Nationals Arm Race

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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): tbd

 

 

2015 CWS Finals: Virginia wins!

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WaddellBrandon via 247sports.com

Brandon Waddell pitched the game of his life in the CWS final. Photo via 247sports.com

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

 


Here’s how the Finals played out.

  • In Game One on 6/22/15, UVA’s Connor Jones matched Vanderbilt’s ace Carson Fulmer zero for zero for the first five innings.  However, Vanderbilt got a well-timed opposite field double down the line to plate two and then scored three more, knocking Jones from the game in the 7th to win game one 5-1.  Fulmer was outstanding, holding UVA to just 2  hits through 7 2/3rds innings, leaving with a large lead in his final collegate appearance (he was drafted 8th overall by the White Sox).  Other players of note: #1 overall pick Dansby Swanson finally had a good game, going 2-4 with a run and an RBI.  Nats 3rd rounder Rhett Wiseman struggled; going 0-4 with the hat-track of three punch-outs.
  • In Game Two on 6/23/15, UVA turned to their regular outfielder Adam Haseley in somewhat of a shock, and he threw 5 shut-out innings before handing the ball to the most dominant pitcher this post-season has seen in Josh Sborz, who threw another 4 shutout innings to shore up the win 3-0 and force a game 3.  UVA’s offense was also unexpected; they were powered by their #8 and #9 hitters, the latter of which was walk-on senior Thomas Woodruff, who had a grand total of 67 ABs in his collegiate career.  It was Woodruff’s 2-run bases loaded single that provided the game winning runs.  Amazing.
  • In Game three on 6/24/15, UVA’s Brandon Waddell threw the game of his life, giving up 2 runs early but then shutting down Vanderbilt’s offense for the next six innings en route to a 4-2 win.  Vanderbilt’s Walker Buehler struggled with his control, giving up runs early and getting unceremoniously yanked in his last collegiate appearance.  Nathan Kirby came on to relieve Waddell, who threw 105 pitches on 3 days rest, and blew away Vanderbilt’s hitters in the 8th and 9th for his first (and last) career save.  3B Kenny Towns, a lowly 20th round pick by the Angels, was the game hero, with a very good diving stop to save a run early and a crucial go-ahead RBI late.   But it was freshman 1B Pavin Smith who was the offensive star of the game, clubbing a 2-run homer early to tie the game and deflate Vanderbilt.

UVA wins the first Baseball title for the ACC since 1955, an amazing stat considering the baseball-playing pedigree of the conference.  Super reliever Josh Sborz recieved the MVP award for his CWS work; final tally:  3IP on 6/13, 2IP on 6/15, and 4ip on 6/20, and 4IP on 6/23.  All Scoreless.

UVA completes a pretty amazing season all things considered; they suffered injuries to a number of their key guys, struggled in conference all season and likely only even made the field by virtue of a sweep of UNC in their final ACC season series.  But, for those who thought the final was a fluke based on the seedings of the two teams, consider this: Vanderbilt was the consensus pre-season #1 team by every poll out there, and UVA was either 2nd, 3rd or 4th in those same polls.  So these teams were expected to return to the CWS at the very least … they just to circuitous paths there.

Your 2015 College World Series Champion: The University of Virginia

This concludes the College Baseball season and our coverage of it for 2015.  I have some draft posts about summer leagues and summer travel teams of note for high schoolers that I may dig out again, for those interested.

 


College CWS tournament references:

CWS Group Winners and CWS Final preview

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

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 Florida from the top and LSU from the bottom.  Lets see how things turned out.


