College Baseball Top 25 Chat: March 25


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DaddyMc: I’ve not seen any mention of the Texas A&M vs. Kentucky series in which the Aggies swept them on the road. I know UK is rebuilding, but they still had an RPI of 70 going into the weekend. Some good storylines are Asa Lacy throwing 13 Ks in 6 innings, and as a team 17 Ks for the game on Saturday. Sunday, reigning SEC Pitcher Of The Week, Roa, gone in the 1st after looking completely out of whack yesterday. Yet, again this season, A&M shows resiliency to win 17-5 on 19 hits, and strong relief by the bullpen. Also, Any concerns of the Aggie batting lineup should now be addressed; meaning, we know what their capable of since this win and against Vandy. Oh, Shewmake is back, 5 hits yesterday, and overall a good couple weeks now. Any thoughts from you guys on how A&M will fare this season now that we’ve seen more? I did see the bump to #10. Thanks.
Kendall Rogers: Daddy — I feel better about A&M for sure than I did you know, two weeks ago. I think the biggest thing about the Aggies is that they’ve cleaned up their offensive approach. Braden Shewmake had a massive week, Bryce Blaum continues to get on base and the lineup from top to bottom no longer looks lost. Shewmake told me last week against Vandy that they were going to start hunting fastballs more and you saw that against UK. I feel pretty good about the Aggies at this juncture, especially considering their premium depth on the mound.

Cole: After another good weekend do y’all see OU as a contender in the big 12? Also how does the depth of the starting rotation compare to the rest of the league? Cause Prater seems pretty solid for a Sunday guy
Kendall Rogers: Cole — I actually feel like Oklahoma’s rotation stacks up pretty favorably against the rest of the league. Cavalli has premium stuff, and while he’s not always consistent, he’s one of those guys who can put up a ton of zeroes when he’s on. Levi Prater has been terrific and Nathan Wiles is just your typical Sunday-Ish righthander who is going to throw strikes. OU has depth in the bullpen, and ultimately, I think that’s its strength at the moment. I like the OU club a lot.

Clint: With only two starter hitting below .300 would you consider Hail State Baseball to be the best hitting team in the country. Especially after these last two SEC weekends
Kendall Rogers: Clint – I love Mississippi State’s lineup for sure, but I think I give the edge to Arizona State. That duo of Hunter Bishop/Spencer Torkelson is simply terrifying for opposing pitchers, and the Devils are getting it done top to bottom in the lineup. WTS on State, I would hate to have to navigate Westburg with as hot as he’s been, along with Mangum and Mr. Energy Elijah MacNamee.

Kash Bolin: After a brutal start Texas sits at 10 losses already. Do you think they can pretty much run the table now? Top 8 national seed?
Kendall Rogers: Kash — Run the table? I’d tap the brakes on that right now. UT still has a road series against Baylor and Oklahoma State on the table, among other tough games. But yes the toughest part of the schedule is behind them at this point. It was good to see Bryce Elder throw very well again against TCU, but the bullpen had some issues over the weekend. UT needs to be careful not to let those issues manifest moving forward.

Kevin: 16-10 overall record, 1-5 conference record, and 1-6 vs Top 50 RPI teams; doesn’t seem like a top 25 team to me. Defend your decision to leave Florida in the top 25.
Aaron Fitt: Strength of schedule is a factor — that 1-5 conference record came against No. 2 Miss State and No. 6 Vanderbilt. And it’s not like we didn’t punish Florida for losing those series — they’ve dropped from No. 5 to No. 23 in two weeks. But we’re not going to drop a top five team completely out of the rankings after two bad weekends against elite competition. Florida will bounce back.

packfanatic: Is a Sunday starter going to emerge for NC State?
Aaron Fitt: Heck, maybe not — we’re six weeks in and that job has been a revolving door… but maybe that doesn’t matter. We’ve always said the strength of NC State’s staff is its depth and variety, and we always expected them to do a lot of mixing and matching, because they just don’t have a lot of workhorse starters. But that formula is working just fine — it worked like a charm this Sunday even after starter Andrew Blake only pitched into the second.

