could go either way, just as this past weekend's ECU-South Carolina series could have.

    MJ (New York): Miami improved to 5-1, which is good, and seem to be scoring more runs than anyone thought they might at this point and Erickson and Hernandez are as good as advertised. But the day 3 starter, Jason Santana, struggled for the 2nd straight week and has given up 10 earned runs in only 8 1/3 innings. Is that day 3 starter cause for concern? Erickson and and Hernandez can't win every game.

Aaron Fitt: That is one of the most significant concerns about Miami. I suspect we'll see somebody like Jerad Grundy get a shot at that job at some point.

    J.Rice (Georgia): What is your prediction for the Keith Leclair Classic in ECU with West Virginia, Illinios, Western Carolina, and ECU? After 2 weeks are in the book who is your favorite in the SOCON? Elon, CoC, WCU, GSU, Citadel or other??? thanks

Aaron Fitt: I think ECU should go 3-0 this weekend. Illinois is a solid club though, and West Virginia has a good Friday guy (Jarryd Summers) and a couple of big bats in Gyorko and Buckner. WCU is off to a strong start as well — there are no pushovers in that event, but the Pirates are on a different level from those other teams, I think. As for the SoCon — your guess is as good as mine. John Manuel and I debated the SoCon at length in the preseason, and we came to different conclusions — he picked Elon, I picked CofC, with Georgia Southern right there as well. Certainly Western Carolina and The Citadel are also capable of winning that league; I wouldn't be surprised by any of those five. But today, I'll go with College of Charleston.

    Mike (Fresno, CA): How far is Fresno State out of the top 25 right now? They are 5-2 after winning 3/4 against Nebraska and after winning 2/3 at Washington. Are they top 30? Top 35? Fresno State, as you know, usually gets off to slow starts before they turn it on as the season progresses. They play a four game series against Oregon this weekend. Is it possible for them to jump into the top 25 with a series win? (I realize Oregon had a bad showing at Hawaii). Let me know....

Aaron Fitt: Fresno has definitely put itself in the discussion, but right now it's behind that group right outside the Top 25 (which includes Western Kentucky, New Mexico, Vanderbilt, Ohio State, Oklahoma). I would put St. John's, Alabama and Florida International in that next group with Alabama. As always, there are more teams that I like than we've got room for in the top 25...

    CD (Cols, Ohio): Aaron- After watching Ohio St. in person what did you think? Do you think Michael Stephens is a pro prospect?

Aaron Fitt: They're a very good college baseball team — physical, experienced, tough. Wimmers is a stud, obviously, and I like Wolosiansky and the freshman who threw yesterday, McKinney; both those guys are physical strike-throwers in the 87-90 range. They'll keep the Buckeyes in most games, and Ohio State's offense will win most of those games for it. Stephens is a heck of a college player, and he'll get a chance in pro ball, but I wouldn't call him a big-time prospect.

    Mike (Boston, MA): Despite Paxton's departure, the Cats rotation has been excellent thus far and the bats haven't even heated up yet. What has surprised the BA staff most about the team to earn the #23 spot?

Aaron Fitt: Two things have surprised me to varying degrees. I was surprised by the win against a Coastal Carolina team that I am extremely high on; and I've been surprised how little Kentucky seems to be distracted by the Paxton situation. I figured that would affect them at least a little bit, but so far they've been perfect. I'm not surprised by their strong pitching without Paxton — the three guys in that rotation are all legit. That rotation has a chance to be very special. John Manuel made a great point on today's podcast: Kentucky was expecting to lose Paxton last summer anyway, so they had already prepared for life without him. Now they're just back to where they probably should be anyway. Losing Paxton is not a crippling blow for them like losing Andy Oliver was for Oklahoma State in the 08 regionals. He was a sophomore ace that they were counting on, not a senior whose return was an unexpected bonus.

    Steve L. (Albany, OR): What do you think of the Arizona St. vs. Oregon St. matchup on Friday Night?

Aaron Fitt: Should be a dandy. I've been quite impressed with Oregon State so far. We wrote a lot about how important Greg Peavey's development would be for the Beavers, and it looks like he's really turning the corner. And Waldron has been very good on Fridays. Pat Casey told me today that the Beavers do plan to insert Sam Gaviglio back into the rotation when he fully works his way back from the hamstring issue he had, but I suspect it will still be Waldron this Friday. He and Blair will be a fun matchup, assuming Spence is still sidelined. But ASU is more dangerous offensively, and that's an offensive yard — favor the Sun Devils.

