Nationals Arm Race

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

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2017 CWS Group Winners and CWS Final preview

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


Lets review the CWS group play.  The CWS plays just one or two games a day; a far cry from the first weekend, where 64 teams played hundreds of games over the course of a long weekend.  So this post has been written in one or two sentence increments for a week and a half…

My pre-CWS predictions were LSU from the top and TCU from the bottom.  My predictions weren’t looking too hot after the first day, but ended up being half right.  Read on.


In the Top Bracket (#1 Oregon State, Cal-State Fullerton, #12 Florida State, #4 LSU)

  • In the opening games, Oregon State overcame a bad outing from Jake Thompson, rallying to top Cal-State Fullerton 6-5.  Meanwhile, LSU similarly overcame a bad outing from its ace Alex Lange, getting a shutdown relief effort from #2 starter Jared Poche and the one-out close-out from Virginia native Zach Hess to beat Florida State 5-4.
  • In the first elimination game, Florida State took advantage of 8 CS-F walks to win 6-4 and eliminate the Titans.
  • In the winner’s bracket game, Oregon State made a pretty large statement by destroying LSU 13-1.  OSU’s Bryan Fehmel totally baffled LSU for 8 innings, giving up just 1 run on 2 hits (the run was on a very large homer in the 8th inning when the game was well in hand).   LSU’s staff walked *twelve* batters and never had a chance.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, LSU’s Poche came back on short rest and dominated FSU for 8 innings, giving up just one unearned run.  After back-to-back crushed homers to open the 9th, Lynchburg’s Hess came on and just blew away three hitters to close out the game with 95-96 heat and a fantastic curve.  LSU moves on.
  • In the group final, OSU could do nothing with LSU’s ace Lange, who gave up just two hits through 7 and a third; then super closer Hess came on and struck out 4 of the 5 guys he faced to force a winner-take-all game to close out the group.  Its only fitting.  I’m not the only one gushing over Hess; the CWS broadcasters spent a full inning talking about him … in the TCU/Florida game.  In the winner take all game on 6/24/17, LSU got to OSU’s starter early, their own starter was fantastic (mid-week starter Caleb Gilbert gave up just 2 hits through 7 and change before handing the ball over to Hess once again.  LSU comes back through the loser’s bracket to advance.  Its hard not to say that the loss of OSU’s ace Luke Heimlich didn’t affect the outcome of this CWS: I have no issues saying that LSU would have been much harder pressed to overcome OSU two days in a row if they had to face a guy with a 0.76 ERA on the season.

Final Group standings: LSU, Oregon State, Florida State, Cal-State Fullerton.

 


In the Bottom Bracket (Texas A&M, #7 Louisville, #6 TCU, #3 Florida)

  • In the opening games, Louisville overcame a bad start from its #1 draft pick Brendan McCay to bash their way to victory over TAMU 8-4.  In the nightcap, Florida rode a fantastic outing from its 1st rounder Alex Faedo, who shut down TCU on 2 hits over 7 innings for a 3-0 victory, severely dampening TCU’s chances and my predictions.
  • In the first elimination game, TCU got a stellar start from Brian Howard (12ks in 7 innings) and eliminated TAMU 4-1.
  • In the winner’s bracket game, Florida got a dominant start from its #2 starter (and likely 2018 early 1st rounder Brady Singer), who gave up just one run in 7 innings and Florida eased by Louisville 5-1.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, two of the best teams all  year in Louisville and TCU met in a loser-goes-home game.  TCU got 4 runs early on Louisville’s #3 starter and their freshman ace Nick Lodolo  combined forces with Sean Wymer to make it stick.
  • In the group final, TCU broke out against Florida’s bullpen and won a laugher 9-2 to force the winner-take-all game.  Again, only fitting given the talent that is in this CWS.  However, in the final game, Florida’s Faedo shut down TCU and Florida got just enough against TCU’s Jared Janczak to advance.  Florida to the CWS final.

Final Group standings: Florida, TCU, Louisville, TAMU

 


CWS finals discussion: Games 1,2,3 set for M-T-W June 26, 27,28

Pitching Matchups (LSU stats and Florida Stats):

  • Game 1:  Monday 6/26/17: LSU’s #2 Starter Jared Poche (12-3, 3.33 ERA on the season) with 4 days rest vs Florida’s #2 starter Brady Singer (8-5, 3.18 ERA) on 5 days rest.
  • Game 2: Tuesday 6/27/17: LSU’s #1 Starter Alex Lange (10-5, 2.97 ERA) with 3 days rest vs Florida’s #3 starter Jackson Kower (12-1, 4.15 ERA) on 3 days rest.
  • Game 3: Wednesday 6/28/17: LSU’s mid-week starter Caleb Gilbert (7-1 with a 2.85 ERA) with 3 days rest vs Florida’s #1 Alex Faedo (9-2, 2.26 ERA)  on 3 days rest.

LSU’s missing their #2 starter (Eric Walker), who left the 2nd game of the CWS early and has not returned.  This puts them in a bind, having to use both Lange and Gilbert on short rest.  If Walker could return, they’d likely go Poche-Walker-Lange in that order.  But, Gilbert was awesome in the OSU elimination game, so its not a big step down.  Meanwhile, Florida burned Faedo to get to the final, and they may struggle to cobble together enough pitching to last the final.  Singer is ready to go game one and will be a tough out, but Kower isn’t going to slow LSU’s bats, so it may come down to how far they push Faedo on 3 days rest and after throwing a 113 pitch gem in the group final.

