Nationals Arm Race

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

2018 CWS tournament: Regional Results, Super-Regional Pairings



CWS coverage for 2018:

Now we’re through the Regionals and the field has been winnowed from 64 to just 16.

We’ll review the 16 regionals in order of the larger bracket.  Bold is the host and Bolded Red is the winner.  We’ll also highlight significant players and/or guys who are big names in the upcoming draft as we get to them.

It was a crazy set of regionals; by Sunday night only 6 of the 16 brackets were decided; a slew of regionals were forced to monday games (two weather delays involved).  And we saw one of the biggest upsets in recent memory.  Read on.

Regional Recaps

1. Florida region finish: Florida, FAU, Jacksonville, Columbia.  FAU gave #1 overall seed a scare, but ultimately lost in the final.  They did put a beat-down on Florida #2 Jackson Kowar, which may have cost him 25 slots in the draft.
16. NC State region finish: Auburn, NC State, Army, Northeastern.  #3 seed Northeastern does not do a good job defending critics of their getting an at-large bid.  NC State inexplicably loses to Army to open the regional and cannot overcome Auburn to lose on its home turf.

2. Stanford region finish: Cal-State Fullerton, Stanford, Baylor, Wright State.  The #2 overall national seed goes out to perennial power Fullerton, losing two close games.  Fullerton advances as a #3 regional seed, probably under-seeded when all is said and done, but Baylor really under-performed here.
15. Coastal Carolina region finish: Washington, UConn, Coastal Carolina, LIU-Brooklyn.   Host CCU out early; they lost to Washington in the winner’s bracket and then Leesburg’s Zack Hopeck gave them 5 solid innings in the elimination game but the bullpen fell apart against UConn.  Pac-12 Washington advances as the #3 regional seed.

3. Oregon State region finish: Oregon State, LSU, Northwestern State, San Diego State; surprise 2-and-out showing from the Mountain West champ.  Oregon State absolutely destroyed this regional, outscoring their opponents 35-4 in three games.  Look out for this team.
14. Minnesota region finish: Minnesota, UCLA, Gonzaga, Canisius.  Minnesota cruised through this regional.

4. Ole Miss region finish: Tennessee Tech, Ole Miss,  Missouri State, St. Louis; huge upset here, with tiny Tennessee Tech ousting the #4 national seed Ole Miss, coming back through the loser’s bracket and beating them in a double header to end the weekend.
13. Texas region finish: Texas, Indiana, TAMU, Texas Southern.  In the end, a chalk finish though Indiana worked their way through the loser’s bracket to get to the regional final before losing a close one.

5. Arkansas region finish: Arkansas, Dallas Baptist, Southern Miss, Oral Roberts; host Arkansas wasn’t pushed til the final, overcoming regional powerhouse Dallas Baptist to advance.
12. ECU region finish: South Carolina, UNC-W, ECU, Ohio State.  Another poor showing from the Big10 as #3 Ohio State falls to CAA team UNC-W in the elimination game.  UNC-W is no slouch team, but its still an upset.  They made the region final as a #4 seed before falling to the SEC power.

6. UNC region finish: UNC, Houston, Purdue, NC A&T: UNC won a slug-fest over regional powerhouse Houston 19-11 to advance.
11. Stetson region finish: Stetson, Oklahoma State, South Florida, Hartford; Stetson dominated this regional and looks like a tough out.

7. Florida State region finish: Mississippi State, Oklahoma, Samford, Florida State.  The #7 national seed goes 2-and-out in its own regional.  There was some talk about Fla State not being as deserving of a national seed as some of its other ACC brothers … but nobody expected this.
10. Clemson region finish: Vanderbilt, Clemson, St. Johns, Morehead State.  Tough regional puts two quality teams together, and the SEC powerhouse Vanderbilt advances.

8. Georgia region finish: Duke, Georgia, Troy, Campbell.  Duke came out of the loser’s bracket after a shock opening game loss to win the regional and send the national #8 seed home.
9. Texas Tech region finish: Texas Tech, Louisville Kent State, New Mexico State; this regional  goes exactly chalk, with Texas Tech never really troubled (it won its three games by 7,6,5).