In the Left Bracket (UVA, Arkansas, #5 Miami and #4 Florida)

  • In the opening games, UVA took out Arkansas 5-3 behind a decent effort from Connor Jones (Great Bridge HS) but an even better effort from 2nd rounder Josh Sborz, who shut down Arkansas for the win.  Both teams’ premier hitters (Andrew Benintendi and Joe McCarthy) hit solo shots during the game.  In the other opener,  Florida destroyed Miami 15-3, knocking out Andrew Suarez after just 3 1/3 innings.
  • In the first elimination game, Miami got two hits in the bottom of the 9th to walk off and eliminate Arkansas 4-3.
  • In the winners bracket game to take control of the group, UVA’s #2 Brandon Waddell pitched perhaps the game of his career, shutting down Florida on just 2 hits for 7 scoreless innings before Sborz got the 2-inning save, giving UVA a 1-0 victory and a surprising (to me) clear path to the CWS finals for the 2nd year in a row.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, Florida jumped all over Miami’s starter, so they brought back Suarez on short rest (which I’m sure his drafting team (San Francisco) was thrilled about), but the game was over early and Florida eliminated Miami 10-2 to setup a rematch with UVA for a berth in the finals.
  • In the group final, UVA’s gambit of throwing ace Nathan Kirby after being side-lined for months backfired; he was hit hard early and UVA’s notional 3rd starters (Alec Bettinger) just couldn’t keep Florida at bay long enough to allow his offense to come back.  Florida wins 10-5 to force a winner-take-all game and wreak havoc on UVA’s pitching matchup strategy.  Luckily for UVA, they have Josh Sborz, who relieved Waddell and threw four shut-out innings, enough to give UVA’s offense time to scrape together the winning run and advance to the CWS final.

Group winner advancing to the CWS finals: UVA


In the Right Bracket (#2 LSU, #7 TCU, #11 Vanderbilt and #14 Cal State-Fullerton)

  • In the opening games, TCU stunned LSU 10-3, with TCU’s ace (and Chicago Cub 8th rounder) Preston Morrison shutting down LSU’s offense.  Nats 2nd rounder Andrew Stevenson was 1-4 with an RBI.   Meanwhile, Cal State – Fullerton got to Vanderbilt ace Carson Fulmer while their own ace (2nd round pick Thomas Eshelman) showed why he’s got 80 command, throwing 5+ scoreless, walk-less innings before weather forced the suspension of the opener.  Luckily for Vanderbilt, the rest of CSF’s staff wasn’t as effective, and Vanderbilt got a 4-3 walk-off win.
  • In the first elimination game, LSU’s Alex Lange pitched a complete game to defeat Cal State-Fullerton and eliminate them from the CWS.
  • In the winners bracket game to take control of the group, Vanderbilt’s clean-up hitter Zander Weil hit a solo homer in the 7th to provide the only offense of the night as Vanderbilt beat TCU 1-0 to take control of the group and make it seem more and more likely of a CWS rematch.
  • In the play-in game to the group final, TCU punished LSU’s bullpen and took an easy 8-4 win to eliminate the highest seed in the CWS and force a rematch with Vanderbilt for a spot in the CWS final. 
  • In the group final, Vanderbilt threw their 1st rounder Walker Buehler for the first time in 3 weeks and he was sparkling; he pitched into the 7th, allowing just 4 hits.  Meanwhile Nats 3rd round pick Rhett Wiseman, after taking a ball to the neck in the 1st, absolutely crushed a homer to put the game out of reach for Vanderbilt, who go on to win 7-1 and advance.

Group winner advancing to the CWS finals: #11 seed Vanderbilt.


CWS finals discussion: Games 1,2,3 set for 6/22-6/24/15.  Vanderbilt’s pitching staff for the CWS final looks like this:

  • Ace Fulmer threw 6 innings and 104pitches on 6/14/15.   He’ll be on 7 days rest for game 1.
  • #3 Philip Pfeifer threw 7 innings and 112 pitches on 6/16/15.  He’ll be on 6 days rest for game 2.
  • #2 Buehler, who threw 6 2/3rds innings on 6/19/15 would be on 4 days rest for a decider on 6/24/15, normal rest for a pro but a little short for a college guy.  Otherwise, some-time starter John Kilichowski, who threw 2+ in both the 2nd and 3rd games of the CWS group play, could be available depending his usage in the first two games.

