Nationals Arm Race

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2018 Draft coverage; Mock Draft mania plus my projected top-5 and Nats picks

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Casey Mize has been the consensus 1-1 for 2018 for most of the season. Photo d1baseball.com

Casey Mize has been the consensus 1-1 for 2018 for most of the season. Photo d1baseball.com

Mock Draft mania!  Since the draft is Monday i’ll publish this now to talk about it and talk about who we’d like to see the Nats pick.  I’ll keep adding mocks as they get published and update this post all the way til gametime.

First, here’s a preview of the names we’re talking about for the upper end of the first round.  This is an evolving list, with names who were prominently mentioned last fall falling by the way-side and helium guys rising up.  At publication, i’ve separated those who have fallen as indicated below.

College Upper 1st round names in the mix

  • Casey Mize RHP, Auburn. 2017 USA Nat’l team star, quickly rising to be the consensus 1-1 pick in 2018.
  • Joey Bart, C, Georgia Tech.  Helium candidate in spring 2018
  • Alec Bohm, 3B Wichita State.  Helium guy with strong 2018.
  • Brady Singer RHP, Florida. Dominant in 2016 CWS. 2017 USA Nat’l team.
  • Nick Madrigal 2B, Oregon State: Golden spikes semi-finalist 2017 as sophomore. All-american as Soph. 2017 USA Nat’l team.
  • Jonathan India, 3B, Florida. another Helium guy in spring 2018; was always solid but now hitting .400 in the SEC

College Candidates who have fallen to mid-1st round status: basically i’d be happy with nearly any pick on this list dropping to the Nats at #27.

  • Logan Gilbert, RHP Stetson; top Cape Code league prospect 2017
  • Ryan Rolison, LHP from Ole Miss; #1 pitching prospect from Cape 2017 league.
  • Travis Swaggerty, CF, South Alabama; has not hit well in 2018, lowering stock slightly.
  • Tristan Beck, RHP Stanford.  solid starter who missed significant time with back injury.
  • Sean Hjelle, RHP Kentucky: huge guy (6’11”) who doesn’t throw hard, but it appears so b/c of his reach.
  • Griffin Conine OF, Duke. Jeff Conine‘s son. Exploded in Cape Cod League 2017, All-Cape 2017, named top prospect, but has fallen precipitously in 2018
  • Luken Baker, 1B TCU; more “famous” than draft prospect thanks to lack of defensive value.  Suffered broke leg Apr 2018 after an arm injury in 2017, lowering stock.
  • Seth Beer, 1B Clemson: another “famous” name in the draft; his OBP skills may push him to 1st round.
  • Jackson Kowar, RHP Florida; U-Florida’s saturday starter who has scuffled a bit this spring but still should be a 1st rounder.

High School

  • Carter Stewart, RHP, Eau Gallie HS, Melbourne, FL.  Mississippi State commit, highest spin rate ever recorded?  helium guy spring 2018, jumping up over many names to be first prep player taken.
  • Matt Liberatore LHP, Mountain Ridge (AZ) (Arizona commit).  18U team, Gold Medal game starter, but has had inconsistent spring 2018, not consistently showing 96-97.
  • Jared Kelenic OF, Waukesha (WI) (Louisville commit). 18U team.  Considered best prep hit tool in the class.
  • Nolan Gorman, 3B Sandra Day O’conner HS (AZ): (Arizona commit).  18U team.  best power bat in the class, struggling spring 2018 b/c of being walked all the time.
  • Cole Winn, RHP, Orange Lutheran HS (CA).  Mississippi State commit, helium guy spring 2018.

High School guys whose stock has fallen:

  • Brice Turang SS, Santiago (CA) (LSU commit). 18U team.  Questions on hit took spring 2018; polarizing player among scouts.
  • Ethan Hankins RHP, Forsyth Central (GA): (Vanderbilt commit). 18U team.  Shoulder injury has lowered his stock.
  • Kumar Rocker RHP, North Oconee (GA) (Vanderbilt commit). 18U team.  Has lost velocity this spring, lowering his stock.
  • Nander de Sedas, SS, Montverde FL (Florida State commit): great 2017 summer.

Here’s the Mock draft collection.  I’ve generally listed their top-5 and then who they project the Nats to take at #27 (if they project out that far).  I got the first Mock draft link here just after the end of the 2017 season, when the BA guys did a mock once we knew the draft order.  I’ll continue to add in mocks as they get published post-posting up until the draft.

