Nationals Arm Race

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

Pre-2015 Draft coverage; mocks and local players

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Swanson seems likely to be 1-1 pick. Photo by Joe Howell.

Swanson seems likely to be 1-1 pick. Photo by Joe Howell.

The MLB rule-4 (Amateur) draft starts on Monday 6/8/15 at 7pm.  See MLB Network for the best coverage.  Since we’re also going to be talking about prep regional results and CWS results early next week, I thought i’d get this draft coverage post out there.  This post has good links to use to see draft prospect rankings, then links to help cover the draft starting monday, then some blurbs on local players of interest, and then links to a bunch of mock drafts.

Draft Coverage so far at NAR for 2015:

Here’s a slew of Draft Prospect rankings : these are NOT the same as mock drafts; see further down for those.

Draft Links of importance

  • MLB.com Official 2015 Draft Central home page.
  • MLB’s Awesome Draft Tracker; you can slice and dice the draft 10 different ways, search by schools and home states, etc.
  • Official MLB 2015 Draft Order (Nats first pick is #58 well into the 2nd round, next #69, then #103, then #134 in the 4th round, and then 134+30 picks there-after.
  • Official Draft Bonus Pool totals.  Astros have $17M (most).  Nats have 3rd least at $4.1M.
  • MLB Draft Database
  • Fangraphs Sortable Draft Board; a great new tool Fangraphs has that lets you slice and dice their top draft board.
  • Baseball-Reference Draft Tools: links to their draft database plus some custom reports.

Now, some news about College Players with local ties

  • Nathan Kirby Lat strain Press Release: UVA’s ace Kirby, considered a mid-to-late 1st rounder, missed a huge chunk of the season with a Lat Strain.  If the cards fall right, he may be able to pitch UVA’s 3rd regional game.  MLB has him ranked #26, as does BA.
  • Mike Matuella, of Great Falls (Georgetown Prep) and Duke, remains a back-end of the 1st round draft prospect but is also rehabbing his own TJ surgery.  He has far less of a track record than other college arms, and may be a crap shoot in the draft.  MLB has him ranked #28, BA #23.
  • Taylor Clarke, who hails from Ashburn (Broad Run HS), was named the CAA pitcher of the year while putting up stellar numbers for the College of Charleston, a trendy underdog pick to reach the CWS.  MLB has him ranked #144, so that’s perhaps a 4th-5th rounder, while BA has him higher at #118.  Here’s a draft profile of him from scout.com.
  • Joe McCarthy, OF for UVA, missed most of the season with a back injury and then hit horribly after wards.  His draft stock has dropped from a supp-1st to probably the back end of the 2nd round.  MLB has him ranked #68, BA #46.
  • Josh Sborz got dumped out of UVA’s rotation but still is ranked #115 in MLB’s pre-draft rankings (projecting to a 3rd-4th rounder).
  • Brandon Waddell had a good season as UVA’s #2 starter … and MLB projects him as a 5th rounder at #163.  BA has him at #153.
  • University of Maryland’s two best draft prospects are Alex Robinson (MLB ranked #124) and Brandon Lowe (MLB ranked #148).  Robinson is #74 on BA’s top 500 list and Lowe is #98 on BA’s list.
  • Radford’s Michael Boyle has pushed his draft stock up with his team’s post-season performance; BA has him ranked #132, which puts him in the 4th-5th round.

Local Prep players of note:

  • Cody Morris, probably the best local player matriculating this year, had to undergo TJ surgery and likely scuttling his draft plans.  Luckily he had already taken a scholarship offer to South Carolina, where he will now presumably attend and rehab to get ready for the 2016 season.  BA still has him ranked #265 but the odds of a team taking him in the 8th round seem slim.
  • A.J. Lee of St. Johns earned his 2nd straight Gatorade DC player of the year award and remains committed to Maryland; I do not sense he is a significant draft prospect and will go to College.  He is not in BA’s top 500 prospects.
  • Ljay Newsome of Chopticon (south of Waldorf) made some noise with his stellar 3-A state final game; he has not picked a college and I wonder if he’s headed for the draft.  He is not in BA’s top 500 prospects.
  • Nic Enright of Steward HS in Richmond (2015 Gatorade player of the year) is signed to Va Tech but ranked #132 by MLB.  Will he sign if he gets 3rd round money?  BA’s got him ranked far lower; #230, in the range of draft rankings where it makes more sense for him to go to school.

Other players of interest to Nats fans:

  • Andrew Suarez, the Nats’ 2nd round pick of last year, had a decent if not spectacular senior season at Miami and may end up getting picked right in the same spot.  MLB has him #75, BA #73.
  • Austin Byler, the Nats’ 9th round pick of last year, is ranked #199 by MLB (but much higher at #115 by BA) putting him in the 7th round or so.  Not too much of an improvement over last year; his senior season was more of the same for him; lots of power, perhaps stuck at 1B so will really have to hit his way moving forward.
  • Skye Bolt, the Nats’ 26th round pick in 2012, had a great UNC career and is ranked #67 by MLB ahead of the draft.  BA has him a bit lower at #106.  Maybe the Nats can draft him again since this is right around where their first 2015 draft pick falls.

Mock Draft Guesses

Sometimes you just can’t help yourself.  I like mock drafts from writers I like.  Since the Nats don’t pick until midway through the 2nd round, there’s no point (like in years’ past) in trying to project the Nats pick.  So here’s some popular pundits and their mocks, with their top 5 predictions (Law = Espn, McDaniel = Fangraphs, Callis & Mayo = Mlb.com, Manual = Baseball America and Crawford = Baseball Prospectus)

  • Keith Law Mock #1: Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman, Dillon Tate, Brendan Rodgers, Kyle Tucker
  • Keith Law Mock #2: Swanson, Rodgers, Tyler Jay, Tate, Tucker
  • Keith Law Mock #3 (on ESPN podcast): Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • Keith Law final Mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Trenton Clark, Andrew Benintendi
  • Kiley McDaniel Mock #1: Swanson, Rodgers, Tate, Kyle Funkhouser, Daz Cameron
  • Kiley McDaniel Mock #2: Swanson, Rodgers, Jay, Bregman, Tucker
  • Kiley McDaniel Mock #3: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • Jim Callis Mock #1: Swanson, Rodgers, Jay, Cameron, Carson Fulmer
  • Jim Callis Mock #2: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Cameron, Tucker
  • Jim Callis: Final Mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Benintendi
  • Jonathan Mayo Mock #1: Tate, Rodgers, Swanson, Cameron, Fulmer
  • Jonathan Mayo Mock #2: Swanson, Rodgers, Jay, Cameron, Tate
  • Jonathan Mayo Final Mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Cameron, Tate
  • John Manual Mock #1: Tate, Swanson, Rodgers, Jon Harris, Tucker
  • John Manual Mock #2: Fulmer, Swanson, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • John Manual Mock #3: Jay, Swanson, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • John Manual Mock #4: Swanson, Bregman, Jay, Rodgers, Cameron
  • Jeff Ellis/Scout.com Final Mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • David Rawnsley/si.com final mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Cameron
  • Chris Crawford Mock #1: Garrett Whitley, Swanson, Rodgers, … the rest behind a pay-wall.
  • Ryan Sullivan/NatsGM final mock: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker
  • D1baseball.com Mock #1: Swanson … and the rest behind a pay-wall.
  • Jon Sickels/MinorLeagueBall Mock #1: Swanson, Bregman, Jay, Rodgers, Tucker
  • PerfectGame.org’s mock drafts and coverage now behind a pay-wall.

Todd Boss’ Mock draft?  Based on my vast level of expertise (sarcasm) and the thousands of man hours i’ve put in scouting players in person and cultivating industry sources (also sarcasm), I’ll take this as my guess for the top 5:

  1. Swanson: I think Swanson’s post-season hitting combined with his positional flexibility and the decline of all the upper-end college arms that have been mentioned in the conversation for 1-1 (First Aiken & Matuella, then Tate, then Funkhouser and Fulmer) has cemented Swanson’s spot at 1-1.  In other years, he’d be lucky to go in the top 10.  Not this year.  Arizona goes with the least risk; proven college hitter.
  2. Bregman: practically every connected pundit now has Bregman going 2nd.  Houston gets a sure thing and goes prep with #5.
  3. Rodgers: Houston hasn’t backed away from HS players before and get the best one, a SS with power, at #2.
  4. Tate: Tate’s regional performance pushed him back into this lofty level and he’s a better bet than Jay thanks to his reliever status all year.  Colorado likes college arms this high.  He makes the most sense.  If this pick isn’t Tate, its Jay.
  5. Tucker: practically everyone has Houston’s 2nd pick on Tucker, meaning they’re taking two upper-end prep talents.  Plus the Astros know the family; Kyle’s older brother Preston was a 7th round pick by Houston in 2012 and made his debut this year.  Makes too much sense.

