As if you weren’t watching, we had a trio of games take us down to two, with Fresno State and Georgia beginning things very soon. Here are the results.
Georgia 10, Stanford 8 (Cardinal eliminated)
North Carolina 4, Fresno State 3
Fresno State 6, North Carolina 1 (Tar Heels eliminated)
One player to watch for next season is definitely Georgia lefty Alex McRee. He came out of the bullpen to hold onto Georgia’s 9-4 lead over Stanford, and while it wasn’t his best outing, he flashed some good stuff. The first thing that strikes you about McRee is his projectability — he’s 6-6, with probably 20 pounds to gain. So that fastball that sits at 88-90 now, and touches 92? Maybe it can add 2-3 mph. His breaking ball probably isn’t a plus pitch right now because he gets around it too much, but it definitely showed potential, especially on a strikeout of Randy Molina. I think the biggest problems scouts will have about McRee will be concern about varying arm slots, and it’s not like his 3/4 normal slot is ideal, anyway. However, if he hits the weight room and tightens up the curveball, he’s a good sleeper to really help the Bulldogs and get drafted on the first day next season.
A look at Justin Wilson’s line would probably get someone to think the Fresno State lefty had big stuff, just didn’t know how to harness it. Six walks and six strikeouts in five innings? Well, that doesn’t really tell the story, as I think those numbers were a combination of Wilson being too careful and North Carolina being too aggressive. In actuality, Wilson is a big-bodied lefty with no projectability, who’s going to be what he is now — up to 90 mph, with a nice curveball that he likes to backdoor. He’s a fast worker, and as we’ve seen, he’s got a lot of guys. But I can’t imagine why the Pirates drafted him so high, because there isn’t much of a ceiling on this kid, and there’s not relief to fall back on.
I loath to make this comparison, because statistically, it makes little sense — but when I watch Dustin Ackley, I can’t help but reminded of a left-handed Ryan Theriot. Similar good contact hitter, similar inside-out swing, similar speed, and similar weight. The difference, I think — thanks to two inches, a left-handed bat and a swing that isn’t quite-so one-plane — is that Ackley should boast slugging percentages above .400 in the Major Leagues. And to see why I didn’t want to make this comparison, for full disclosure sake, here are their first two seasons, side-by-side.
It’s no secret to anyone here in Omaha anymore why Fresno State has made it this far – converting balls into outs. Their infield is the best one in Omaha by a country mile. Friday, Alan Ahmady made one of the players of the tournament, with a sliding catch against the wall on a foul out, and then jumping up and throwing out a tagging Dustin Ackley. Today, both middle infielders – Danny Muno and Erik Wetzel – went deep, deep into the hole to make outs; Muno to his right, Wetzel to his left. But the real star is Tommy Mendonca, who has a striking resemblance to Mike Lowell in terms of looks, but also plays defense like the Boston third baseman. Anything hit around this kid he blocks, and he has a good, quick release to get out baserunners. At the plate, he’s a mess, a first-pitch swinger that swings through breaking balls, but he can turn on a fastball. If the coaching staff shortens his swing a touch and adds walks to his game, his defense will certainly play at the next level.
After the game, Mike Batesole said he would be “shocked if Alex White doesn’t go first in the draft next year.” It’s hyperbole, but it’s amazing what White has done. A starter all year, Mike Fox called on White in relief for three consecutive days. He didn’t have his best stuff today, but all weekend we saw a 93-96 mph fastball and a wicked slider. Steven Strasburg is in another tier, which Batesole might not realize, but Alex White certainly joins Grant Green as the guys right behind Strasburg. It will be a good year to draft in the top five, if nothing else.
I’m going Georgia in two in the championship game. But I’ve bet against Fresno all tournament and paid for it, so it certainly wouldn’t shock me to see it happen again.