Predictions versus Actuals

My Predictions: Florida, Auburn, Stanford, Coastal Carolina, Oregon State, Minnesota, Ole Miss, TAMU, Arkansas, South Carolina, UNC, Stetson,  Florida State, Clemson, Georgia, Texas Tech

Actuals; Florida, Auburn, Cal-State Fullerton, Washington,  Oregon State, Minnesota, Tennessee Tech, Texas, Arkansas, South Carolina, UNC, Stetson, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, Duke, Texas Tech

I got just 9 of 16 right.

Summary of Regionals statistically:

  • Just 8 of 16 hosts advanced.
  • Four of the 8 national seeds fell: #2 Stanford, #4 Ole Miss, #7 Florida State, #8 Georgia
  • #10, #12, #15 and #16 also fell: #10 Clemson, #12 ECU, #15 Coastal Carolina and #16 NC State.
  • 8 number one seeds, 6 number two seeds, 2 number three seeds, and 0 number four seeds advance to the super regionals.  
  • 1 number of #4 seeds who didn’t finish 4th in their regional; Northwestern State, Dallas Baptist (a strong #4),  Florida Atlantic, UNC-Wilmington, Kent State, Army, Wright State
  • 2: number of #4 seeds to get opening wins.  Army beat #1 seed NC State in the opener, Wright State (who beat Florida State in the opener)
  • Most surprising regional winner: Tennessee Tech, even though they were a #2 regional seed.
  • First time Super Regionalists: Tennessee Tech and Stetson.

Conference Breakdowns of the teams in the Super Regionals:

  • SEC: Florida, Auburn, Arkansas, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt
  • ACC: Duke, UNC
  • Big12: Texas Tech, Texas
  • Pac12: Oregon State, Washington
  • Big 10: Minnesota
  • Big West: Cal State Fullerton
  • Others: Tennessee Tech, Stetson

6 of the 16 remaining teams from the SEC; no other conference has more than two.  Interestingly though, all 6 SEC teams are matched up in the super regionals, guaranteeing 3 of the 8 CWS spots to be from the powerhouse conference.

Super Regional Matchups:  the higher ranked team is the host in each case.  I’ve organized this as they feed into CWS brackets, not 1-16 seeds.  In cases where neither ranked team advanced, the NCAA decides based on suitability of each site.  On 6/5/18 they announced the host sites and I’ve denoted them below.  Basically they decided to give the two more storied schools hosting duties.

  • #1 Florida vs Auburn
  • Duke vs #9 Texas Tech
  • #5 Arkansas vs South Carolina
  • Tennessee Tech vs #13 Texas
  • #3 Oregon State vs #14 Minnesota
  • #6 UNC  vs #11 Stetson
  • Mississippi State vs Vanderbilt (host)
  • Cal State Fullerton (host) vs Washington


Super Regional Thoughts/Predictions

  • #1 Florida vs Auburn: Florida took 2 of 3 at home against Auburn in the regular season, beating Casey Mize in the process.  
  • Duke vs #9 Texas Tech: Duke advanced while other, better ACC teams did not; I don’t know if they can top the powerful Texas Tech team.
  • #5 Arkansas vs South Carolina: Arkansas beat South Carolina in the SEC tourney opener; only time they played this year.
  • Tennessee Tech vs #13 Texas; Texas surprised me by coming out of a regional with an SEC team; you’d think they could overcome the tiny Tennessee Tech team.
  • #3 Oregon State vs #14 Minnesota.  Oregon State is my odds-on favorite to make the CWS final and Minnesota isn’t stopping them.
  • #6 UNC vs #11 Stetson: UNC is going to have to work for this one, as they likely get beat by Stetson’s ace Logan Gilbert on Friday.
  • Mississippi State vs Vanderbilt: Vandy swept Mississippi State on their turf late in the season, and probably sweep them this coming weekend.
  • Cal State Fullerton vs Washington; Fullerton just easily beat a better Pac-12 team in Stanford; do we think the 3rd place Pac-12 team is going to fare better?


