Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

2017 CWS Super-Regionals recap, CWS field and predictions



Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2017:

Lost in Draft 2017 mania was the finishing of the Super Regionals on Monday evening.  This post is a couple days old but just in time for the CWS to start.

Super Regional Recaps:  I’ve got these ordered by they way they’ll be playing into the CWS field (i.e. by bracket).  And this is the order they’re listed on d1baseball’s Tourney Central, the quickest way to find results.  Rain throughout southeast cancelled half the friday slate of games.

  • #1 Oregon State vs Vanderbilt: Oregon State’s #1 starter Luke Heinrich left the team after some past indiscretions were uncovered by the local paper (you can google the details yourself; the timing of the unveiling couldn’t have come at a worse time for him, his team or his future just days ahead of the draft,  however reprehensible his transgressions were).  Behind #2 starter Jake Thompson they rolled over Vanderbilt nonetheless 8-4 in game one.   They continued the onslaught, destroying one of the best SEC teams 9-2 to go two and out; Oregon State advances to the CWS even without its ace.
  • Cal State Fullerton vs #9 Long Beach State: LBSU blanked CS-F in the first game 3-0, taking the 6th game out of the 7 times they’ve now played this season.  Fullterton came roaring back and destroyed the Dirtbags 12-0 to force the decider.  In a shocker to me, Cal-State Fullerton got a dominant pitching performance from a mid-week starter and won the clincher 2-1 to advance.
  • Sam Houston State v #12 Florida State: FSU rallied to beat Sam Houston in the first game 7-6.  Sam Houston was in control before FSU scored 3 in the 6th to tie it, eventually getting the walk-off in the bottom of the 9th.  In game 2, Florida State scored in each of the first six innings to turn it into a laugher 19-0 and advance to their 22nd CWS.
  • #4 LSU vs Mississippi State: LSU scored 4 in the 8th to rally past Mississippi State in the first.  LSU’s ace Alex Lange was a bit wild; he got relieved by Virginia product Zach Hess, who got the Win.  In Game 2, LSU turned a close game into a laugher as Mississippi State seemed to run out of arms, eventually winning 14-4 to advanced to the CWS.


  • Davidson vs TAMU: Texas A&M beat the cinderella story Davidson 7-6 in the first game … in 15 innings (!).  One worry you always have seeing these collegiate long extra inning games is pitcher abuse; TAMU did seem to select a periodic starter to eat up the extra innings, so that’s good to see.  In Game 2, Davidson was ahead into the 8th … and then their lack of pitching depth finally got exposed.  TAMU exploded for 10 runs in the 8th and 9th to blow them away 12-6 and be the second team to punch their ticket to the CWS.
  • #7 Louisville v #10 Kentucky; Lousiville took game one behind their #2 starter, with super star  Brendan McKay going 0-3 at the plate.  McKay got the win in game two to punch Louisville’s ticket to the CWS, the first team to do so.  (Louisville had clinched the super regional before the LSU regional had played an inning thanks to weather).
  • #6 TCU v Missouri State: TCU won a close one 3-2 behind ace Jared Janczak; they scored 2 in the 8th to go ahead.  TCU cruised in game 2 8-1 to advance to their 4th straight CWS.
  • #3 Florida  vs #14 Wake Forest: Florida won game 1 in 11 innings; they threw ace Alex Faedo but he was on 72 pitches through 4 and got pulled.  Wake’s ace Parker Dunshee threw a fantastic game; 8ip, 3hits but Florida won on a walk-off.  Game two was suspended sunday night due to rain; the last regional to finish.  Wake Forest took the suspended game to force the decider, which unfortunately was being played just as the MLB draft started monday night.  There, Florida held serve and advanced 3-0 to finish out the field.


My CWS Predictions: Oregon State, TAMU, Florida, LSU, Florida State, TCU, Louisville, Long Beach State.

Actuals: Oregon State, TAMU, Florida, LSU, Florida State, TCU, Louisville, Cal-State Fullerton

I got 7 of 8 right, missing on the Fullerton pick (figuring that Long Beach State would continue to dominate them).


