2020 College Baseball Thread

Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by Beagle, Dec 20, 2019.

  1. steamengine

    steamengine I don’t want to press one for English!
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    I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t news to me as well.
     
  2. Zebbie

    Zebbie Hey Mike, guess what I have in my underwear?
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    yep! He’s not as big as Josh, but he can play
     
  3. bertwing

    bertwing check out the nametag grandma
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    Along with me pumping dartin Martin this season, I will also be hyping Robert Moore. Son of Royals GM Dayton Moore. He was a top 20 recruit for 2021 that reclassed and enrolled early and will start at 2B for the Omahogs
     
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  4. Stagger Lee

    Stagger Lee Crazy. Sexy. Cool.
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    Georgia's pitching staff will be incredible. The offense will likely be abyssal.
     
  5. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
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    #10 #Mississippi State Bulldogs

    Top 25 Breakdown: No. 10 Mississippi State
    SEASON PREVIEW Aaron Fitt - January 14, 2020

    2019 Record: 52-15. RPI: 4.
    Coach (Record at school): Chris Lemonis (52-15, 1 season)
    Ballpark: Dudy Noble Stadium (13,000)
    Postseason History: 38 regionals (active streak: 4), 11 CWS trips (active streak: 2)
    More: Fall Report on Mississippi State
    Schedule, Stats, Team News: Follow the Bulldogs all season long at our Mississippi State Team Page.

    Mississippi State's Projected Lineup

    Pos. Name, Yr. AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI SB
    C Luke Hancock, So. .326/.483/.419 0 14 0
    1B Josh Hatcher, Jr. .321/.379/.500 3 21 3
    2B Justin Foscue, Jr. .331/.395/.564 15 60 2
    3B Landon Jordan, So. .328/.397/.426 1 11 4
    SS Jordan Westburg, Jr. .294/.402/.457 6 61 7
    LF Brad Cumbest, So. .286/.345/.429 1 11 0
    CF Rowdey Jordan, Jr. .290/.370/.420 6 49 11
    RF Tanner Allen, Jr. .349/.426/.516 7 66 1
    DH Brandon Pimentel, So. Tr. — Howard (Md.) CC
    Pos. Name, Yr. W-L ERA IP SO BB SV
    SP #1 JT Ginn, So. 8-4 3.13 86.1 105 19 0
    SP #2 Christian MacLeod, R-Fr. DNP — illness
    SP #3 Eric Cerantola, So. 3-0 4.30 14.2 21 11 0
    Closer Landon Sims, Fr. HS — South Forsythe (Ga.)

    Grading The Bulldogs
    Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.

    Hitting: 65
    Mainstays Jake Mangum and Elijah MacNamee plus 2019 breakout Dustin Skelton are gone, but Mississippi State returns all the other key pieces of an offense that ranked fifth in the nation in batting and 11th in scoring a year ago. This figures to be a dynamic lineup loaded with physicality and tough outs. Rowdey Jordan, an undersized energizer, is cut from the same cloth as Mangum and will slide in perfectly at the leadoff spot, where his impressive barrel skills from both sides of the plate and his solid plate discipline will be put to good use. He’ll be followed by three legitimate All-America candidates in Westburg, Allen and Foscue (who was a second-team All-American a year ago). Westburg and Foscue have powerful righthanded strokes and the ability to hit for average as well, while Allen is a gifted natural hitter with a pure lefthanded stroke that gives him a shot to follow in Mangum’s footsteps as an SEC batting champion.

    The bottom half of the lineup is less experienced and obviously less talented, but there’s still plenty of upside. Landon Jordan is a skilled bat-handler with a simple lefthanded swing who can grind out at-bats, though he could be pushed for playing time by juco transfer Noah Fondren, a high-energy slasher who competes hard from the right side. Hancock, who figures to lead a three-man catching committee, stands out for his keen batting eye and ability to put the ball in play consistently. Pimentel, Hatcher and Cumbest offer exciting physicality and could blossom into valuable run producers if they can continue to refine their approaches.

    Power: 65
    The Bulldogs ranked ninth in the SEC in home runs per game last year but ranked third in the conference (and 19th nationally) in slugging, largely because they led the nation with 166 doubles. Allen, Foscue and Westburg are doubles machines who each topped the 20-doubles mark in 2019, while Rowdey Jordan chipped in 15. All four should continue to drive the gaps and rack up doubles this spring, but each of them also brings home run power — Foscue hit 14 long balls a year ago and seems like a strong bet to match or increase that total as a junior, and each of the other three figure to push for double-digit homers after hitting a half-dozen apiece as sophomores. Westburg and Hatcher have the most raw power on the team — coach Chris Lemonis raved about an opposite-field, upper-deck homer that Hatcher hit against Southern Miss last year, and if he can improve his pitch selection, he could put up big numbers now that he’ll get regular playing time.

    Pimentel joins Hatcher and Allen (plus the switch-hitting Rowdey Jordan, who has surprising pop in his compact frame) to give MSU another bona fide power threat from the left side. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Pimentel hit .458 with 14 homers and 70 RBIs at Howard (Md.) CC last spring and showed the ability to drive the ball to all fields in the fall. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Cumbest doubles as a tight end on the MSU football team, and his raw power is gargantuan, but he needs more reps to truly harness it. The Bulldogs have been pleased with how his hit tool has started to develop this offseason. Freshman two-way talent Logan Tanner and sophomore Hayden Jones give MSU two more offensive options with intriguing pop behind the plate. Even Landon Jordan can flash some sneaky pop to the pull side, giving Mississippi State a chance to get some power production from every spot in the lineup. So even though State lost its only two double-digit homer guys in MacNamee and Skelton, we expect a big power surge from this club in 2020.

    Speed: 50
    The running game wasn’t a big part of the MSU attack last year, when it ranked 171st in the nation in steals per game, despite getting 22 steals from Mangum. Rowdey Jordan is a good runner who swiped 11 bags in 13 tries last year and should apply more pressure on the basepaths out of the leadoff spot, helping the big boppers behind him see more fastballs. Westburg is an explosive athlete who runs very well for a 6-foot-3, 191-pounder, and he could steal double-digit bases this year. Likewise, the Bulldogs say the 6-foot-2, 192-pound Hatcher is a plus runner with good instincts on the basepaths, and Cumbest moves well for his massive size as well. Fondren can really run and figures to get plenty of basestealing opportunities whether he earns a starting job or comes off the bench. And Landon Jordan is another solid runner.

    Defense: 65
    Mississippi State was a better defensive team than its modest .972 fielding percentage indicated last year, and its overall athleticism and experience should translate to defensive excellence this spring. Westburg and Foscue form a high-end tandem in the middle infield, as both of them have good instincts, quick first steps and take good angles to the ball. Westburg also has a rifle arm with easy carry, allowing him to make the occasional sensational play from deep in the hole. Landon Jordan and Hatcher give MSU two very athletic standout defenders on the infield corners, and Hancock is an above-average receiver and blocker with a solid, accurate arm behind the plate. Tanner is less polished as a defender but has a bazooka arm, and Jones needs to polish his receiving skills a bit but has major defensive upside, giving the Bulldogs three very talented options at the crucial catcher position. Rowdey Jordan covers plenty of ground in center field, where he’ll take over for the gifted Mangum after spending last year in left field. Allen moves from first base to right field, where he saw action for Team USA last summer and continued to make big strides in the fall, even improving his arm strength. Cumbest is something of an unknown, but the coaches say he defends very well in left field.

    Starting Pitching: 60
    Mississippi State must replace two-thirds of its weekend rotation in first-team All-America ace Ethan Small and steady Sunday guy Peyton Plumlee, but the Bulldogs still have a bona fide frontline ace in Ginn, who has already been a first-round pick (No. 30 overall) out of high school. A three-quarters righthander who pounds the strike zone, Ginn has college baseball’s best turbo sinker, a 91-95 mph bowling ball that induces ground ball after ground ball and also misses bats. He also can put hitters away with a plus slider that tunnels well with his fastball, and he’s working to improve his changeup, which has similar action to his fastball — but he’s already proven that he can dominate exclusively with his fastball and slider.

    The rest of the rotation is unproven but very talented. An athletic 6-foot-3, 215-pound southpaw who redshirted last year, MacLeod worked at 89-92 and touched 93 with riding life up in the zone in our fall look, and he flashed a good sharp downer breaking ball at 77-79 that Lemonis says is his best pitch. His 83-85 mph changeup is firmer than Lemonis would like and needs refinement, but it has some good diving action to it. Cerantola, a 6-foot-5 righty with enormous potential, flashed high-90s heat out of the bullpen as a freshman, then spent the summer refining his pitchability in the PGCBL and with Team Canada. In the summer, he located better at 93-95 and showed the makings of a true power curveball and a very promising changeup. He figures to work his share of deep counts and issue some walks, but he has the putaway stuff to get himself out of jams, and MSU doesn’t need him to turn in seven innings every week as the Sunday guy.

    The midweek starter slot isn’t set, but the Bulldogs have some good candidates. Lemonis compares freshman Davis Rokose to Auburn star Jack Owen; he’s a polished low-three-quarters lefthander who showed advanced feel for pitching at 89-91 with a solid 78-79 slurve this fall, though like Owen his changeup is his go-to secondary pitch and he has some deception that allows his fastball to get on hitters quick. The other obvious candidate for midweek starts is righthander Carlisle Koestler, a sixth-year senior graduate transfer from Southeastern Louisiana who likes to tell teammates that he’s the oldest player in college baseball. He’s the epitome of a wily veteran — he can carve up the strike zone with a lively 88-90 sinker that touched 92 this fall, a swing-and-miss changeup in the mid 70s that he can throw against righties or lefties and a useful slider. He also messes with hitters’ timing using both hesitations in his leg lift and quick pitches.

    Bullpen: 55
    Mississippi State will have its hands full replacing Cole Gordon, Jared Liebelt, Colby White and the injured Brandon Smith, who formed the backbone of last year’s strong bullpen. The Dawgs will rely on a number of young arms who have intriguing upside but need to prove it in the SEC. Freshman righty Sims, one of the crown jewels of a strong MSU recruiting class, appears to be the early front-runner for the closer job, but that competition is ongoing. Sims is an athletic high three-quarters righty who showed a very heavy fastball at 90-94 and touched 96 this fall. He also showed a promising 83 mph slider and some feel for an 84 mph changeup. Fellow freshman righty KC Hunt, the younger brother of former Tulane star and current Prep Baseball Report superstar writer Shooter Hunt, is oozing with projection at 6-foot-3, 176 pounds. He’s a gifted athlete who runs a 6.7-second 60-yard dash and has legitimate two-way ability, and it’s easy to envision him throwing in the mid-90s as he matures. The Bulldogs say his fastball has been up to 93 in the past, and he also showed the ability to spin a promising 80 mph slider and a 73 mph curve, along with advanced feel for his changeup. Two more freshman two-way players who could carve out bullpen roles include Tanner (who showed me 91-95 mph gas this fall but has been up to 97) and Kamren James (the brother of former Bulldog Keegan James), who ran his fastball up to 92 in the fall.

    Four juco transfers will be counted on to provide additional depth: lefties Jared Shemper and Houston Harding plus righties Chase Patrick and Jaxen Forrester. Shemper has a long three-quarters arm action that produces 89-91 sinkers and good sliders at 77-78. Harding showed good pitchability with an 89-91 fastball and a filthy tumbling changeup at 72-74 with excellent deception. That changeup is his calling card, and it’s a weapon against lefties as well as righties. Patrick is a 5-foot-9 warrior who showed an 87-88 sinker from a low three-quarters slot Saturday, but Lemonis said he’s been up to 93 this fall. He also has a decent slider at 78-80. Forrester has a funky, uptempo delivery with a high leg kick, giving him good deception. He worked at 90-91 with riding life up in the zone in the fall and showed a useful short slider at 80 mph.

    Righties Riley Self (a cutter specialist, as always) and Spencer Price (whose stuff still hasn’t come all the way back to where it was a couple years ago) plus lefty Jack Eagan (whose stuff was down in the fall but has shown a low-90s fastball and solid breaking ball in the past) add some veteran presence to a bullpen that will rely on a lot of D-I newcomers. The super-experienced Koestler could also provide the bullpen a huge boost if he doesn’t start midweek. Still, a lot of newcomers will have to prove themselves, but Lemonis feels good about the depth, for good reason.

    Experience/Intangibles: 60
    Mississippi State has been to four straight super regionals and back-to-back College World Series, so the upperclassmen in the lineup have loads of invaluable postseason experience and have proven they know how to win when the stakes are highest. Foscue, Westburg and Ginn front an outstanding leadership core, but MSU is relying on a host of newcomers on the mound and four new starters in the lineup, so there’s still some seasoning to be done.
     
  6. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
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    #9 #Arizona State Sun Devils #Arizona State Sun Devils alt

    Top 25 Breakdown: No. 9 Arizona State
    ANALYSIS Kendall Rogers - January 14, 2020

    2019 Record: 38-19 (16-13 Pac 12)
    RPI: 33.
    Coach (Record at school): Tracy Smith (155–129 in 5 seasons)
    Ballpark: Phoenix Municipal Stadium (8,000)
    Postseason History: 40 regionals (active streak: 1), 22 CWS trips (last in 2010).
    More: Fall Report on Arizona State
    Schedule, Stats, Team News: Follow the Sun Devils all season long at our Arizona State Team Page.

    Arizona State's Projected Lineup
    Pos. Name, Yr. AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI SB
    C Sam Ferri, RS-Jr. .261/.321/.385 2 24 0
    1B Spencer Torkelson, Jr. .351/.446/.707 23 66 1
    2B Drew Swift, Jr. .265/.375/.333 0 20 1
    3B Gage Workman, Jr. .330/.413/.528 8 42 9
    SS Alika Williams, Jr. .333/.429/.474 4 53 9
    LF Trevor Hauver, Jr. .339/.433/.574 13 50 0
    CF Sean McLain, Fr. FR--Tustin, Calif. (Beckman)
    RF Myles Denson, Sr. .292/.354/.416 0 11 0
    DH Hunter Jump, Jr. Transfer-- Central Arizona College
    Pos. Name, Yr. W-L ERA IP SO BB SV
    SP #1 Justin Fall, Jr. Transfer--Brookdale (N.J.) College
    SP #2 Cooper Benson, Fr. Freshman--San Luis Obispo, Calif. (HS)
    SP #3 Boyd Vander Kooi, Jr. 4-4 5.59 95 85 39 0
    Closer RJ Dabovich, Jr. 3-2 4.75 53 47 26 3

    Grading The Sun Devils
    Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.

    HITTING: 70
    The Sun Devils will again have one of the nation’s premier offensive lineups.

    Everyone talks about Spencer Torkelson, and for good reason. Tork had a monstrous sophomore campaign, hitting .351 with 17 doubles, 23 home runs and 66 RBIs. Simply ridiculous numbers.

    With that said, there’s more to this lineup than just Tork doing Tork things. Gage Workman (.330) is back for more this season, while shortstop Alika Williams took some serious offensive strides during the fall and is ready to build on last season’s .333 batting average with more power production. Trevor Hauver (.339) is back for more this season and looks to cut down on his strikeouts (53 last season), while Myles Denson provides a veteran presence and Sam Ferri and Drew Swift are expected to take sizable steps forward offensively. Ferri if he can stay healthy, has some power production and consistency in him, while Swift, though known more for his defensive prowess in the past, showed marked improvement with the bat during the fall.

    The additions of Sean McLain and Hunter Jump should provide dividends, too. McLain is an athletic guy who just always seems to find the ball with the barrel, while Jump took a year sabbatical at a junior college and is back ready to do some damage. He can go gap to gap with the bat and will be a top to middle of the order type of bat.

    ASU finished last season with a .310 batting average, and it wouldn’t come as a surprise if it bests that mark this spring.

    POWER: 65
    Arizona State won’t be quite what it was last season from a power standpoint, but it will be close with the return of Spencer Torkelson and others.

    Tork is the top returning power hitter in college baseball, hitting 17 doubles with 23 home runs last season, while outfielder Trevor Hauver and third baseman Gage Workman each have big-time power potential. Hauver finished last season with double digit home runs and Workman had eight big flies.

    Also keep an eye on Williams and Jump from a power standpoint. Williams hasn’t exactly been known for his power in the past, but the talented shortstop has increased his strength, thus more power is being generated off his bat. Meanwhile, Jump is a leadoff hitter type who showed some sneaky pop and power potential during the fall. There’s also Ferri, who doesn’t have big-time power, but who has enough pop to run a few balls into the gaps and out of the ballpark.

    SPEED: 55
    Arizona State will have some athleticism at its disposal this spring, but this is certainly not a team that is going to wow anyone from that standpoint.

    Williams and Workman are both back for more this season, and the two combined for 18 stolen bases last season. The lone double-digit base stealer from last season – Hunter Bishop – is no longer with the program and is now in the professional ranks.

    Drew Swift is another above average runner to watch in the lineup. He can make things happen with his leagues and will certainly be a bit more versatile this season. Meanwhile, Jump is an athletic guy who can make things happen, too. There’s a chance he begins the season atop the lineup in the leadoff role. Myles Denson has average speed that can be an asset, and freshman Sean McLain has athleticism and speed to use to his advantage.

    Again, this team won’t blow you away with speed, but there are some guys who can asset themselves in that department.

    DEFENSE: 70
    The key to winning championships and getting to the College World Series is playing excellent defense, and the Sun Devils should have that covered this spring.

    Behind the plate, the Devils have an excellent defender in Ferri. Ferri needs to stay healthy, and that has been an issue in the past. But when he’s healthy, the hard-nosed veteran will show a strong and accurate arm with elite receiving skills.

    ASU might just have the nation’s best middle infield from a defensive standpoint. What Swift may not have from an offensive standpoint he more than makes up for with his elite defensive skills. Meanwhile, Williams is a vacuum at shortstop with elite actions and instincts. He and Swift make up a terrific double play combo.

    Gage Workman also is a strong defender, and could play up the middle if need to, while in the outfield, Hauver is serviceable in left, Denson has a good arm in right and McLain, a freshman, is an aggressive defender with an impressive ability to track down balls.

    The defense should be rock solid for the Devils.

    STARTING PITCHING: 55
    The Sun Devils have a renewed sense of confidence on the mound this season with the addition of pitching coach Jason Kelly. They also have some nice pieces to work with from a personnel standpoint.

    Junior college transfer lefthander Justin Fall has a chance to be the Friday night starter. Fall is a 6-foot-6, 245-pounder, who surprised the coaches with a premium arm this past fall, sitting 92-94 and up to 95-96 mph with his fastball, along with a quality changeup and slider. Tracy Smith is cautiously optimistic. After all, he wants to see how he performs before drawing conclusions. But big upside is there.

    Freshman righthander Cooper Benson, as of now, is slated to be in the weekend rotation. Benson, too, had a huge fall with advanced pitchability for a young pitcher. He’ll sit upper 80s with his fastball, along with a very good changeup and quality breaking ball. He’s a competitive lefty who is not afraid to go after hitters.

    For now, look for junior righty Boyd Vander Kooi to be in the weekend rotation. Vander Kooi has a legitimate four-pitch mix and has shown flashes of being a premium arm at times. However, he needs to be more consistent this spring. He will sit 89-91 and up to 92 mph with his fastball, along with a quality breaking ball and improved changeup. There’s also Saint Mary’s transfer Tyler Thornton. Thornton was just OK during the fall, but clearly has a premium arm with a fastball up to 92-93 mph along with a solid slider and changeup – both swing and miss offerings.

    BULLPEN: 55
    The Devils could have a very good bullpen if all the pieces come together.

    The clear headliner for this bullpen is righthander RJ Dabovich. Dabovich did some good things for the Devils last season but become more of a brand name this past summer with a strong showing at the Cape Cod League. Dabovich has feel for four pitches and showed a fastball in the low-to-mid 90s over the summer.

    Lefthander Erik Tolman is another quality option in the bullpen. Tolman got his feet wet in an important role last season and showed improvements this past fall. He sits in the upper-80s with his fastball and showed improved command in the fall.

    Will Levine, Blake Burzell and Cam Dennie are other quality options to watch.

    Levine is a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder, who impressed the coaching staff in the fall with a fastball up to 96 mph, along with good overall stuff, while Burzell was up to 93-95 mph with his fastball, but was inconsistent at times last season. He could be a premier arm if he shows consistency. Then there’s Dennie, the freshman, who has easy arm action and who was 89-91 and up to 92 mph with his fastball this past fall, along with a quality slider.

    There’s not huge margin for error with this group, but there are plenty of talented options.

    EXPERIENCE/INTANGIBLES: 55
    The Sun Devils have been a work in progress the past couple of seasons. They took a step forward last season by getting off to an incredible start. However, reality finally hit, and the Devils weren’t quite as strong down the stretch.

    With that said, they still had a good but not great year. ASU reached the NCAA tournament, where it was eliminated by Southern Mississippi in excruciating fashion, particularly from a pitching standpoint. ASU went out this past summer and hired one of the brightest pitching minds in the game in Washington’s Jason Kelly.

    ASU will get a boost from Kelly’s addition, has some experience on the mound, and certainly has a plethora of experience from an offensive standpoint. But still, it must find a way to put all the pieces together in a year everyone expects them to be back to national prominence.
     
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  7. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
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    #11 #LSU Tigers

    Top 25 Breakdown: No. 11 LSU
    SEASON PREVIEW Aaron Fitt - January 15, 2020

    2019 Record: 40-26. RPI: 16.
    Coach (Record at school): Paul Mainieri (591-255-3 in 13 seasons.
    Ballpark: Alex Box Stadium (10,300).
    Postseason History: 32 regionals (active streak: 8), 18 CWS trips (last in 2017), 6 national title (last in 2009).
    More: Fall Report on LSU
    Schedule, Stats, Team News: Follow the Tigers all season long at our LSU Team Page.

    LSU's Projected Lineup
    Pos. Name, Yr. AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI SB
    C Saul Garza, Jr. .303/.358/.476 5 27 0
    1B Cade Beloso, So. .279/.339/.429 10 52 1
    2B Cade Doughty, Fr. HS — Denham Springs, La.
    3B Zack Mathis, Jr. Tr. — San Joaquin Delta (Calif.) CC
    SS Hal Hughes, Jr. .174/.289/.188 0 11 2
    LF Drew Bianco, So. .176/.348/.353 3 14 1
    CF Giovanni DiGiacomo, So. .275/.376/.333 3 14 1
    RF Daniel Cabrera, Jr. .284/.359/.516 12 50 1
    DH Gavin Dugas, So. .186/.265/.233 0 6 1
    Pos. Name, Yr. W-L ERA IP SO BB SV
    SP #1 Cole Henry, So. 4-2 3.39 58.1 72 18 0
    SP #2 Landon Marceaux, So. 5-2 4.66 58 43 20 0
    SP #3 AJ Labas, R-So. DNP — injured
    Closer Devin Fontenot, Jr. 5-4 3.71 51 54 25 7

    Grading The Tigers
    Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.

    Hitting: 55
    The Tigers lost the top three hitters (Josh Smith, Antoine Duplantis and Zach Watson) from a team that ranked sixth in the SEC in batting and scoring a year ago, and there could be some growing pains as a host of underclassmen get their feet wet as everyday players in the SEC for the first time. Still, LSU has a very nice core of accomplished returning bats to build around in Cabrera, Garza and Beloso, and the sophomore class is full of promising breakout candidates. Cabrera is a hitting machine who has produced for two straight seasons and is a strong bet to earn All-America honors and be selected on Day One of the draft. Garza came on very strong down the stretch last year, making a nice transition from the juco ranks to the SEC. Beloso joins Cabrera to give LSU a second dangerous run producer from the left side; both of them and Garza need to show better control of the strike zone than they did a year ago, but there’s reason to expect them to do just that, and we anticipate their on-base numbers will spike this spring.

    Outside of that trio, there’s plenty of competition for jobs around the diamond, and LSU coach Paul Mainieri believes that competition will bring out the best in his club. Three sophomore outfielders who look like picks to click are Bianco, DiGiacomo and Dugas. The speedy DiGiacomo profiles as a slashing leadoff man if he can cut down his strikeout rate and do a better job playing the short game, but his strong summer in the Cape Cod League (where he hit .308) is a positive sign for his development. Bianco worked hard in the fall to improve his ability to drive the ball to the opposite field, making him a tougher out than he was a year ago, though he still figures to swing and miss plenty. The 5-foot-10, 199-pound Dugas has real strength in his compact frame and was perhaps LSU’s most improved hitter in the fall. He and Bianco have shots to be steady righthanded run producers in the bottom half of the order, and their ability to help lengthen the lineup will be a big key.

    Look for juco transfer Mathis to serve as a catalyst in one of the top two spots in the order after showing a disciplined approach and a good line-drive stroke from the left side in fall ball. Mainieri confidently predicted in October that the heady 5-foot-8 Mathis “will be a real force for us.” The same could be true of blue-chip freshman Doughty, who starred against older competition in the Ripken League last summer and has the strength and barrel awareness to be LSU’s next big offensive star. The light-hitting Hughes needs to take a step forward offensively to stick in the lineup, but the Tigers have more offensive alternatives in freshmen Zach Arnold and Collier Cranford, either of whom could become a significant factor as the season unfolds.

    Power: 55
    The Tigers ranked eighth in the SEC in slugging and home runs per game last year, and they lost three of their top power hitters in Smith, Duplantis and Watson. However, we expect LSU’s power output to be similar in 2020. Cabrera and Beloso have big-time lefthanded juice, and either one of them could challenge for the SEC home run title now that they have another year of experience and strength gains under their belts. Garza also figures to at least double last year’s home run output if he can stay healthy for a full season after dealing with a string of bad-luck injuries. He offers clear double-digit homer potential from the right side and really excels at driving the ball the other way. Bianco, who owns a natural uppercut stroke and loads of pull-side strength, led the team in homers in the fall and should provide additional righthanded pop this spring. Doughty and freshman outfield/DH candidate Mitchell Sanford also offer intriguing righty power to the pull side, and Dugas should bring occasional pop as well. The X-factor is freshman two-sport talent Maurice Hampton Jr., whose power/speed package remind the Tigers of fellow former LSU baseball/football standouts Jared Mitchell and Chad Jones. But it figures to take Hampton some time to adjust to college pitching after spending the fall with the football team.