Meanwhile, UVA’s pitching staff is in trouble.  Here’s where they stand:

Sborz meanwhile threw multiple innings in each group win: 3IP on 6/13, 2IP on 6/15, and 4ip on 6/20.   And all of those were very high leverage innings, with UVA either tied or clinging to a small lead.  UVA almost has to consider throwing one of its mid-week starters in Game 2.  That would give them Kirby on 4 days rest in the final, to be relieved by Waddell on 3 days rest.  You just can’t take a guy who hasn’t thrown in months and then pitch him back to back on the shortest rest of his life.

You have to like the way the CWS lines up for Vanderbilt’s staff.  Jones wasn’t exactly overpowering against Arkansas in his start (3 runs in 6ip) and Vanderbilt’s got a better offense.

I’m note quite sure how Vanderbilt slipped to an #11 seed in this tournament, given the talent and leadership on their squad.   It is worth noting they had no less than nine draftees in the 2015 draft; 3 first rounders (1st, 8th and 24th overall), 2 third rounders and a 6th of note.  That’s a ton of talent.  You have to think they’re the favorites in the final to repeat.

Prediction: Vanderbilt in 2.

 


College CWS tournament references:

2015 CWS Super-Regionals recap and CWS field

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

Here’s how the super-regionals went down: we’ll look at these regionals in the original order of the top 8 national seeds.  Red indicates the winner.

  • Maryland at UVA: UVA scored 5 runs in the 8th off Maryland’s closer Kevin Mooney to shock the Terps in Game 1.   Connor Jones gave up 3 in 7 innings and was wild, and Maryland Ace Mike Shawayrn pitched into the 8th before getting lifted.  Game two was even more of a shock, with UVA scoring 3 in the ninth to get a walk-off win 5-4, again with the winning hit coming against Mooney.  UVA’s starter Brandon Waddell gave up 4 in 8 innings and local product Alec Bettinger got the win with a scoreless 9th.  Poor Mooney; just about the two worst outings of the season for him at the worst possible time (he had a 1.89 ERA on the season).  UVA advances to the CWS for the 2nd straight year.
  • #2 LSU vs Louisiana-Lafayette: LSUand ULL had late drama, each team hitting a homer in the 9th, except that LSU’s was a walk-off, giving them game one 4-3.  In the second, LSU controlled the game and won the series 2-0 to advance to Omaha.  Draft prospects of note Alex Bregman and Blake Trahan were both relatively quiet in the first game but Bregman came up big in the 2nd game.
  • #3 Louisville vs #14 Cal State-Fullerton: CSF stole the first game, outlasting Louisville’s Ace Kyle Funkhouser (who gave up 2 in 7) and, after giving up a game-tying solo homer in the bottom of the 9th worked the bases loaded and won on a go-ahead HBP.  Louisville pounded CSF 9-3 in game to to force a Monday decider.  They needed extras, with Cal State-Fullerton scoring 2 late to force it and then taking it 4-3 with a run in the 11th to advance.
  • #4 Florida vs #13 Florida State: Florida scored 4 in the first and never looked back, winning game one 13-5.  They didn’t let up in game two, winning 11-4 and sending Florida to the CWS.
  • #5 Miami vs VCU: Miami took game one 3-2 partly thanks to an egregiously bad runner interference call in the middle of a VCU rally.  And then Miami became the first to punch their ticket to Omaha with an easy game 2 win, barely looking taxed by the over-matched VCU Rams.
  • #6 Illinois vs #11 Vanderbilt: in game 1, Vanderbilt destroyed Illinois 13-0; Carson Fulmer went 6 1/3 scoreless and Vanderbilt pounded Illinois’ ace Kevin Duchene (giving him just his 2nd loss this year).  In game 2, Illinois super-reliever and 1st round pick got the start, and got hit.  In fact, the biggest guy to get to him was #1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, who came up huge in this game and helped Vanderbilt win 4-2 and advance to Omaha as the defending champ.
  • #7 TCU vs #10 Texas A&M: TCU blitzed the offensive-minded TAMU team 13-4 in game one, handing TAMU starter Grayson Long his first loss of the season.  TAMU got to TCU starter Preston Morrison in the 10th and won 2-1 to force the third game.  That 3rd game was an instant classic, with TAMU scoring 2 in the 9th to tie it, and the game going 16 innings.  TCU’s Mitchell Traver pitched 4 hitless innings and got the win with TCU‘s walkoff in the bottom of the 16th.
  • #8 Missouri State at Arkansas: Arkansas got to host this series thanks to Missouri State’s co-tenant (the AA affiliate of St. Louis) having a home series.  This did not bode well for MSU, and neither did their Ace and top-10 draft prospect Jon Harris getting absolutely lit up in game 1; he gave up 9 runs in 5 innings and the bullpen didn’t do much better, with Miami winning 18-3.  Harris may have cost himself some cash with that last look for some scouts.  In game 2, Missouri State forced the sunday decider with a 3-1 victory.  In the decider, Arkansas scored 3 in the first and made it stand up, winning 3-2 and advancing to Omaha.  Other players of note: Arkansas’ presumed first rounder Anthony Benintendi was mostly pitched around in game one (3 walks) and was basically a non-factor the rest of the way.

