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College World Series Update; The tourney is taking shape

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Not a good sign when you can't spell the name of your marquee event correctly.

Not a good sign when you can’t spell the name of your marquee event correctly.

Here’s a recap of the 2013 College World Series (CWS) so far.  We’re through the first four days of competition and we’re getting closer to a CWS final.

To recap the entire NCAA post-season tournament so far

A couple helpful resources for those who want to follow the College game: here’s a link to the CWS schedule page at d1baseball.com, which I use as the best way to quickly find all the core college site data.  And here’s the best (only?) College Baseball blog out there: CollegeBaseballDaily.com.

CWS Field: here’s the two Pots that will each determine a finalist:

  • Pot 1: UNC, NC State, UCLA, LSU
  • Pot 2: Mississippi State, Oregon State, Indiana, Louisville

Days 1-2:

  • Results: NC State beats UNC, UCLA beats LSU, Mississippi State beats Oregon State and Indiana beats Louisville.  My predictions were pretty bad; all four teams that I thought would win the openers lost; only Indiana-Louisville would not have been considered an “upset” by seeds.
  • Carlos Rodon for NC State pitched a complete game victory, giving up just one run on 5 hits against the #1 overall seed UNC.  Rodon’s post-season stats now stand as follows: 26 1/3 innings, 18 hits, 4 runs, 27Ks, 4 walks.  Hie continues building his draft pedigree for 2014 (he’s already considered one of the best, if not the best 2014 draft prospects).  If NC State can beat UCLA, they’ll get Rodon in the pot final on 4 days rest and could use him in game 3 of the finals on 4 days rest as well, an intruiging scenario for NC State’s chances at winning this tournament.  So instead of seeing marquee matchups in the winners brackets of both pots, we saw them in win-or-go-home games in the Losers bracket.
  • Aaron Nola for LSU took his first loss of the season, giving up 2 unearned runs in 8 innings to lose to UCLA.  Another upper-end sophomore pitching prospect, Nola has yet to give up an earned run in the post season and previously out-dueled 3rd overall pick Jonathan Grey in the super Regional by pitching a 2-hit shutout against Oklahoma.  But UCLA ground out an important victory.
  • Mississippi State scored twice in the 8th to take the 5-4 lead and held on against #3 overall Seed Oregon State.
  • Joey DeNato pitched a 4-hit shutout for Indiana and shut down Louisville.  DeNato is a college junior who (amazingly?) went undrafted in June (likely because of his size; he’s listed as 5’10” 180 and probably is smaller).   He’s 24-8 for his college career and is only improving.  He could be a draft day find for someone in 2014.

Days 3-4:

  • Results: Oregon State eliminates Louisville, Mississippi State beats Indiana, UNC eliminates LSU, and UCLA beats NC State.
  • Louisville is the first team eliminated as their ace Jeff Thompson (a third round 2013 pick for Detroit) gets pounded for 7 runs in 3 2/3 innings.  Not a great way to end your college career.
  • Mississippi State puts itself in the driver’s seat to advance from Pot 2 with another 8th inning come-back to beat Indiana and now only needs one more win to get to the CWS final.
  • LSU, the team that I thought would win the CWS a few days ago, became the 2nd team to be eliminated by falling to #1 overall seed UNC.  Tar Heels freshman “Closer” Trent Thornton got the start and threw 7 decent innings to improve to 12-1 on the season.  The Tarheel’s offense got to LSU’s starter early to send my (and Baseball America pundits’) favorite home early.
  • UCLA put itself in the drivers seat of Pot 1 by beating NC State 2-1.  UCLA’s saturday starter Nick Vander Tuig (and San Francisco’s 6th round pick this year) junk-balled his way through 7 innings of 4-hit ball for the victory.

Where do we stand in the tournament now/What’s next?

