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The Phillies are purposely sabotaging college player eligibilty

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The NCAA always pegs this needle.

The NCAA always pegs this needle.

I started this post as a rant about the NCAA … but now I’m not sure who i’m more disgusted by, them or the Phillies organization for what was divulged today.

An interesting story popped up today; Oregon State Friday starter Ben Wetzler has been suspended by his school while the NCAA investigates his utilization of an “agent” while negotiating with the Philadelphia Phillies last summer.  The Phillies drafted him in the 5th round (when his name was apparently “Ben Holmes”) after he went 10-1 with a 2.25 ERA for Oregon State last year but did not sign.

The interesting part?  The NCAA received this “tip” from none other than the Phillies organization.

CollegeBaseballDaily had the tip off, leading to this story from Oregonlive.com.  BaseballAmerica’s Aaron Fitt has tweeted about it extensively and has some head-shaking points as cut-n-pasted here from Fitt’s twitter feed.  However it was the reaction from MLBDraftInsider’s Chris Crawford (and the post on NBCHardballTalk by Craig Calcaterra) that I agree with here: Crawford basically thinks the Phillies did this kid a huge disservice for no other apparent reason than revenge or spite.  And I completely agree with Crawford’s point that whoever the Phillies draft this year should tread incredibly carefully when it comes to negotiations, because the organization really doesn’t look good here.

The story is now getting legs, and I personally hope the vitriol towards the Phillies management group continues.  Ruben Amaro should be ashamed.  Read the Philly.com link; apparently they Phillies also did this with their 6th round pick from last year, who also refused to sign.  What the hell??   Why would a team worth hundreds of millions of dollars go out of its way to try to wreck the seasons of a couple of kids??


I post this story for another reason besides the Philadelphia organization looking really immature and petty, and its to complain about the NCAA.  I really can’t stand the continuing hypocrisyof the NCAA and all its examples of two-faced enforcement of rules, and this situation just highlights one more example of why I think the organization paints too broad a brush stroke on an issue related to amateurism.   Crawford points it out plainly; *every* single kid who gets drafted and who still has eligibilty left uses some sort of “agent” or “advisor” in order to negotiate.  They have to; you’re talking about a situation worth potentially millions of dollars with one side (the MLB teams) who enjoys anti-trust and anti-competitive advantages over any non-union player who wants to play professional baseball and who clearly has gone out of their way over the years to drive down amateur bonuses in order to save comparative pennies on the dollar.

But the big bad NCAA says that “hiring an agent” is instant grounds for nullification of eligibility for NCAA sanctioned athletics.

See the problem these kids face here?

Does the NCAA really expect a 20-yr old kid (hell, how about a 17-yr old HS grad?) to go stare down a career baseball executive/general manager 3 times his age in order to negotiate for his best interests??  Does anyone think that would lead to fair market values being granted to these kids?

I think some sort of “negotiating window” needs to be put into play here, so that situations like this don’t happen again.  If you’re a kid with college eligibility left and you’re drafted by a team (no matter what the sport), there should be an official time period where you can receive professional advice while negotiating a potential contract.  These 30-day or 60-day contracts end with either a pro contract or a kid going back to school.   I really don’t see the down side of a situation like this, nor why the NCAA would have any issue with it.  It would allow fair representation of a player’s interests without running into the situation that is occuring here with Wetzler.

I think it points to a larger issue that keeps popping up with regard to NCAA rules; the continuing criticism of just how non-sensical the rules are for athletes on “scholarship.”  When I was in college, I had a job.  I could earn some spending money.  But if you’re an athlete on scholarship …whoops can’t do that.  If I was presented with a multi million dollar job opportunity after my junior year in college and I was just a regular kid, absolutely I could hire a lawyer on contingency to help negotiate; if the contract fell through was I banned from returning to school?  Nope.  So why is this Wetzler kid being banned from playing baseball?

What is the NCAA *really* trying to protect here?  Do they really think that the college baseball game (which is, what, the 4th or 5th most important college sport in this country?) is going to undergo some drastic, life altering change for the worse because some kid decided to get some professional advice while negotiating a future contract??  I just don’t get it.

(Note: there is some precident here; Andy Oliver was suspended by the NCAA based on an allegation by a former agent in 2008, sued and won $750k.  That didn’t stop the NCAA’s tactics in this matter … clearly a larger punitive award was needed.   A year later James Paxton was banished from school over this exact same issue and had to play independent ball instead of completing his senior season.   This clearly cost Paxton; he went from being a 1st round pick to a 4th rounder; I’m not sure if he sued or not.  This situation needs to be resolved).