  • Baseball America (John Manuel) 2018 Mock Draft v1.0 dated 10/6/17: Singer, Hankins, Turang, de Sedas, Gorman.  Nats taking prep RHP Slade Cecconi from a FL HS who can hit 97 with 3 pitches.
  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) 2018 Mock Draft v1.0 dated 5/11/18: (behind a pay wall)
  • Baseball America (Carlos Collazo) 2018 Mock Draft v2.0 dated 5/18/18: (behind a pay wall)
  • Baseball Draft Report (Rob Ozga) 2018 Mock Draft v1.0 dated 10/7/17: Gilbert, Madrigal, Singer, Hankins, Rolison.  Nats taking LHP Konnor Pilkington from Mississippi State, a 2017 USA Nat’l team member.
  • MLBPipeline (Jim Callis) 2018 Early Mock Draft dated 12/5/17: Singer, Hankins, Liberatore, de Sedas, Turang.  Only projected top 10 so no Nats pick.
  • MLBPipeline (Jim Callis) 2018 Mock Draft dated 5/11/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal, Singer.   Nats taking prep RHP Cole Wilcox, RHP, Heritage HS (Ringgold, Ga.)
  • MLBPipeline (Jim Callis) 2018 Mock Draft dated 5/24/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Singer, Madrigal.   Has Nats on Mason Denaburg, a prep RHP from Florida (with a Florida commit) who is someone i hadn’t heard of prior to seeing it in print  here.  He was projected higher until shut down with biceps tendinitis; this could be a classic Nats move of taking a top-10 talent later in the 1st thanks to a slight injury issue.
  • MLBPipeline (Jim Callis) 2018 Final Mock Draft dated 6/4/18: Mize, Bart, Madrigal, Singer, India.  Still has Nats on Denaburg.
  • MLBPipeline (Jonathan Mayo): 2018 Early Mock Draft dated 12/5/17:  Singer, de Sedas, Hankins, Kowar, Madrigal.  Only projected top 10 so no Nats pick.
  • MLBPipeline (Jonathan Mayo): 2018 Mock Draft projection dated 4/30/18:  Mize, Singer, Madrigal, Bohm, Stewart.  has Nats on Xavier Edwards, SS, North Broward Prep (Coconut Creek, Fla.), an undersized but good prospect with a strong Vanderbilt commitment.
  • MLBPipeline (Jonathan Mayo): 2018 Mock Draft projection dated 5/17/18:  Mize, Bart, Bohm, Singer, Madrigal.  Has Nats on Denaburg.
  • MLBPipeline (Jonathan Mayo): 2018 Mock Draft projection dated 5/31/18:  Mize, Bart, Madrigal, Singer, India.  Nats again on Denaburg.
  • MLBPipeline (Jonathan Mayo) 2018 Final Mock Draft dated 6/4/18: Mize, Bart, Madrigal, Singer, India.  now has Nats on Xavier Edwards, a prep SS from Florida.
  • Fangraphs (Eric Longenhagen/Kiley McDaniel): 2018 Mock Draft v1.0 dated 4/19/18: Mize, Bohm, Madrigal, Swaggerty, Kelenic.  Only projected top 10, but notes that Washington wants a “quick moving” college pitcher (just like every year) and is tied to either Tristan Beck or Sean Hjelle.
  • Fangraphs (Eric Longenhagen/Kiley McDaniel): 2018 Mock Draft v2.0 dated 5/15/18: Mize, Bart, Bohn, Madrigal, Singer.  Also has Nats on Denaburg.
  • Fangraphs (Eric Longenhagen/Kiley McDaniel): 2018 Mock Draft v3.0 dated 6/1/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Singer, Madrigal.  Now has Nats on Wilcox.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/Calltothepen.com (Benjamin Chase) Mock draft v1.0 4/30/18: Mize, Bohm, Libratadore, Kelenic, Madrigal.  Has the Nats on Mike Vasil, a HS RHP pitcher from a Boston, MA high school  (with a commit to UVA/Virginia) with some possible arm issues so could be following their pattern of buying low in injured guys.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/Calltothepen.com (Benjamin ChaseMock draft v2.0 5/7/18: Mize, Madrigal, Bohm, Winn, Libratadore.  Has Nats on de Sedas, which would fit the Nats’ predilection of taking “famous” names.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/Calltothepen.com (Benjamin ChaseMock draft v3.0 5/15/18: Mize, Bart, India, Bohm, Singer.  Also has Nats on Denaburg.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/Calltothepen.com (Benjamin ChaseMock draft v4.0 5/21/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal, Singer.   Has Nats now on Wilcox instead of Denaburg now.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/Calltothepen.com (Benjamin ChaseMock draft v5.1 5/28/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Singer, Madrigal.  Has Nats back on Denaburg.
  • Seedlings to the Stars/Calltothepen.com (Benjamin ChaseMock draft v6.2 6/4/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Singer, Madrigal.  Same top 5 as last few iterations.  Has Nats back on Wilcox.
  • ESPN/Keith Law Mock draft v1.0 5/2/18: Mize, Singer, Bohm, Bart, Madrigal.  Has the Nats taking a prep RHP named J.T. Ginn from Mississippi, or perhaps taking one of the more “famous” prep arms if they fall (Hankins, Turang).
  • ESPN/Keith Law Mock draft v2.0 5/17/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal, Singer.  Has the Nats on Rocker, or perhaps one of the other prep guys who are “famous” but who are falling this spring, looking for value.
  • ESPN/Keith Law Mock draft v3.0 5/31/18: Mize, Winn, Bart, Singer, Madrigal.  Has the Nats on Denaburg.
  • ESPN/Keith Law Mock draft v4.0 6/4/18: Bart, Winn, Mize, Singer, Madrigal.  Still has the Nats on Denaburg.
  • Sporting News Mock Draft v1.0 5/17/18: Mize, Libratadore, Singer, Madrigal, Stewart.  Has the Nats taking Seth Beer, which I wouldn’t be totally against.
  • TheBigLead.com (Ryan Phillips) Mock Draft v1.0 5/17/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal, Singer (same as Law).  Only projects top 10, so no Nats pick.
  • TheBigLead.com (Ryan PhillipsMock Draft v2.0 5/30/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal, Singer (same as his first mock).  Has Nats on Wilcox.
  • TheBigLead.com (Ryan PhillipsMock Draft v3.0 6/3/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal, Singer (same as his first two mocks).  Has Nats on Ethan Hankins now.
  • PerfectGame.org (Brian Sakowski) Mock Draft v1.0: 4/20/18: Mize, Kelenic, Madrigal, McClanahan, Hankins.  has Nats on Grayson Rodriguez, prep RHP from Texas HS.
  • PerfectGame.org (Brian Sakowski) Mock Draft v2.0: 5/10/18: Mize, Stewart, Bohm, Singer, Madrigal.  Nats on Kumar Rocker as well; I’d love this pick if it happened.
  • PerfectGame.org (Brian Sakowski) Mock Draft v3.0 5/24/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal, Singer.  Nats on Jackson Kowar, RHP weekend starter for Florida.  Um, if Kowar makes it here, i’d be ecstatic and it’d be a great pick.
  • PerfectGame.org (Brian Sakowski) Mock Draft v4.0 6/4/18: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Singer, Madrigal.  Nats on Denaburg.
  • Prospect Digest (Joseph Werner) Mock Draft 6/4/18: Mize, Liberatore, Madrigal, McClanahan, Stewart.  Nats picking Stanford’s Tristan Beck.