These teams met in March at Florida, with the Gators winning Faedo and Singer’s starts before LSU battering Kower to take the Sunday finale.  I see the same pattern here: I think Singer shuts down LSU in game one, Lange does likewise in game 2 while LSU batters Kower again, leading to a distinct pitching advantage in game three.

Prediction: Florida in 3.


College CWS tournament references

2017 Draft coverage; Mock Draft mania plus my projected top-5 and Nats picks

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Mock Drafts

Every year I say i’ll stay away from the Mock Draft links … and every year I come back.  Here’s a running collection; i’ve listed their top-5 and then who they project the Nats to take at #25 (if they project out that far).  Honestly, projecting even the top 5 has been folly in year’s past; last minute changes occur all the time and drastically change the top of every draft.  Look no further than the 2011 draft that netted the Nats presumed top pick Anthony Rendon.  

I’ll continue to add in mocks as they get published post-posting up until the draft.

However this year you’ll notice that the same general collection of names are listed in nearly every top 5 collection.  Here’s a quick summary of those top-5 guys.

Collegiate top-5 names:

  • Brendan McCay: 1b/lhp Louisville.  All-American as a Soph.  2016 Collegiate National team.  Good two-way player likely being drafted as a pitcher.
  • Kyle Wright rhp Vanderbilt.  2016 Collegiate National team.  Solid #1 starter for Vanderbilt, a machine for developing top-end pitching draft picks (see Jordan Sheffield, Walker Buehler, Carson Fuller, Tyler Beede, Sonny Grey, Mike Minor and David Price, all of whom were 1st round starting pitcher picks from Vanderbilt over the last 10 years)
  • Alex Faedo: rhp Florida. 2016 Collegiate National team; #1 starter from Florida, less known for developing pitchers but who did have two 1st round arms drafted just last year (A.J. Puk, Dane Dunning).
  • Jeren Kendall OF Vanderbilt.  2016 Collegiate National team; was presumptive 1-1 before really struggling at the plate in 2017, opening the door for one of the above college arms likely going 1-1.
  • J.B. Bukauskas rhp UNC via Ashburn, VA.  2016 Collegiate National team, fantastic numbers leading UNC to its first national seed in a while.  Considered undersized (he’s 6’0″) but has a big arm; widely projected at #6 to Oakland but does get some top-5 press.
  • Tristan Beck rhp Stanford who did not play in 2017 due to injury but was a pre-season all-american; some thought he may get picked as an injury stash like we’re seeing more and more.
  • Adam Haseley, 1B/rhp from UVA who has massively improved his draft stock this year.  He went from being just a good player to being mentioned in the top 5 in some mocks.  I don’t think he goes top-5, but he’s gone before the top-10 is done.

Prep top-5 names:

  • Hunter Greene: ss/rhp Notre Dame High, CA (UCLA commit). 2015 18U team as a Jr., Standout at PG Nationals 2016. Two-way talent, 95-97 on the mound but also a fantastic hitter. 18U National team trials. Area code star.  Likely getting drafted as an arm, might be the first prep RH starter to go 1-1.  Stopped pitching mid-way through the spring though, presumably to save his arm for his first pro season.
  • Royce Lewis ss/2b San Juan Capistrano, CA (UC Irvine). flashed power at Under Armour Game.  Helium guy, likely a top-5 pick.
  • MacKenzie Gore lhp Whiteville (North Carolina) High School (ECU commit).  Also a helium guy, has has his stock rise highly this spring.
  • Jordon Adell of/rhp Ballard High, KY (Louisville).  18U National team trials.  Area Code star; falling status early 17 badly but still gets some top-5 love.
  • Shane Baz, rhp from Concordia HS, TX (TCU): fast mover, mid-90s big righty in the same prep construction from the Houston area as the likes of Josh BeckettJamison Taillon and Tyler Kolek.  I don’t think he’s a top-5 pick but should be top-10.

 


Here’s the Mock draft collection that i’ve saved over the past months.  If you know of one I’m missing, let me know and I’ll add it in.