 

Written by Todd Boss

February 20th, 2014 at 10:01 am

College World Series Finals: UCLA Wins

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UCLA Wins the 2013 College World Series.

To recap the entire NCAA post-season tournament with links to my previous posts:

CWS Finals:

  • Game 1: UCLA’s #1/Friday starter Adam Plutko pitched 6 innings of solid one-run ball and the Bruins got just enough from the Trevor Fitts/Chad Girodo Mississippi State combo starter offering to take the first game 3-1 (box/gamer).  Plutko, an 11th round pick by Cleveland, wasn’t overly dominant (just 2 strikeouts) but was effective and the UCLA bullpen shut down the Bulldog offense.
  • Game 2: UCLA’s #2/Saturday starter Nick Vander Tuig completed the two-game sweep with 8 shut-out innings while Mississippi State’s rotational depth issues were exposed badly.  UCLA battered the bullpen-by-committee efforts and won the game and championship with ease 8-0.

UCLA just had the better pitching.  Mississippi State’s missing friday starter and then the subsequent burning of their saturday starter (best remaining starter) to get to the final ended up costing them dearly.

Written by Todd Boss

June 27th, 2013 at 11:22 am

College World Series Update; The final is set

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Here’s an update of where we are in the 2013 College World Series (CWS).  We’re to the CWS final, having had the 8 competitors whittled to just two.

To recap the entire NCAA post-season tournament with links to previous posts:

A couple helpful resources for those who want to follow the College game: here’s a link to the CWS schedule page at d1baseball.com, which I use as the best way to quickly find all the core college site data.  And here’s the best (only?) College Baseball blog out there: CollegeBaseballDaily.com.

CWS Field: here’s the two Original Brackets.

  • Bracket 1: UNC, NC State, UCLA, LSU
  • Bracket 2: Mississippi State, Oregon State, Indiana, Louisville

Days 5-6:

  • Results: Two elimination Games.  Oregon State v Indiana, and UNC v NC State.
  • Oregon State shut down Indiana in one loser’s bracket elimination game 1-0 behind a complete game 4-hitter from senior lefty Ace/Friday starter Matt Boyd.   Boyd improved to 13-4 on the season in what may have been his last collegiate start; he was a 6th round pick by Toronto.   Boyd out-dueled fellow Ace/Friday starter Aaron Sledgers, himself a 5th round pick by Minnesota, who finishes his 2013 season 9-2 after giving up just one run on 7 hits for his complete game loss.
  • UNC got a couple of runs on NC State’s ace starter Carlos Rodon (pitching on 3-days rest and on a pitch count limit) and #3/Sunday starter Hobbs Johnson made it stand up, throwing 8 1/3 shutout innings in the start of his career as UNC took the loser-bracket final 7-0 (box/gamer).  Johnson is an undersized lefty with decent velocity picked in the 14th round by Milwaukee.   By throwing their #3 starter, UNC can come back with their #1 Kent Emanuel and #2 Trent Thornton ready to go to try to beat UCLA twice to make the final.

Days 7-8:

  • Results: Bracket Finals: Mississippi State over Oregon State 4-1, and UCLA over UNC by the same score.
  • Mississippi State got to Oregon State starter Andrew Moore, hanging him with just his second loss of the season and their big-time hitter Hunter Renfroe hit a 3-run homer to win the game for the SEC team (box).
  • UNC’s Emanuel didn’t pitch badly (6ip, 1 earned run) but threw far too many pitches (112 pitches through six innings) while the Tar Heel’s offense couldn’t touch UCLA’s #3/Sunday starter Grant Watson, and UCLA cruised into the CWS final (box).

CWS Bracket Results: here’s the final standings of each of the two CWS Brackets:

Bracket 1:

  • 1st place: #12 UCLA
  • 2nd Place: #1 UNC
  • 3rd Place: #9 NC State
  • 4th Place: #4 LSU

Bracket 2:

  • 1st place: #11 Mississippi State
  • 2nd Place: #3 Oregon State
  • 3rd Place: #10 Indiana
  • 4th Place: #15 Louisville

Where do we stand in the tournament now/What’s next?