  • The next two days feature Elimination games.
  • Oregon State-Indiana is tonight 6/19/13.  Loser goes home.  The winner has to beat Mississippi State twice to get to the CWS Final.
  • UNC faces NC State for the 5th time this season tomorrow night 6/20/13.  Loser goes home.  The winner has to then beat UCLA twice to get to the CWS final.
  • UCLA and Mississippi State are both heavily favored at this point to advance; they get to rest their bullpens and they can throw their #1 starters on full rest.

 

 

Written by Todd Boss

June 19th, 2013 at 9:13 am

CWS Super Regional Results and CWS Field

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Here’s a quick look at the College Baseball Super Regionals, which finished up on 6/11/13 due to the crazy rain the east coast has seen.

Previous Links on the CWS this year:

  • My original Field-of-64 thoughts are here.
  • My Regional review and super-regional preview is here.
  • My favorite no-frills just data College Baseball site is d1baseball.com, where I go for all the results

Super-Regional Results (in the order in which these teams line up for the CWS)

  • #1 UNC d #16 South Carolina: UNC looked like a vulnerable #1 seed after getting blown out 8-0 to force a 3rd Super Regional game, but squeaked out the 5-4 victory on  tuesday to become the last team to advance and complete the CWS field.
  • #9 NC State defeated Rice: NC State rocks some 1980’s style uniforms and squeaks past Rice in 2 straight to punch its CWS ticket.
  • #12 UCLA defeated #5 Cal State Fullerton: UCLA wins a tight  regional in 2 straight to advance.
  • #4 LSU defeated Oklahoma: LSU gets a win over 1st round draftee Jonathan Grey and then blitzes Oklahoma in the second game to advance.
  • #11 Mississippi State upsets #6 Seed UVA two straight on the road.   They didn’t seem that troubled by UVA’s squad frankly; was UVA overseeded?  Or is the SEC just that deeper a conference?
  • #3 Oregon State v #14 Kansas State overcomes a first game loss to take the set 4-3 on Monday.
  • #10 Indiana defeated #7 Florida State: Indiana was never scared of a Florida State team that blized through its own regional and went punch for punch in this high scoring regional, winning 2 straight in Tallahassee to advance.  This is the first time a Big 10 team has made the CWS since 1984.
  • #15 Louisville defeated #2 Vanderbilt; this may have looked like an upset by the seedings, but Louisville’s two dominant starters controlled Vanderbilt’s offense for most of these two games and Louisville advances.

So, at the end of the Super Regionals only 3 of the 8 national seeds advanced, but they’re 3 of the 4 favorites heading into the tournament.  To me the only significant upset in the super regionals was Vanderbilt getting beat, though they’ve shown a propensity to falter early when seeded well (see 2007 when they entered the tournament as the #1 overall seed and had ace David Price but lost in their own regional to Michigan).

CWS Preview (reminder of format: each of these four groups will play a double elimination mini-tourney amongst themselves to arrive at a finalist for the Championship 3-game set):

Conference Distribution:

  • Big 10: Indiana, Regular and Post Season Champ
  • Big East: Louisville: Regular Season Champ
  • Pac-12: Oregon State, Regular Season Champ.
  • Pac-12: UCLA: 3rd Place Regular Season
  • ACC: UNC: 1st Place Coastal Division Regular Season, Post Season ACC Champ.
  • ACC: NC State: 2nd Place Atlantic Division Regular Season
  • SEC: LSU: 1st Place Western Division regular season, Post Season SEC champ
  • SEC: Mississippi State: 3rd place Western Division regular season

Two teams each from the 3 power baseball conferences and then the undisputed champs of two lesser conferences.  There’s some good distribution of conference champions in the CWS; 5 of the 8 teams are their conference’s Regular Season champions.  Non Regular Season champs UCLA and NC State advance in at the expense of perennially over-seeded Rice and Cal-State Fullerton.   Mississippi State advances in a SEC-ACC showdown over UVA that was probably closer on paper than their ranks and seeds may have indicated.

Fun Fact: Speaking of the ACC; A member of the ACC (not counting Miami, who wasn’t in the ACC at the time of their recent victories) has not won the College World Series since Wake Forest’ 1955 victory.   Despite being considered the best or 2nd best conference out there.  And honestly, I don’t see an ACC team winning this year either; UNC may be the #1 seed but they’ve struggled the whole post season.