    Speed: 55
    LSU lost all three of its double-digit basestealers a year ago in Duplantis, Watson and Brandt Broussard, but this team is still well stocked with quality athletes who can run. Leading the way is DiGiacomo, whose “world-class speed” could make him a game-changer, as Mainieri put it. Bianco and Cabrera both run better than you might think based on their frames; Cabrera was clocked at 6.6 seconds in the 60-yard dash last summer and even saw action in center field in fall ball. Five-foot-9 freshman spark plug West Toups offers 6.5 speed off the bench, though he’ll also have a shot to compete for more regular playing time in LSU’s crowded outfield mix. Hampton is a burner too, and Cranford is another bona fide speed merchant in the freshman class.

    Defense: 55
    The Tigers were a sound defensive unit a year ago, fielding .977, but the inexperience of most of the position player group creates some uncertainty heading into 2020. Still, the overall team athleticism should translate to another good defensive squad. Hughes is a premium defender at short, and if his bat doesn’t keep him in the lineup, Arnold showed easy defensive actions, good range and an accurate arm in the fall. Doughty has the tools to be a solid defender at second as he matures, and Beloso has worked hard to improve his defense at first base, which an area of concern a year ago. Mathis is an instinctive playmaker at the hot corner, and Garza has improved his receiving and blocking skills behind the plate — Maineiri said the pitchers love throwing to him. Garza has just an average arm and is still working to control the running game better, but LSU also has a marquee defensive talent behind the plate in freshman Alex Milazzo, who owns a Howitzer and dazzled with his catch-and-throw skills in the fall. If DiGiacomo can hold down the job in center field (where his speed gives him superb range), LSU’s outfield should be strong, because Cabrera has improved by leaps and bounds as a defender, and Bianco takes good routes and features a strong, accurate arm.

    Starting Pitching: 65
    LSU’s No. 1 ranked 2018 recruiting class was headlined by a slew of electric arms who gained valuable experience as freshmen last spring, and now we expect them to take huge leaps forward and become stars as sophomores. Leading the way is Henry, who showed flashes of brilliance as a freshman but missed three weeks in the second half due to arm discomfort. He came back strong this fall, showing the makings of three legitimate plus pitches in his 91-96 fastball, tight downer curveball at 74-78, and sinking 83-86 changeup that is becoming a real weapon against righties as well as lefties. He has first-round potential as a draft-eligible sophomore this spring. Fellow blue-chip sophomore Marceaux had a more uneven freshman year, which was hampered by some arm soreness, but he came on strong down the stretch as he learned to trust his stuff and not try to be too fine. He attacks at 89-92 and touches 94 with a lively sinker that he can locate to all four quadrants, and he worked with pitching coach Alan Dunn to add a swing-and-miss 82-84 mph slider to his arsenal in the fall.

    The other two likely starters are older guys who have overcome more significant injuries in their careers: righties Labas and Eric Walker. Labas redshirted in 2019 due to a shoulder injury, but his stuff was better than ever this fall, when he pumped strikes at 90-93 with two quality secondary pitches from the same slot. Mainieri even said his command and control compare with former LSU great Aaron Nola at the same age. Walker starred as a freshman in 2017, then missed all of 2018 while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He went 5-4, 5.48 in 72.1 innings last spring, but often times it takes two seasons for pitchers to get all the way back from TJ. This fall, Walker looked more like the Walker of old, a premium strike-thrower brimming with confidence. He can’t match the pure stuff of the three sophomores, but he can succeed in a big way with the stuff he’s got thanks to his advanced feel for pitching. His fastball has modest velocity but plays up because of its carry through the zone. Walker could give LSU one of the better midweek starters in the SEC.

    Bullpen: 70
    The combination of two electric back-end anchors and exceptional pitching depth should give LSU one of the nation’s best bullpens this spring. Fontenot really came into his own at the back of the bullpen down the stretch last year, highlighted by six innings of no-hit relief in the super regional against Florida State. He’s an athletic strike-thrower with a live low-to-mid-90s fastball and good deception, and Dunn said his breaking ball has taken another step forward this fall. If he can be a little more consistent with his command, he could be one of the best closers in the country this spring. Coming out of high school, righty Jaden Hill was actually the highest-ranked of LSU’s crop of blue-chip arms in that sophomore class, and he was outstanding in two starts as a freshman before a UCL strain sidelined him for the rest of the spring. Mainieri said the 6-foot-4 Hill added about 20 pounds of muscle in the last year, and the Tigers took it slowly with him in the fall, but by the end he was back on the mound and throwing 94-96 gas along with some very good sliders. He’s ultra-loose and athletic, has great mound presence, and even has feel for changeup; in short, the sky is his ceiling.

    Junior righties Ma’Khail Hilliard and Trent Vietmeier plus senior righty Matthew Beck provide valuable veteran presence in the pen. Hilliard made 12 starts during his strong freshman year (going 9-5, 3.79), but his velocity dipped and his curveball lost power last spring, when he posted a 5.32 ERA. He looked as good as ever in the fall, attacking the zone with his old 86-89 mph fastball with vicious natural cut action, and showing a wipeout power curveball at 79-80. The Tigers shouldn’t have to depend upon him as a starter this year given all their other options, and he could really thrive in a swingman or setup role. He’s also put on about 15 pounds of strength, which has helped his velocity climb and could help him bounce back better to pitch multiple times in a given weekend. Vietmeier has also taken a big step forward after posting a 5.24 ERA in 25 relief appearances last spring. Dunn lauded his competitiveness and ability to attack with a fastball that sits around 90 and can bump 94 as well as a good cutter that became a weapon for him last spring. Beck was one of LSU’s top relievers a year ago (3-0, 2.05 in 44 innings). He won’t blow hitters away with his 86-88 fastball, but his big curveball is a weapon, and he knows how to use it.

    Sophomore righty Chase Costello has a chance to be a useful middle relief piece as well, if he can do a better job putting himself in pitchers’ counts and finish hitters off more consistently. A physical three-quarters righty, Costello showed a heavy sinker at 89-91 and a decent 79-82 slider in the fall. So that’s 10 returning arms to lead this LSU staff, and newcomers Brandon Kaminer (a strike-throwing juco transfer who can bump 93 with advanced feel for his changeup and slider) and Jacob Hasty (who flashed 93-94 heat in high school last spring along with a putaway 12-to-6 curve) give the Tigers two much-needed reinforcements from the left side. Depth was a weakness last year, but it will be a major strength in 2020.

    Experience/Intangibles: 55
    This is a younger team that will rely heavily on unproven players, but there’s still a decent supply of veterans who played prominent roles on last year’s super regional club, led by juniors Cabrera and Garza plus sophomores Beloso, Henry and Marceaux. Beck and Walker both saw plenty of meaningful innings for an Omaha team in 2017, while Hilliard and Fontenot also have plenty of valuable experience under their belts, making the bullpen plenty seasoned. And LSU is still LSU; just donning the purple and gold comes with a psychological boost, especially at Alex Box Stadium. It will surely take some time for roles to gel in the lineup, and Mainieri will experiment with lots of different lineup combinations, but he always seems to settle on the right combination by the time the postseason rolls around.
     
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  8. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
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    Auburn TigersAtlanta BravesAtlanta United

    #12 #Florida State Seminoles

    Top 25 Breakdown: No. 12 Florida State
    SEASON PREVIEW Aaron Fitt - January 15, 2020

    2019 Record: 42-23. RPI: 50.
    Coach (Record at school): Mike Martin Jr. (first year).
    Ballpark: Dick Howser Stadium (Capacity: 6,700).
    Postseason History: 57 regionals (active streak: 42), 23 CWS trips (active streak: 1), 0 national titles.
    More: Fall Report on Florida State.
    Schedule, Stats, Team News: Follow the Seminoles all season long at our Florida State Team Page.

    Florida State's Projected Lineup

    Pos. Name, Yr. AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI SB
    C Matheu Nelson, So. .282/.442/.442 6 29 4
    1B Carter Smith, Sr. .245/.360/.362 2 10 0
    2B Jackson Greene, Jr. Tr. — Dothan Wallace (Ala.) CC
    3B Cooper Swanson, Jr. .159/.362/.409 7 14 4
    SS Nander De Sedas, So. .231/.353/.337 4 32 3
    LF Elijah Cabell, So. .220/.404/.415 7 25 9
    CF Reese Albert, Jr. .283/.390/.518 9 35 2
    RF Robby Martin, So. .315/.398/.449 4 54 2
    DH Tyrell Brewer, Fr. HS — Orlando
    Pos. Name, Yr. W-L ERA IP SO BB SV
    SP #1 CJ Van Eyk, Jr. 10-4 3.81 99.1 129 41 0
    SP #2 Shane Drohan, Jr. 3-1 3.66 51.2 71 48 0
    SP #3 Conor Grady, Jr. 9-6 3.64 64.1 71 26 0
    Closer Davis Hare, Jr. Tr. — Dothan Wallace (Ala.) CC

    Grading The Seminoles
    Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.

    Hitting: 55

    Florida State’s offense was uncharacteristically mediocre last year, ranking 11th in the ACC in batting and seventh in scoring — but they still ranked fourth in the nation in walks and 29th in OBP, as the tried-and-true Seminole plate discipline remained intact. The ‘Noles have ranked among the national leaders in walks for decades, and they surely will again in 2020. Leading hitter Mike Salvatore, top slugger Drew Mendoza and power/speed threat J.C. Flowers are gone, but FSU still has a very talented nucleus to build the lineup around, headlined by potential All-American Reese Albert, whose pretty lefthanded stroke, all-fields approach and all-around tool set make him a likely Day One draft pick next June. Albert missed the fall while rehabbing a shoulder injury, but he should be good to go this spring. If Albert serves as the catalyst in the leadoff spot, look for Robby Martin to anchor the lineup in the 3-hole. Another potential All-American, Martin is simply a natural born hitter from the left side, earning him the nickname RobbyRakes.com in the clubhouse. Fellow sophomore Nelson was also a very productive hitter as a freshman and figures to take another step forward as a sophomore. He’s a gap-to-gap hitter who has learned to drive the ball to the opposite field better since last spring.

    The key to this offense will be how the ultra-talented pair of De Sedas and Cabell progress as sophomores, following disappointing freshman years. De Sedas posted a 61-12 K-BB mark last year and hit just .231, after arriving in Tallahassee as the highest-rated freshman prospect in the country. But he turned a corner this summer in the NECBL, where he earned all-star honors. A switch-hitter with power potential, De Sedas also made strides using the opposite field (another staple of FSU’s offensive philosophy) and improving his drag bunting skill. The tooled-up Cabell whiffed a whopping 88 times in 164 at-bats last year, but FSU worked with him in the fall on getting into his legs better, which helped him see the ball better and improve his pitch selection. Like Cabell, Swanson has the physicality and improving approach to blossom into an impact run producer this spring, on the heels of a strong fall. The rest of the lineup features some complementary pieces who will be counted upon to grind out quality at-bats and hit situationally: Smith, Greene and whoever winds up at the DH spot. For now, we’ll put the super-athletic Brewer (who offers exciting bat speed) in that spot.

    Power: 60
    Albert is FSU’s top returning home run hitter despite missing time due to injury, and look for him to hit 15-plus long balls in a full season as a junior. Martin is plenty physical at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, and he figures to more than double his home run output (four) from a year ago. The Seminoles have raved about Cabell’s light-tower raw power for the last year and a half — it earns legitimate 80 grades on the 20-80 scale — but he must make more consistent contact to tap into that power more effectively. Nelson and Swanson also offer double-digit homer ability, and Swanson’s natural opposite-field strength should make him a perfect fit for Dick Howser Stadium and its short porch in right field. Swanson led the team with six homers in fall ball, and he’s a strong bet to blossom into a real power threat with regular playing time this spring. De Sedas has exciting bat speed from both sides that should translate to more power production this year, provided he can cut down his K rate, as mentioned above.

    Speed: 50
    The running game isn’t usually a significant part of FSU’s attack, and it ranked just 228th in the nation in steals per game last year. But even if the Seminoles don’t steal a lot, this club does have speed. You might not guess it based on his physical 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame, but Cabell can run the 60-yard dash in 6.5 to 6.6 seconds, and Swanson is another surprisingly fast runner who has been clocked at 6.6. Albert and De Sedas are also solid runners, and Brewer is a burner.

    Defense: 60
    Defense was a weakness last year for FSU, which fielded a meager .964 (197th in the nation). But there’s reason to expect this year’s Seminoles to be one of the best defensive units they’ve fielded in recent years, because they look very strong up the middle. Nelson is a physical backstop with good catch-and-throw skills, and coach Mike Martin Jr. said the game has slowed down for him since his freshman year. De Sedas was the defensive player of the year in the NECBL last summer and carried over his standout defense to fall ball. His quickness, smooth actions and arm strength are big reasons he was ranked as the top prospect to attend college after the 2018 draft. De Sedas and the hard-nosed, instinctive Greene should form a rock-solid double-play tandem, and Albert gets good reads and jumps as well as a strong arm in center. Cabell could also battle Albert for the center-field job; his speed and rifle arm should play no matter where he ends up. Robby Martin worked to get lighter on his feet and improve his angles and jumps in the offseason, and FSU saw major gains in those areas, so he should have no trouble handling an everyday outfield spot after DHing last spring. The infield corner spots remain in flux; Swanson and Smith are both capable of playing either corner, and Martin Jr. identified Brewer and fellow freshman Danny Andzel as other candidates in a “wide open” race for the hot corner job at the end of the fall. How those jobs shake out will determine just how good this defense can be.

    Starting Pitching: 65

    Florida State should have one of the best weekend rotations in the ACC and potentially all of college baseball. Van Eyk is a likely first-round pick who followed up his strong sophomore year with a dynamite fall, running his fastball up to 98 mph repeatedly and showing improved command. He also can miss bats with a wicked power breaking ball at 78-83 and a quality changeup at 83-84. Drohan, a junior lefty who tantalized with his raw stuff over the past two years, figures to join Van Eyk in what has the potential to be an elite one-two punch atop the rotation. A high walk rate Drohan back last year, when he posted a 3.66 ERA in 16 appearances (11 starts) over 51.2 innings, with 48 walks. But Drohan was a completely different animal this fall after new pitching coach Jimmy Belanger sped up his tempo, pounding the strike zone at 92-94 mph with a fairly high spin rate in the 2300-2500 rpm range, missing bats with a wipeout power curveball at 77-79 in the 2600-2800 rpm range, and flashing an above-average changeup with good arm speed and fade at 79-83. Polished righthander Grady should give the Seminoles a rock-solid innings eater to join Van Eyk and Drohan in the weekend rotation. Martin Jr. called Grady “Steady Eddie,” an 89-92 mph strike-thrower with a very good 84-86 slider/cutter that he can land for strikes and a swing-and-miss changeup.

    The midweek starter job appears up for grabs, but FSU has three very good candidates in senior lefty Antonio Velez, sophomore righty Jack Anderson and freshman southpaw Bryce Hubbart. Velez is an accomplished strike-thrower who attacks with four pitches, including an 88-89 fastball, good sinking changeup, short slider at 82-83 and a curveball. Anderson’s lack of command limited him to 7.2 innings as a freshman last year, but he came back from summer ball as a different guy, throwing more strikes, showing more velocity and a better, harder breaking ball. He was 89-92 this fall with a tight 81 mph breaking ball in the 2400-2500 rpm spin rate range. He also showed solid fading action on his 80-81 changeup. Hubbart is a stocky, compact 5-foot-11, 180-pounder with advanced feel to pitch from a three-quarters slot. He was up to 95 mph this fall and showed us the ability to carve up the zone at 89-91 with a tumbling 78-80 changeup that flashed plus and a tight 74-75 curveball at 2500-2700 rpm.

    Bullpen: 60
    Martin Jr. believes this is Florida State’s deepest pitching staff in many years, and that depth is the strength of the bullpen, which lacks a proven closer. Two out of the Velez/Anderson/Hubbart trio will be ticketed for bullpen roles when FSU only plays four games per week, and all of them will be relied upon heavily. The early front-runner for the closer might be juco transfer Hare, who worked at 92-93 this fall with an uncommonly low spin rate that gives his ball serious sink — in fact, Martin Jr. said he did not give up a flyball out the entire fall. He also has a split-finger that the coach describes as “unhittable” and a useful breaking ball.

    Several other newcomers opened eyes this fall as well. Freshman righty Doug Kirkland was regarded as more of a catcher than a pitcher for much of his high school career, but when he stepped on the mound in Tallahassee this fall it was 92-94 with a high spin rate (up into the 2500s) and a big-time three-quarters breaking ball at 77-78, with a spin rate around 2600. He also showed a quality 83 mph slider, and Martin Jr. said that pitch was more like 86-88 and acting like J.C. Flowers’ filthy cutter when it was at its best. Physical freshman Brandon Walker also showed power stuff in the fall, working at 91-94 with a promising slider, but he must continue to refine his strike-throwing. Freshman lefty Parker Messick is a polished three-pitch strike-thrower with high spin rate and funk, which makes his fastball play up. Then there’s freshman lefty Ryan Pettys, a skinny, projectable 6-foot-2, 165-pounder who has been up to 92 with a sweeping breaking ball that is tough on lefties and a changeup that remains a work in progress.

    Seasoned veterans Clayton Kwiatkowski and Jonah Scolaro give Florida State two rock-solid, proven options from the left side; neither is overpowering but both know how to pitch and offer some deception. The X-factor is junior righty Tyler Ahearn, who was up to 93 mph in the fall and flashed a very good 81-84 slider with late tilt in the 2400-2500 range, but his control remains a work in progress, as it has been since he arrived at FSU.

    Experience/Intangibles: 60
    As we wrote last year in this space, Florida State gets a bonus in this category just for putting on the Garnet & Gold, which is good for 40-plus wins a year every year for more than four decades running. Mike Martin may have retired, but Martin Jr. was his righthand man for more than two decades, and he’ll hit the ground running as the head man this spring. The Seminoles also have a lineup filled with holdovers from last year’s Omaha team, and more experienced upperclassmen leading the pitching staff. So while there are some hitters and some freshman bullpen arms who must prove themselves, the experienced foundation is in place for FSU to make another CWS run in the first year of the Martin Jr. era.
     
  9. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
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    Auburn TigersAtlanta BravesAtlanta United

    #13 #Michigan Wolverines

    Top 25 Breakdown: No. 13 Michigan
    ANALYSIS Kendall Rogers - January 15, 2020

    2019 Record: 50-22 (16-7 Big Ten)
    RPI: 39.
    Coach (Record at school): Erik Bakich (259–162 in 7 seasons)
    Ballpark: Ray Fisher Stadium (3,000)
    Postseason History: 24 regionals (active streak: 1), 8 CWS trips (last in 2019).
    More: Fall Report on Michigan
    Schedule, Stats, Team News: Follow the Wolverines all season long at our Michigan Team Page.

    Michigan's Projected Lineup

    Pos. Name, Yr. AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI SB
    C Joe Donovan, Jr. .234/.314./.421 9 37 0
    1B Jimmy Obertop, Fr. FR-- St. Louis (Westminster Christian)
    2B Riley Bertram, So. .385/.515/.538 0 7 1
    3B Logan Pollack, Jr. DNP
    SS Jack Blomgren, Jr. .314/.417/.401 3 47 7
    LF Jordan Nwogu, Jr. .321/.435/.557 12 46 16
    CF Jesse Franklin, Jr. .262/.388/.477 13 55 4
    RF Christian Bullock, Sr. .263/.385/.407 2 14 14
    DH Dominic Clementi, RS-Jr. .195/.276/.299 1 6 2
    Pos. Name, Yr. W-L ERA IP SO BB SV
    SP #1 Jeff Criswell, Jr. 7-1 2.72 106 116 50 3
    SP #2 Ben Dragani, RS-So. DNP--Injured
    SP #3 Isaiah Page, RS-Fr. 4-1 2.75 52.1 33 16 1
    Closer Willie Weiss, So. 1-0 1.74 31.1 39 20 0

    Grading The Wolverines
    Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.

    HITTING: 60
    Look for the Wolverines to have yet another productive offensive lineup this season.

    We discuss several key hitters in subsequent sections, but the big thing that stands out with this group is that despite losing some key bats such as Jordan Brewer, Jimmy Kerr and Ako Thomas, the Wolverines are in strong shape from an offensive standpoint.

    Jordan Nwogu and Jack Blomgren each hit over .300 last season and are ready to emulate that success this season, while I would look for sizable jumps from Jesse Franklin and Joe Donovan this season. Franklin dazzled at times during last year’s College World Series run, and you’d never know that he still finished the season with a batting average around .262. He’ll be much better. Meanwhile, Donovan had some big moments down the stretch last season, too, but again, still finished the campaign with a .234 batting average. He’ll hit for a better average and potentially more power after slugging nine homers last year.

    Riley Bertram is a solid hitter who will be a nice everyday addition to the lineup, while speedy Christian Bullock can make things happen a variety of ways. Michigan also welcomes back talented Dom Clementi, who had an injury last spring.

    In terms of newcomers, Cam Hart is a junior college transfer to watch. He made some strides in the fall, while Teddy Burton, Jimmy Obertop and Danny Zimmerman are all guys who made solid impressions during the fall. Finally, keep an eye on veteran Matt Schmidt, who like many of these guys, made a solid impression.

    POWER: 55
    The Wolverines will definitely have the ability to hit the ball out of the yard again this spring.

    Sure, Michigan must replace power hitting specialists like Jordan Brewer and Jimmy Kerr, who combined for 27 home runs last season. However, they welcome back several guys with big-time power, including Nwogu, who had 14 doubles and 12 home runs last season, Franklin, who had 15 doubles and 13 home runs last season and Donovan, who finished the 2019 campaign with nine homers.

    Michigan also welcomes back Dom Clementi, who led the team in hitting two seasons ago. Clementi will hit for an average, but he also possesses some power potential as well. Jack Blomgren also has some intriguing gap power, while Obertop is a talented freshman who showed during the fall he could provide some power production right away.

    SPEED: 55
    Michigan will be without its top two base stealers from last season in Jordan Brewer and Blake Nelson, but there are still plenty of guys on this roster who can make some things happen with their legs.

    For instance, Nwogu and Bullock each finished last season with double digit stolen bases, and Bakich has made it abundantly clear that Michigan plans to be aggressive with Bullock this spring.

    Blomgren and Franklin are athletic, and both have much more speed potential than the stats from last season would indicate, and there are others, particularly off the bench, that could help the Wolverines with their need for speed.

    DEFENSE: 65
    Look for the Wolverines to have a solid situation from a defensive standpoint.

    Behind the plate, hard-nosed Joe Donovan provides leadership and defensive stability, while Blomgren is a high-quality shortstop and Riley Bertram should do a solid job of replacing former standout Ako Thomas at second base.

    The outfield is loaded with experience and quality, too. Jordan Nwogu has improved his defensive skill set, but does have some athleticism, while Jesse Franklin is very athletic in center field and Christian Bullock in right field is the fastest player on the team.

    There will be stability from a defensive standpoint, and that usually bodes well for the win column.

    STARTING PITCHING: 60
    The first two spots in the Michigan weekend rotation are set, while for now, the Wolverines are slated to start redshirt freshman righthander Isaiah Page on Sundays. That could change, however, as others have risen to the occasion over the past few months as well.

    Page doesn’t have blow away stuff but will command the zone with multiple pitches, while some other options to occupy that No. 3 spot in the rotation include righthanders Keaton Carattini and Steven Hajjar. Carattini had a solid fall for the Wolverines, while the coaching staff is extremely excited about the progressions Hajjar has made. Hajjar is returning to his normal self, and when he’s on, it’ll be low-to-mid 90s with the fastball with quality overall stuff.

    As for the first two spots in the rotation, Jeff Criswell and Ben Dragani are the headliners. Criswell will get up to 93-95 mph with his fastball, along with a quality slider, while Dragani is working his way back from an injury. Bakich was encouraged by his progress during fall workouts, and he’ll be ready to go at 100 percent on Opening Day.

    BULLPEN: 65
    The Wolverines have a multitude of quality options from a bullpen standpoint. Willie Weiss, Ben Keizer and Angelo Smith are the headliners. Weiss will sit anywhere from 88-93 with his fastball and has quality overall stuff with a hard-nosed approach, Keizer was a huge surprise last season and is back for more, while Blake Beers, who missed fall workouts, is back and will be healthy in the spring.

    Look for Smith to make strides. He had a solid 2019 campaign but is ready to take a big step forward after refining his stuff during fall workouts. Walker Cleveland, who had a limited amount of work this past fall, is also expected to log significant innings.

    Some fresh arms to watch this spring include freshmen Cam Weston, Jacob Denner and Colin Czajkowski.

    Weston is a 6-foot-3, 185-pounder who reminds Bakich of Karl Kauffmann. He will sit in the upper 80s with his fastball and a developing slider. Weston also attacks hitters with an effective forkball. Denner is a 6-foot-1, 210-pounder, who throws a lot of strikes and attacks the zone with three pitches and Czajkowski is a projectable 6-foot-4, 195-pounder, who will sit in the upper-80s and into the lower 90s with his fastball, along with feel for a slider and changeup.

    EXPERIENCE/INTANGIBLES: 65
    Michigan has been on an upward trajectory throughout Erik Bakich’s tenure as head coach, but it finally made its boldest statement last season with a trip to the College World Series Finals, this after knocking off top national seed UCLA in the Super Regional round. Statement made, indeed.

    Though there’s no doubt the Wolverines lost some key cogs from that club, including spark plug second baseman Ako Thomas, Jimmy Kerr and the pitching duo of Tommy Henry and Karl Kauffmann, they have more than enough key pieces back this spring to make another strong run.

