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For the record, Vanderbilt's Tim Corbin told me that Westmoreland is the best player he's ever recruited. And yes, that's a crop that includes Price, Alvarez, Weathers, and Minor. So high, high praise.
I'll stand by that statement, but to refute it, you can't really use results-based analysis. That's unfair. What happened with Jungmann's command, or the sheer amount of home runs that Coleman gave up are irrelevant to the comment that I thought LSU had the advantage before the series.
Ruffin had been hit hard in his previous start, and to be honest, I think Coleman's movement gives him an advantage in terms of stuff. Add in the LSU win streak and the way their offense and defense were playing, and I don't think it's a stretch at all.
Great second game. If anyone thinks we didn't see a guy in the mix for the '11 first round last night (if he's not a TJ victim), I don't know what to tell you. Jungmann was fantastic, and along with LeMahieu, has been one of the heroes of the championship series so far.
But if Texas wins tonight, the MVP might go to Russ Moldenhauer. I'm still surprised that no one drafted Moldenhauer, who you might remember, went to Texas despite being a third-round choice out of high school. He's shown massive power -- his home run in Game 1 was crushed -- and has done it against the best team in the nation. Look for him and Cameron Rupp to lead Texas back to this spot in Omaha a year from now.
"Pretty good assessment by Smith for a guy who sits at home to "cover" games."
You are correct about their respective play in Omaha. Texas has been hitting home runs and playing mediocre defense, and LSU has ... well, they've been doing just about everything well.
As for what will continue, we can only guess. I think LSU saw a big defensive boost by moving LeMahieu to second and playing Austin Nola at short, and Ryan Schimpf has obviously proven to be capable at every position he tries his hand at. They are good defensively, but I still have to give the Longhorns the edge. By converting nearly 70% of balls in play into outs, Texas has put themselves at a different level of respect.
Yeah, I'm surprised by the added travel component in the league this season. I might go check out a DuPage game this summer, but I'm not very enthusiastic about the talent level. There are some players from good programs, like you mention, but we're talking about a lot of freshman, many of whom were redshirted. My guess is you have a couple guys that show some good velocities, break out a little bit, and move on to bigger leagues next season. But most of the league is local, mediocre talent, so the talent pool isn't very deep.
Quick correction on my part: my old boss at Baseball America, John Manuel, e-mailed to remind me that the Texas Collegiate League has taken a hit since I covered the league a bit at BA (and ranked Jess Todd in my top 10 that had Ricky Boone on top ... don't ask). The TCL has had some economic woes, and contracted the league a little bit. The sheer amount of talent in Texas still leaves some solid talent there, but it really shouldn't be coupled with the Northwoods. Thanks to John for reminding me of this stuff.
But yeah, let's be safe and not test me with ranking all the summer leagues in terms of difficulty. Not yet, anyhow.
No, not really. There is something to like on every team, and even with the players I don't know, there's some sleepers waiting to impress. If I was going to the Cape and wanted to see baseball, I'd be concerned with picking the best pitching match-ups I could. If you'd like, glenihan, e-mail me before your trip and I'd be happy to narrow down the pitchers you could see. My only cost: ask the scouts about velocity readings on the pitchers you see!
We're beginning to get out of my comfort region as far as ranking the strength of these leagues, but I'm throwing the Valley in with the Cal Ripken, the New York summer league, and one in California as that third tier.
But, more importantly, let me flip the script on you. Best player you ever coached in the Valley League? Best player you ever saw pass through?
I remember seeing Bates in Spring Training a few years ago when I visited Red Sox camp ... big dude. Can't imagine him catching at NC State. But I remember the talk then was that he was going to mash lefties always, and time would tell if he could make the adjustments vs RHPs. I see the opposite was true last year, so who knows. He was a third-round pick, though, so his age shouldn't imply the Red Sox don't like him.
I have not. That's a pie-in-the-sky dream for me. But you are correct, for years, this was the Cape Cod League for the West Coast players. Mark McGwire, who went to college thinking his career would be on the mound, changed some scouts minds with a few batting practice sessions in the Alaska League.
When the explosion of summer leagues happened earlier this decade, the league's profile took a hit. It's still solid, and sometimes gets some Japanese prospects to make the trip over, but it's fallen a bit behind the Northwoods and TCL (yes, Texas Collegaite) in terms of consistent talent.
It's a solid league. The Cape is the best (well, Team USA might be better -- more on that in a week or so), with the Northwoods as a clear second. I like the TCL and Alaska leagues a little better than the CalRipken in terms of competition, but it slots in probably right there. Last year, you had a high school kid, Quinton Miller, get an above-slot bonus based on his summer performance, and you had Leon Landry of LSU really raise his profile.