Super Regional Star Power

Lots of top-end draft picks will be playing this weekend, just ahead of the MLB draft which starts on 6/12/17.  By Super Regional:

  • #1 Florida vs Auburn: #1 overall pick Casey Mize, top picks Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar, Jonathan India (#5 overall) from Florida.  Great pitching match-ups in here.  
  • Duke vs #9 Texas Tech: Griffin Conine
  • #5 Arkansas vs South Carolina
  • Tennessee Tech vs #13 Texas
  • #3 Oregon State vs #14 Minnesota; Nick Madrigal (#4 overall), plus 1st-day picks Trevor Larnach and Cayden Grenier on a stacked OSU team.
  • #6 UNC vs #11 Stetson: Stetson’s ace Logan Gilbert was #14 overall pick.
  • Mississippi State vs Vanderbilt
  • Cal State Fullerton vs Washington

CWS Predictions: Florida, Texas Tech, Arkansas, Texas, Oregon State, Stetson, Vanderbilt, CS-Fullerton

This would probably favor a Florida-Oregon State final from the initial look of it, though Oregon State’s draw is much, much deeper than Florida’s potential path.

College CWS tournament references:

30 Responses to '2018 CWS tournament: Regional Results, Super-Regional Pairings'

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  1. I guess we need to root for an early Vandy elimination so we can get our draft picks signed!


    6 Jun 18 at 11:56 am

  2. 11th rounder Frankie Bartow, a 6-3 U of Miami reliever who doesn’t strike out a lot of folks:

    Looks like he was the primary closer in ’17 but not in ’18.

    12th rounder Graham Lawson, a 6-1, 215, reliever from South Carolina:


    6 Jun 18 at 12:47 pm

  3. 13th rounder Cody Wilson, OF, FLA-Atlantic:

    Good power and speed, not great plate discipline.


    6 Jun 18 at 1:06 pm

  4. 14th round, Aaron Fletcher, another hefty lefty from U of Houton, this one we hope doesn’t have the need for weed:

    On paper, he looks promising. He became a starter as a senior this year and posted 2.19 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, albeit with a not-dominant 7.44 K/9. Four-year college ERA 2.09, 1.11 WHIP — very consistent.


    6 Jun 18 at 1:14 pm

  5. 15th round — Evan Lee, P-OF from ARK, draft-eligible SOPH drafted as a pitcher:


    6 Jun 18 at 1:24 pm

  6. Except for Lee, these guys largely profile as org guys, no? It would be nice to see a CC or prep guy or two


    6 Jun 18 at 1:33 pm

  7. You usually see the HS or JUCO guys they’re going to make a run at taken in the 11th or 12th. Can’t see any of the guys they’ve picked today commanding much bonus, probably indicating that Nats have little to none available to pay.

    Wilson and Fletcher look decent on paper.


    6 Jun 18 at 1:38 pm

  8. they have up to $100k for each without hitting their bonus pool, no?

    Plus, I’ve wondered whether you can tell a kid: I’ll give you $100K as a bonus, plus pay you $50k a year salary in the minors for 3 years. Essentially guaranteeing the kid $250k. Would that work under the CBA rules?


    6 Jun 18 at 1:40 pm

  9. 16th, Carson Teel, skinny lefty from OK ST:


    6 Jun 18 at 1:41 pm

  10. You may be right about the $100K; I’ve never completely understood the bonuses beyond the slots. You’re not going to buy out a decent HS or JUCO guy with $100K, though.


    6 Jun 18 at 1:42 pm

  11. 17th, Ridge Chapman, RH swingman from SC via JUCO:


    6 Jun 18 at 1:47 pm

  12. 18th, Jacob Rhinesmith, OF from WKU:

    Time to sign off on this for now.


    6 Jun 18 at 2:02 pm

  13. Yeah i’m kind of following along w/ the draft and writing a post instead of commenting 🙂

    Todd Boss

    6 Jun 18 at 2:47 pm

  14. KW, your boy Romero has finally been reinstated (and will join Hagerstown):

    Let’s see whether the time off did him any good.


    6 Jun 18 at 4:10 pm

  15. Let’s get him looking good enough to trade! I wonder what new draftee Aaron Fletcher thinks of him. Fletcher is big enough to beat some sense into him.


