College Top 25 Chat: April 26

Aaron Fitt: Good afternoon, everybody. Let's talk about another fun week in college baseball.

    Arkham (Danville, PA): Hey, Aaron. Curious to know your prediction for this weekend's UCLA-ASU series. Maybe a day-by-day rundown per pitching matchup? As always, thanks for chatting.

Aaron Fitt: What a huge series that is — going to be a great matchup. I'm going to save my analysis for Thursday's Weekend Preview.

    allen (baltimore): it looks like this years draft is light on left handed pitching. any sleepers.

Aaron Fitt: I'd say it's pretty strong on lefthanded pitching at the top, thanks to Drew Pomeranz and Chris Sale. But after that, only two college lefties with a real chance to go in the top two rounds are San Diego's Sammy Solis and UCLA's Rob Rasmussen. If you want a sleeper, how about Daniel Bibona? College fans know all about this guy — he's a consummate winner for UC Irvine. He may not have huge stuff, but I'll bet he carves out a nice career for himself as a big league reliever in the Randy Flores mold.

    Todd (My mom's basement): FSU at 4? Is that a joke?

Aaron Fitt: What's so funny? The Seminoles are 3-1 against Florida and 11-5 vs. the Top 25 (granted, three of those are against Georgia, but even so, 8-5 against the Top 25 would be very solid).

    Mike (Austin): Why no love for TCU after their weekend sweep? That is their third straight sweep of the year. Also noticed they didn't move up last week either after going 4-0.

Aaron Fitt: This week they got jumped because they lost another midweek game to Oklahoma, and Coastal is red-hot right now and needed to be rewarded in the rankings. Last week there was simply no room to move up, because all five teams right in front of TCU won their series. But regular readers know how high I am on TCU. I think that's an Omaha team, provided they don't have to go through Austin to get there.

    Glenn Clarke (Laguna Niguel): The Titans are 12 of their last 14. Will their slow start preclude them from a top 8 seed come tournament time?

Aaron Fitt: Their slow start, coupled with the overall weakness of the Big West, is likely to prevent the Titans from getting a national seed.

    Frustrated Tiger (Clemson, SC): What is going on at Clemson? These guys could not win an inter-squade game right now. This is starting to look like the past few years but the same excuse (no experience) can't be used ever year...somehthing has to change!

Aaron Fitt: Things certainly seem to be snowballing for the Tigers. Talk about finding ways to lose — that Sunday game was gut-wrenching. (EDIT): Richie Shaffer made a bad freshman mistake on the basepaths with the bases loaded in the ninth, straying too far from first base, and UNC catcher Jacob Stallings made a heads-up play to pick him off. Obviously that's a huge win for the Tar Heels, but it's also a tough way to lose for Clemson. Now Clemson gets to try to end its slump against Chris Sale...

    Bryan (Topeka, KS): How poorly has Chad Bettis been handled this year by Texas Tech? He was a starter, then reliever, then starter, then reliever. Now he is in some sort of "flex" role. I saw him throw three innings in Lawrence on Sunday in the first game of a double header, then come back and throw four more in the second game! How has this affected his draft stock, and should the coaches be strung up? Thanks!

Aaron Fitt: The Red Raiders like using him in that flex role, and I don't think there's any problem with it. It gives him an opportunity to impact multiple games in key spots if needed early in a series, and if he doesn't get used up he can start later in the weekend - that's hardly unheard-of. It doesn't hurt his draft stock at all; in fact, it shows that his arm bounces back pretty well, which will be a valuable quality for a reliever in pro ball, which is how he profiles. Of course, pitching 3 2/3 innings on Sunday morning, then coming back and throwing 2 1/3 innings three hours later is a little bit different. That doesn't strike me as the best thing for his arm.

    Dave (San Diego): University of San Diego is playing some very good baseball right now. With the current hitting they are getting and their weekend rotation how far do you think they can go? Is a Super Regional thinking a little too much? Also, out of their great recruiting next year, baseballs version of the FAB 5 who do you think will end up on campus Wolters, Covey, Sweeney, Bryant or Littlewood. They all seem to be high draft possibilities.