Mock draft posters from 2017 who didn’t seem to do one this year.:

  • D1Baseball (Frankie Piliere)
  • HeroSports.com (Chris Crawford/Jason Crawford)
  • MinorleagueBall.com (John Sickels)
  • SI.com (Jay Jaffe), now with Fangraphs, so probably not doing prospect work anymore.
  • CBSsports (Mike Axisa)

Todd Boss’ Mock draft top-5 prediction?

My top 5: Mize, Bart, Bohm, Singer, Madrigal.   It seems like most all the pundits have arrived at this as a top 5 and it seems to make sense.

ACTUAL DRAFT Results (added after the draft): top 5 went Mize, Bart, Bohm, Madrigal, India.  First four no surprise … India at #5 a surprise.  So was Kyler Murray at #9 to Oakland … that came out of nowhere.

Who are the Nats going to take at #27:  Mason Denaburg

Its really, really difficult to project to the 27th pick; you just have no idea who will be there.  Just consider the 2011 draft; the Nats sat at the #6 spot and figured they’d have zero shot at Anthony Rendon, who for most of his college career was considered a 1-1 guy.  Suddenly Rendon has a slight injury, the first few teams pass on him … and he falls into the Nat’s lap.

Historically, Mike Rizzo drafts college guys.  And historically, he drafts college arms up high.  However, most of the mocks above have the Nats taking prep arms in the first.

The clear “word on the street” out of the Nats camp this year is prep arm.  Why?  I have no idea.  How many high school arms have you ever seen Mike Rizzo draft at the top of the draft?  How about in the top 10 rounds altogether?   I’ll give you the answer to the latter question: Three: Rizzo has drafted exactly three prep arms in the top 10 rounds in the entirety of his Nats career, dating to 2009.  Jesus LuzardoLucas Giolito and A.J. Cole.   That’s it.  Cole was under the prior bonus rules, when they threw 1st round money at him in the 4th.  Giolito was a case where he dropped precipitously thanks to an arm injury and the Nats snagged him mid 1st (which kind of fits the Denaburg projection this year) … and Luzardo was a 3rd rounder with 1st round talent but a TJ surgery on his resume who they got great value on.  So why would anyone think Rizzo is going to pick a prep arm unless its a Giolito situation where a top-5 projected guy suddenly falls?

Normally, i’d firmly in the camp that the Nats will follow their typical pattern here for later 1st round picks: college arm.  I like the mocks that project guys like Beck or Hjelle, or any one of several solid college arms who might drop down because of a crummy regional performance.  Ole Miss’ Ryan Rolison fits the bill here as a guy who might be available at 27, as does Jackson Kowar.

What about one of the famous “bats” in this draft?  Namely, Seth Beer or Luken Baker or Griffen Conine?  All seem like no-position/defensive liability sluggers, which may end up being tweeners between Late 1st round and mid 2nd round … so they’d be reaches for the Nats in the 1st but gone by our 2nd round pick.

 

Actual Nats #27 Pick (added after the draft): Mason Denaburg.  For the second year in a row, the Nats tip their hand and have their first round pick predicted by every major pundit.

CWS 2018: Field of 64 announced with Regional predictions

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CWS-2018_calendar-narrow

First College Baseball post of the season!   And it comes with the announcement of the field of 64 for the 2018 tournament.

Here’s a nice summary of the field from d1baseball.com, including a conference breakdown.

Quick summary of the field: No Miami, no UVA, no TCU in big surprises for big programs.  The field is also missing perennial powers like Rice and Wichita State this year.  Kentucky seems to be the biggest snub … but they were sub .500 in their league and was one-and-done in the SEC tournament.  One win there and they’re probably in.  Northeastern probably the most controversial at-large bid, having their one-bid conference slot “stolen” by UNC-W but not really having earned it on their season.  There’s some sniffling at the national seeding of (in particular) the ACC teams, but otherwise most of the pundits I read think this is a pretty solid field.

Here’s your National seeds:

1. Florida
2. Stanford
3. Oregon State
4. Ole Miss
5. Arkansas
6. UNC
7. Florida State
8. Georgia

That’s a solid SEC showing; four of the top 8 national seeds and 10 teams overall in the tourney.