  • The final is set: Mississippi State and UCLA will play a 3-game set starting tonight 6/24, 6/25 and (if necessary) 6/26.
  • UCLA’s pitching staff is set up perfectly for the 3-game set, with Ace Adam Plutko set to go on 6/24 with more than a week’s rest since his 6/16 victory.  If the series goes all three games, none of UCLA’s starters will be on anything other than regular rest.  Meanwhile Mississippi State’s “rotation” has been a patchwork the entire post-season; their #1/friday starter Luis Pollorena hurt himself in the regionals and has only thrown a handful of innings in the CWS.  We havn’t seen their #3/sunday starter Jacob Lindgren the entire post-season.  The team has leaned heavily on #2/Saturday starter Kendal Graveman, who has now started four of their post season games (including two games in the Bracket) and on a couple of bullpen guys in Trevor Fitts and Chad Girodo to make up the innings (the Fitts/Girodo combo likely starts tonight).  Graveman would be on 4-days rest for the 2nd game, 5 days rest for a 3rd game in the CWS final but likely will not pitch the opener.
  • Is this a compelling CWS final?  The 3rd place PAC-12 team and a team that finished a distant 3rd in its division (and was barely over .500 in conference play) in the SEC?   I would have loved to see a Vanderbilt-UNC or a Vanderbilt-LSU SEC grudge match in the final.  I would have liked to see an ACC team at least challenge for the title to try to break their big winless streak.  That being said, both teams were very good; Mississippi State was a 50 win team, UCLA a 47-win team.

Prediction: I think UCLA’s pitching staff is setup and rested while Mississippi State’s staff is in disarray and will be tired.  I think this will make the difference as UCLA takes it in 3.

College World Series Update; The tourney is taking shape

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Not a good sign when you can't spell the name of your marquee event correctly.

Not a good sign when you can’t spell the name of your marquee event correctly.

Here’s a recap of the 2013 College World Series (CWS) so far.  We’re through the first four days of competition and we’re getting closer to a CWS final.

To recap the entire NCAA post-season tournament so far

A couple helpful resources for those who want to follow the College game: here’s a link to the CWS schedule page at d1baseball.com, which I use as the best way to quickly find all the core college site data.  And here’s the best (only?) College Baseball blog out there: CollegeBaseballDaily.com.

CWS Field: here’s the two Pots that will each determine a finalist:

  • Pot 1: UNC, NC State, UCLA, LSU
  • Pot 2: Mississippi State, Oregon State, Indiana, Louisville

Days 1-2:

  • Results: NC State beats UNC, UCLA beats LSU, Mississippi State beats Oregon State and Indiana beats Louisville.  My predictions were pretty bad; all four teams that I thought would win the openers lost; only Indiana-Louisville would not have been considered an “upset” by seeds.
  • Carlos Rodon for NC State pitched a complete game victory, giving up just one run on 5 hits against the #1 overall seed UNC.  Rodon’s post-season stats now stand as follows: 26 1/3 innings, 18 hits, 4 runs, 27Ks, 4 walks.  Hie continues building his draft pedigree for 2014 (he’s already considered one of the best, if not the best 2014 draft prospects).  If NC State can beat UCLA, they’ll get Rodon in the pot final on 4 days rest and could use him in game 3 of the finals on 4 days rest as well, an intruiging scenario for NC State’s chances at winning this tournament.  So instead of seeing marquee matchups in the winners brackets of both pots, we saw them in win-or-go-home games in the Losers bracket.
  • Aaron Nola for LSU took his first loss of the season, giving up 2 unearned runs in 8 innings to lose to UCLA.  Another upper-end sophomore pitching prospect, Nola has yet to give up an earned run in the post season and previously out-dueled 3rd overall pick Jonathan Grey in the super Regional by pitching a 2-hit shutout against Oklahoma.  But UCLA ground out an important victory.
  • Mississippi State scored twice in the 8th to take the 5-4 lead and held on against #3 overall Seed Oregon State.
  • Joey DeNato pitched a 4-hit shutout for Indiana and shut down Louisville.  DeNato is a college junior who (amazingly?) went undrafted in June (likely because of his size; he’s listed as 5’10″ 180 and probably is smaller).   He’s 24-8 for his college career and is only improving.  He could be a draft day find for someone in 2014.

Days 3-4:

  • Results: Oregon State eliminates Louisville, Mississippi State beats Indiana, UNC eliminates LSU, and UCLA beats NC State.
  • Louisville is the first team eliminated as their ace Jeff Thompson (a third round 2013 pick for Detroit) gets pounded for 7 runs in 3 2/3 innings.  Not a great way to end your college career.
  • Mississippi State puts itself in the driver’s seat to advance from Pot 2 with another 8th inning come-back to beat Indiana and now only needs one more win to get to the CWS final.
  • LSU, the team that I thought would win the CWS a few days ago, became the 2nd team to be eliminated by falling to #1 overall seed UNC.  Tar Heels freshman “Closer” Trent Thornton got the start and threw 7 decent innings to improve to 12-1 on the season.  The Tarheel’s offense got to LSU’s starter early to send my (and Baseball America pundits’) favorite home early.
  • UCLA put itself in the drivers seat of Pot 1 by beating NC State 2-1.  UCLA’s saturday starter Nick Vander Tuig (and San Francisco’s 6th round pick this year) junk-balled his way through 7 innings of 4-hit ball for the victory.

