Nationals Arm Race

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

2019 CWS Super Regional Recaps, CWS Omaha field and performance of Nats draft picks



Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2019:

CWS Super Regionals were played this past weekend.

Super Regional Recaps:  I’ve got these ordered by they way they’ll be playing into the CWS field (i.e. by bracket, with former National seeds 1,8,5,4 in the top and 6,3,7,2 in the bottom).  And this is the order they’re listed on d1baseball’s Tourney Central, the quickest way to find results.

  • #1 UCLA vs Michigan: In the opener, Michigan shocked UCLA to win game 1 3-2.  Nats 8th rounder Jeremy Ydens went 0-3 playing RF and batting 7th.   UCLA scored one late to take game 2 and force the decider (Ydens batted 8th and went 2-3 with a walk).    Michigan proved game 1 was no upset by going and sweeping UCLA to advance to its first CWS since 1984.   A huge upset, not only having the tournament lose the #1 seed (a team that had basically been #1 the entire season), but an upset by a regional 3rd seed.  Nats pick Ydens did his part in the 2nd, going 3-4, batting 6th and playing RF in likely his final collegiate game.
  • #8 Texas Tech vs #9 Oklahoma State; TTU held serve in the opener, winning 8-6.  OSU returned the favor, winning game two 6-5 to force the Sunday decider.  In the final, an amazing back-and-forth game featuring these two very powerful lineups ended up with the host Texas Tech coming out on top to advance.
  • #5 Arkansas vs #12 Ole Miss: Arkansas held serve in the opener winning easily 11-2.  Nats draftee Matt Cronin did not see action, as Arkansas’ starter Isaiah Campbell nearly pitched a CG.  In game 2, Ole Miss reversed the score, trouncing Arkansas 13-5 to force the Monday decider (again, no Cronin appearance).  In the decider, Ole Miss scored in the first…then didn’t score again as Arkansas ran up the score to win 14-1.  Cronin pitched the 9th in the win.
  • Florida State vs #13 LSU; Florida State got to Lynchburg’s Zach Hess in the 8th to seal a come-from-behind victory in game 1.  Nats draftee Todd Peterson went 4 1/3rd middle relief innings, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits.  Nats 3rd rounder Drew Mendoza batted 3rd for FSU and went 0-2 with 3 walks.  In a scintillating Game 2, FSU held off an LSU come-back and Mendoza got a walk-off RBI-single in the 12th to complete the sweep and send Florida State back to the CWS.
  • Auburn vs #14 UNC; Auburn surprised UNC 11-7 in game one, and then UNC blanked Auburn 2-0 in game two to force the Monday decider.  In that decider, Auburn scored 13 runs (!!) in the first inning to end it before it started, eventually winning 13-7 to advance to its first CWS trip since 1997.
  • #6 Mississippi State  vs #11 Stanford; In Game 1, Mississippi State got to Stanford’s starter early and held on for the upset win in game 1.  Game two wasn’t close, and Mississippi State punched a ticket to Omaha.
  • #7 Louisville vs #10 ECU: In Game 1, Louisville got to Jake Agnos in the 4th for 4 runs … so ECU pulled him and the bullpen melted, with Louisville winning 14-1.  It wasn’t any prettier in game 2, with Louisville blanking ECU 12-0 to become the first team to punch their ticket.   A pretty amazing performance, winning two games over a top-10 team like ECU by the combined score of 26-1.
  • #2 Vanderbilt vs Duke: In the opener, Duke got a flabbergasting win, destroying Vanderbilt 18-5.  In game 2, Kumar Rocker, who was one of the top prep arms in the 2018 draft before falling out of the 1st round and heading to Vanderbilt, threw a 131-pitch, 19 strikeout no-hitter to win game 2 and force the decider.  In the final, Vanderbilt ran away with the win 13-2 and advanced to Omaha, where they’re likely the favorite.

My CWS Predictions vs Actuals:

Predicted: #1 UCLA, #8 Texas Tech, #12 Ole Miss, #13 LSU, Auburn, #6 Mississippi State, #7 Louisville, #2 Vanderbilt

Actuals: Michigan, #8 Texas Tech, #5 Arkansas, Florida State, Auburn, #6 Mississippi State, #7 Louisville, #2 Vanderbilt

I got the entire bottom bracket right, including the Auburn upset of host UNC.  Didn’t get much else right.


CWS Field and Profiles

Top Bracket: (records through Super-Regionals)

  • Michigan: 46-20, 16-7 Big 10.  2nd place Big-10 reg season, semis of Big-10 tourney, #3 regional seed.
  • #8 Texas Tech: 44-18, 16-8 Big-12.  Regular season champs, semis of Big-12 tourney
  • #5 Arkansas 46-18, 20-10 SEC.  SEC West division regular season co-champ, lost in qtrs of SEC tourney.
  • Florida State: 41-21, 17-13 ACC.  3rd Place, ACC Atlantic Division regular season, eliminated in pool play in tourney.