So, just so you know, this guess matches the final mocks of Law, McDaniel and Ellis, and is nearly identical to the final mocks of a couple others.

This top 5 means some big time names are available 6-10.  Cameron, Jay, Fulmer, Clark and Harris could very well be in the next 4-5 guys picked.  Funkhouser seems to be slipping.  Also throw the likes of Andrew Benintendi, Tyler Stephenson, and Walker Buehler into the top 10 possible mix.

ACTUAL DRAFT Results added on 6/7/15: Swanson, Bregman, Rodgers, Tate, Tucker.  A number of the experts above had the top 5 pegged.  Yours truly … changed his prediction last minute to match the consensus and “got it right” too :-)

2015 CWS Regional Results and Super Regionals pairings

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Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2015:

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

College CWS tournament references:


We’ll review the 16 regionals in order of the national seeds.  Bold is the host city, Blue is the host team and 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 (MLBpipeline.com summarizes their top 200 ranked players here: i’ll just talk about the 1st round talents and players w/ local ties).

  1. In the Los Angeles regional (host: #1 seed UCLA), the big story wasn’t the tourney’s #1 overall seed, but lowly #3 seed Maryland, who upset SEC power Ole Miss and then handled the #1 team in the land 4-1 to advance to the regional final.  UCLA made its way through the loser’s bracket and beat Maryland on 5/31/15, setting up a winner-take-all game to advance on 6/1, but Maryland prevailed in a 2-1 nailbiter.  This sets up a most amazing super-regional matchup; read on.
  2. In the Baton Rouge regional (host: #2 seed LSU), #2 overall seed LSU breezed into the region final, where they beat UNC-Wilmington 2-0 to advance.  Players of note: likely upper 1st round pick Alex Bregman had a relatively quiet regional at the plate.
  3. In the Louisville regional (host: #3 seed Louisville), Louisville made quick work of this regional, winning 3 straight games to become one of the first teams to advance.  Ace Kyle Funkhouser was thrown, oddly, in the opener against tiny Morehead State and was good but not great (2ER in 7ip), another sign that his draft stock is falling.  Nonetheless, Louisville did not look stretched in this regional, beating Michigan 13-4 to advance.
  4. In the Gainesville regional (host: #4 seed Florida), Florida (who I thought could have been the #1 overall seed) made quick work of its regional, defeating each of the other 3 participants en route to a 2-1 victory over Florida Atlantic in the final.
  5. In the Coral Gables regional (host: #5 seed Miami), Miami seemed to be in control of the regional, but was stunned by Ivy league champ Columbia, who forced a winner-take-all game on 6/1.  In that final game, Columbia finally ran out of gas and Miami embarrassed the Ivy Leaguers 21-3.  Players of note: Miami’s ace (and Nats 2014 2nd round pick) Andrew Suarez threw 7innings of 2-run ball to get the win in the opener.
  6. In the Champaign regional (host: #6 seed Illinois), the host team cruised to the region final, where they face upstart Wright State on 6/1/15.  In the final, Illinois handled Wright State to advance.  Players of note: Illinois closer Tyler Jay,whose usage this season has been deplored by scouts, did not even appear in his team’s first two wins, each a complete game by the starter.  In the region final, he closed out the game and showed off his arm, giving up 1 hit and a walk in four innings of work.  Jay is projected as an upper 1st round pick and a future starter … why he’s not being used as such in college is beyond me.
  7. In the Fort Worth regional (host: #7 seed TCU), NC State upset the host team to make the region final, but TCU fought their way out of the losers brack and forced a deciding 6/1/15 game.  After forcing the winner-take-all game, TCU rallied from an 8-1 deficit in the 8th inning to force extra innings and win on a walk-off to advance to the super-regional in perhaps the tourney’s best game.
  8. In the Springfield regional (host: #8 seed Missouri State), Missouri State lived up to its national seeding by cruising through the regional without a loss.  Players of note: Missouri State Ace Jon Harris threw 8 innings of 1-run ball to get the win over Canisius in the opener.  Harris has quietly put together a strong year and looks to be a back-of-the first round pick.
  9. In the Stillwater regional, (host: #9 seed Oklahoma State), 2nd seeded Arkansas made quick work of the regional, with host Oklahoma State not even making the regional final.  The 4th seeded St. Johns team pushed Arkansas but ultimately lost 4-3.  Players of note: Arkansas projected 1st rounder Andrew Benintendi went 4-11 for the regional but took an o-fer in the regional final.
  10. In the College Station regional (host: #10 seed Texas A&M), California (whose baseball program was one step from the grave a few years ago) upset the host to make the regional final, but TAMU forced a deciding 6/1 game.  In that game, TAMU won a well played 3-1 game that had both sides wishing these two teams played more often. 
  11. In the Nashville regional (host: #11 seed Vanderbilt), Vanderbilt awaits local team Radford, who lost to Indiana early but got revenge to make the regional final.  In the final though, Radford ran out of gas and Vanderbilt advanced by the amazing score of 21-0.  Players of note: Carson Fulmer pitched 7 innings of 1-run ball in the opener for the victory, potential first overall pick Dansby Swanson connected for his 14th homer in the 2nd game, and Walker Buehler was removed after 5 innings thanks to his team’s 10-run 5th inning.  Note: most of Radford’s squad is VA-based; I’ve never covered players heading there since it isn’t a destination baseball program.  But tourneys like this can lift up a program’s credentials, so we’ll take note of Radford commits more closely going forward.
  12. In the Dallas regional (host: #12 seed Dallas Baptist), local entry VCU made some waves early by reaching the winners bracket final, taking out host Dallas Baptist and Oregon State easily.  The host team made its way back to the regional final and has to sweep a 6/1/15 double-header to advance.  DBU forced the winner-take-all game, but VCU outlasted them in the final to be the only #4 seed to advance t his year, and perhaps one of the most unlikely #4 seeds to win a regional in the tournament’s history.  Note:  VCU’s squad is a lot more national than I would have guessed, but do have some players with local ties.
  13. In the Tallahassee regional (host: #13 seed Florida State), College of Charleston had to sweep a 6/1 DH from the host to advance, but they couldn’t get going an Florida State advanced easily.  Player of note Taylor Clarke (Ashburn native and Broad Run HS grad) got hit hard in the opener against Auburn but did not factor in the decision.
  14. In the Fullerton regional (host: #14 seed Cal State-Fullerton), host Cal State-Fullerton pounded upstart Pepperdine 10-1 to win the regional in three straight games.
  15. In the Houston regional (host: #15 seed Houston), host Houston lost a 20-inning heartbreaker to city rival Rice to be eliminated; this was one of those games you see and cringe, because both teams had guys come out of the bullpen to throw 9 innings (as far as I can tell, both teams used mid-week starters, and did not have middle relievers suddenly throwing 110 of the highest leverage pitches of their lives).  Rice has to sweep Louisiana-Lafayette twice on 6/1 on about 6 hours of sleep in order to advance, but couldn’t even win the first, losing 5-2 to send the Rajun’ Cajuns to the super-regional.
  16. In the Lake Elsinore regional (host: #16 seed UC Santa Barbara), UVA showed how badly it was under-seeded by advancing to the final by taking two close games.   Connor Jones (Great Bridge HS in Chesapeake) gave up just 1 run in nearly 8 innings to win the opener and Brandon Waddell pitched even better to beat San Diego State.  The regional final was wild, with UVA scoring 3 in the 8th to tie it and then 5 in the 11th to win 14-10 over USC to advance.  In the 3rd game, UVA threw out all kinds of names familiar to readers here: Alec Bettinger (Hylton grad from Woodbridge) got the start but failed to record an out.  He was relieved by Tommy Doyle (Vienna VA, Flint Hill) relieved Bettinger and got the game to UVA’s middle relievers.  Josh Sborz finished all three wins off.  Joe McCarthy struggled on the weekend, going just 1-6 in the final.  Nathan Kirby remains sidelined but could return for the Super-Regionals, bad news for whoever they face.  Other players of note in the regional: Upper-1st round draft talent Dillon Tate had 11 strikeouts in 8 innings, but gave up 4 runs and was out-dueled by San Diego State’s Bubba Derby in what was likely his last amateur appearance.  UCSB was badly exposed, getting crushed in its loser’s bracket game and becoming the only seed to go 2-and-out.