  • MLBPipeline (Jim Callis2017 Mock Draft v1.0 12/14/16: Faedo, Kendall, Greene, Wright, Lewis (only projected top 10 picks)
  • MLBPipeline (Jim Callis2017 Mock Draft v2.0 5/12/17: McKay, Greene, Gore, Lewis, Wright.  Nats taking Alex Lange, a polished, quick moving RH starter from LSU who I’d love to get.
  • MLBPipeline (Jim Callis2017 Mock Draft v3.0 5/26/17: Wright, Greene, Gore, McKay, Haseley.  Nats still on Lange.
  • MLBPipeline (Jim Callis2017 Mock Draft v4.0 6/9/17: Wright, Greene, Gore, McKay, Lewis.  Nats on Clarke Schmidt, a good RH starter from South Carolina who had to have TJ surgery (sound familiar?).  However, in his mock this leaves Houck, Pearson and Carlson on the board, and I think the Nats would take any of those three ahead of TJ guy.
  • MLBPipeline (Jim Callis2017 Mock Draft v5.0 6/12/17: McKay, Greene, Gore, Lewis, Hiura.  Wow.  Nats taking Seth Romero, a LH starter who was just kicked off of UHouston’s team, his 3rd “strike” with the team.  Sounds like a winner to me and I hope the Nats are not foolish enough to take a 3-time suspended college player.  Problem is, he’s a Scott Boras client, and people are worried that Boras is talking to the ownership again…
  • MLBPipeline (Jonathan Mayo2017 Mock Draft v1.0 12/14/16: Greene, Kendall, Faedo, Lewis, Wright (only projected top 10 picks).
  • MLBPipeline (Jonathan Mayo2017 Mock Draft v2.0 5/31/17: Wright, Greene, Lewis, McKay, Gore.  Nats getting Lange (the MLB.com guys seem confident on Lange dropping to #25).
  • MLBPipeline (Jonathan Mayo2017 Mock Draft v3.0 6/12/17: McKay, Greene, Gore, Lewis, Hiura.  Nats on Lange.
  • ESPN (Keith Law2017 Mock Draft v1.0 dated 5/11/17: McKay, Greene, Lewis, Wright, Gore.  Nats taking Tanner Houck, a polished, quick moving Missouri RH starter.
  • ESPN (Keith Law) 2017 Mock Draft v2.0 dated 5/30/17: Wright, Greene, Gore, McKay, Lewis.  Nats on Romero.
  • ESPN (Keith Law) 2017 Mock Draft v3.0 dated 6/11/17: McKay, Greene, Gore, Lewis, Wright.  Nats taking Romero, again.  Great.
  • Fangraphs (Eric Longenhagen) 2017 Mock Draft v1.0 dated 6/5/17: Wright, Greene, Gore, McKay, Lewis.  Nats taking Tristan Beckthe injured Stanford RHP.  Considering that Beck was once rumored to be possible top-5, if he falls to 25 I think the Nats would jump.
  • D1Baseball (Frankie Piliere) 2017 Mock Draft v1.0 dated 5/18/17: Wright, McKay, Greene, Lewis, Gore.  Nats taking Tanner Houck.
  • D1Baseball (Frankie Piliere) 2017 Mock Draft v2.0 dated 6/9/17: Wright, Greene, Lewis, McKay, Gore.  Nats taking Romero.  Problem with this mock: the next 3 after Romero are Carlson, Peterson and Lange, and I’d have to think the Nats would take any of those three over Romero.
  • Baseball America (John Manuel) 2017 Mock Draft v1.0 dated 3/16/17: Greene, McKay, Lewis, Bukauskas, Beck (only projecting 1st 10 picks: no Nats pick).
  • Baseball America (John Manuel) 2017 Mock Draft v2.0 dated 4/20/17: McKay, Greene, Lewis, Wright, Beck.  Nats taking Brady McConnell, a prep SS from Florida who i’ve never heard of and have a hard time believing we’d actually take.
  • Baseball America (John Manuel) 2017 Mock Draft v3.0 dated 5/18/17: Wright, McKay, Greene, Lewis, Baz.  Nats taking Romero.
  • Baseball America (John Manuel) 2017 Mock Draft v3.5 dated 5/30/17: Wright, McKay, Greene, Lewis, Gore.  Nats on Schmidt.
  • HeroSports.com (Chris Crawford) 2017 Mock Draft v4.0 dated 5/12/17: McKay, Greene, Wright, Bukauskas, Beck.  Nats taking Jordon Adell, a prep OF from Kentucky who entered the year projected near the top of the draft but whose stock has fallen precipitously.  I could see the Nats having him ranked high and (much like what happened with Lucas Giolito) them taking the chance if Adell is still available after being a top-5 rumored guy entering the 2017 season.
  • MinorleagueBall.com (John Sickels) 2017 Mock Draft v1.0 dated 5/18/17: McKay, Wright, Greene, Gore, Beck.  Nats taking Keston Hiura, an OF from UC-Irvine that i’ve never heard of.
  • PerfectGame.org (Brian Sakowski) 2017 Mock Draft v1.0 dated 5/10/17: Greene, Wright, Lewis, McKay, Beck.  Nats taking Hans Crouse, a prep RH starter from California.  Crouse is good, but I can’t see the team taking a prep 1st rounder if the likes of Houck and Lange are on the board.
  • PerfectGame.org (Brian Sakowski) 2017 Mock Draft v2.0 dated 6/2/17: McKay, Greene, Lewis, Wright, Gore.  Nats taking Houck.
  • PerfectGame.org (Brian Sakowski) 2017 Mock Draft v3.0 dated 6/12/17: McKay, Greene, Gore, Lewis, Wright.  Nats taking Romero.  But leave the likes of Carlson, Schmidt, Houck, Lange, Canning and Little on the board??  No way.
  • SI.com (Jay Jaffe) Mock Draft v1.0 dated 5/16/17: McKay, Greene, Lewis, Wright, Gore.  (Only projected top 10 picks).
  • SI.com (Jay Jaffe) Mock Draft v2.0 dated 6/12/17: Wright, Greene, Gore, McKay, Lewis.  Nats again on Romero.  This mock leaves Pearson, Houck, and Carlson on the board, which I have a hard time believing would happen (that the Nats would take head case Romero over any of those three).
  • Seedlings to the Stars/Calltothepen.com (Benjamin Chase) Mock Draft v1.1 dated 5/3/17: Greene, McKay, Lewis, Wright, Gore.  Nats on Wil Crowe, a RH starter from South Carolina.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/Calltothepen.com (Benjamin Chase) Mock Draft v2.1 dated 5/10/17: McKay, Adell, Greene, Wright, Gore.  Nats on Matt Sauer, a prep RH starter from California.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/Calltothepen.com (Benjamin Chase) Mock Draft v3.1 dated 5/18/17: Wright, McKay, Greene,  Beck, Adell.  Nats taking Brendon Little, a JuCo LH starter by way of UNC who has impressed mightily this year.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/Calltothepen.com (Benjamin Chase) Mock Draft v4.1 dated 5/25/17: Greene, McKay, Gore, Wright, Lewis.  Nats taking Schmidt the TJ guy.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/Calltothepen.com (Benjamin Chase) Mock Draft v5.2 dated 6/1/17: Wright, Greene, Gore, Beck, Pratto.  Nats taking Houck.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/Calltothepen.com (Benjamin Chase) Mock Draft v6.1 dated 6/7/17: Wright, McKay, Greene, Lewis, Gore.  Nats on David Peterson, Oregon State’s #2 starter, a big body LHP who could be a faster mover and fill the void of SP prospects in our system.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/Calltothepen.com (Benjamin Chase) Mock Draft Final dated 6/12/17: Greene, Wright, Gore, Lewis, Adell.  Nats on Griffith Canning, UCLA’s friday starter who projects as a slight framed #3 starter.  I saw him in the CWS regionals and wasn’t terribly impressed.  Chase’s final mock is kind of out there; he’s the only guy who has Greene 1-1 and he has a ton of guys normally being projected to the Nats very early.
  • TheBigLead.com (Ryan Phillips) Mock Draft v1.0 6/7/17: Wright, McKay, Greene, Lewis, Gore.  Nats taking Sam Carlson, a prep RHP from Minnesota who is highly ranked on every board that I see, but has some risk being a skinny RHP from a cold-weather state whose entire profile is based on his showcase results.  I’d guess the Nats would prefer a college arm.
  • TheBigLead.com (Ryan Phillips) Mock Draft v2.0 6/12/17: McKay, Greene, Gore, Lewis, Wright.  Nats on Houck (leaving Carlson, Pearson and Schmidt on the board).
  • CBSsports (Mike Axisa) Mock Draft v1.0 6/8/17: Wright, Greene, Lewis, McKay, Gore.  Nats taking Romero but with curious logic.