CWS Field:

  • UVA, Arkansas, Miami and Florida on one side,
  • LSU, TCU, Vanderbilt and Cal State-Fullerton on the other.

2 ACC, 4 SEC teams, one Big-12 and one Big West entry.  Very much an East Coast tournament this year; the two non ACC/SEC teams had to beat (favored) ACC/SEC teams to advance.  Four national seeds remain (#2, #4, #5 and #7), two regional host seeds are in (#11 and #14) and those teams that are not seeded (UVA and Arkansas) have pretty good pedigrees.  A great field.

CWS Field thoughts; I think the “left” side of the draw will come down to Miami and Florida, and I think Florida is too tough.  If UVA gets Nathan Kirby back they could be interesting, but I don’t think they have the offensive firepower to match up.  On the right hand side of the draw, LSU remains the highest seeded team left but has to contend with one other national seed in TCU.  Nonetheless, I think the right side comes down to SEC rivals LSU and Vanderbilt (the two SEC divisional regular season winners) with LSU taking it.

Quick predictions: Florida versus LSU in the final, with LSU winning it.

Player Star power in this CWS: Lots of it; these CWS teams are littered up and down with big time names.  Playing this upcoming weekend are 1st-day draftees Dansby Swanson, Walker Buehler, Carson Fulmer from Vanderbilt, Alex Bregman and Andrew Stevenson from LSU, Nathan Kirby and Josh Sborz from UVA, Andrew Benintendi from Arkansas, Andrew Suarez from Miami, Richie Martin from Florida, Alex Young and Tyler Alexander from TCU, and Thomas Eshelman from Cal State – Fullerton.  All 8 teams have at least one first or second rounder.

 


College CWS tournament references:

Pre-2015 Draft coverage; mocks and local players

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

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

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

Draft Coverage so far at NAR for 2015:

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

Draft Links of importance

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

Now, some news about College Players with local ties

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

Local Prep players of note:

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

Other players of interest to Nats fans:

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

Mock Draft Guesses

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2015 CWS Regional Results and Super Regionals pairings

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

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

College CWS tournament references:


We’ll review the 16 regionals in order of the national seeds.  Bold is the host city, Blue is the host team and Red is the winner.  We’ll also highlight significant players and/or guys who are big names in the upcoming draft as we get to them (MLBpipeline.com summarizes their top 200 ranked players here: i’ll just talk about the 1st round talents and players w/ local ties).

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

Summary of Regionals statistically:

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

Conference Breakdowns of the teams in the Super Regionals:

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

Its clearly an ACC/SEC kind of year.

 


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

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

Super Regional Thoughts:

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

Predictions:

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

 

College Baseball 2015 Previews and pre-season Rankings

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Kirby Jones leads the highly  regarded UVA baseball team in 2015.   Photo via unk

Kirby Jones leads the highly regarded UVA baseball team in 2015. Photo via unk

Believe it or not, its time to start thinking about College Baseball again.  Most teams’ schedules start on the 2/13/15 weekend and all the major outlets covering the sport have released pre-season rankings lists.