Next seeds

9. Texas Tech
10. Clemson
11. Stetson
12. ECU
13. Texas
14. Minnesota
15. Coastal Carolina
16. NC State.


 

Quick predictions (here i’ve put in the teams by Super Regional match-up):

1. Florida; cakewalk regional; their #2 is Jacksonville?  See you in a couple weeks.
16. NC State: Get the seed over Auburn; if they save their Ace NC State could be in the Loser’s bracket really quickly.  I think Auburn advances here.

2. Stanford: got no favors by getting the always-tough Cal State Fullerton team in their regional, but their #2 seed Baylor is manageable.
15. Coastal Carolina: gets UConn as their #2 seed and their tough arm Tim Cate.  Coastal has played tough down the stretch though and should advance.

3. Oregon State; tough regional with LSU and San Diego State; Oregon State will have to earn this.  Part of me hopes they go out early so the Heimlich stories die soon.
14. Minnesota; gets two west coast teams in UCLA and Gonzaga; i do not give Big10 baseball teams much credit … but they might be able to handle UCLA this year.

4. Ole Miss; gets a tough Missouri State team (with top draft prospect Jeremey Eierman), but i’m not sure they’re that scared of their #2 Tennessee Tech.
13. Texas: i’d be more scared of TAMU as a 3-seed than Indiana as a #2 seed this year.  TAMU somehow is a #3 seed despite being a top 16 team by RPI and possibly being in the host discussion.  Meanwhile Texas is not as strong as its #13 seed in this tournament looks … I smell an upset here.

5. Arkansas: gets two traditional smaller-school baseball powers in Southern Miss and Dallas Baptist; does anyone ever know how these teams will fare?
12. ECU: gets a tough #2 in South Carolina; can they survive the SEC power?  I’m not sure they can and think South Carolina advances.

6. UNC: gets a manageable region thanks to a Big10 team as their #2 seed.
11. Stetson: two great arms in this region in Gilbert and McClanahan with USF … but Oklahoma State looms too.

7. Florida State: A solid regional here with SEC and Big12 powers.  Florida State is always a tough out though.
10. Clemson gets Vanderbilt again … which means one good team goes home early, again.

8. Georgia: they should be able to get past Duke in this weaker regional.
9. Texas Tech has to face off against Louisville, who for the first time in a few years doesn’t have a top-10 draft pick leading their line.


 

Local rooting interests in the tournament: amazingly, zero DC/MD/VA colleges made this tournament.  No UVA, no Maryland, no Liberty, no VCU or ODU or any of the CAA teams that sometimes sneak in.  Here’s a quick peek at the DC/MD/VA players I could think of who will be playing:

  • #12 Seed ECU has the former dominant LHP Jake Agnos (Battlefield HS in Haymarket) on their staff; he had 80 Ks in 60 innings split between starting and relief roles and stepped it up in the post-season tourney.
  • LSU moved Zach Hess (Lynchburg/Liberty Christian Academy) into the rotation this year and he was the saturday starter all spring; he went 7-5 with a 4.43 ERA and saw his draft stock drop significantly (he’s a draft-eligible sophomore this year).  I wonder if he stays in school another year to rebuild value as a starter.
  • #15 Coastal Carolina has several Virginia-natives in starting roles, including weekend starter Zack Hopeck (Heritage HS in Leesburg) and starting OF Kieton Rivers (Nansemond River HS in Suffolk).
  • #16 NC State has three VA-natives on their pitching staff, including staff-ERA leading Kent Klyman (Jamestown HS in Williamsburg).
  • South Carolina’s friday starter is Cody Morris, who dominated Maryland prep for Reservoir HS in Laurel.  They also feature a starting catcher Hunter Taylor from Nandua HS in Onley VA.

Significant Draft picks from the top seeds worth noting: here’s some of the guys we’re hearing rumors about being 1st rounders in June:

  • Florida; no wonder they’re #1: they may have three guys taken in the top 10 picks.  Weekend starters Brady Singer, Jackson Kowar and clean-up hitter Jonathan India the players to watch, plus Michael Byrne who was All American pre-season as their closer.
  • Stanford: paced by two top-end starters getting 1st round buzz in Kris Bubic and Tristan Beck.
  • Oregon State: Nick Madrigal may be a top 5 guy and be lightening fast to the majors.  Ace is the highly controversial Luke Heimlich (if you don’t know who he is … he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated a few weeks back; google it).  OF Trevor Larnach is getting some 1st round buzz too.
  • Ole Miss; Ace starter Ryan Rolison was the top prospect in the Cape Cod league last  year.
  • Florida State: Tyler Holton was All-American last year and pre-season All American again this year.
  • Auburn: likely 1-1 Casey Mize is their friday starter.
  • Stetson: ace Logan Gilbert has seen his stock fall but is still likely a mid-1st rounder.
  • South Florida’s ace Shane McClanahan could go high.
  • Duke’s Griffin Conine has a famous pedigree and could be a 1st-day pick.
  • Texas Tech’s starter Steve Gingery has a long line of awards behind his name.
  • Clemson’s Seth Beer has been mashing ever since he arrived at school, winning the Dick Howser award as a freshman.  He could be a sleeper pick late in the 1st round.

The race for the 2018 #1 Draft Pick

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SF is in the lead to have first crack at top prep SS Brian Turang. Photo via baseball America

SF is in the lead to have first crack at top prep SS Brice Turang. Photo via baseball America

About this time, I like to look at the bottom of the standings to see who’s going to have the first crack at talent in next year’s Rule-4 amateur draft.