Summary of Regionals statistically:

  • 11 of 16 hosts advanced, including 7 of 8 National seeds.  This is a far cry from 2014, which lost most of its national seeds early.  This tournament is setup to be much more “chalk” than in years’ past.
  • 5 = number of regionals forced into the “extra” deciding game.  Most of them were good; a couple were laughers.
  • 10 of the 16 regionals were extended to Monday games, some thanks to weather, some thanks to the regional getting extended to the “extra” deciding game.
  • 11 number one seeds, 1 number two seeds, 3 number three seeds and 1 unlikely number four seed (VCU) advanced to the supers.
  • 6 number of #4 seeds who didn’t finish 4th in their regional: lots of overseeded 2/3 seeds ended up going two-and-out.  In fact, three #4 seeds pushed their way to the regional final: VCU (who won), St. Johns and Pepperdine (clearly under-seeded).
  • 1 host that went 2-and-out: the clearly undeserving host UC Santa Barbara.  Now, they were the 16 seed, but college pundits howled at their selection as host over a team like College of Charleston.
  • 9 = the number of extra inning games, including the epic 20-inning Houston-Rice game and the NC State-TCU winner-take-all extra innings affair.
  • 6 of the regionals went pure chalk, a good indication of the job the seeding committee did this year.
  • Biggest upsets: Maryland over #1 overall seed UCLA is the clear big-time upset.   Arkansas beating #9 Oklahoma State (who some thought should have been a national seed) probably was the 2nd biggest upset.
  • Most surprising regional winner:  VCU, who becomes just the 5th #4 seed to advance out of a regional since the field expanded to 64 in 1999.  But VCU is the most surprising team; the other #4 teams who advanced at least had prospects.
  • My Predictions: I was wrong about Illinois and Missouri State but was right about TCU struggling to get by NC State.  I was right in saying the rest of the national seeds should win but wrong on UCLA; nobody saw that coming.  In the 9-16s, I was right about UC Santa Barbara, wrong on Fullerton and right about Dallas Baptist … just wrong on which team was going to win.

Conference Breakdowns of the teams in the Super Regionals:

  • 4 ACC teams (out of 7 that made full field).
  • 5 SEC teams (out of 7 that made full field).
  • 2 Big-10 teams (out of 6 that made the full field).
  • 0 Pac-12 teams (out of 5 that made full field).  Per the d1baseball post above, this is the first time since the 64-team expansion that a Pac-12 team failed to make the super-regional field.  In fact, there’s just one team west of Texas in the super-regional (Cal State-Fullerton), who will be a big underdog at Louisville.  For me, this confirms what I’ve often thought; Pac12 baseball tends to get overrated.
  • The remaining 5 super-regional teams are from one-bid conferences: TCU, Missouri State, Fullerton, Louisiana-Lafayette and VCU.

Its clearly an ACC/SEC kind of year.

 


Super Regional MatchupsThe super-regional hosts were announced just after the last regional ended.

  • Maryland at UVA (guaranteeing at least one non-top 16 seed makes the CWS this year)
  • #2 LSU vs Louisiana-Lafayette
  • #3 Louisville vs #14 Cal State-Fullerton
  • #4 Florida vs #13 Florida State
  • #5 Miami vs VCU
  • #6 Illinois vs #11 Vanderbilt
  • #7 TCU vs #10 Texas A&M
  • #8 Missouri State at Arkansas

Super Regional Thoughts:

What an amazing set of circumstances: our two local teams (UVA and UMD) both fly 3,000 across the country to … setup a repeat of last year’s UVA-held super regional.  Who would have thought.  I’m not quite sure why Arkansas gets to host over national seed Missouri State; that’s got to be a point of contention for that deserving program.  Three great intra-state matchups featuring great teams from Florida, Louisiana and Texas.   The super-regionals could be pretty fun.

Predictions:

UVA gets Kirby back and holds off Maryland.  LSU and Louisville cruise.  Florida outclasses the over-achieving Florida State rival.  Miami pounds the “just happy to be here” VCU team.  Vanderbilt “upsets” by seed Illinois, who can’t handle the talent level Vandy puts out.  Texas A&M beats TCU and Missouri State blasts Arkansas after being insulted by losing hosting rights as a national seed.

 

Prep Baseball Update 2015: Maryland State Champs, Northern VA District Champs crowned

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When we last checked in with Prep Baseball in Mid May,  Maryland was through its regionals, the private schools were mostly done, DC was still finishing the regular season, and Virginia was just starting up its District (aka “Conference”) tournaments.  Lets see where we stand now after the Memorial Day weekend and a slew of tournament results.

Text in Red are pending results, mostly from the southern Virginia districts and regionals, which don’t have to start as soon as Northern Virginia tourneys.


Virginia

Here are the Virginia Conference champions, regular season and tournament.  All these playoff brackets, if they exist, are at this link at VHSL.  I won’t re-link all the playoff brackets per district/region below.

6-A North Region

  • 6-A Conference 5/Concorde: Chantilly regular season champ.  Seeds held to form in the district tourney and Chantilly met Oakton in the district final.  Chantilly beat Oakton 2-1 to take the district title.
  • 6-A Conference 6/Liberty: McLean regular season champ.  #5 seed Fairfax upset McLean to make the District final, where they met Madison.  In the district final, Madison avenged an earlier loss to Fairfax to win 2-0 at home to take the title.
  • 6-A Conference 7/Potomac: Lake Braddock regular season champ.  #2 and #3 seeds Annandale and West Potomac were both upset and knocked out of Regional competition.  Lake Braddock met #6 seed South County in the district final and beat them easily 12-4 to win the title.
  • 6-A Conference 8/Cedar Run: Patriot regular season champ.  Battlefield had to forfeit its semi-final win over pitcher innings/pitch count limits, so Osbourn Park made the district final, where it subsequently beat Patriot in extras to win an unlikely district title.  Battlefield’s forfeit was absurd; their starter Jake Agnos struck out 21 *straight batters* in the 6-1 victory … and then resulted in a forfeit loss.  Agnos gave up a lead-off homer … and then retired the next 21 guys he faced.  I’ve never heard of such a feat.

6-A North Regional Qualifiers (in seed order).  Here’s the 6-A North bracket.  Play begins 5/29/15.

  • Conference 5/Concorde: Chantilly, Oakton, Herndon, Centreville
  • Conference 6/Liberty: Madison, Fairfax, McLean, South Lakes
  • Conference 7/Potomac: Lake Braddock, South County, West Springfield, TC Williams
  • Conference 8/Cedar Run: Patriot, Osborne Park, Battlefield, Stonewall Jackson

Quick predictions for 6-A North regional tourney: I like Madison, Oakton, Patriot and Battlefield, since they were basically the best 6-A teams all year.  But do not count out Chantilly or McLean.  Thanks to their district forfeit, Battlefield drops to a #3 regional seed and a headache for a higher seeded team.  And McLean’s upset loss dumps them to a #3 seed as well in the region, despite besting perhaps the best 6-A baseball district in the regular season.  With the draws out, Battlefield faces Oakton in the first round, which is tough.  If seeds hold it’ll be Lake Braddock-Madison and Patriot-Chantilly in the regional semis.

6-A South Region: which is mostly big-time schools in Richmond, Roanoke and Virginia Beach area.  But there are just enough schools in Woodbridge proper to form a 6-A conference closer to DC with teams that are typically considered for All-Met rankings.  Because 6-A’s regional is only 8 teams, their district tournaments are not yet complete as of the time of this posting.