Not going to run through the list of names right now, but I quickly see Kevin Brady of Clemson is already dominating. He's a solid hard-thrower, and it might be worth it to check one of his starts out in that beautiful ballpark.
Yeah, absolutely. D.J. Mitchell and Jason Christian are two examples that have gone down that path, finding above-slot bonuses in middle rounds as a result. It looks like Baylor has sent their two enigmatic pitchers, Shawn Tolleson and Craig Fritsch, to the Cape with likely the same goal. Tolleson was brilliant in his first start, allowing just one hit over seven innings.
I don't know the specific eligibility requirements off hand, but Cape teams usually do their own recruiting of college talent. Most teams have relationships built-in with certain programs, as Cal and Indiana and Vanderbilt and others tend to send players to the same places.
Jared, I don't think the Phillies have much of a chance at Jacob Stewart. We talked in the Day One Roundtable about Stanford's ability to get their commitments onto campus, so it's a good bet to say that Stewart heads off to Palo Alto. I don't know about Colvin's situation specifically, but he's committed to LSU, and Paul Mainieri's budding program is a solid selling point. My guess is that Colvin would consider signing for well over slot, but I think Stewart won't.
Mike, I thought there was a decent chance that Clark wouldn't go -- after all, these injuries have left scouts very doubtful about his ability to catch. My interest in him is predicated on the fact that you're spending a tiny amount of money (and now, it will be even less than I guessed by quite a bit) on the hope that he could. It's worth it.
Why Thebeau hasn't gone, well, I'm bewildered about that.
Not at all. Both are solid fourth round selections. Matthes is nice because he's going to come a little cheaper, and Morris' dominant season put him ahead of a few that got drafted above him in my mind. I also like Ryan Berry for the same reasons.
It's definitely the one I've struggled with the most. I sort of wanted to have another upset in there, as Virginia is my only road team, but the more I look at it, the less I can justify it. I'm thinking Florida State wins and we have 7 favorites head to Omaha.
Thanks got passing along the Louisville and Rice notes, guys.
As much as I understanding pushing back your ace on regional weekend, I do not understand it on Super Regional weekend. It sends the complete wrong message to your team to not give the optimal chance to go up 1-0.
Yes, Louisville has a better chance to play Game 3 because Marks isn't going against Renken on Friday. But they also put a lot more pressure on their ace, and likely will have their backs against the wall for two games.
Dan, I boast neither the contacts nor the credentials that Kevin has to answer your question, but I know a little bit about the players you mention, so let me at least give you my opinion. Please feel free to ignore...
White's numbers aren't the thing to look at this season -- if you check out his first two years, there's little doubt that he's been one of North Carolina's best aces in recent history. But White has a subset of scouts that really like him based on his size (6-3, 200), his durability (check last year's CWS) and his velocity (up to 97 in the past out of the bullpen, but should be 91-94 on good nights). In last year's College World Series, he had a real plus splitter going, but has had trouble duplicating that this spring. Spinning a breaking ball has proven difficult as of yet.
Leake, on the other hand, stands three inches shorter and 20 pounds lighter than White. Every year, scouts will hold size against players, like it or not -- and more often than not, by the way, the scouts bias wins out. While Leake has been dominant this season, he's never going to boast White's velocity potential -- his sinker is going to be 90-92 on most days, albeit with good movement. Leake has a better breaking ball than White, and has shown a decent change against left-handers this spring.
No doubt, some scouts value Leake over White, based on athleticism (Leake could have played SS in college) and pitchability, but in terms of potential, no one that has followed the college game much in three years doubts what White could become.
KG, I could ask you this via e-mail or something, but maybe others care about the answer: the people you talk to that are on Tony Sanchez, do you think they prefer him to where Jason Castro was a year ago?
How about you, Sanchez v. Castro?
Not just that, he's an outfielder with a bad arm.
For the curious, I want to just throw out a list of what happened this weekend:
AUSTIN REGIONAL: Texas wins, 3-0.
FORT WORTH REGIONAL: TCU wins, 3-0.
ATLANTA REGIONAL: Southern Miss at Georgia Tech, 7 p.m.
GAINESVILLE REGIONAL: Florida wins, 3-0.
TEMPE REGIONAL: Arizona State wins, 3-0.
CLEMSON REGIONAL: Oklahoma State at Clemson, 7 p.m.
GREENVILLE REGIONAL: South Carolina at East Carolina, 6 p.m.
CHAPEL HILL REGIONAL: North Carolina wins, 3-0.
And onto the other side of the bracket:
FULLERTON REGIONAL: Cal State Fullerton wins, 3-0.