Aaron Fitt: A super regional is certainly within reach if they keep pitching like they have. That staff is good enough to carry the Toreros a long way, and the bats have really come alive, too (how bout James Meador's big weekend?). As for the "Fab Five", I asked our high school gurus, Nathan Rode and Conor Glassey, and they both agree that the Toreros can expect two of those guys to show up on campus — likely Sweeney and either Bryant or Littlewood. Sounds like USD fans should not get their hopes up for Wolters or Covey...

    Craig (Newport RI): Aaron, Where do you see a couple of Big East players going in the draft, Mike Olt and Jedd Gyorko ? Thanks

Aaron Fitt: I'll say fourth round for Olt, second round for Gyorko. Gyorko's bat is safer, but Olt does have legit power, he plays a very good third base and he's a good athlete. Many scouts in the Northeast have problems with his swing, but there are enough tools to work with that somebody will take him in the top four rounds, maybe the top three.

    Dean (Portand, OR): How far off the top 25 is Portland? I know they havent beaten a ton of impressive teams but they seem close to worthy. They even have a few pro prospects...your thoughts?

Aaron Fitt: Portland has put itself in the Top 25 discussion, and I wrote about them in today's Three Strikes. But the nonconference schedule was very weak; the Pilots probably need to win that series against San Diego in two weeks to break into the Top 25. Solid club, though, especially on the mound.

    Travis (Florida): Which confrence is the strongest the ACC or SEC? Will either confrence get 3 national seeds?

Aaron Fitt: The SEC is stronger because it is deeper, and the teams at the top are generally comparable. I suppose if both Ga. Tech and FSU finish strong, the ACC could get three national seeds (it helps that UVa., GT and FSU are all finished playing each other), but I think the SEC getting three is more likely. If South Carolina continues playing well, its RPI will continue to climb, and right now Arkansas and Florida look like solid national seeds.

    Nick (Atlanta, GA): What do you think of Georgia Tech after this past weekend? I realize we had an awful weekend, but how come it doesn't seem like anyone is really considering us to be a contender to finish atop the ACC, despite the fact that we are still leading the conference?

Aaron Fitt: Who doesn't think Tech isn't a contender to win the ACC? Last I checked, the Jackets are still ranked No. 8 in the country. That's a good deal of respect, if you ask me.

    Zach (Seattle): Thanks for the insight every week into CBB. The Pac-10 has to be the toughest conference this year, everyone just keeps beating each other up. As for my beloved WSU Cougars, what are their chances of getting an at large bid this year? Where do they have to finish up in conference play/overall given the strength of the conference? Do you think the conference could get 7 bids? Thanks again.

Aaron Fitt: With series wins against Arizona State and Oregon State, Wazzu's case is starting to come together, but the Cougars are still just 5-7 in the league and 54th in the RPI, so there is work to do, and the remaining schedule is tough. But the good thing about a tough remaining schedule is the Cougars control their own destiny — there are plenty of opportunities to make statements. At the end of the day, I think the Pac-10 ends up producing six regional teams, with OSU and WSU competing for a possible seventh spot, depending on how the next few weeks go.

    Dave (Atlanta): Hi Aaron, I watched the matchup of the Tech's this past weekend, and the Hokies really seem to have pitching depth and hitting. Their LHP Wright looked really solid as the Friday starter, and their Offense is explosive. Do you see them making a deep run to Omaha?

Aaron Fitt: Virginia Tech would be an exciting Omaha sleeper, for sure. That team is very talented and experienced, and will be extremely dangerous in regionals.

    Fred (Houston): How does Ranaudo's and Pomeranz's poor outings in front of a large number of scouts hurt their draft stock? Are they still legitamite top 10 picks?

Aaron Fitt: There were all sorts of mitigating conditions there — both had gotten prepared to pitch Friday, then had to come back the next day and get ready to start again. The wind was gusting out to center, the strike zone was small (according to some reports). All in all, I don't think any club that liked Pomeranz and Ranaudo in the top 10 picks will change its mind based on Saturday.

    Jim (Pittsburgh): Still no love for the Panthers after a sweep at WVU?

Aaron Fitt: Pitt is not far out of the rankings — probably in that 26-28 range.

    Disappointed Pirate (Walking the Plank): A year after losing to UNC in a Super Regional, my ECU Pirates are in danger of not even making the tournament. I know they've had some players dismissed, but this is just flat out awful. We can't lose games to Campbell and NC State at home. What's going on in Greenville?

