The Auburn Tigers have released their 2008 schedule which opens on Febraury 22nd when East Tennennsee State visits Auburn for a four game set. The Tigers will then face Florida State in a four game series starting on Feb. 28th and 29th before heading to Tallhassee to play two more games against the Seminoles. They will play a full SEC schedule which is highlighted by visits from South Carolina and Mississippi State. They will also have a two tough three game series at Vanderbilt on April 18th-20th and Alabama on April 25th-27th. The full schedule is available here.
Perhaps the most exciting thing to come out of the countdown is Kendall’s new abbreviation for “switch pitcher”: SWP. For those not in the know, that references Pat Venditte and the amazing nature of high level ambidexterity. My exuberance is not meant to be dismissive of Kendall’s ranking, it’s just that you take news when and where you can get it during the August slow season. Kendall does a great job of churning out news and interesting features and the Rivals CBB site is definitely a daily visit, much as the College Baseball Blog hopefully is for all of you.
On to the countdown:
1. Blake Stouffer – Texas A&M – UT
2. Dominic De la Osa – Vanderbilt – RF
3. Cole St. Claire – Rice – LHP
4. Pat Venditte – Creighton – SWP
5. Joshua Fields – Georgia – RHP
6. Josh Satow – Arizona State – LHP
7. Phil Disher – South Carolina – C
8. Matt Hague – Oklahoma State – 3B
9. Mitch Harris – Navy – RHP
10. Zack Pitts – Louisville – RHP
It is in the media. New scholarship and roster-size limits will likely lead to some uncomfortable situations this fall, particularly with respect to the new transfer restrictions. That said, new Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan seems to be spitting mad about a one-sided article in the Gainesville Sun that paints him in less than positive light.
The University of Oregon announced on July 13th that they were bringing back baseball to the Eugene school after a 26 year absence. The school ended up dropping the wrestling program and adding competitive cheerleading to the athletic program. The reason that was quoted by the Oregon athletic department to add baseball was that the sport is seeing increased growth across the country.
I believe that this is true in the suburbs but Baseball has seen a major decrease in urban areas. The main reason is the increasing cost in competing on select teams which in some communities start before the age of 12 when a kid in the city of Miami can go play a game of basketball for weeks on end at the playground for 20 bucks with a decent basketball. I would like my readers to drive by a baseball field this weekend and see how many kids are playing on their local Little League field. Also, look at the Little League World Series and see how many African-American kids participated in the final eight. There was a report on Say Hey which is one of the top sports blogs on the internet that only two out of the eight US teams had any African American kids. (Click here for article). The other experiment is to look at a MLB baseball game and see how many players are minorities from United States. You will be surprised with how low it actually is.
The other problem I see with Oregon adding baseball is that the wrestlers at the school now will have to transfer to continue their athletic careers and possibly make the Olympic team. Baseball has been removed from the Olympics starting in 2012 due to the lack of interest in the sport around the world. We did see a very well attended World Port Tournament in Holland this summer with over 3,000 people attending some of Team USA games but we also saw the debacle which was the Pan-American games. During that tournament, we saw multiple delays with the field due to poor drainage and even had the tournament readjusted a day before it started due to insufficient lighting.
The final problem I have with Oregon is that they couldn’t support baseball 26 years ago. What has changed in Eugene to say they can support a Pac-10 team? They currently have no stadium and need to build a brand new facility.
I also think that the Oregon Athletic Department is aiming way too high with the help of Phil Knight for a new head coach. The Oregon Athletic Department has already interviewed Tim Corbin and planned on bringing in Dave Serrano before he backed out. There was some reports on the Internet that Phil Knight had earmarked so much money that whoever took the job would be one of the top five coaches in the nation in terms of salary. Why has Oregon not looked at some of the top assistants on the West Coast instead of a current head coach? How many top head coaches are going to leave a successful place to restart a program which will not have the full usage of scholarships until 2011-2012 season?
