Let's start the week with Thursday's big announcement concerning college sports: ESPN and the SEC have announced a joint network on which they will be airing a range of collegiate sporting events, including but not limited to 75 baseball games. The network will launch in August 2014. The major details are here.
The other big deal, depending on who you ask, is that today is my last day at my day job. I am quitting to concentrate full time on writing this column. No, that's not true. I am quitting because I am moving from Alaska back to California at the end of May. What that means is that I CAN devote more time to scouring the interwebs looking for baseball stories of interest. I'm pretty excited to be on my way back to where they actually play baseball before June and after August.
So there was a shakeup at the top of the NCBWA Top 30 poll! Following a 4-0 week, the Vanderbilt Commodores finally unseated the North Carolina Tar Heels. Cal State-Fullerton stayed at #3, LSU slipped to #4, and Oregon State settled in at #5.
USA Baseball released their mid-season list of 60 Golden Spikes candidates. The names are not surprising. Kris Bryant, Mark Appel, Hunter Renfroe, Sean Manaea, Jonathan Gray, Philip Ervin, among others were part of the original 32 in February. 28 were added due to high-level performance and breakout campaigns, including Chris Anderson, Tyler Beede, Zane Evans, Mason Katz, Daniel Palka, and Ryon Healy. Two freshmen made the list: Tom Eshelman of Fullerton and Alex Bregman of LSU.
The list will be pared to 30 at the end of May, 3 on June 4th, and the winner will be announced on July 19.
Right here is the preview
The Commodores of Vandy will have a tough challenge keeping their top spot in the rankings when they play a three game set at South Carolina this weekend. The Gamecocks took two out of three last week at LSU, including a Sunday shutout. Kevin Ziomek and Tyler Beede toe the slab on Friday and Saturday for Vandy, respectively, and SEC Hitter of the Week Tony Kemp will flash his bat for them and his leather behind them. Kemp, a Junior second baseman leads the Commodores with a batting average of .399 and an OBP of .495. The Vandy pitching, however, is what to watch as South Carolina's LB Dantzler, Joey Pankake, and Max Schrock dig in with the sticks against Vandy's pair of studs.
May is the time for player lists, player rankings, and mock drafts to come out. While everybody else is preparing theirs, I'll go ahead and present MY list. These are the Top 10 college players I would target in the 2013 First-year Player Draft:
1. Kris Bryant - 3B - University of San Diego
2. Jonathan Gray - RHP - Univesity of Oklahoma
3. Mark Appel - RHP - Stanford University
4. DJ Peterson - 3B - University of New Mexico
5. Kevin Ziomek - LHP - Vanderbilt University
6. Austin Kubitza - RHP - Rice University
7. Colin Moran - 3B - University of North Carolina
8. Sean Manaea - LHP - Indiana State University
9. Hunter Renfroe - C - Mississippi State University
10. Zane Evans - C - Georgia Tech University
5 Sleepers (Guys I like, but don't get a ton of press and are highly unlikely to be drafted in the first 5 rounds)
1. Jimmy Yezzo - 1B - University of Delaware
2. Matt Oberste - 1B - University of Oklahoma
3. Dillon Newman - RHP - Baylor University
4. Sam Moll - LHP - University of Memphis
5. Kyle Wren - OF - Georgia Tech University
5 for 2014 (Current Sophomores I REALLY like)
1. Carlos Rodon - LHP - North Carolina State University
2. Aaron Nola - RHP - Louisiana State University
3. Kyle Schwarber - C - Indiana University
4. Chesny Young - 3B - Mercer University
5. David Berg - RHP - University of California-Los Angeles
Eric Sorenson's podcast at his Easton Blog.
Keith Law, talkin college ball and the draft. (4/17 and 4/30 episodes)
Baseball America's college podcast.