CWS Field and Profiles

Top Bracket:

  • #1 Oregon State: 54-4 overall record (27-3 in conference).  1st place Pac12,   Regular season conference champ (no post-season Pac12 tourney)
  • Cal State Fullerton: 39-22 (15-9).  3rd place Big West regular season (no Big West tourney)
  • #12 Florida State 45-21 (14-14): 5th place, Atlantic division ACC regular season.  1st place ACC tournament.
  • #4 LSU: 48-17 (21-9): 1st place, SEC West conference.  SEC tourney champs.

Bottom Bracket

  • Texas A&M: 41-21 (16-14): 5th place SEC West.
  • #7 Louisville: 52-10 (23-6): 1st Place Atlantic division ACC regular season.
  • #6 TCU: 47-16 (16-8): 1st place Big 12.  Lost in Big12 tourney title game.
  • #3 Florida: 46-19 (21-9): 1st Place SEC East regular season.

CWS field review by the numbers

  • Pac12: 1 team
  • Big West: 1 team
  • ACC: 2 teams
  • Big12: 1 team
  • SEC: 3 teams


CWS Field thoughts

What a great CWS field.  Several legendary programs (Cal-State Fullerton, Florida State and Florida) with dozens of appearances between them.  The undisputed #1 team in the land (Oregon State).  The undisputed #1 pre-season team in TCU.  Arguably the hottest team in the land in LSU.  The team with the likely #1 overall pick (Louisville).  Great spread amongst the power conference; you have 1st place teams from both SEC divisions, the ACC, the Pac12 and the Big12.  Every team in Omaha this year has been there already this decade, making it a very experienced field.  Should make for great baseball.

Quick predictions: LSU from the top; I’ve always been slightly biased against Pac12 teams and when the #1 team from the west meets the #1 team from the powerhouse SEC conference, something tells me the Tigers will prevail.   TCU from the bottom, though its tough to pick against Louisville.  I think TCU gets a break not having to face Brendan McKay in game one and that might be the difference.

Final: TCU takes the title over LSU and fulfils their #1 pre-season ranking.

Player Star power in this CWS: By team, here’s the guys to look for either for Nats interest or for overall talent/draft position:

  • Oregon State: two dominant starters in Luke Heimlich (possibly not playing) and Jake Thompson.  Also Drew Rasmussen, drafted ahead of either guy.  Max Engelbrekt has the best ERA on the team and was the Nats 40th round pick as a 5th-year senior.
  • TAMU; RHP Corbin Martin
  • Florida: Alex Faedo.
  • LSU Alex Lange their #1 starter plus their clean-up hitter Greg Deichmann, both first day draft picks.  Nats 2017 4th rounder Cole Freeman is their engine.
  • Florida State; none really, despite FSU’s ranking.  They’re a solid and younger team this year with no major 2017 draft prospects.
  • TCU’s Evan Skoug might get drafted relatively highly.
  • Louisville:  led by #4 overall pick Brendan McKay.
  • Cal State Fullerton; no 1st round notables; same as FSU: team depth, not superstars this year.

Nats 2017 Draftees in the CWS: thanks to the Nats strategy of drafting only College players, they drafted a ton of guys who are playing in Omaha.  By team:

  • Oregon State: Max Engelbrekt has the best ERA on the team and was the Nats 40th round pick as a 5th-year senior.  Not sure why he lasted til the 40th round…
  • TAMU: 5th rounder Jr RHP Brigham Hill, 18th rounder OF Nick Choruby.
  • Florida: none
  • LSU  Nats 2017 4th rounder 2B Cole Freeman is their engine.
  • Florida State: none
  • TCU: none this year, last year’s pick Evan Skoug got picked.
  • Louisville: none
  • Cal State Fullerton: 24th rounder sr. SS Tim Richards


College CWS tournament references:

7 Responses to '2017 CWS Super-Regionals recap, CWS field and predictions'

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  1. KW

    15 Jun 17 at 12:10 pm

  2. Yeah, they forgot a bunch 🙂 I’ll post a “DC area” and dc/md/va post-draft wrap up at some point.

    Todd Boss

    15 Jun 17 at 1:29 pm

  3. As for Engelbrekt, he’s had two TJs, is about to turn 24, and may or may not be able to even reach 90. Now, considering that teams starting basically using throwaway picks in rounds numbered in the 20s (see Darren Baker pick), it is still pretty amazing that the closer for the nation’s top team lasted that long, despite the negatives. I’m not ragging on the pick at all, by the way; I think it’s great. I’d skip him all the way to Potomac and see if he can get out pro hitters with a little experience.