  • 6-A Conference 1/Coastal: First Colonial (aka Mark Reynolds‘ alma mater) regular season champs.  They were upset in the districts but still qualify for the regionals.  In the district final, Cox claimed the second regional birth with a win over Ocean Lakes.
  • 6-A Conference 2/Monitor Merrimac: Western Branch regular season champ.  However #2 Grassfield got them in the district tourney final.
  • 6-A Conference 3: Franklin County (Rocky Mount, south of Roanoke) regular season champ.  In the district tourney #5 seed Cosby scored three straight upsets to claim the district title, beating Thomas Dale in the final.  Cosby made the State semis last year and is looking to get back after an up-and-down regular season.
  • 6-A Conference 4: Forest Park (Woodbridge) regular season champ.  Forest Park also won the district tournament, beating Colonial Forge 10-2 in the final.  Colonial Forge had upset #2 seed and perennial powerhouse Hylton in the district tourney semis to claim the 2nd regional berth.

6-A South Regional Qualifiers (district finals 5/29/15)

  • 6-A Conference 1/Coastal:  First Colonial, Cox
  • 6-A Conference 2/Monitor Merrimac: Western Branch, Grassfield
  • 6-A Conference 3: Cosby, Thomas Dale
  • 6-A Conference 4: Forest Park, Colonial Forge

Quick predictions for 6-A South regional tourney: Western Branch is the only team in the state getting national attention, and they’re ranked #1 in the Hampton paper’s local rankings.  So I look for them to claw their way to the state tournament.


5-A North Region

  • 5-A Conference 13/Capitol: Marshall regular season champ.  Seeds held to form (with Marshall beating Lee by the astounding score of 21-0 in the district semis), and Marshall met Edison in the final.  In that final Marshall beat Edison 4-1 for its 10th straight win.
  • 5-A Conference 14: Stone Bridge (Ashburn) regular season champ.  In the playoffs, 1/2 met in the final and Stone Bridge beat Broad Run for the district title.  In the 3rd place game, Briar Woods grabbed the 3rd regional bid.
  • 5-A Conference 15: Mountain View (Stafford) regular season champ.  In the playoffs Mountain View and Potomac (Dumfries) met in the finals, where Mountain View pulverized them 10-0.  In the 3rd place game, North Stafford easily grabbed the 3rd regional bid.
  • 5-A Conference 16: Halifax County regular season champ.  They met #2 seed Patrick Henry in the final and Patrick Henry upset Halifax for the district title.

5-A North Regional Qualifiers (in seed order): 5-A North regional bracket here.  Play begins on 5/29/15.

  • Conference 13/Capitol: Marshall, Edison, Stuart, Lee
  • Conference 14: Stone Bridge, Broad Run, Briar Woods
  • Conference 15: Mountain View, Potomac, North Stafford
  • Conference 16: Patrick Henry, Halifax County

Quick predictions for 5-A North regional tourney: I like Stone Bridge to repeat, Marshall could be a challenger.  They are on opposite sides of the draw and could both make the regional final.  But non-DC area teams like Patrick Henry and Mountain View could be challengers.

5-A South Region

  • 5-A Conference 9/Atlantic: Kellam (in Virginia Beach, aka Ryan Zimmerman‘s alma mater) regular season champ.  Kellam was upset in the district tournament, with Princess Anne claiming the 2nd regional berth by winning the tourney.
  • 5-A Conference 10/PenSouth: Hickory (Chesapeake) regular season champ (also defending 5-A state champ).  Hickory advanced to the district final along with Menchville, who upset 2nd seeded Great Bridge along the way, before Hickory claimed the district tourney as well.
  • 5-A Conference 11: Deep Run (Glen Allen/Northern Richmond suburb) regular season champ (Freeman, last year’s 5-A state finalist, was 2nd in the district).  The two teams met in the final with Deep Run getting the double.
  • 5-A Conference 12: Manchester (Midlothian/Southern Richmond suburb) regular season champ.  Clover Hill took the district title and the #1 seed in the regionals.

5-A South Regional Qualifiers (in seed order): (district finals 5/29/15)

  • Conference 9/Atlantic: Kellam, Princess Anne
  • Conference 10/PenSouth: Hickory, Menchville
  • Conference 11: Deep Run, Freeman
  • Conference 12: Clover Hill, Manchester

 

Quick thoughts: hard not to believe in the pedigree of Hickory and Freeman; I fully expect them to meet in the regional final.


Smaller Virginia Classifications with Northern Virginia ties.

4-A North:

  • 4-A conference 21: Woodgrove regular season champ.   Woodgrove also won the tourney, beating Sherando in the district final (both teams move to the 4-A North Regional). 
  • 4-A Conference 22: Fauquier regular season champ and tourney champ, beating Eastern View in the final.

3-A East Region

  • 3-A Conference 27: Kettle Run regular season champ, Culpepper #2.  They met in the tourney final as well, with Kettle Run taking both regular and post-season district titles.
  • 3-A Conference 28: Loudoun Valley (regularly in the AllMet top 10 rankings) regular season champ.  They also took the post-season tourney, beating #2 seed John Champe in the final.

2-A East Region

  • 2-A Conference 35: Strasburg continues its local dominance, winning the district again.  Falls Church’s George Mason (easily the smallest public high school in the Northern Virginia suburbs) was the #3 district seed but advanced to the district finals to face Strasburg.  Strasburg took the tourney final, but George Mason advances to the regional tournament.

 


Maryland

Here’s the state finals results in Maryland, played the week of 5/18/15  Brackets here at the MPSAA website.

  • 4-A States: State Semis were Perry Hall v Severna Park, Gaithersburg-Wise.  Severna Park and Gaithersburg each dominated their state semi to force a high-powered showdown of good teams in the 4-A final.  In that final, Gaithersburg beat Severna Park 5-3 at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen for its first ever state baseball title.
  • 3-A States: State semi finalists were North Harford (Plyville in North Maryland), Mt. Hebron in Ellicott City, Chopticon (way down in St. Mary’s county) and Urbana (just south of Frederick).  In the state-semis, Mt. Hebron and Chopticon won close games to make the final.  In the final, Chopticon’s ace Ljay Newsome threw a complete game 1-hitter with 17 strikeouts to win the title 1-0.
  • 2-A States: State semi finalists: Eastern Tech, Patterson Mill, South Carroll and last  year’s champ Southern.  Eastern Tech and Southern each won 1-run games to make the 2-A final.  In the final, Southern beat Eastern Tech 6-1 to repeat as 2-A champs.
  • 1-A States: State semi finalists: McDonough, Colonel Richardson, Douglass and Brunswick make up this year’s 1-A state semis (mostly smaller schools outside the DC area).  In the state semis, McDonough will face off against the tough-looking Brunswick team.  Brunswick won the title 4-0.

A quick list of past Maryland State champions by division:

The Maryland public high school seasons are now complete.


DC Public Schools/DCIAA:

  • DCIAA: Wilson won its 23rd consecutive DCIAA regular season title, extending its city league winning streak in the process.  DCIAA tournament runs through 6/3/15.
  • DCSAA: the 2015 tournament is underway, with the final scheduled for Nats park on 5/31/15.  Gonzaga is the #1 seed and Wilson the #2.  Curiously missing is St. Johns, who won the WCAC and is DC-based.  St. Albans upset Wilson in the semis to face Gonzaga in the final.

Private Leagues: WCAC/MAC/IAC and VISAA/Maryland Private

Most private schools’ seasons are now complete.

Speaking of Liberty Christian … apparently the school had an open lawsuit against the Virginia High School League (VHSL) regarding membership, and the VHSL settled on 5/20/15.  The implication?  Quoting the link, “all non-boarding private schools in Virginia will be permitted to apply for membership in the VHSL.”   Liberty Christian Academy will now join the 4-A conference 23 (which covers the Lynchburg and Charlottesville area) and can compete for state titles in all sports.

I wonder if this ruling will lead to the various private schools in the Northern Virginia Area (including typical sports powerhouses such as Paul VI, O’Connell, Flint Hill, Bishop Ireton, etc) leaving the WCAC and joining the public schools.  I doubt it frankly; even the largest of these schools would be dwarfed by the 5-A and 6-A enrollment public high schools, and the WCAC is a fantastic league.  InsideNova had a piece on the topic quoting several area ADs of private schools (including Paul VI’s Billy Emerson, a class-mate and longtime teammate of mine), who think perhaps this ruling makes it easier for teams to schedule public opponents … but doubts any league changes will occur with DC-area teams thanks to the strength of the private school leagues here.