  • Pot 1: UNC, NC State, UCLA, LSU
  • Pot 2: Mississippi State, Oregon State, Indiana, Louisville

CWS Predictions:

  • In Pot 1, We get a fun intra-state opening game of UNC-NC State (they split the regular season matchups and then UNC beat them in the ACC tournament).  LSU should take out a weaker UCLA, giving us a great potential UNC-LSU winners bracket showdown.  Frankly, I think LSU easily advances when all is said and done; they should have been a higher seed after winning the SEC championship over Vanderbilt, they’ve showed they can beat one of the best arms in the country in Jonathan Grey, and I think they’ve got what it takes to win it all.
  • Pot 2 has three unexpected teams and a clear favorite in Oregon State.   I’ll take Oregon State to hold serve against Mississippi State and I’ll take Louisville in the opener over surprising Indiana.  After that, I think Louisville continues to lean on their two big starters and eventually advances to the title game.

In the title game I’ll take LSU over Louisville; after watching LSU in the super regional I think they’re the best team playing the best ball right now heading into Omaha.

Click here for the complete CWS broadcast schedule.

Written by Todd Boss

June 12th, 2013 at 8:21 am

Posted in College/CWS

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2013 CWS Field of 64 announced; analysis

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Feel free to read on if you’re not a College Baseball guy, since I know some of my readers have questioned why I follow the college game.

The Field of 64 was announced today with all of the conference tournaments ending, and there were a few surprises in the seeds and field.

A quick guide to how the College World Series (CWS) field works: teams play in 16 “Regional tournaments” kicking off this coming weekend.  These are 4-team double elimination tournaments to determine a regional winner.  Then, the winners of each regional square off in a best-of-3 “Super Regional” the weekend of June 7-8-9 to determine the Eight (8) College World Series entrants.  Those 8 teams then are divided into two pots of four, play one additional 4-team double elimination tournament to arrive at a winner-take-all CWS championship.  The regions are hosted by schools; the CWS is hosted in Omaha, Nebraska.  When talking below about the “seeds” of the regional tournaments, the teams are seeded 1 through 4 within the regional tournament.  The regional host is the #1 seed, and the weakest entrant is the #4 seed.  This is not the same thing as talking about the “overall” seed; to make that distinction i’ll always say “tournament seeds” when talking about the overall tournament seeds.

Quick reference to current polls:

Biggest snubs: Probably Seton Hall, Pittsburgh, and perhaps Auburn.  Notre Dame had a beef to, with a decent RPI, but were only the #7 seed in the Big East and lost the title game to the #8 seeded UConn and that was that.  Possibly Stanford, who were 5th in a 4-bid conference.  Campbell has a big beef; they were the #1 seed in the Big South, lose the title game 2-1 and miss out while the #2 seed (Coastal Carolina) in the conference makes it as an at-large.  Gonzaga was the #1 seed in the WCC but lost their last 7 games to take them from 32-14 to 32-21 and a missed tournament.  Nebraska isn’t technically a sub (they finished a game under .500) but had they won one more game they’d be in for sure.  Apparently Mercer was last in and Michigan State was last out, so we’ll say that Michigan State is a snub too.

Conference Distribution: As expected the tournament is dominated by the SEC (9 teams) and ACC (8 teams).  Surprisingly this year the mid-major Sun Belt conference has as many teams (4) as the Pac-10 (also 4).  Traditional Pac-10 powerhouses Cal, Stanford and Arizona all had down years.   The CAA surprisingly got 3 bids when upstart Towson won the tournament; i’m sure there are grumblings from the snubs above over the at-large bids given to William & Mary.

If the top 16 tournament seeds (aka, the regional hosts) hold serve, your super regional field would look like this (note the teams 9-16 are not “officially” seeded but to be honest they basically make sense and are ranked appropriately.  Its not as if the committee just pulls these names out of a hat).