College pre-season top-25 lists with local interests noted:

This BA link has capsules to all the top 25 teams.  And BA has released their pre-season All-American list, with local players of note Nathan Kirby and Mike Matuella (Duke’s #1 starter hailing from Great Falls) earning first team honors.  This pre-season All-American list comes from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and is littered with UVA players.

Vanderbilt returns its entire weekend rotation, including two lock 1st round picks in Walker Buehler and Carson Fuller as well as another presumed 1st round pick in shortstop Dansby Swanson and is inarguably the best returning team in the land.  UVA’s Joe McCarthy earned pre-season 2nd team honors but just went down with injury (back injury, out 12 weeks ugh), which seems like its going to really hurt that team.

Interesting development for 2015: d1baseball.com has apparently been acquired, or has undergone a mass change in direction.  Gone is the 1990-esque interface; now they have graphics and professional writers associated with it (namely, Aaron Fitt, formerly of Baseball America, who left BA in Nov 2014 and is now focused entirely on the d1 site.  Most importantly, the site is now a pay-for site.   I visit this site constantly during the college and CWS seasons; we’ll see how much you can see w/o paying for this season.

2/10/15 post publish update: Great preview of College season from Chris Slade at minorleagueball.com

Written by Todd Boss

February 2nd, 2015 at 1:57 pm

And the winner of the #1 overall pick in the 2015 draft is…

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http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/reversestandings

Your Arizona Diamondbacks!   Here’s next year’s top 10 (click on the above link for the full first round; the Nats will pick 30th out of 31 picks next year if we keep the pick).

(Another more complete post on this topic from MinorLeagueBall, including all the comp picks, bonus allocations and whatnot.)

2015 pick #
Team 2014 W 2014 L 2014 W/L Pct
1 Arizona Diamondbacks  64 98 0.395
2 Houston Astros
3 Colorado Rockies  66 96 0.407
4 Texas Rangers  67 95 0.414
5 Houston Astros  70 92 0.432
6 Minnesota Twins  70 92 0.432
7 Boston Red Sox  71 91 0.438
8 Chicago White Sox  73 89 0.451
9 Chicago Cubs  73 89 0.451
10 Philadelphia Phillies  73 89 0.451

Houston retains the #2 overall pick after failing to sign last year’s #1 Brady Aiken.  Teams that tied in records are given priority based on last year’s W/L record, meaning that Houston picks before Minnesota, the White Sox before the Cubs and Phillies, etc.   Houston, for their prolonged incompetence, gets the 2nd and 5th pick next year, and I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to out-smart themselves and screw it up again.  And that’s if they even keep the picks: 5th rounder Jacob Nix had his deal axed when Aiken’s deal went south, thanks to the ridiculous new signing bonus rules.  Nix has filed a grievance and if the Astros are forced to honor his deal, they’ll lose one or both of these picks (and maybe more).

The Diamondbacks with their fresh and completely inexperienced General Manager Dave Stewart now have the honor of selecting one from quite a few interesting candidates for #1 overall right now.  Aiken presumably will pitch a year at JuCo and be a completely legitimate shot to go 1-1 again (assuming he doesn’t get hurt).  But he’ll also be looking for significant money.  Duke’s Michael Matuella (who is a local kid, hailing from Great Falls and who attended Georgetown Prep) has been shooting up boards.  A couple of other prep players are considered upper first round talent (Brendan Rodgers in Florida, Mike Nikorak in Pennsylvania, Kolby Allard in California).  And, with a rising class of college juniors we have more than a few big-time college guys who may push Aiken down off the top spot.  Namely, Walker Buehler from Vanderbilt, Phil Bickford (late of Cal State Fullerton) or maybe even the likes of Kyle Funkhouser (Louisville) or Carson Fuller (Vanderbilt).  In fact, Vanderbilt may be like UCLA was a few years back, with two starters selected in the top of the first round.  And like always, some one may come out of nowhere to claim the 1-1 spot with an under-slot deal, much like the Astros did in 2012.

The top 10 for next year is rounded out by four of the wealthiest clubs in the game (Boston, both Chicago teams and Philadelphia).  Which also means that along with Texas, half the teams who finished in the bottom 10 this year were among the highest spenders in terms of payroll in 2014.  You can’t fault Texas necessarily, but you can certainly continue to mock Philadelphia.  How does Frank Wren get fired but Ruben Amaro keeps his job?