I just felt like sharing my thoughts on the situation in Eugene and hope that the Oregon program will be a success but they need to overcome the obstacles I have outlined above.
The Cape Cod Baseball League has announced their award winners for the 2007 season which is listed below. We have attached links to the official CCBL press releases where possible.
Arnold Mycock Championship Trophy- Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox
Pat Sorenti Award MVP- Conor Gillaspie (Wichita State)
Russ Ford Award Relief Pitcher- Nick Cassavechia (Baylor)
Manny Robello Award 10th Player- Nate Freiman (Duke)
Daniel J.Silva Award Sportsmanship- Shea Robin (Vanderbilt)
Robert A McNeece Award Pro Prospect- Aaron Crow (Missouri)
Mike Curran Award Manager of the Year- Scott Pickler (Cypress Community College)
PA SportsTicker Playoff MVP- Trevor Holder (Georgia)
John Claffey New England Top Prospect Award- Bill Perry (Hartford)
New Head Coach Kevin O’Sullivan and The University of Florida athletic department has released the 2008 baseball schedule on Wednesday. The Gators will open the season on February 22nd when they take on Siena for a three game set. The Gators will make the trip down to the University of Miami the next weekend before coming back home to take on defending Ivy League Champs Brown. The Gators will play Florida State three times this season with a game in each teams respective ballpark and a neutral site game in Jacksonville. In addition to the strong OOC schedule, Florida will play a full 30 games in the SEC which is highlighted by a visit from SEC power Vanderbilt to end the season. The full schedule is available here.
1. Texas OF Kyle Russell
2. Texas A&M Utility Guy Blake Stouffer
3. Vanderbilt OF Dominic De la Osa
4. Rice Closer Cole St. Clair
5. Creighton switch-pitcher Pat Venditte
6. UGA Closer Josh Fields
7. ASU Starter Josh Satow
8. USC Catcher Phil Disher
9. OKState 3B Matt Hague
10. Auburn OF Mike Bianucci
This writer would probably have flipped a couple of these guys around. It’s hard to argue with Russell Stouffer and De la Osa; however, a healthy Cole St. Clair could be the difference between Rice swapping a C-USA ring for a College World Series ring.
And I’m happy to see Venditte return. I’ve not seen him pitch yet, but he’s the guy who will throw lefty to one batter and righty to the next.
Read Kendall’s breakdown here.
As the College Baseball Blog suspected, elite ’08 Catcher Jacob Stallings commitment to North Carolina came after sitting down with Vandy coach Tim Corbin, UNC coach Mike Fox and Vandy Basketball Coach Kevin Stallings and coming to the decision that Chapel Hill provided the best opportunity for the defensive standout to become an elite player.
Coach Mike Fox of North Carolina picked up one of the fastest rising stars on the High School circuit when Nashville Catcher/Pitcher Jacob Stallings verbally committed to the Tarheel baseball program. Stallings is an athletic, if lanky 6’4″ bodied Junior who Perfect Game gave a 9.5 ranking. Mike Rapp of Vandysports.com first reported the news in the premium content War Room, quickly followed by Mo Patton of the Tennessean.
Stallings is the son of Vanderbilt Basketball Coach Kevin Stallings and former basketball teammate of former UNC standout Brandan Wright, a lottery pick this past year in the NBA draft. The younger Stallings has been a fixture at Vanderbilt baseball games, while the senior Stallings is a sometimes-color commentator for Commodores baseball broadcasts and is a close friend of Coach Tim Corbin. This led many to believe Jacob Stallings would don the Black and Gold on West End. Furthermore, as the son of an employee, Stallings would have been entitled to free tuition at Vanderbilt. So why is Stallings headed to UNC? The College Baseball Blog has this insight and opinion as to the surprise commitment:
1) Money doesn’t always talk. Kevin Stallings is one of the highest paid coaches in the SEC, so scholarship funds likely aren’t particularly important.