Jim: How close was Connecticut from breaking into the rankings?
Kendall Rogers: UCONN was most definitely in the discussion, but we ultimately had Illinois and UCSB ahead of it. I’ll say this — I really like UCONN’s club. We just discussed them on the podcast, but they have a strong weekend rotation, the bullpen is really deep with Wallace/Gardner/Dandeneau, etc, and I like the top of the lineup with my man Anthony Prato and John Toppa leading the way, along with Woodworth. They are a SCARY club, IMO.

Alex (Atascocita, TX): East Carolina had an excellent overall weekend with a sweep of UCF. And overall they are now playing rather well and have ran record to 18-6. But 11 of next 12 games are on the road, including trips to Houston and UCLA. How do you see them handling this difficult stretch? I think 8-4 is realistic. Based on how USF and Houston has played, I would not expect ECU to lose those series but winning at UCLA could be a very difficult task. I think taking one of those three would be a victory.
Aaron Fitt: Yeah, this weekend was really the beginning of a very rigorous five-week stretch for the Pirates. Next two weekends are on the road at USF and Houston (both regional contenders, though they haven’t been great in the first half), followed by at UCLA and vs. UConn, with some tough midweek games sprinkled in between. Fortunately I think the Pirates are really finding their stride at the right time, and I expect them to play well against this stretch and climb into the top 10 in the rankings. I think they are a very good, balanced, experienced club that is playing with a lot of confidence right now.

Ian: Is Washington a top 25 team in your eyes. They have some good wins and pitch very well. I guess we will see after they face Oregon state this weekend. Win the series and would they get into the top 25?
Kendall Rogers: Ian — UW was in the mix for our top 25 this weeks, and there’s no doubt they’re on our mind. David Rhodes, Josh Burgmann and Jordan Jones all threw well over the weekend against USC. UW is hot and has Oregon State at home this weekend. Take that series and I think you’ll be happy with where the Huskies are in the pecking order.

Corbin believer: With Kumar Rocker solidifying the Vandy weekend rotation I am beginning to believe the top 10 ranking is more than justified….their hitting is as good as anyone and with all of the power arms in the bullpen I trust that Corbs will put it all together by June.  Hopefully DeMarco’s hammy won’t keep him out long.
Kendall Rogers: Corbin — I am not that concerned about Vandy right now. I’d like to see less walks, but Drake Fellows threw well and I’m encouraged by back to back starts from Kumar Rocker. His outing against A&M was much better than the stat line indicated. And as you said, Vandy can hit with absolutely anyone. Vandy corrected some things against Florida, IMO.

Matthew: Georgia Tech has been on the edge of taking 6-7 more wins this year, but bullpen has plagued. After finally taking 2-3 from UL and almost sweeping the Cards, how close are they to breaking through and into the top 25?
Aaron Fitt: The Jackets were right on the cusp of the rankings this week, along with Washington, Indiana State and UCSB — all those teams were competing for one spot, along with Illinois. We wound up giving the nod to the cold-weather team that is 17-4, that’s hard to do with all those road games. But out of that group, Georgia Tech probably has played the best high-end opponents (taking two of three over Louisville is loud, plus they took one of three vs. UCLA, and the series win against Virginia looks OK because the Cavs are playing better now). But you’re right, if Tech could have closed out a couple of those ninth-inning leads it blew, that team might be making a push to get into the top 10 right now, instead of just vying for a spot at the back of the rankings. I think Tech misses Andy Archer more than people realized, he was a key part of that bullpen last year. Regardless, it’s good to see the Jackets put together a strong first half of the season — they definitely look like a surefire regional team, and a club

Andrew: How much trouble is Florida in? And how panicked should Gator fans be – that Vanderbilt series was pretty humiliating? That bevvy of flame-throwing young arms UF was said to possess haven’t seemed to have developed much over the course of the season.
Kendall Rogers: Andrew — I still think Florida will come around offensively at some point, but I’m really concerned about Tyler Dyson in the weekend rotation. He’s been a liability for this team for much of the season, and it’s disappointing, because he seems like a great kid and he clearly has premium stuff. But at some point, results have to matter. UF should bounce back well against Bama this weekend, but we’ll see if that Vandy series will have lasting effects for this young club.

