We're inching closer to conference play (some have already begun) and with the beginning of SEC conference play, I will start doing a little scouting of some of the premier talent the SEC has to offer. Stay tuned for that. We now have requisite data for the first RPI's to show up courtesy of Boyd Nation. I have that linked at the end of the article.
Here's the weekend highlights from around the country...
Conference play began in the ACC this weekend and with that we will see which teams are for real, and which teams may have benefited too much from playing the little sisters of the poor.
Sweeper of the Week: No. 22 Florida State earns this title by default because they were the only team that swept an ACC opponent after giving Boston College the business this weekend. The 'Noles have won 9 straight. Mike "Straight Outta" Compton tossed a 2-hit shutout on Friday.
Will They Still Be Number 1? Great question, dear reader (Update: Yes, they are. Any time, your welcome). No. 1 Virginia got dropped on Friday by Pittsburgh of all teams. However, the Cavaliers salvaged a series win. Top prospect Nathan Kirby did "Nathan Kirby things", whiffing 13 batters.
Hitter Spotlight: Let's talk about reigning ACC hitter of the year and top draft prospect D.J. Stewart, shall we? It's early, but he already leads the conference with 5 bombs.
Guess what? The 'Merica conference has three ranked teams currently. That qualifies them for their own highlight section according to my subjectivity.
Stock Down: No. 12 Houston had trouble hanging with the big boys over the weekend, dropping both games versus tough SEC opponents No. 4 LSU and No. 13 Texas A&M.
Stock Up: No. 18 UCF - The Knights improved t 14-2 after handily sweeping a Columbia squad that gave Houston trouble last weekend. Could they be the new top dogs in the AAC?
Pitcher Spotlight: Carson Cross - RHP - UConn - Have a game, son. This type of outing (9 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 15 K) normally puts you in strong contention for my critically acclaimed pitcher of the week spotlight but alas I can only choose one.
(Big 12 Highlights)
No. 2 TCU took part in the Dodgertown Classic over the weekend and notched two key victories over No. 5 Vanderbilt.
Nation's Best Closer: Riley Ferrell - RHP - You don't have to be 17 to watch Ferrell bring rated R stuff in the 9th inning for TCU. He has first round potential due to a fastball that ranges 92-96 MPH and a filthy mid 80's slider.
No. 16 Texas traveled to the West Coast for a four-game battle royale with Stanford. The Longhorns split the series.
(Big West Highlights)
Sweeper of the Week: Cal State Fullerton - The Titans shall make their glorious return to the polls this week mark my words. Why? They swept yet another ranked Big 12 school this weekend in No. 7 Texas Tech.
Pitcher Spotlight: Any other week, RHP Thomas Eshelman - a top 5 round draft prospect, by the way - would land my prestigious pitcher of the week award with the standout outing (9 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, BB, 14 K) he had over the weekend.
Your Weekly Tate Update: Dillon Tate, UCSB's standout Junior RHP, continued to light up radar guns and rack up K's this weekend. Like I mentioned last week, some scouts are now bumping him up amongst the top five draft prospects available for the 2015 draft.
Stock Up: No. 22 Florida Atlantic improved to 14-2 over the weekend and looks primed to give No. 10 Rice all they can handle in the C-USA race this year.
Stock Down: No. 20 Maryland was handed a rude awakening on the road at UNC Wilmington this weekend. The Seahawks pulled off a big series win over the Terps and once again look like a strong contender in the CAA race.
Making A Statement: Illinois may have established themselves as the team to beat this weekend if their road series upset over No. 7 Oklahoma State is an indicator. LHP Tyler Jay - top draft prospect in the Big Ten - notched a save in game one and earned a W in game three.
Prospect Note: Casey Schroeder - C - Coastal Carolina - The power hitting catcher blasted three home runs on Friday night alone to give him 6 on the young season. The A's drafted him in the 14th round out of Polk State CC last summer and a strong year with the Chanticleers could put him in Top 10 round discussion for 2015.