With two weeks left (roughly 13-15 games), here’s how things stand.  There seem to be 4 contenders for the title (records as of saturday morning 9/16/17).

  1. San Francisco, 57-92.  what a season for the Giants, going from presumed contenders to currently owning the worst record in the majors.  They’ve lost 15 of their last 20 and might not be catchable for the #1 pick.  Pretty impressive for the team with the 5th highest opening day payroll.
  2. Philadelphia: 57-90: we knew they’d be bad and so did they … but they’ve played .500 ball for the last month to take themselves out of the running for their 2nd straight #1 overall pick.  They seem likely to end up 3rd or 4th.
  3. Chicago White Sox: 59-88: another team that clearly waived the white flag this past off-season, but which stocked up so heavily on top-end prospects that their possible end of 2018 rotation (Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito, Carson Fulmer and Michael Kopech is a murder’s row of 1st round/highly rated prospects.  They could return to glory and fast, especially with another year of top draft picks.  They’ve rebounded as of late though and are playing themselves out of the running for #1 overall.
  4. Detroit: 61-86: keep an eye on the Tigers though, who have won just 8 of their last 30 and have (finally) admitted to themselves they need to sell, moving face of the franchise Justin Verlander and probably selling off everything they can this coming off-season.  Detroit by the way had the 2nd hghest payroll on opeing day only behind the Dodgers.  Now that’s hard to do.
  5. New York Mets: 63-84: they’re 6 games out of the “lead” but are in free fall, losing 20 of their last 30 and being led to the finish line by a manager that should be canned for incompetence this off-season.

Next few teams: As, Reds and Padres, all of whom are playing .500 ball right now and seem unlikely to get into the top 5.

End of year prediction: SF, Detroit, Mets, Philly, White Sox.

So who’s in the “race” for #1 overall next summer?  Its really early, and these rankings drastically change with spring performances, but here’s some of the top names to keep in mind:

College:

  • Brady Singer RHP, Florida. Dominant in 2016 CWS. 2017 USA Nat’l team.
  • Casey Mize RHP, Auburn. 2017 USA Nat’l team star.
  • Nick Madrigal 2B, Oregon State: Golden spikes semi-finalist 2017 as sophomore. All-american as Soph. 2017 USA Nat’l team.
  • Seth Beer 1B/DH Clemson: monster freshman year in 2016: Dick Howser award, Golden spikes finalist. 2017 USA Nat’l team.
  • Griffin Conine OF, Duke. Jeff Conine‘s son. Exploded in Cape Cod League 2017, All-Cape 2017, named top prospect
  • Jeremey Eierman SS, Missouri State; All-American 1st/2nd team 2017 as sophomore. 2017 USA Nat’l team invitee.

High School

  • Kumar Rocker RHP, North Oconee (GA) (Vanderbilt commit). 18U team.
  • Brice Turang SS, Santiago (CA) (LSU commit). 18U team.
  • Ethan Hankins RHP, Forsyth Central (GA): (Vanderbilt commit). 18U team.
  • Jared Kelenic OF, Waukesha (WI) (Louisville commit). 18U team.

If the draft was tomorrow, it’d probaby go Turang, Singer, Rocker at the top.

College Baseball Kickoff for 2017

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TCU Baseball is pre-season #1 team in the land. My father in law (a TCU alum) would be proud.

TCU Baseball is pre-season #1 team in the land. My father in law (a TCU alum) would be proud.

I know pitchers and catchers just reported … but its also the kick off of the Collegiate Baseball Season.  And I like following college baseball; after all, its where the Nats get all of their draft picks!  :-)

The first games of the new season start on 2/17/17.  Here’s a quick post to publish some links of interest and high light some local teams as we kick off the new season.

College Season Previews:

Pre-season top 25 lists: (I’ll back-fill those that havn’t published as of the publication of this initially)

  • Baseball America: TCU, Florida, Florida State (aka FSU), LSU and South Carolina top 5.  Defending champ Coastal Carolina (aka CCU) #15.  Other ranked local teams or teams with local players: ECU #6, NC State #14, UVA #16, UNC #17, Maryland #24.
  • D1Baseball: TCU, Florida, FSU, South Carolina, LSU.   Other teams of interest: NC State #6, UNC #9, ECU #10, CCU #11, UVA #17, Maryland #22, UNC-W #24.
  • College Baseball Daily: tbd
  • College Baseball Central: TCU, FSU, LSU, Florida, Louisville.  Other teams: South Carolina #6, NC State #8, ECU #9, UNC #10, CCU #11, UVA #18, UNC-W #24.
  • Collegiate Baseball News: TCU, LSU, Florida, South Carolina, Oregon State.  Others: ECU #13, UNC #15, UVA #16, CCU #19.
  • NCBWA (National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association): TCU, Florida, LSU, FSU, South Carolina.  ECU/NC State/CCU/UNC and Clemson ranked 9-13 consecutively, UVA 19 and UMD 25.

So, why is TCU #1 across the board?  Because they return practically everyone from last year’s team, which made the CWS, and they add to it a good recruiting class that includes the highest 2016 draftee not to sign in Nick Lodolo.  They have a pre-season All-American starter in Brian Howard and an early easy pick for player of the year in Luken Baker, who took the sport by storm last year as a freshman, hitting .379 and destroying pitching in the post-season.