    Michigan has several key pieces back from an offensive standpoint, including Joe Donovan, Jack Blomgren, Jordan Nwogu and Jesse Franklin, among others, while on the mound, Jeff Criswell is an experienced arm at the front-end of the rotation, and getting guys like Willie Weiss and Angelo Smith back in the bullpen should pay dividends.

    Michigan is battle tested and ready to be the hunted this spring.
     
  10. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
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    #14 #UCLA Bruins

    Top 25 Breakdown: No. 14 UCLA
    ANALYSIS Kendall Rogers - January 15, 2020

    2019 Record: 52-11 (24-5)
    RPI: 2.
    Coach (Record at school): John Savage (539–360–1 in 15 seasons)
    Ballpark: Jackie Robinson Stadium (1,800)
    Postseason History: 23 regionals (active streak: 3), 5 CWS trips (last in 2013).
    More: Fall Report on UCLA
    Schedule, Stats, Team News: Follow the Bruins all season long at our UCLA Team Page.

    UCLA's Projected Lineup

    Pos. Name, Yr. AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI SB
    C Noah Cardenas, So. .375/.476/.500 3 18 0
    1B JT Schwartz, RS-Fr. DNP
    2B Kevin Kendall, Jr. .258/.331/.298 0 13 9
    3B Jake Moberg, So. .143/.250/.214 0 0 0
    SS Matt McLain, So. .203/.276/.355 4 30 6
    LF Jarron Silva, RS-Jr. .238/.327/.405 1 9 0
    CF Garrett Mitchell, Jr. .349/.418/.566 6 41 18
    RF Pat Caulfield, Jr. Transfer--Santa Barbara City College
    DH Mikey Perez, So. .200/.385/.300 0 1 0
    Pos. Name, Yr. W-L ERA IP SO BB SV
    SP #1 Zach Pettway, Jr. 2-2 4.55 63.1 60 22 0
    SP #2 Nick Nastrini, So. 1-0 1.37 19.2 28 7 0
    SP #3 Sean Mullen, So. 1-0 0.00 6.1 6 5 0
    Closer Holden Powell, Jr. 4-3 1.84 49 65 27 17

    Grading The Bruins
    Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.

    HITTING: 55
    The Bruins had a solid offensive lineup last season. And though there’s no doubt they have some tough holes to fill this spring, this should again be a productive, albeit different lineup.

    UCLA won’t have the power production it had last season. It would be a shock if it emulated last season’s power without Jake Pries, Michael Toglia, Chase Strumpf and Ryan Kreidler. However, what the Bruins do possess are a solid foundation of experienced guys who have hit in the past.

    Outfielder Garrett Mitchell is an electrifying player who hit .349 with six home runs and 18 stolen bases last season, while Matt McLain could be primed for a huge breakout season. McLain is supremely talented, but struggled last season with a .203 average, four home runs and 30 RBIs. He’s ready to take a huge step forward. Jake Moberg and Mikey Perez are guys who didn’t get a lot of playing time last season, but who had solid falls and are expected to produce at the plate, while JT Schwartz is a quality middle of the order inclusion and Santa Barbara (Calif.) College transfer Pat Caulfield is expected to provide a solid punch to the outfield. There’s also backstop Noah Cardenas, who surprised some with a strong 2019 campaign with the bat, while Michael Curialle will get significant playing time. Curialle is one of those guys who can provide a nice blend of average hitting and power production.

    POWER: 50
    If you’re looking for huge power, the Bruins probably won’t have that in 2019. But that doesn’t mean this team won’t at least have some gap potential.

    UCLA has some tough hitters to replace from a power standpoint – Michael Toglia, Chase Strumpf, Ryan Kreidler and Jake Pries are all gone, and the quartet combined for 47 home runs last season.

    With that said, there are some potential power producers in this lineup. Mitchell finished last season with 14 doubles, 12 triples and six home runs. Though he’s already a gap hitter, I bet you’ll see his home run total move into the double digits.

    Matt McLain has the talent and bat speed to hit for more power this spring, too, while the Bruins will look for some pop from JT Schwartz as well. Schwartz is a talented young player who hit cleanup at times during fall workouts – a clear indication the Bruins expect him to make somewhat of a powerful impact with the bat.

    Also keep an eye on Kendall, Perez and Michael Curialle. All three have a chance to hit for some power this spring.

    SPEED: 55
    The Bruins aren’t filled with burners, but they’ve got some guys who can make things happen with their legs.

    Mitchell is the one to watch from a speed standpoint. He has gradually gotten better and better from an offensive standpoint, but the speed and stolen base potential has always been there. Mitchell took a step forward last season when he swiped 18 bases in 22 attempts. He’ll look to emulate or best those numbers this spring.

    McLain is another impressive athlete who should improve on his stolen base numbers from last season – 6 for 8. Meanwhile, look for Kevin Kendall to once again be aggressive from an offensive standpoint. He’s athletic and can run and was perfect in stolen base attempts last season.

    From a defensive standpoint, I’d look for the Bruins to have an athletic outfield, while offensively, look for UCLA to be aggressive and try to use its athleticism against teams. The Bruins won’t have the big boppers they had last season, but there will be a variety of ways they can score runs.

    DEFENSE: 65
    UCLA is in good shape from a defensive standpoint.

    Behind the plate, the Bruins have one of the best in the business in Noah Cardenas, who put together a stellar 2019 campaign both offensively and defensively.

    The Bruins will be strong up the middle, too, as Matt McLain moves back to his natural position of shortstop after being in the outfield last season, and junior Kevin Kendall is a stable and instinctual defender at second base. Jake Moberg is slated to start at third base, though Savage said late in the fall that the corner positions were still very much up for grabs with several guys in the mix.

    The outfield has some newer faces with McLain moving back to the infield – Jarron Silva and junior college transfer Pat Caulfield will be out there with speedster and All-American outfielder Garrett Mitchell.

    Look for the Bruins to be much the same from a defensive standpoint.

    STARTING PITCHING: 65
    The Bruins have some terrific options from a starting pitching standpoint.

    Junior righthander Zach Pettway will headline the starting rotation after putting together a solid 2019 campaign. Pettway had a good fall and showed improved overall stuff and strength. The slider continues to make strides and he’s healthy after taking it easy this past summer. Pettway has the stuff and experience to put together a dominant campaign.

    Sophomore righthander Nick Nastrini is the other proven commodity in the rotation. Nastrini is finally healthy after being sidelined for three months last season because of thoracic outlet syndrome. He pitched well in the NCAA Regional action and has impressive stuff, sitting 88-91 and up to 92 mph with his fastball, along with advanced feel for his secondary stuff: a 78-82 mph changeup has good arm speed and sink, the 75-81 mph breaking ball has some 12-to-6 bite at times, and there are times when the breaking ball has more lateral break. He throws two variations of the breaking ball. He has a legit starters’ profile and the velocity will continue to increase under the tutelage of coach John Savage.

    The final spot in the weekend rotation is up for grabs as the season nears. Some options include Sean Mullen, Jared Karros and Jesse Bergin.

    Mullen only threw 6.1 innings last season and took one of the biggest jumps during the fall, per Savage. This past summer at the Cape Cod League, Mullen struck out 18 in 13 innings of work, while also sitting 89-92 with his fastball, 79-81 mph with his slider and 83-84 mph with his changeup.

    Bergin is a talented righthander who will sit anywhere in the low-90s with his fastball, along with two breaking balls – a slider at 83 mph and a 78 mph curveball. He’ll also attack hitters with an 83-84 mph changeup. Meanwhile, freshman righthander Jared Karros was impressive in the fall, sitting 88-89 with his fastball with big-time upside in his 6-foot-6, 175-pound frame. Karros, at worst, could be the midweek starter.

    BULLPEN: 65
    It’s safe to say the Bruins have a multitude of options from a bullpen standpoint.

    They are led out of the bullpen by a pair of experienced and talented righthanders in Holden Powell and Kyle Mora. Powell put together impressive numbers last season, tallying 17 saves and 65 strikeouts in 49 innings. Powell sits 92-93 mph with his fastball, while his calling card is a filthy 82-83 mph slider. Meanwhile, Mora is a command machine and sits 87-88 mph with his fastball, along with a plus-plus circle changeup at 81-82 mph. He’ll also attack hitters with a 74-78 mph curveball.

    In terms of newcomers, 5-foot-10, freshman Jake Saum turned some heads during the fall with his bulldog nature, while righthanders Charles Harrison and Adrian Chaldez are worth watching. Harrison impressed the coaches during the fall, while Chaldez is an experienced junior college arm who tallied 70 strikeouts in 51 innings last season.

    Other arms to watch include Felix Rubi, Michael Townsend, Daniel Colwell, Josh Hahn, Jack Filby and Nick Scheidler. Filby will get up to 94 mph with his fastball and has good stuff, while Saum is a young arm to watch. He got his feet wet at the West Coast League this past summer and followed that up with a strong fall. Saum was 87-90 mph with his fastball at the WCL, along with a curveball ranging 71-76 mph. The breaking ball needs some fine-tuning, but that should come with Savage leading the way.

    EXPERIENCE/INTANGIBLES: 60
    The Bruins lost several key cogs from last year’s terrific club, but they also return many familiar faces, particularly on the mound with the return of weekend starters Zach Pettway and Nick Nastrini, along with shutdown closer Holden Powell.

    Offensively, there’s no doubt there are large holes to fill. But there’s also plenty of experience back with Noah Cardenas being a rock behind the plate and a key leader, Kevin Kendall and Matt McLain returning, and speedy Garrett Mitchell back for what promises to be a productive junior campaign.

    There’s also that year after fire present for the Bruins. UCLA had one of the nation’s premier teams last season but fell short of its ultimate goal – getting to the College World Series. This team will be hungrier than ever, and likely won’t have the added pressure last year’s club had down the stretch.

    Everything is setup for a terrific season in Westwood.
     
  11. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
    Donor
    Auburn TigersAtlanta BravesAtlanta United

    #15 #Duke Blue Devils

    Top 25 Breakdown: No. 15 Duke
    SEASON PREVIEW Aaron Fitt - January 15, 2020

    2019 Record: 35-27. RPI: 44.
    Coach (Record at school): Chris Pollard (233-173 in 7 seasons).
    Ballpark: Durham Bulls Athletic Park (10,000).
    Postseason History: 8 regionals (active streak: 2), 3 CWS trips (last in 1961), 0 national titles.
    More: Fall Report on Duke.
    Schedule, Stats, Team News: Follow the Blue Devils all season long at our Duke team page.

    Duke's Projected Lineup

    Pos. Name, Yr. AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI SB
    C Michael Rothenberg, Jr. .269/.390/.481 11 52 3
    1B Chris Crabtree, Jr. .263/.356/.394 3 32 7
    2B Grant Norris, Fr. HS — Somerset, Pa.
    3B Erikson Nichols, Sr. .255/.325/.318 2 38 2
    SS Ethan Murray, So. .305/.391/.445 5 40 6
    LF Rudy Maxwell, So. .257/.353/.439 4 21 4
    CF Chase Cheek, Sr. .293/.380/.403 1 24 20
    RF Joey Loperfido, Jr. .261/.361/.389 4 18 8
    DH Matt Mervis, Sr. .274/.357/.421 6 31 2
    Pos. Name, Yr. W-L ERA IP SO BB SV
    SP #1 Bryce Jarvis, Jr. 5-2 3.81 75.2 94 37 1
    SP #2 Cooper Stinson, So. 1-4 5.47 54.1 78 43 1
    SP #3 Henry Williams, Fr. HS — Darien, Conn.
    Closer Thomas Girard, Jr. 1-5 2.33 46.1 61 18 9

    Grading The Blue Devils
    Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.

    Hitting: 60

    Duke returns eight players who logged at least 150 plate appearances from an offense that started slow last year but came on strong down the stretch. Look for this offense to be far more prolific than the unit that ranked 10th in the ACC in scoring in 2019. Murray, a first-team Freshman All-American a year ago, is the best pure hitter on the team, with few holes in his righthanded stroke, and Duke coach Chris Pollard said he played like an All-American for most of the fall. He’ll likely serve as the engine that makes the Blue Devils go out of the leadoff spot, and Loperfido’s outstanding bat-to-ball skills and ability to slash hard liners the other way makes him a good fit in the 2-hole. Duke’s offense struggled while Loperfido was injured in the first half last year, and he didn’t put up the numbers he’s capable of after his return, but his presence in the lineup still helped Duke’s offense gel in a big way late in the season. Crabtree and Mervis join Loperfido as mature, physical run producers from the left side of the plate, and the switch-hitting Rothenberg is also particularly dangerous from the left side. Speed merchant Cheek is yet another talented lefty bat in this lineup, albeit with a much different tool set — he’s a contact-oriented hitter with good small ball skills. Maxwell is an obvious breakout candidate, a very physical 6-foot-4, 230-pound righthanded hitter who showed excellent feel for his barrel all spring. Righty-swinging Nichols and Norris are scrappers who should be able to hit situationally and keep the chains moving toward the bottom of the lineup.

    The outfield picture is far from settled, and several other candidates for jobs could be useful offensive pieces. Junior Steve Mann has some strength and athleticism in his compact 6-foot frame, and the Devils have been waiting for him to show more consistency at the plate, but he could blossom with regular playing time. Sophomore RJ Schreck had some good moments as an injury fill-in last spring; he’s a grinder with some feel for his barrel from the left side. Fourth-year junior Chris Dutra has battled injuries for the last two years and is hungry to earn playing time in 2020, and he has shown the ability to grind out mature at-bats.

    Power: 60
    Rothenberg was Duke’s only double-digit home run hitter a year ago, but expect the Devils to hit for quite a bit more power with a more mature lineup in 2020. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Rothenberg smacked 11 homers last year, coming on strong down the stretch after a rough first half, and continued to show off his bat speed in the fall; in Duke’s final fall scrimmage, I saw him rip a single to right that exited the bat at 101 mph, then scorch a double to the right-field corner with a 107.7 mph exit velocity. He’s a contender to lead the ACC in homers as a junior. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Mervis has plus raw power from the left side and looks primed for a huge senior year after starring in the Cape Cod League and in the fall. Crabtree is 6-4, 230 and has flashed lefty pop at times, but the Devils are still waiting for him to drive the ball more consistently — this could be the year his strength translates. Maxwell is yet another behemoth in this lineup at 6-4, 225, and it’s only a matter of time until his righty power shows up; look for a jump from him this year as well. Murray surprised somewhat with his pop as a freshman, and Pollard said he flashed “big-time power” at times this fall, making him a solid bet to reach double figures in homers. The same goes for Loperfido, who has great strength to the opposite field, making him well suited to take advantage of the Blue Monster in left field at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Athletic sophomore Damon Lux, who is right in the mix for an outfield job, also has tantalizing raw power but lacks experience. Mann and Dutra also offer occasional righthanded pop.

    Speed: 50
    Duke ranked in the middle of the ACC pack in stolen bases last year and isn’t blessed with outstanding speed this year, but there are still some good runners. Cheek is a well above-average runner who swiped 20 bags in 23 tries last year, and he’s by far the biggest threat on the basepaths. Loperfido is an above-average to plus runner underway and picks his spots well on the basepaths (he was 8-for-10 in steals last year). Duke can maximize its speed by playing Lux, Mann or Schreck in the outfield instead of Maxwell; Lux has particularly good speed. Norris and Murray are both solid runners as well, and so is redshirt sophomore Wil Hoyle, who will battle Norris for the second base job.

    Defense: 55
    Loperfido’s injury caused some guys to play out of position early last year, so the Devils finished with a lackluster .969 fielding percentage, but they should be better this spring. Murray is one of the nation’s top defensive shortstops, with very good range, instincts, actions and a rifle arm. Norris is a future shortstop with a legitimate 70 arm, which should help him turn the double play as well as anybody in the ACC. His defensive prowess gives him a leg up over fellow second base candidates Thomas Keehn, Holy and Graham Pauley. Rothenberg will do the vast majority of the catching, and he’s got a chance to be one of the top catchers in this draft class, because he owns an easy plus arm and has developed nicely as a receiver and blocker. Maxwell continues to improve as a defender behind the plate and should spell Rothenberg from time to time. Maxwell doesn’t run great and is still learning to play the outfield, but the Devils would love him to win a job out there to keep his bat in the lineup.

    The entire outfield mix is up in the air, especially since Cheek missed the fall while recovering from a torn ACL suffered last May and having a minor setback in September that resulted in a second procedure to remove some scar tissue. The Devils hope he’ll be back to full strength by the time the season starts, but if not Loperfido figures to hold down center field, where he looked good this fall after playing second base last year and first base as a freshman. If Lux winds up in the lineup, he gives Duke a second premium defensive outfielder to go with Cheek; that duo plus Loperfido in some configuration would give the Devils enviable range in the grass.

    Nichols is as steady as it gets at third base — his advanced instincts, body control and accurate arm will keep him in the lineup even if he slumps at the plate. Crabtree offers a big target at first base but led the team with 11 errors a year ago. He and Mervis (who has shown soft hands on defense) could rotate at first and DH.

    Starting Pitching: 60

    Duke’s weekend rotation has enormous upside if Jarvis and Stinson can take the leaps forward that the coaches anticipate and Williams proves as good as he looked in the fall. There’s some uncertainty here, but the potential reward is huge, and there’s good depth of other starting options should any of those projected weekend guys struggle. Jarvis came into his own down the stretch last year, pitching brilliantly on a national stage in super regionals against Vanderbilt, then turned down a strong overture to sign with the Yankees as a draft-eligible sophomore. He elected instead fo spend the summer adding strength, trying to increase his velocity and improve his breaking stuff, and his hard work bore immediate fruit in the fall, as his fastball jumped from the 89-92 range to the 94-96 range every time out, his slider flashed plus, his curveball became another legitimate weapon, and his signature changeup remained double-plus. Scouts who saw him in a scrimmage against Coastal Carolina reported that he looked like a first-rounder, and he’s a strong bet to become an All-American as a junior.

    The 6-foot-6, 245-pound Stinson is a behemoth like his older brother Graeme (a former Duke star), and like Graeme he has power stuff, with a 91-94 fastball and the ability to miss bats with his slider, which helped him rack up 78 strikeouts in 54.1 innings as a freshman, though he walked 43. Stinson separated his non-throwing shoulder when his scooter was hit by a car in the offseason, keeping him out for most of the fall, but he was back throwing bullpens again in November and feels great. Williams, the centerpiece of Duke’s 2019 recruiting class, appeared ready for primetime already during an outstanding fall. Tall, lean and projectable at 6-foot-5, 190 pounds, Williams has a clean, easy arm action from an over-the-top slot. He worked downhill at 90-93 for most of the fall, and it it plays up further because of its high spin rate (2400-2500 rpm range). He also flashed a hammer breaking ball at 79-81 with 11-to-5 shape and a spin rate up to 2511, as well as good feel for an 83-85 changeup.

    The likely midweek starter and most obvious potential alternative on weekends is senior lefty Bill Chillari, who has made 23 starts over the last two seasons. Chillari is steady Eddie, a finesse southpaw with an 86-88 fastball, solid changeup and breaking ball. Sophomore righty Jack Carey is another candidate for a starting role. He can work in the low 90s when he’s at his best, and his 82-83 changeup is his best secondary pitch, but he made big progress this fall with his 79-83 slider, and he threw some very good ones in the fall world series. The other starting candidate is senior righty Eli Herrick, who was 91-92 in his final outing of the fall. He pitched heavily off his high-spin fastball last spring and gets a lot of swing-and-misses up in the zone, but he lacked a reliable secondary pitch to keep hitters from sitting on the heater. But like Carey, he made a lot of progress with his slider this fall, and Pollard said it looked like a plus pitch at times.

    Bullpen: 65
    Pollard says this is the deepest pitching staff he’s ever had, which will be a major asset in the bullpen. But in addition to depth, the Blue Devils also have a premier closer in Girard, who sits consistently in the low 90s every time out and owns one of the best breaking balls in the ACC, which was the driving force behind his 61 strikeouts in 46.1 innings last year. Assuming Stinson, Williams and Chillari hold down starting roles behind Jarvis, it means Carey and Herrick will give Duke two more very good pieces in the bullpen, with swing-and-miss stuff that would play in the late innings and the ability to lengthen out and pitch multiple innings as needed. Scouts have always liked two-way talent Mervis best as a pitching prospect — and he was excellent off the mound in two scoreless innings in our fall look, pounding the zone at 91-93 and showing an improved 81-83 slider along with a firm changeup that remains a work in progress. After logging just eight innings a year ago, Mervis should see much more mound action as a senior, likely as a key setup man. Also keep an eye on redshirt freshman righty Jimmy Loper, who has progressed well in his return from Tommy John surgery. He showed good command at 87-89 in the fall but could add velocity as he continues to build strength. His best pitch is a 79-81 mph changeup with good arm speed, and he also showed a promising downer curve at 75-76.

    Strike-throwing junior Matt Dockman, a finesse lefty with funk and deception as well as advanced command of his fastball and a plus changeup, is a proven bullpen rock from the left side. He’s also one of Duke’s most trusted firemen, and his outstanding pickoff move and unflappable demeanor help him thrive with men on base. And sophomores Aaron Beasley and Kyle Salley give Duke two more useful options from the left side. Salley works at 86-88 from a three-quarters slot, but his calling card is a 73-77 mph breaking ball with serious bite (spin rate in the 2700-2800 range), which makes him very tough on lefties. Beasley has some funk in his short three-quarters arm action and crossfire delivery, and his 86-89 fastball showed good riding life up in the zone in the fall, though he still needs to refine his sweeping slider and changeup. So Duke can mix and match with a variety of looks from both sides off the mound.

    Experience/Intangibles: 60
    With eight veterans returning in the lineup from a team that just went to its second straight super regional, Duke has outstanding experience in its position player group. Jarvis, Chillari, Dockman and Girard give the pitching staff a proven veteran core as well, taking some pressure off the less established arms who will assume bigger roles on the mound. Under Pollard’s leadership, Duke has shown a knack for getting better as the season wears on, and that was especially evident last year, when the Blue Devils recovered from a 3-9 start in ACC play to finish 15-15 and snag an at-large spot before winning the Morgantown Regional. That turnaround was a galvanizing, formative experience for Duke, just as vital for the makeup of this club as the two trips to supers. So there’s no questioning Duke’s toughness; the only thing it lacks is Omaha experience.
     
    Cornelius Suttree and bwi2 like this.
  12. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
    Donor
    Auburn TigersAtlanta BravesAtlanta United

    #16 #North Carolina State Wolfpack

    Top 25 Breakdown: No. 16 NC State
    SEASON PREVIEW Aaron Fitt - January 16, 2020

    2019 Record: 42-19. RPI: 18.
    Coach (Record at school): Elliott Avent (875-527 in 23 seasons).
    Ballpark: Doak Field at Dail Park (2,200).
    Postseason History: 31 regionals (active streak: 5), 2 CWS trips (last in 2013), 0 national titles.
    More: Fall Report on NC State.
    Schedule, Stats, Team News: Follow the Wolfpack all season long at our NC State team page.

    NC State's Projected Lineup
    Pos. Name, Yr. AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI SB
    C Patrick Bailey, Jr. .288/.390/.513 10 46 1
    1B Austin Murr, Jr. Tr. — Des Moines Area (Iowa) CC
    2B Tyler McDonough, So. .320/.392/.452 5 47 10
    3B Vojtech Mensik, So. .250/.366/.367 2 14 9
    SS Jose Torres, Fr. HS — Baltimore
    LF Luca Tresh, So. .224/.372/.522 6 17 0
    CF Jonny Butler, Jr. .267/.378/.359 3 29 3
    RF Devonte Brown, Jr. .286/.352/.397 4 39 2
    DH Brad Debo, Sr. .242/.352/.397 4 39 2
    Pos. Name, Yr. W-L ERA IP SO BB SV
    SP #1 Nick Swiney, Jr. 7-1 4.61 56.2 95 31 1
    SP #2 Reid Johnston, Jr. 6-2 3.71 77.2 65 27 0
    SP #3 Chris Villaman, Fr. HS — High Point, NC
    Closer Dalton Feeney, R-Jr. 1-1 1.86 29 23 11 7

    Grading The Wolfpack

    Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.

    Hitting: 60
    NC State lost its top two hitters — All-American Will Wilson and Evan Edwards — from an offense that ranked 23rd nationally in scoring last year, but Bailey is back to provide star power in the heart of a deep, well-rounded lineup heading into this spring. The switch-hitting Bailey drives the ball with authority from both sides and has a disciplined approach, as evidenced by his 41-43 BB-SO mark last year. Fellow switch-hitter McDonough is a rising star with All-America potential in his own right, and his high-level bat-to-ball skills will likely be put to use in the leadoff spot this spring. Or McDonough could slide to the 2- or 3-hole if the Wolfpack chooses to lead off Butler, a lefthanded slasher with feel for the barrel who added considerable strength in the offseason. Tresh is an obvious pick-to-click who should serve as a righthanded key run producer in the heart of the order, and Debo offers veteran presence and physicality from the left side. Murr should make a big impact out of the juco ranks, thanks to his pretty line-drive stroke and advanced feel for the strike zone. Mensik, Brown and Torres are all live-bodied athletes with bat speed who add real length to this lineup. Junior infielder David Vazquez has a knack for turning in competitive at-bats and could find his way into the lineup as well.

    Power: 55
    The Wolfpack ranked 33rd in the nation with 68 home runs last year and should come close to that number again, even without Wilson and Edwards, who combined for 30 of those long balls. Bailey, the lone returning double-digit home run guy, has 23 dingers in two years and should hit for more power as a junior after playing through nagging injuries last spring. McDonough has surprising strength in his compact 5-foot-10 frame, and he should improve upon last year’s five-homer total, though he’s a natural doubles hitter. Tresh flashed his plus raw power at times in limited action last spring, then exploded into a force of nature in the fall, hitting .480 with eight home runs. He can drive the ball out to all fields, and he has a chance to hit 15-plus homers as a sophomore now that he’ll get regular playing time. Brown has also flashed better than average power to all fields, and the Wolfpack is hoping he’s ready to make more consistent contact so that he can harness it. Debo has been more of a doubles hitter over his first three years, but he’s certainly strong enough to push for double-digit long balls as well. Mensik and Murr are gap-to-gap hitters with sneaky home run pop as well.