Where do we stand in the tournament now/What’s next?

  • The next two days feature Elimination games.
  • Oregon State-Indiana is tonight 6/19/13.  Loser goes home.  The winner has to beat Mississippi State twice to get to the CWS Final.
  • UNC faces NC State for the 5th time this season tomorrow night 6/20/13.  Loser goes home.  The winner has to then beat UCLA twice to get to the CWS final.
  • UCLA and Mississippi State are both heavily favored at this point to advance; they get to rest their bullpens and they can throw their #1 starters on full rest.

 

 

Written by Todd Boss

June 19th, 2013 at 9:13 am

CWS Super Regional Results and CWS Field

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Here’s a quick look at the College Baseball Super Regionals, which finished up on 6/11/13 due to the crazy rain the east coast has seen.

Previous Links on the CWS this year:

  • My original Field-of-64 thoughts are here.
  • My Regional review and super-regional preview is here.
  • My favorite no-frills just data College Baseball site is d1baseball.com, where I go for all the results

Super-Regional Results (in the order in which these teams line up for the CWS)

  • #1 UNC d #16 South Carolina: UNC looked like a vulnerable #1 seed after getting blown out 8-0 to force a 3rd Super Regional game, but squeaked out the 5-4 victory on  tuesday to become the last team to advance and complete the CWS field.
  • #9 NC State defeated Rice: NC State rocks some 1980′s style uniforms and squeaks past Rice in 2 straight to punch its CWS ticket.
  • #12 UCLA defeated #5 Cal State Fullerton: UCLA wins a tight  regional in 2 straight to advance.
  • #4 LSU defeated Oklahoma: LSU gets a win over 1st round draftee Jonathan Grey and then blitzes Oklahoma in the second game to advance.
  • #11 Mississippi State upsets #6 Seed UVA two straight on the road.   They didn’t seem that troubled by UVA’s squad frankly; was UVA overseeded?  Or is the SEC just that deeper a conference?
  • #3 Oregon State v #14 Kansas State overcomes a first game loss to take the set 4-3 on Monday.
  • #10 Indiana defeated #7 Florida State: Indiana was never scared of a Florida State team that blized through its own regional and went punch for punch in this high scoring regional, winning 2 straight in Tallahassee to advance.  This is the first time a Big 10 team has made the CWS since 1984.
  • #15 Louisville defeated #2 Vanderbilt; this may have looked like an upset by the seedings, but Louisville’s two dominant starters controlled Vanderbilt’s offense for most of these two games and Louisville advances.

So, at the end of the Super Regionals only 3 of the 8 national seeds advanced, but they’re 3 of the 4 favorites heading into the tournament.  To me the only significant upset in the super regionals was Vanderbilt getting beat, though they’ve shown a propensity to falter early when seeded well (see 2007 when they entered the tournament as the #1 overall seed and had ace David Price but lost in their own regional to Michigan).

CWS Preview (reminder of format: each of these four groups will play a double elimination mini-tourney amongst themselves to arrive at a finalist for the Championship 3-game set):

Conference Distribution:

  • Big 10: Indiana, Regular and Post Season Champ
  • Big East: Louisville: Regular Season Champ
  • Pac-12: Oregon State, Regular Season Champ.
  • Pac-12: UCLA: 3rd Place Regular Season
  • ACC: UNC: 1st Place Coastal Division Regular Season, Post Season ACC Champ.
  • ACC: NC State: 2nd Place Atlantic Division Regular Season
  • SEC: LSU: 1st Place Western Division regular season, Post Season SEC champ
  • SEC: Mississippi State: 3rd place Western Division regular season

Two teams each from the 3 power baseball conferences and then the undisputed champs of two lesser conferences.  There’s some good distribution of conference champions in the CWS; 5 of the 8 teams are their conference’s Regular Season champions.  Non Regular Season champs UCLA and NC State advance in at the expense of perennially over-seeded Rice and Cal-State Fullerton.   Mississippi State advances in a SEC-ACC showdown over UVA that was probably closer on paper than their ranks and seeds may have indicated.

Fun Fact: Speaking of the ACC; A member of the ACC (not counting Miami, who wasn’t in the ACC at the time of their recent victories) has not won the College World Series since Wake Forest’ 1955 victory.   Despite being considered the best or 2nd best conference out there.  And honestly, I don’t see an ACC team winning this year either; UNC may be the #1 seed but they’ve struggled the whole post season.