2014 College World Series Finals: Vanderbilt wins

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Vanderbilt's ace Fuller helped Vanderbilt win the deciding game 3 in the CWS.  Photo unk via anchorofgold.com

Vanderbilt’s ace Fuller helped Vanderbilt win the deciding game 3 in the CWS. Photo unk via anchorofgold.com

Congrats to #13 seed Vanderbilt, your 2014 College World Series champ (following UCLA, who won the 2013 CWS as covered here last year).  This is our final College post of the year.

Here’s a review of our CWS coverage for 2014:

Here’s how the CWS final played out:

  • In Game One on 6/23/14, UVA’s All-American starter Nathan Kirby blew up in the third inning, walking in three runs en route to a NINE run inning, which held up for Vanderbilt as they won 9-8.  Kirby said that he just lost his release point, leading to a pretty uncharacteristic outing.  This is not good news for UVA, who thought for sure they’d win a matchup of their #1 All-American versus Vanderbilt’s 3rd starter Walker Buehler.  Sure enough, UVA got to Buehler for 2 runs in the first and 5 runs before knocking him out, but they just couldn’t overcome the large deficit.   Buehler’s no slouch; the sophomore went 12-2 on the season and throws an easy 95 and likely is a top draft pick next year, so it isn’t as if UVA faced the scrubs.  But their work is cut out for them now.
  • In Game two on 6/24/14, UVA got a bounce-back performance from #2 starter Brandon Waddell, who pitched a complete game giving up 2 runs on 5 hits to lead the Cavaliers to a 7-2 victory to force the deciding game.   Vanderbilt’s #2 starter, supplanted Ace and 2014 first rounder Tyler Beede pitched well for 5 innings, but got knocked around in the 7th to give up what turned out to be the go ahead runs and took the loss.  UVA continued to show why Baseball America pundits thought they were the “most complete” team in the college post season, coming at teams with both superior pitching AND superior hitting.
  • In the deciding Game 3 on 6/25/14, UVA’s Josh Sborz (of McLean HS, where he had a stellar prep career and collected every available “player of the year” award his senior year) faced off against Vanderbilt’s ace Carson Fuller, going on short rest after pitching the play-in game for Vanderbilt just 4 days ago.  Sborz was wild early and got yanked in the first, leaving mid-week starter Artie Lewicki with the ball.  All Lewicki did was throw 6 innings of 4 hit ball, giving up one unearned run (Lewikie didn’t give up an earned run in 23 IP this CWS; wow).  UVA got the ball into their closer’s hand in a tie ball game in the 8th (first rounder Nick Howard) and he gave up an unlikely homer (just the third of the entire CWS) to prove to be the game winner for Vanderbilt 3-2.  UVA loaded the bases in the 8th but couldn’t push a run across against Vandy’s bullpen, and they closed it out.  Heartbreak for UVA, who may not have a better combination of hitting (6 hitters drafted) and pitching (led by an All-American sophomore) for quite a while.

Congrats to Vanderbilt for coming out on top.

Resources:

Written by Todd Boss

June 27th, 2014 at 9:45 am

CWS Group Play review; Final set

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Here’s a look at our CWS coverage so far in 2014:

Now lets review the group play in Omaha.  Compared to the blitz of games during regionals (100+ games in four days) and super-regionals (where there were nearly 40 games in a long weekend), covering the CWS is pedestrian; there’s just a couple of games a day for nearly two weeks.

My pre-CWS predictions are with Vanderbilt from the top and UVA from the bottom, but UVA’s path through to the CWS finals is a lot tougher.  Lets see how things played out.


