We have been posting articles for over two weeks now on teams releasing their 2009 signees. We continue the tradition today with some more press releases. Click on the respective team for the full press release.
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.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. –Vanderbilt baseball announced the addition of 14 players for the 2008-2009 school year today.
The Commodores class includes six pitchers and eight position players with 12 high schoolers and two junior college transfers.
“We are excited about this class and its future potential,” said Vanderbilt head coach Tim Corbin. “The class was compiled to help offset the loss of our upperclassmen to graduation and the draft. The incoming group are very talented players and we look forward to seeing them on campus next fall.”
The 14 member class is made up of student-athletes from nine different states, including three ranked as the top player in their state. Below is the list of signees with brief information on each. Rankings were taken from Perfect Game Crosschecker and Baseball America.
Players and Their Bios:
Jack Armstrong • RHP/1B • Jupiter, Fla. (Jupiter High)
Armstrong is the # 1 ranked righthander pitcher in Florida and one of the top two way players in the nation. At 6’7”, he is extrememly athletic and also a Division I caliber basketball player. He is rated the No. 28 player nationally by Perfect Game. His father, Jack Armstrong, pitched at the University of Oklahoma and in the major leagues from 1988-1994 with Cincinnati, Cleveland, Florida and Texas.
Will Clinard • RHP • Cross Plains, Tenn. (East Robertson High)
Clinard is a 6’4” righthanded pitcher that consistently throws 88-92 mph. He is the fourth ranked high school prospect in Tennessee and the 218 ranked prospect nationally by Perfect Game.
Jason Esposito • INF • Bethany, Conn. (Amity High)
Jason is the #1 ranked overall player in Connecticut and one of the top infield prospects in the nation. His best tools are his defense, arm strength, and hitting ability. He is the ranked as No. 63 in Baseball America’s Top 100 High School Prospects.
Grayson Garvin • LHP • Suwanee, Ga. (The Wesleyan School)
Garvin is the #1 ranked lefthanded pitcher in Georgia and one of the top pitching prospects in the country. He has outstanding command, a 86-90mph fastball and a very good changeup. He is the No. 55 ranked high school prospect in the country by Baseball America.
Sonny Gray • RHP • Smyrna, Tenn (Smyrna High School)
Gray is the No. 6 ranked high school prospect nationally by Baseball America. He is a 5’10” and has a power arm that tops out around 96 mph and a dominant 84-86mph slider. He is considered by many experts as the most talented Tennessee High School prospect since David Price.
Andrew Harris • INF • Nashville, Tenn. (Montgomery Bell Academy)
Harris, the brother of current Commodore infielder Brian Harris and son of former Commodore Robert Harris, is a very athletic infielder and a physical left handed hitter. He is extremely motivated, driven and his competitiveness will stand out immediately.
Joe Loftus • INF • Savage, Minn. (Academy of Holy Angels)
Loftus is the #1 ranked position player in Minnesota and one of the premier power hitters in the nation. In three years of high school, he has already broken Joe Mauer’s (current Minnesota Twins starting catcher) Minnesota High School home run record. Perfect Game lists him as the No. 147 player nationally.
Matt Marquis • OF • Annandale, N.J. (Immaculata High School)
Marquis is the #1 ranked position player in New Jersey and one of the top hitters in the country. His best tools are his extrememly advanced hitting ability and natural power. He is listed as No. 67 in Perfect Game’s Top High School prospects list.
Adam Milligan • OF • Savannah, Tenn. (Walters State CC)
Milligan is a returning First Team Junior College All-American at Walters State. He has been drafted twice already by the Atlanta Braves (28th round in 2006, 27th in 2007) and is a physical specimen at 6’3” 235lbs. Last season he hit .395 with 13 homers, 18 doubles and 58 RBIs as a freshman.
Navery Moore • RHP • Franklin, Tenn. (Battle Ground Academy)
Moore was considered by many as the nation’s No. 1 high school prospect before undergoing arm surgery last spring. He is expected to return to action in the spring for BGA. He is listed as the No. 3 prospect in Tennessee and the No. 155 prospect nationally by Perfect Game.
Dylan Pratt • UTIL • Gray, Tenn. (Walters State CC)
Pratt, a freshman this season, is another 6’2” 220lb physical specimen from Walters State along with fellow signee Adam Milligan. He is versatile and can catch and play in the outfield. Pratt was a first-team All-State selection a year ago after hitting .480 with eight homers and 41 RBI at Daniel Boone High.
Riley Reynolds • INF • Lee Summitt, Mo. (Blue Springs South High)
Reynolds is an extrememly athletic middle infielder from the Kansas City area. He has natural raw hitting ability with smooth defensive actions and will progress quickly as he adds more strength. He is listed as the No. 3 prospect in Missouri and the No. 157 prospect nationally by both Baseball America and Perfect Game.