    6 Jun 18 at 7:54 pm

  16. Hey Wally — you wanted the Nats to go for a big HS kid. There ain’t none bigger than Cole Wilcox (37th round). Too bad they can’t just bid Wilcox off against Denaburg, as they’d lose Denaburg’s slot money if he doesn’t sign. No way in the world Wilcox signs, as they couldn’t squeeze all the pool money in the universe for that. (Apparently neither could any other team.) Sure would shock the baseball world if they did, though.

    For all the Nat picks:


    6 Jun 18 at 8:01 pm

  17. Wonderful news on Romero. The Nats trained him away from the spotlight, and he is bumped up a level. Can’t wait to see what he has.

    We still don’t know what happened in the spring. All we know is that he is back and being given a new challenge.

    The Nats draft is intriguing, but it’s all about who they actually sign. So


    6 Jun 18 at 8:52 pm

  18. Ah, c’mon KW. Why would Wilcox pass up $100k in guaranteed money?


    6 Jun 18 at 9:09 pm

  19. Just skimmed the list. They drafted a slew of young kids with their last 8 picks. If they could sign 1 or 2 of them, that would be cool.


    6 Jun 18 at 9:13 pm

  20. Any way to get Romero’s bonus voided and given to Wilcox? Sure would be nice!

    Romero is dead to me. I know the Nats have a lot of sunk costs in him, but how is anyone ever going to trust him? Wil Crowe signed, reported in shape, and played, and he’s ready to be promoted to Harrisburg, two levels ahead of where Romero is starting at Hagerstown. What a waste Romero has been. What a stupid pick by Rizzo, what a con job by Boras.


    7 Jun 18 at 8:19 am

  21. An Auburn Doubledays OF of Gage Canning, Cody Wilson, and Jacob Rhinesmith could be fun. I’m intrigued by all those guys. Don’t know whether any of them will hit as pros, but they’ve got good college track records.

    Also hope to see Eric Senior in the Auburn OF. He’s a toolsy JUCO pick from last year who got hurt early in the GCL season.


    7 Jun 18 at 8:23 am

  22. There are two separate questions vis-a-vis Romero, and it’s important not to conflate the two: (1) should the Nats have picked someone else in the first round last year? and (2) what do the Nats have in Romero as a player.

    I think it’s reasonable to conclude that the Nats made a mistake with the draft pick. It was a dangerous pick because of his behavior, and the fact that they paid him over slot is insane.

    We don’t have an answer to the second question. He had good peripherals in short-season ball last season and the scouting reports on his stuff are all pretty good. And, for me, there are degrees of knuckleheadedness. Getting busted for smoking pot as a college student is pretty damn close to the bottom of the list. Fighting a teammate is worse, but not by much. We don’t know what happened in Palm Beach (I seem to recall it had to do with curfews?). These are all signs of “immature” guy rather than “bad” guy. He can grow up. I’m not saying he will, but he certainly can. Maybe this latest stretch knocked some sense in to him.


    7 Jun 18 at 10:15 am

  23. New posting on the rest of the draft class soon but i liked Derek’s commentary here.

    so far, so bad on Romero; nobody is really surprised. But was this a case where the nats really took the BPA? I often wonder if the selection of Tanner Houck just before them last year really threw them for a loop. (Houck, btw has been awful this year in High-A).

    Here’s the 1st round in 2017. Just after Romero was taken you saw 2 HS position players (not exactly the Nats MO) and two Juco guys (again, not our MO of taking college arms from good programs). Then comes the two arms perhaps in the mix here: Alex Lange and Drew Rasmussen.
    – Lange was a guy we all liked, preferred, and unsurprisingly he’s been pretty darn good in high-A t his year.
    – Rasmussen didn’t sign (one of the few top 10 round picks to not sign last year) with Tampa in a dispute over his MRI … then it turned out he needed a second TJ last September and he missed this whole season. Still picked in the 6th in 2018 … wonder if he returns for a 5th college season instead.

    So, Yeah, looks like Lange over Romero was a mistake so far.

    Now. As Derek noted … where does Romero go from here? His scouting reports and talent seem unquestioned; two plus plus pitches, lefty, could be a fast mover, etc. We’ll see. Lets see how he does in low-A (which he should absolutely dominate … most 1st round starters are in high-A their first full season).

