Happy Opening Day, everyone. It's one of my favorite days of the year as hope springs eternal for every team in the MLB with a new season of baseball beginning and a blank slate to be filled. But, we're here to talk about college baseball of course and there's plenty to discuss from this past weekend, including a no-hitter.
Let's get on to the weekend highlights...
Stock Up: No. 7 Louisville already has yet another impressive series win, this time over No. 9 Virginia and the Cardinals will attempt a sweep later today.
Top Prospect Showdown: Two heralded aces battled on Saturday. Kyle Funkhouser emerged victorious (7.2 IP, 5 H, ER, 4 BB, 5 K) over Nathan Kirby (6.1 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 7 K).
Injury Note: Some big news broke on Wednesday that Duke ace Michael Matuella has become the latest prized arm in this year's draft class to go down with Tommy John surgery. Frankie Piliere provides excellent analysis on the injury and how Matuella has become one of the more enigmatic prospects in this year's draft.
While Wake Forest baseball hasn't been much to talk about in recent years, they do have a special two-way player in Will Craig who could be a star in the making. In fact, through the midway point, Mike Rooney has him pegged as the frontrunner for player of the year.
No. 15 Miami picked up a nifty little sweep of Duke and leads the Coastal Division.
Prospect Note: Junior lefty Andrew Suarez made a strong case for my pitcher of the week award with his stellar outing on Saturday (8 IP, 8 H, 0 ER, BB, 12 K). You may recall Suarez returned to Miami as an unsigned 2nd rounder of the Nationals from the 2014 draft. His strikeout rate is up from last year but no reports on whether he has improved his draft stock like he had hoped.
(Big Ten Highlights)
Sweeper of the Week: No. 28 Maryland should move back up in the polls again after making a statement sweep over No. 27 Nebraska.
Hitter Spotlight: I thought he had one of the best hit tools in the Ripken League last summer and he is one of the top draft prospects on the team. I'm talking about Terps second baseman Brandon Lowe who leads the team with a .381/.490/.681 slash line in 113 AB with 7 HR and an impressive 20 walks to 12 strikeouts.
Stock Up: Iowa improved to 6-0 in Big Ten play after sweeping Purdue on the road. Don't get all surprised if the Hawkeyes replace Nebraska in the polls this week.
(Big 12 Highlights)
Sweeper of the Week: No. 17 Oklahoma State ate their wheaties this weekend, knocking off No. 18 Texas with a big time sweep as those teams continue to head in opposite directions.
Senior Spotlight: Meet Michael Freeman, a 6'8", 235 pound lefty, who has absolutely dealt for the the Cowboys this year (6-0, 1.46 ERA, 55.2 IP, 35 H, 10 BB, 50 K). Here's a good story on the 5th year senior's unexpected breakout season.
A big showdown took place in Lubbock this weekend and No. 3 TCU emerged from battle victorious with a series win over No. 21 Texas Tech.
(Big West Highlights)
Your Weekly Tate Update: No. 19 UC Santa Barbara righty Dillon Tate pitched a gem (9 IP, 6 H, ER, BB, 8 K) versus Fresno State. Kendall Rogers was on hand and did a favorable write up (subscription required) of Tate, saying he showed "top pick stuff." Tate leads the Big West with a 1.34 ERA. He's awesome.
The Gauchos picked up a 4-game sweep of Fresno State, by the way.
Hot Streakin: UC Irvine has taken a 6-0 conference lead following a sweep at UC Riverside. The Anteaters have now rattled off 12 wins in a row.
Sweeper of the Week: Long Beach State picked up a big sweep over Cal State Northridge, a team that had been knocking politely on the writers poll doors just a few weeks back.
No-No Alert: James Reeves - RHP - The Citadel - Reeves turned in a phenomenal no-hit performance on Thursday (9 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 14 K) versus Mercer.
Stock Up: Missouri State - Most of the attention in this section has gone to MVC favorite No. 16 Dallas Baptist, but don't sleep on Missouri State. The Bears took down the Patriots for a big series win over the weekend. Eric Sorensen provides a game report here.
Upset of the Weekend: A 6-20 Cincinnati team went to No. 11 UCF and somehow, by the grace of God, left with a series win over the Knights. Never underestimate the power of having Ian Happ on your team, I guess.