 


Todd Boss’ Mock draft top-5 prediction?

I think the risk-averse Twins will go with a solid college arm at #1, picking Wright.  This lets the rebuilding Reds at #2 take the guy who is probably the best player in the draft in Greene, who might just be the next Dwight Gooden.  At #3 San Diego can afford to take a prep kid since they too are rebuilding, taking Lewis.  At #4, Tampa takes the solid, fast moving McKay and internally debates whether to put him on the mound or in the field.  At #5, Atlanta can’t help themselves (they love taking local guys) and takes the North Carolina prep product Gore, who might be the 2nd best player in this draft.  Oakland passes on Bukauskas thanks to his two late season iffy outings and goes with the next best collegiate arm on their board.

My top 5: Wright, Greene, Lewis, McKay, Gore.

ACTUAL DRAFT Results (added after the draft): Lewis, Greene, Gore, McKay, Wright.  Reportedly McKay wouldn’t take an under-slot deal at 1-1, so Minnesota popped Lewis instead, allowing McKay to go 4th to Tampa where he still probably sets a bonus record.  Lewis going 1-1 shakes up the order of the top 5, but not the top 5 themselves.

Who are the Nats going to take at #25

I like the projections for a solid college arm, so if Houck or Lange is there, look for that as the pick.  I could be talked into Schmidt as another TJ reclamation project.  If a highly regarded prep falls (Adell, Hall, Crouse, and especially Carlson) look for that as a longer-term play pick.  Notice not one projector puts them on a bat, so the talk of MSU’s Brent Rooker seems unlikely here.  I think they’re set on a polished college arm to quickly move up and start to fill holes that will soon be left when the likes of Tanner Roark and Gio Gonzalez hit free agency.

Actual Nats #25 Pick (added after the draft): Seth Romero, LHP from Houston.  Most of the pundits above called it correctly; the Nats take Romero.