Local and National High School Baseball Ranking Lists:

  • Washington Post All Met Sports latest Baseball top 10: ?? date: Spalding, Gaithersburg 1-2, then Oakton, Madison, and Battlefield.  Stone Bridge 8th despite a win over Madison in Vienna.
  • Baltimore Sun Rankings page : dated 5/25/15: They also have Spalding #1, then Calvert Hall, St. Marys, 4-A finalist Severna Park and then 3-A finalist Mt. Hebron.  Reservoir 6th.
  • Hampton Roads Baseball top 10 page: dated 5/19/15: Western Branch #1, then Grassfield & Hickory.
  • Baseball America’s High School top 25 (most recent ranking 5/5/15): no DC/MD/VA teams listed.
  • USA Today High School top 25 (most recent ranking 5/20/15): Western Branch closest to top-25, ranked 26th.  Spalding (both Washington Post’s and Baltimore Sun’s #1 team) ranked 42nd nationally.
  • USA Today’s Virginia-only rankings: no longer seem to be in existence.
  • MaxPreps top 25/top 50 lists, which has a hand-picked and a computer/power ranking list.  5/24/15 rankings.  No DC/MD/VA teams in MaxPrep’s “Excellent 50.”  Highest ranked teams in the area are Liberty Christina (#55), Western Branch (#67), Turner Ashby (#72).  Chopticon and Spalding are in the 75-100 range.

Resources:

  • Washington Post’s AllMetSports section with standings and schedule results.
  • InsideNova.com‘s coverage of high school sports, but has put limits on the number of stories you can read.
  • The Connection family of newspapers has a sports section that is rarely updated, but it does do some coverage.
  • MaxPreps.com also has some non-paywall HS information that comes in handy too.
  • Nvdaily.com (Strasburg) has some results for some of the teams in the smaller conferences/outskirts of DC, generally in the Strasburg area.
  • WinchesterStar (Winchester) has results for Winchester teams but its pay-only.
  • The Daily Progress (Culpeper local paper) also has some scores for schools in its areas.
  • Fredericksburg.com has some local coverage of Fredericksburg and Woodbridge teams.
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch has a HS scoreboard.
  • Hampton Roads Pilot (Hampton Roads) has scores for teams in the Chesapeake/Norfolk/Va Beach area.
  • The Baltimore Sun’s high school page has information on some of the programs outside the DC area mentioned in the Maryland section
  • I use perfectgame.org to look up high-end HS prospects.
  • VHSL’s and MPSSAA home pages for playoff brackets and updates for VA and MD respectively.

 

Written by Todd Boss

May 28th, 2015 at 9:04 am

2015 CWS Field of 64 announced; teams and analysis

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CWS 2014 logo

Soon after the conference tourneys finished up, the field of 64 was announced.  Earlier this week we reviewed the college season for all DC local teams; now lets talk about the field of 64.

This post at d1baseball.com has a great amount of information.  Here’s your top 16 seeds (each a regional host).

  1. UCLA (42-14); Pac-12 regular season champ (no post-season tourney)
  2. LSU (48-10); SEC Western Division regular season champ
  3. Louisville (43-16): ACC Atlantic Division regular season champ
  4. Florida (44-16): 2nd place, SEC Eastern division, SEC tourney champs
  5. Miami (Florida) (44-14): ACC Coastal Division regular season champ
  6. Illinois (47-8-1); Big10 regular season champ (21-1 in conference record),
  7. TCU (43-11): Big12 regular season champion
  8. Missouri State (45-10): MVC regular season and tourney champs.
  9. Oklahoma State
  10. Texas A&M
  11. Vanderbilt
  12. Dallas Baptist
  13. Florida State
  14. Cal-State Fullerton
  15. Houston
  16. UC Santa Barbara

Top8 thoughts:  in no particular order

  • I don’t think UCLA is better than the handful of teams ranked below it.  They played just 8 games against top 25 teams all year and went 4-4 in them.  Teams from the SEC and the Big12 played twice as many quality games and had far better records.
  • For my money, I would have picked one of the SEC teams, likely LSU, as my #1.  And I would have had the other (Florida) as #2.
  • Louisville seems about where they should be … and were given a very, very easy regional.
  • I don’t know what to think of Miami or Dallas Baptist (the top two teams by RPI most of the year).  Miami’s ACC division was weak but Miami played a very tough schedule.  Are they under seeded or over seeded?  Either way, Miami was given a very easy regional and these two RPI wonders (if seeds hold) are set to meet in the super-regional.
  • Illinois will be quickly exposed despite their lofty record (Strength of schedule: 175!).  They have a sneaky #2 seed in Notre Dame in their regional for an interesting geographical matchup.
  • Missouri State is a good story, but unlike their basketball breatheren I think MVC’s participants will also get exposed.

Seeds 9-16: still regional hosts but will travel if the higher seed wins.

  • TAMU is a heck of a good team; i’d favor them over Missouri State in a super regional.
  • Florida State played the 6th hardest schedule and had a 10-6 record against top 25 teams; and they’re just#13 overall?   And, to add insult to injury they have to travel to arch rival Florida in a super-regional to advance?  Wow.  Someone at Florida State must have pissed off a committee member.  That being said, pundits seem to think Florida State is chronically over-rated (as are teams like Rice and Cal State Fullerton), so perhaps 13 seed is good.
  • Houston’s regional is a fun one: three teams within Houston city limits.
  • Is UC Santa Barbara more than just Dillon Tate?  We’ll find out.
  • Lots of griping about the selection of UC Santa Barbara as a “host.”  Instead of playing on-campus, they’re hosting 3 hours away at the Lake Elsinore stadium (host of the Padres’ high-A affiliate).  Lots of people asking why not name College of Charleston as the host and then have UVA and Maryland be its 2/3 seeds, instead of forcing the two east coast teams to fly across the country?

Local teams and teams of interest in the draw with comments:

  • Maryland, a #3 seed, travels to Los Angeles to be in the #1 seed’s division.  Tough draw for them.  But probably appropriate seeding.  Pundits think Maryland was one of the last teams in.
  • UVA, also gets a #3 seed and has to travel to Santa Barbara.  UVA is not a #3 seed; they had worked their way back to the fringes of the top 25 by season’s end, and in RPI they finished #21.  That’s the upper end of the #2 seeds, not a #3 seed who is forced to travel 3,000 miles.  Now that being said, they get a very winnable regional.  UC Santa Barbara may only have one arm and USC is about even with UVA.
  • College of Charleston (and Ashburn’s Taylor Clarke) get a #2 seed (well deserved; they were almost a  host) but have to go to Florida State (tough).  See commentary above.
  • VCU heads to Dallas for Dallas Baptist’s regional, which also has traditional powerhouse Texas thrown in as a #3 seed.  Ouch.
  • Radford gets a #2 seed (??) but heads to Vanderbilt’s regional, who I have as a dark horse to make the CWS.
  • UNC got screwed; probably the last team out.  Ask yourself; do you think UNC loses to Maryland in a three-game neutral site series?  Yeah, I don’t think so either.  RPI of 28 and left out; that’s apparently the 2nd highest RPI of a team left out in a decade.  7th hardest schedule.  But if you look at the ACC standings … every team that finished with a .500 or better conference record made the field, and every other team did not.  UNC’s conference record?  13-16.  If they don’t get swept in their last two conference seasons, they’re in the field.

Predictions?

  • Of the top 8 hosts, I don’t see many upsets.  I could see Notre Dame taking out #6 Illinois.  I could see NC State giving #7 TCU issues.  I’d also say that Missouri State is in trouble .. but their 2/3 seeds don’t seem to scare anyone (Iowa and Oregon).
  • Of the 9-16 seeds, I can see Cal State Fullerton getting into trouble, and I could see a scenario where practically anyone could come out of the Santa Barbara regional.  I’m not sure I think Dallas Baptist is good enough to beat two power-houses in Oregon State and Texas.

 

Written by Todd Boss

May 27th, 2015 at 9:03 am

Posted in College/CWS

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College Baseball Regular Season wrap-up; local team season summaries

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Our first 2015 College Baseball post.  All the Division 1 conference tournaments wrapped up over the memorial day weekend, so lets wrap up how our local teams did.  We’re writing this post ahead of the regional seedings and the CWS field of 64 announcement.