    Speed: 55
    The Wolfpack ranked 229th in the nation in steals per game last year, but this club has the wheels to run more in 2020 if it wants to. The quick-twitch Torres is an easy plus runner, while Butler, Mensik, McDonough and Brown are all at least above-average runners as well. Junior outfielder Terrell Tatum brings plus speed off the bench, unless he beats out Brown for an everyday job.

    Defense: 60
    NC State led the ACC and ranked 12th nationally with a .980 fielding percentage last year, but it lost two premium defenders in Wilson and Edwards. This defense still has one of the nation’s best defensive catchers in Bailey, whose strong, accurate arm should enable him to shut down opposing running games. Torres has a chance to be the latest in a long line of outstanding shortstops at NC State, from Wilson to Joe Dunand to Trea Turner to the Diaz brothers to Chad Orvella. He has silky smooth actions, quick feet, plus range, good body control and a strong arm with easy carry. McDonough is a versatile defender who plays a good center field but will likely spend this year at second base, where he showed off innate playmaking ability in the fall.

    If NC State wants to optimize its defense, it could slide McDonough to an outfield spot and deploy defensive standout J.T. Jarrett at second. Vasquez is a versatile utilityman who gives the ‘Pack more insurance at third base and second, but Mensik’s quick feet, good instincts and strong arm should make him a fixture at the hot corner. Edwards saved the rest of the infield plenty of errors over the last two years and the Wolfpack will miss him at first, but Murr appears to be a perfectly capable defender at the position. Butler has good instincts and range in center, and Brown is an excellent defender with a strong arm in right. Tresh is more of a natural catcher, but the Wolfpack needs him to hold his own in left in order to maximize its offensive potential.

    Starting Pitching: 55
    NC State’s rotation should be competitive with anybody in the ACC on a week-to-week basis. Swiney is a big-time pick to click after coming on down the stretch last year and gaining abundant confidence. Though 26 of his 29 appearances were out of the bullpen, Swiney holds his stuff well and has the best three-pitch arsenal on the staff, so he has a real chance to blossom into a bona fide ace as a junior. With a 91-94 fastball, an excellent changeup with good arm speed, fade and deception, and a quality breaking ball with good depth, Swiney can miss bats with all three pitches. Johnston is NC State’s most proven commodity on the mound, a high-level strike-thrower who has thrived in just about every role over his first two seasons on the staff. He didn’t pitch in the fall after earning all-star honors in the Cape Cod League last summer, but the Wolfpack knows what it’s got in Johnston, who carves up the zone at 88-91 with a quality low-80s slider.

    Look for Villaman to step right into the Sunday job, because he has uncommonly advanced command of his 87-92 fastball, which plays up because of its high spin rate and his ability to spot it up. He also showed some feel for a quality changeup and a quickly developing breaking ball in the fall. Redshirt sophomore righty Cameron Cotter looks like the front-runner for the midweek starter job, as his velocity has continued to climb over the last year and a half; he was 90-92 and touched 93 in our fall look, along with a good 76-77 breaking ball and feel for a changeup. He has good command of all three offerings.

    Bullpen: 60
    Few bullpens in the ACC can match NC State’s for experience. Feeney is a proven closer who attacks at 90-93 with some natural cut action and an effective slider and changeup. Senior lefthander Kent Klyman, a preseason All-American heading into last spring whose stuff just wasn’t as crisp for most of the season as it had been in the past, has made 72 appearances over his first three years, and he always competes hard when the pressure is on. Klyman spots up with his 87-90 fastball from a tough low three-quarters slot and mixes in his three-quarters breaking ball and improved changeup well. Junior Evan Justice gives NCSU more of a power look from the left side; Justice continued his development over the summer in the Cape League, where he showed a 91-93 fastball and a solid sweeping curveball at 77-79. If his command takes another step forward he could have a big year. Another junior lefty who could have a big role as a swingman is David Harrison, who helped lead the Amsterdam Mohawks to the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League championship this summer, posting a team-high 37 strikeouts in 30.2 innings. He’s always had a quality changeup to go with his 88-91 fastball, and he’s continuing to work on improving his breaking ball, which is the key to his development. Coach Elliott Avent said he saw more confidence from Harrison this fall after his strong summer, so he could be ready to do bigger things as a junior.

    Sophomore Baker Nelson also looks ready to take a step forward in 2020, giving the bullpen a different look, as a funky low three-quarters to sidearm righty with a 91-92 fastball with good sink and an improved 76 mph Frisbee slider. And three newcomers add valuable depth. Freshmen Sam Highfill and Matt Willadsen are both two-way players, but both figure to contribute more off the mound early in their careers. Highfill is a wily slot-shifter who showed an 88-90 fastball this fall and a big, slow overhand curveball from a high slot, then dropped down to sidearm and worked at 84-86 with good sink. He also showed the ability to miss bats with his 77 mph changeup. Willadsen is a loose, projectable 6-foot-3, 168-pound righty with an 88-90 fastball, a promising 80 mph slider with good tight spin, and a slow curve at 71. By the time he starts to fill out his lanky frame, he could wind up throwing a lot harder, but he already has some feel to pitch. And juco transfer Logan Bender should serve as a valuable slider monster out of the pen. He used his 88-90 fastball mostly as a setup pitch in our fall look, relying overwhelmingly on his 81-83 slider, which has a big-time spin rate at 2800-3000 rpm.

    Experience/Intangibles: 55
    NC State returns seven position players who logged at least 100 at-bats last year, two seasoned juniors atop the rotation, and a plethora of experience in the bullpen. The fourth-year players on this roster have been to three straight regionals, but none of them have been through a deep postseason run, as NC State hasn’t won a regional since its 2013 Omaha run. The veteran coaching staff always always succeeds at getting the Wolfpack to compete hard, and they’re a safe bet to be in regionals just about every year — and this year is no exception. If breakout candidates like Swiney, Tresh, Brown and Mensik can harness their potential; if newcomers Torres, Murr and Villaman prove as good as advertised; and if veterans like Debo and Klyman can post bounceback years, this team has a chance to make a big splash come June. All of those things don’t have to happen for NC State to succeed, but we expect many of them will happen. So while there are some questions to answer, but there’s a lot of reason to like this balanced roster.
     
    Cornelius Suttree, gopack2104 and WC like this.
  13. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
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    #17 #Stanford Cardinal

    Top 25 Breakdown: No. 17 Stanford
    FEATURED Kendall Rogers - January 16, 2020

    2019 Record: 45-14 (22-7 Pac 12). RPI: 10.
    Coach (Record at school): Dave Esquer (91–26 in 2 seasons).
    Ballpark: Sunken Diamond (4,000)
    Postseason History: 34 regionals (active streak: 3), 16 CWS trips (last in 2008), 2 national titles.
    Schedule, Stats, Team News: Follow the Cardinal all season long at our Stanford team page.

    Stanford's Projected Lineup

    Pos. Name, Yr. AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI SB
    C Christian Molfetta, RS-Sr. .167/.231/.417 0 1 0
    1B Nick Brueser, Jr. .224/.355/.365 2 16 2
    2B Brandon Dieter, So. .208/.284/.278 1 12 0
    3B Nick Bellafronto, RS-Sr. .258/.383/.492 6 32 1
    SS Tim Tawa, Jr. .253/.284/.410 8 37 6
    LF Brock Jones, Fr. FR--Clovis, Calif. (Buchanan)
    CF Christian Robinson, Jr. .287/.386/.370 0 15 8
    RF Henry Gargus, Fr. FR--Yakima, Wash. (Davis)
    DH Kody Huff, Fr. FR--Scottsdale, Ariz. (Horizon)
    Pos. Name, Yr. W-L ERA IP SO BB SV
    SP #1 Brendan Beck, Jr. 5-4 3.63 91.2 83 25 0
    SP #2 Jacob Palisch, Jr. 5-2 4.79 56.1 48 21 0
    SP #3 Alex Williams, So. 8-1 2.56 63.1 43 8 0
    Closer Cody Jensen, So. 1-0 3.55 33 32 11 1

    Grading The Cardinal
    Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.

    HITTING: 55
    There’s no doubt the Cardinal will need several guys to step up for this team to be highly productive from an offensive standpoint. After all, they’re replacing their top five hitters. But there’s some potential with the returning cast and the additions to the roster.

    Christian Molfetta had a terrific fall from an offensive standpoint and is ready for a breakout campaign, Brandon Dieter did some special things in the fall offensively after hitting .208 last season and Nick Brueser, Christian Robinson and Nick Bellafronto each had good falls from an offensive standpoint.

    Stanford also has a wealth of confidence in junior utility player Tim Tawa, who has hit his first two seasons with the program, while also generating some power production.

    In terms of newcomers, Henry Gargus is a powerful lefthanded bat with big-time juice on the barrel. He arrived at Stanford with a torn hamstring, so is just now healthy and showing off his stuff. But he’s now healthy and is pushing for a starting job. Meanwhile, Jones is a really good runner and can make things happen a variety of ways. There’s also freshman Kody Huff, who will serve as the backup catcher and likely will start at DH to begin the season. He had a solid fall at the plate as well.

    Stanford’s offense is far from a finished product, but there’s definite potential.

    POWER: 50
    Generating home run power could be a chore for this team.

    The Cardinal had one of the nation’s better home run hitting teams last season. And get this, the Cardinal must replace a whopping 68 home runs from 2019. Not easy to do.

    With that said, there are some power options.

    Bellafronto and Tawa had six and eight home runs, respectively, last season, and it’s conceivable to think they’ll increase production this season.

    Nick Brueser also has some gap power, Dieter showed immense improvement with the bat in the fall and Henry Gargus should be an immediate impact young bat for the Cardinals. He has shown impressive power since missing the fall while rehabbing a hamstring injury.

    SPEED: 50
    The Cardinal isn’t totally void of speed, but this isn’t a team that will blow you away in that department.

    How the Cardinal lines up from a speed standpoint will essentially depend on how head coach Dave Esquer wants to construct the lineup.

    Robinson is the top returning base stealer with eight last season, while Tawa had six for the Cardinal last season. Robinson can really run and likely will be more aggressive this spring, while freshman Brock Jones, who also plays football, has impressed with his athleticism and speed since joining the baseball team this semester.

    Also keep an eye on freshman infielder Owen Cobb. Cobb is an athletic and speedy guy – it’s just a matter of finding a way for him to get into the lineup with the competition across many positions on the field.

    DEFENSE: 65
    Defense should be a strong suit for this club.

    Molfetta had a strong fall and should be a stable force behind the plate, while Bellafronto is an experienced guy at the hot corner. The shortstop position will be interesting to handicap. The Cardinal has Tawa slated to start there. However, keep an eye on someone like Adam Crampton to potentially start there as well. Crampton reminds some of Arizona State shortstop Drew Swift as a freshman last season. He is still a little light with the bat, but his defensive skill set is spectacular. If Crampton indeed starts at shortstop, that would move Tawa to center field, move Robinson to one of the corner spots, and likely knock either Jones or Gargus out of the everyday lineup.

    Speaking of the outfield, that unit is in good shape, too, with the athletic Robinson leading the charge.

    STARTING PITCHING: 65
    The Cardinal might have some question marks on this team, but the starting rotation isn’t one of them with Brenden Beck, Jacob Palisch and Alex Williams leading the charge.

    Beck has seen an uptick in velocity since last season and is primed to have yet another strong season. Beck has excellent command of the zone and will bring a steady presence to the mound. Meanwhile, Palisch struggled at times last season. But the Cardinal feels like last year was an aberration after he put together a solid fall and showed increased velocity. This past summer at the Cape Cod League, Palisch, a talented lefthander, sat 88-91 mph with his fastball, along with a quality slider and changeup that sat in the low-80s. He turns over his off-speed well, producing solid arm-side fade, and his slider comes with short, sharp action that mirrors the fastball and changeup well.

    Williams, a righthander, put together a solid 2019 campaign. But he made his biggest statement of all by pitching brilliantly in an elimination game against Fresno State in the Stanford Regional last June. Williams, like Beck, has added a couple of mph to his fastball velocity and is primed to have another strong season.

    The midweek starting job is up in the air at this point, but two guys are in the mix for it – graduate transfer Jackson Parthasarathy and freshman lefthander Quinn Mathews.

    Parthasarathy has a physical 6-foot-3, 227-pound frame and sat 86-88 mph with his fastball in the fall, along with a slider and feel for a changeup. Parthasarathy didn’t throw the changeup often during his days at Rice, so that’s a new addition to his arsenal. Meanwhile, Mathews is an electric young arm who was anywhere from 88-91 mph with his fastball in the fall, along with a plus changeup and good command. The Cardinal might prefer Parthasarathy as a starter and Mathews as a reliever, but we’ll see what they do come Opening Week.

    BULLPEN: 60
    The Cardinal has several solid options from a bullpen standpoint.

    Sophomore righthander Cody Jensen and senior righthander Zach Grech are the headliners. Jensen has a unique delivery and can get downhill with the ball very fast. It’s an uncomfortable look and at bat and he continues to improve his secondary stuff. Meanwhile, Grech is an effective reliever who led the team in appearances last season. Grech is a submariner who reminds the coaching staff of Houston Astros reliever Joe Smith with his funk and effectiveness. Last season, Grech put together impressive numbers with just seven walks in 44 innings of work.

    Junior righthander Carson Rudd and lefty Austin Weiermiller are also worth watching. Rudd made 15 appearances last season and certainly will have more work this spring. He was a big improvement in the fall, sitting 91-93 mph with his fastball and showing the ability to get up to 94-95 mph with the offering. He’s more athletic and has been committed to making the necessary changes to become a premier pitcher. Meanwhile, Weiermiller is just a consistent lefty who worked 25 games last season and had a 2.46 ERA in 33 innings, along with 41 strikeouts.

    EXPERIENCE/INTANGIBLES: 60
    If there’s one thing the Cardinal has done the past couple of seasons, it has restored order in terms of making the NCAA tournament.

    Stanford once again made an NCAA tournament appearance last season. And despite some tough losses, enters the 2020 campaign with enough experience and personnel to make yet another deep postseason run.

    From an offensive standpoint, the Cardinal has a pair of seniors in the lineup with Molfetta and Bellafronto leading the charge, while on the mound, Beck and Palisch have had a high rate of success and Williams is coming off a mighty impressive freshman season.

    The Cardinal also has plenty of experienced options in the bullpen.

    Stanford is like most teams at this juncture. There are definitely questions present. However, the pieces are there to do some special things over the next few months.
     
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  14. War Grundle

    War Grundle Nole Mercy
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    Florida State SeminolesTampa Bay Rays

    We've really improved the pitching talent this year. We have a lot more guys throwing 90+ than we have the last decade. If De Sedas and Cabell play to their potential I think we definitely can get back to Omaha.
     
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  15. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
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    #18 #Wake Forest Demon Deacons

    Top 25 Breakdown: No. 18 Wake Forest
    SEASON PREVIEW Aaron Fitt - January 16, 2020

    2019 Record: 31-26. RPI: 53.
    Coach (Record at school): Tom Walter (295-276, 10 seasons).
    Ballpark: David F. Couch Ballpark (Capacity: 3,823).
    Postseason History: 13 regionals (last in 2017), 2 CWS trips (last in 1955), 1 national title (1955).
    More: Fall Report on Wake Forest.
    Schedule, Stats, Team News: Follow the Demon Deacons all season long at our Wake Forest Team Page.

    Wake Forest's Projected Lineup

    Pos. Name, Yr. AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI SB
    C Brendan Tinsman, So. .265/.326/.529 10 41 0
    1B Bobby Seymour, Jr. .377/.439/.576 9 92 3
    2B DJ Poteet, Jr. .199/.317/.318 5 23 4
    3B *Will Simoneit, R-Sr. .299/.357/.493 6 19 6
    SS Michael Turconi, So. .273/.379/.349 2 24 4
    LF Christian Long, Sr. .162/.244/.216 0 2 0
    CF Michael Ludowig, Jr. .300/.405/.405 3 30 6
    RF Chris Lanzilli, Jr. .347/.409/.620 16 67 3
    DH Shane Muntz, Jr. .313/.477/.674 14 40 0
    *Stats at Cornell
    Pos. Name, Yr. W-L ERA IP SO BB SV
    SP #1 Jared Shuster, Jr. 4-4 6.49 68 94 37 0
    SP #2 Ryan Cusick, So. 7-3 6.44 65.2 55 29 0
    SP #3 Will Fleming, Jr. 1-4 4.26 44.1 31 19 9
    Closer Shane Smith, R-Fr. DNP — medical redshirt

    Grading The Demon Deacons
    Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.

    Hitting: 70
    Wake Forest didn’t live up to last season’s No. 20 preseason ranking — but it wasn’t because of the offense. The Deacs actually exceeded our robust expectations offensively, leading the ACC and ranking 12th nationally in scoring. With seven experienced and talented regulars back in the fold, the Demon Deacons have a very real chance to be the best offensive club in college baseball in 2020. Leading the way is reigning ACC Player of the Year Seymour, a strong-bodied lefthanded hit machine who led the nation with a ridiculous 92 RBIs last year. Fellow slam-dunk preseason All-American Lanzilli is a similarly talented pure hitter with serious strength from the right side. Muntz also hit for both power and average last year and should do so again; he’s also the most patient hitter of the bunch, and his .477 OBP led the team in 2019. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Simoneit is yet another very physical, mature righthanded hitter who performed for three years at Cornell. He’ll be a valuable addition to this team, giving the Deacs yet another offensive threat in the lower part of the lineup.

    Ludowig has All-America upside if he can take another step toward truly harnessing his five-tool ability, which includes a live lefthanded bat. Tinsman and Turconi were both solid as freshmen but figure another step as sophomores, because both of them have legitimate star potential as well. Turconi needed to get more physical after wearing down a bit last year, and he added 10-15 pounds of muscle in the offseason, which should allow him to rack up doubles. He’ll also serve as the patient, slashing catalyst atop the order. Long is a veteran “program guy” who seemed to turn a corner in the fall after getting his body into better shape and making some swing changes to keep his barrel in the zone longer. The Deacs hope he can grind out at-bats and turn the lineup over from the 9-hole, but he’ll have to withstand competition from promising freshmen Derek Crum and Adam Cecere. Poteet also made significant swing changes after a brutal sophomore slump, focusing on getting into his legs more, staying more under control and shortening his stroke. He’s back to switch-hitting, and Wake is optimistic he can get back to being the useful offensive contributor he was as a freshman, when he posted an .847 OPS.

    Power: 75
    If you’re the betting type, consider placing a wager on Wake Forest to lead the nation in home runs this year. Sure, the Deacs play in a bandbox that always enhances their power numbers — but this exceptionally physical bunch has the strength to make just about any ballpark look small. Lanzilli, Muntz and Tinsman all smacked double-digit homers a year ago, and all three of them could make a run at 20-plus this spring, because they have serious righthanded juice. The burly Seymour led the squad with 20 doubles last year ago, but his lefty power has never been in question, and he seems like a shoo-in to significantly boost last year’s nine-homer total. Simoneit is in the similar mold but from the right side — a big-bodied doubles hitter with the strength to crank double-digit long balls. Ludowig has long flashed above-average lefthanded power potential in batting practice, and he showed signs in the fall of putting it to better use in game action, doing a better job elevating the ball to his pull side. The long-levered Poteet hit nine homers as a freshman and could certainly reach double figures as a junior if he can carry his fall success into the spring. The strong-bodied Cecere gives Wake a more powerful alternative to Long in left field, while fellow freshman Drew Kendall and junior two-way talent Cole McNamee add even more power off the bench.

    Speed: 45
    As powerful as this team is, don’t expect it to run much. The Deacs do have a couple of above-average to plus runners in Turconi and Ludowig, while the long-striding Poteet is a solid-average to above-average runner underway. And a couple of the behemoths in the lineup move well enough for their size, particularly Lanzilli and Simoneit. But expect a lot more slow trots around the basepaths than stolen bases — in fact, last year Wake had 77 homers and just 37 steals.

    Defense: 45
    The Deacs ranked 10th in the ACC and 154th nationally last year with an unsightly .967 fielding percentage last year, and defense doesn’t figure to be a major strength for this team either, but it should be decent enough. Standout shortstop Patrick Frick is gone, but Wake shouldn’t lose a thing defensively by sliding Turocni from second to short. Turconi had a great summer with the Amsterdam Mohawks, where he played short every day and showed off great feet, hands and instincts as well as plenty of arm. Poteet spent his first two years in center field before moving to second base in the fall and surprising coach Tom Walter with how well he handled the position. A high school shortstop, Poteet’s strong arm helps him turn the double play well, and he’s shown decent actions — but still, he’s something of a question mark at his new position heading into the spring. Seymour is fine at first base, and Simoneit has a rifle arm and good body control at third base, though he’ll also spell Tinsman behind the plate. Walter said Tinsman has really matured defensively as a sophomore, taking more of a leadership role and polishing up his catch-and-throw skills — and his defensive development is a big key for this club.

    When Simoneit catches, don’t be surprised if Lanzilli slides to third base, where he got some action in the fall and showed off promising instincts and good arm strength, though his actions surely need refinement. Lanzilli is a sound defender in the outfield corners, and Ludowig is a standout with range and arm strength in center. Long or Crum should be very reliable in the other corner.

    Starting Pitching: 55
    This grade might wind up selling the Deacs short, because they have four very talented arms projected to start — but we need all of them to prove they can live up to their potential. We’re betting on Shuster to pitch on Fridays as the junior coming off a breakout summer in the Cape Cod League (1.40 ERA and a 35-5 K-BB mark in 32 innings), but Wake might also opt to go with Shuster on Saturdays to break up righties Cusick and Fleming. Shuster attacked the zone at 90-92 and touched 94 last summer and showed the makings of a plus changeup and above-average breaking ball, but his velocity took another jump when he came back from winter break throwing 94-96. The 6-foot-6 Cusick arrived at Wake as a fireballer who dominated high school hitters with his fastball, but he developed much better feel for pitching as the season progressed. He’s 15-plus pounds of muscle, so he shouldn’t wear down in the second half like he did last spring, when his velo dipped from the 95-96 range to 90-92. He’s also improved his breaking ball and changeup, giving him a chance to make a big leap as a sophomore.

    Fleming and fellow junior righty Antonio Menendez both shined in the Wake bullpen last year, but now they’re expected to move into starting roles, and how they handle that transition will be vital for Wake’s success. The 6-foot-6, 215-pound Fleming ran his heater up to 97 last year, and Walter said it would not surprise him to see the righty touch 100 as a junior — it’s that kind of arm. He also flashed an above-average slider and developed a legitimate third weapon in his 82-84 changeup with good arm speed, sink and fade, so he has the arsenal to be a true frontline starter. And Menendez offers a completely different look, as a slot-shifter who can go from high three-quarters to sidearm with good sink and the ability to spin a swing-and-miss slider.

    Bullpen: 55
    Walter believes his pitching staff goes comfortably 10 deep, so ultimately the bullpen should be a strength, but it lacks a proven closer. The favorite for that job is Smith, who missed last season due to injury but came back strong in the fall. With a long, loose arm swing and a high slot, Smith worked downhill at 89-91, showed a good downer curveball at 75-78 with good depth, and feel for a firm but effective changeup at 84-85. His fastball also plays up because of its high backspin rate and ability to locate it effectively. Seniors Bobby Hearn and Tyler Witt give Wake Forest two battle-tested, valuable options from the left side, and both of them pitched great down the stretch last year. Hearn attacks at 88-89 with a good, big-breaking 1-to-7 curveball at 74-76. Witt presents a different look, a low three-quarters slinger with devastating sink on his 86-88 fastball and a useful slider. Redshirt freshman lefthander Brennen Oxford is the wild card; he was one of Wake biggest surprises this fall, with a tight breaking ball around 2700 rpm that Walter called “a serious pitch” and the ability to locate with a fastball up to 91, as well as an improving changeup. The Deacs could opt to use Oxford on Tuesdays, which would allow either Menendez or Fleming to go back to the bullpen, making the staff better on weekends.

    From the right side, graduate transfer Riley Myers (from Catawba, N.C., College) showed an 89-90 fastball this fall and flashed a very good short, hard slider at 83-84, which should make him a good righty matchup guy. And junior two-way talent McNamee figures to be a key setup piece thanks to his 91-92 fastball and ability to miss bats with a short slider at 83-86.

    Experience/Intangibles: 55
    Wake Forest has seven everyday regulars back plus four rotation candidates who all have solid experience (albeit not necessarily as weekend starters) and a pair of reliable veterans anchoring an otherwise unproven bullpen. But the fact is, none of the juniors have ever experienced postseason baseball, as disappointing pitching torpedoed last year’s promising season. We firmly believe in Wake Forest’s talent; the only reason this team isn’t ranked even higher is because it hasn’t done it yet. But given the talent, depth and experience of this roster, it’s frankly hard to envision this year’s Deacs falling short of the postseason.
     
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  16. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
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    #20 #Texas AandM Aggies #Texas AandM Aggies alt

    Top 25 Breakdown: No. 20 Texas A&M
    FEATURED Kendall Rogers - January 16, 2020

    2019 Record: 39-23 (16-13 SEC).
    RPI: 15.
    Coach (Record at school): Rob Childress (577–304–3 in 14 seasons).
    Ballpark: Blue Bell Park (7,000)
    Postseason History: 35 regionals (active streak: 13), 6 CWS trips (last in 2017).
    More: Fall Report on Texas A&M
    Schedule, Stats, Team News: Follow the Aggies all season long at our Texas A&M team page.