  • Pot 1: UNC, NC State, UCLA, LSU
  • Pot 2: Mississippi State, Oregon State, Indiana, Louisville

CWS Predictions:

  • In Pot 1, We get a fun intra-state opening game of UNC-NC State (they split the regular season matchups and then UNC beat them in the ACC tournament).  LSU should take out a weaker UCLA, giving us a great potential UNC-LSU winners bracket showdown.  Frankly, I think LSU easily advances when all is said and done; they should have been a higher seed after winning the SEC championship over Vanderbilt, they’ve showed they can beat one of the best arms in the country in Jonathan Grey, and I think they’ve got what it takes to win it all.
  • Pot 2 has three unexpected teams and a clear favorite in Oregon State.   I’ll take Oregon State to hold serve against Mississippi State and I’ll take Louisville in the opener over surprising Indiana.  After that, I think Louisville continues to lean on their two big starters and eventually advances to the title game.

In the title game I’ll take LSU over Louisville; after watching LSU in the super regional I think they’re the best team playing the best ball right now heading into Omaha.

Click here for the complete CWS broadcast schedule.

Written by Todd Boss

June 12th, 2013 at 8:21 am

Posted in College/CWS

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2013 CWS Regional Results & Thoughts

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The 2013 College World Series is through its Regional weekend, and by and large the selection committee’s work was justified with just 2 non-Regional hosts advancing to this coming weekend’s Super Regional CWS play-in tournaments.

(My original Field-of-64 thoughts are here.  My favorite no-frills just data College Baseball site is d1baseball.com, where I go for all the results).

Regional thoughts, one by one (in order of national seeds).  Note that officially there are no 9-16 seeds, but for convenience they’re listed here based on which of the 1-8 national seeds they’ll play in the Super Regionals.

  1. #1 overall seed UNC advances by the absolute skin of their teeth, with Florida Atlantic forcing the monday winner-take-all game and then UNC winning 12-11 in 13 innings.  What an amazing game this final must have been; UNC took a 6-2 lead into the 9th inning only to have Florida Atlantic score six runs to take an 8-6 lead.  UNC then rallies for 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th to force extra innings.  Florida Atlantic then scored THREE runs in the top of the 12th only to have UNC rally to tie it and force a 13th inning.  Holy cow.  Can you imagine being at this game?
  2. #2 overall seed Vanderbilt survives a scare from ACC power Georgia Tech, who forced a monday playoff before Vandy won handily to advance.
  3. Oregon State held serve by winning a couple of close games and then taking out Texas A&M to advance.
  4. LSU beat in-state rival Louisiana-Lafayette to advance.
  5. Cal State Fullerton reversed a trend of early tournament upsets and swept two games from Arizona State to advance.
  6. UVA won a couple of nail biters before blowing out Elon to advance.
  7. Florida State looked the most impressive of any National seed, outscoring its opponents 32-4 en route to its advancing.
  8. Oregon couldn’t hold off traditional power Rice and was upset in its own regional.
  9. NC State held off a pesky William & Mary to advance.
  10. Indiana easily advanced over Austin Peay.
  11. Mississippi State held off a surprising Central Arkansas to take its regional.
  12. UCLA won a tough regional filled with Southern California heavyweights.
  13. Oklahoma upset regional host Virginia Tech, which couldn’t overcome the only 1-4 seed upset we saw on the first day of regionals.
  14. Kansas State battered its way to a regional title, beating each of the three teams in its group along the way.
  15. Louisville made a statement on its selection as a regional host, mowing down two big-time programs en route.
  16. South Carolina won a delayed sunday game to advance over Liberty.

Only two Regional upsets: Rice over #8 Oregon and Oklahoma over #13 Virginia Tech.   And neither of these could really be considered that big of an upset; Rice was ranked 16th in the final USA Today coaches poll and Oklahoma was ranked ahead of Va Tech in that same coaches poll.  The Baseball America guys in their podcast talked about how “Chalk” they were predicting the Regionals to be and they were mostly right.

Surprising/Over achieving Regional losers: You have to start with Central Arkansas, the only 4th seed to make it to the championship game.   A number of #3 seeds beat out their #2 seed bretheren to force their way to the regional finals; Liberty, William & Mary, San Diego, Oklahoma State and Elon.   Connecticut getting a win over nationally ranked Virginia Tech was a surprise.  Columbia’s win over New Mexico was astounding.  And Valparaiso beat a tough Florida team and had a pair of one-run losses in its regional.

Disappointing teams: besides the two Regional hosts which lost (Oregon and Virginia Tech), Clemson under achieved in a regional some thought they’d win.  Ole Miss couldn’t handle CAA upstart William & Mary and it cost them in the tournament.  Alabama couldn’t handle in-state rival Troy when push came to shove.  New Mexico did not live up to its lofty BA ranking, finishing last in its regional.  Coastal Carolina did not live up to its at-large bid, probably exacerbating complaints out of the Campbell camp.  And despite all the howls of protest over the Mercer and South Alabama seedings, neither could overcome tiny Central Arkansas to give a weaker regional host any pressure.