Florida is in everyone’s top 5 thanks to their pitching depth and high-end talent (despite multiple 1st rounders drafted off of last year’s team they return another weekend starter who is in talks to go 1-1 overall in Alex Faedo.   LSU, Florida State and South Carolina return their typical strong teams.

There’s a ton of teams in the Carolinas getting top 25 attention.  This should make the ACC and SEC league play as interesting as always.  Locally UVA and UMD getting back of the rankings recognition, though I suspect both teams may struggle to keep up with the level of play they’ve established over the last few  years in the face of better competition south.


Pre-Season All-America Lists with Local players noted: (i’ll backfill those that havn’t published as of the publication of this initially)

  • BaseballAmerica’s pre-season All American: tbd
  • D1Baseball.com’s pre-season all American list: UVA’s Ernie Clement gets 1st team honors at 2B, J.B. Bukauskas gets 1st team for SP.  Virginia-connected Pavan Smith, Brian Mimms, Nick Feight, and Adam Haseley all 2nd teamers.
  • College Baseball Daily: tbd
  • College Baseball Central: tbd
  • Collegiate Baseball News: 1st teamers Sam Donko (rhp reliever, VCU), Feight from UNC-W.  2nd teamers: Bukauskas from UNC and UVA’s Pavin Smith and Adam Haseley.
  • NCBWA: Feight and Brian Mimms from UNC-W, Andrew Beckwith from CCU, Bukaskas, Donko all 1st teamers.  UVA’s Ernie Clement a 3rd teamer.
  • USA Baseball pre-season Golden Spikes watch list: Bukauskas, Feight and Mimms, Beckwith, Haseley, Kevin Smith from UMD, Pavin Smith from  UVA are the local interest players on the pre-season list.

I’ve highlighted mostly players with DC/MV/VA ties here but its worth noting there are several big-time names on every one of these lists.  When we do the draft previews you’ll see all the big names for the 2017 draft who are also at the top of these pre-season all-american lists: Jeren Kendall, Brendan McKay, Alex Faedo, Alex Lange, Kyle Wright primarily.  However there’s two sophomores who may be set to go 1-2 already in the 2018 draft: Seth Beer and Luken Baker.  Both had monster freshman years at the plate and should both be in the mix for the College player of the year in 2017.


 

Major College Site Index/Home pages; landing/jump pages for coverage at the major sites covering the game.

Local teams of interest and who they’re playing this first week:

  • UVA: at the Citadel tournament in Charleston, SC, playing Liberty, The Citadel and Kansas.  A UVA-buddy of mine sent me this link where UVA set their weekend rotation: it looks to me like they’re playing match-ups because I can’t imagine a pre-season All-American like Haseley being their #3 starter.
  • UMD: at the Clearwater Tournament, Clearwater, FL, playing Ball State. Louisville and Alabama State.
  • UNC:  hosting Kentucky, with Bukauskas likely going friday night in the opener.
  • GW: At Auburn for a 4-game opening series.
  • George Mason: at the Hughes Brothers Challenge in wilmington, playing UNC-W, App State and VMI.
  • Georgetown: At Davidson University in North Carolina
  • Coastal Carolina (aka CCU): your defending national champs are hosting the Caravelle Resort Baseball at the Beach in Conway (aka Myrtle Beach): they’ll play Richmond, W. Carolina, JMU and St. Johns.
  • JMU: also at CCU’s tournament, playing NC A&T, St. Johns and CCU.
  • Willam & Mary and VCU are both travelling to Florida powers (#2 Florida and #3 Florida State) respectively for challenging openers.
  • NC State though has the best trip: they’re At Hawaii.  That’s a heck of a travel budget they’re blowing through early.

2016 CWS Regional Results, Noted Player performances, Super Regionals pairings

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Here’s a recap of our CWS coverage so far for 2016:

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 (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 Florida regional, UConn put a mini upset loss on Georgia Tech, who tried to sneak a win with a mid-week starter and now face a loser’s bracket hole.  Meanwhile Florida surprisingly stuck with their rotation and threw ace/friday starter Logan Shore in game one against Bethune-Cookman. Presumed #1 pick A.J. Puk then went up against UConnn and their 1st round Ace Anthony Kay.  In the winner’s bracket game and both laid eggs; Puk couldn’t get out of the 5th and Kay gave up 5 runs in 5+ innings.  One wonders if this causes some last minute changes at the top of draft boards.  Nonetheless, Florida got a run in the 8th to take it 6-5 and assume control of the regional.  Georgia Tech took out UConn to face Florida in the regional final, where they got pummelled 10-1 as Florida advanced.

16. In the Florida State regional, Florida State and Southern Miss destroyed their foes in the first games, and Florida State made quick work over Southern Miss to advance to the championship game.  South Alabama lost 14-2 in their opening game; they were one of the last at-large teams to make the tourney at the expense of UNC and UNC’s Zac Gallen took to twitter to let the selection committee (which included South Alabama’s athletic director) know it.  Can’t blame him; the ACC has dominated in this tourney so far.  That being said, South Alabama did advance out of the loser’s bracket to face Fla State in the regional final, where they got obliterated.  Florida State Advances, scoring 43 runs in three games.

2. In the Louisville regional, both Louisville and 2-seed Ohio State handled their openers.  Louisville threw Kyle Funkhouser and he gave up just 4 hits in 8 innings, with presumptive upper 1st rounder Corey Ray going 3-5 at leadoff.  Louisville pounded Ohio State in the winner’s bracket game, putting themselves in the easy driver’s seat and making them an early CWS favorite.  Louisville ended up downing Wright State to advance.