LOUISVILLE REGIONAL: Vanderbilt at Louisville, 7 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE REGIONAL: Florida State wins, 3-0.
NORMAN REGIONAL: Arkansas wins, 3-0.
IRVINE REGIONAL: Virginia wins, 3-0.
OXFORD REGIONAL: Western Ky. at Mississippi, 8 p.m.
HOUSTON REGIONAL: Kansas State at Rice, 7 p.m.
BATON ROUGE REGIONAL: LSU wins, 3-0.
Yeah, I'll do my best to pimp Virginia's accomplishment more in this week's column, but wow, this is a team playing with some fantastic momentum. Whether I was Ole Miss or WKU, I know I wouldn't want to play them next week.
As for the draft, they are a funny team because their best players (Parker, Hultzen) are underclassmen. The first Cavalier drafted will be Carraway, both because he'll come cheap as a senior, and because he has really solid command of pretty good stuff.
Tyler Cannon is going to get drafted, and if a team is convinced he can play big league shortstop, he could go ahead of Carraway. He doesn't have much power or hope to ever hit home runs, but his athleticism will get him drafted.
Matt Packer gets drafted somewhere, and the deeper Virginia plays in this tourney, the better a shot Robert Poutier has of sneaking in there.
Hi guys -- here to clarify, because I'm not sure everything I wrote was particularly clear.
Wood has 270 career innings at Texas. He has taken every role imaginable for Garrido in four years -- Ron Villone-style swingman, LOOGY, mid-week starter, weekend starter, and this year, closer. This is important: he was going to get drafted this year regardless of what happened on Saturday. I think teams really like his combination of junk stuff (change, loopy breaking ball) as a lefty out of the pen.
I think Saturday has one of two effects on his draft status: 1) it scares teams off. I think that's inevitable, that some of the smart organizations will not draft a guy that they think is a fringe potential Major Leaguer (if that) that might need arm surgery. Or, 2) A team drafts him as a starter. That was an unbelievable performance, an old school performance, and I don't think it can be discounted that some teams might like the endurance he showed. He's not all that different from J.P. Howell, I suppose, if a few ticks back on the velocity.
And, of course, there's option 3: it doesn't change any team's opinions at all. We'll see.
Perhaps if gambling were legal...
I think Georgia Tech really isn't all that different from those ASU, Miami and Florida State teams that made the CWS a year ago -- they hit the hell out of the ball, have one ace they depend on, and look to steal games by getting to double-digits. There's worse strategies in college baseball, and considering that they do have velocity in the pitching staff, sometimes you'll get an unexpected source pitching a great game.
Beating Florida in Gainesville would be tough, and you all know how much respect I have for the SEC, but I've loved this Georgia Tech offense for three months, and I'm not turning my back now.
I've been a proponent of holding back the #1 since I started following college baseball, and I remember I was shocked at how few coaches did it. For example, if I'm Vanderbilt this weekend, I throw Caleb Cotham at Middle Tennessee State to start the weekend. Cotham's raw stuff is as good as MTSU has seen this year, and while they have a fantastic offense, his velocity really plays against them. That way, if I win, Minor sets me up to be the new favorite in the regional.
Kansas State really has no chance to beat Rice unless A.J. Morris faces the Owls. They should recognize that and plan accordingly. I mentioned Missouri, who I believe should throw Tepesch for the same reasons I mentioned with Vanderbilt.
As for Virginia, I would throw Carraway. He's the veteran, he has a good arm, and he's probably the most competitive guy on the staff. You still give yourself a chance to win the game, if you get vintage Carraway, and you hang on to Danny Hultzen for ... whenever you want to use him. But, trust me, this isn't the first time I didn't see eye to eye with college coaches.
To answer your question, yes, I probably would pick Rice if the Super was in Houston. Home field advantage matters so much, and while I really like Rice in a short series, I think I like Alex Box Stadium more.
Oh, and one more thing...
College World Series: Texas, Georgia Tech, Arizona State, North Carolina, Fullerton, Arkansas, Ole Miss, LSU.
Championship: LSU over Texas.
Hi all -- because I was running out of real estate in this article, which had hit a word count I'm not sure I've seen before, I didn't have the space to throw in my projections (they're included in some of the sections above, but not every one). I thought the comments would be a good place to throw them out there, because hopefully some of you will follow suit with predictions of your own. Here's my 16 regional winners:
Austin Regional: Texas.
Fort Worth Regional: Texas A&M.
Atlanta Regional: Georgia Tech.
Gainesville Regional: Florida
Tempe Regional: Arizona State.
Clemson Regional: Clemson.
Greenville Regional: South Carolina.