JD: Oregon State Finally Showed some life in their bats Especially Sunday. (What a gorgeous day at Goss it was yesterday) And Gambrell quite possibly is starting to Trust his Stuff and we Should Get Able Back this weekend.  What are your Overall thoughts on the Beavs and the Pac 12 as a whole?
Kendall Rogers: JD — It’s good to see Gambrell throwing well now. Gambrell has really good stuff and I think he has impressive upside, but at some point, gotta product to stay in the rotation with Nate Yeskie leading the staff. And he stepped up. Alex McGarry continues to be such a breakout star for the Beavs, but Tyler Malone will be a big key moving forward, too. If they can get Philip/McGarry/Malone and Adley all producing, I actually feel OK about this offense.

Josh: Do you think Arkansas has the pieces to make another legit run at a tittle this year?
Aaron Fitt: Maybe so. Going into the year, I thought the pitching was a little light for that kind of run — but they do have some really good power arms, and several of them have taken big steps forward, notably Scroggins and of course Isaiah Campbell, whose emergence as a bona fide Friday ace you can count on is really a game-changer. We all know about the star power in the lineup — the top half of that lineup stacks up against anybody in the country. And the new starters in the bottom half have done a nice job too. I’d like to see the Hogs in person (which I will at Auburn in a couple weeks) before officially calling them an Omaha team, but they’ve definitely answered a lot of my questions about them heading into the season.

Tommy: Big weekend for Creighton Bluejays sweeping Maryland on the road, what do you see out of them this year? How will they matchup tomorrow for the in state rival?
Aaron Fitt: Creighton has had a strange up and down season. They’re always going to be a pitching-and-defense program, it’s in their DNA, so when they get starts like they got this weekend out of Mitch Ragan and Evan Johnson, I like their chances to make real noise in the Big East. Huskers and Jays are both riding some momentum into that matchup tomorrow, should be a good one.

Oxford Bald Eagle: C-USA is worse than usually this year.  Maybe FAU is a quality team but they got swept at home by the only team they have played with a pulse.  Southern Miss should have the best conference record in the country.  One would think that Wallner will start hitting at some point and I think USM will be a tough out in the Starkville regional that they seemed destin to go too.  Thought…
Kendall Rogers: You are right about C-USA. Right now, the only team with a chance to get into the postseason without winning the conference tournament (outside of USM) would be La Tech, and they’re sitting at 2-4 in the league. FAU is a solid club as usual, but again, it’s sitting in the 80s RPI wise. It’s still very early from an RPI standpoint, but you look at those teams and the other C-USA RPIs, and there aren’t a lot of RPI-improving opportunities.

WD: I know Tech’s offense is usually the headline, but what about their starting pitching? Did you see freshman Micah Dallas’ performance in his first start?
Kendall Rogers: Michael Dallas throwing well doesn’t surprise me too much. He a nasty slider to go with his fastball against Texas two weekends ago. Tech found its right formula over the weekend against Michigan, and that could be a big development moving forward.

Chris from Arlington: At this point in the season, it seems as if my Ole Miss Rebels have more questions than answers.  Given the gauntlet of the schedule they have down the stretch in SEC play (Auburn, A&M, LSU, State, Tennessee to finish the season), how do you see the season finishing for the Rebels and will they turn things around?
Aaron Fitt: That is quite a gauntlet, and I certainly don’t envision Ole Miss dominating against that stretch, because I think any team would have some ups and downs against a schedule like that. But I nonetheless expect a strong second half for Ole Miss, because I still really like the personnel there. That offense is so talented and experienced, I think they’re going to catch fire at some point and sustain it. And it’s been encouraging to see the way the rotation is shaping up — I was high on Doug Nikhazy entering the season, and he really gave Ole Miss a boost on Saturday. Hoglund will bounce back; I think Ethridge-Nikhazy-Hoglund is the right answer, and the rest of the pitching pieces will fall into place around them.

