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.
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.”
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.
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.
Mo Patton of the Tennessean is reporting that David Price will receive a record $11.25 Million package over six years, surpassing the “Prior” record of $10.4 Million over six years between Mark Prior and the Cubs. The son of two Vanderbilt alums, Prior also pitched in Nashville as a Freshman before transferring to USC for the remainder of his NCAA career.
FROM CCBL Release
HYANNIS, Mass. – Strong-armed catcher Shea Robin (Vanderbilt) has joined six other Hyannis Mets alumni as a winner of the Cape Cod Baseball League’s Daniel J. Silva Sportsmanship Award.
The Vanderbilt junior enjoyed a solid first season in the CCBL, appearing in 29 games as catcher for the Mets. He batted .229 with a home run and eight RBI. Robin’s performance both on and off the field made a strong, positive impression on those around him as his character and selfless attitude demonstrated the true definition of a student-athlete at his best.
Robin’s selection continues what is becoming a tradition – selecting a catcher as recipient of the Silva award.
Last year’s winner, Brewster second baseman Matt LaPorta (Florida), was actually a catcher in high school and early in his college career. He wound up being chosen by the Milwaukee Brewers in the first round of the 2007 MLB draft as a first baseman. Wareham catcher Joel Collins (South Alabama) was the award winner in 2005, following two other Hyannis catchers, Chris Robinson (Illinois) in 2004 and Richard Mercado (Arizona) in 2003. The position requires extreme concentration, discipline and leadership qualities and demands strong communication skills.
Other Hyannis Mets who have won the Silva award are Curtis Sapp (North Carolina State), 1999; Will Vespe (Miami), 1988; Jim Howard (Siena), 1983, and Brick Smith (Wake Forest), co-winner in 1980.
Combined with his strong arm and willingness to pitch out, Robin has been an integral part of the Mets’ late-season surge. They came within a whisker of making the post-season playoffs, only to be upset by last-place Wareham on the next-to-last day of the regular season. Those who have watched Robin in action have been impressed. “Shea has a strong arm and he is not afraid to throw out at any time, particularly to first and third base” noted John Garner, CCBL director of public relations and broadcasting.
Robin’s ambitious approach to the position has been a reflection of his strong character. Standing 5-11, the Woodland, Tex., native has always been a well-rounded athlete. He has also earned awards for his academic achievements, including a spot on the SEC 2007 academic honor roll, as well as Vanderbilt’s 2007 dean’s list.
Robin’s .311 batting average during the 2007 college baseball season was an important component of Vanderbilt’s surprise win at the SEC championship last spring. His roommate at Vandy is fellow catcher Andrew Giobbi, who spent this summer with the Falmouth Commodores.
Robin helped Vanderbilt hold the No. 1 spot in the USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches’ Poll for nine straight weeks and was selected as catcher for the SEC All-Tourney team.
Ticketed for the starting catcher’s job as he returns for his third year at Vanderbilt, Robin, a converted outfielder, has displayed determination and a desire to constantly improve, resulting in a smooth transition to the position of catcher.
Robin previously spent his college summers competing with the Waterloo Bucks of the Northwoods League. He has displayed a consistent batting average throughout his baseball career and has also been a reliable run-producer.
This summer, Robin’s sportsmanship has made a profound impact on those around him. “Shea is sociable and a hard worker,” says Mets General Manager John Howitt, “ He has many qualities you do not often see in someone his age.”
Robin has built strong relationships with teammates, coaches and umpires. He has displayed respectful conduct and a gracious attitude for the game of baseball while showing strong competitive spirit combined with good character — important attributes when being considered for this award.
Since 1973, the Daniel J. Silva Award has been one of the Cape League’s most prestigious honors. The league’s umpires are charged with the task of picking the winner. The umpires witness a player’s sportsmanship first-hand and are in a unique position to make the selection.
The award honors the memory of “Danny” Silva, the league’s first commissioner in the so-called “modern” era, and a former CCBL umpire-in-chief. Silva was posthumously inducted into the CCBL Hall of Fame in 2000.
Thanks to Joe Sherman and John Garner for the Cape Cod League information.