Chapel Hill Regional: North Carolina.
Fullerton Regional: Cal State Fullerton.
Louisville Regional: Vanderbilt.
Tallahassee Regional: Florida State.
Norman Regional: Arkansas.
Irvine Regional: UC Irvine.
Oxford Regional: Ole Miss.
Houston Regional: Rice.
Baton Rouge Regional: LSU.
Yeah, I'll reference the comment I made above here as well. The committee is going to say that the Longhorns have a difficult regional, with two teams in the top 30 in RPI, but I think we can all roll our eyes there. The Longhorns and Titans have absolute cakewalks to the Super Regionals.
Baylor and Oklahoma State getting the final push is a complete reflection that the committee overvalued RPI this year. I don't really have a valiant argument for either.
In that same vein, the RPI difference would explain why Western Kentucky (44) got in where Missouri State (68) did not. The Bears certainly have series wins over Oregon State, Oral Roberts and Wichita State to boast about, where Western Kentucky did most of its damage in conference. I like what Missouri State did more as well, but until the committee stops using RPI as the main factor, that's how we're going to explain 90% of their decisions.
I think Irvine is probably in lock status, you're right. I'm just not sure if I think LSU is. And I'm confused you threw Ole Miss into the mix. Also, from my above comment: Miami is the leader in the clubhouse for that second ACC national seed. The way I'm leaning, after Thursday's games:
1) North Carolina
2) Cal State Fullerton
4) Arizona State
5) UC Irvine
6) SEC Team (LSU or Florida)
7) Miami, probably. Georgia Tech and Florida State, back ups.
And then the 8-seed as a fight between the LSU/Florida loser, TCU and Rice, who both obviously have to do very well in their conference tournaments.
Yeah, that wasn't good timing. I think Clemson and Miami are in the mix for one spot. So that win was big for the Hurricanes, as was the series they played in late March. I probably shouldn't have made that comment -- Miami has a better chance than Tech as it stands now. And I don't see both getting a national seed.
I said at the beginning I wasn't going to give a team "in" status until they were absolutely in. I also said a week ago I thought they were close -- needing only a series win against Washington State to push them over. Well, that didn't happen. Now, do I think they get in if they beat Stanford? Probably. But I think last year proved that as much success as this program has, the committee is going to reward the at-large teams they think creates the best field of 64. Nostalgia doesn't seem to run thick in these guys.
The ACC has been the nation's second-best conference this year, so I don't think they'll have a problem giving five regionals to the conference. If they only give four, the tournament opening win over Clemson might give them the advantage. I certainly see the Cavaliers hosting. Worst case scenario: they are a one-seed at a Louisville-hosted regional.
Good idea. Paging Dr. Seidman!
My guess, FWIW, is that velocity would definitely rise as LI does. I'm thinking of Bobby Jenks in the playoffs, specifically -- I'll never forget his strikeout of Jeff Bagwell, one for the moment, and two because I'll never see Jenks throw that hard again. If there's one undeniable effect that a "clutch performance" has on an athlete, it's a rise in adrenaline. And I would think adrenaline and velocity would be correlated somehow.
No apologies, needed.
First of all, Roller has spent some time at DH this season, and defensively, he's a bit of a mess. So to be successful at the pro level, he's going to have to hit like bonkers -- like he's been doing lately. Problem is, Roller is the type of player that you hear the scouting term "metal bat swing" thrown around -- let it be known, I haven't had conversations with scouts specifically about Roller, but he's not exactly a unique commodity. The fact that scouts aren't talking about his power potential tells you that they wonder if he'll hit for power as a pro. Roller's doing enough to be drafted, it's just doubtful he'll ever do enough to play in the bigs.
I don't think being the draft between Strasburg and Bryce Harper helps, but it doesn't look to be a very good crop. You have some nice pitching depth with Harvey, Blair, Loux, Raley, Workman, and I like Dietrich and Hague as shortstops, but then you start running out of names fast. You'll hear scouts hammer the draft for a lack of a top guy and a lack of depth. Never a good combo.
Well, I think that really depends how organizations gauge Raley's answer when they ask him about his signability. I think, on pure talent, Raley's a supplemental first (late first, early second) type guy. But he's a sophomore, and it certainly wouldn't be the first time a guy fell in the draft because he used his leverage for a big demand. So Brooks needs to make a decision about whether or not to cash in now, or stay in school and see if he can't get into the first round in a weaker 2010 draft.
Good question. The rankings, at this point in a season, are a combination of what a team has done, and what I believe a team is capable of. The Rice resume is very deserving of the 5-spot in the rankings, and when Berry and Ojala return, I think they have Omaha potential (and thus, have the potential to deserve their spot).