Reece: After the crazy weekend in Starkville, what are the biggest things you both came away with? About Auburn and Mississippi St.
Kendall Rogers: I don’t think there’s any doubt this Mississippi State team just has IT. Every time Auburn landed a punch, the Bulldogs responded in impressive fashion. MSU is an elite team. As for Auburn, I was actually impressed with the fact it was in this series considering Tanner Burns didn’t have a great start and Jack Owen and Davis Daniel were both out the rotation this weekend. That says a lot about AU’s potential, particularly from an offensive standpoint.

PackFan: NC State is off to a 23-1 start, with a sweep this weekend of Miami…..just curious is it SOS thats keeping them from being the possible #1 team in the poll?
Aaron Fitt: Well, the four teams above them keep on winning — none of them has lost a weekend series, and they all have some really good high-profile victories too. State has put together a very nice body of work, I’d be fine having the Wolfpack in the No. 1 slot based on that resumé, I just don’t see any justification for jumping them over four teams that have also been really good.

Devin: Has Isaiah Cambell done enough to be considered one of the top pitchers in the SEC? The Razorbacks have been impressive despite Casey Martin’s struggles but with Ole Miss, @Auburn, @Vandy and then Miss St do you think they can continue to win unless he picks it up?
Kendall Rogers: Devin – With Campbell sitting with an ERA under two and having a 51/5 strikeout to walk comparison, I’d say you can put him in the discussion as one of the elite SEC arms for sure. Those are terrific numbers, and it’s good to see because he’s always had the stuff. He’s just matured. As for the offense, they are still scoring runs with Casey scuffling a little – that tells me this team could be really, really dangerous once he returns to form (which I think will happen).

John: Is Southern Miss beginning to receive Top 25 consideration, and if so how high could they realistically climb given their schedule?
Aaron Fitt: Now this is the Southern Miss team we expected to see heading into the year — the clear-cut favorite in Conference USA. Since that five-game losing streak a while back, Southern Miss has won 11 of its last 12. Yes, the Eagles did come up in our Top 25 discussion this week, though they were behind the four teams I mentioned earlier, but they were probably first in line of the next pack. I expect USM to get into the rankings at some point in the next couple weeks if they keep this up. The offense had already come around, but it was very good to see the pitching come around too — they threw two shutouts this weekend. We definitely took notice.

Pat: No Dallas Baptist in the top 25.. defeated Texas A&M, Oklahoma, & Oklahoma State. Scored 30 runs yesterday and swept Air Force. What do they have to do to get ranked? Thanks!
Kendall Rogers: Pat – Keep taking care of business. I really like DBU’s club — the offense is solid and the rotation is quality with some studs on the back-end (Carraway), but this team is fresh off a series loss (at home) to Houston two weekends ago. Let’s see them establish consistency on the weekend. But I agree on one thing — this is a dangerous club.

Mark: Is there any news on Luca Dalatri?
Aaron Fitt: There’s nothing structurally wrong with him, and I think the Tar Heels are hoping he’ll return to the rotation this weekend against Duke, but of course they’re going to make sure he feels ready to go.

Chad: With a sweep of K-State Holiday and the boys start the big 12 3-0.  I know in the past OSU has started kinda slow leading up to big 12 play.  How do you like OSU chances of contending for the big 12?  Seems they have finally got a healthy bullpen.
Aaron Fitt: The Cowboys have flown under the radar a bit but have quietly played pretty good ball the last three weeks since that Iowa series loss, starting with a good weekend in LA. You’re right, the bullpen has gotten healthy and really seems to be coming together, I like the way Rob Walton has structured it. Still think the pitching depth there is good and the lineup is dangerous; still expect OSU to be a major factor in the Big 12, and get back into the Top 25 in the near future. That series at TCU is kinda fascinating to me.