 

2017 CWS tournament: Regional Results, Super-Regional Pairings

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

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

In the #1 Oregon State regional, Oregon State held serve easily while Yale scored the unlikely upset over Nebraska in the 2/3 game.  In the winners bracket game, Oregon State blitzed Yale 11-0 behind Luke Heimlich‘s 7ip-2hit performance.  Holy Cross sent home Nebraska in the loser’s bracket, cementing their status as a drastically over-seeded team from the Big-10.  In the regional final, Oregon State again crushed Yale 8-1 to cement their status as the #1 team in the land and advance to Super Regionals.
In the #16 Clemson regional, Vanderbilt crushed an over-ranked St. John’s team in the opener (an upset not by seeding but by ranking) while Clemson snuck by UNC-Greensboro.  In the losers bracket, St. Johns was sent home 2-and-out by UNCG while Vanderbilt blitzed by Clemson 9-4.  Clemson fought their way out of the loser’s bracket and then forced the Monday decider with a 6-0 win over Vandy.  In the do-or-die game though, Clemson never got started and Vanderbilt advanced 8-0.

In the #8 Stanford regional (which started a day early), both top teams blasted inferior competition to setup a Stanford-Cal State Fullerton winner’s bracket game.   In that game, Fullerton won easily to put themselves into the driver’s seat.  Sacramento State became the first team eliminated thanks to this regional starting a day early to placate BYU.  Stanford made their way back to the title game, but were beaten again by Fullerton, making Cal State Fullerton the upset winner and the first team to advance.
In the #9 Long Beach State regional, Texas beat UCLA for the fourth time this season (beating UCLA’s ace and likely 1st rounder Griffin Canning along the way), while host Long Beach State beat SDSU easily.  In the winner’s bracket game, Texas’ Morgan Cooper (the Nats 2014 34th round pick) threw a solid game and the Longhorns got into LBSU’s bullpen for an extra inning’s victory.  UCLA went 2-and-out in the loser’s bracket game; yet another example in SDSU of a #4 seed not finishing 4th.  Long Beach got back to the deciding game and took one from Texas, forcing the Monday finish.  There, Long Beach State got 2 runs early and made them stick, advancing through the loser’s bracket and setting up an in-conference matchup with Fullerton.

In the #5 Texas Tech regional, the hosts won easily while Sam Houston state took it from Arizona in a 2/3 seed upset.  TT took out Sam Houston easily in the winner’s bracket.  However the pesky #3 seed Sam Houston took out Arizona again, then took a game from TTU to force the Monday decider.  There, the amazing happened, with tiny Sam Houston State beating the #5 national seed again and becoming the 2nd most unlikely regional winner this year.
In the #12 Florida State regional, Auburn scored the slight upset over UCF in the opener and then Tennessee Tech took out Florida State for 2 upsets in a row.  Auburn won the winner’s bracket game while FSU kept their hopes alive in the elimination game.  Florida State grinded their way back to the final and then took a walk-off win over Auburn to force the Monday decider.  Florida State made the decider a non-issue, dominating Auburn and winning 6-0 to advance.

In the #4 LSU regional, both top seeds won in an offense-minded regional, scoring double digits.  The region continued to go chalk with both seeded teams again winning and again scoring in the double digits.  Rice beat out SELA to get to the regional final, but there LSU got 8 shutout innings from its #3 starter Eric Walker and they advanced to the super-regionals.
In the #13 Southern Miss regional, the host won a barn-burner to avoid a first round upset against Illinois-Chicago while South Alabama upset SEC power Mississippi State.   Southern Miss held-serve to advance to the final, while Mississippi State got revenge against South Alabama to reach the regional final.  There, the SEC power Mississippi State took two from Southern Miss to advance.

In the #2 UNC regional, Davidson took it to upper 1st rounder J.B. Bukauskas and knocked him out early, then held on for the day’s biggest upset over UNC.  Meanwhile FGCU easily topped Michigan to setup a very weird winner’s bracket game.  Bukauskas’ final collegiate performance (coupled with his struggles in the ACC tournament) may have cost him draft spots; lots of mocks have him going 6th overall, but now I think he falls.  In the winner’s bracket game, Davidson again defied the odds, taking out FGCU while UNC salvaged some hope with an easy 8-1 win over the over-seeded Michigan team (again showing why the Big-10 did not deserve as many teams in the CWS as they got).   UNC made it back to the regional final, but their bats came up empty as Davidson shocked the baseball world and took the regional 2-1.  The most amazing thing I heard about Davidson this week?  They only gave out three (3) scholarships.  Three!  UNC probably has 3 full-rides just in its rotation.
In the #15 Houston regional, both top seeds were upset, with TAMU and Iowa topping Baylor and Houston respectively.  And Iowa did it without any input from their cleanup slugger Jake Adams (who had 27 homers this season).  Houston took out some aggression on Baylor in the elimination game, winning 17-3, while TAMU (who were supposedly one of the last four teams in) took the winner’s bracket game to hold the driver’s seat in this regional.  Houston made it back to the title game with a win over Iowa, but couldn’t take out Texas A&M, who won the regional and likely won the right to host a super-regional despite not being a regional host.

In the #7 Louisville regional, both top seeds advanced with ease (Oklahoma and Louisville).  Louisville destroyed Oklahoma 11-1 in the winner’s bracket game behind top-pick Brendan McCay‘s 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball (to go along with his batting clean-up as perhaps the best two-way college player we’ve seen in a while).  Virginia’s Radford went two-and out as the #4 seed.  Xavier blitzed Oklahoma in the loser’s bracket final, but then couldn’t hang with Louisville in the regional decider, losing 8-7 as Louisville advances.
In the #10 Kentucky regional, Kentucky survived a late rally to top Ohio in the opener while under-seeded NC State topped Indiana in a 2/3 seed upset.  NC State showed why they were underseeded as a #3 by taking out the host in the winner’s bracket game.  Kentucky made it back to the regional final, and took a game from NC State to force the extra decider.  There, hand it to Kentucky, they got the win they needed and advanced to setup a great in-state super-regional.