  • #1 UNC v #16 South Carolina
  • #8 Oregon v #9 NC State
  • #5 Cal State Fullerton v #12 UCLA
  • #4 LSU v #13 Virginia Tech
  • #6 UVA v #11 Mississippi State
  • #3 Oregon State v #14 Kansas State
  • #7 Florida State v #10 Indiana
  • #2 Vanderbilt v #15 Louisville

Thoughts on the 1-8 tournament seeding: I would have had both Vanderbilt and LSU above UNC, but not by much and it may not really matter frankly.  I think BA’s rankings are wrong to have Vanderbilt above LSU the day after LSU beats them on a neutral field for the SEC championship.   Oregon State may be seeded slightly high, but as some have pointed out they may have slightly tweaked the seeds so that the two big guns from the ACC and SEC were balanced in the top 8 seeds.  Fair enough for me.  Cal State Fullerton is ALWAYS ranked too highly and always seems to fail to live up to their seeding; they face a tough regional with Arizona and New Mexico.

Biggest over-seed amongst the 16 hosts: none really; they’re by and large the 16 best teams this year.  Perhaps Va Tech or Kansas State.  Indiana is highly ranked but was from a one-bid conference whose #3 seed had a losing record on the season.  Louisville  may struggle to win its own regional with Miami and Oklahoma state to contend with.

Most aggrieved #2 Regional seed: Probably Clemson, who is mostly identically ranked as South Carolina, its arch rival, and now it has to go there to advance.  Also perhaps grumbling about their lot in this tournament are Oklahoma and Arkansas, both of whom are higher ranked in the coaches poll than their regional hosts (Virginia Tech and Kansas State respectively).

Easiest Regions for the Hosts: UNC gets three mid-major teams, none of which seem that challenging.  UVA’s region looks even easier; their hardest test is UNC-Wilmington.  LSU has in-state rival Louisiana-Lafayette to contend with but little else.

Toughest #3 Regional Seeds: Probably New Mexico; who blew away their conference and are ranked #17 in the coaches poll.   Oklahoma State is #19 in the coaches poll and is regionally seeded behind Miami.  Mercer (RPI #29), Troy, San Diego and Florida (who barely earned their way in by achieving a .500 record with the Nations 2nd hardest schedule) are also going to be tough #3 seeds to contend with.

Who is the next Fresno State (aka, the next #4 regional seed to come out of nowhere to win): Tough one in this tournament; most of the #4 seeds are automatic bid teams with RPIs in the 180-200 range.  Wichita State has a rich college baseball history and is a #4 regional seed despite winning the WAC.  San Diego State could surprise, as well as St. Louis.  But most of the #4 seeds are early tournament fodder.

Big-time Draft Prospects to keep an eye on, by team: Likely #1 overall pick Mark Appel‘s season is over as Stanford failed to qualify for the tournament (drafting teams can now rest; Stanford has no more chances to abuse Appel on pitch-counts for the rest of his college career).  The rest of the names here are all considered 1st or 2nd round prospects by Keith Law or Baseball America and they’re listed in rough order of where they’re likely to be drafted in the 1st and 2nd rounds.  The Nats don’t pick until the end of the 2nd round, but should have a shot at some of the names at the bottom of this list:

  • Jonathan Grey, Oklahoma’s #1 starter and 1-1 candidate.
  • Kris Bryant, San Diego’s record-breaking slugger and likely top-3 pick.
  • Colin Moran, UNC 3B
  • Ryne Stanek, Arkansas’ #1 starter who’s stock has slightly fallen this year.
  • D.J. Peterson, New Mexico 3B/1B
  • Hunter Renfroe, Mississippi State OF
  • Jonathan Crawford, Florida RHP
  • Trey Ball, Indiana LHP
  • Bobby Wahl, Mississippi RHP (and Springfield VA native as discussed in my local draft prospects post last week).
  • Ryan Eades, LSU RHP
  • Trevor Williams, Arizona State RHP
  • Jason Hursch, Oklahoma State RHP
  • Michael Lorenzen, Cal State Fullerton OF/RHP
  • Alex Balog, San Francisco RHP

Let the games begin!