That said, the team is probably going to struggle a bit with Berry and Ojala out, and that will effect them in the rankings, a bit. The committee probably won't cut Rice a lot of slack if they start dropping weekend series, so as a result, while their potential will remain the same in my mind, their road to reaching that potential could get more difficult (if that makes any sense).
So: if Rice starts losing, it won't impact my opinion of what their team might do, but it makes getting to Omaha more difficult. That would have to be reflected in the rankings.
I think you are thinking about pitch counts in the wrong way (But, for the record, Musick had three relief appearances between starts last year, too).
You don't often hear people bemoan pitch counts by talking about a pitcher's raw pitch total for the season. You do, however, hear people worry about the number of times they passed a particular threshold (115, 120, what have you). It's because a high pitch count total, as a singular event on a particular day, is where the damage to the arm comes from. If you throw 200 pitches on the 15th of every month, and I throw eight pitches 300 times per year, I bet your arm is in more trouble than mine.
I'm not so worried that Musick threw 550 pitches in five weeks last year -- you're right, that's 7 starts at only 87 pitches per start for a Major League pitcher. I'm worried that Musick's arm had four days with 115 or more pitches.
There's a reason Will Carroll can both be an advocate for protecting young arms and a four-man rotation simultaneously.
I'm glad it's shocking data, but I want to point out that I didn't write about Musick in the hopes of getting Rayner Noble fired. I don't necessarily think that should be the end-result -- doesn't Major League Baseball tell us that managers can change.
Kerry Wood and Mark Prior became the faces for the pitcher-abuse movement in Major League Baseball, which has seen a substantial change in pitcher usage in five years. Even Dusty Baker is better than he used to be, and dozens of stubborn-seeming managers no longer ride their aces past 120 pitches.
The problem I see is that college baseball doesn't have the faces for the movement. People just don't remember the Kenny Baughs of the world, and until there's more work done to show the damage that's being done to the careers of these young men, people won't talk about it enough to get things changed. I'm just hoping to start the dialogue.
(Although, it should be mentioned, Coach Noble is well-known for allowing pitch counts to go too high. The poster-child for this, lest we forget, is Brad Lincoln. Maybe Pirates fans -- they had Brian Bullington, too -- can help lead this movement.)
Ha, without question. I skipped Rice over Irvine this week because I just like what they're doing. I would say the top 5 is pretty ingrained at this point, but 6-9 is pretty fluid (though it's been relatively unchanged the last couple weeks). I'm a bit worried about Baylor's pitching depth, too, and obviously Berry/Ojala are throwing better than Volz and ... well, whoever the Bears are going with at #2 now. (Though it should be said, I almost included Aaron Miller in the list that starts the article.)
The Cal Poly series doesn't have much, if anything, to do with their rankings. But, I'm not going to take single games against teams ahead of them too seriously. I think you might see Rice at the 6 spot next week, or you might see them at 10. For me, they are trapped in that range indefinitely.
That really is the benchmark, isn't it? But why do you think Florida State is better than Florida? Certainly the pitching staff is worse, and certainly the defense is worse. I think the offense might be a little better, but it's hard to tell given the ridiculous park effects that cloud those numbers. I like Florida's hitters better, I know that. The Gators took a hit in my head after being swept by Miami, but the Seminoles have hardly impressed in the early going.
Yes, I have said in the past that I respect Coach Graham -- I think since the Niemann/Townsend/Humber era, he's made a cognizant change to do more to protect his pitchers. I think Savery is a poor example, because his light sophomore/junior workloads were a result of consistent arm soreness from an abusive freshman season. I don't know what to make of Cole St. Clair's usage, but I'm not sure I blame Graham there. With Berry, however, he's been very reasonable, and I don't think Rice will be the butt-end of these jokes that they were from 1996-2006.
In a word, no. Scouting directors and college coaches sit down for a meeting once a year, but I don't think the MLB folk would have the audacity to try and tell the coaches how to do their jobs (and that's what it would be perceived as). I don't think college baseball has a single malicious coach, so in their heart of hearts, there's not a NCAA coach that thinks he's endangering his players' futures.
This is really a job of the NCAA, and as Will said, they have shown no interest in following Little League's lead ... which does upset me.
Strasburg struck out 18 batters against my 10th-ranked team last night. Yes, folks, he is that good. And yes, folks, he should be asking for eight figures.