Super Regional Matchups

This coming weekend the “round of 16″ or Super Regionals are on tap.  Here’s the schedule; all games are at the higher seed (meaning the only last minute travel change involved NC State being handed a super-regional).

  • #1 UNC hosts #16 South Carolina
  • #9 NC State hosts Rice
  • #5 Cal State Fullerton hosts #12 UCLA
  • #4 LSU hosts Oklahoma
  • #6 UVA hosts #11 Mississippi State
  • #3 Oregon State hosts #14 Kansas State
  • #7 Florida State hosts #10 Indiana
  • #2 Vanderbilt hosts #15 Louisville

Psuedo Predictions: Its hard to pick against any of the top 4 teams; there’s a distinct gap between them and the 5th ranked teams in the country.  But Vanderbilt looked a bit rattled while Louisville looked confident and I wouldn’t be that shocked at an upset there.  Cal State Fullerton/UCLA matches up frequent competitors on the Regional stage and could go either way.  I like UVA’s chances of advancing to the CWS.  Florida State seems likely to continue bashing its way to the CWS and could be a dangerous lower seed.

Picks: UNC, Rice, UCLA, LSU, UVA, Oregon State, Florida State, Vanderbilt.

Written by Todd Boss

June 4th, 2013 at 8:04 am

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2013 CWS Field of 64 announced; analysis

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Feel free to read on if you’re not a College Baseball guy, since I know some of my readers have questioned why I follow the college game.

The Field of 64 was announced today with all of the conference tournaments ending, and there were a few surprises in the seeds and field.

A quick guide to how the College World Series (CWS) field works: teams play in 16 “Regional tournaments” kicking off this coming weekend.  These are 4-team double elimination tournaments to determine a regional winner.  Then, the winners of each regional square off in a best-of-3 “Super Regional” the weekend of June 7-8-9 to determine the Eight (8) College World Series entrants.  Those 8 teams then are divided into two pots of four, play one additional 4-team double elimination tournament to arrive at a winner-take-all CWS championship.  The regions are hosted by schools; the CWS is hosted in Omaha, Nebraska.  When talking below about the “seeds” of the regional tournaments, the teams are seeded 1 through 4 within the regional tournament.  The regional host is the #1 seed, and the weakest entrant is the #4 seed.  This is not the same thing as talking about the “overall” seed; to make that distinction i’ll always say “tournament seeds” when talking about the overall tournament seeds.

Quick reference to current polls:

Biggest snubs: Probably Seton Hall, Pittsburgh, and perhaps Auburn.  Notre Dame had a beef to, with a decent RPI, but were only the #7 seed in the Big East and lost the title game to the #8 seeded UConn and that was that.  Possibly Stanford, who were 5th in a 4-bid conference.  Campbell has a big beef; they were the #1 seed in the Big South, lose the title game 2-1 and miss out while the #2 seed (Coastal Carolina) in the conference makes it as an at-large.  Gonzaga was the #1 seed in the WCC but lost their last 7 games to take them from 32-14 to 32-21 and a missed tournament.  Nebraska isn’t technically a sub (they finished a game under .500) but had they won one more game they’d be in for sure.  Apparently Mercer was last in and Michigan State was last out, so we’ll say that Michigan State is a snub too.

Conference Distribution: As expected the tournament is dominated by the SEC (9 teams) and ACC (8 teams).  Surprisingly this year the mid-major Sun Belt conference has as many teams (4) as the Pac-10 (also 4).  Traditional Pac-10 powerhouses Cal, Stanford and Arizona all had down years.   The CAA surprisingly got 3 bids when upstart Towson won the tournament; i’m sure there are grumblings from the snubs above over the at-large bids given to William & Mary.

If the top 16 tournament seeds (aka, the regional hosts) hold serve, your super regional field would look like this (note the teams 9-16 are not “officially” seeded but to be honest they basically make sense and are ranked appropriately.  Its not as if the committee just pulls these names out of a hat).

  • #1 UNC v #16 South Carolina
  • #8 Oregon v #9 NC State
  • #5 Cal State Fullerton v #12 UCLA
  • #4 LSU v #13 Virginia Tech
  • #6 UVA v #11 Mississippi State
  • #3 Oregon State v #14 Kansas State
  • #7 Florida State v #10 Indiana
  • #2 Vanderbilt v #15 Louisville

Thoughts on the 1-8 tournament seeding: I would have had both Vanderbilt and LSU above UNC, but not by much and it may not really matter frankly.  I think BA’s rankings are wrong to have Vanderbilt above LSU the day after LSU beats them on a neutral field for the SEC championship.   Oregon State may be seeded slightly high, but as some have pointed out they may have slightly tweaked the seeds so that the two big guns from the ACC and SEC were balanced in the top 8 seeds.  Fair enough for me.  Cal State Fullerton is ALWAYS ranked too highly and always seems to fail to live up to their seeding; they face a tough regional with Arizona and New Mexico.

Biggest over-seed amongst the 16 hosts: none really; they’re by and large the 16 best teams this year.  Perhaps Va Tech or Kansas State.  Indiana is highly ranked but was from a one-bid conference whose #3 seed had a losing record on the season.  Louisville  may struggle to win its own regional with Miami and Oklahoma state to contend with.

Most aggrieved #2 Regional seed: Probably Clemson, who is mostly identically ranked as South Carolina, its arch rival, and now it has to go there to advance.  Also perhaps grumbling about their lot in this tournament are Oklahoma and Arkansas, both of whom are higher ranked in the coaches poll than their regional hosts (Virginia Tech and Kansas State respectively).

Easiest Regions for the Hosts: UNC gets three mid-major teams, none of which seem that challenging.  UVA’s region looks even easier; their hardest test is UNC-Wilmington.  LSU has in-state rival Louisiana-Lafayette to contend with but little else.

Toughest #3 Regional Seeds: Probably New Mexico; who blew away their conference and are ranked #17 in the coaches poll.   Oklahoma State is #19 in the coaches poll and is regionally seeded behind Miami.  Mercer (RPI #29), Troy, San Diego and Florida (who barely earned their way in by achieving a .500 record with the Nations 2nd hardest schedule) are also going to be tough #3 seeds to contend with.

Who is the next Fresno State (aka, the next #4 regional seed to come out of nowhere to win): Tough one in this tournament; most of the #4 seeds are automatic bid teams with RPIs in the 180-200 range.  Wichita State has a rich college baseball history and is a #4 regional seed despite winning the WAC.  San Diego State could surprise, as well as St. Louis.  But most of the #4 seeds are early tournament fodder.

Big-time Draft Prospects to keep an eye on, by team: Likely #1 overall pick Mark Appel‘s season is over as Stanford failed to qualify for the tournament (drafting teams can now rest; Stanford has no more chances to abuse Appel on pitch-counts for the rest of his college career).  The rest of the names here are all considered 1st or 2nd round prospects by Keith Law or Baseball America and they’re listed in rough order of where they’re likely to be drafted in the 1st and 2nd rounds.  The Nats don’t pick until the end of the 2nd round, but should have a shot at some of the names at the bottom of this list:

  • Jonathan Grey, Oklahoma’s #1 starter and 1-1 candidate.
  • Kris Bryant, San Diego’s record-breaking slugger and likely top-3 pick.
  • Colin Moran, UNC 3B
  • Ryne Stanek, Arkansas’ #1 starter who’s stock has slightly fallen this year.
  • D.J. Peterson, New Mexico 3B/1B
  • Hunter Renfroe, Mississippi State OF
  • Jonathan Crawford, Florida RHP
  • Trey Ball, Indiana LHP
  • Bobby Wahl, Mississippi RHP (and Springfield VA native as discussed in my local draft prospects post last week).
  • Ryan Eades, LSU RHP
  • Trevor Williams, Arizona State RHP
  • Jason Hursch, Oklahoma State RHP
  • Michael Lorenzen, Cal State Fullerton OF/RHP
  • Alex Balog, San Francisco RHP

Let the games begin!

Caltech ends record losing streak

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Logo via wikipedia

Today’s distraction:

The word came out over the weekend: The California Institute of Technology’s division III baseball team snapped a 10 year, 228 game losing streak by beating fellow baseball powerhouse Pacifica over the weekend.

Which of course begs the question; CalTech has a baseball team!?

Written by Todd Boss

February 7th, 2013 at 11:20 am

Posted in College/CWS

College World Series Preview/Regionals Recap

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(note: you must visit www.d1baseball.com, your absolute best resource for all things college baseball).

With the completion of the final Super Regional games yesterday, including the exciting last game of Super Regionals where Arkansas scored in the top of the 10th to beat #4 seed Baylor 1-0, the 2012 College World Series (CWS) field is set.  Four of your top eight national seeds made it to Omaha (Florida, UCLA, Florida State and South Carolina).  First, a recap of the Regional action

Regional Recap

Regional winners.

  • #1 Florida
  • #16 NC State (in a slight “upset” over SEC power house Vanderbilt)
  • Unseeded Oklahoma (over #9 seed UVA and ranked team Appalachian State)
  • #8 South Carolina
  • #5 Oregon
  • Kent State (over #12 Purdue and highly regarded Kentucky; see more below)
  • Arkansas (over #13 Rice, probably slightly overrated as they always seem to be)
  • #4 Baylor
  • #2 UCLA
  • TCU over #15 Texas A&M
  • Stony Brook over #10 Miami and 20th ranked UCF
  • #7 LSU
  • St. Johns over #6 seed UNC
  • #13 Arizona
  • #14 Stanford
  • #2 Florida State

10 of the 16 teams went chalk in the regionals.  The 16 Regional tournaments featured only one “major” upset, with #6 national seed Chapel Hill getting upset by the unheralded St. Johns.  Local favorites UVA (the #9 national seed) went up against a tough region and came out short, falling early to Appalachian State before Oklahoma took the regional.  Other “seeds” that lost in the Regional round were #12 Purdue (to Kent State), #13 Rice (to Arkansas), #10 Miami (to Stony Brook) and #15 Texas A&M (to TCU).

Of these lower seeds, clearly Miami was over-rated (BA ranked #23 but getting a 10th seed) and went up against what most people called “the best #4 seed in the history of the tournament” in Stony Brook, a team that boasted the best record in the nation and was at the bottom end of the BA top 25 rankings at season’s end.  Texas A&M was probably well seeded but had a pretty non-descript record against fellow top-25 teams and wasn’t a surprise to get upset.  Lastly the Purdue regional; lots and lots of press about how Kentucky was “screwed” out of a top seed (BA ranked #11, 12-6 against top 25 teams and clearly playing in a tougher conference than Purdue).  However, as with the infamous UVA/San Diego State/UC Irvine regional a couple years ago, all that complaining went for naught as a surprise team (Kent State) ended up winning the regional.  Both Stony Brook and Kent State eventually showed they were no fluke … as we saw in the Super Regionals.

Super Regional Results/Recap

  • #1 Florida d #16 NC State
  • #8 South Carolina d Oklahoma
  • Kent State d #5 Oregon
  • Arkansas d #4 Baylor
  • #2 UCLA d TCU
  • Stony Brook d #7 LSU
  • #13 Arizona d St. Johns
  • #2 Florida State pounded #15 Stanford

Baseball America had great previews of the super regionals in two parts here and here.

The three best teams in the land (Florida, Florida State and UCLA) each advanced with some ease.  Florida State in particular pounded two of the better college pitchers out there in Stanford’s Mark Appel (#8 overall drafted) and National’s 3rd rounder Brett Mooneyham en route to two blow-out wins.  They look tough.

#8 national seed and two-time defending champion South Carolina advanced to the CWS for the 3rd straight year but fall on the side of Florida, who cruised through their regional and played most of their season against ranked opponents (18-10 on the year against BA top 25 teams).  This looks like it will be a dog fight, as South Carolina ace Mike Roth continues to defy the odds and get wins despite not having top-of-the-draft stuff.

The greatest stories out of College Baseball though belong to Stony Brook and Kent State (Stony Brook was featured today in a story by SI’s Joe Lemire).  Both teams not only made their first super regional appearance but also make their first ever College World Series appearance.   To have two such teams in the CWS is great for the sport and is reminiscent of the great Fresno State run to the title a few years back as a similar #4 seed.  By way of comparison; a #4 regional seed winning it all is somewhat akin to a #13 or worse seed winning the entire NCAA basketball tournament.  We all go nuts when a mid-major makes the final four … as GMU did as “only” an #11 seed.  The highest ever seed to WIN the NCAA tournament was #8 Villanova in a cocaine-driven upset of Georgetown.  I think both cinderellas will meet their match in the CWS, but its still a great story.

CWS Predictions

Group 1: Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, Kent State

Group 2: UCLA, Stony Brook, Arizona, Florida State

Top Half: I think Florida will outlast South Carolina in the upper half.   Arkansas isn’t to be counted out though; they beat Florida 2/3 AT Florida this season, but lost two of three against South Carolina.  I’m guessing South Carolina handles Arkansas before showing up depleted and getting run over by the #1 team in the country.  Kent State continues to just be happy to be there.

Lower Half:  Florida State has already shown it can bombard a Pac-10 team (UCLA lost 2 of 3 at home to Stanford in the regular season), whil Arizona and Stony Brook seem like also-rans.

Final: All things considered, an all-Florida, ACC/SEC challenge for the title is fitting, since those are easily the two best conferences.  Florida rides its extensive experience against top teams and wins the title.

Written by Todd Boss

June 13th, 2012 at 2:28 pm