Ryan Westmoreland • OF • Portsmouth, R.I. (Portsmouth High School)
Westmoreland is the two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in Rhode Island and the top position player prospect in New England. His best tools are speed, hitting ability, and arm strength. Baseball America has him at No. 113 nationally among high school players.
Corey Williams • LHP • Huntsville, Ala. (Madison Academy)
Corey is a very polished lefthanded pitcher who has great command of three pitches. He is the No. 4 high school prospect in the state and is ranked No. 327 nationally. He went 9-2 as a junior for Madison Academy with a 1.89 ERA. He struck out 68 with 19 walks in 63 innings.
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.
Mike Rapp of VandySports.com broke the media silence out of Vanderbilt regarding their highly regarded recruiting class. Vanderbilt has received 11 of the 15 anticipated Letters of Intent, none more impressive that Smyrna TN righty Sonny Gray.
In a class highlighted by pitching, Gray leads the way. The flame throwing All-State QB and TN Prep Athlete of the Year is rated by Baseball America as the 6th best HS Prospect in America at all positions. Joining Gray in the fold are a series of standouts including Aflac All-American righty Jack Armstrong, standout third sacker Jason Esposito of CT and NJ outfielder Matt Marquis.
Vanderbilt will likely issue a press release when their four final signatures come in.
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.
The University of Alabama announced its 2008 baseball schedule today, which features 33 games in the state of Alabama and 20 games against teams that played in the 2007 NCAA Regionals, Super Regionals and College World Series.
The recent changes to the college baseball schedules have forced teams to play more games in a shorter period of time, creating five-game weeks for most teams throughout the country. Alabama is no different and the complexity of the schedule will have the Tide playing 26 road games this season, the most under head coach Jim Wells and the most by UA since playing 26 road games during the 1994 season.
“It was a very challenging schedule to put together due to the change in the format of the season,” Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. “First of all, we play in the toughest league in the country, then on top of that to have to play two midweek games makes it even more difficult.
“The NCAA’s uniform start date for all teams is Feb. 22, so we lost two weekends of baseball that we used to have,” Wells added. “I think we have a good schedule and we are playing some really good teams. We are on the road quite a bit this year, but most of the road games are in the state of Alabama against some really good in-state teams. We are excited to be going to Florence, Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile and Jacksonville to showcase the Crimson Tide baseball program. I think that is a good thing.”
The Crimson Tide will play 30 home games this season, including 15 non-conference games and 15 SEC games.
The non-conference home schedule includes series with Cal Poly (Feb. 22-24), Youngstown State (March 7-9) and New Orleans (March 18-19). The Crimson Tide will also play single games against Troy (March 5), Samford (March 12), Jacksonville State (March 25), UAB (April 1), Mississippi Valley State (April 8), SE Louisiana (April 9) and Lipscomb (April 22).
Alabama’s 2008 SEC home schedule features defending SEC Champion Vanderbilt (March 21-23), Ole Miss (March 28-30), Mississippi State (April 18-20), Auburn (April 25-27) and Florida (May 9-11).
The Vanderbilt Commodores finished up the Black and Gold Scrimmage over the weekend with the Gold team winning Game 1 by a score of 7-4. The Gold team was led by All-American Pedro Alvarez who went 2-4 including a homer with 2 RBI. Nick Christiani started the game for the Gold team going five strong innings while only allowing two hits to get the victory. Brett Jacobsen started for the Black squad and lasted five innings while giving up three runs on six hits. The leading hitter for the Black team was Parker Hanks who went 2-4. Game 2 was won by the Black team 7-4. The team was led by a very strong pitching performance from Mike Minor who pitched five no-hit innings while allowing only one walk to dominate the Gold lineup. Parker Hanks led the Black team again with three hits and three RBI in five at-bats. Dominic de la Osa led the Gold team in a losing effort by going 2-3. The final and deciding game on Sunday was won by the Gold team 6-2. The team was led on offense by Gabe Ortiz who went 2-4 with 3 RBI. We have linked to interviews and recaps from each day of the Fall Series below.
Utah: Wrapping up Fall workouts
Wright State: Fall World Series Update
Vanderbilt: Feinberg Interview
UNLV: Beuerlein Right in Line
Washington: Fall World Series Update
Oregon State: Fall World Series Update from Daily Barometer
LSU: Gold takes Game 2 of Intersquad Series from Daily Reveille
Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com checks in on Mike Bianco’s Rebel workouts in the Fall. The article (found here) includes Bianco’s reaction to Ole Miss’ historical bad luck in the Super Regionals and the joys of added depth.
After a Supers exit to Arizona State last year, this member of the College Baseball Blog sees redemption for the Rebs (no, the South isn’t rising again) as the SEC team to beat. Lance Lynn and Cody Satterwhite will be the closest thing to this year’s version of the David Price – Casey Weathers combo that Vanderbilt wore to a #1 ranking. Add in solid pitching and positional depth, and the Rebs are well positions to be the #1 seed in the SEC West when the conference descends on Hoover.