Stock Up: Southeastern Louisiana - Time to give the school my brother played at some love. They improved to 24-9 over the weekend with a series win over Northwestern State, sit in 1st place in the Southland, and could enter the polls soon.
Hitter Spotlight: Luke Lowery - OF - East Carolina - His older brother Jake won the Johnny Bench award at James Madison in 2011 and plays in the Indians farm system. Luke has been one of the nation's top hitters thus far (.394/.504/.723 with 8 HR in 93 AB) and could have a pro career ahead of him too.
No. 14 Rice picked up a series win over upstart Middle Tennessee State over the weekend to regain the conference lead.
Sweeper of the Week: No. 10 USC - The Trojan revival into a national power continues as they picked up a statement of a sweep at No. 25 Arizona.
Best In The West: No. 5 UCLA has won 8 straight following their sweep at Washington State and jumped out to an 8-1 conference lead in the Pac-12.
Your National Saves Leader: Tough to find many closer's better than Ryan Burr of No.12 Arizona State. Perfect Game profiles the hard throwing righty in this article. He leads the country with 10 saves and carries a 0.76 ERA in 23.2 IP with 45 K's.
Sweepers of the Week: No. 1 Vanderbilt and No. 2 Texas A&M should stay firmly entrenched as the top dogs in the land.
Vandy swept Georgia on the road to improve to 10-2 in SEC play while the Aggies swept a Saturday doubleheader from Kentucky on the road and are a nation best 30-2.
Hitter Spotlight: The main catalyst in the Aggies potent offensive attack this year has been sophomore Nick Banks, a 5-tool outfielder who has broken out in a huge way (.435/.489/.595 in 116 AB), and is a name you'll want to remember for the 2016 draft.
Oh wow, let's not forget about No. 5 LSU. They also got the brooms out over the weekend during for a sweep of Alabama.
Stock Down: Another tough weekend for No. 13 South Carolina as they dropped their third consecutive SEC series at Mississippi State. Gamecock nation is not pleased as I can attest.
(Photo By: Arizona Athletics)
Hitter Of The Week: Scott Kingery - 2B - Arizona
That Scott Kingery, he's so hot right now. Kingery went 10-for-15 over the weekend and now leads the entire country with his .477 batting average. On the year his slash line is .477/.510/.727 and he has 4 HR, 5 triples, and 11 doubles in 153 PA. He has walked 8 times and struck out just 10 times and is 7-for-12 in stolen bases. He may have to start wearing oven mitts in the batter's box if his bat continues to generate more heat than the surrounding Arizona deserts and Kate Upton combined.
As you might expect, Kingery is a draft name on the rise thanks to his scorched earth treatment of the baseball. Keith Law mentioned in this recent column (insider required) that his standout hit tool and above average glove at second intrigue scouts in a draft weak on college bats. Law also came away impressed with the right handed hitter's ability to line the ball to all fields and described the 5'11, 175 pounder as having fringe-average power. Put it all together and you have a guy that looks like a 2nd rounder with potential to go in the late 1st/supplemental.
Pitcher Of The Week: Kevin Duchene - LHP - Illinois
Tyler Jay gets most of the buzz, but there's another draft name of interest anchoring the No. 24 Illinois staff deserving of recognition in Mr. Duchene here. He was outstanding over the weekend (9 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K) versus Northwestern, reducing his ERA to 0.64 in 42 IP, which ranks top ten in the nation. Here's video of him pitching from Prospect Pipe.
Duchene has a sturdy 6'2', 210 pound build and works in the 88 - 90 MPH range with his fastball, complimenting it with "outstanding feel for a vast array of secondary pitches" that includes a hard curveball and a plus change up. Duchene has walked just three batters in 47 IP, which backs up that claim that he has outstanding feel of his stuff. While his fastball may never be more than a fringe average pitch, his above-average secondaries and ability to pound the strike zone should allow him to continue to start in pro ball. He looks like a potential mid-single digit round pick in the 2015 draft.
The latest rankings via College Baseball Writers
The latest RPI's of the season courtesy of Boyd's World.
The first regional projections of the year from BA.
That's it for this week. Stay classy, not crassy, everyone.