    Texas A&M's Projected Lineup

    Pos. Name, Yr. AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI SB
    C Mikey Hoehner, Sr. .292/.381/.380 3 30 2
    1B Hunter Coleman, Sr. .244/.390/.537 5 18 1
    2B Ty Coleman, So. .241/.301/.340 5 33 1
    3B Bryce Blaum, Jr. .292/.374/.474 6 47 9
    SS Logan Sartori, Jr. TRANSFER--Hutchinson (Kan.) CC
    LF Rody Barker, Jr. TRANSFER--New Mexico CC
    CF Ray Alejo, Sr. GR TRANSFER--UCF
    RF Zach Deloach .200/.318/.349 3 16 1
    DH Cam Blake, Sr. .260/.324/.349 1 26 7
    Pos. Name, Yr. W-L ERA IP SO BB SV
    SP #1 Asa Lacy, Jr. 8-4 2.13 88.2 130 43 0
    SP #2 Christian Roa, Jr. 3-2 3.56 48 46 11 1
    SP #3 Chris Weber, So. 4-1 3.18 65 78 20 0
    Closer Moo Menefee, So. 3-2 3.75 36 51 14 0

    Grading The Aggies
    Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.

    HITTING: 55
    To say the Aggies struggled at the plate last season would be an understatement. At one point late in the season, A&M almost no-hit two teams in the SEC tournament and still managed to lose both games. Craziness, indeed.

    With Will Bolt heading to Nebraska as head coach in the offseason, the Aggies had an opportunity to bring in an additional offensive mind, and they did just that with long-time Southern Miss assistant Chad Caillet, who has an excellent reputation in the southern half of the country.

    A&M finished last season with a .251 average, so there’s only one way to go, and that’s up.

    Blaum and Hoehner are primed to have strong 2020 campaigns after finishing the 2019 season with .292 averages, respectively, while Cam Blake (.260) and Zach Deloach (.200) are two guys who struggled last season but who were either terrific this past summer or in the fall. Blake brings senior leadership to the batter’s box, while Deloach is a prized prospect who has recently shown huge upside.

    Hunter and Ty Coleman should be better. Ty generated some power as a freshman last season, but as with many young bats in the SEC, he struggled at times, too.

    UCF graduate transfer Ray Alejo gives the Aggies some big-time speed atop the lineup, while junior college transfers Logan Sartori and Rody Barker each hit in the fall and give the Aggies reason for confidence.

    Mason Corbett could be a sleeper to watch. Though he’s not listed as a starter for the Aggies, he had a terrific fall at the plate. He’ll likely get plenty of opportunities to make an impact early in the season.

    POWER: 55
    The Aggies weren’t an overly powerful team last season, but there’s a decent chance they’ll generate more power this spring.

    The Aggies lose a good power producer in Braden Shewmake, but return a hard-hitting guy in Blaum, who finished last season with nine doubles and nine home runs. Hoehner has gap and home run power, while the Coleman brothers (Ty and Hunter) both have the ability to generate some power – especially Hunter.

    Junior college transfer Rody Barker and Cam Blake should hit for power, while Deloach could be the X-factor. Deloach struggled last season but had a terrific summer at the Cape Cod League with a solid average and power generation. If he can pan out as expected, that’s a game changer for the Aggies.

    SPEED: 55
    The Aggies should have a bit more speed than they did last season, but that’s not saying too much.

    A&M welcomes back its top base stealing threat in Blaum, who finished last season with 17 stolen bases. The Aggies didn’t have anyone else with double digit stolen bases last season, but that doesn’t mean there’s not at least some speed present.

    One guy to watch from a base-stealing standpoint is graduate transfer Alejo. Alejo might have some swing and miss in his bat but possesses electrifying speed that should allow him to be a versatile hitter and premier defender.

    Cam Blake can run a little bit, while shortstop Logan Sartori is an athletic guy the Aggies expect to create some opportunities on the bases.

    So, once again, this A&M team isn’t filled with burners. But there are more speed opportunities than there was last season.

    DEFENSE: 55
    The Aggies struggled from a defensive standpoint at times last season, but the unit should be better this spring.

    Behind the plate, Hoehner gives the Aggies a veteran presence, Blaum or Sartori will man the third base/shortstop positions. Right now, we’d give the edge to Sartori, who reminds the Aggies coaching staff of former middle infielder Michael Helman. However, they are more than comfortable with Blaum up the middle, too. Ty Coleman shifts from third to second, where he’s more comfortable from a defensive standpoint, while Deloach and Alejo spearhead what is an athletic and solid outfield. Alejo’s addition gives the Aggies a guy who can track down pretty much anything out in center field.

    Whereas the defense was a lability at times in the past, the unit should be much improved this season.

    STARTING PITCHING: 65
    The Aggies have several terrific options from a starting standpoint, but the rotation is headlined by one of the best in the business in lefty Asa Lacy and hard-nosed righty Christian Roa.

    Lacy is one of the nation’s premier prospects and is expected to have another dominant campaign. He will sit anywhere from 92-96 and up to 97 mph with his fastball, while attacking hitters with a high quality 83-85 mph changeup. He also possesses a pair of effective breaking balls in the 77-81 mph range. There have been times in the past when command was an issue with Lacy. But if he can get that under control, the sky is the limit and he’s definitely a 1-1- potential pick in the MLB draft.

    Roa is a definite breakout candidate for the Aggies. He put together a solid 2019 campaign but showed better and harder stuff during the fall. Roa can pitch backwards with his 85-86 mph changeup, 82-84 mph slider and 79-80 mph curveball, while the fastball has gotten better, sitting more 91-94 and up to 95 mph during the fall. Roa should have a strong season if he emulates what he did in the fall.

    The final spot in the rotation is still up for grabs despite sophomore lefthander Chris Weber being the projected starter. Weber blossomed down the stretch last season and dazzled at the SEC tournament. He’s gotten in better shape physically and will sit 88-91 and up to 92 mph with his fastball, along with feel for four pitches. He changes speeds well and has a mature approach on the mound.

    Chandler Jozwiak, a lefthander, sits 88-91 and up to 92 mph at times, too, with the fastball. Jozwiak was more of an 87-89 mph arm last season, but he showed more velocity during fall workouts. He also possesses a sweepy slider that can give hitters fits. Meanwhile, keep an eye on sophomore lefty Jonathan Childress. Childress is still coming back from Tommy John surgery early last season but is progressing well. Childress will sit 88-92 and up to 93 mph with his fastball, along with a quality big breaking curveball. He’s also developed feel for the changeup.

    BULLPEN: 60
    Just like the starting rotation, the Aggies have plenty of intriguing options from a bullpen standpoint.

    The two headliners at the backend will be lefthander Moo Menefee and righthander Bryce Miller, while another lefty, Jozwiak, will be in the mix, too, assuming he doesn’t land a starting job.

    We discussed Jozwiak above. As for Menefee, he’s a hard-nosed guy who is perfect for the closer role. He’ll sit anywhere from 90-93 mph with his fastball, along with a put-away slider and much-improved change. Meanwhile, Miller has gotten crisper with his secondary stuff, while the fastball continues to be a weapon, sitting anywhere from 91-94 and up to 95 mph at times.

    Two more returning arms to watch include lefty Dustin Saenz and righthander Jake Nelson. Saenz needs to go out and prove it, but has good stuff with a fastball sitting 92-93 mph along with a quality breaking ball, while Nelson was a little raw early last season with a fastball up to 95 mph. But his stuff has gotten better with the breaking ball becoming a better pitch.

    Two newcomers to watch out of the pen are righties Cam Wynne and Evan Vanek. Wynne is a physical 6-foot-5, 225-pounder, who was up to 93-95 mph with his fastball in the fall. There’s upside there, while Vanek sits 90-93 mph and up to 94 with his fastball which has some sink. He also has a quality slider.

    EXPERIENCE/INTANGIBLES: 60
    The Aggies have plenty of experience with this group.

    A&M has plenty of new faces from a positional standpoint. However, it welcomes back several experienced pieces. Mikey Hoehner is a leader and stable backstop, while Bryce Blaum is a heart and soul type who returns to help anchor the infield again this season. In the outfield, Zach Deloach is an experienced guy and Cam Blake, who will split time between the outfield and designated hitter, is another seasoned bat and a senior. There’s also speedy outfielder Ray Alejo, who joined the program as a graduate transfer from UCF.

    The pitching staff is loaded with experience, too. Sophomore lefty Chris Weber pitched in some huge spots last season, while Asa Lacy and Christian Roa are battle-tested and hard-nosed pitchers. Lacy gives the Aggies a chance to win every Friday night.

    In addition to A&M’s usual success on the mound, it’ll be fascinating to see what kind of impact new hitting coach Chad Caillet makes on the offense. Caillet had tons of success offensively at Southern Miss, but he now tries to turn around a struggling A&M offense.
     
  17. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
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    #19 #Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets


    Top 25 Breakdown: No. 19 Georgia Tech
    SEASON PREVIEW Aaron Fitt - January 16, 2020

    2019 Record: 43-19. RPI: 8.
    Coach (Record at school): Danny Hall (1,062-551, 26 seasons)
    Ballpark: Russ Chandler Stadium (4,157)
    Postseason History: 32 regionals (active streak: 1), 3 CWS trips (last in 2006)
    More: Fall Report on Georgia Tech
    Schedule, Stats, Team News: Follow the Yellow Jackets all season long at our Georgia Tech Team Page.

    Georgia Tech's Projected Lineup

    Pos. Name, Yr. AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI SB
    C Jake Holland, Fr. HS — Montverde, Fla.
    1B Drew Compton, Fr. HS — Berkeley Heights, N.J.
    2B Austin Wilhite, Sr. .266/.366/.349 1 32 12
    3B Jackson Webb, Sr. .312/.437/.408 1 19 13
    SS Luke Waddell, Jr. .322/.436/.416 2 34 7
    LF Michael Guldberg, Jr. .355/.441/.416 2 34 7
    CF Colin Hall, Jr. .307/.363/.432 4 41 4
    RF Baron Radcliff, Jr. .257/.403/.503 12 44 6
    DH Andrew Jenkins, Fr. HS — Atlanta
    Pos. Name, Yr. W-L ERA IP SO BB SV
    SP #1 Jonathan Hughes, Sr. 9-2 5.09 53 48 23 0
    SP #2 Cort Roedig, So. 2-2 4.88 48 47 24 0
    SP #3 Luke Bartnicki, So. 2-2 6.40 32.1 32 21 0
    Closer Zach Maxwell, Fr. HS — Dallas, Ga.

    Grading The Yellow Jackets
    Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.

    Hitting: 60

    Georgia Tech led the ACC in batting and ranked third in the conference and 16th in the nation in scoring last year, but it must replace a pair of All-Americans in Kyle McCann and Tristin English plus a .300-plus hitter in Nick Wilhite. Still, there’s a core of very advanced veteran hitters returning, and one of the nation’s very best groups of freshman position players provides reinforcements. Waddell is the straw that stirs the drink for this team; he’s one of the best table-setters in college baseball thanks to his elite plate discipline (45 walks against 22 strikeouts last year) and his compact line-drive stroke from the left side. Guldberg is an ideal No. 2 hole hitter who walked (31) about as often as he whiffed (32) last year and showed off his high-end bat-to-ball skills by hitting a team-best .355. The switch-hitting Webb is in the same mold — a contact-oriented veteran who grinds out at-bats and walks as much as he strikes out.

    There’s more swing-and-miss elsewhere in the lineup, but Hall and Wilhite both have good enough line-drive swings and speed to hit for solid average despite their higher strikeout rates. Radcliff offsets his higher strikeout rate (68 K) with plenty of walks (46), and he came on like gangbusters in the second half last year, hitting .317/.458/.653 in conference play. And then there are those three freshmen. Compton looks like the next in a long line of great Georgia Tech sluggers. A 6-foot-2, 205-pound switch-hitter, Compton has a quiet setup and an advanced feel for his barrel from both sides. The righthanded-hitting Jenkins has similar strength and is similarly advanced, as illustrated by the fact that Tech hit Compton and Jenkins in the 4- and 5-holes against outside competition this fall. Holland is likely behind the other two offensively, but he did impress with his ability to drive the ball the other way in the fall.

    Power: 50
    McCann and English combined to hit 41 of Tech’s 69 home runs last year, leaving Radcliff as the only returnee who hit more than four long balls. Radcliff has gargantuan raw power from the left side and has made big progress learning to harness it; he’s got a chance to lead the league in homers if he takes another step forward with his consistency as a junior. Compton has legitimate plus power from both sides of the plate and it plays to the opposite field as well as the pull side. Jenkins is shorter at 6-foot, but his 205-pound frame is packed with strength, and he figures to hit for plenty of power in his Tech career. Freshman Stephen Reid is the wild card; the Jackets use the word “generational” to describe his raw power potential, and if his approach matures quickly he could battle for at-bats in the DH slot. Holland also has promising pop to the opposite field. The question is how quickly that power tool will show up for those freshmen, because it can often take a year for college hitters to harness their raw power. In Compton’s case, we’re particularly optimistic it will show up right away. The rest of the lineup is mostly a gap-to-gap gang, though the wiry Hall made significant strength gains in the offseason and could hit a few more long balls as a junior.



    Speed: 60


    Tech could make up for the fact that it has less proven power than usual by taking advantage of more team speed than it usually has. Waddell has shown plus-plus run times from home to first and is an instinctive throw-back style player who might be more aggressive on the basepaths as a junior after swiping seven bags a year ago. Guldberg, Wilhite and Hall all have at least above-average speed and can flash plus run times. The coaches say Hall is the best baserunner on the team, and they plan to cut him loose on the basepaths more this spring. Webb also has solid speed and stole 13 bases in 15 tries last year. Radcliff, even at 6-foot-4 and 239 pounds, might be the fastest player on the team underway, and he went 6-for-6 in steal attempts last year. Wiry, quick-twitch freshman outfielder Tres Gonzalez is an easy plus runner who could serve as a valuable pinch-runner or push for more regular playing time, because he has a pretty advanced feel for hitting as well.



    Defense: 60


    Tech was a pretty average defensive squad in 2019, ranking 97th nationally with a .972 fielding percentage. This unit looks very strong up the middle, led by the elite double-play tandem of Waddell and Wilhite, two proven playmakers with excellent instincts and sure hands. Hall can really track it down in center and owns a major league arm, and Holland impressed the coaches in the fall with his ability to handle a staff, receive and block, with an arm that should play. Having a freshman at the critical catcher position is always a bit of a concern, however. Webb is a high-level defender at the hot corner who attacks slow rollers and makes strong, accurate throws on the run, but also shows excellent reactions on hot shots. Guldberg and Radcliff should both be very good on the outfield corners, where they’ll have more range than their peers. Racliff also has flashed good arm strength, but not consistently. Guldberg has recovered well from the shoulder injury that limited him to DH duties in the past, and he looked good defensively in the fall.



    Starting Pitching: 55

    This grade could prove too conservative, because Georgia Tech has three very exciting power arms slated for the weekend rotation, but all three will be new to the roles and must prove they can do it after being inconsistent in 2019. First and foremost is fifth-year senior righthander Hughes, who finally looks ready to harness the talent that made him a second-round pick out of high school back in 2015. After posting a 2.46 ERA in five starts as a freshman, Hughes went down with elbow surgery, and his stuff and command weren’t quite the same over the next three years, when he posted ERAs north of 5 each year. But in the fall, Hughes was simply electrifying, attacking the strike zone at 92-95 and bumping 96 with a high spin-rate fastball in the 2400-2500 rpm range. He also showed as good a slider as you’ll see in college baseball, a wipeout pitch in the 83-86 range with a ridiculous spin rate between 2900 and 3100 rpm. And he even showed good feel for an 83-85 changeup that induced a couple swing-and-misses. The Jackets need him to blossom into a bona fide Friday night ace.

    A wiry-strong, athletic, 6-foot-2, 192-pound righty, Roedig presents an incredibly unique look: he starts his windup from a deep crouch, then launches into a hyper-uptempo, herky-jerky delivery. It’s unorthodox, but he repeats it, and the ball jumps out of his hand. Roedig worked at 92-94 and touched 95 in our fall look, and he flashed a 12-to-6 hammer curve at 74-76 with a spin rate around 2400 rpm. He also showed the ability to throw a quality mid-80s changeup to righties as well as lefties, giving him three legitimate weapons. Bartnicki, the highest-pr0file member of the 2018 recruiting class, is also being groomed as a potential starter after struggling with his command as a reliever last year. A physical low three-quarters lefthander with a wrap in the back of his delivery that could impact the consistency of his command, Bartnicki works at 87-93 with very good sink and arm-side run at times, and Hall likes his changeup. The key for him is developing a consistent breaking ball — he threw a 79-82 mph sweeper that lacked bite in our fall look, though he flashed better feel to spin in the Cape League last summer.

    Freshman righty Jackson Arnold appears in line for midweek starts. He’s a strike-thrower with an uptempo delivery who attacks hitters with a low-90s fastball, a promising breaking ball and a developing changeup. He impressed the coaches with his advanced composure for his age.



    Bullpen: 55


    The Jackets lost their bullpen anchor in English, a two-way star a year ago — but they gained two potential anchors in the freshman Maxwell and fourth-year junior Andy Archer, who made a strong recovery from an elbow injury (non-Tommy John) that cost him all of last season. Maxwell is a 6-foot-6, 245-pound lumberjack with premium arm strength and a clean high three-quarters arm action. He sat comfortably at 94-96 and bumped 97-98 in the fall, and his fastball also has a good spin rate in the 2400-2500 range, making it tough to square up, especially up in the zone. His power slider at 82-85 was a bit inconsistent in our look, but it flashed obvious wipeout potential, with a spin rate as high as 2800 rpm. His changeup remains a work in progress, and he’ll issue his share of walks, but he has the overpowering stuff to get himself out of trouble with big strikeouts.

    Archer was a revelation in the fall — he pounded 93 mph in our look, and Hall said he’s been up to 94-95 this fall, a significant jump from where he was before the injury. He’s always owned one of college baseball’s best changeups, and it was as dirty as ever in the fall, tumbling off the table at 82-84 mph. But he’s also made serious progress with his 75-78 curveball, giving him a third weapon that would help him thrive in longer stints, making him the likely moment-of-truth “trouble shooter,” like English was. Other notable returning arms include lefthanders Will Shirah, Joseph Mannelly and Brant Hurter plus righty Hugh Chapman. Those four all fall into the “wild card” category as they work their way back from injuries. Shirah had some bone spurs removed from his elbow, sidelining him in the fall, but he has a quick arm when healthy. Chapman was up to 94 earlier in the fall before getting shut down for a time with shoulder tendinitis and then returning at the end of the fall. Mannelly is expected to be ready to go when spring practice starts in February, but Hurter is most likely to miss all of 2020 while working his way back from Tommy John surgery, though there’s at least a chance he’s back in action when May rolls around.

    Meanwhile, the Yellow Jackets will count on additional talented freshmen to bolster their bullpen depth. Righthander Jackson Finley was 92-94 in the fall and flashed a promising curveball at 76-78, but his command of his fastball and breaker remain works in progress. Lefty Dalton Smith attacked at 88-90 from a short, quick three-quarters arm action and showed a very good tumbling changeup at 80-81. Fellow lefty Josiah Siegel carved at 86-87 with good angle from a three-quarters slot, and his 79-80 slider should be a nice second pitch for him. Jenkins could also see bullpen innings, and Hall said the Jackets have messed around with him as a potential closer, because he can miss bats with his 92-93 fastball and hard slider. So Tech should be a little deeper on the mound than it was last year, when the bullpen was very thin — but that will depend on how a bunch of unproven freshmen and older guys coming off injury can develop.



    Experience/Intangibles:50


    The Yellow Jackets snapped out of a two-year funk by landing a top-eight national seed during a fun 2019 season, giving this roster at least a taste of the postseason — though it ended on a sour note after Auburn stunned the Jackets with a dramatic walk-off homer in the winners’ bracket game, then shut Tech down in the rematch the next day. This lineup features six returning upperclassmen who with everyday experience, taking a little of the pressure off the freshmen — but Tech is really counting on those freshmen to provide some power and bolster the bullpen. If the youngsters grow up fast, perhaps Georgia Tech can win its first regional since 2006, because the overall talent level on this roster is very exciting.
     
    #67 FadeMe, Jan 16, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
    Cornelius Suttree likes this.
  18. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
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    #21 #East Carolina Pirates


    Top 25 Breakdown: No. 21 East Carolina
    FEATURED Kendall Rogers - January 17, 2020

    2019 Record: 47-18 (20-4 AAC).
    RPI: 5.
    Coach (Record at school): Cliff Godwin (201–109–1 in 5 seasons).
    Ballpark: Clark-LeClair Stadium (5,000)
    Postseason History: 30 regionals (active streak: 2).
    More: Fall Report on East Carolina
    Schedule, Stats, Team News: Follow the Pirates all season long at our East Carolina team page.

    East Carolina's Projected Lineup
    Pos. Name, Yr. AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI SB
    C Seth Caddell, Jr. .241/.284/.434 4 13 0
    1B Thomas Francisco, So. .319/.451/.478 4 26 0
    2B Connor Norby, So. .194/.286/.290 1 6 0
    3B Zach Agnos, Fr. FR--Haymarket, Va. (Battlefield)
    SS Ryder Giles, So. .242/.385/.295 1 26 2
    LF Alec Burleson, Jr. .370/.399/.573 9 61 3
    CF Bryson Worrell, Jr. .253/.327/.442 5 19 5
    RF Lane Hoover, So. .328/.448/.358 0 15 7
    DH Christian Smallwood, RS-Jr. Injured in 2019-DNP
    Pos. Name, Yr. W-L ERA IP SO BB SV
    SP #1 Gavin Williams Jr. 1-4 4.56 49.1 56 23 1
    SP #2 Jake Kuchmaner, Jr. 7-2 2.99 87.1 73 26 0
    SP #3 Tyler Smith, Sr. 7-1 5.57 74.1 49 28 0
    Closer Alec Burleson, Jr. 6-2 3.28 60.1 68 26 5

    Grading The Pirates
    Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.

    HITTING: 55
    ECU will need several guys to rise to the occasion this spring to have another potent offensive lineup, but the personnel is there to emulate last season’s success, particularly at the top of the lineup.

    Burleson is the team’s top returning hitter, and he’s expected to pretty much continue where he left off last season. Lane Hoover and Thomas Franciscoeach hit over .300 last season, and Francisco is a classic breakout candidate after he put together an impressive summer league performance.

    Bryson Worrell and Seth Caddell are two more breakout candidates. Worrell is some impressive tools and can hit for some power. He hit .253 with five home runs last season. Not only should he hit for more power this spring, he’ll also have a more consistent offensive approach and will hit for even more power. Caddell has continued to develop at the plate since last season and cut down on his strikeouts during fall workouts. He’s expected to have a much better season at the plate.

    Connor Norby struggled at the plate in very limited action last season but showed an ability to hit near the top of the lineup during fall workouts, while Christian Smallwood impressed the coaching staff in the fall with his potential to hit for average and power from the right side.

    Options are aplenty with this ECU club.

    POWER: 55
    The Pirates lost three of their top power hitters from last year’s team, including Bryant Packard (7), Spencer Brickhouse (14) and Jake Washer (17), but there’s still plenty of power potential with this club.

    For instance, Burleson returns after hitting nine home runs last season. He can put a charge into the ball. Francisco had a strong showing over the summer and certainly has big-time power potential. He had four home runs last season. Worrell is an athletic and powerful guy who will hit for more power production this spring, and Caddell, who likely will start behind the plate, has power and has improved his overall plate approach.

    Also keep an eye on projected designated hitter Smallwood, who has impressive power potential from the right side.

    SPEED: 50
    The Pirates will need to find ways to generate some speed. There’s some athleticism on this time, but there’s no doubt they have some tough guys to replace from a speed standpoint, including Turner Brown and Brady Lloyd, who each had double digit stolen bases last season.

    Hoover is the top returning base stealer after recording seven last season, while Worrell is a five-tool player who certainly has the athleticism to make things happen on the base paths. He has an exciting speed and power combination. Norby is another solid athlete, while Agnos is an athletic guy who can pretty much do everything. Sophomore Christian Jayne is another athletic and speedy guy to watch this spring.

    This won’t be a team full of burners, but there’s some potential in this department.

    DEFENSE: 50
    It’s safe to say the Pirates have some tough holes to fill from a defensive standpoint.

    Up the middle, the Pirates have the tough chore of replacing outstanding defender and shortstop Turner Brown and second baseman Brady Lloyd, while catcher Jake Washer was a solid defender and a rock from a leadership standpoint.

    Beginning at catcher, the Pirates will return to junior Seth Caddell. Caddell showed improved defensive skills during the fall with a stronger and more accurate arm. At shortstop, sophomore Ryder Giles takes over, and Giles is a strong defender. Will he be Turner Brown? Who knows, but it’ll be difficult to emulate what Brown did last season. With that said, the Pirates are sky high on Giles’ defensive skill set. At second, sophomore Connor Norby takes over. Norby has solid across the board skills. But again, he’s in a new and more pressure packed role, so we’ll see how he handles it.

    Bryson Worrell and Lane Hoover are both solid defenders in the outfield, while Burleson, when he’s not pitching, will occupy left field. He’s truly a do-it-all player.

    STARTING PITCHING: 60
    ECU has a hopeful weekend rotation, assuming a guy like hard throwing righthander Gavin Williamsmakes a smooth transition to the three-person mix.

    ECU welcomes back junior lefthander Jake Kuchmaner and senior righty Tyler Smith. Kuchmaner earned a stellar reputation last season by throwing a no-hitter in a midweek game against Ole Miss and having a solid overall campaign. He’ll sit anywhere from 84-88 mph with his fastball, along with a three-pitch mix and athleticism on the mound. Meanwhile, Smith is a seasoned veteran and senior who had an ugly ERA last season but is ready to take another step forward this spring. Smith will sit anywhere from 86-91 mph with his sinking fastball. He won’t overpower anyone with his stuff, but he’s more than capable of going out there each Sunday and giving the Pirates a high-quality start.