Bill: Stronger top to bottom conference, Pac12 or SEC?
Kendall Rogers: Bill — I think both leagues are very good this year, but I thin the SEC is deeper. The Pac 12 is very good in the top half, but there are some teams at the bottom (Washington State, USC, etc) who frankly aren’t very good. In the SEC, you pretty much UK as a team who isn’t good and everyone else is at least serviceable. Alabama is much improved and Missouri can really, really pitch.

Guest: It seems UCSB and Illinois were the two teams vying for the opening Michigan left in the rankings.  What ultimately made you decide Illinois was more deserving of a top 25 ranking at this point?
Aaron Fitt: Their resumes are pretty similar, really. We just gave the nod to the cold-weather team, because it’s just harder for a team located in Champaign to go 17-4 than a team in Southern California. I think they’re both Top 25 caliber clubs when it comes to talent — both good, balanced teams.

Jeff: What did you guys think of Brandon Eisert start on friday? could he become a future starter?
Kendall Rogers: Jeff – I like the move of Eisert to the weekend rotation. I really liked him out of the bullpen with his fastball and curveball combo, and his success so far this season (before the start) had been incredible. OSU has so many weapons in the bullpen, it makes total sense to move one of those guys to the rotation. That bullpen is still terrific with Jake Mulholland and Christian Chamberlain leading the way.

BullDawg: Thoughts on the MSU vs LSU matchup this weekend? I see it as a key series for both squads with LSU coming off of a series loss to UGA and MSU rising as a favorite to take the SEC.
Aaron Fitt: Yeah, it’s a big one. For me, Mississippi State is the favorite to win the SEC, I just think they’re the most complete club in the conference, and they’ll be at home this weekend, so I like their chances. But LSU is obviously a really good team, definitely capable of going in there and winning two of three.

AMonroe: How does Auburn drop after the weekend they had? They gave a top 5 team a heck of a series on the road and they drop two spots?
Aaron Fitt: They still lost the series — and gave up 35 runs in the final two games (I know they weren’t at full strength on the mound). Many other teams have dropped more than two spots after losing series on the road, even against good clubs. There are other teams that deserve to move up, so that means if you lose a series you’re generally going to move down, even if it’s a respectable series loss.

The Duke: Which junior has best improved his draft stock so far this season that now looks like a top 15 pick who wasn’t considered a 1st rounder coming into the year?
Kendall Rogers: The Duke — that answer is pretty easy — Arizona State’s Hunter Bishop. He entered the season sitting at 44 and outside the first round in terms of college prospects. Well, there’s no doubt he’s a first-rounder right now. His stock has gone through the roof with his incredible start.
Aaron Fitt: Agreed!

Eric Simmons : When will Oregon State pitcher Kevin Abel be back? What’s the latest on him? Any word?
Kendall Rogers: OSU tested out his back before the series this past weekend, and I’m guessing he was still a little sore. I will check on this one.

Joel: Thoughts on Cade Cavilli from Oklahoma?
Kendall Rogers: Joel — I saw Cavalli a couple of weeks ago against Rice. What I saw was a guy with a strong frame and with premium stuff — he had a power breaking ball in the low-80s, along with a fastball up to 95-96. Command was an issue, but he’s gotten better with that as of late. As long as he continues to improve command, the sky is the limit.

Ben C: Who’s been the biggest disappointment of the year?
Aaron Fitt: Interestingly, each of the top 14 teams in our preseason rankings have stayed in the Top 25 all year long, though Florida is currently on thin ice after two rough weekends (but as I said, I expect the Gators to bounce back this week). Really, the preseason Top 25 team that has been the biggest disappointment is Cal State Fullerton at 11-10. Wake Forest was a bit of a disappointment early on but I think those guys are righting the ship, now up to 15-10, and I think they’re on the verge of making a big run.

Eric Simmons : Who’s your Coach of the Year so far?
Aaron Fitt: For me, it’s Elliott Avent — I think he’s done a masterful job with that Wolfpack team, getting the most out of the roster, and getting them to really, really believe they’re going to win every single game.