15. In the Vanderbilt regional, awful news broke just prior to the game when it was learned that one of Vanderbilt’s freshmen pitchers Donny Everett drowned the previous weekend, casting a pall over the regional.   UC Santa Barbara held serve in their first game.  When Vanderbilt finally took the field, they completely melted down in the 7th inning, giving up 13 runs in the frame (half of them against likely 1st rounder Jordan Sheffield) to lose 15-1 to 4th seeded Xavier.  In the loser’s bracket, Vanderbilt’s coach left in his starter Kyle Wright far too long (122 pitches but more importantly turning an 8-2 lead in to an 8-7 nailbiter), and Washington eventually hit a 2-run homer against the bullpen for the win.  Vanderbilt goes 2-and-out as a host and ends their streak of making the CWS finals.  Meanwhile UC Santa Barbara took control of the region and forced Xavier to have to beat them twice to advance; it didn’t happen as UC Santa Barbara pounded Xavier 14-5 to advance to their 1st super regional ever.

3.  In the Coral Gables regional (host #3 Miami), Long Beach State got an early upset win over Florida Atlantic while Miami eased past in-state rival Stetson.  Miami won a squeaker over Long Beach to take control of the regional, but it was closer than you’d expect. Stetson went 2-and-out quickly.  LBSU got back to the winner’s final, and almost had a 9-run comeback against Miami before dropping the regional final 9-8 on a Miami walk-off.

14. In the Ole Miss regional, Mississippi became one of the only hosts to lose its first game, dropping a 6-5 decision to the probably-underseeded Utah team.  Boston College also got a mini-upset when their 1st round prospect ace Justin Dunn dominated Tulane to setup a 3-4 seed winner’s bracket game.  Ole Miss then promptly went two and out by losing the next game to Tulane.  Boston College beat Utah to take control of the regional.  Tulane overtook Utah to make it to the regional final, but Boston College handled them easily to advance as a #3 seed.

4. in the Texas A&M regional, both seeds advanced (TAMU and Wake Forest) initially without much fanfare, but then TAMU embarassed Wake Forest to the tune of a 22-2 beatdown in the winner’s bracket.  TAMU may “only” be the 4th seed, but they’re #1 in some polls and are looking very dangerous.  TAMU eventually advanced against Minnesota, who made it to the regional final as what many thought was an undeserved #2 seed.

13. In the TCU regional, Gonzaga upset Arizona State and pressed TCU in the winner’s bracket game before falling 4-3.  Arizona acquitted themselves and got back to the regional final, where TCU made short work of them 8-1 to advance.

5. In the Texas Tech region, the hosts destroyed Fairfield in the opener and then New Mexico shocked Dallas Baptist.  DBU advanced to the loser’s bracket final.  Texas Tech won a nail-biter over the tough New Mexico team in the winner’s bracket game.  DBU advanced to the regional final, where they took one game off of Texas Tech to force the winner-take-all game.  In a back-and-forth game, Texas Tech jumped ahead in the 6th and made the lead stick to advance.

12. In the Charlottesville Region (host #12 UVA), UVA took a gamble and threw struggling sunday starter Alec Bettinger against in-state rival William & Mary (filled with Northern Virginia alum) and pounded their starter Dan Powers (of my alma mater Madison HS in Vienna).  UVA didn’t stop there, eventually winning 17-4.  Meanwhile, ECU (half of their lineup is VA-based) destroyed Bryant’s bullpen en route to a 9-1 easy victory in a “minor upset.”  ECU has to like their chances, having taken 2 of 3 in Charlottesville earlier in the season.  UVA did their best to keep this from happening, taking a 6-3 lead into the 9th against some-time starter (and Vienna native Tommy Doyle, who promptly gave up 5 runs in the 9th and a walk-off 3-run homer to blow the game for the Cavaliers.  W&M made quick work of the over-seeded Bryant team and gets a second crack at UVA, who now faces a big up-hill battle to advance.  Interesting choice to finish the game; doesn’t UVA have, you know, relievers and a closer for that task?  Then, to add insult to injury in the Loser’s bracket elimination game William & Mary quickly got to UVA’s saturday starter Daniel Lynch and then tacked on two more on Doyle to eliminate last year’s champion UVA 5-4.  UVA just didn’t have the pitching they needed and sorely miss the presence they got from someone like Josh Sborz last year.  W&M and ECU face off having eliminated the top two seeds in this regional, and ECU easily advanced to the Super Regional.  ECU was the first team to book its ticket to the super-regionals this year.

6. In the Mississippi State regional, the hosts won their first game and then eased by the dangerous Cal-State Fullerton team to take control of the regional.  CSF got upset by Louisiana Tech in the losers’s bracket, but it didn’t matter as Mississippi State wasn’t troubled in the regional final to advance.

11. In the Louisiana-Lafayette regional, both top seeds held serve in the first games before weather pushed the whole regional by a day.  ULL made it to the regional final with a 10-3 victory over Arizona, but Arizona came back through the loser’s bracket and took two straight over ULL to win the regional in a winner-take-all game Monday.