    The x-factor for the weekend rotation is flamethrower and righthander Gavin Williams. Williams struck out 56 in 49.1 innings of work last season and he has an electric arm. Williams sat 94-96 and up to 97 mph with his fastball throughout fall workouts, while also showcasing a hard 88-89 mph changeup and a nasty curveball at 74-77 mph. He already had the changeup and fastball, but if the breaking ball continues to develop and he can command it, it’s a game changer for him and the Pirates.

    Should Williams not work out, you could see several other options get into the mix, including the younger brother of former ECU standout Jake Agnos. Zach Agnos, a talented two-way player, was 88-91 mph with his fastball, along with a 75-76 curveball and 81 mph changeup during fall workouts.

    Stay tuned.

    BULLPEN: 55
    The Pirates have plenty of options from a bullpen standpoint.

    Alec Burleson, the two-way start, is the headliner at the backend of the bullpen. Burleson has the ability to start for the Pirates, but it sounds like Cliff Godwin would like to preserve as much energy as possible by limiting his innings on the mound. Burleson will sit anywhere from 87-90 mph with his fastball, along with a three-pitch mix and solid command. Burleson is a hard-nosed competitor and fits perfectly with what you want in a closer. Ryder Giles is another talented two-way player to watch on the mound. He was shut down during fall workouts, but the Pirates like what he brings to the table.

    Redshirt senior Matt Bridges is another solid option. Bridges tallied a 4.00 ERA in nine appearances before he had Tommy John surgery two seasons ago. He’s back and ready to roll this spring.

    Other arms to watch include Cam Colmore, Carter Spivey, Skylar Brooks, Trystan Kimmel, Nick Logusch, Elijah Gill, Carson Whisenhunt, CJ Mayhue, AJ Wilson and Nate Nabholz. Clearly, the Pirates have some quality depth to work with.

    Colmore is a fifth-year senior who sits 88-90 mph with his fastball along with a solid slurve, Spivey is ready for a larger role this season and has a funky low three-quarters slot with a fastball around 86-87 mph. Brooks is a 6-foot-3 righty who has been up to 93 mph, Kimmel is 88-90 with some feel for a slurve. He can also get up to 93 mph with the fastball at times. Logusch works 89-92 mph with his fastball, along with a curveball at 75-77 mph and a changeup at 81-82 mph. Gill is a talented lefty who can get up to 92 mph with his fastball, along with a quality 76-80 mph breaking ball and a changeup, while Whisenhunt will get up to 91 mph with his fastball, along with an 83-84 mph cutter. Mayhue and Wilson can both get up to 92 mph with their fastballs, while finally, Nabholz is a hard-nosed pitcher who will sit 87-90 mph with his fastball, along with a quality change at 80-82 and a slurve in the upper-70s.

    Finding roles for all these quality arms will be the chore for ECU.

    EXPERIENCE/INTANGIBLES: 55
    The Pirates will certainly be relying on some younger players from an offensive standpoint, but they can take solace in having several veterans leading the charge on the mound.

    Gavin Williams, Jake Kuchmaner and Tyler Smith are all guys with major experience, while at the backend of the bullpen, two-way talent Alec Burleson has success experience as both a starter and reliever, tallying 68 strikeouts in 60.1 innings of work last season.

    ECU will continue to be fueled by last season and its quest for reaching the College World Series. The Pirates hosted the first round of the postseason but are still looking for their first trip to Omaha in program history.

    The offensive lineup has some uncertainty, but the pieces are in place to have yet another solid campaign.
     
    #68 FadeMe, Jan 16, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
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  19. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
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    #22 #Oklahoma State Cowboys


    Top 25 Breakdown: No. 22 Oklahoma State
    SEASON PREVIEW Aaron Fitt - January 17, 2020

    2019 Record: 40-21. RPI: 7.
    Coach (Record at school): Josh Holliday (271-133-1, 7 seasons).
    Ballpark: O’Brate Stadium (Capacity: 3,500).
    Postseason History: 45 regionals (active streak: 7), 20 CWS trips (last in 2016), 1 national title (1959).
    More: Fall Report on Oklahoma State.
    Schedule, Stats, Team News: Follow the Cowboys all season long at our Oklahoma State Team Page.

    Oklahoma State's Projected Lineup
    Pos. Name, Yr. AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI SB
    C *Brock Mathis, Jr. .164/.291/.287 3 12 0
    1B Alix Garcia, Sr. .294/.388/.485 8 25 0
    2B Kaden Polcovich, Jr. Tr. — Northwest Florida State JC
    3B Jake Thompson, Jr. DNP — transfer rule
    SS Hueston Morrill, So. .282/.390/.386 2 20 12
    LF Carson McCusker, Sr. .311/.383/.520 6 40 2
    CF Caeden Trenkle, Fr. HS — Hillsboro, Texas
    RF Cade Cabbiness, Sr. .234/.307/.406 8 27 4
    DH Blake Robertson, Fr. HS — Edmond, Okla.
    *Stats at LSU
    Pos. Name, Yr. W-L ERA IP SO BB SV
    SP #1 Parker Scott, Jr. 3-1 2.18 45.1 51 14 0
    SP #2 Bryce Osmond, Fr. HS — Jenks, Okla.
    SP #3 Justin Campbell, Fr. HS — Simi Valley, Calif.
    Closer Ben Leeper, Sr. 4-4 4.21 31.1 43 23 7

    Grading The Cowboys
    Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.

    Hitting: 60
    Oklahoma State ranked 145th in the nation in batting and 87th in scoring last year, despite ranking fourth in the country with 93 home runs. It was an all-or-nothing approach, as OSU also struck out a whopping 652 times, against 293 walks. But the Cowboys replaced some of their big boppers with more contact-oriented slashers, which could change the complexion of the offense; this group figures to be more versatile and better at putting the ball in play consistently. The 5-foot-10 Trenkle and the 5-8 Polcovich are the most notable additions in this regard; both of them have advanced barrel skills, and nobody made more consistent contact in OSU fall ball than Trenkle, a perfect fit in the No. 2 hole behind likely leadoff man Morrill. The switch-hitting Polcovich has explosive bat speed and natural hitting instincts — he already proved himself against top competition by hitting .305 with four homers and eight doubles in the Cape Cod League last summer, and the Cowboys envision him sliding right into the 3-hole this spring.

    The 6-foot-8 Goliath McCusker figures to hit cleanup, and though he has some swing-and-miss to his game, he also led the team with a .311 average last year, a testament to his knack for making hard contact when he connects. He and gap machine Morrill tied for the team lead with 17 doubles last year. Garcia is another established veteran run producer from the right side. Mathis, a transfer from LSU, worked hard with OSU hitting coach Matt Holliday this fall to refine his swing and increase his contact rate, making him an intriguing wild card heading into the spring. Kentucky transfer Thompson proved his mettle as a hitter in a long summer in the Northwoods League this year, hitting .355 with 16 doubles in 186 at-bats. The lefthanded hitter does a good job choking up and putting the ball in play with two strikes, and he can wear out the gaps as well, potentially in the 5-hole to break up the righties. Cabbiness has struggled to make consistent contact over his first three years, but he showed a much more mature approach in the fall, with a shorter stroke and the ability to line singles the other way with two strikes. If he can carry over that progress into the spring, he’ll serve as another valuable lefthanded threat in the second half of the lineup. Also keep an eye on junior two-way player Noah Sifrit, whose middle-away approach and plate discipline stood out in fall ball and could make him a factor in the outfield mix.

    Power: 55
    The departed quartet of Trevor Boone, Colin Simpson, Andrew Navigato and Christian Funk combined to hit 62 of the team’s 93 long balls last year. There are still some intimidating big-bodied homer threats left, but this year’s Cowboys figure to rely far less on the home run. McCusker is the biggest of all, and while he’s been more of a doubles hitter so far in Stillwater, he certainly has the strength to hit double-digit homers as a junior. The same goes for Garcia, who has worked hard to make strength gains in the weight room and shorten up his path to the ball, with the goal of helping him catch more fastballs out in front and drive them out to the pull side. Polcovich is a little stick of dynamite whose electric bat speed should translate to plenty of homers in the 3-hole. The 6-foot-5 Robertson has shown the ability to keep a short swing despite long levers and projects to hit for huge power as he matures; it’s just a matter of how quickly that power plays this spring. The 6-4 Cabiness has always had big raw power, he’s just been held back by his hit tool, but he could have a power surge if his hit tool continues to mature as it appeared to in the fall. Thompson should provide occasional pop as well.

    Speed: 50
    Oklahoma State did not run much last year, ranking 219th in the nation and eighth in the Big 12 in steals per game. Morrill (12-for-15) was the only double-digit basestealer a year ago, and he’ll form a disruptive, fleet-footed trio atop the order alongside live-bodied newcomers Trenkle and Polcovich, both of whom can really run and know how to put their speed to good use on the basepaths. Coach Josh Holliday described Polcovich as “an active basestealer with a lot of burst and power.” There won’t be much speed after that trio, unless Sifrit works his way into the lineup.

    is built to mash, not to run. The departed Matt Kroon accounted for 18 of OSU’s 60 steals last year, leaving the sneakily athletic Simpson (8-for-11 SBs) as the top returning basestealer. Simpson is a heady baserunner, but he’s still just a below-average to fringy runner. Boone is an above-average runner underway, and Morrill has plus speed and good quickness.

    Defense: 55
    Oklahoma State has been a mediocre defensive team two years in a row, fielding .969 in 2018 and .970 last year. But this year’s club has the personnel and experience to take a step forward defensively, in part because newcomers Mathis, Polcovich and Trenkle are quality defenders at up-the-middle positions. Mathis is a good receiver and blocker who gained valuable experience behind the plate in the SEC, and Josh Spiegel gives OSU another good catch-and-throw guy behind him. Polcovich attacks the baseball no matter where he plays on the diamond, and he should team with the instinctive, reliable Morrill to form a solid double-play tandem. If OSU opts to move Polcovich to the outfield or third base, baseball rat Max Hewitt can play a quality second base; Hewitt has even learned to catch this fall, giving OSU extra depth at that spot. Another hard-nosed gamer, Dylan Gardner, is another valuable utilityman who handles himself well at second or third, and he’ll also have a chance to win an everyday job. Thompson has worked hard to improve his defense at third, where he’s made gains with his glove skills as well as his throwing accuracy. Trenkle is a dynamo in center with premium range and athleticism, which he showed off with a spectacular leaping catch to rob Vanderbilt’s Spencer Jones of a home run this fall. Cabbiness is a standout defender with a double-plus arm in right field.

    Starting Pitching: 50
    Oklahoma State’s rotation has fascinating upside but a lot to prove, as it figures to rely upon three blue-chip freshmen from the nation’s No. 3 recruiting class, behind battle-tested junior lefty Scott, who provides veteran stability and pitchability on Fridays even though he doesn’t have classic overpowering ace kind of stuff. Scott has battled injuries in his career, but he was very good when he got healthy last year, posting a 2.18 ERA in 45.1 innings over 15 appearances (eight starts). He looked outstanding in two hitless innings in our fall look, attacking the zone at 86-88 and mixing in a very good high-70s changeup and 1-to-7 curveball in the mid-70s. He’s also developed a slider to give him a fourth weapon, and Holliday loves how he competes and maintains his composure in tight spots.

    Osmond, the highest-ranked freshman in this group, has a wiry 6-foot-3, 174-pound frame and an “explosive arm,” as Holliday put it, giving him legitimate first-round upside as he matures. He worked downhill at 88-91 in the fall but has shown more velocity in the past. He pounds the bottom of the zone and features a 79-80 slider with very good tilt and a 74-76 curveball to steal a strike. Fellow freshman Campbell is a lanky, projectable 6-foot-7 righty who worked at 88-91 and touched 92 against Vandy, along with a 75-76 curve with tight rotation and good arm speed on his 79-81 changeup, which flashes above-average. Freshman righthander Kale Davis has put himself in the starting mix as well — Holliday said he looks like a starter already, with a refined delivery, feel for a sharp curveball and a slider with solid tilt, and advanced feel for his craft. His fastball was 87-88 in our fall look, but there’s plenty more in the tank as he grows into his 6-foot-4 frame.

    Sophomore righty Brett Standlee made 12 starts a year ago and posted a 4.46 ERA, so he figures to compete for a weekend rotation job as well, though he might be a better fit cutting it loose in the bullpen after struggling in the fall, when he was working to make adjustments in his delivery to maximize his leverage and get more bite on his pitches. A 6-foot-4 lumberjack with a long beard, Standlee has good movement on all four of his pitches: a sinker, slider, cutter and changeup.

    Bullpen: 60
    Once again, Oklahoma State’s bullpen should be a strength, as it usually is under pitching coach Rob Walton’s expert leadership. Bulldog senior Leeper and redshirt sophomore righty Tucker Elliott plus fourth-year junior righty Zach Cable are back to anchor the bullpen, and Holliday said all three are 92-94 mph guys with power breaking balls that can miss bats in the late innings. Standlee or one of the three freshmen mentioned above will also slide to the bullpen and serve as a key swingman. The 6-foot-9, 249-pound lefthander Mitchell Stone offers a unique look, and his fastball has sat in the low 90s in the past; he also features a good fading changeup at 80-81 and a solid 81-82 slider. He could also be a factor in the rotation if he can repeat his delivery consistently and get himself into a groove. Two-way player Sifrit is a quality strike-thrower who should be able to log some useful innings out of the bullpen this spring.

    Freshman righty Wyatt Cheney is a 5-foot-11, 170-pounder with a quick arm that produces 87-91 heat with good life from a high slot. His 80-81 changeup also flashed good fading action at times, and his mid-70s curve has nice spin and downer shape. The wild card is sophomore righty John Kelly, who was up to 95 mph with an 89 mph slider in his first outing of the fall but has been inconsistent. He was 90-92 with erratic command in our fall look, but he did flash a legitimate plus slider at 82-85 with late power tilt, so it’s easy to envision him blossoming into a big-time weapon in the OSU bullpen.

    Experience/Intangibles:50
    Oklahoma State fell one win from Omaha last year, dropping a heart-breaker in the finale of the Lubbock Super Regional. Four everyday regulars are back from that club, plus a few key pieces on the mound, but this team will rely heavily on newcomers, both freshmen and transfers. How the new faces adapt to the rigors of Big 12 competition will be crucial, but it is encouraging that Polcovich and Thompson are coming off standout summers, and Mathis has already been through the SEC grind. Under Holliday’s leadership, Oklahoma State never fails to get better as the season progresses, and this fine coaching staff figures to get the most out of their youngsters by the time May and June roll around.
     
    #69 FadeMe, Jan 16, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
    tjosu and Cornelius Suttree like this.
  20. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
    Donor
    Auburn TigersAtlanta BravesAtlanta United

    #23 #North Carolina Tarheels


    Top 25 Breakdown: No. 23 North Carolina
    SEASON PREVIEW Aaron Fitt - January 17, 2020

    2019 Record: 46-19. RPI: 12.
    Coach (Record at school): Mike Fox (936-399-1, 21 seasons).
    Ballpark: Bryson Field at Boshamer Stadium (4,100).
    Postseason History: 32 regionals (active streak: 3), 11 CWS trips (last in 2018), 0 national titles.
    More: Fall Report on North Carolina.
    Schedule, Stats, Team News: Follow the Tar Heels all season long at our UNC Team Page.

    North Carolina's Projected Lineup
    Pos. Name, Yr. AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI SB
    C Kyle Smith, Fr. HS — Wilmington, N.C.
    1B Aaron Sabato, So. .343/.453/.696 18 63 0
    2B Mikey Madej, Jr. Tr. — Northwest Florida State JC
    3B Clemente Inclan, Jr. .227/.394/.273 0 4 2
    SS Danny Serretti, So. .299/.373/.424 3 45 4
    LF Angel Zarate, R-So. .100/.182/.100 0 0 0
    CF Dylan Harris, Sr. .268/.397/.423 7 29 5
    RF Caleb Roberts, So. .227/.374/.280 0 17 2
    DH Tyler Causey, Fr. .186/.265/.233
    Pos. Name, Yr. W-L ERA IP SO BB SV
    SP #1 Gianluca Dalatri, R-Jr. 1-1 2.25 32 35 8 0
    SP #2 Max Alba, R-Fr. DNP — injured
    SP #3 Will Sandy, So. 2-2 5.52 58.2 41 31 0
    Closer Joey Lancellotti, Jr. 6-4 3.12 52 56 29 3

    Grading The Tar Heels
    Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.

    Hitting: 55

    The Tar Heels return just three proven hitters from last year’s super regional team, so they’ll be counting on a number of former part-time players to take big steps forward and newcomers to hit the ground running. Harris, a dirtbag who always plays full throttle, excels at working deep counts (53 walks and 45 strikeouts last year), making him an excellent catalyst at or near the top of the lineup. Serretti and Sabato are legitimate stars in the sophomore class; the switch-hitting Serretti has a quick line-drive stroke from both sides of the plate and should continue to rack up doubles. Sabato is simply one of the best hitters in the nation, a potential first-round pick as a draft-eligible sophomore.

    Aside from that trio, there’s a lot of uncertainty here, but plenty of promise. Madej was a key addition from the juco ranks, a switch-hitter with advanced bat-handling skills and a mature approach at the plate, making him a likely table-setter in one of the top two slots in the order in front of Serretti and Sabato. The 6-foot-6, 190-pound Causey reminds associate head coach Scott Forbes of former Florida State star Drew Mendoza, but his smooth lefthanded stroke reminds Fox of former UNC standout Colin Moran. He turned down big money in the draft to attend UNC, where he has a chance to be the next in a long line of first-round-caliber hitters — and UNC is counting on him to provide immediate protection behind the sophomore stars. Roberts looks like a breakout candidate as a sophomore thanks to his silky-smooth lefthanded stroke and good pitch recognition (as evidenced by his 29-23 BB-K mark last year). Look for him to become a doubles machine this spring in the 5- or 6-hole.

    There’s plenty of competition for the other three spots in the lineup, but hard-working upperclassmen Inclan, Zarate, Dallas Tessar and Earl Semper all figure to get real opportunities to win everyday jobs after biding their time as bench players so far in their careers. Semper is an athletic switch-hitter who took a medical redshirt last spring, but Fox said he’s taken a nice step forward this fall. Zarate had a great summer in the Coastal Plain League, getting hit after hit, and Fox said he has improved his speed and made huge strides on defense, making him the front-runner for the left field spot. The gritty Tessar appeared in 52 games but logged just 61 at-bats last spring — but he seemed to find a way to make an impact whenever he got the chance to play, whether by coming up with a key pinch-hit or laying down a good bunt. His toughness and bat-handling skill are assets. Inclan has some strength in his swing but needs to do a better job staying relaxed in order to fend off talented freshman Patrick Alvarez at the hot corner. Alvarez is a 5-foot-7 fireball with a quick stroke and a small strike zone, giving him a chance to be an impact player if he can become a little more consistent with his approach.

    Three more freshmen are competing with Roberts for playing time behind the plate: Smith, Eric Grintz and Will Stewart. The physical Grintz started off the fall slow offensively but has gradually improved, while Smith is a good athlete with some righthanded bat speed, and the lefthanded-hitting Stewart is the most offensive of the three.

    Power: 50
    Obviously North Carolina has one of the nation’s very best sluggers in Sabato, who owns prodigious righthanded power and has a rare knack for putting that power to good use. But the Tar Heels lost their other big bopper in Michael Busch, plus other power threats Brandon Martorano and Ashton McGee. Harris has plenty of strength in his compact frame and should match or exceed last year’s seven-homer total. Causey has serious leverage in his stroke and projects to hit for big power as he matures, but it’s unclear how much that power tool will play as a freshman. Roberts has the strength to drive the ball more as a sophomore, but he’s a natural line-drive hitter. This team figures to rely more on doubles and situational hitting than the long ball, with the obvious exception of Sabato.

    Speed: 50
    UNC ran even less than usual last year, ranking 237th in the nation in stolen bases per game, but we expect them to be much more aggressive on the basepaths with a less powerful club this spring. Harris, Serretti, Madej and Alvarez are all at least are solid-average to above-average runners who are all capable of swiping double-digit bases if UNC cuts them loose. Zarate has worked to improve his speed; he, Tessar and Semper are all decent runners as well. There aren’t any true burners here, but most of the Tar Heels are at least decent runners with sound instincts.

    Defense: 55
    Defense was a liability for North Carolina last season, as errors tended to come in bunches, costing the Heels some important wins in ACC play. They ranked 140th in the nation with a .968 fielding percentage, and improving in that regard was a point of emphasis this fall. UNC does have a high-end shortstop in Serretti, who has the range, arm strength and instincts to be one of the better defenders in the country. Madej is a human vacuum cleaner at second, giving UNC a potentially elite middle-infield tandem, and Harris is an aggressive center fielder who takes great routes. But the catching position is an unknown after the departure of Martorano, as UNC has four catchers for the first time Fox can remember. Roberts has finally started to focus on his defense the way UNC wants him to, but he still needs refinement. Smith and Grintz look like the most polished of the freshmen, though Stewart is the most offensive, so who knows how that competition will play out? The Tar Heels should be strong at the outfield corners no matter who wins those jobs, and the same goes for third base, where Inclan and Alvarez are both plenty capable. Sabato and Causey could platoon at first base and DH; Causey is the more athletic defender and could wind up on the left side of the diamond as his career unfolds.

    Starting Pitching: 50

    There’s a wide range of potential outcomes for UNC’s rotation — it could be very good, but there’s significant risk as well. The biggest wild card is Dalatri’s health. After going 7-3, 3.34 in 97 innings to earn freshman All-America honors in 2017, Dalatri was limited by injury to 27 innings as a sophomore and 17 innings as a junior. He did not pitch in scrimmage action this fall while rehabbing from April hip surgery, but he started his throwing program late in the fall and is now working to build up his strength so he’s ready to go full throttle by the time the season starts in February. At his best, he’s a polished four-pitch strike-thrower and a bona fide ace. UNC needs him to return to that form this spring.

    Alba also has a high ceiling but still has to establish himself as a Division I pitcher after missing last season with Tommy John surgery. He came back strong in the fall, working downhill at 92-93 with good life, a putaway breaking ball and good feel for a changeup. Sandy made 11 starts last spring, seeing plenty of ACC action on Sundays. He had his elbow scoped right after the season and sat out the summer, so the Heels brought him along slowly this fall, but he has the pitchability, angle and three-pitch arsenal to thrive as a starter, whether on the weekend or midweek. Another strong candidate for midweek starts is juco transfer Michael Oh, a strong-bodied 6-foot-3 righthander with a simple, repeatable arm action. In five scoreless innings in our Fall World Series look, Oh spotted up to both sides of the plate with an 84-86 fastball from a conventional high slot, but the ball jumps on hitters thanks to its high spin rate (consistently in the 2500-2600 rpm range). He also has good feel for a downer curve at 74-77 with tight spin in the 2600-2800 range and a decent changeup.

    Bullpen: 70
    The bullpen will be UNC’s greatest strength, led by twin pillars Lancellotti and Austin Love, who might be the best relief duo in college baseball. UNC stretched Lancellotti out in the fall to give him a chance to compete for a starting role, but he’s just so valuable at the back of the bullpen that we expect he’ll wind up back in that role. With a 92-96 mph fastball and a filthy power slider in the mid-80s, Lancellotti has strikeout stuff and competes hard in tight spots. The same is true of Love, a 6-foot-3, 232-pound redshirt sophomore with a fastball that reaches the mid-90s, a premium changeup and a quality slider. Like Lancellotti, he’s a bona fide All-America candidate, and both of them have proven they can work multiple innings at time, shortening the game when UNC has a lead. Battle-tested lefthander Caden O’Brien, a funky, deceptive changeup specialist, returns as a key bridge/setup guy who shined on the big stage of Omaha as a freshman, though he walked too many as a sophomore.

    One thing UNC lacked a year ago was a southpaw with a knockout breaking ball to come in against dangerous lefthanded hitters. Coach Mike Fox hopes that freshman Nick James and/or fourth-year junior Chris Joyner can fill that role next spring. James is a strike-thrower with a good arm, and the Tar Heels feel good about his potential, but he still has some work to do to prove himself. Joyner, who sat out last spring after transferring from UNC Wilmington, has a high-80s heater from a tough low three-quarters slot and a quality short, late slider. He seems well suited for a matchup lefty role.

    Other righthanded bullpen options include sophomores Connor Ollio, Josh Dotson and Davis Palermo; senior Andrew Grogan; junior low-slot guy Kyle Blendinger; juco transfer Gage Gillian; redshirt freshman Austin Elliott; and freshman Joseph Charles. Those first five guys are all competitors with decent but not overpowering stuff, though Ollio seems like a candidate to take a step forward after a winter of rest (looked tired this fall). Charles is a higher-upside 6-foot-3, 220-pound righty with a power fastball that could easily soar higher than its mid-90s peak in high school, and the breaking ball is a true swing-and-miss offering that is downright devastating when on. The key for him is refining his command. Gillian showed up on campus with a torn hamstring that has limited him this fall, but when he’s pitched he’s been very tough, a fearless competitor who attacks with his fastball and hammer 12-to-6 curveball. Elliott is the real X-factor, with a lively 91-93 fastball, a vicious power curveball, and a firm changeup that has solid movement. It’s just a matter of harnessing that exciting repertoire and throwing more strikes.

    Experience/Intangibles:55
    Dalatri, O’Brien and Lancellotti give UNC’s pitching staff a trio of veterans who have experienced the College World Series in 2018, and the lineup features three mainstays and several part-time players from last year’s super regional club. So there are some key players back in the fold who have proven they know how to win in the postseason. But UNC is also relying on a bushel of first-time starters in the lineup and inexperienced arms on the mound. How those players progress will ultimately determine if the Tar Heels can make another deep postseason run.
     