    The positive for him is that because the Beaver bullpen is so deep, and because they’ve been a dominant team, Engelbrekt has had a light workload this year and may still have some innings left in him after the CWS.


    15 Jun 17 at 2:23 pm

  4. Here’s Sickels review:

    ANALYSIS: The Nationals are risk-takers on draft day and they took one here with Romero, an early-first rounder on talent alone who got kicked off his college team for multiple violations of team rules and overall immature behavior. He could be a number two starter or a power reliever if he decides to grow up. Crowe shows first-round stuff but third-round performance, making him a bit of an enigma, while Raquet can hit 95-96 but has control issues. Freeman is fast and a cheap senior with a good track record; Hill and Johnston work in the 90s and could move quickly as relievers. SLEEPERS: Several college arms to pick from, with Jackson Tetreault (RHP, 7th round, State JC of Florida), 8th rounder Jared Brasher (RHP, Samford), and 12th-rounder Jackson Stoeckinger (LHP, JC of Central Florida) showing considerable upside. 15th rounder Bryce Montes de Oca from Missouri has a long injury history but hits 95-97 when he’s healthy. IMPRESSIONS: The Nationals drafted several lively arms from the college ranks who need more polish or have some sort of caution check on the resume, giving the pitching coaches plenty of raw material to work with.


    16 Jun 17 at 7:07 am

  5. Wally, thanks for sharing this. Todd may do a full draft recap, so I’ll save extended comments in case he does. But the more I think about what the Nats did in this draft, the less I like it. The only pick that really excited me was getting Crowe at #65.

    When you look at this draft, the Nats only got two players with an average or better chance of being major-leaguers. They both may profile more as relievers than starters. Both already have scars on their pitching elbows, and one is a headcase of the first magnitude, while the other is overage.

    I know several folks have been defending the Racquet pick, but I’m totally with Todd on this one. He’s done nothing to warrant being picked before the third day, not the third round. I would have been fine with Freeman later on the second day, but they could have done better in the fourth. His ceiling is utility infielder with no power, except he can’t be a true utility infielder because he doesn’t have the arm to play the left side of the infield. Timmy Richards (24th round) profiles as more useful than Freeman does.

    I thought the Nats got potential major-leaguers with their top five picks last year. Banks is struggling now, but at least they all had pedigrees that showed good MLB potential. I don’t see that this year.


    16 Jun 17 at 8:08 am

  6. As for our big-league nine, some games in a season feel more important than others. The one Thursday in NYC was one of them. The Nats had not reached crisis zone yet, but they needed to win at least a couple in this series to keep the nerves calm. And of course it’s so much fun to see Murph go into Citi and say, “Who’s your daddy?” Time to start thinking about that Murph extension? What about that Gio one? (Something I never thought I’d say!)


    16 Jun 17 at 8:13 am

  7. My two cents:
    – that’s an understandable reaction to the profiles of the players drafted, but we honestly never know until the players get at least into their first full seasons. The earlier comments on the recent success of this scouting group and then the assessment after instructionals is spot on, imo. And While most of the pitchers do profile as relievers, Romero doesn’t (people are just saying he could help in the pen this year). I also think Boras must have strongly vouched for the kid, and to be honest, that’s worth something. He isn’t going to jeopardize his credibility with the Lerners for $100k (his expected cut of Romero’s contract).
    – how old is Murph when this contract ends, 34? I’d be willing to go another 3 years maybe, but not more. And I don’t know that gets it done.
    – let Gio’s next 1.5 years play out, I wouldn’t extend. He has been getting great results but it feels a bit smoke and mirrors. K’s down, BB’s up, velocity down. And in a related note, FIP suggests regression is coming. Sure great to have this uptick while Roark is up and down.

    Trade Robles for Osuna straight up, trade something not Kieboom or Soto off Hags for Madson, put Gio, Ross and Fedde in the pen for the playoffs and let ‘er fly!


    16 Jun 17 at 11:06 am

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