Jack: Hey guys! Wanted to get your take on BYU/the West Coast Conference. What are the chances we get two bids for the tournament this year? And what will it take for BYU to get a spot in the top 25? Thanks y’all!
Kendall Rogers: BYU still has some work to do, but the WCC is actually in much better shape RPI wise than it has been in the past — USD, Pepperdine and Gonzaga all have really solid RPIs, with the Toreros and Waves leading the charge. It’s going to be a mighty fun ride through conference play.

RyanTCU: What do you think about the Jake Eissler starting experiment? He looked good against Eastern Michigan, but struggled this week against Texas and his other start against Long Beach State.  He is great out of the bullpen. How much longer should TCU experiment with him as a starter? Do you think someone else has better chance of locking down the weekend starting role?
Kendall Rogers: Ryan — TCU was very confident in the Jake Eissler experiment, and personally, I thought he’d do pretty well. But he has really struggled. I would say the Frogs will look elsewhere, but there aren’t a lot of great options with Jared Janczak not his usual self and more.

Casey: What’s held UCSB back from at least cracking the poll?  Know it’s early, but they sure seem to check all of the boxes with record, RPI, and SOS?
Aaron Fitt: I still don’t even look at RPI this early. I look for teams that have quality series win over legitimate at-large caliber teams, and UCSB doesn’t really have one of those (best wins are at Tulane, which has been improved but is still probably not a regional team, I think; and LMU and Pepperdine, which will only be regional teams if they win the WCC tournament). That said, UCSB has a nice little resumé, and the Gauchos would probably be ranked in a normal year with more turnover in the Top 25. But this year, most of the Top 25 has really been pretty consistent, so we just have had fewer spots open up in the rankings than usual.

Leo: What will it take for Wake Forest to get back into consideration for a regional spot
Aaron Fitt: I think they’re on the right track; they’re 5-4 in the ACC, trending in the right direction with back to back series wins. I’ll have an in-depth piece on the Deacs on the site this afternoon, breaking down their club and the direction they’re heading. Stay tuned.
Aaron Fitt: OK gang, that’s all for me today. Thanks for stopping by, see you next week!

PackFan: Is there a better cumulative defense up the middle than NC State right now?  Pat Bailey behind the plate, Will Wilson at 1 E for the season at SS, David Vazquez seemingly winning the 2B job, and what Tyler McDonough’s athleticism does in CF even if he’s not a natural OF.
Kendall Rogers: Pack — Fitt and I were just talking on the Podcast about how incredible NC State has been defensively. that was a huge differentiator over the weekend with Miami committing six errors and NC State committing just one. A .987 fielding percentage as a TEAM is insane and it’s a big part of their success. Speaking of, UCSB is the only team ahead of the Pack right now at .988.

reece: Ole Miss has zero wins against teams that are in the top 50 in rpi. Is it too soon to hit the panic button with a road series against Arkansas looming this weekend?
Kendall Rogers: Definitely not time to hit the panic button for Ole Miss, but there’s definitely something missing with this club. They better find out what it is, though, because I’ll see them this weekend against Arkansas, and things could go south in a hurry in Fayetteville if the Rebels don’t put it all together. I was encouraged by Doug Nikhazy’s performance over the weekend.

Lance: Thoughts on LSU? Maneiri always gets it going around week 3 or 4 of SEC play and some how just takes it to the next level. Even some of their best teams have started off slow. But I think there is serious cause for concern for this team as a whole. I feel that they are on that cusp of putting it all together and becoming an Omaha team or just totally collapsing. Am I wrong in my assessment or overreaction?
Kendall Rogers: Lance — I still have serious concerns about LSU’s pitching, but Zack Hess did throw really, really well over the weekend. that was encouraging. I also think the Tigers will continue to hit in impressive fashion, but again, LSU’s success, plain and simple, hinges on the pitching staff.

Kendall Rogers: All right guys — that’s all the time I have today.  Enjoy our content
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