Tag Archives: SEC

Vandy finds last piece to ‘09 infield

One of the more intriguing questions to arise out of Hawkins Field is how one fills the looming gap when projected top 2008 Draft Pick Pedro Alvarez departs his 3B spot on West End this fall. Alvarez has been a force since spurning the advances of Theo Epstein and the Boston Red Sox to get his baseball education and sheepskin at Vanderbilt. As a freshman, he set a VU record with 22 bombs en route to consensus Freshman of the Year and All-American status. As a sophomore, he put up staggering numbers as the cleanup hitter. Each of the past two summers, he’s carried the banner for Team USA at the plate, leading the squad in batting average and other categories.

So who will step into the enviable task of replacing Petey for Coach Tim Corbin? Chris Lee, Mike Rapp and Jesse Johnson of VandySports.com confirmed rumors of a commitment in the premium section of the Rivals.com affiliated site more than a month ago. Nevertheless, due to the College Baseball Blog’s attribution policy, we have chosen not to report on the development out of respect for VandySports.com’s terms of service. Recently, the commitment has been acknowledged on the sites free baseball board allowing us to report that Bethany, Connecticut star Jason Esposito committed to the Commodores and is pencilled in for the competition at third. Esposito was a Connecticut rival of ’08 prize recruit Curt Casali and a summer league teammate of fellow blue chip ’09 recruit Matt Marquis.

Like Alvarez, Esposito is a well-framed, athletic corner man with a massive arm. He stands 6-2, 185 and throws 90 off the hill, according to Perfect Game, which rated Esposito a 10 of 10, indicating high draft round talent. Esposito joins recruits Sonny Gray, Matt Marquis, Will Clinard, Grayson Garvin, Corey Williams, Ryan Westmoreland and Navery Moore and transfer Dylan Pratt in a class that seems poised to surpass the Alvarez-Flaherty led 2005 class rated #1 by Baseball America.

Although positions aren’t guaranteed at Vanderbilt or any other major program, Esposito would project to have the inside track at earning the starting 3B job as a true freshman. The other projected infield starters for 2009 season include (class year in 2009) Sophomore Aaron Westlake at 1B, Redshirt Sophomore Alex Hilliard or Junior Brian Harris at 2B, Redshirt Freshman Gabe Ortiz at Short and Sophomore Curt Casali at Catcher.

Tulane gets three transfers for 2008

The Tulane Baseball team picked up three transfers this summer to hopefully lead the Green Wave back to the upper echelon of college baseball. The first transfer is shortstop Josh Prince (Texas) who hit .371 in 35 games for the Longhorns in 2007. Left-handed pitcher Matt Petition (UNC) heads to New Orleans after appearing in only two games in his freshman season. The final transfer is Josh Zeid from Vanderbilt which the College Baseball Blog reported earlier this summer. Zeid pitched in 18 games in 2007 and 13 games as a freshman. The full release is available here.

Auburn releases 2008 schedule

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.

Rivals Names Top 10 NCAA Seniors

Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com listed his top 10 Seniors on Monday. This list looks quite a bit like his recent article on returning draftees, but Kendall has some solid notes about each player.

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.

You can read the countdown here: 10 through 6 and 5 through 1.

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

Trouble brewing in Gainesville?

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 article involves allegations regarding a meeting with a local high school coach, who’s son is on the Gators squad. The high school coach alleges that O’Sullivan took away the scholarship of his son, Bo Smith, at the 11th hour before classes and that O’Sullivan has only a passing familiarity with his own roster.

The Florida Athletics department hit back this morning, citing massive inaccuracies in the article and defending Coach O’Sullivan. The real story is likely somewhere in the middle, as always, but look for roster issues to come up at numerous schools this fall, particularly those with large recruiting classes and with new coaches. One thing is for certain, though: this was not how O’Sullivan wanted to start out with the local media.

Read the Gainesville Sun article here.

Read the UF Press Release response here.

Oregon baseball thoughts

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.

2007 Cape Cod League Award winners

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)

Thurman Munson Award Batting Champ- Conor Gillaspie (Wichita State)

BFC Whitehouse Award Outstanding Pitcher
- Tom Milone (Southern Cal)

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)

Curley Clement Umpire Award- Tim Carey (CBUAO)

Commissioner’s Cup Team of the Year
- Wareham

Florida releases 2008 Schedule

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.

Rivals.com Rates Top Returning Draftees

Kendall Rogers, Rivals.com’s baseball guru, broke down his top 10 players to return to school despite being drafted.

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.

More on Stallings’ Commitment to UNC

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.

Mo Patton of the Tennessean spoke with Jacob about the decision and the difficulty in playing for someone other than Coach Corbin. With Curt Casali and Andrew Giobbi in the fold, Stallings was unlikely to see playing time until the 2010-11 season. While cracking the elite UNC lineup might not be that much easier, the Tarheels feature the combination of elite program, great coaches and top notch academics that were likely on the mind of this college-bound HS Senior. The biggest barrier to immediate playing time will be rising Sophomore recruit Mark Fleury, who played in 10 games as a true freshman and was a highly regarded recruit. Look for Stallings to challenge for playing time for the Heels in the 2009-10 season.

Stallings might not be an All-American at UNC, but his impeccable defensive skills will certainly blend well with UNC’s elite stable of arms. This writer apologizes for mistakenly stating that Stallings plays for the elite Brentwood A’s summer team. He actually donned the garb for the Nashville Red Dogs.