Bottom Bracket

  • Auburn: 38-26, 14-16 SEC.  6th in SEC West division regular season, eliminated in 2nd round of SEC tourney.
  • #6 Mississippi State: 51-13, 20-10 SEC.  SEC West division regular season co-champ, lost in qtrs of SEC tourney
  • #7 Louisville: 49-16, 21-9 ACC.  ACC Atlantic division regular season champ, eliminated in pool play in tourney.
  • #2 Vanderbilt: SEC East division regular season champ.  SEC tournament champ.

CWS field review by the numbers

  • SEC: 4
  • Pac12: 0
  • ACC: 2
  • Big12: 1
  • Big10: 1
  • National top 8 Seeds: 5
  • Regional Hosts (i.e. top 16 seeds): 6
  • First time programs: none

CWS Field thoughts

Lots of big time baseball programs here: Vanderbilt, Louisville, Florida State.  Half the field is SEC teams, fitting b/c 10 of them made the field of 64.

The field looks bottom heavy, with three National seeds advancing and three SEC teams competing with a tough ACC team.  in Regular season play, Mississippi State beat Auburn 2 of 3 and Auburn got swept by Vanderbilt (in addition to getting pounded 11-1 in the SEC tourney), so i’d guess Auburn is finishing last in this bracket.   Mississippi State and Vandy only played once; a 1-0 win by Vandy en route to their SEC tournament title.   The wildcard seems to be Louisville, who powered up to advance to the CWS but struggled when it had to play quality opponents (losing 2 of 3 versus UConn, Georgia Tech, Clemson, and UVA).  I think the bottom bracket goes Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Louisville, Auburn.

Meanwhile, the top features a couple of rather stunning upsets, with two regional #3 seeds advancing to the CWS.  Both the remaining seeded teams were stretched to three games in the Super Regional … though to me Texas Tech (despite being the lower seeded team) looked like the superior team.  Interestingly, Arkansas and Texas Tech also made last year’s CWS … and also faced each other in the group stage.  They also get the weakest team in Omaha first (Michigan).  I think the top bracket goes Texas Tech, Arkansas, Florida State and Michigan.

Quick predictions:

Final: Vanderbilt over Texas Tech.

Player Star power in this CWS: By team, here’s the top-end draft talents still playing.

  • Michigan: three picks in the first 3 rounds: two of their starters in Tommy Henry and Karl Kauffmann, plus CF Jordan Brewer in the 3rd.
  • #8 Texas Tech: 1st rounder and 8th overall Josh Jung, who was a monster in the Super Regional is the main draft talent.  TTU had 6 other players drafted in rounds 7 onward.
  • #5 Arkansas has two Comp-B round picks in OF Dominic Fletcher and senior starter Isaiah Campbell, in addition to the Nats 4th rounder Cronin.
  • Florida State: Nats 3rd rounder Mendoza, plus 4th rounder OF/closer J.C. Flowers along with an 8th and 9th rounder.

Bottom Bracket

  • Auburn: 5th rounder SS Will Holland, 7th rounder RHP Davis Daniel, and 3 lower round picks.
  • #6 Mississippi State: 1st rounder (28th overall) Ethan Small, 4th rounder Jake Mangum.
  • #7 Louisville: 5 guys in the top 7 rounds, including 2nd rounder 1B Logan Wyatt.
  • #2 Vanderbilt: no less than 13 drafted players, led by 4th overall pick J.J. Bleday.


Nats 2019 Draftees still playing in the CWS:

  • 3rd rounder Drew Mendoza will have his signing delayed a few more weeks; he’s the key slugger for FSU and will keep slugging in Omaha.
  • 4th rounder Matt Cronin got just 1 inning in the Super Regional.

College CWS tournament references:

13 Responses to '2019 CWS Super Regional Recaps, CWS Omaha field and performance of Nats draft picks'

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  1. Um, Mendoza’s a Boras client, so his signing was guaranteed to be delayed a few more weeks anyway . . . which is a built-in problem with drafting Boras clients.

    Overall, it’s an SEC world, and a southeastern world (4 SEC + 2 ACC), and certainly NOT a PAC-12, world despite the exalted rankings of UCLA and Oregon State.

    Sorry, but Rocker going 131 pitches is a black eye for college baseball, though. Shame on Tim Corbin.

    And yes, Auburn finished SIXTH in the SEC West, with a losing record in conference, but it made the CWS, and deservedly so, after embarrassing UNC twice on its home field, and eliminating Ga Tech on its home field before that. There are three SEC West teams in the CWS, and Arkansas eliminated another one to get there.


    11 Jun 19 at 8:45 am

  2. Auburn and florida State both were probably among the “last teams in” and both advanced all the way to Omaha. UCLA is pretty inexplicable for not being able to beat Michigan, at home.

