Rivals.com editor Kendall Rogers has announced his top five overall programs. He puts Oregon State in the top spot after Pat Casey has led the Beavers to two consecutive national championships. The Beavers are also one of the top recruiters in the nation so they should continue their dominance. He puts the Cal-State Fullerton Titans in the runner up spot with the success they have had with Augie Garrido, George Horton, and entering his first season Dave Serrano. The program should not see a difference at all since Serrano was able to build a CWS team at UC-Irvine. Texas takes the third place as Augie Garrido has made the Longhorns a national contender every season and continue to bring in great players. Rice head coach Wayne Graham is entering his 17th season in Houston as he has made the Owls a great pitching university. Kendall rates them in the fourth spot with North Carolina coming in at fifth. Mike Fox has brought the Tar Heels program back to the national stage with consecutive appearances in the CWS Championship series where they have lost both times to Oregon State. The Tar Heels had a great pitching team in 2006 but a great hitting team in 2007 so he is able to win with different types of teams. The full article from Kendall is available here.
Aaron Fitt of Baseball America gave out some props for the big Fall signings in baseball. Leading the way were the stacked classes at Georgia (21 total, with seven of BA’s top 100 signees) and Arizona State (24, four of the top 100). Fitt noted that both UGA and ASU went the aggressive route, taking risks with prospects who could be draft day casualties. But the CBB says, dream big or don’t dream at all. Recruiting top notch players is good for a program and good for the game in general.
Fitt polled several coaches informally, who listed UGA, ASU, Vanderbilt, UCLA, Kentucky, UNC, Texas and Oregon State as the big winners in the early signing period. Fitt noted that Vandy’s class stands out for the likelihood that top 100 players like Sonny Gray, Grayson Garvin, Jason Esposito and Matt Marquis may bypass the draft. The CBB also likes UK’s class. If they can keep some of the big time arms they’ve recruited, UK could quickly ascend among the SEC elite.
The entire article can be read here.
Since we have been busy lately, We missed a ton of releases on the Recruits for the 2008-2009 season. The releases are listed below.
Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne
Doug Kroll continues his preview of the top players for the 2008 season. This week he checks in on the top first basemen with Brett Wallace (Arizona State) taking the top spot. Wallace had a tremendous 2007 season where he was named the PAC-10 player of the year and led the Sun Devils to the College World Series. Dustin Ackley (UNC) is put into the second position but is the only sophomore listed on Kroll’s top five. Justin Smoak (South Carolina) comes in at the third spot which is a surprise as he will be a top five pick in the 2008 draft. Yonder Alonso (Miami FL) and David Copper (Cal) round out the top five. The CBB thinks Allan Dykstra (Wake Forest) should be considered a top five player but who should get off the list though? The full article is available here.
Doug Kroll of CSTV checks in with an article about the top catchers in the nation. He talks about Buster Posey of FSU being the top backstop in the nation. Posey is entering his junior season but only his second season behind the plate. The CBB will be checking out Posey this season when the Seminoles visit BC on April 11th-13th. Petey Paramore of Arizona State is listed in the second spot and should put up huge numbers in 2008 on one of the top offensive teams. Rounding out the top five is Tim Federowicz of UNC, Phil Disher of South Carolina, and Doug Hogan of Clemson. I am surprised that Ryan Lavarnway of Yale was not anywhere in his top five or on the players to watch list. The full article is available here.
Pedro Alvarez, Vanderbilt.
This hard-hitting, Junior third baseman from Horace Mann High School in the Bronx, New York is one of the pre-season favorites for the Golden Spikes Award and was the only 2007 Golden Spikes finalist to return in 2008. Alvarez is lethal at the plate, as a career .360 batter with an NCAA high 40 career home runs (among active players). In 2006, he hit .329 with 22 home runs and 64 RBI en route to earning National Freshman of the Year. In 2007, he improved to .386, 18, 68, which leading Vanderbilt to a number 1 ranking for the majority of the season. Alvarez is deadly from the left side of the plate and is protected in Coach Tim Corbin’s lineup by being sandwiched between another pair of returning all-America players, RF Dominic De la Osa (.378, 20, 62) and SS Ryan Flaherty (.381, 4, 57). Alvarez is also a spectacular fielder with cat-like reflexes and a cannon arm; however, Pedro’s flair for the dramatic defensive play also leads to his fair share of errors. Those errors and a tendency to strikeout too often will be the items Alvarez looks to improve in his swan song season.