In the #6 TCU regional, all games were delayed a game due to rain to start.  Both top seeds advanced, with UVA getting a strong performance from #2 starter Derek Casey over the tough Dallas Baptist team.  In the winner’s bracket game, UVA’s Daniel Lynch got hit early and their hitters could do nothing with TCU’s Jared Janczak and they lost 5-1.  UVA has to face DBU again, as DBU eliminated #4 seed Central Connecticut in the loser’s bracket.  In the loser’s bracket final rematch between UVA and DBU, UVA’s thin pitching staff was finally exposed, giving up 9 runs in the first two innings (Evan Sperling could not record an out as the starter) and never getting all the way back.  It didn’t matter much, as TCU destroyed DBU in the final to advance and show why they were the consensus #1 ranked team pre-season.
In the #11 Arkansas regional, the host won easily while the day’s best game featured Missouri State getting a do-or-die walkoff 2-run homer to top Oklahoma State.  Missouri State showed they belong by upsetting the hosts in the winner’s bracket game while Oral Roberts pounded OK-State in the elimination game.  Arkansas made it back to the regional final, taking an 11-10 wild game from Missouri State to force the extra decider on Monday.  There, Missouri State gritted out the win over Arkansas to advance.

In the #3 Florida regional, the hosts and South Florida easily advanced to hold serve against lower-seeded competition.  The region continued chalk with Florida scoring 4 in the 12th to ease past South Florida (Florida threw their ace Alex Faedo in this game; he delivered with 7 innings of one run ball).  Bethune Cookman advanced out of the losers’s bracket and promptly took a game off of Florida, forcing the extra regional decider Monday.  There, Florida outlasted tiny Bethune to advance as expected.
In the #14 Wake Forest regional, the two top seeds both battered Maryland teams UofMaryland and UMBC.  In the loser’s bracket, UMaryland committed some Terrapin-on-Terrapin crime by destroying them 16-2, while  Wake held on for a win over WVA in the winner’s bracket.  WVA took advantage of Maryland’s thin pitching corps to advance to the regional final, but lost 12-8 as Wake Forest advanced.


Predictions versus Actuals

My Predictions: Oregon State, Vanderbilt, CS-Fullerton, Long Beach State, Texas Tech, Florida State, LSU, Mississippi State, UNC, TAMU, Louisville, Kentucky, UVA, Arkansas, Florida, Wake Forest.

Actuals; Oregon State, Vanderbilt, CS-Fullerton, Long Beach State, Sam Houston, Florida State, Mississippi State, LSU, Davidson, Tamu, Louisville, Kentucky, TCU, Missouri State, Florida and Wake.

I got 12 of 16 right.  I missed on Davidson and Sam Houston State (like every one else), but over-thought the TCU/UVA matchup, forgetting how good TCU was, and missed on the Arkansas/Missouri State matchup.

 


Summary of Regionals statistically:

  • 9 of 16 hosts advanced, including 5 of 8 National seeds.  National Seeds losing: #2 UNC,  #5 Texas Tech, #8 Stanford.
  • 3 first time Super-Regional participants; Davidson, who was also a first time REGIONAL participant.  Sam Houston State.  Kentucky is also a 1st timer despite being seeded.
  • 7 = number of regionals forced into the “extra” deciding game: Vanderbilt/Clemson, Long Beach/Texas, Texas Tech/Sam  Houston, FSU/Auburn, Kentucky/NC State, Arkansas/Missouri State, Florida/Bethune-Cookman.
  • 9 number one seeds, 4 number two seeds, 2 number three seeds, and 1 number four seeds advance to the super regionals.  
  • 7 number of #4 seeds who didn’t finish 4th in their regional; Holy Cross, UNC-G, SDSU, Tennessee Tech, Davidson, Iowa, Oral Roberts.  That’s great balance.
  • Zero hosts that went 2-and-out this year.
  • 1 of the regionals went pure chalk (Wake Forest).  That’s either a great testament to the balance of the tournament, or a real indictment of the seeding of #2s versus #3 teams.
  • #4 over #1 openers: Davidson over UNC, Tennessee Tech over Florida State, Iowa over Houston
  • Most surprising regional winner: Davidson easily, followed by Sam Houston State.

Conference Breakdowns of the teams in the Super Regionals:

  • SEC: LSU, TAMU, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Florida
  • Big12: TCU
  • ACC: Louisville, Wake Forest, Florida State
  • Pac12: Oregon State
  • Big West: Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State
  • Atlantic 10: Davidson
  • Southland: Sam Houston State
  • Missouri Valley: Missouri State

9 of the 16 super regional teams from the two power conferences ACC and SEC.  The Big12 was the #1 ranked RPI conference and placed 7 teams into the tourney, but just one advanced, perhaps an indictment of these conference RPI rankings in general.  But, with 8 conferences represented overall, there’s good spread.  Only the Big10 really didn’t show up, putting 5 teams in the tourney and faring horribly.  It seems like this is a recurring theme; Big10 gets 5 teams in and does nothing while higher ranked conferences like the AAC and C-USA put in fewer teams (3 and 2 respectively).  I doubt anything will change in the future; the committee seems to fall in love with wins (not one eligible team with 40+ wins missed the tourney) and with marginal big-conference teams in lieu of better teams from smaller conferences .


