Tag Archives: SEC

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.

UNC picks up elite ‘09 Catcher

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.

Auburn welcomes incoming class!

Thursday was a banner day for the Auburn baseball team as the Tigers welcomed 13 freshmen and a transfer to the squad for the 2008 season. The freshman class includes three players that were drafted in this past summer’s Major League Baseball Draft while 23rd-round pick junior Mike Bianucci also chose to return to The Plains for the upcoming season.

PGcrosschecker.com had this to say about Auburn’s recruiting class. “Big, Deep and Talented (Brian Fletcher, Wes Gilmer, Hunter Morris, Kevin Patterson). If these hitters show up for class at Auburn, the Tigers might have the best offensive team in college baseball in a couple of years. They all hit and can hit right now without needing much projection. Morris and Patterson are left-handed hitters with middle-of-the-order potential; it’s a scary thought where they might be in three years with metal bats.”

Press Release from Auburn

Corbin Lands NAIA Star for ‘08 Class

Vanderbilt Head Coach Tim Corbin announced yesterday that he was remaining in Nashville. Just 10 hours after that decision, VandySports.com’s Mike Rapp broke the news that Corbin and Erik Bakich had landed coveted transfer candidate Drew Hayes.

Hayes will enter with this year’s class and be eligible to play immediately as a Sophomore. A 6’1″ 200 lb RHP, Hayes is described by Joshua Parrott of the Jackson Sun as having a body built like Casey Weathers, the former Vandy closer and #8 overall pick in this past draft. Parrott reports in today’s paper that Hayes will be given the opportunity to use his mid-90s heater to earn the right to close games on West End.

Corbin and Bakich were not unfamiliar with Hayes, nor are his new teammates. Hayes is most well associated with Mikie Minor, the Vanderbilt and Team-USA standout LHP. Minor and Hayes competed for honors as 2005-6’s top Tennessee baseball player. Minor ultimately drew the most acclaim, but Hayes bested the southpaw in the TSSAA State Championship game in an epic matchup. Hayes was recruited heavily by Vanderbilt; however, he chose to play at Bethel, where his father is the baseball head coach. Hayes batted .320 and carried a 6-4 record and 2.72 ERA on the hill.

Hayes joins another star-studded class of recruits that have all made it to Nashville without defection. Among them are Catcher Curtis Casali, LHP Kellen St. Luce, 1B/DH Aaron Westlake, LHP Ben Blanton, RHP Chase Reid, 1B Drew Fann, SS Gabe Ortiz, OF Joey Manning, LHP Sean Bierman and RHP Taylor Hill. Casali, Manning and Westlake are expected to push holdover starters at C, LF and 1B, respectively, while all six pitching recruits will join a solid redshirt class in replacing the six Vanderbilt pitchers who moved on to the professional ranks this year.
I would also be remiss if I did not link Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com‘s excellent article on Tim Corbin and the Oregon search. It touched on the topics I addressed in my late post last night, but Kendall actually attended the presser and knows Tim from attending a number of Vandy games and covering the Dores. It’s an outstanding read for those of you who aren’t sick of me talking about the Commodores yet.

More on Corbin and the Oregon Coaching Search

With Tim Corbin’s announcement today, Vandy fans stomachs finally settled. Mike Rapp and Chris Lee of VandySports.com, Kendall Rogers of Rivals.com, Brett Hait of the Nashville City Paper and Mo Patton of the Tennessean (and the College Baseball Blog) all covered the story in great detail. Early this morning, Coach Corbin announced, through Joe Fisher (the voice of Commodore athletics as announcer for all Vandy sports games), that he was staying in Nashville. Later in the day, Corbin hosted media to answer questions regarding the brief courtship.

Of interesting note, Corbin was not initially interviewing with Oregon. He was engaged by the University as a consultant to help build their program and advise on matters including the coaching search and facility construction. Much like Baylor, another program visited by Oregon officials, Vanderbilt is known to have among the best facilities in the country. However, during the courtship, Oregon upped the ante and offered Corbin a compensation package that dwarfed what Corbin currently receives at Vandy. Corbin is among the most well compensated coaches in the SEC, leading to speculation regarding just how large the package was — speculation Corbin did not address.

Ultimately, Corbin told the media that the entire experience has been: “slightly embarrassing, to be honest with you, because my first feeling is this has happened before. The last thing I want is for people to think, ‘Here we go again.’ I don’t have a sign over my head that says, ‘I need a job,’ because I don’t.” Corbin flirted with LSU and Auburn in the past three years and appeared to be attempting some damage control. Corbin acknowledged that he has an outstanding situation at Vanderbilt, evidenced by turning down NIKE money that would reportedly have doubled his current compensation package. Nevertheless, he came across as honest and open regarding his status as Vandy’s coach, his commitment to the program, and the fact that he will listen to offers if approached, as college baseball “is a performance driven business.” In this case, although Corbin entertained the Oregon offer, when asked if he was close to accepted he said, “It wasn’t close physically, emotionally or anything.”

Corbin also indicated what this blog suggested early last night. The presence of David Williams, Vandy’s Athletics Czar, is a key factor in the coach’s continued home in Nashville. So long as Williams is running the show, count on Corbin to turn down all offers outside of an opening at Clemson and in the Boston Red Sox organization. Corbin hinted that he has turned down more overtures than are public. Among those rumored are an immediate turn down of the University of Tennessee this past Spring.

Corbin’s press conference can be viewed at VUCommodores.com and Coach talks about his situation at Vanderbilt, the offer received from Oregon, the nature of Oregon’s program building and the departure of Chancellor Gordon Gee. Corbin also noted that recruiting coordinator Erik Bakich and pitching coach Derek Johnson have been approached and turned down opportunities at other schools.

To access the video of the press conference, you must register for free with VUCommodores.com’s all-Access video service, which also allows you to watch all home Commodore baseball games live.

In the early afternoon conference, Corbin did not address the status of then unsigned David Price, Dominic De la Osa and Jonathan White. All-American RF De la Osa and reserve OF White are returning to Vanderbilt for their Senior years. De la Osa will join fellow Rivals.com All-Americans Pedro Alvarez (3B) and Ryan Flaherty (SS) to form one of the most lethal middles of the lineup in baseball for the second year in a row. Alvarez and De la Osa currently rank #1 and #4 among returning players in career home runs.

Photo courtesy of Mike Rapp at VandySports.com.