Mid-spring update on local draft prospects

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High Schools are heading into post-season tournaments and local prep players have had their chances to make impressions through the Spring HS season.  How are our local prep phenoms faring this year, and what players with Virginia ties may feature prominently in the upcoming MLB draft?

Note; it is difficult to find updated stats on Prep players.  I tried.  If you know where to find reliable prep hitting and pitching stats, let me know.  So there’s not much in the way of stats here unless they’re college players.  For all the players below I’ve listed if they appear in the latest top-100 draft prospect rankings from two reliable sources: Keith Law‘s top-100 draft list and BaseballAmerica’s top 100 list and top 250 list.  Instead of re-linking over and over, i’ll refer to these two lists in shorthand via the links here.

First, quick updates on the players mentioned in my March 2013 posting on 4 local players:

  • Andy McGuire: SS/3B: leading Madison HS in Vienna to a 19-1 record (with 19 consecutive wins) heading into the District tournament and a #1 local ranking by the Washington Post.  Madison is also an honorable mention in the latest USA Today national rankings.  I asked Law in his 5/16/13 chat about McGuire’s draft status (he’s regularly in the lower 50 of pundit’s top 100 draft prospects for this year, implying a mid 2nd round pick) but Law is “hearing” 4th round, which he’s surprised by and may indicate that McGuire will honor his U. Texas committment.  Draft Rankings: Law #74/BA #196.  6/6/13 update: some video of McGuire at this link; just watching him run and move and his body type I’m immediately thinking he’s going to struggle to stay at SS, echoing what scouts say.
  • Alec Grosser: RHP TC Williams: Nothing else has really popped up about Grosser after the initial flurry of articles, and he’s listed as “Signed” and committed to George Mason.  PerfectGame has his best measured fastball at 92, ranging 89-92.  That’s still pretty good and I’m guessing he’ll head to George Mason to see where his arm takes him.  His HS has not had the success one would expect with a dominant arm, sitting at around .500 heading into the post-season.  Not ranked by Law/BA #158.
  • Matt McPhearson: OF with Riverdale Baptist popped up on MinorLeagueBall’s Mid-Atlantic report recently with the note that he has “game changing” speed.  He’s still listed as a “Verbal” Commit to U. Miami.  I’ve seen him as a late 1st rounder on some mock drafts.  Here’s a good scouting report on him from BaseballHounds.com.  Lastly there’s some scouting video online of him, showing a good bat from the left-hand side and with some amazing speed stats: a verified 6.2 in the 60 yard dash and home-to-first in less than 3.8 seconds.  As the articles say; that’s Crazy fast.   He’s one of only three guys with an “80” scouting grade in this year’s class per Jim Callis (the other two being Jonathan Gray’s fastball, and Kris Bryant’s power, and those two guys are both going in the top 3 of the 2013 draft). The only knock on him may be his size (just 5’10”) but he profiles as a prototypical leadoff/center fielder.  Law ranked #62/BA #136.
  • Thomas Rogers, LHP injured all year is still verbally committed to UNC.  Nothing new to report.  Not ranked in either Law/BA’s lists.

A couple of new names that I’ve taken note of locally, by virtue of their college commitments to major Baseball programs:

  • Errol Robinson, SS from St. Johns, signed to play at Ole Miss.  He was #92 in BaseballAmerica’s top 100 pre-season draft prospects and had a nice Q&A with them in March 2013.  His PerfectGame profile and draft write ups indicate he’s a quick-bat SS who has the capability of going in the top 5 rounds.  NatsGM’s Ryan Sullivan scouted him about a week ago and wrote it up here.   Based on this interview (where he talks about how his Mom, Dad and sister all attended or currently are at Ole Miss), I’m pretty sure he’s going to honor his college commitment despite any potential drafting.   Not ranked in either Law/BA’s lists.
  • Alec Bettinger, a RHP with Hylton HS in Woodbridge, has a verbal commitment to UVA.  PerfectGame has him with about a 90 mph fastball.  He’s “small but athletic” per this MinorLeagueBall article (6’0″ 165lbs), which may have him leaning towards a future professional bullpen role.  6’0″ is really on the low-end for what scouts like to see in a starter (think Tim Hudson is considered undersized and he’s 6’1″ 175lbs), so it seems likely he’ll take his fastball to college to see how it develops.  Not ranked in either Law/BA’s list.