We depend on d1baseball.com primarily for coverage of Division 1 Baseball.  Other useful sites include Warren Nolan’s college baseball RPIs and BaseballAmerica’s college coverage.


ACC (local interests: UVA, Virginia Tech).

UVA had a tough season; it started the season ranked in the top 3 by most charts after finishing as national runner-up last year.  Then they lost their best hitter (Joe McCarthy) for half the season, and then lost their ace (Nathan Kirby) for the second half.  They swept UVA in their final series of the season to salvage a .500 league record, good enough for 2nd place in their division but not enough to avoid the play-in game.  They won the play-in to make the ACC tournament, but went 0-3 in pool play.  They are on the outskirts of the top 25 and will make the CWS field, but will not host a regional.    Lots of well-known names to this blog and the Virginia area contributed for UVA this season: here’s a link to their season stats.  UVA finishes with a 34-22 (15-15) record.

Virginia Tech finished just a couple of games behind UVA in the standings, but were no where near the quality.  They were eliminated by UNC in the play-in game.  Final record: 27-27 (13-16).

Of note in the ACC this year to local fans: Stone Bridge alum J.B. Bukauskas was 5-3 with a 4.09 ERA for UNC this year.  He was a weekend starter as a freshman, led the team in starts, got their only win in the ACC tournament, and was named to the All-ACC freshman team.  Duke Ace, Georgetown Prep alum and Great Falls resident Mike Matuella went from being talked as a 1-1 pick to undergoing Tommy John surgery.  Draft pundits still give him a shot of going in the back end of the first round in the draft.  Nats 2014 2nd round pick Andrew Suarez went back to Miami and served as Miami’s saturday starter, going 6-1 with a 3.09 ERA for the nation’s top ranked team by RPI.  Suarez likely hasn’t improved his draft stock that much, still projected as a 2nd rounder.


Atlantic-10 (Local interests George Mason, George Washington, Richmond and VCU)

The A-10 tournament, unbeknownst to me until I looked it up for this post, was at Barcroft field in Arlington.  Grr.  GW’s home field.  I certainly would have made an effort to go had I known.  Anyway; GWU hung on as the #6 seed until the semis.   Richmond was the #3 seed and was eliminated early by GW.  VCU as the #5 seed eventually won the A-10, battering their way through conference rivals.  GMU finished just outside the qualification rankings to make the post-season conference tournament.


Big South (Local interests: VA schools Liberty, Radford, and Longwood)

Longwood was the #8 seed, losing early in the post-season tournament.  Liberty was the #4 seed and was eliminated by Longwood.    However Radford entered the tourney as the #1 seed and outlasted several very good baseball programs to win the tournament and clinch their first ever CWS appearance.


Big-10: (Local interest: Maryland)

Does it sound weird to talk about how Maryland makes the Big-10 conference tournament a “local” tournament?   Maryland made the final as the #3 seed before falling to the upset-minded Michigan team.


Big East (local interest: Georgetown)

Georgetown went 2 and out as the #4 seed in the Big East tourney.


Colonial Athletic Association (local interests: JMU, William & Mary and Towson)

Towson and JMU both had down years and didn’t qualify for the post-season tournament.  W&M did, but were 2- and out as the #6 seed.  The CAA came down to 1-2, with 2nd seeded UNC-Wilmington beating #1 seed College of Charleston.

Of note, College of Charleston was ranked most of the year and was led on the hill by friday ace starter Taylor Clarke.  Clarke was 13-1 with a 1.34ERA on the season.  Clarke hails from Ashburn and went to Broad Run and then Towson before transferring to CofC and becoming a star.


Conference USA: Local team Old Dominion

ODU was the #7 seed in the C-USA tourney and went 2-and out.


MEAC:  (Local teams UMES and Norfolk State):

Both teams made the post-season but did not factor in the final.


Patriot: (local interest: Navy)

Navy entered the post-season tourney as the #1 seed but lost in the final to #2 seed Lehigh.

The big news for Navy this year is the matriculation of a Navy grad to the majors for the first time in nearly a century.  RHP Mitch Harris also has some very personal ties: he played for the Fairfax Nationals in the (now defunct) Clark Griffith summer wood-bat league and was housed by none other than my father for the summer.

SoCon (local interest: VMI)

VMI fought hard as the #4 seed, losing in the tourney semis.


Other local players of interest: Madison alum Andy McGuire and his Texas team had to win the Big-12 tournament to get into the CWS, and they did.  McGuire went to Texas as a SS/3B but now is in the bullpen for the Longhorns.


The College World Series field of 64 will be announced just after the Memorial day weekend, upon the completion of all the college tournaments.  We’ll post again with the matchups and some quickie predictions.

 

Written by Todd Boss

May 25th, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Ryan Zimmerman; Mr. Walkoff hits his 10th

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Zimmerman gets soaked on his 10th career walkoff.  Photo via mlb.com

Zimmerman gets soaked on his 10th career walkoff. Photo via mlb.com

When we last checked in on Ryan Zimmerman, aka Mr. Walkoff, it was July 2013 and he had just hit his 9th career such homer.

Well, last night he hit another.  His 10th career walk-off, an excuse-me shot down the RF line that bounced off the flag-pole and won a fun back-and-forth game against the visiting Yankees 8-6.  Here’s his career homer log via baseball-reference.

Last night’s shot wasn’t in his pantheon of great walk-offs: i’ll put these as his best:

  • The game-winner in the Nats Stadium opener in April 2008, salvaging a blown save in the top of the 9th.
  • A 2-run walk-off against Chien-Ming Wang on Fathers Day 2006 against the Yankees, a game in which the team set its long-running regular season attendance record.

But walk-offs are always awesome to watch, whether you’re at home or elsewhere.

Thanks to this SI.com article by Jay Jaffe, which did the baseball-reference.com play-index work for us, we know that Zimmerman is now tied for 10th all time in walkoffs.  The current active leaders in walk-offs are two noteworthy names; David Ortiz connected for his 11th and most recent walk-off homer on 6/6/13, as detailed by Billy-Ball.com.  Albert Pujols either has 10 or 11, depending on if you believe his homer log (which has him at 10) or B-R’s play finder, which says 11.  Since B-R itself says the Play Index data is more up-to-date, I’ll go with 11.

Jim Thome hit his 13th in June of 2012 to take over the career lead just before he retired and is the all-time leader.  Just behind Thome, tied for 2nd all-time, is this quintet of Hall-of-Famers: Jimmy Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Stan Musial and Frank Robinson.

That’s quite heady company; every name I’ve mentioned here is either a Hall-of-Famer or should be.

Being that Ortiz is nearly done, and Pujols is on the decline, and Zimmerman is just 30 and may have another decade in him, it seems like a safe bet that Zimmerman will eventually be the all-time walk-off leader.   Heck, he already had seven through is first 5 pro seasons.  We’ll keep track every time he hits one for sure.

Other links on the topic from the blogosphere:

Quick recap of all 10:

1. Home vs Yankees, off of Chien-Ming Wang (Fathers day 2006)
2. Home vs Marlins, off of Joe Borowski
3. Home vs Marlins, off of Jorge Julio (Mother’s day 2007)
4. Home vs Braves, off of Peter Moylan (opening day 2008)
5. Home vs Marlins, off of Leo Nunez
6. Home vs Padres, off of Luke Gregerson
7. Home vs Phillies, off of Brad Lidge (7/31/10)
8. Home vs Phillies, off of Ryan Madsen (8/19/11)
9. Home vs Mets, off of LaTroy Hawkins
10. Home vs Yankees, off of Andrew Miller (his first runs allowed of the year).

Written by Todd Boss

May 20th, 2015 at 9:45 am

Odd Difo promotion

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Welcome the majors Mr. Difo!  photo via offtherecordsports.com

Welcome the majors Mr. Difo! photo via offtherecordsports.com

So, Jayson Werth‘s wrist injury is going to keep him out longer than expected, so he hit the 15 day D/L and to cover his spot the Nats called up one of their two remaining outfielders on the 40-man roster, right?  You know, maybe Matt den Dekker, who was acquired in the late spring specifically to provide OF depth and who has MLB experience?