I probably won't do something like that for awhile, if at all ... that's really KG's territory more than mine own. However, I can give you my current top 10:
1. Steven Strasburg, rhp, San Diego State
2. Alex White, rhp, North Carolina
3. Grant Green, ss, USC
4. Aaron Crow, rhp, Missouri/Fort Worth Cats
5. Dustin Ackley, cf, North Carolina
6. Andy Oliver, lhp, Oklahoma State
7. Kentrail Davis, of, Tennessee
8. Kyle Gibson, rhp, Missouri
9. Brett Jackson, of, California
10. Kendal Volz, rhp, Baylor
11. D.J. LeMahieu, ss, Louisiana State
12. Tanner Scheppers, rhp, Fresno/St. Paul
Note: this is constantly changing, and should be used more as a guide for the names that are around the top, rather than a strict ranking. Davis, for example, could be anywhere from 5-15 in my mind.
That\'s a tough one, and I admit, you got me to the map thinking. You\'re definitely too far from Columbus or Charlottesville to make trips to Ohio State or Virginia, respectively. You probably could make the trek to Kent, Ohio to check out Kent State University, which has their best team ever. It is a small program, though.
But I think my advice would just be to head over to Pitt when Notre Dame is in town at the end of March, or when Seton Hall makes the trip in mid-April. If you could catch an Evan Danieli start, I\'m sure your son would be interested by the giant 6-foot-7 pitcher throwing really hard. You could also point out A.J. Pollack, who could be a supplemental first rounder. Sure, Pitt isn\'t good, but I don\'t think you can drive anywhere very close that offers anything much better.
Rendon is exactly what that lineup needed -- a real middle-of-the-order threat. He\'s going to go through the ups and downs of anyone with his experience level, but if he\'s hot come tournament time, then maybe others were right to project Rice to Omaha.
I must say, though: the Owls were very lucky they didn\'t play UC Irvine this weekend. Seastrunk is 0-for-5 throwing out runners, and the Anteaters would have run EVERY single time they got a runner on base. It would have made for interesting baseball, and it probably would have made for an Owls loss. Note to the C-USA: Seastrunk is a work in progress ... you\'re doing Rice a favor if you don\'t test him early and often.
Well, I thought highly enough of the staff to think they could win the national championship, but yes, they are overperforming a bit. Austin Ross probably isn\'t going to strike out 10 batters in another game this season ... he\'s a sinker/slider guy, so whiffs aren\'t even his game. Ranaudo might, and he\'s every bit as good as he\'s pitched.
This staff will have growing pains, and you know, if Texas rips apart Stanford this weekend, I will have almost no choice but to put the Longhorns on top -- if only because LSU hasn\'t challenged themselves.
BTW: I wish I had published Mainieri\'s quote before the season projecting a breakout from Leon Landry. He absolutely nailed it. Five home runs, six steals, all-world defense. No one else in the nation can match those first two weekends, I promise you. LSU\'s offense is better -- yes, better -- than I thought preseason.
As far as Berry goes, it probably wasn\'t fair to throw the Simmons/Roemer comp on him. Those two, combined, walked 27 batters in 267.2 innings in their junior seasons. Berry has five walks through two starts. But if he\'s hitting 84 mph on the slider, with a 65 knuckle-curve (on the scouting scale), I have to think he gets supplemental first round consideration.
I don\'t think it\'s unfair to say Wilson has already shot up to start getting consideration at the back end of the top ten. Part of that is how good his slider has been, and part is that this draft looks more shallow everyday. I\'m beginning to think that Crow has NO chance of lasting to 9 if he shows the same stuff, and by contrast, I\'m thinking that Mike Minor and Kendal Volz are falling out of that mix for #4 college pitcher (behind Strasburg, White and Crow). It looks like that fourth guy is either going to be Wilson, Tanner Scheppers, Kyle Gibson or Andy Oliver.
So guess what? Not only did Rice decide to push Ryan Berry to face Alex Wilson, but Baylor is opting to hold Kendal Volz off until Saturday to face Gerrit Cole. So, clearly, I got it right the first time: if there is one game in the nation to see on Saturday, it\'s Baylor-UCLA, Volz/Cole. That\'s big velocity, big movement and sharp breaking balls. That is two first rounders, and with luck, two potential top ten picks.
And perhaps, two future Major League closers.
Yes, Ben has it exactly right. If you\'re a college baseball fan, the place to be on Saturday is now Rice-A&M. Doesn\'t get much better than Berry-Wilson. The question: who has the better breaking ball? Wilson\'s slider was nasty a week ago, but Berry\'s knuckle-curve has been lauded for three seasons. Thanks, Ben.
James, thank you. I do mention Wilson and his wonderful season debut, but I failed to mention that the A&M-Rice game is actually a part of a fantastic weekend invitational. I think we will learn a lot about UC Irvine this weekend, and it certainly gives the Aggies a chance to prove just how good they can be. I\'m excited about it.