Super Regional Matchups:  the higher ranked team is the host in each case.

  • #1 Oregon State vs Vanderbilt
  • Davidson vs TAMU
  • #3 Florida  vs #14 Wake Forest
  • #4 LSU vs Mississippi State
  • Sam Houston State v #12 Florida State
  • #6 TCU v Missouri State
  • #7 Louisville v #10 Kentucky
  • Cal State Fullerton vs #9 Long Beach State

Super Regional Thoughts:

Hard not to pick Oregon State, who looks the part of a #1 ranked team.  Also hard to pick Davidson to continue their upset run, so I’ll go with TAMU based on experience.

I’ll take Florida over Wake, despite Wake’s being rather under-rated.  They lost only two weekend series allyear, both away to top teams.  But Florida has the ace in Faedo and the cache.

A SEC rematch between LSU and Mississippi State might be a laugher; LSU swept MSU on their field in their weekend series earlier this year, and LSU will host.  Look for two quick wins for the National power.

As with Davidson, its hard to give Sam Houston a shot at the veteran Florida State team.

The in-state Kentucky matchup between Louisville and Kentucky is a good one; they met twice in mid-week games and split them, but those games (both throwing mid-week starters) aren’t a great predictor.  I like Louisville’s pitching and experience here.

The final matchup, between two Big West teams, seems easy enough to call on paper: Long Beach State and CS-Fullerton met 6 times this year and Long Beach won five of them.  I’m guessing LBSU hosts, where they swept Fullerton earlier this year.  I think the Dirtbags should advance easily.

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:

  • Oregon State/Vanderbilt: the likely #1 overall draft pick Kyle Wright, also Kendall, plus Oregon State’s two dominant starters Heimlich and Jake Thompson.
  • Davidson/TAMU; none really.
  • Florida/Wake Forest: Alex Faedo mostly.
  • LSU/Mississippi State: Alex Lange for LSU, Brendan Rooker for MSU.
  • Sam Houston State/Florida State; none really, despite FSU’s ranking.
  • TCU/Missouri State; MSU’s Jake Burger; TCU is led more by under-classmen but does have Evan Skoug who might get drafted relatively highly.
  • Louisville/Kentucky; Louisville of course led by possible #1 overall pick Brendan McKay.
  • Cal State Fullerton/Long Beach State; no 1st round notables.

MLB.com has a nice summary with all the above names plus more.


 

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

Or, in the CWS groupings: Oregon State, CS Fullerton, FSU, LSU in one bracket, and TAMU, Louisville, TCU and Florida in the other.

That’d be a great CWS field.


College CWS tournament references:

CWS 2017: Field of 64 announced with Regional predictions

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CWS-2017_calendar-narrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


 

Easiest Regionals: Oregon State & Florida

Hardest RegionalsTCU, Stanford

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

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

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


Snubs

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

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

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

Marquee Draft-related players to watch

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

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

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

Other News

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


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

The “Race” to the bottom: Reverse Standings for 2017’s #1 overall pick (and potential 1-1 candidates)

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Its been a while since we hyper-monitored for the #1 pick in Nats town … but for draft-wonks its a fun time of the year.  The tail end of the season, especially a season where multiple teams were in “rebuilding mode,” is fun to see who’s in line for the #1 overall pick next year.

Reverse standings updated at Baseball America: here’s who is in line for the top 10 picks next year:

NO TEAM W L PCT LEAGUE L-30 RS RA Diff
1 Minnesota Twins 55 96 .364 American League 6 – 24 684 835 -151
2 Atlanta Braves 61 91 .401 National League 17 – 13 604 749 -145
3 Cincinnati Reds 63 89 .414 National League 10 – 20 663 809 -146
4 San Diego Padres 64 88 .421 National League 12 – 18 641 722 -81
5 Arizona Diamondbacks 64 88 .421 National League 14 – 16 709 856 -147
6 Tampa Bay Rays 64 87 .424 American League 13 – 17 640 670 -30
7 Los Angeles Angels 66 86 .434 American League 15 – 15 661 700 -39
8 Oakland Athletics 66 86 .434 American League 13 – 17 623 716 -93
9 Milwaukee Brewers 68 84 .447 National League 16 – 14 632 690 -58
10 Philadelphia Phillies 69 83 .454 National League 12 – 18 568 716 -148

So, as of 9/22/16, the Twins have a 5 game “lead” over Atlanta for the #1 overall pick, and they’re bottoming out, having gone just 6-24 in the last month or so.  Meanwhile, the Braves, who everyone thought was the shoe-in for the worst team this year, has a 17-13 record in its last 30 and has shown signs of life enough so as to cost themselves the #1 pick next year.  At the rate they’re all going, Atlanta may end up dropping even further down thanks to the Reds and their historically awful pitching.  Arizona has been playing decently but comes to Washington for a 4-game set.