Dominic de la Osa, Vanderbilt
Hitting in the coveted “Mickey Mantle spot” (in front of Pedro Alvarez, as Mantle did when Roger Maris hit 61), Dominic de la Osa exploded in 2007, proving to be one of the top speed-power guys in the nation. Entering last season with a .300 average and 16 home runs in solid, if unspectacular Freshman and Sophomore years, “of the Bear” set career highs with a .378 average, 65 runs, 23 doubles, 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. A consensus first team All-America, de la Osa was expected to be a first day pick in the MLB draft before plummeting to the 10th round and the Tigers. An abysmal summer on the Cape left de la Osa with more to prove and he returned to man Rightfield as a Senior for Coach Corbin.
Justin Smoak, South Carolina
Joining Brett Wallace and Yonder Alonso as the elite first basemen in College Baseball, Smoak enters his Junior year in second place on the career homerun list among active players. As a Freshman, he hit .303 with 17 homeruns and 63 RBI. Smoak improved on those numbers last year, hitting .317 with 19 homeruns and another 63 RBI. Most impressive, however, is Smoak’s patience, with 94 walks against 79 strikeouts. The switch-hitting lefty is also thrifty with the glove, sporting a career .994 fielding percentage. Smoak is perfectly positioned for a true, breakout season in a good hitter’s ballpark.
Yonder Alonso, Miami
Alonso was named the top first baseman in the Cape Cod League in 2007. He hit an outstanding .338 for the summer after hitting .376 with 18 homers during the 2007 season for the Hurricanes. Alonso is a patient hitter as he walked 64 times during the collegiate season and 36 times in the CCBL. He only struck out 56 times combined. He needs to work on his defense as he is limited to playing only first base. He should develop more power before getting drafted in 2008 as he will become stronger and a better hitter. Alonso should be able to compete for many National Player of the Year awards in 2008 in addition to conference accolades.
Buster Posey, Florida State
Posey is one of the College Baseball Blog’s favorite players. He moved to catcher before the 2007 season as the Seminoles had an opening behind the plate. Buster hit .382 with 3 homers and 65 RBI at FSU while spending his summer with the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox where he batted .281 as he struggled to adjust to the Cape Cod League pitching. One scout told us that Posey improved his draft stock with the move behind the plate but needs to refine his catching skills as he is raw at calling games and blocking pitches. Posey should be one of the top catchers in the ACC competing with Tim Federowicz for conference awards. The CBB will be seeing Posey this season when FSU comes to Boston College for a three game set. The CBB expects Posey to be drafted in the top five rounds of the 2008 draft.
Brett Wallace, Arizona State
Wallace led the Sun Devils back to the College World Series in 2007 where he hit an outstanding .404 for the season while hitting 16 home runs. He won the Pac 10 Triple Crown as was named the Player of the Year in the conference. Brett spent the summer of 2007 with the USA National team where he competed in the Pan-Am Games and the World Port Tournament. He hit .312 with two homers and 26 RBI for the summer. Wallace is a big guy as he is listed at 6’1 245 pounds so he struggles in the field and will likely be stuck at first base in MLB or moved to DH if he is put in the American League.
Thanks to NewYorkDore for helping out with some of the previews.
Mark Etheridge of SEBaseball.com checks in with an article about many different topics. The first topic which is discussed is the whole Oregon/UC-Irvine/Fullerton musical chair act that has been going on all summer including Rod Delmonico (former head coach at Tennessee) throwing his name in the hat at UC-Irvine. The next topic discussed is how Dave Perno of UGA has had to change up his staff for the 2008 season with an assistant coach moving on to a different school. He finishes up the article by talking about some of winners and losers in the summer in getting transfers. The full article is available here.