Other Virginia-connected big names being talked about in the draft (thanks to this MinorLeagueBall article and comments for crowd-sourced Virginia-connected names to target)

  • Conner Jones, RHP with Great Bridge HS, the HS of Justin Upton down in Chesapeake.  Jones is leading his HS to a current 19-0 record, good enough for being ranked 18th by USAToday/22nd by BaseballAmerica in the state title game.  He’s easily the best Virginia draft prospect this year and is the only guy that MLBDraftInsider.com has going in the top 50 of their mock drafts right now.  PG has him at 93mph with a UVA committment that he has told scouts he intends to honor, but he’s getting back-of-the-1st round notice for the upcoming draft.  As scouts have noted, these “verbal commitments” are pretty meaningless unless a player specifically fails to file one specific item prior to the draft (which automatically invalidates them; i can’t recall what it is right now but believe its a drug test).  So we’ll see.  Law ranked #29/BA ranked #33.
  • Bobby Wahl: RHP from Ole Miss, a good sized Righty who is Ole Miss’ Friday night starter and who hails from Springfield, VA (West Springfield HS).  He’s 9-0 with a 1.43 ERA on the season, quite a stat line considering who he’s typically going up against (the #1 starters of other SEC teams, easily the best baseball conference in the land).  Law ranked #66/BA ranked #36.  If he last til the late 2nd round as Law suggests, he could be right around where the Washington Nationals could draft him with their first pick (#68 overall).  However, John Sickels/MinorLeagueBall’s latest mock draft has Wahl going #31, more consistent with BA’s rankings.  It doesn’t seem likely he’ll fall to the Nats.
  • Austin Nicely, LHP from Spotswood HS in Grottoes, Virginia (way down I-81 by my alma Mater James Madison University).   PG has him as a lefty who throws 90 and is committed to UVA.  Law #78/Not in BA’s top 250, a huge disparity.
  • Chad Pinder, 3B Virginia Tech.  Described as a plus-defender, decent bat.  His season batting stats aren’t that impressive as compared to his teammates, so he must be some defender.  If he can really move to SS like the scouting reports say and still hit for average and some power, he’s a good 2nd-3rd round prospect.  Law ranked #86/BA ranked #53.
  • Jack Roberts, RHP from James River HS in Richmond, committed to UVA and per PG gets up to 92mph.   Big guy (6’4″ 200lbs) who I’d bet can add more velocity if he goes to college.   If he threw a couple ticks higher he’d probably be a big time prospect.  Not ranked in either Law/BA’s list.
  • Zach Rice, LHP from Suffolk (outside of Norfolk), tall lanky kid who slings it 89 from the left hand side.  Committed to UNC.  Worth mentioning since he’s been recruited by the best team in the country.  Not ranked in either Law/BA’s list.
  • Kyle Crockett, LHP from UVA.  He’s UVA’s closer (and a HS teammate of fellow draft prospect Chad Pinder).  He throws 90-92 from the left side but has impeccable control; he has just one unintentional walk in 43 innings this year while getting more than a K/inning.  Despite being used as a reliever, I can see someone moving him back to the rotation to see if his stuff can play for 6-7 innings at a time.  Not ranked by Law/BA #103.

Conclusion: Looking at this list, UVA stands to lose an awful lot of pitching recruits if these guys don’t honor their commitments.  Bettinger, Jones, Nicely and Roberts are all UVA commits.  But imagine that staff in a couple years if they all go to college.  Phew.

2013 State Draft Report: Virginia