    #70 FadeMe, Jan 16, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
  21. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
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    #24 #Oklahoma Sooners


    Top 25 Breakdown: No. 24 Oklahoma
    ANALYSIS Kendall Rogers - January 17, 2020

    2019 Record: 33-23 (11-13 Big 12).
    RPI: 43.
    Coach (Record at school): Skip Johnson (71–48 in 2 seasons).
    Ballpark: L. Dale Mitchell Park (3,200)
    Postseason History: 37 regionals (active streak: 2), 10 CWS appearances (last in 2010), 2 national titles (last in 1994)
    More: Fall Report on Oklahoma
    Schedule, Stats, Team News: Follow the Sooners all season long at our Oklahoma team page.

    Oklahoma's Projected Lineup
    Pos. Name, Yr. AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI SB
    C Brady Lindsly, Sr. .291/.364/.480 5 34 1
    1B Tyler Hardman, Jr. .306/.394/.457 6 42 0
    2B Conor McKenna, Sr. .255/.335/.361 3 31 5
    3B Peyton Graham, Fr. FR--Waxahachie, Texas (HS)
    SS Brandon Zaragoza, Sr. .257/.372/.296 0 30 4
    LF Kendall Pettis, Fr. FR--Chicago (Brother Rice)
    CF Tanner Tredaway, Jr. .260/.363/.308 0 10 7
    RF Brady Harlan, Sr. .255/.377/.328 1 20 6
    DH Diego Muniz, So. .220/.380/.366 3 19 1
    Pos. Name, Yr. W-L ERA IP SO BB SV
    SP #1 Cade Cavalli, Jr. 5-3 3.28 60.1 59 35 0
    SP #2 Levi Prater, Jr. 7-4 3.26 80 97 43 0
    SP #3 Dane Acker, Jr. Transfer--San Jacinto (Texas) College
    Closer Jason Ruffcorn, Sr. 2-2 2.43 37 28 13 11

    Grading The Sooners
    Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.

    HITTING: 55
    There’s just one returning hitter who hit better than .300 last season – Ty Hardman – but the Sooners should be much improved from an offensive standpoint.

    Brandon Zaragoza, who’s back for another season, was much more offensive during fall workouts and will build on his status as a premier defender by becoming a quality hitter.

    Catchers Justin Mitchell and Brady Lindsly, each took steps forward from an offensive standpoint, and Tanner Tredaway might have taken the biggest leap of all. Tredaway finished last season with a .260 batting average but was much better and more consistent during fall workouts. Skip Johnson feels like he’s ready to have quite the breakout campaign.

    Brady Harlan is athletic and will find ways to get it done – whether it’s hitting for average or for power, while Diego Muniz is just one of those scrappy guys who puts the bat on the ball. Freshman Kendall Pettis is an exciting young player who can make things happen with his legs, while freshmen Peyton Graham, Trent Brown and Connor Beichler are worth watching. Graham has a loose swing and showed big-time potential in the fall, Brown can hit for some power and is a good runner and Beichler could find himself in an important role this spring, too.

    POWER: 55
    This team won’t overwhelm anyone from a power standpoint, but there are some options both in terms of home run and gap power.

    For instance, the top returning power hitters are Ty Harman and Brady Lindsly, who combined for 11 home runs last season.

    Harlan should hit for more power this spring, while Tredaway is an athletic guy who can at least get the ball into the gaps.

    The Sooners have a young player, Trent Brown, who also is worth following from a power standpoint. OU liked his strength and power potential during fall workouts.

    McKenna and Muniz are other potential power producers to watch. Neither had loud home run numbers last season, but both can hit the ball into the gaps.

    SPEED: 55
    The Sooners certainly weren’t an overly speedy team last season, finishing the campaign with just two guys with more than five stolen bases. Those two guys – Tanner Tredaway and Brady Harlan – are back this season. Both Harlan and Tredaway have athleticism and can really run and make things happen with their legs, while McKenna has some speed as well.

    Where OU made some upgrades in the speed department is with the newcomers, which includes Kendall Pettis and Peyton Graham. Both Pettis and Graham can really run, and the Sooners feel like they’re game-changers in terms of stealing bases and making things happen with their legs.

    Veteran shortstop Brandon Zaragoza also has some speed and athleticism. Brady Lindsly and Ty Hardman also can run a little for their positions.

    Oklahoma isn’t expected to blow teams away with its team speed, but there will be noticeable improvements from last season.

    DEFENSE: 60
    OU feels good about its defensive setup for good reason.

    The Sooners are strong in two important areas – the middle infield and behind the plate.

    At the catcher position, Lindsly and Justin Mitchell are both quality defenders and also give the Sooners some much-needed experience at the position.

    McKenna and Zaragoza are very good up the middle, too. Zaragoza in particular is one of the Big 12 and nation’s premier defenders and gives the Sooners a lockdown duo up the middle.

    The outfield is in good shape, too, with the return of Harlan and speedy freshman Kendall Pettis. Tanner Tredaway is a nice, athlete, too, and can track down balls.

    Look for OU to be a strong defensive club.

    STARTING PITCHING: 65
    The Sooners have some huge upside from a starting pitching standpoint. Juniors Cade Cavalli and Levi Prater have big-time potential, and I’m expecting promising things out of them this spring.

    Cavalli has been a little up and down at times in the past, but he’s got an excellent frame and huge arm. Cavalli will sit anywhere from 93-94 and up to 95-96 mph with his fastball, along with loose, clean and repeatable arm action. He also has an effective slider and the changeup continues to make strides. Cavalli could scale the draft boards pretty quickly if he has a strong spring.

    Prater is a talented lefty who does a good job of commanding the zone. This past summer at the Cape, Prater was 89-90 mph with his fastball, which had some run to his arm side, while also showing good feel for the slider.

    The final spot in the weekend rotation will likely go to San Jacinto (Texas) transfer and former Rice hurler, righthander Dane Acker. Acker had some good moments during his previous stint at Rice, and there’s definite upside present. Acker will sit anywhere from 89-93 and up to 94 mph with his fastball, along with a splitfinger and a 77-78 mph slider. Acker has a good frame and the experience you want, especially for a Sunday guy in the Big 12 Conference.

    Hard-nosed sophomore righthander Ben Abram is another starting option to watch. Abram showed excellent command and pitchability at times last season. And though he’s slated to start in the midweek at the moment, he could move into the rotation at some point this spring, especially if Acker teeters the edge at all.

    BULLPEN: 60
    Oklahoma has plenty of strong options from a bullpen standpoint.

    We talked about Ben Abram above. Wyatt Olds is another hard-nosed righthander who returns and is expected to have a strong campaign.

    Ruffcorn leads the charge and righty Zack Matthews is ready to have a strong season, too. Ruffcorn was 93-94 and up to 95 mph with his fastball in the fall, along with an improved changeup, while Matthews will get up into the mid-90s with his fastball, too, with improved stuff from last season.

    Freshmen Jake Bennett and Christian Ruebeck also are worth watching. Bennett is an imposing 6-foot-6, 225-pounder, who had a strong fall and sat 89-91 mph with his fastball, along with a quality breaking ball. Skip Johnson feels like there’s much more velocity left in the tank for Bennett, too. Meanwhile, Ruebeck is 89-92 and up to 93 mph with his fastball, along with a solid changeup.

    Texas Tech transfer Carson Carter should factor into the equation, too. Carter will sit low-90s and up to 94 mph with his fastball, while the biggest key for the transfer will be making sure he can command the zone with consistency.

    Sam Houston State transfer Brad Demco could be a huge addition, too. Demco changed some things about his arm slot and was up to 93-94 mph in the fall. He’s also experienced. However, the Sooners still aren’t sure if they’ll have him in 2020 or not. His waiver appeal is still being considered by the NCAA.

    EXPERIENCE/INTANGIBLES: 55
    The Sooners missed the NCAA tournament last season but have several key pieces back from a team that still had a decent season with a 30-plus win season.

    It’s crucial to have upperclassmen in college baseball, and the Sooners have many of them on this year’s roster.

    The weekend rotation will be littered with juniors in Cavalli, Prater and Acker, while the backend of the bullpen is spearheaded by a senior in Jason Ruffcorn. OU also has plenty of experience in the field with the return of seniors Zaragoza (SS), Harlan (OF) and McKenna (2B).

    Oklahoma is primed to take a big step forward this season with a strong weekend rotation, a solid piece in the closer role and an experienced lineup in tow.

    We’ll see if they can meet or exceed expectations.
     
    #71 FadeMe, Jan 16, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
  22. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
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    #25 #Mississippi Rebels


    Top 25 Breakdown: No. 25 Ole Miss
    ANALYSIS Kendall Rogers - January 17, 2020

    2019 Record: 41-27 (16-14 SEC).
    RPI: 22.
    Coach (Record at school): Mike Bianco (851–510–1 in 20 seasons).
    Ballpark: Oxford-University Stadium at Swayze Field (11,000)
    Postseason History: 23 regionals (active streak: 2), 5 CWS appearances (last in 2014)
    More: Fall Report on Ole Miss
    Schedule, Stats, Team News: Follow the Rebels all season long at our Ole Miss team page.

    Ole Miss' Projected Lineup
    Pos. Name, Yr. AVG/OBP/SLG HR RBI SB
    C Hayden Dunhurst, Fr. Fr.--Carriere, Miss. (Pearl River Central)
    1B Tim Elko, Jr. .212/.316/.364 2 9 1
    2B Justin Bench, So. .200/.368/.200 0 4 0
    3B Tyler Keenan, Jr. .285/.420/.506 15 66 2
    SS Anthony Servideo, Jr. .287/.429/.388 3 26 24
    LF Peyton Chatagnier, Fr. FR--Cypress, Texas (Cy Fair)
    CF Cade Sammons, Fr. FR--Jackson, Tenn. (University School)
    RF Hayden Leatherwood, Jr. Transfer--Northwest Mississippi CC
    DH Kevin Graham, So. .250/.324/.507 10 34 0
    Pos. Name, Yr. W-L ERA IP SO BB SV
    SP #1 Doug Nikhazy, So. 9-3 3.31 89.2 86 33 1
    SP #2 Gunnar Hoglund, So. 3-3 5.29 68 53 14 0
    SP #3 Derek Diamond, Fr. Fr.--Ramona, Calif. (HS)
    Closer Austin Miller, Sr. 5-3 3.15 54.1 62 25 2

    Grading The Rebels
    Just as scouts grade prospects using the 20-80 scouting scale, we use a 20-80 scale to evaluate teams in our top 25. A score of 50 in each category is average, relative to a typical NCAA tournament team; 55 is slightly above-average; 60 is above-average (plus); 70 is well above-average (plus-plus); 80 is top of the scale, historically strong. Accordingly, 45 is fringe-average or slightly below-average; 40 is below-average; 30 is well below-average; and 20 is the extreme in that direction.

    HITTING: 55
    There’s definitely plenty of potential with this unit, but the fact also remains that Ole Miss has no returning hitters who hit over .300 last season. It must replace its top four hitters in Grae Kessinger, Ryan Olenek, Cole Zabowski and Thomas Dillard. That won’t be easy to do in 2020.

    Kevin Graham (.250) and Tyler Keenan (.285) are both guys I expect to have huge years. Graham already showed impressive power for the Rebels last season but should evolve into a more wholesome hitter this spring. Meanwhile, Keenan is already a premier hitter, but he can be better, too. He smacked 15 home runs and knocked in 66 runs last season. He also is expected to hit for a higher average this spring.

    Anthony Servideo (.287) had a strong fall and is ready to put together a strong junior campaign, while hard-hitting Tim Elko (.212) is another guy to watch. Elko has a big body and big-time power but struggled with the bat last season. Ole Miss skipper Mike Bianco feels like he’s one of those guys ready to elevate his game. Justin Bench is another under the radar guy Bianco feels could have a strong offensive campaign in 2020.

    From a newcomer standpoint, Hayden Dunhurst has above average power at the plate and should help this team offensively, Peyton Chatagnier is an athletic freshman with some juice at the plate, Cade Sammons is a strong defender, but he’s also athletic and can make things happen at the plate, and Hayden Leatherwood has above average power and should help the Rebels.

    Also keep an eye on two-sport stars Jerrion Ealy and John Rhys Plumlee. Bianco isn’t really sure what the spring holds for those two just yet, but they’re dynamic athletes who could end up making a huge instant impact, too.

    POWER: 60
    If everything goes as planned this spring, the Rebels definitely have some solid power potential. Keenan is the top returning power hitter after slugging 15 of them last season, while Graham is coming off a 10 home run campaign and Servideo has more than enough pop in his bat to best the three home runs he hit last season.

    Elko should hit for more power this season, Dunhurst has above average power, Bench has gap power with feel for the barrel and Sammons and Leatherwood each have above-average power to watch.

    Also keep an eye on Cael Baker, who has a chance to make an impact in a designated hitter type of role. Baker kind of reminds the Rebels of former hard-hitting slugger Sikes Orvis. He has big-time power and an advanced feel for hitting.

    SPEED: 65
    Though the Rebels might be a little young at some spots in the lineup, they should have more speed and athleticism than last season.

    Servideo is the top returning base stealer, swiping 24 of them last season. He’s an elite runner who can make things happen with his legs, while Bench is an above average runner, Chatagnier can run and Sammons is an elite runner the Rebels are excited about this spring.

    Connor Walsh ran the fastest 60-yard-dash in program history during the Scout Day in the fall and should be followed this spring from a speed standpoint, while footballers Jerrion Ealy and John Rhys Plumlee are athletic guys with premier speed. Both showed off that speed throughout the college football season. Josh Hall is another speedster to watch.

    Ole Miss has a lot of base-stealing options on this club and having that option couldn’t have come at a better time.

    DEFENSE: 60
    While the Rebels might have some question marks in some areas, the defensive side of things looks to be in strong shape.

    Behind the plate, the Rebels replaced a great defensive catcher and will look to freshman Dunhurst to carry the torch. Dunhurst is an above average catch and throw guy with huge upside.

    Going across the infield, third baseman Keenan has good hands and an accurate arm to first, shortstop Servideo is a terrific defender with excellent instincts, second baseman Bench is an athletic guy and above average defender and Elko is a very good defensive first baseman.

    Ole Miss should have a solid outfield, too. The two freshmen – Chatagnier and Sammons – are both solid athletes, with Sammons being an elite runner. Meanwhile, Leatherwood is an above average runner and defender as well.

    I feel pretty good about where the Rebels stand from a defensive standpoint.

    STARTING PITCHING: 60
    Though the Rebels will rely on a young arm in Derek Diamond in the No. 3 spot in the weekend rotation, the first two slots are filled by a pair of extremely talented sophomores in lefthander Doug Nikhazy and righthander Gunnar Hoglund.

    Nikhazy in particular did some terrific things last season. He was strong down the stretch and tallied a 3.31 ERA in 89.2 innings, along with 86 strikeouts and 33 walks. Nikhazy is mature beyond his years and isn’t afraid to go after hitters. This past fall, he was 88-91 and up to 92 mph with his fastball, along with a hammer curveball and a changeup. In addition to a hard-nosed competitor, Nikhazy showed excellent command of the zone during fall workouts.

    Hoglund is the potential x-factor on this staff. He tallied a 5.29 ERA in 68 innings last season but showed plenty of glimpses of why he was a first-round pick. He had a strong fall, sitting 90-92 mph with his fastball, along with a spin rate up to 2500, which was a significant jump from his freshman season. He also showed a sharp and tight 74-76 mph curveball with spin rates in the 2600-2700range, while the 83 mph slider was a quality pitch as well. Hoglund continues to work on a changeup and is expected to have a fruitful 2020 campaign.

    Two young arms – Diamond and Drew McDaniel – are slated to be the Sunday and midweek starters, respectively, to begin the season. Diamond showed feel for a quality four-pitch mix in the fall, sitting 89-91 mph with his fastball, along with a promising 82 mph changeup and a 78-80 mph slider. He also has a slow curveball in the 71-72 mph range. Meanwhile, McDaniel is an athletic righty who sat 92-93 mph in short stints during the fall. McDaniel has been up to 95 mph at times, while also showing a 11-to-5 curveball at 74-78 mph with spin rates up to 2600-2700.

    BULLPEN: 60
    The Rebels will have plenty of experience in the bullpen, that’s for sure.

    The two headliners in the bullpen will be a pair of seniors in Austin Miller and Taylor Broadway. Miller tallied 62 strikeouts in 54.1 innings of work last season and sat 87-88 mph with a sinking and cutting fastball during the fall. He also has a 75-79 mph breaking ball that had a spin rate around 2500 in the fall. Broadway has a heavy 90-93 mph sinking fastball and an 80-83 mph breaking ball and that is a swing and miss offering. He’ll attack hitters with a slider and curveball and will pump in strikes. Meanwhile, Tyler Myers is another seasoned arm to watch. Myers showed a four-pitch mix during the fall with a baseball 90-92 and a good breaking ball at 75-78 mph with a spin rate around 2800. He’ll also attack hitters with an 80-81 mph slider and an 84 mph changeup.

    Greer Holston and Max Cioffi are two more experienced arms to watch out of the bullpen, while there are several more arms to watch.

    Wes Burton is a 6-foot-8, righthander from SoCal, who sits in the low 90s with his fastball, and Braden Forsyth sits in the low 90s and will bump the mid-90s at times with a quality breaking ball. Meanwhile, LaFleur is a premium athlete who is up to the low 90s with his fastball, Zack Smith is a strike-throwing machine who can get into the low 90s with his fastball and Gilbert will get into the low 90s from the left side.

    As you can see, the Rebels have a good problem on their hands. They’ve got a lot of talented arms with only so many roles.

    EXPERIENCE/INTANGIBLES: 50
    The Rebels lost a load of experience from last year’s team. They do welcome back some experienced pieces at the plate, while two starting pitchers from last year’s club returns in Nikhazy and Hoglund.

    Where things get interesting from an experience standpoint is the presence of three true freshmen in the everyday lineup, a freshman in the No. 3 starting role on the mound and a true freshman in the midweek starting role to begin the season.

    In essence, the upside with this Ole Miss team is enormous. There’s more than enough talent to do some huge things in 2020. But there’s that whole experience factor. Can the freshmen the Rebels are thrusting into action sooner rather than later make a quick transition and be instant and high impact players? If they can, the sky is the limit for this Rebels club. If not, they’ll really need some of the upperclassmen to go a step above and beyond what they were expected to do.

    The exciting thing about Ole Miss this season is that you’re not truly sure what to expect. That can be bad, but also very, very good. Stay tuned.
     
    #72 FadeMe, Jan 16, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2020
    Futureman and Cornelius Suttree like this.
  23. wes tegg

    wes tegg I'm a Guy's guy, guys.
    Staff Donor
    Atlanta BravesDenver BroncosChicago BlackhawksMississippi Rebels

    We're going to be young as shit this year, but we'll have a lot of talent. Our Friday starter might be a Freshman.
     
    #73 wes tegg, Jan 16, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
    FadeMe likes this.
  24. Tobias

    Tobias dan “the man qb1” jones fan account
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    is there no write up or are those just placeholders
     
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  25. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
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    Placeholders. Just waiting on the articles to be posted.
     
  26. hudson

    hudson Oh, you know...stuff.
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  27. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
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    All team breakdowns posted now.
     
  28. NP13

    NP13 MC OG
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    That ECU write up needs one little correction. Kuch didn't have a no-hitter at Ole Miss. He missed it by one out. He did get a perfect game against Maryland his next start, though.
     
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  29. blind dog

    blind dog #1 Ladycock fan
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    SEASON PREVIEW Aaron Fitt - January 22, 2020

    With three teams ranked in the top five of D1Baseball’s Preseason Top 25, seven teams in the top 11, and nine teams in the Top 25, the SEC race figures to be a heavyweight slugfest as usual in 2020.


    Entering the season, everybody will be chasing reigning national champion Vanderbilt, which won the regular-season title by two games a year ago and then captured the SEC tournament title before making its run through the NCAA tournament. But fellow SEC East powers Florida and Georgia join the Commodores in the top five of the preseason rankings. In the West, Mississippi State and Arkansas tied for the regular-season crown in 2019, and they open this season ranked inside the top 10 along with Auburn, while LSU is nipping at their heels at No. 11. But six of the seven SEC West teams garnered preseason Top 25 rankings, and they figure to jostle for position all season long. Each of the teams outside our Top 25 also look improved, and each of them is capable of making noise this spring.

    Our conference preview includes:



    • Projected Order of Finish
    • Preseason Awards
    • Top Prospects, 2020 Draft
    • Top Prospects, 2021 Draft
    • Top Freshmen
    • Team by Team Breakdowns


    Projected Standings




    Bold indicates 2019 regional team, and records are from 2019. Teams are listed in order of projected 2020 finish.

    WEST DIVISION CONFERENCE OVERALL
    Arkansas 20-10 46-20
    Auburn 14-16 38-28
    Mississippi State 20-10 52-15
    LSU 17-13 40-26
    Texas A&M 16-13-1 39-23-1
    Ole Miss 16-14 41-27
    Alabama 7-23 30-26
    EAST DIVISION CONFERENCE OVERALL
    Vanderbilt 23-7 59-12
    Florida 13-17 34-26
    Georgia 21-9 46-17
    South Carolina 8-22 28-28
    Missouri 13-16-1 34-22-1
    Tennessee 14-16 40-21
    Kentucky 7-23 26-29


    Projected Regional Teams (10): Vanderbilt, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, Auburn, Mississippi State, LSU, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, South Carolina





    Player of the Year: Austin Martin, 3B, Vanderbilt





    Pitcher of the Year: Emerson Hancock, RHP, Georgia





    Freshman of the Year: Hunter Barco, LHP, Florida



    Top Prospects/Impact Freshmen


    Asterisk indicates draft-eligible underclassman

    TOP PROSPECTS, 2020 DRAFT
    1 Emerson Hancock RHP Georgia
    2 Austin Martin 3B Vanderbilt
    3 Asa Lacy LHP Texas A&M
    4 Carmen Mlodzinski RHP South Carolina
    5 Heston Kjerstad OF Arkansas
    6 JT Ginn* RHP Mississippi State
    7 Casey Martin SS Arkansas
    8 Garrett Crochet LHP Tennessee
    9 Tanner Burns RHP Auburn
    10 Jake Eder LHP Vanderbilt
    11 Cole Wilcox* RHP Georgia
    12 Jordan Westburg SS Mississippi State
    13 Daniel Cabrera OF LSU
    14 Cole Henry* RHP LSU
    15 Tommy Mace RHP Florida
    16 Justin Foscue 2B Mississippi State
    17 Jack Leftwich RHP Florida
    18 Ian Bedell RHP Missouri
    19 Alerick Soularie OF Tennessee
    20 Zach DeLoach OF Texas A&M
    21 Tyler Keenan 3B Ole Miss
    22 AJ Labas RHP LSU
    23 Trey Dillard RHP Missouri
    24 Christian Roa RHP Texas A&M
    25 Tyler Brown RHP Vanderbilt
    26 Casey Opitz C Arkansas
    27 Christian Scott* RHP Florida
    28 Thomas Farr RHP South Carolina
    29 Steven Williams OF Auburn
    30 Bailey Horn LHP Auburn
    31 Noah Campbell 2B South Carolina
    32 C.J. Smith LHP Georgia
    33 Ethan Smith* RHP Vanderbilt
    34 Ryan Webb LHP Georgia
    35 Jackson Leath RHP Tennessee
    36 Hunter McMullen RHP Florida
    37 Brannon Jordan RHP South Carolina
    38 Cory Acton* 2B Florida
    39 Chad McDaniel C Missouri
    40 Brady Smith C Florida
    41 Tanner Allen OF Mississippi State
    42 Hugh Fisher LHP Vanderbilt
    43 Tyler Gentry OF Alabama
    44 Saul Garza C LSU
    45 Coltyn Kessler C Kentucky
    46 Chase Wallace RHP Tennessee
    47 Bryce Miller RHP Texas A&M
    48 Zebulon Vermillion RHP Arkansas
    49 Anthony Servideo SS Ole Miss
    50 Cam Shepherd SS Georgia
    Asterisk indicates underclassmen who will be draft-eligible in 2021
    TOP PROSPECTS, 2021 DRAFT
    1 Kumar Rocker RHP Vanderbilt
    2 Jud Fabian OF Florida
    3 Jack Leiter* RHP Vanderbilt
    4 Gunnar Hoglund RHP Ole Miss
    5 Christian Franklin OF Arkansas
    6 Jaden Hill RHP LSU
    7 Nick Pogue RHP Florida
    8 Jonathan Childress LHP Texas A&M
    9 Eric Cerantola RHP Mississippi State
    10 Patrick Wicklander LHP Arkansas
    11 Seth Halvorsen RHP/OF Missouri
    12 Jacob Young OF Florida
    13 Landon Marceaux RHP LSU
    14 Kendrick Calilao 1B Florida
    15 Ben Specht RHP Florida
    16 Christian MacLeod LHP Mississippi State
    17 Trae Robertson LHP Missouri
    18 Doug Nikhazy LHP Ole Miss
    19 Austin Schultz SS Kentucky
    20 Chris Weber LHP Texas A&M
    21 KC Hunt* RHP/OF Mississippi State
    22 TJ Reeves OF Alabama
    23 Garrett Wade LHP Auburn
    24 Kevin Graham OF Ole Miss
    25 Giovanni DiGiacomo OF LSU
    26 Isaiah Thomas OF Vanderbilt
    27 Camden Sewell RHP Tennessee
    28 David Luethje RHP Florida
    29 Tyler Ras RHP Alabama
    30 Elijah Trest RHP Arkansas
    31 Joseph Menefee LHP Texas A&M
    32 Luke Murphy RHP Vanderbilt
    33 Logan Britt* OF Texas A&M
    34 Tate Kolwyck MIF Vanderbilt
    35 Richard Fitts RHP Auburn
    36 Ryan Bliss SS/2B Auburn
    37 Brady Allen OF South Carolina
    38 Cade Beloso 1B LSU
    39 Will Bednar* RHP Mississippi State
    40 Kasen Howell OF Auburn
    41 Connor Shamblin RHP Alabama
    42 Chance Huff RHP Vanderbilt
    43 Jacob Burton RHP Arkansas
    44 Landon Jordan 3B Mississippi State
    45 Wes Clarke 1B South Carolina
    46 Hunter Rigsby RHP Kentucky
    47 Brandon Smith RHP Mississippi State
    48 Drew Baker RHP Auburn
    49 Drew Bianco OF LSU
    50 Randon Jernigan CF Georgia
    IMPACT FRESHMEN
    1 Hunter Barco LHP Florida
    2 Jack Leiter RHP Vanderbilt
    3 Josh Rivera SS/3B Florida
    4 Connor Prielipp LHP Alabama
    5 Cade Doughty INF LSU
    6 Hayden Dunhurst C Ole Miss
    7 Nathan Hickey C/3B Florida
    8 Spencer Jones 1B/LHP Vanderbilt
    9 Brennan Milone 3B South Carolina
    10 Robert Moore 2B/SS Arkansas
    11 Drew Gilbert OF/LHP Tennessee
    12 Brandon Sproat RHP Florida
    13 Jonathan Cannon RHP Georgia
    14 Nate LaRue C/RHP Auburn
    15 Will Childers RHP Georgia
    17 Derek Diamond RHP Ole Miss
    16 Landon Sims RHP Mississippi State
    18 Michael Polk RHP Georgia
    19 Carter Young SS Vanderbilt
    20 Jerrion Ealy OF Ole Miss
    21 KC Hunt RHP/OF Mississippi State
    22 Mo Hampton Jr. OF LSU
    23 Hayden Mullins LHP Auburn
    24 Zack Lee RHP Kentucky
    25 Blake Adams RHP Arkansas
    26 Ben Pedersen RHP Missouri
    27 Zane Denton 3B Alabama
    28 Peyton Pallette RHP Arkansas
    29 Will Bednar RHP Mississippi State
    30 Connor Walsh SS Ole Miss
    31 Kamren James SS/RHP Mississippi State
    32 Davis Rokose LHP Mississippi State
    33 Michael Doolin RHP Vanderbilt
    34 Ethan Anderson OF/INF/C/RHP Tennessee
    35 Alex Milazzo C LSU
    36 Brett Thomas RHP South Carolina
    37 Tyler Nesbitt RHP Florida
    38 Buddy Floyd 2B/SS Georgia
    39 Hayden Travinski C LSU
    40 Logan Tanner C/RHP Mississippi State
    41 Zach Arnold SS LSU
    42 John Rhodes INF/OF Kentucky
    43 Sam Hliboki RHP Vanderbilt
    44 Cole Stupp RHP Kentucky
    45 Logan Britt OF Texas A&M
    46 Owen Diodati OF Alabama
    47 Peyton Chatagnier INF/OF Ole Miss
    48 Jacob Hasty LHP LSU
    49 Zack Morris LHP Arkansas
    50 Evan Vanek RHP Texas A&M