I am still developing my thoughts on the universities that dropped their program. It\'s hard to argue with fiscal responsibility, but as a baseball fan, I just need to think there could be another way. And as I noted in my chat, I don\'t think I can bring myself to call the coaches at these programs -- when I wrote a similar story on Birmingham-Southern College a few years ago, it was downright depressing. These student-athletes have a lot invested in their sports, no matter if the institutions honor their scholarships or not.
From my understanding on the rules, he will not be eligible until 2010. But I\'ve been wrong before.
A note: this spring, I will only be writing once a week about college baseball, so the 2-article format from last year will be different. The weekly article will usually be appearing later in the week, Thursday or Friday, so there won\'t usually be a weekend recap (The nice part is that my revised top 25 each week will include weekday games). I don\'t want to clog up Unfiltered with more college baseball than people can handle, so I figured I\'d close up this post with some weekend notes:
3 Programs that have excited me from their weekend play: TCU (beat Fullerton in close series), Florida (swept Louisville at home) and Clemson/Georgia Tech (pitched well in sweep of Charlotte/Lipscomb). Honorable mention to Gonzaga.
3 Programs that disappointed me: Missouri (1-3 on the weekend, 2 losses to Gonzaga), Rice (series loss to Cal Poly), Alabama (series loss to Southeast Missouri State).
3 Draft-Eligible Players that Excited Me: Jason Kipnis, ASU; Alex Wilson, Texas A&M; Robert Stock, USC.
Other than Gerrit Cole, the real star last night was Texas A&M\'s Alex Wilson. The former Winthrop ace, now fully recovered from Tommy John, was dominant against Wright State:
6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 14 K, 99 NP.
A few more starts like that, and you\'ll be hearing him as a first round arm again. Other notables I saw:
Taylor Jungmann, Texas: 6 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K.
Alex McRee, Georgia: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K.
Seth Blair, ASU: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 8 K.
Kevin Couture, USC: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 10 K.
Chris Dwyer, Clemson: 6.2 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K.
Charlie Lowell, Wichita State: 5 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 9 K.
Andy Oliver, OkSt: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K.
Yeah, what a bummer. The first article I ever had published in print was when Birmingham-Southern College dropped their baseball program, and the people I talked to there (current UAB Coach Brian Shoop, former LSU pitcher Blake Martin) couldn\'t have been more depressed. Worse than this is for college baseball, it\'s much worse for the players and coaches at Vermont.
Gagne -- Wish I had been there ... no doubt he was fantastic. The Yanks might be kicking themselves in 2 years like the Red Sox did with Pedro Alvarez (who wasn\'t their first-round pick, but was similarly close to signing out of HS).
Needless to say, I think UCLA is looking better at this point. They\'re a good bet to stay in the top 8 next wk.
Of the pitching box scores I\'ve seen, the impressive non-Strasburg pitching performances:
Brad Boxberger, USC: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 6 BB, 11 K.
Deck McGuire, GaTech: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 13 K. Vs. Lipscomb.
Alex Wimmers, Ohio State: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K.
Sammy Solis, San Diego: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K.
Kendal Volz and Alex White were both solid, though Volz was upstaged by reliever Logan Verrett in Baylor\'s 2-1 win over Pacific. Kyle Gibson was good, but I\'m not sure particularly notable with six scoreless innings. And Rob Rasmussen was good in a surprise Friday start for UCLA with five scoreless innings. More on this next week...
Nope, unfortunately SDSU is missing the chance for more people to see Strasburg. I would think it would be a great opportunity for the program to advertise itself, but Strasburg is pitching tonight against Bethune-Cookman instead. It\'s too bad -- I think we would have all relished in seeing the #1 player in America\'s first junior start. Thanks, lemppi.
More on this Friday in Unfiltered...
Leviathan: North Carolina was not a part of this article, because as a member of the top 6, they were in the article I wrote last week on college baseball\'s first tier. As I said then, the Tar Heels and the Texas A&M Aggies have the two best pitching staffs in the nation ... and it\'s not particularly close. More than just White and Harvey, UNC has five viable starters, and a bullpen filled with dependable arms. Moving stadiums will likely push their team ERA up a touch, but I still imagine this pitching staff to win games even when the offense puts up just one run.
Well, I wouldn\'t think that Fresno State would be mentioned in an article on Top 25 teams when they aren\'t a top 25 team. I can promise that I will devote more than a few dozen words to Fresno State this season, and in the end, probably an article or two.