    Yeah, i didn’t editorialize on Rocker’s accomplishment … it comes at an arm-jeopardizing 131 pitches. Luckily he does get 6 days rest, but the metrics do show that 120 pitches is really a dangerous limit. I dunno. On the one hand, if he had gotten pulled there would have been an uproar too. It was kind of damned if you do, damned if you don’t. the one thing you can say is this: its basically at the end of the season, so as long as he didn’t tear anything he can basically rest his arm after the CWS is over for months.

    Todd Boss

    11 Jun 19 at 10:48 am

  3. There’s a reason that the Nats, and I’m sure most other teams, don’t play their college arms much the year they are drafted. They’ve been abused pretty bad by coaches with no conscience.

    Mark L

    11 Jun 19 at 11:32 am

  4. I have no problem whatsoever condemning a manager for pushing a 19-year-old arm — or ANY arm — 131 pitches, all the more so for no pay, and in fact risking a potential paying career in the process. I’d condemn Dave Roberts for pushing Kershaw to 131 pitches in an NLCS game. I’d fire the Auburn Doubleday manager on the spot if Mason Denaburg (same age as Rocker) goes 131, or even over 100.

    Yes, I know Rocker is built like a horse. His father was and NFL defensive lineman. But it doesn’t matter. Size doesn’t make the ligaments in his arm any stronger. He’s got two more years to go before he can be drafted and cash a seven-figure check. It’s a ridiculous risk to take, no matter how dramatic the moment.

    FWIW, the Nats took two pitchers from Vandy in their top 10 picks last year. Schiller (3d round) has yet to surface this year. Pretty disappointing that a college 3d rounder isn’t considered ready for a full-season league . . . even on a pitch count (since he was already injured at Vandy).


    11 Jun 19 at 12:54 pm

  5. Related:

    James Andrews: “That’s why we’re seeing so many Tommy John procedures, which is an adult operation designed for professionals. In my practice now, 30 to 40 percent of the ones I’m doing are on high-schoolers, even down to ages 12 or 13. They’re already coming in with torn ligaments.”


    11 Jun 19 at 1:00 pm

  6. Todd, I’m curious if you’ve actually watched many of the games since the draft and have any hot takes on Mendoza, Peterson, and Ydens. (Hard to get much of a read on Cronin based on one game, although he may get more work in close contests in the CWS.)


    11 Jun 19 at 2:01 pm

  7. The Bats just signed their 10th round pick, Pratt, for $10,000. It’s tough being a senior signing.

    Mark L

    11 Jun 19 at 2:41 pm

  8. Mark, it’s not just the lowly $10K, it’s the insanely low minor-league salaries as well. The MAXIMUM minor-league salary for a first-year player is $1,075 a month:

    And people wonder why a couple of the Nats’ 2018 picks have already “retired” . . .

    Draft Tracker also showing Jackson Cluff (6th) signed for $200K, which is $66K under slot. They saved $134K on Pratt, so a nice round $200K saved on those two.


    11 Jun 19 at 3:01 pm

  9. With the big club, a massively important 11-game home stand starts tomorrow — four with the D-Backs, four with the Phils, and three with the Braves. The Nats’ 12-5 run has put them in striking distance, but -7 and trailing three teams still leaves a lot of uphill sledding. The head-to-head games with the Phils and Barves will be big.

    At least the team is now hitting, both individually and collectively. Dozier is no long a black hole in the lineup, Turner is fully back up to speed, and Rendon is the best he’s ever been. Not sure what tweaks Kevin Long has made behind the scenes, but they’re working.

    The starters are also rounding into form, with the notable exception of the suddenly struggling Corbin. It’s hard to get too excited about the bullpen yet, but it’s fair to say that it has sucked less. Tanner Rainey in particular is looking legit and is already getting 7th/8th inning action.

    So we’ll see how the next week and a half goes. With two teams sharing first place, I doubt that Nats will make up a huge chunk of games over this period, but they need to end it no worse than -5/-6 in the standings. If they hit a rough patch and slide back down to -10, the sell-off buzz is going to ramp up again.


    12 Jun 19 at 11:39 am

  10. Hot takes on nats draft picks that i’ve seen: just Mendoza. Stud at the plate. Big-game guy. No surprise he was so highly touted out of HS. Buuuuuut i think he’s headed to 1B in the pros; if he’s a 3B now, i’m wondering if he even has what it takes to play LF. So if he’s stuck goign to 1B … man he’s going to have to rake.

    Todd Boss

    13 Jun 19 at 11:02 am

  11. Todd Boss

    13 Jun 19 at 11:03 am


    20 Nats signed. From what I can assume from the post, they’ve signed every Sr they drafted, plus a slew of the 11-20th rounders. Also went over slot twice for juco guys, which is troubling b/c i’m not sure where they’re making that money up hoenstly.

    Todd Boss

    13 Jun 19 at 4:08 pm

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