Sending A Message To The WCC: San Diego - The Torreros are at it again. After taking two from No. 13 Texas last week they traveled to No. 9 Mississippi State and pulled off a big series winning upset.
Making A HUGE Statement: No. 23 USC - The Trojans are back, baby. They took the college baseball world by storm this weekend by winning the Dodgertown classic, taking down No. 2 TCU, No. 5 Vanderbilt, and No. 6 UCLA.
Hitter Spotlight: Adalberto Carillo delivered a walk-off home run for the Trojans in their dramatic upset win over Vandy.
No. 6 UCLA found themselves on the losing end of the three games they played in the Dodgertown Classic. The Bruins shouldn't fall too much considering the top 25 competition they lost to.
Stock Up: No. 4 LSU trying to make a run at top billing in the country after a perfect 5-0 week that included wins this weekend over No. 12 Houston, Baylor, and Nebraska.
Stock Down: No. 9 Mississippi State - The Bulldogs stay in the top ten will be a short one after they were handed a series loss at home by upstart San Diego.
Hot Streakin: No. 14 Texas A&M extended their win streak to 16 and the Aggies will likely jump into the top ten as the lone undefeated team left in the nation. RHP A.J. Minter improved to 2-0 with a 0.41 ERA to go with 29 strikeouts in 21.1 IP.
Baseball America highlights this drool-worthy pitching showdown that took place between highly regarded arms Carson Fulmer and James Kaprielian. Fulmer bested his foe (6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 9 K) en route to No.5 Vanderbilt's 6-0 win over No 6 UCLA.
Prospect Note: Walker Buehler - RHP - Vanderbilt - Aaron Fitt tweeted that Buehler sat 93-94 MPH during his outing and showed a plus power curve at 79-81 MPH. That's what scouts like to see from the potential top ten pick.
Fitt wasn't done tweeting because Vandy is loaded with draftable talent...In this tweet, he shares a favorable report on potential top ten draftee Dansby Swanson defensive abilities at shortstop.
(Photo By: RaginCajuns.com)
Hitter Of The Week: Blake Trahan - SS - Louisiana-Lafayette
Meet the top draft prospect in the Sun Belt. Trahan starred on last year's tour de force Ragin Cajun squad that earned a national seed in the tournament. He's back at it again this year, batting an even .400 through the first 15 games. During UL's conference opening sweep of Troy over the weekend, Trahan batted 6-for-10 with a HR, 3 doubles, 4 RBI, and 4 BB's.
Trahan stands in at a compact 5'9", 180 pounds. He bats right-handed and has a line drive oriented swing. He's a toolsy athlete with plus speed and has drawn favorable reviews for his defense, showing the requisite arm strength and range to man the position at the next level. That being said, evaluators feel he may be better suited for second base where he could become a plus defender. As of now, he looks like someone to watch in rounds 3-5 for the 2015 draft, but a surge in power production could raise his stock.
(Photo By: Al Samuels)
Pitcher Of The Week: Taylor Clarke - RHP - College of Charleston
Clarke made last week's column in the mid-major spotlight where I pointed out what a godsend he has been to the Cougar rotation, stepping in for the injured Bailey Ober as the Friday night starter. This week he made like Emeril Lagasee, and kicked it up a notch (9 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, BB, 18 K). BAM!
Clarke set a school record with his 18 strikeout performance against an outmatched and overwhelmed Radford lineup. Clarke first caught my attention on opening day when he picked up the win in the Cougars upset here in Columbia over South Carolina. His fastball sits 89-91 MPH from what I saw three weeks ago and his mid-80's slider is a swing and miss pitch. He's a redshirt junior who should get some draft attention if he continues to post strong outings. (UPDATE: A source of mine told me Clarke was 90-94 MPH with his fastball during this outing. That type of velocity makes him a much more interesting prospect if he can sustain it throughout the season.)
The latest rankings via College Baseball Writers
The first RPI's of the season courtesy of Boyd's World. Harvard is number one and with all due respect, that means you probably can't take these rating seriously just yet.
That's it for this week and this regular season. Stay classy, not crassy, everyone.