But Fresno State wasn\'t a top 25 team until the Super Regionals last year; they weren\'t a top 25 team until completing a four-week impossible streak. Add in the losses of Tanner Scheppers, Justin Wilson, Steve Susdorf, and I just don\'t see a legitimate reason to keep them in the top 25 besides the fact that they played well last June.
I can\'t wait to see what Mike Batesole can do as a repeat, and I can\'t wait to see what Tommy Mendonca will do this season. Few college players whose futures intrigue me more.
Well, now you know what I meant when I said I was \"away from the consensus\" on Rice. I don\'t want to talk about them in detail here -- we\'ll do that next week -- but let me just say that I agree with your notion that their defense will improve. However, I also think Rice is being overrated a bit because they are \"a perennial national powerhouse.\" We\'ll get into all that fun stuff next week, however. Thanks for the comment.
As promised, Schmub, I just got off the phone with Mainieri, talking about his team this spring. I did talk to him about last year\'s defense, and asked if he saw a noticeable defensive up-tick after the Georgia series. His response that the defense last year was the most consistent element of the team -- moreso even than the vaunted offense. He said the Georgia series in particular was the one weekend he remembers his defense falling apart, but besides that, he thought it stayed consistent all year.
Now I\'m not sure if the numbers would bear that out or not, but it\'s hard to get a more insider perspective than that.
James, I think you make some valid points, but in a sense, I believe these results actually work against your thesis. Without question, it would help if we could team these numbers with the results of the boys at CollegeSplits -- it would be important to know if the Duke pitchers were merely inducing the least number of line drives in college baseball, for example. But until we have uniform transparency of statistics in college baseball, we\'re going to have to make do with what\'s available, and that\'s why I was thrilled to be able to put this together.
The problem I see with your theory is that this list doesn\'t contain programs that were flush in pitching. Duke did not have a great pitching staff, and considering they played the majority of their games in the ACC, I think it\'s fair to say they were in the bottom half of the league in that regard. A team like South Carolina, who shows up at 8, considered their pitching to be the weakest element of the team. I just spoke with Paul Mainieri at LSU, a team that just missed the top 25, and he gave all the credit to his all-world defensive outfield and steady, solid infield.
I\'m not sure I would have published this if, in the end, the top teams were merely a restated list of the top pitching staffs. But as I said, Rice pitchers struck out 23% of the batters they faced, and yet they were significantly below average in DER last year.
I\'m confident saying that this statistic is measuring defense first, and while pitching is going to have an effect on that -- it\'s unavoidable -- I don\'t think it\'s putting too much, as I say with FPct, noise into the numbers.
To Mike and fellow inquiring minds: the current plan is that I will contribute a college article per week here at BP. This is my only writing commitment this spring, so I\'m hoping we can continue doing some unique things like today\'s piece. If there\'s an uncovered side of college baseball that anyone wants explored, please let me know. Thanks for the interest.
Schmub -- I don\'t really have an answer for you, as that would take some more serious box score digging than I could really offer. But if you\'d like, shoot me an e-mail, and I\'ll do my best to pass along what Coach Mainieri has to say on the issue. Few college coaches are as gracious with their time or as thoughtful with their responses.
Anecdotally, I think the team underwent a learning curve when Mainieri opted to move Hollander to start the freshman at shortstop, and I think LeMahieu went through a learning curve playing shortstop in the SEC. But he looked solid in Omaha, and you know those outfielders could always go get the ball. Mitchell takes some weird routes sometimes, granted, but is there a better athlete in college baseball?
Yeah, it did a little bit. I was shocked to see Duke finish at the top in both. I was glad to see that the worst teams in the Fielding Percentage Top 10 -- Western Kentucky, Maryland and Troy -- all dropped significantly in the DER ratings, ranking 146th, 89th and 100th, respectively. I knew there would be some crossover ... in the MLB this year, Fielding Percentage and DEF_EFF shared seven teams in their respective top tens ... but the agreement at the top was indeed surprising. I\'ll definitely be interested to run the numbers next year and see if it holds true again.
It says a lot about the Rice pitching staff. Like I mentioned in the article, it\'s too bad the defense was so poor, because besides a national title, a better group of fielders would have helped guys like Cole St. Clair and Lucas Luetge make a lot more money in the draft. Luetge is a good example of a guy that went to pro ball, pitched in front of a better defense, and saw much better results.
As for this year, I only urge you to check back next week. Just tweaking the top 25 now, and I just finished writing a bit about Rice. I think I\'m a touch away from the consensus on them...
Thanks for pointing out the Washington mistake, I\'ll have that fixed. They do belong at #3, with a DER of .6702. And as far as the whole list goes, for now, I\'d be happy to e-mail anyone the Excel sheet I made ... you know how to reach me.