Nope.

They called up infielder prospect Wilmer Difo, he of exactly 33 games of experience above Low-A ball.  Difo, who last time I checked is NOT an outfielder.

Dave Cameron at Fangraphs also questioned this move, pointing out all the things i’d point out.  What exactly is Difo going to do on this team?  Are they planning on dumping Dan Uggla so that Difo becomes the backup utility infielder who can actually play shortstop?  I mean, I get that the team was already pretty over-loaded on outfielders (3 starters plus Moore, Robinson AND Taylor), so perhaps this move is to (finally?) rectify that imbalance.

Maybe the team just realized its 27th in the league in SBs and wanted some speed.

On another note, is it just me or is this team kind of running out of players?  Here’s how the 40-man roster breaks down right now:

  • 25 active
  • 6 on the 15 day D/L (Janssen, McLouth, Rendon, Rivero, Fister and Werth)
  • Another 2 on the 15-day D/L who should be on the 60-day, them having long-term injuries (Stammen and Johnson)

That leaves just seven 40-man players in the minors who could actually help the team.

  • Starters Hill and Jordan:
  • Relivers Martin and Davis, who was just optioned off the D/L for the first time in a year thanks to TJ recovery
  • Backup catcher Butler
  • Outfileders den Dekker and Brian Goodwin.

That’s it.  Has anyone heard one word about Nate McLouth?  That was $10M well spent.  At least Janssen is rehabbing and seems close.  Me, i’d be a bit worried about reliever depth.  Or not; it doesn’t seem to be exactly hurting them, as Bryce Harper powers the team into 1st place.

 

DC/MD/VA District High School Tournament Report: 2015 post-season

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Here’s my first cut through tracking the various local high school baseball tournaments.  As we learned in 2014, Maryland and Virginia’s schedules are quite off from each other, with Maryland’s state tournament starting before Virginia’s public high schools even finish their regular seasons, but we’ll keep track the best we can.  Here’s 2014’s final prep wrap-up post, with all the various winners noted.

As the Maryland playoffs kicked in, there was an interesting WashPost article about how to setup your pitching for the playoffs.  Ironically, one of the main teams mentioned (Reservoir) was upset in the Maryland playoffs, perhaps due to their rotation choices.  Personal connection useless tidbit; the Chantilly coach (Kevin Ford) was a long-time local Vienna player and we played with him and his brother (Jeff Ford) all growing up.

Lets get to it.


Northern Virginia

Virginal district tournaments get started last weekend and most are scheduled to finish this week.  The VHSL site has some district brackets already published.  Here’s a preview of the district tournaments for local conferences with the leading contenders.

The top four teams from each district tourney form the 16-team regional brackets, to be published later on once all the divisions are finalized.

  • 6-A Conference 5/Concorde: Oakton and Chantilly are the 1/2 seeds, and Oakton has to be a favorite for the 6-A North regional title.
  • 6-A Conference 6/Liberty: McLean and Madison are 1/2 seeds, playing semis on 5/19/15.  Madison lost out to McLean for the district title but may be a co-regional favorite with Oakton.
  • 6-A Conference 7/Potomac: South County & Lake Braddock perennial favorites.
  • 6-A Conference 8/ Cedar Run: Rivals Patriot and Battlefield are 1/2 seeds and have already played three times this year.  Both should challenge for the regional title, but I suspect they’re slightly behind the Oaktons and Madisons this year.

I’d love to see an all-Vienna regional final, but teams like Chantilly, Battlfield and McLean could be pesky.

In the 5-A division:

  • 5-A Conference 13/Capitol: Marshall and Edison are the 1/2 seeds, as they were last year.
  • 5-A Conference 14: Stone Bridge repeats as conference champ, with Broad Run the 2 seed in this small group.
  • 5-A Conference 15: Mountain View and Potomac are 1/2 seeds.
  • 5-A Conference 16: Halifax, Patrick Henry-Ashland are perennial favorites.

I’d guess Marshall and Stone Bridge are early 5-A regional favorites, but we have no idea how good some of these non-DC area teams are.

There are some DC-local teams in the 4th and smaller divisions (mostly in Loudoun County).  We’ll go through them once their brackets are made available on VHSL.  The best 4-A team out there is probably Loudoun Valley, currently in the WP top 10.


Maryland

At this point, the Maryland State tournament is well underway, with all four “regional” champions crowned and the State semis set for 5/19/15.  Brackets here at the MPSAA website.  The Washington Post/AllMetSports.com reviewed all the Regional finals in this online post here.  We’ll run-down the regional results with some surprises:

  • 4-A Regionals: both of last year’s finalists (Chesapeake and Sherwood) lost early as new blood takes over Maryland states.  Perry Hall out of Baltimore took out both number 1 seeds in its regional to take the 4-A north.   Wise from Upper Marlboro also took out two PG-county #1 seeds to win the 4-A south.  Severna Park beat last year’s 4-A champ Chesapeake en route to the 4-A East championship, and the 4-A West regional final came down to perhaps the two best local Maryland teams, with current #2 All-Met ranked Gaithersburg taking out Montgomery Blair to reach the state semis.  State Semis: Perry Hall v Severna Park, Gaithersburg-Wise at U-Maryland on 5/19/15.  State final is scheduled for 5/22/15 at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen.
  • 3-A Regionals: Last year’s state finalist North Harford (Plyville in North Maryland) repeated as 3-A north champ.  Mt. Hebron in Ellicott City pulled the big upset and beat last year’s champion Reservoir in the 3-A East regional final (perhaps because Reservoir lost their ace Cody Morris to TJ surgery).  Chopticon (way down in St. Mary’s county) and Urbana (just south of Frederick) filled out the 3-A state semis, beating last year’s regional winner Thomas Johnson en route.  State semis set for Joe Cannon stadium in Hanover on 5/19/15.
  • 2-A Regionals: Eastern Tech, Patterson Mill, South Carroll and last  year’s champ Southern make up the 2-A state semis (mostly smaller schools outside the DC area).
  • 1-A Regionals: McDonough, Colonel Richardson, Douglass and Brunswick make up this year’s 1-A state semis (mostly smaller schools outside the DC area).

 


DC

  • DCIAA: the regular season runs through 5/20/15 and the DCIAA tournament runs through 6/3/15.
  • DCSAA: the 2015 tournament has yet to be scheduled.

Remember, there’s not usually much suspense in who is winning the DCIAA; Wilson has not lost to a DCIAA opponent in more than 20  years.


Private Leagues: WCAC/MAC/IAC and VISAA/Maryland Private

  • MIAA: Powerhouse Spalding beat Calvert Hill to repeat as MIAA Class A champsSt. Mary’s-Annapolis won the MIAA-B championship, also for the 2nd year in a row, and is 52-3 over the past two seasons.  ?? won the MIAA-C.
  • VISAA: Liberty Christian repeated as the VISAA Division 1 champ.  Local teams O’Connell, Flint Hill and Paul VI entered but lost (the entry to this tourney seems to be done via rankings, as opposed to results in the respective league’s post-season tourneys, since Flint Hill was upset but still got invited to VISAA).  Greenbriar Christian took the Division 2 title and the Southampton Academy took the Division 3 title among smaller Virginia private schools.
  • WCAC: St. Johns topped DeMatha in a 3-game series to win the WCAC for the 2nd year in a row.
  • IAC: Georgetown Prep beat Landon to win the IAC, avenging their loss in the finals last year.
  • PVAC: Sandy Spring Friends defeated Jewish Day school for the inaugural title in this fledgling league.
  • MAC:  the Potomac school beat St. James (who upset #1 seed and defending champ Flint Hill) in the final.

My master list of links used to cover HS Baseball:

Local and National High School Baseball Ranking Lists:

  • Washington Post All Met Sports Baseball top 10: Spalding, Gaithersburg 1-2, then Oakton, Madison, and Battlefield.  Stone Bridge 8th despite a win over Madison in Vienna.
  • Baltimore Sun Rankings page: They also have Spalding #1, then Calvert Hall and Reservoir.
  • Hampton Roads Baseball top 10 page: Western Branch #1
  • Baseball America’s High School top 25 (most recent ranking 5/5/15): no DC/MD/VA teams listed.
  • USA Today High School top 25 (most recent ranking 5/6/15): Western Branch closest to top-25, ranked 30th.  Spalding (Washington Post’s #1 team) ranked 50th nationally.
  • USA Today’s Virginia-only rankings: no longer seem to be in existence.
  • MaxPreps top 25/top 50 lists, which has a hand-picked and a computer/power ranking list.  5/18/15 rankings.  No DC/MD/VA teams in MaxPrep’s “Excellent 50.”