    Bob (Chicago, IL): Aaron, What are your thoughts on CCU this past week going 5-0 with 3 quality wins (UCI 2x and NCSt)?

Aaron Fitt: The big development there was Jimmy Birmingham's two strong starts. Everyone knows about Coastal's one-two punch with Wheeler and Meo, but the Chanticleers are showing they've got good depth, too.

    Ross (Houston, TX): How excited are you to watch the Astro's College Classic with three top ten teams, two great arms in Bettis and Tepesch? Also will you be there blogging?

Aaron Fitt: I will be there blogging and twittering (I guess I should say tweeting, but I feel silly typing that word), and I'm very excited. Houston has a big arm on Friday too — I've heard Michael Goodnight has been up to 94.

    Mark (Orlando): Is there any worry that Florida could fade throughout the season while depending on so many freshmen?

Aaron Fitt: On the contrary, I think Florida will get stronger over the course of the season as those freshmen gain experience. That team is so deep that none of the freshmen will be overburdened to the point of wearing out down the stretch. That team is insanely deep all over the diamond, and folks I spoke with this weekend who saw them last weekend raved about their arms, especially Brian Johnson.

    Derek (Los Angeles): UCLA is looking great, and I think at 19 they are very underrated with their pitching staff. What do you believe their chances are of making it to the CWS? Also do they have the best 3 weekend starters in college baseball?

Aaron Fitt: Let's break this down, UCLA's rotation vs. Texas' vs. San Diego's. Cole and Jungmann are a push on Fridays, with A.J. Griffin a bit behind. On Saturday, it's Bauer, Workman or Solis. I mean, take your pick there, but Bauer has actually had the most success in college, so let's give him a slight edge. On Sunday, it's Rasmussen, Dicharry/Green, or Kyle Blair. Rasmussen and Blair both need to throw more strikes, but both are capable of dominating. It's just really tough... but to answer your question, I think maybe the answer is UCLA. Texas goes deeper, though.

    Brendon (Sunnyvale, CA): Rough weekend for Stanford all around, but the one bright spot of the week might have been the 3 appearances by freshman Mark Appel...3 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R...any chance you think we could find him in the rotation if snodgress and mooneyham continue to struggle. And does UC Santa Barbara pose any threat to Stanford at home this weekend, or should we expect a Stanford bounce back?....Thanks

Aaron Fitt: Appel is a big-time prospect just like Snodgress and Mooneyham. If he gets results and they don't, I would be surprised to see him supplant one of them. The Gauchos have good pitching, but I do expect Stanford to bounce back at home.

    Harry (Jackson, MS): Will Ole Miss go to Omaha this year??

Aaron Fitt: No.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Aaron, thanks for the chat! Another great weekend of college ball, and in one of the most high-profile match-ups Gerrit Cole trumped Sonny Gray. After two extremely dominating starts could Cole, even as a sophomore, being emerging as the best pitcher in the land?

Aaron Fitt: I would not be at all surprised to see that happen this year. His stuff is just insane — it's better than Ranaudo's stuff or McGuire's stuff or Sale's stuff. he just hadn't shown the kind of polish and command that those other guys had, but it appears he's taking that leap forward this year.

    Joe LeCates (Easton, MD): Aaron, should we read much into Matt Harvey's great outing over the weekend (as it was against Maine)? Are people in Chapel Hill optimistic that this is the real Harvey showing up?

Aaron Fitt: Our reports say Harvey was outstanding — it wasn't just a matter of dominating a cold-weather team. He showed good command and threw quality strikes. Maybe he's turning the corner too.

    Jeff (Washington DC): If LSU and Virginia were playing this weekend in Omaha, best of 3 for the national title, your money would be on UVA? What if we knew LSU and Virginia will be playing in June in Omaha, best of 3 for the national title, today your money would be on UVA?

Aaron Fitt: My money would be on UVa., yes. Especially if Ranaudo's unavailable...

    Nick (Florida): Just wanted to get your thoughts on FIU??? A very explosive offense and early on seems to have very strong pitching as well. Has Turtle and the gang done it again???

Aaron Fitt: I think he has. We picked FIU as the Sun Belt favorite, and that was a very good series sweep this weekened against Oral Roberts. We'll have more on the Panthers in an upcoming Weekend Preview in the next couple of weeks.

    Carlos (San Diego, CA): It's was a choppy week for USD and normally I wouldn't be concerned but 1) their offense seems to be meager again and 2) their schedule only gets tougher. What do you think?

Aaron Fitt: USD's bats were quiet this weekend, but I don't think you've got much to worry about. You don't have to hit a ton when you've got one of the nation's best pitching staffs, but the Toreros will hit better than they did this weekend for sure.