In the Top Bracket (UC Irvine, Vanderbilt, Louisville, and Texas):

UC Irvine continued their surprising run this post-season by getting 3 runs late on Texas’ starter Nathan Thornhill and taking the first game 3-1.  Meanwhile, Vanderbilt got to wild Louisville starter Kyle Funkhowser behind their flame-throwing converted closer Carson Fulmer and took their first game 5-3

In the first elimination game, Texas handed Louisville’s Anthony Kidston his first loss of the year and put the Cardinals 2-and-out 4-1.  In the winner’s bracket game, UC Irvine tagged Vanderbilt’s stud Tyler Beede for four runs early and knocked him out in the 4th, but Walker Buehler relieved and threw 5+ innings of no-hit ball as Vanderbilt’s offense stormed back to take the winner’s bracket game 6-4.  This sets up Vanderbilt nicely for the rest of the tournament and confirms them as the early favorite to advance to the final.  In an elimination game, Texas got a solo homer from C.J. Hinojosa and 8+ shutout innings from middle-reliever Chad Hollingsworth to eliminate UC Irvine 1-0 in a matchup of two of the games most tenured and respected coaches Augie Garido and Mike Gillespie, with nearly 3,000 combined wins between them.  Texas must now beat Vanderbilt twice over the 6/20/14 weekend to advance to the CWS final.  Texas did their part in the first game, knocking Vanderbilt’s starter out before the first inning was complete and winning 4-0 to force a doe-or-die 6/21/14 game.  In that do-or-die game, Vanderbilt outlasted Texas with a walk-off infield single in the bottom of the 10th to advance 4-3.


In the Bottom Bracket (Texas Tech,Virginia, Ole Miss and TCU):

TCU saved their #1 starter and got by Texas Tech 3-2 in the opener, scoring 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th after not being able to touch TTU starter Chris Sadberry.  Texas Tech’s coach is probably kicking himself right now; Sadberry had given up just 3 hits through 7 innings and sat on 101 pitches; his reliever immediately coughed up the game.  Meanwhile, UVA’s Nathan Kirby pitched a gem in their opener, holding Ole Miss to just one hit over 7 innings and supp-1st rounder Mike Papi drove in the walk-off run as UVA won 2-1.  UVA’s work is cut out for them though, having to face first rounder Brandon Finnegan in the winner’s bracket game.  In that marquee TCU-UVA matchup, UVA couldn’t do much against Finnegan (8ip, 1 ER) but their own co-ace Brandon Waddell also held the Horned Frogs in check (7ip, 1ER).  The game went into extras .. many extra innings, finally won by UVA in the 15th 3-2 (tying the longest CWS game ever).  UVA’s closer Nick Howard threw 4 innings and 60 pitches, which makes me wonder if we’ll be hearing complaints about his usage (perhaps not; he was a starter his first two years at UVA).  Then, In the loser’s bracket, Ole Miss put Texas Tech out in a close 2-1 game, then similarly eliminated TCU 6-4.  Ole Miss must now beat UVA twice over the 6/20/14 weekend to advance to the CWS final.  And they couldn’t do it: behind 8 innings from their #3 and #4 starters (Josh Sborz and Artie Lewicki UVA topped Ole Miss 4-1 to advance to the CWS finals.


CWS finals: #13 Vanderbilt versus #3 UVA.

Game 1 on June 23rd, Game 2 on June 24th and (if necessary) Game 3 on June 25th.

Kirby versus Beede in game 1; Kirby sits on 8 days of rest after throwing just 85 pitches on June 15th.  Vanderbilt burned their ace Fulmer in the bracket final, leaving Vanderbilt at a definite disadvantage in the pitching matchup.  In game 2, UVA has Waddell set to go with 6 days rest while Vanderbilt has to go with their #3.  Sborz/Lewicki could tandem pitch a deciding game 3 for UVA with four full days rest if neither guy is used in the first two games, while Vanderbilt could bring back Fulmer on 3 days rest (to the likely ire of pitch count scouts, despite the fact that he only threw 90 pitches on 6/21).  UVA’s pitching is setup just about as good as you could hope for and have the bats to match; you have to think they’re the favorites.


Resources: d1baseball.com has all the CWS results in easy-to-consume fashion.  Their live scoreboard is great and is up-to-the-minute all throughout the weekend with links to the ESPN box scores.  Collegesplits.com has a ton of great data on college players.  And the Washington Post is providing great coverage of UVA’s trek through the college playoffs.