Aaron Fitt: The defense is absolutely abysmal, for starters. I'm ready to pronounce that the Pirates will not be in regionals unless they win the conference tournament — that 0-5 week killed their at-large chances. ECU is down to No. 82 in the RPI, and all of its remaining series are against teams with worse RPIs, so there will be no real opportunity for the Pirates to move up.

    dave (houston): even though Virginia is #1, i think Texas has to be considered the favorite right now for the crown. there pitching staff has been lights out and there actually hitting the ball. what say you?

Aaron Fitt: I agree. I thought Texas was the favorite in the preseason, when we ranked the Longhorns No. 1, and I have continued to think so all season. No team ever stays atop the rankings from wire-to-wire — you just can't run the table in college baseball — but weekly fluctuations in the rankings are not reflective of changes in my big-picture opinion. For instance, I still think Fullerton is an Omaha team, despite being ranked No. 13 and not in the top eight. That said, Virginia would be my second choice for a national title favorite, and the difference between those two teams is very small. I would absolutely love to see a best-of-three series between those two clubs — maybe in the CWS Finals?

    Ronny D (Irvine): Oregon Ducks quacking loud ! 3 series wins in a row (STANFORD,UCLA & USC) Good young players with great experinced coach. Do they have what it takes to fly all the way to Omaha?

Aaron Fitt: No. But they'll be in a regional, which is amazing in itself. A decade ago, if someone had told you Oregon would win series against college baseball royalty like Stanford and USC, plus a series against the No. 1 team in the nation in between, you'd never have believed it. Heck, you might not have believed it one year ago.

    Will (Alexandria, VA): Hey Aaron, thanks for taking the time to chat every week! How many teams from SC will make it to the postseason? Do you think any will actually make it to Omaha?

Aaron Fitt: Five: Coastal, South Carolina, Clemson, The Citadel and CofC. I think Coastal will be in Omaha, and I could certainly see South Carolina getting there with the right draw.

    George P. (Atlanta): Is the RPI broken? I assume Boyd's calculations are working properly, but how else to make sense out of how the teams are ranked mathematically.

Aaron Fitt: I've given up trying to figure it out. I'll say it: I hate the RPI.

    Nole Fan (Tallahassee): As a die hard Nole, it's definitely hard to ask this kind of question. When their bats are hot which is a lot of the time, they're almost impossible to beat, but they get in really big trouble when they play a team with good pitching. Do you think the Noles pitching staff is really strong enough to go to the big dance. It just seems like they may come up short in the pitching department to make it all the way. Your thoughts?

Aaron Fitt: It's a valid concern, to be sure, but it's nice to be able to build a staff around a solid ace (Gilmartin) and a reliable closer (McGee). In between, there are some decent pieces with Busch, Gast, Parker and others, but those guys certainly are beatable. They just need to keep Florida State in games and allow the offense to do the heavy lifting, and that's mostly the way the season has gone.

    Nik (Austin, TX): Hey Aaron, I've read a lot, and seen in person, just how down the Big 12 is this year and just how much a no-contest it is with the way Texas is playing. Just out of curiosity, I was wondering how well you thought Texas would fair in stronger conferences like the SEC, PAC 10, or ACC where the teams are much more well-rounded and consistently play at a high level? Do you think come post-season time Texas could match up well against other teams with stellar pitching like Virginia with Hultzen or UCLA with Cole, Bauer, and Klein?

Aaron Fitt: The Big 12 is down, no question. But Texas is good enough to win any league in the country, and its pitching staff is the best in the country, bar none.

    ScottAZ (Phx, AZ): What impact will the sanctions have on the ASU program present/future?

Aaron Fitt: I don't think the recruiting will be affected by the restrictions — Arizona State will always be Arizona State and will always attract top players, especially since the Devils will keep winning this year and next with the caliber of talent already in that program. The loss of two scholarships will hurt, but it's nothing that will prevent ASU from competing. It's a relatively inexpensive public school, and players are used to giving back scholarship money anyway, for the overall good of the program.

Aaron Fitt: OK folks, sorry to cut this short because there are many great questions I haven't been able to get to, but John and I need to record a podcast and get that posted as soon as possible. Thanks for stopping by, as always, and see you next week!