    Projected Regional Teams


    • For an in-depth report on the nine SEC teams in our Top 25 rankings, you can find expansive team breakdowns below:

    No. 2 Vanderbilt
    No. 4 Florida
    No. 5 Georgia
    No. 7 Arkansas
    No. 8 Auburn
    No. 10 Mississippi State
    No. 11 LSU
    No. 20 Texas A&M
    No. 25 Ole Miss

    [​IMG]South Carolina
    • SEE ALSO: South Carolina Fall Report

    After enduring a rough 8-22 campaign in SEC play a year ago, South Carolina looks primed to rocket back to contention in 2020. A top-10 recruiting class headlined by the nation’s best group of impact transfers provided much-needed reinforcements in the lineup and on the mound, and several returnees took big steps forward in the offseason. South Carolina’s most important addition is righthander Carmen Mlodzinski, who was limited to 10.2 innings last spring by a broken foot, then returned strong in the Cape Cod League last summer. He pitched at 94-97 and touched 98 this fall, along with a devastating 82-84 slider with tight spin and a rapidly improving changeup, giving him legitimate top-of-the-rotation and top-10-overall-pick potential this spring. So. RHP Brett Kerry should make a seamless transition from bullpen stopper to Saturday starter thanks to his advanced feel for pitching with an 88-92 fastball that doesn’t get squared up, quality slider and changeup. Juco transfer Thomas Farr has run his heater up to 98 and flashed a wipeout power curveball in the past, giving him a chance to be one of the SEC’s top Sunday starters this spring. Fellow juco transfer Andrew Peters has been up to 96-97 in the past and could vie for starts as well if he continues to progress well in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

    [​IMG]South Carolina ace Carmen Mlodzinski (Aaron Fitt)


    A third key JC transfer on the mound is RHP Brannon Jordan, who showed 92-94 mph heat and a big, sharp power curveball at 78-79 along with a promising 84-85 slider and a useful mid-80s changeup in the fall. He’s the favorite for the closer job, anchoring a bullpen that has no shortage of power arms. So. RHP Daniel Lloyd was 93-96 in the fall with a wicked power slider at 85-87 and has made big progress with his command. Fifth-year senior RHP Graham Lawson closed out some big games during South Carolina’s 2018 super regional run, and he made a strong return from Tommy John surgery this fall, showing 91-94 heat with turbo sink and good feel for his slider and changeup. Jr. RHP TJ Shook and So. RHP Cam Tringali both have starting experience and could serve as key swingmen on this staff; Shook was 90-93 with a solid cutter/slider and changeup this fall, while Tringali can give hitters fits with a high-spin fastball at 90-91. Jr. LHP John Gilreath could occupy a similar role; he brings additional veteran presence and a solid four-pitch arsenal that includes a 90-91 fastball and good 83-85 cutter. Physical 6-foot-3, 224-pound sophomore Dylan Harley should be another key lefty out of the bullpen. He was up to 92 this fall and showed the makings of a decent slurve and changeup, though he must continue to refine his command. Freshman RJ Dantin is cut from the same cloth, a physical southpaw who was up to 91 in the fall but is still working to command his secondary stuff consistently. Freshman RHP Trey Tujetsch showed a good tight breaking ball (in the 2600-2700 rpm range at 77-79 mph) and an 88-91 fastball this fall, weapons that could get him plenty of big innings in this loaded bullpen.

    There’s also plenty of reason to expect South Carolina’s offense to take a big step forward. South Carolina landed two of the nation’s top graduate transfers in physical run producers Dallas Beaver (from UCF) and Bryant Bowen (Southern Miss), both of whom have track records of hitting for average and power. Juco transfer Noah Myers has the speed and bat-to-ball skills to serve as an excellent catalyst atop the lineup, and blue-chip freshman Brennan Milone looks ready to take over the third base job and step right into the heart of the lineup. Junior OF Andrew Eyster (.309/.389/.576, 10 HR) is a proven righthanded power threat who joins Beaver, Bowen and Milone in what should be a very dangerous heart of the order. Junior second baseman Noah Campbell has flashed serious star potential over the last two years, with high-end athleticism and bat speed from both sides of the plate. After a second straight standout summer in the Cape Cod League, Campbell will be counted upon to put it all together as a junior, perhaps in the 2-hole. Physical So. 1B Wes Clarke is another breakout candidate with intriguing righthanded power potential. Defensive whiz George Callil returns at shortstop, joining Campbell and Myers in what should be an excellent up-the-middle group.



    The Rest Of The Pack


    [​IMG]Missouri
    • SEE ALSO: Missouri Fall Report

    Missouri won’t be eligible for the NCAA tournament this year while serving a one-year ban for academic infractions, and the timing is very unfortunate for the Tigers, because they have the frontline pitching to make some serious noise in 2020. All-American TJ Sikkema is gone, but Mizzou should have another bona fide ace in junior righthander Ian Bedell, who posted a 1.56 ERA in 18 appearances (17 in relief) last year, then posted a 0.58 ERA and a dazzling 36-6 K-BB mark in 30.2 innings as a starter in the Cape Cod League, where he won the Most Outstanding Pitcher award. Bedell is an efficient strike-thrower with advanced feel for a quality four-pitch mix that includes a 90-93 mph heater, an 80-83 slider with hard, late tilt, a solid 78-79 curveball and a nice 80-84 changeup with good arm speed. Jr. RHP Konnor Ash and Sr. LHP Art Joven figure to join Bedell in what could be one of the best weekend rotations in the SEC. Ash’s calling card is one of the better breaking balls in college baseball, a true power curve at 81-83 sharp downward bite, and he has plenty of fastball velocity as well (91-93 this fall). He was extended for four or five innings at times out of the bullpen last year, so the Tigers know he can maintain his stuff at least a couple times through the order. Joven gained valuable Division I experience last spring, posting a 4.33 ERA in 19 appearances (nine starts) as a juco transfer, and now he has a chance to make the jump to stardom. A slingy low-three-quarters southpaw, Joven needs to prove he can maintain the velocity on his fastball, which ranges from 88-94, but he has three very good secondary pitches in his tumbling 83 mph changeup, his 80-82 slider with vicious hard tilt at times and a spin rate in the 2500-2600 rpm range, and his solid curveball around 78 with more downer action.

    [​IMG]Missouri ace Ian Bedell (Aaron Fitt)


    Six-foot-6 freshman righty Ben Pedersen gives Mizzou a fourth promising starter candidate for midweek action or potentially weekends; he sat 91-93 this fall and has touched 94-95 in the past, and he has good downhill angle and a putaway slider. The bullpen should be anchored by a potential shutdown closer in senior righty Trey Dillard, who attacks with a fastball that has touched 98-99 in the past, including last summer in the Cape Cod League. He worked at 93-95 and touched 96 in our fall look, along with a swing-and-miss slider around 83-84 and a changeup. He’s a high-effort pitcher who needs to continue fine-tuning his control, but he’s making progress. Two exciting lefties will join Dillard in a bullpen that has a chance to be outstanding. Six-foot-5, 190-pound sophomore Trae Robertson was sidelined with blood clots this winter but has made a quick recovery; he showed 90-93 mph heat in the fall and made progress with his command. And Maryland transfer Andrew Vail showed the ability to carve up the zone with an 88-91 fastball that gets on hitters quick, along with a quality 82-83 changeup with good sink and arm speed, and a sharp downer curve in the mid-70s.

    Missouri’s lineup has more question marks after losing No. 35 overall pick Kameron Misner (the team’s top power threat a year ago) and leading hitter Chris Cornelius. Switch-hitting catcher Chad McDaniel is the big pick to click as a junior; he made some swing changes in the fall that should help him access his provocative raw power more consistently, and he’s always shown good bat-to-ball instincts and eye-catching athleticism for a big-bodied catcher (the Tigers say he can run a 6.5-second 60-yard dash). He and hard-nosed senior first baseman/DH Peter Zimmermann figure to serve as the top run producers in the heart of the order, and Missouri could get a big boost if ultra-talented redshirt freshman two-way player Seth Halvorsen can harness his tantalizing power/speed tool set. Halvorsen turned down seven figures out of high school and showed mid-90s heat off the mound last fall before having Tommy John surgery, but he’s also a plus-plus runner underway with electric righthanded bat speed, and he could work his way into regular playing time in the outfield or infield. The Tigers are also hoping senior shortstop Austin James can take a big step forward offensively after struggling as a juco transfer last spring. He has the defensive skill set to replace Cornelius at short and could also provide some righthanded pop. James could team with rock-solid junior second baseman Mark Vierling to form a dynamite double-play tandem, joining McDaniel and speedy center fielder Jackson Lancaster (a potential impact juco transfer) in a strong up-the-middle quartet. So while Mizzou will be relying on plenty of unproven commodities in the lineup, this club should be more athletic than it was a year ago, and its offense has a chance to be better.

    [​IMG]Tennessee
    • SEE ALSO: Tennessee Fall Report

    In coach Tony Vitello’s second year at the helm, Tennessee snapped a 14-year NCAA tournament drought, reaching the finals of the Chapel Hill Regional. The Vols must replace top power threat Andre Lipcius (17 HR), slick-fielding shortstop Ricky Martinez and ace Garrett Stallings, among others, but there’s still plenty of talent returning, and a talented recruiting class brought reinforcements. Clearly, one of the biggest keys for Tennessee is whether junior lefthander Garrett Crochet is ready to harness his top-of-the-draft stuff and become an All-American atop the rotation. Crochet sat comfortably at 93-96 mph and flashed plenty of high-90s heat this fall, and he’s added a dramatically improved changeup to go with an 85-87 slider that has been a true putaway pitch at times; all that’s left is to continue fine-tuning his command and pitchability. Two talented righties figure to join Crochet in the weekend rotation: junior Chase Wallace and sophomore Camden Sewell. Wallace was one of Tennessee’s most improved pitchers this fall, attacking with an 88-94 turbo sinker that disappears on hitters as it reaches the plate, along with a hard slider/cutter and decent changeup. The wiry Sewell added strength to his frame and saw his velocity tick up a bit into the 88-94 range as well, to go along with a slide that can be a wipeout offering when it’s on. He’s another groundball pitcher who works fast and pumps strikes. Fellow sophomore RHP Elijah Pleasants also took a step forward this fall and could be a candidate for a rotation job thanks to his feel for a lively 88-92 fastball and promising changeup and breaking ball.

    [​IMG]Tennessee lefty Garrett Crochet (Aaron Fitt)


    Crafty lefthander Redmond Walsh (1.38 ERA in 45.2 IP) was a revelation in the bullpen last spring and returns to anchor the unit as a fourth-year junior. He doesn’t blow hitters away with velocity, but his 87-89 fastball is tough to square up, and it plays up further because of his excellent changeup. Fellow veteran lefty Will Heflin and junior righty Sean Hunley give the UT bullpen two more seasoned, polished strike-throwers with advanced feel to pitch. Look for juco transfers Jackson Leath, Jason Rackers and Chad Dallas to bring real power stuff to the bullpen mix. Vitello raves about Dallas’ charismatic personality as well as his arm strength and wipeout breaking ball. Leath set scouts buzzing this fall with a 93-97 fastball and a power slider; he is sure to see plenty of big innings, whether at the back end of games or potentially in a starting role. Rackers, a 6-foot-7, 246-pound righthander who turned down good money in the draft to come to Tennessee, works downhill at 90-94 from a high three-quarters slot and owns a quality changeup. The key to his development is his breaking ball, which pitching coach Frank Anderson is working to shorten up.

    The Tennessee lineup is built around first-team preseason All-American Alerick Soularie (.357/.466/.602, 11 HR), one of the best pure hitters in the SEC. Soularie controls the strike zone, has an innate knack for squaring up hard line drives to all fields, and boasts the bat speed to hit for even more power as a junior. The rest of the lineup lacks proven star power, but junior OF/DH Evan Russell and senior 1B Luc Lipcius bring veteran maturity and physicality, and the Vols are hoping for more power production from both this spring. Sophomore second baseman Max Ferguson is a breakout candidate who could provide speed near the top of the lineup and has sneaky strength in his compact lefthanded stroke. Fellow sophomore Jake Rucker is a heady grinder who drove the ball with more authority in the fall and looks like the front-runner to replace Martinez at short. Sophomore Connor Pavolony has one of the SEC’s strongest arms behind the plate and showed more pop at the plate this fall. The Vols figure to rely on a number of newcomers to lengthen the lineup. Two-way talent Drew Gilbert (who has also shown mid-90s heat from the left side off the mound) has a chance to be a dynamic player in center field, with a compact line-drive lefty stroke and aggressive instincts on defense and on the basepaths. Fellow freshman Jordan Beck is a freak athlete with tantalizing righthanded power potential who looks like a strong bet for the right field job. The crowded outfield mix also includes junior Zach Daniels (whose raw power and speed combination could make him a standout if he can improve his offensive approach), athletic sophomore Christian Scott and juco transfer Matt Turino (who has good speed, arm strength and hand-eye coordination but needs to take another step with his approach). There are quite a few unknowns in this lineup, but there’s also a lot of potential.

    [​IMG]Kentucky
    • SEE ALSO: Kentucky Fall Report

    The Wildcats took their lumps with a very young team a year ago, as just one everyday starter returned in the lineup after the ‘Cats lost 13 players to the 2018 draft. But this spring, UK should reap the benefits of the experience its young players gained in 2019. This should be one of the more offensive clubs in the SEC, with serious power potential from both sides of the plate and outstanding balance and depth in the lineup. Leading hitter Coltyn Kessler (.297/.384/.473), a physical 6-foot-2, 220-pound catcher, stood out this fall for his big-time lefthanded power and looks ready to make the jump to stardom as a junior.

    [​IMG]Kentucky’s Coltyn Kessler (Aaron Fitt)


    Kessler is part of an exceptionally physical core in the heart of the order, which also includes the first base/DH duo of T.J. Collett and Trae Harmon plus juco transfer outfielder Oraj Anu, all of whom have big, strong frames and raw power to match. Collett has been plagued by injuries in his career, but he mostly stayed healthy last spring and hit 10 homers, then tied for the Cape Cod League lead with nine more long balls in the summer. Harmon, the biggest of UK’s behemoths at 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, logged just five at-bats a year ago but has clearly taken a step forward this fall, when he showed the ability to turn on fastballs with authority. Anu has more athleticism and a rocket arm in right field, though he remains a work in progress defensively. Anu is a switch-hitter with impressive raw power from both sides, and he hit six home runs in 105 at-bats in the Cape League, though he also struck out 33 times and drew just one walk, so he clearly needs to improve his approach. Senior Breydon Daniel is another switch-hitter with strength who is capable of playing all four corner spots and is a threat on the basepaths (17-for-22 in steal attempts last year). Fellow senior Jared Shelby — a second-year juco player like Daniel — has electric righthanded bat speed and high-end athleticism, and the Wildcats expect him to hit in the 3-hole after a strong fall. Five-tool shortstop Austin Schultz is a huge pick to click as a sophomore, and he’ll likely team with gritty senior second baseman Zeke Lewis and emerging sophomore center fielder Cam Hill to form an athletic group up the middle.

    There’s little doubt that Kentucky will hit; the question is whether the pitching staff can mature enough to keep the ‘Cats competitive. It’s safe to assume junior righthander Jimmy Ramsey (4-6, 7.26) and junior lefty Mason Hazelwood (2-3, 3.92) will serve as two-thirds of the weekend rotation, and coach Nick Mingione said both of them improved dramatically this fall, which UK needed to see. The 6-foot-5 Hazelwood is still sitting in the 88-92 range, but his command has taken a step forward, his slider is dramatically better, and he’s done a much better job throwing his changeup for strikes. The massive 6-foot-9, 255-pound Ramsey worked hard to get his body in better shape and worked consistently at 89-92 this fall, touching 93-94 with a swing-and-miss slider. Promising freshman righties Zack Lee and Cole Stupp also figure to battle for rotation jobs, and both of them impressed in the fall. Lee attacked at 90-93 from a clean three-quarters arm action and showed a good hard slider at 82-84 that should be a major weapon for him, but he needs to continue developing his changeup. Stupp showed good feel for a four-pitch mix and has serious upside as he matures.

    Junior righties Carson Coleman and Daniel Harper plus sophomore lefty Dillon Marsh form an experienced trio to anchor the bullpen. Coleman presents a tough look, with a crossfire delivery and a low three-quarters slot, and his lively 91-93 heater really plays, but he also features a decent 79-80 mph slider. Harper attacked at 88-91 from a three-quarters slot in our fall look, though he’s touched better than that in the past. His late-short 81-82 slider was an out pitch, and he showed some feel for a changeup. Marsh made 14 starts a year ago and could return to a starting role as a sophomore, though he might fit even better as a bullpen stopper/long man. The sturdy 6-1, 220-pound southpaw has good running life on his 85-88 fastball from a high arm slot, and he also throws his big downer curve for strikes at 69-74, along with the makings of a decent changeup.

    [​IMG]Alabama
    • SEE ALSO: Alabama Fall Report

    Brad Bohannon knew it was going to take a little time to dig Alabama out of a ditch when he took over as head coach before the 2018 season, and the Crimson Tide has experienced growing pains the last two years, but there’s no question the talent level has been upgraded. Alabama will be more competitive in 2020, and if its promising young players mature quickly, this team could sneak up on the rest of the SEC. No youngster on this roster is more exciting than freshman lefthander Connor Prielipp, who got scouts buzzing this fall by showing 93-95 mph heat and one of the best breaking balls many of them saw all fall, a nasty power slider at 84-85 mph. Expect Prielipp to step right into the Friday starter job and compete for SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Fellow freshman lefty Antoine Jean also looks likely to wind up in the weekend rotation thanks to his advanced feel for pitching with a mid-to-upper-80s fastball and outstanding changeup. A pair of power-armed sophomore righties have serious upside if they can continue to make strides with their command. Connor Shamblin showed dramatically better command of his low-to-mid-90s heater and improving secondary stuff this fall; his breaking ball can be a real swing-and-miss pitch when it’s on. Ras is a 6-foot-4, 195-pound righthander with tough angle from a high slot, and some front-side funk in his delivery that adds deception. He pitched downhill at 92-94 mph in our look in the Cape League, showing feel for two different breaking balls that were both out pitches, though they blended together at times: a tight downer curve at 78-81 and a quality slider with solid tilt at 82-84.

    [​IMG]Alabama righthander Connor Shamblin (Aaron Fitt)


    If Shamblin and Ras work as starters as expected, Alabama will rely on three more intriguing sophomores to anchor the bullpen. Righty Jacob McNairy has good command of a lively 89-92 sinker and putaway changeup, making him the front-runner for the closer job. Righty Chase Lee offers a different look, with an 89-92 heater from a sidearm slot along with a quality slider. Righty Dylan Smith showed 92-95 heat and a promising low-80s slider this fall. And redshirt freshman righty Landon Green worked at 92-94 with good sink and an improving slider of his own. That’s got a chance to be a very nice stable of power arms, but they must prove they are ready to assume bigger workloads this spring.

    The offense features some star power in the outfield. Junior right fielder Tyler Gentry has quality tools across the board and has proven himself as a power threat in the SEC, having hit .310 with 13 long balls a year ago. Sophomore left fielder TJ Reeves is another speed/power talent who smacked nine homers and swiped nine bases as a freshman, and he looks poised to make the jump to true stardom this spring. That duo figures to flank juco transfer Jackson Tate, whose speed and excellent defensive instincts should make him a standout in center field. Versatile senior Brett Aurbach is a hard-nosed veteran who could see action at second base, third base or catcher, and redshirt sophomore Sam Praytor has impact tools behind the plate and in the righthanded batter’s box. Praytor has made a good recovery from Tommy John surgery and is a strong bet to hit for average this spring. Sophomore Drew Williamson is a quality lefthanded run producer who defends very well at first base. Much will depend on how talented freshmen Zane Denton and Jim Jarvis handle themselves on the left side of the infield. Jarvis, the younger brother of former Auburn standout Luke Jarvis, has a top-of-the-order skill set and very sure actions at short. Denton is a switch-hitter with advanced feel for his barrel, and he really impressed in fall ball. High-upside freshman Myles Austin could also push for playing time on the infield, and freshman Owen Diodati could bring some lefthanded punch to the DH spot.
     
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  30. Nole0515

    Nole0515 Well-Known Member
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  31. blind dog

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  33. Futureman

    Futureman Check you later kemosabe
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    Drew Pomeranz got one his freshman year and Mike didn't kick him off. He did kickoff a highly rated catcher when I was in school for one so its probably up to how they respond. I bet he gets suspended for a few starts and has fulfilled his punishment by March 27 :)
     
  34. killerwvu

    killerwvu Restoring WVU's E-Rep 1 Post At A Time
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    Just shut down the university at this point

     
  35. Tobias

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    less than 72 hours until first pitch, boys
     
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  36. ncrebel

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    UNC gonna be p good this year?
     
  37. Tobias

    Tobias dan “the man qb1” jones fan account
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    good not great. should be top 20. depends on some newcomers and luca finally staying healthy
     
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  38. killerwvu

    killerwvu Restoring WVU's E-Rep 1 Post At A Time
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    Bump

    First pitch for WVU tomorrow at 6pm
     
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  39. bertwing

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    This is the year folks I can feel it in my plums
     
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  40. Cornelius Suttree

    Cornelius Suttree I am a landmine
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    Dores feel great about Hickman, Rocker, Eder, Brown, and Ethan Smith

    to win a title I think you need about 8 solid pitchers to stay healthy. We need 3 more guys to step up since Hugh Fisher is injured. Likely candidates are Jack Leiter, Chance Huff, Michael Doolin, Luke Murphy and Sam Hliboki. Fisher's injury is especially tough because he was one of just 3 lefties on the roster
     
    #92 Cornelius Suttree, Feb 14, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2020
  41. Cornelius Suttree

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    so I am really eager to see if ASU can put together a whole season with the Washington pitching coach on Tracy Smith's staff. Pulling for ASU and FSU to have kick ass seasons because college baseball is fun when they're both elite and it'd be nice to see both coaches do well in those jobs
     
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  42. tigr2ndbase

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  43. blind dog

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  44. hudson

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    Oh I’ll be here. I can see TDA From my window....I think I’m not sure I’ve never really looked too far out her windows.
     
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  45. War Grundle

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    So pumped especially with all but one game televised in some fashion.

    FSU has three juniors getting the fri-sun jobs and all three hit the 90s on their fastball with Van Eyk touching 96 as our Friday starter.
     
    #97 War Grundle, Feb 14, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2020
  46. hudson

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    Nebraska vs 1/2 of Baylor this weekend. I’m excited to see our rotation this year. Saturday starter especially. Going from all American closer to a starter.
     
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  47. Tobias

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    growing up baseball was my favorite sport but with shitty internet and maybe 2 games a year broadcast on the saturday fox sports special, it was super hard to follow until the postseason

    acc network has been a godsend for being able to follow unc baseball
     
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  48. cdaysker

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    All 3 of our starters are new to the rotation this year so that has me a bit worried, but our bats should be really pretty solid so maybe we can just outscore most teams. Whatever happens, I'm just damn glad it's baseball season again.