    Todd Boss

    7 Jun 18 at 10:38 am

  24. No one is yet speaking of the 3-1 DSL team (who made 8 errors yesterday) that has been fielding primarily all new international signees (the equivalent of pre-high school graduates into the Nats system). They are young, they are physically still developing, but the pitching and hitting has been impressive.

    And the fact of their being on the field raises the possibility of numerous promotions off the 2017 DSL Nats to US short leagues. Keep an eye out for Wilmer Perez, a heavy hitting 20 year old, and pitchers Alfonso Hernandez, an 18 year old Venezuelan lefthanded starter, and pitchers Joan Adon and Rafael Gomez. We’re always waiting for the next Rey Lopez flash.

    Any consideration of the draft and organizational depth has to account for the sheer volume of players the Nats are bringing in at the HS level. The arrival on the field of so many new talents (The Nats signed 29 just in 2017 alone) makes it easy to understand why investment in US high school draftees need only be selective and high-high end. When you can get a 17 year old with excellent tools for 150K, why throw 500K at an equivalent talent to keep him from going to college? Obviously the Nats know this, so I viewed their HS draftees, beyond the obvious marquee names (Wilcox and Denaburg) with interest.

    Also, the Nats predilection for pitchers from high end college programs, like their earlier trend to pedigreed players, demonstrates their growing to prefer players who have already been getting high end coaching, who compete in the big stage, and who may have been under-showcased because they are on teams with lots of talent on the staff.


    7 Jun 18 at 10:38 am

  25. That’s 29 underage signees on the international front from 2017 alone. Plus the 2017 draftees from the MLB June draft.

    It’s easy to see why college is the way to go, especially under the signing structure and bonuses allocated as they are.


    7 Jun 18 at 10:41 am

  26. Here is the 2017 1st round, with links to current stats:

    Todd really wanted the Nats to get Houck, who went to the Bosox the pick before the Nats. He has struggled, as have Little and Pearson, the JUCO arms taken after Romero. My guy was Lange, who has been excellent and looks ready for promotion to AA.

    I don’t particularly want to re-litigate the Romero stuff. Chelsea Janes has more this morning. Sounds like he was regularly blowing curfew in West Palm, was warned multiple times, but kept doing it. Can’t imagine what the guys who have scrapped for everything in their careers think of this prima donna.


    7 Jun 18 at 10:53 am

  27. Fore, when do we discuss the brutal truth about how much better Latin scouting and development has been doing than the domestic side?


    7 Jun 18 at 10:55 am

  28. KW, that’s no so clear as one would imagine.

    We are hearing a lot about the graduates like Difo. I cannot help but wonder whether there is something about the training academy setting and the character of the youth involved that simply make for better ballplayers overall. Players like Robles and Soto are scouting coups. But there have been busts as well — they just are not as expensive as the Rusney Castillo or even the Jake Johansen types.

    My issue, which I brought up and we discussed at length last year, has been the poor development of Nats position player prospects who are not first round picks. I can’t see that that has appreciably changed, but I’m willing to hold judgment while we see how the Potomac squad matures.

    BTW, I’m optimistic about Romero, even excited. He missed his curfew and they need to yank his chain, I get that. I support that. But Alan Iverson was famously insubordinate (“practice”), and he may have underachieved, but he still carved out an excellent career.


    7 Jun 18 at 11:30 am

  29. When you can sign high volume from all over a continent, it’s also a different setup from the more limited pool and with the boundaries of a US based draft system, as well as eligibility regulations.

    The Nats are using the rules to really feed the lower system well, and we are only starting to realize the benefits.

    Next year, the signing penalties come off, and I am sure they are already thinking about the 2019 class and the next Soto.


    7 Jun 18 at 11:33 am

  30. The Nats picked lots of juniors. It’s an interesting gamble . If you have more eligibility, you can roll the dice on improving your slot.

    On the other hand, if you are a high achiever and slot lower, you go from being able to get 100K and start a pro career with a great organization to possibly being a college senior and with no negotiating leverage, and walk away with 5K when your college major was athletics to begin with. I wonder if this is part of the Nats pitch this year…


    7 Jun 18 at 11:52 am

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