Unless you were in the Arizona/Southern Cal region over the weekend, chances are wherever you were, baseball was being played in unseasonably cold weather. Here in Columbia, the Gamecocks actually had their Friday night game moved to Saturday as part of a doubleheader due to the freezing temperatures. We'll see if anything ever comes of it, but Aaron Fitt makes a viable argument for pushing the start of college baseball season back to avoid cold weekends no self-respecting baseball fan or player wants to be a part of. After all, they're called the boys of summer for a reason.
On to the weekend highlights...
On the shelf: Michael Matuella - RHP - Duke - The highly touted right-hander missed his start over the weekend due to "forearm tightness". Not a good sign for a pitcher who could solidify his case as a top-5 pick with a healthy and productive season.
Sweeper of the Week: No. 1 Virginia - The Cavs are number one to everyone but Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen this week and will hold their throne after a dominant 4-game sweep of hapless Marist. Lefty ace Nathan Kirby struck out 9 in Game 1.
After Snowmaggedon hit Chapel Hill, No. 13 North Carolina and No. 7 UCLA duked it out in Orlando, FL. The Tar Heels dropped the series.
Stock Down: Kyle Funkhouser didn't have the funk working this week (4.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K) against Arkansas State and No. 10 Louisville surprisingly dropped a series versus an unranked opponent, a no-no for the poll voters.
No. 19 Maryland picked up two solid wins over South Alabama and Arkansas over the weekend, dropping one game by a 7-6 score to No. 26 UCF. Sophomore righty Mike Shawaryn, a 2016 draft name you'll want on your radar, was on point in the Terps 8-0 victory over South Alabama.
(Big 12 Highlights)
Pitching Clinic of The Week: No. 2 TCU senior RHP Preston Morrison stole the show on Friday night, tossing a complete game shutout over No. 17 Arizona State on just 88 pitches.
Pitching Juggernaut: No. 9 Texas - The Longhorns allowed just two earned runs in their 4-game sweep of Minnesota.
Pitcher Spotlight: RHP Chad Hollingsworth turned in the best outing from the Longhorns rotation (6.1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K). He also ranks as Texas's top pitching prospect for the 2015 draft, according to BA.
Prospect Note: Here's a game report on Oklahoma flamethrower Alec Hanson, a top prospect to keep in mind for the 2016 draft that flirted with triple digits this weekend.
(Big West Highlights)
Stock Up: UC Santa Barbara - The Gauchos need to be ranked after taking down top draft prospect Kyle Cody and Kentucky over the weekend with a series win.
Hitter Spotlight: The Gauchos bats were on point all weekend, scoring a combined 28 runs. Outfielder Cameron Newell led the charge (8-for-13, HR, 4 RBI).
Prospect Note: Thomas Eshelman, junior RHP from No. 24 Cal State Fullerton, tossed a gem (7.1 IP, 3 H, ER, 0 BB, 8 K) against Stanford. He's one of the best strike thrower's in the biz and worked with an 89-91 MPH fastball on Friday that topped out at 93 MPH according to Aaron Fitt.
Stock Down: UC Irvine dropped 3 of 4 to Cal over the weekend which leaves the Anteaters with a 1-6 record thus far. Cal Poly also fell to 1-6 over the weekend. No bueno.
Making A Statement to the Sun Belt: Arkansas State - As mentioned previously, the Red Wolves pulled off the upset of the week, taking the series from No. 10 Louisville.
No. 7 Houston is the top ranked team in the mid-major highlights section right now and picked up a big time series win over No. 23 Alabama this weekend.
Possible Ranked Material: The Dallas Baptist Patriots are up to their usually mid-major antics, taking down San Diego over the weekend to improve to 6-1.
Sleeper Alert: Grand Canyon - What a sight, except I'm talking about the school. They have a D-1 baseball program as of last year and they just swept Cal Poly over the weekend to improve to 7-0. Chad De La Guerra - 2B went 3-for-9 and is the WAC preseason pick for hitter of the year.
Sleeper Alert, Part Deux: Nevada - Same region, different conference. The 7-0 Wolfpack swept Fresno State for an early Mountain West lead and scored 29 runs this weekend.
Stock Up: No. 7 UCLA - The Bruins made a trip across the country to take on UNC and left with a series win. The Bruins pitching staff is led by the top draft prospect in the Pac-12, RHP James Kaprielian, who improved to 2-0 Friday night.
Oregon State participated in the Big 12/ Pac 12 challenge over the weekend and walked away with a pair of victories over Kansas and Kansas State.
Prospect Note: Shaun Chase - C - Oregon - D1 Baseball considers Chase the preseason favorite for Pac-12 hitter of the year. He also made their Friday stat roundup for his big night at the plate versus New Mexico State.
Bragging Rights: No. 5 Florida picked up a huge out-of-conference series win over No. 11 Miami. Eric Sorenson was on hand for Game 1 in which Gators center fielder Buddy Reed delivered a walk off single. (Fun fact: I played one year of high school ball with him).
They Are Human: No.3 Vanderbilt was handed a surprising 8-1 loss on Saturday by Indiana State. The preseason No. 1 squad in the land will likely move down again in the writers poll.
Pitcher Spotlight: Reggie McClain - RHP - Missouri - Call him "Mr. February" cuz these cold temps got nothing on him! He's now tossed 17 consecutive scoreless innings to start off the season. He brings sharp command of an upper 80's sinking fastball and has yet to issue a walk.
Making A Statement: Georgia - The Bulldogs may no longer be bottom feeders in the SEC East if their series win over Famous Jameis and No. 15 Florida State is any indicator.
(Photo By: Tomasso DeRosa)
Hitter Of The Week: Ian Happ - OF - Cincinnati
Despite an ugly 1-6 start to their season, the Bearcats do possess one of the top hitters in the nation in Happ who sprayed line drives all weekend against Santa Clara. He finished a combined 10-for-14 at the plate, with two doubles, a walk, and one RBI.
Chris Crawford tweeted over the weekend that he considers Happ as the "best pure hitter" in the college ranks and could be in play as a top fifteen pick for one "Happ"y team. That shouldn't come as a surprise considering Happ, a switch hitter, was named the top hitter in the Cape Cod league the last two summers. Happ stands in at 6'0 205 pounds and has the speed and arm strength to be a strong defender at an outfield corner. Some scouts think he could play a passable second base in pro ball too which would enhance his value as a hitter. Here's a link to his MLB.com scouting profile.
Photo By: Presidio Sports)
Pitcher Of The Week: Dillon Tate - RHP - UC Santa Barbara
Tate has generated as much draft buzz as anyone in the country early on this college baseball season, making him an ideal choice for our pitcher of the week spotlight. Tate dominated Kentucky (7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K) despite a report from Kendall Rogers that he "didn't have his best stuff". That's impressive. Once upon a time, Tate closed for UCSB. That was 2014, this is 2015. The coaches wised up, put their best arm in the rotation, and everyone has benefited so far.
Tate dialed up the heat to 97 MPH early on in the game, settling in at 93-95 MPH later in the game. We call that arm strength and he has it in droves along with a plus slider and usable change up. He stands in at 6'2", 185 pounds and is an athletic force of nature on the mound. If he continues to string together consistently dominant outings with the velocity he has shown, Tate will move up draft boards quicker than John Goodman at a buffet line.
The latest rankings via College Baseball Writers
That's it for this week and this regular season. Stay classy, not crassy, everyone.