Here’s a quick look at the 2017 candidates for going #1 overall.  Mind you this is amazingly early, especially for the high school kids, but there’s a few specific names that are rising above the others in this class.

High Schoolers in competition for 1-1 overall:

  • Hunter Greene ss/rhp Notre Dame High, CA (UCLA commit). 2015 18U tema as a Jr. Standout at PG Nationals 2016. two-way talent, 95-97 on the mound but also a fantastic hitter. 18U National team trials.  Standout at Area code games.  Basically Greene is so talented on both sides of the ball that there’s disagreement as to which way he should go.  Most pundits think he’s drafted as a pitcher and if he can’t cut it that he can move to the field.
  • Jordon Adell of/rhp Ballard High, KY (Louisville). 18U National team trials.  Area Code stand out.  He is a hitting prospect through and through; he won the HR derby at the Area Code Games.

There’s a distinct gap between Greene/Adell and the next grouping of HS players, which include a couple of high-end lefty prospects in D.L. Hall and Trevor Rogers, a couple of middle infielders in Brady McConnell and Royce Lewis, and a powerful 1B prospect from Miami named Alejandro “Alex” Toral, but the two above are the cream.  Its worth noting; no prep RHP has ever gone 1-1, which works against Greene in that slot.

Collegiate players in competition for 1-1 overall:

  • Jeren Kendall OF Vanderbilt. 2016 Collegiate National team
  • Alex Faedo rhp Florida. 2016 Collegiate National team
  • Kyle Wright rhp Vanderbilt.  2016 Collegiate National team
  • Brendan McCay of/lhp Louisville. All-American as a Soph. 2016 Collegiate National team
  • Jacob “J.B.” Bukauskas rhp UNC/Ashburn. 2016 Collegiate National team

I think they’re ranked roughly in this order too; Kendall is the name most frequently mentioned as 1-1 overall candidate right now; safest pick, an OF from a baseball factory.  I think Faedo and Wright go before local product Bukauskas, but its definitely looking like he’s projected top-10 at this point.  McCay is right there as well, with a great pedigree and likely being a 2-time All American by the time he’s done.

But we’re an awfully long way from next June.  Nobody had Mickey Moniak at the top of their boards at this time last year.


 

PS: i’ve got a draft version of the “Local 2017 draft candidates” to watch, but in a spoiler (we won’t publish it until next Feb/March) there’s nowhere near the projected local talent in 2017 as there was this year (when we saw two local prep players drafted in the top 3 rounds plus a few other local guys in the top 10).  But right now here’s who i’ve got as the best local prep players for 2017.

  • Kyle Whitten, RHP/1B from Osbourn Park in Manassas, VA. WWBA 2015 with Team Stars, 2016 Evoshield 17-U team.  At the USA Baseball 18U national trials in June 2016 (and made 40-man roster).  Early commit to UVA.  Evoshield 17U team at 2016 Marietta/Cobb.  PBR Class of 2017 top 10.
  • Tyler Solomon, C/1B from Battlefield HS in Haymarket, VA.  2015 WWBA Team Evoshield 17-U, 2016 All 6-A North Region 2nd team.  2016 Evoshield 17-U team.  At PG National 2016.  At the USA Baseball 18U national trials in June 2016.  Early commit to Vanderbilt.  Evoshield 17U team at 2016 Marietta/Cobb.  All PBR DC/VA team 2016.  PBR Class of 2017 top 10.  Area Code Games 2016.
  • Jeremy Arocho, SS from Old Mill HS in Glen Burnie, MD.  2015 WWBA Team Evoshield 17-U, 2016 Evoshield 17-U team.  At PG National 2016.   18U National team trials.  early commit to Maryland.  Evoshield 17U team at 2016 Marietta/Cobb.  Area Code Games 2016.
  • Matt Cooper, C/1B from Norfolk Academy.  2016 VISAA Division I all-state.  2016 Evoshield 17-U team.  At PG National 2016.  Early commit to Clemson.  2nd Team all-Tidewater 2016 as a junior.  American Family 2016 1st team All-Virginia as a junior.  Evoshield 17U team at 2016 Marietta/Cobb.  All PBR DC/VA team 2016.   PBR Class of 2017 top 10.  Area Code Games 2016.
  • Tanner Morris, MIF from St Anne’s-Belfield HS/Miller School of Albemarle.  2015 WWBA Team Evoshield 17-U, VISAA A All-State 2016.  2016 VISAA Division II all-state.  2016 Evoshield 17-U team.   At PG National 2016.  Early commit to UVA.  American Family 2016 1st team All-Virginia as a junior.  Evoshield 17U team at 2016 Marietta/Cobb.  All PBR DC/VA team 2016.   PBR Class of 2017 top 10.  Area Code Games 2016.

They’re the only three players from DC/MD/VA who were invited to the 18U team trials.  Four of these five were the sole local reps at the Area code Games.  So its probably safe to assume at this point they’re among the best 2017 draft candidates.  But are they top-5 rounds good?  We’ll see.

Written by Todd Boss

September 22nd, 2016 at 11:52 am