Resources:

  • Washington Post’s AllMetSports section with standings and schedule results.
  • InsideNova.com‘s coverage of high school sports, but has put limits on the number of stories you can read.
  • The Connection family of newspapers has a sports section that is rarely updated, but it does do some coverage.
  • MaxPreps.com also has some non-paywall HS information that comes in handy too.
  • Nvdaily.com (Strasburg) has some results for some of the teams in the smaller conferences/outskirts of DC, generally in the Strasburg area.
  • WinchesterStar (Winchester) has results for Winchester teams but its pay-only.
  • The Daily Progress (Culpeper local paper) also has some scores for schools in its areas.
  • Fredericksburg.com has some local coverage of Fredericksburg and Woodbridge teams.
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch has a HS scoreboard.
  • Hampton Roads Pilot (Hampton Roads) has scores for teams in the Chesapeake/Norfolk/Va Beach area.
  • The Baltimore Sun’s high school page has information on some of the programs outside the DC area mentioned in the Maryland section
  • I use perfectgame.org to look up high-end HS prospects.
  • VHSL’s and MPSSAA home pages for playoff brackets and updates for VA and MD respectively.

Written by Todd Boss

May 18th, 2015 at 1:37 pm

Bonds to sue MLB for collusion; Is he right?

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Bonds thinks he was colluded against after his 2007 season.  photo via dailynexus.com

Bonds thinks he was colluded against after his 2007 season. photo via dailynexus.com

In 2007, Barry Bonds played in 126 games (missing half of September but otherwise just getting routine days off throughout the season), put up a slash line of .276/.480/.565, with 28 homers in 477 PAs, good for a a 169 OPS+.  A 169 OPS+ would have led the majors in 2014, for context of how strong an offensive season he had.  He led the league in walks, intentional walks and OBP.  He was an All-Star.  His bWAR on the year was a healthy 3.4 … but was hampered a point and a half by his sub-par defense since, of course, he  was in the NL and had to struggle around left field day in and day out as a 42-yr old.

He entered Free Agency … and never signed a new contract.  His last game was a 0-3 random September performance for a 90-loss Giants team against the Padres and Jake Peavy.

This week, now that Bonds’ remaining legal issues are past, he’s apparently contemplating a collusion lawsuit against MLB, alleging that the 30 owners basically got together and collectively agreed not to sign him.  He alleges that this collusion ended his career pre-maturely.

At the time, there was a massive circus atmosphere surrounding Bonds.  In November of 2007, just after the World Series ended and the FA period officially began, Bonds was officially indicted on federal perjury and obstruction of justice charges.  Even notwithstanding an outstanding federal charge, Bonds had just broken Hank Aaron‘s record and had a massive contingent of reporters following him around game to game, with heavy, serious questions about the extent of his steroid usage still unanswered but being questioned daily.  Bonds was also well known for being a surly teammate and a horrible clubhouse presence.  I specifically recall thinking about a possible signing of Bonds and completely understanding why teams may not have wanted to do so, because of the PR hit.

So, which makes more sense, that 30 MLB owners, each of whom is competing against the others to try to win, would each individually arrive at the conclusion that they’d rather not have a PR nightmare versus having a 43-yr old guy still capable of batting clean-up in the majors willing to play for the MLB minimum?  Or that the commissioner would lead yet another collusion effort against a player?

Who wouldn’t have wanted to add a potential 5-win clean-up hitter playing for less than $500,000??

We should note, by the way, that we are talking about a commissioner at the time in Bud Selig who was directly involved as an owner in *multiple* proven collusion incidents, which resulted in millions of dollars of penalties being paid to damaged players through the 1980s and 1990s.  We’re talking about a commissioner who was also (basically) still an owner, who clearly worked on behalf of the owners, and who had taken a massive publicity hit to his reputation for his role in enabling the whole PED crisis in the first place and (in my opinion) was certainly ready to move onwards from the daily embarrassment that Bonds represented to the league.

Here’s some additional good reading material on the topic: Si.com’s legal expert Michael McCann studied the case back in 2012 and goes far deeper into all these topics.  Yahoo sports’ Israel Fehr has a nice summary with links to other reporters with more analysis.  And Grant Brisbee has a great retrospective on the idiocy of teams who passed on Bonds but who paid other players that off-season.

My 2 cents: i’m almost certain there was some collusion going on … but that it’ll be very difficult to prove at this point, 8 years onward.  And, there’s enough of an argument that can be made that teams made the same decision that the San Francisco owner made before the season was even over; enough was enough with the daily PR nightmare and he decided to go separate ways.  What do you think?

ps: useless fact: did you know that Bonds was just the 6th pick in the 1st round of his draft year?   Going ahead of him was B.J. Surhoff, Will Clark, Bobby Witt, Barry Larkin and a HS catcher who washed out in the minors named Kurt Brown.  Do you think the Chicago White Sox are kicking themselves for getting absolutely nothing out of their first round pick instead of picking Bonds?  Bonds btw nearly has as much combined bWAR as those four MLBers picked ahead of him … and those are not exactly slouches for players, and includes a Hall of Famer in Larkin.

Simmons to leave ESPN; your thoughts

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News broke friday that longtime ESPN writer Bill Simmons and ESPN are parting ways.

Simmons is kind of a lightening rod.  I know many people doesn’t really care for him or his stuff.  Personally, I’ve kind of drifted away from him over the past two years … not because I don’t like his stuff, but mostly because his focus area (the NBA more and more) is something I don’t really care about.  When he wrote more about baseball, about the Red Sox and Yankees during the early 2000s heyday of the rivalry, I was as big of a fan as anyone’s.  I still go to his podcast subscription first to see who’s on, and I really miss his mailbags and columns that he no longer has time to write.

Still, this news is kind of staggering.  Simmons is *the* reason huge numbers of people went to ESPN.  His columns were always the top draws on that website.  People talk about how Grantland is a “failure” … but then are nebulous with the measurements of what constitutes a “failure” on the internet.  No, Grantland doesn’t make the network millions of dollars; what website does?

I wonder what happens next.  I think it was clear that Simmons was done with the hypocrisy of ESPN management and demonstrated it pretty well with his latest suspension.  I think he was tired of being told what he could and couldn’t do on his podcasts (he’s been constantly fighting with editors over jokes and content), tired of being told who he could and couldn’t haveas guests (most famously, he was set to have President Obama on but for some reason ESPN nixed it, saying it was political … meanwhile Obama is on ESPN every year for the NCAA show; hypocritical).  Mostly I think he was tired of the double standards that ESPN has for opinion makers on its network; the same things that Simmons was suspended for have been blatantly done by other people with no repercussions.  You just can’t have double standards for personalities like that.  ESPN suspended Simmons for 3 weeks for challenging management, but when Stephen A. Smith questioned the role women have in their own attacks?  A slap on the wrist in comparison.  Skip Bayless says the same things that Simmons gets eviscorated for with zero backlash.

But where will he have the access that he had to the NBA that he had?  He *loved* the 30 for 30 stuff; that’s ESPN property.  I don’t know who “owns” Grantland but the PR implied that ESPN does by virtue of saying that “Grantland will continue publishing.”  So that creation is gone as well.  Would he just abandon all these paths he has forged and try something complete new (like when he went to Jimmy Kimmel to write for his late-night show)?

I think someone will use Simmons to really supercharge their online sports presence.  TNT holds part of the NBA contract so maybe a combo deal where does TV for TNT and then online for someplace that wants to compete against ESPN like a FoxSports.  Fox makes a ton of sense since they’ve never been afraid to push the line and have little street cred.

One thing seems for sure: Simmons is still king of the podcast realm and gets his stars to appear.  You can argue that’s because he was sponsored by ESPN, but his name leads the way now.

What do you guys think?  Do you even read his stuff?  Do you read Grantland?  Do you care?

Written by Todd Boss

May 8th, 2015 at 8:00 pm