    John (Michigan): Aaron, I noticed you really didn't mention anything about Michigan State. What type of team do they have, and what type of prospect is their Friday night starter AJ Achter/RHP? Thanks.

Aaron Fitt: Unforuntately, Michigan State was one of the few teams I did not get a chance to see this weekend. I'd say Achter fits into the 10th-15th-round range.

    JC (STL): What is your take on Bryce Bretz from Middle TN St? In a down year for impact type bats it appears he is almost a lock for a Top 15-20 pick. Is he a left fielder at the next level? Is he a fast mover? Or will there be a big learning curve due to the competition difference?

Aaron Fitt: I don't know about a lock for top 15 or 20, but he's got a pretty good chance to go in that range. I like him as a right fielder at the next level — he's got a big arm out there. I do think you'll see a learning curve with him in pro ball, though; he's got some things to work on with his approach. That said, he's a gifted natural hitter.

    Mike DiMartino (Newtown Ct): Aaron, have you ever seen a game with as many bloodlines as Saturdays Vandy vs USC game? (Vandy: Mike Yastrzemski, Regan Flaherty. USC: Jordan Hershiser, Cade Kreuter, Richard Stock, Adam Dedeaux.)

Aaron Fitt: Great call, Mike! That's pretty insane. And sitting on the bench you had Jack Armstrong and Shane Boras.

    David (Fort Worth): Even though its still early in the season, does TCU's road series win at Cal State Fullerton make them a viable choice to be a national seed come postseason play in spite of Fullerton struggles?

Aaron Fitt: I think it does, yes.

    JC (STL): Is TX going to hit enough to stay at or near the top all year? Their pitching is 2nd to none as we all know...but you have to score against top talent to win and get to Omaha.

Aaron Fitt: Yes, the Longhorns will hit enough. See last week's Weekend Preview for a scout's take on their team; he expressed no concerns about their bats, and I'm with him.

    mrbig (New Orleans): How concerned should Rice be that SS Rick Hague has 11 K and 1 BB in his first 31 plate appearances? How happy should they be that 3B Anthony Rendon has 11 BB and only 2 K in only 31 PA? Does Rice have anyone that will hit well enough in front of and behind Rendon so opposing teams are forced to throw him strikes? Thanks!

Aaron Fitt: Hague has gotten off to a slow start, but he's been through slumps before and come out on the other side, and he'll do that again. I think Rice would be happy if Rendon had a few less walks and a few more fat pitches to hit, but the guy gets on base at an impressive clip. Michael Fuda has gotten off to a great start in front of Rendon, but they do need Hague to bounce back. I think Steven Sultzbaugh will eventually provide some protection also. That lineup is good beyond Rendon; don't let the numbers fool you.

    JC (STL): What is your take on LeVon Washington? Most analyst have him in the Top 10-20 prospects but recently KLaw left him off the Top 50 on his list and in the comments he got questioned on it. He said his arm is a 20 and he couldn't possibly put him in the Top 50 with that. The guy can hit...and he has speed. Did he just come off an arm injury and he is still healing. Thoughts?

Aaron Fitt: I talked with more scouts this weekend who confirmed what we have heard about Washington: that he's down to a 60 runner after showing 80 speed once upon a time in high school. That is a bit of a concern, and so is the arm. He is by no means a lock for the top 50 picks, but that bat is very special, and there aren't a lot of great bats in this class, especially from the college ranks. I bet he goes safely inside the top 50, and quite possibly in the 20-30.

    Matt Holt (Atlanta): What are your thoughts on the Yellow Jackets so far? They dropped a game to a less than impressive Xavier team on Sunday but also did commit 4 errors in doing so.. Do you see them as an Omaha team this year?

Aaron Fitt: They certainly have Omaha caliber talent. The question is whether they will play up to their talent when it matters most in June. But on paper, there's no real weakness with that team, though there are a few defensive issues.

    Don (Scottsdale): How do you see the PAC-10 shaping up this year? Stanford fell flat on its face after last week's success, ASU and UCLA look all right (but probably have not been tested at all).

Aaron Fitt: ASU hasn't been tested at all, but UCLA has been. That's a quality week for the Bruins, going 3-0 against Long Beach, Vandy (and Sonny Gray) and USC. For now I'll stick with our preseason order of finish at the top of the Pac: ASU, UCLA, OSU, Stanford.

Aaron Fitt: Sorry to cut this short, but I've got a coke-related laptop mishap to attend to, and then I've got to catch a flight. See you all next week from Houston!