2) In addition to the Brandan Wright connection, UNC’s Roy Williams is among Kevin Stallings‘ closest friends in the coaching fraternity, establishing solid ties to UNC.
3) The catching and pitching competition at Vanderbilt will be tight for the next three years. At Catcher, Vanderbilt will feature two established players in (’08-’09 year) Sophomore Curt Casali (rated the #60 prospect for the ’07 class and rated 10 by Perfect Game) and Red Shirt Sophomore Andrew Giobbi (rated 10 by Perfect Game in ’05). Casali is expected to win the starting job behind the plate by ’08-09, if not by supplanting incumbent starter Shea Robin this year. Giobbi has seen action at Catcher, Firstbase and DH for the Dores and figures to continue to do so for the next two years. In addition, Jesse Johnson of Vandysports.com reports that Corbin has a pair of solid Catcher walk-ons. Stallings could have faced stiff competition as a pitcher, with Corbin and recruiting coordinator Erik Bakich having assembled a star studded pitching class for ’08-09 featuring AFLAC All American Sonny Gray (PG rating 10), Will Clinard (PG 10), Grayson Garvin (PG 10), Corey Williams (PG 9.5), Ryan Westmoreland (PG 9) and Navery Moore, who was not given a number rating by PG despite being listed as the 18th best prospect in the ’08 class in November 2006. Also returning in ’08-09 will be standout pitchers including Mikie Minor, Drew Hayes, Chase Reid, Mark Lamm, Richie Goodenow and Caleb Cotham. Stallings had been recruited to Vanderbilt and UNC as a Catcher and by Auburn as a pitcher. The CBB believes, without any real basis, that playing time figured into the equation.
4) UNC has somehow managed to become one of the uber elite baseball programs in the country while flying a bit under the radar. They have appeared in the last two CWS finals and have always been a solid program, despite not getting some of the same athletic-academic regard that Stanford, Rice, Tulane and Vandy have received in conversations about “signability“. The “somehow” is not a reflection of UNC not having earned elite status or been excellent on the field, just that, for some reason, their recruiting, on the field and academic excellence don’t get seem to get enough praise in the media.
5) Finally, it provides Stallings the opportunity to have a college experience away from home. A factor for many students.
This writer thinks a combination of 3 and 4 led to the commitment, and that Mike Fox is getting one of the finest players in the nation. Stallings has starred in the Nashville area and on former Commodore Hunter Bledsoe’s Brentwood A’s summer team. He throws in the low 90s off the hill and has impressive defensive skills despite his lanky nature. It’s a pretty safe bet that Fox will get Stallings to campus and, as he grows into his body, Jacob could develop into one of the finest Catchers in the NCAA. Congratulations to Jacob, Coach Stallings and the family.
With one of his perceived top catching targets now in the Tarheel fold, attention will likely look to fellow Nashville Catcher Casey Dykes. Like Stallings, the Franklin based Dykes was rated 9.5 by Perfect Game. Unlike Stallings, Dykes‘ secondary position is 3B, a need area for the ‘Dores. Vanderbilt will likely lose Rivals All-Americans Pedro Alvarez (3B) and Ryan Flaherty (SS) to the next MLB draft. Dykes could compete for playing time at third, though ’07 signee Gabe Ortiz is expected to step into one of those slots, and though Chris Lee of Vandysports has confirmed the commitment of another ’08 elite prospect on the left side of the infield. The information is still not public on the new commitment, so I cannot comment further on the identity of the player pursuant to the College Baseball Blog’s policy on Use and Attribution.
Boston.com is reporting that Blaine O’Brien of Scituate MA has verbally committed to playing for the Georgia Bulldogs during the 2008-2009 school year. O’Brien is a 6’7 185 pound right hander who also drew interest from Florida and Vanderbilt before settling on the Bulldogs. The full article is available here.