7. In the Clemson regional (host #7 Clemson), Clemson scored an astounding 24 runs to win a slugfest in its opener but then had its hat handed to them 12-2 by Oklahoma State in the winner’s bracket game.  Huge showing by the Big-12 so far in this tournament.  Clemson battered their way back to a rematch … where Oklahoma State promptly beat them again 9-2 to advance.  Clemson becomes the first national seed to fall, albeit not in a hugely surprising fashion to a very good OK State team.  Clemson’s Seth Beer continued his monster season, finishing up one of the 5-best freshman seasons we’ve seen in a while and putting his name on the map for the 2017 draft (where he’ll be a draft-eligible sophomore).

10. In the South Carolina regional, the hosts were shocked by Rhode Island in the opener while UNC-Wilmington (who starts four guys in the lineup hailing from Virginia) destroyed Duke to put themselves in the driver’s seat.  UNC-W continued on, beating Rhode Island 11-7 to head to the winner’s bracket final.  South Carolina downed Duke in the elimination game to face up with R.I. again.  There, South Carolina got their revenge, beating Rhode Island by the astounding score of 23-2.  In the regional final, SC had to beat UNC-W twice to advance; they forced the winner-take-all game with a 10-1 dismantling of their CAA foes sunday night.  The winner-take-all game got rained out monday, pushed to Tuesday.  In that tuesday game, South Carolina jumped ahead early and held on to win the last game 10-5 to complete the comeback out of the Loser’s bracket and advance.

8. The LSU regional was plagued by rain.  They only got one game in on Friday and Saturday.  however, LSU saved their ace Alex Lange for the Rice matchup, where he’ll face another highly regarded college junior in Jon Duplantier.  A freak “ground rule grand slam” set the tone early and LSU prevailed.  Rice came back through the loser’s bracket and took the first game from LSU in the regional final, forcing a winner-take-all Tuesday.  In that winner-take-all game, Rice jumped out ahead but LSU had a clutch go-ahead homer in the 7th to break Rice’s back.  LSU advances and becomes the last of the 16 teams to do so.

9. In the NC State region,  NC State pounded Navy’s Luke Gillingham to put away any chances of an upset while Coastal Carolina eased past St. Marys to setup a fun all-Carolina matchup in the winner’s bracket.  Navy put St. Marys on 2-and-out.  The NC State-Coastal game was delayed a day by weather, but Coastal held a 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the 9th to delay the inevitable.  NC State destroyed Navy in the loser’s bracket final 17-1 to face off against Coastal twice to advance.  In the first game of the final, NC State easily beat CC to force the winner-take-all game.  That game, believe it or not, was suspended in the top of the 9th with NC State holding a 2-run advantage and had to be pushed to Tuesday.  When they resumed the game … Coastal Carolina rallied for four runs in the top of the 9th to win the game and the regional.  Amazing.

 


Summary of Regionals statistically:

  • 10 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, but about in line with 2015’s tournament where 11 of 16 advanced.
  • 2 first time Super-Regional participants (Boston College, UC Santa Barbara)
  • 5 = number of regionals forced into the “extra” deciding game, most of them on Tuesday thanks to weather.
  • 10 number one seeds, 4 number two seeds, and 2 number three seeds advance to the super regionals.  
  • 6 number of #4 seeds who didn’t finish 4th in their regional: two were runner’s up in their region (William & Mary and Xavier).
  • 2 hosts that went 2-and-out (the understandable Vanderbilt and Ole Miss).
  • 5 of the regionals went pure chalk, a decent indication of the job the seeding committee did this year.
  • Biggest upsets: Xavier destroying Vanderbilt, Utah beating Ole Miss.
  • Most surprising regional winner:  UC Santa Barbara

Conference Breakdowns of the teams in the Super Regionals:

  • SEC: florida, TAMU, Mississippi State, South Carolina, LSU
  • Big12: TCU, Texas Tech, OK State
  • ACC: Fla State, Lousiville, Miami, BC
  • Pac12: Arizona
  • other: UCSB, ECU, Coastal Carolina

Super Regional Matchups:  The super-regional hosts were announced just after the last regional ended.

  • #1 Florida vs #16 Florida State (a rematch of last year’s super-regional)
  • #2 Louisville vs UC Santa Barbara
  • #3 Miami vs Boston College
  • #4 TAMU vs #13 TCU (a rematch of last year’s super regional)
  • #5 Texas Tech vs ECU
  • #6 Mississippi State vs Arizona
  • Oklahoma State vs #10 South Carolina
  • #8 LSU vs Coastal Carolina

 


Super Regional Thoughts:

I think the top 4 seeds are class this year; i’m going with Florida, Louisville, Miami and TAMU to start, and two of them are helped by going against first time super-regional teams.  We have two Super-Regional rematches from last year (Florida-Florida State and TAMU-TCU), which followed last year’s multiple super regional rematches.  I know the committee likes this, but I don’t; give these teams a shot at playing someone else.  Florida destroyed Florida State last year and their pitching staff should control them again this year.  I don’t see Louisville troubled.  Miami-BC is an ACC match-up that never happened this season.  I love TAMU-TCU and think its unfortunate they meet here and not Omaha; they played a fantastic regional last year that culminated in a 16-inning decider.

I like ECU but don’t know enough about Texas Tech to predict a possible upset.  Same with Mississippi State; are they the most non-descript national seed we’ve had in awhile?  Arizona came out of the weak Pac12 this year so its hard to pick against the nationally ranked team.  I think Oklahoma State is better

Predictions: Florida, Louisville, Miami, TAMU, ECU, Mississippi State, OK State, LSU

 


College CWS tournament references: