Nationals Arm Race

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CWS 2017: Field of 64 announced with Regional predictions

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Its that time of year again; Its College Baseball playoff season!

On 5/28/17, a day before the entire field was announced, the 16 Regional hosts were announced.  These are also the top 16 seeds (though they only acknowledge the top 8 “national seeds”).  The following day, the entire field was announced.  Here’s a look at the 16 regional tournaments with some quickie thoughts.

Each of these 4-team sets is listed in the “seed” in the regional, starting with the host.  I’ve organized them as they’ll meet in the super regionals.

#1 Oregon State, with Nebraska, Yale and Holy Cross.  No challenges here for the #1 overall seed, which finished the season an amazing 49-4.
#16 Clemson, with Vanderbilt, St. Johns, UNC-Greensboro: Clemson draws the always-tough Vanderbilt, who may upset the Tigers.

#8 Stanford, with Cal State-Fullerton, BYU, Sacramento State: tough draw for Stanford, who has a national seed for the first time in a while.  Fullerton is always a tough out.
#9 Long Beach State, with Texas, UCLA, San Diego State: wouldn’t be surprised to see the scrappy SDSU team make some waves here, nor would I be surprised watching Texas win this.  Texas may be one of the weaker #2 seeds, but the rest of this regional is weaker too.

#5 Texas Tech, with Arizona, Sam Houston State, Delaware.  Texas Tech has quietly put together a monster season, and I see little to prevent them from sweeping through this regional.
#12 Florida State, with UCF, Auburn, Texas Tech.  We’ll get to the snubs below, but the fact that Florida State is hosting over UVA (not to mention Clemson) is kind of ridiculous.

#4 LSU, with Southeastern LA, Rice and Texas Southern.  Odd to see Rice with a #3 seed, odder still to see SELA with a #2 seed.  LSU should breeze here.
#13 Southern Miss, with Mississippi State, South Alabama and Illinois-Chicago.  Tough draw for Southern Miss; Illinois-Chicago has one one of the best staffs in the country.

#2 UNC with Florida Gulf-Coast, Michigan, Davidson.  Davidson’s first ever visit to the CWS tourney will be against the #2 team in the land …though they’ll probably save J.B. Bukauskas for the second game (likely against under-seeded Michigan).  Still, not much here to trouble UNC.
#15 Houston with Baylor, TAMU, Iowa.  Last team in TAMU, which did not suck in the SEC this year, probably makes this regional more interesting than Houston likely wants.  I could see either Houston or TAMU winning … but based on Houston having kicked off their #1 starter .. i’ll go TAMU.

#7 Louisville with Oklahoma, Xavier and Radford.  Good to see Radford representing the Commonwealth here; they’ll be two and out.  Louisville has the arms and shouldn’t be troubled by any of these teams.
#10 Kentucky with Indiana, NC State and Ohio.  NC State may give Kentucky a run for their money in this regional, but I don’t think they can beat them.

#6 TCU with UVA, Dallas-Baptist and Central Connecticut.  The last time UVA got snubbed so badly, they went to a stacked UC-Irvine regional, battered Stephen Strasburg in his final collegiate start, and made the CWS as a regional #3 seed.  Watch out TCU.
#11 Arkansas with Missouri State, Oklahoma State, Oral Roberts; I know little about any of these teams; Okla State is having a down year, Arkansas was 18-11 in the SEC West.  They’re a tough out.

#3 Florida with South Florida, Bethune-Cookman, Marist.  Man, what an easy draw for Florida.
#14 Wake Forest with West Virginia, Maryland, UMBC.  Well, the West Virginia-Maryland game should be interesting; does either team have enough to beat a good Wake Forest team?


 

Easiest Regionals: Oregon State & Florida

Hardest RegionalsTCU, Stanford

Regional Predictions (in the order listed above): Oregon State, Vanderbilt, CS-Fullerton, Long Beach State, Texas Tech, Florida State, LSU, Mississippi State, UNC, TAMU, Louisville, Kentucky, UVA, Arkansas, Florida, Wake Forest.

My Omaha predictions right now: #1 Oregon State, CS-Fullerton, #5 Texas Tech, #4 LSU on one side.   #2 UNC, #7 Louisville, UVA, #3 Florida.

DC/MD/VA rooting interests: UVA, Maryland, UMBC, Radford, plus Virginia-born players on UNC, NC State and Wake Forest rosters.


Snubs

The d1baseball.com guys think the last 3 teams out (roughly, ODU, Gonzaga and UConn) were more deserving than the last three teams in (roughly Maryland, St. Johns and TAMU).  But they also admit that its nit picking to some extent.  There were 6 or so “stolen bids” when the non-favored team won a 1-bid conference tourney … leaving a lot of deserving teams on the sidelines.

There’s some oddities in the draw; too many Big10 teams, which was only the 7th ranked conference, yet the Conference USA (higher ranked) only got two teams in (this goes to the ODU snub).

But the biggest, least defensible decision was to give Clemson the #16 seed/last host over UVA.  UVA beat Clemson 10-2 in the ACC tourney, finished with a better conference and overall record than Clemson, and (to say nothing about Clemson’s hosting) had similar arguments for hosting versus Florida State.  Then to add insult to injury … UVA gets sent to TCU’s regional.  Did UVA piss off the committee for some reason?

Marquee Draft-related players to watch

I won’t go through all 64 teams, but here’s some of the more interesting names to keep an eye on:

  • #1 Oregon State’s lefty starter Luke Heimlich is their main draft-eligible player this year.  He leads the nation with a 0.81 ERA on the year.
  • #2 UNC’s #1 starter is of course Ashburn’s J.B. Bukauskas; he likely goes #6 overall in the draft.  They also have likely 2nd rounders Logan Warmoth and Brian Miller as high-end draft prospects.
  • #3 Florida’s #1 starter is Alex Faedo, who is probably an upper-first round talent.
  • #4 LSU is led by Alex Lange, who is tied to the Nats as a lower 1st round pick.
  • #7 Louisville’s star is top-5 pick Brendan McCay.
  • #8 Stanford’s top-ranked draft prospect is pitcher Tristan Beck, a draft-eligible sophomore who missed the whole season with a back injury.
  • #10 Kentucky has a good hitting prospect in 1B Evan White.
  • #11 Arkansas is led by RHP Blaine Knight.
  • #15 Houston’s former friday starter was LHP Seth Romero, kicked off the team for disciplinary purposes.
  • Vanderbilt has two 1st round talents in Kyle Wright and Jeren Kendall.
  • UVA also has two upper 1st round players in Pavin Smith and Adam Haseley.
  • Missouri State has big hitting 3B prospect Jake Burger (4th in the nation in Homers this year).
  • UCLA is led by RHP Griffin Canning, likely 2nd/3rd rounder.

Several back of the 1st round arms listed here, many of whom are rumored to be on the Nats radar at #25.  Keep an eye on Lange, Romero, Beck (even if he isn’t playing) and maybe even Faedo if he drops that far (doubtful).

Other News

Defending National Champ Coastal Carolina struggled on the year and failed to make the tourney.  Miami had a relatively mediocre season and broke an amazing streak of 44 straight appearances in the CWS tournament.  A light year for Virginia schools with decent teams like ODU getting snubbed, VCU getting upset in the conference tourney, Virginia Tech struggling, the three local “George” teams struggling George Mason, Georgetown, George Washington), etc.


College CWS tournament references: (i’ll put more here when they get posted).

9 Responses to 'CWS 2017: Field of 64 announced with Regional predictions'

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  1. I keep seeing the Nats linked with Lange or Romero. I’d prefer a college bat, but then they never ask me! My preference would be for Hiura, if he lasts to #25. The profile, including the injury history, reminds me a lot of Rendon. I don’t know that Burger will last until 25. Rooker offers a good bit of pop and is more intriguing if he can stick in the OF over 1B. Evan White seems limited to 1B and more to line drives than HRs.

    I imagine that with Giolito, Lopez, Dunning, and Avila gone, there will be a push in some quarters for a college arm who can move through the system quickly. My counter would be that the Hagerstown rotation is already stacked with guys that age or younger. Luzardo will also debut later this year.

    Meanwhile, the Nats’ system leader in HRs is the return for a DFA claim, Taylor Gushue. I don’t mean to diminish what Gushue is doing, only to emphasize that the power need persists. Some draft years, there aren’t a lot of real power options in the range where the Nats draft, but there are this year. Save the college arm for the second round. Romero might still be there.

    KW

    30 May 17 at 12:31 pm

  2. I have a whole collection of mock draft links tracking top 5 and Nats predictions; Mostly college junior arms like Lange, Romero, etc. I’ll publish it when we get closer to the draft itself (perhaps next week).

    Todd Boss

    30 May 17 at 12:55 pm

  3. Yes, Romero is a Boras client, and yes, he has a K/9 of around 15. But he’s a knucklehead, and the Nats have a good record of not drafting knuckleheads. (Acquiring one from the Phillies, but not drafting them.)

    Speaking of knuckleheads, I’m wondering if Strickland is actually managing to do something we’ve wondered would ever happen: make Bryce a sympathetic figure with whom the self-appointed arbiters of baseball right and wrong will side. No one is defending Strickland, not even Giant fans.

    KW

    30 May 17 at 5:48 pm

  4. Did anyone read Rosenthal’s revised article, suggesting that Posey was told by Strickland that he was going to hit Harper and that Posey should let him come to the mound? Kind of interesting in a TMZ kind of way. Sorry, can’t find the link right now.

    As for the draft, I figured out a couple years ago that I literally don’t know anything about these kids, and reading other peoples reports doesn’t provide too much value. So I don’t bother getting too excited about anyone until I see who they draft. But that being said, I also am intrigued by KW’s Hiura pick. I don’t see the Rendon comp, but maybe the Happ kid in CHC.

    On Romero, wasn’t his problems smoking pot and fighting a teammate? Not ideal, but definitely worse things out there, like domestic abuse. If they take him, which several folks are predicting, I’ll trust that they’ve done their homework.

    Wally

    30 May 17 at 6:16 pm

  5. Suspensions out – 6 for Strickland and 4 for Harp. So I had it backward, which I’m glad about. And probably that comes down a game or two after appealing.

    Wally

    30 May 17 at 7:02 pm

  6. I think Machado got four games last year for a similar offense, so it seems in line. I was also hoping that Strickland would get 9 or 10, to send a stronger message against stupidity.

    Hadn’t heard the thing about Posey. If true, that should add to the suspension, shouldn’t it? All I know is that Posey didn’t really move to get involved even after everybody else did. Anyway, the Nats didn’t match stupid with stupid last night and just buried the Giants again last night. Good riddance to holier-than-thou trash. Their team is a mess, and they have almost no prospects on whom to build.

    Hiura reminds me of Rendon as an average-sized college hitter who barrels everything and hits for surprising pop, and also as a guy who has been injured half his college career, so people don’t know what to think about him. He may be the best overall college bat in the draft yet may fall into the 20s. I think KLaw has him going to the Bosox the pick before the Nats. Sickels has him going to the Nats, with the Bosox taking Lange.

    As for Romero, he had been suspended multiple times before finally getting kicked off the team. If not for the stupidity, he’s said to have been a top 10-15 guy. He had been told that he was costing himself millions, yet he kept getting into trouble. What team wants to willingly take on a headache like that?

    KW

    31 May 17 at 5:32 am

  7. FWIW, the Nats hit the 50-game mark on a 100-win pace.

    KW

    31 May 17 at 7:48 am

  8. Dear Hunter,

    Your team sucks even worse than your attitude. Enjoy four more months of Loser Hell. Glad we could drop you into last place while we were in town.

    XOXO,

    Bryce

    KW

    1 Jun 17 at 8:52 am

  9. […] Field of 64 announcement with Regional predictions and highlights of top-end draft prospects. […]

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