Wow, can you believe it? The regular season is over, folks. The division races have been settled and conference playoff play will commence this weekend and before you know it, so will the beginning of the NCAA tournament. It's a great time of the year to be a college baseball fan and I'm here to share with you what went down in final weekend of regular season play.
Sweeper of the Week: I hate to give mad props to Clemson because when I enrolled at South Carolina, I was brainwashed by a similar method as used in Zoolander to despise that school. But, here I am breaking my chains free to give mad props to Clemson for their huge weekend sweep AT No. 16 Florida State.
Atlantic Winners: No. 5 Louisville (42-14, 25-5 ACC) finishes the regular season in 1st place of the Antlantic division. No surprise there.
Your Weekly Funkhouser Update: Kyle Funkhouser has seen his stock slip a little with a couple outings of late during which he showed more "vanilla stuff" than that of a potential frontline starter according to John Manuel. As such, Baseball America has him falling to pick no. 15 in their latest mock.
Coastal Winners: No. 9 Miami (FL) has won 12 in a row and the Hurricanes (42-13, 22-8 ACC) easily took home 1st place in the Coastal division.
Stock Down: Good lord, what happened to Georgia Tech this weekend? They highlight the ouch list as provided by Eric Sorenson as they were swept by Miami by a 42-5 score.
(Big Ten Highlights)
Will They Ever Lose: All they do is win, win, win no matter what. No. 4 Ilinois will take their 26 game winning streak into the Big ten conference tournament.
Stock Down: Ouch. So, Maryland fell out of the rankings for the first time all season at the worst time of the season, putting the Terrapins on the tourney bubble. That's what losing 2-of-3 to Northwestern will do for you #RPInightmare.
Draft Sleeper: The good news for the Terps is junior outfielder LaMonte Wade has been healthy for a month or so now and he's hitting .367/.490/.483 over 120 at bats. I've always thought highly of him as a pro prospect going back to when I played against him in high school. I don't think he's high on anyone's radar but I like him as a deep sleeper in this year's draft as a tools guy who can play center with a bat that is starting to click.
Stock Also Down: They were briefly ranked going into May. Then Ohio State proceeded to wet the bed, going 1-8 in conference play the last three weekends, getting swept at Indiana this past weekend.
(Big 12 Highlights)
Putting The Hammer Down: No. 2 TCU swept Oklahoma to finish 1st in the Big 12. The Sooners theoretically could have won the Big 12 race had they swept the Horned Frogs.
Best ERA in the Nation (By a SP): That distinction belongs to Oklahoma State left-hander Michael Freeman. The tall lefty had an incredible breakout season (9-2, 1.06 ERA, 93.2 IP, 85 K) seemingly from out of nowhere and should be on the draft radar as an early round savings pick. Here's a great story on how a change in arm slot led to his success.
(Big West Highlights)
Stock Up: There you have it. Pre-season favorite Cal State Fullerton finished 16-5 in conference play after sweeping Hawaii to win the Big West regular season crown.
Then there's No. 8 UC Santa Barbara in 2nd place with a 15-6 record. The Gauchos are still in play as a potential regional host.
Stock Up: No. 18 Houston finished strong with a sweep of UConn to take home the 1st place crown. Winning the AAC tournament could put the Cougars in play as a regional host.
Stock Up: The banner year for No. 13 College of Charleston continues as the Cougars (41-11, 21-3 CAA) easily won the CAA regular season title. They are another mid-major team with a shot at hosting if they win their conference tournament.
Slugger of the Week: So, Tyler Lawrence, catcher for Murray State, kind of had an awesome day at the plate on Friday, belting four home runs in one game.
Your National Strikeout Leader: Jon Harris may get most of the attention for No. 14 Missouri State but it is his teammate Matt Hall (9-2, 2.38 ERA, 98.1 IP, 136 K), a lefty, that leads the nation in strikeouts. He's also the only pitcher in country fanning more hitters per nine innings than Carson Fulmer. You don't hear much about him because he isn't a hard thrower but he has two above average secondaries in his curveball and change up and plus command which should put him in play for top ten rounds consideration.
Your National Batting Average Leader: Evansville outfielder Kevin Kaczmarski finished the regular season leading the country with an absurd .478 batting average. He's a redshirt senior with a plus hit tool as one may expect and could be an attractive senior discount pick in the top ten rounds. Similar prospect to another great college performer, Raph Rhymes, in my opinion.
Mid-Major Ace of the Week: Tate Scioneaux, a cajun name at its finest, has dominated of late for Southeastern Louisiana, who won the regular season title in the Southland. Scioneaux has now tossed three consecutive shutouts (27 IP, 16 H, 2 BB, 27 K), ending the regular season on an excellent note.
Pitching Juggernaut: No. 3 UCLA finishes the regular season with a 2.07 ERA, best in the nation. The Bruins (40-12, 21-6 Pac-12) also won the Pac-12 regular season crown following their sweep of Arizona. Impressive team, folks.
Hot Streakin: No. 20 Oregon State finished the regular season in 2nd place and on an 8 game winning streak following their sweep of Stanford.
No. 1 LSU finished 1st in the SEC following a series win here in Columbia over South Carolina. I was away this weekend of course, so I wasn't able to catch any of the series.
Carson Fulmer update: Fulmer's latest outing (9 IP, 2 H, ER, BB, 14 K) was downright nasty as we have often seen from him over the last month. There's an industry shift starting to take place with many beginning to prefer Fulmer to Tate on draft boards, according to BA.
(Photo By: UCLA Athletics)
Pitcher of the Week: James Kaprielian - RHP - UCLA
It's funny because before the weekend began the following thought ran through my head, "James Kaprielian is the only potential first round arm I haven't profiled in the pitcher of the week section this year. Maybe I'll profile him this week if he pitches well."
So, naturally he goes and pitches the game of his life, making this as easy of a choice as I've eve had. Kaprielian dominated (9 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 11 K) an Arizona lineup that features two potential 1st rounders in Kevin Newman and Scott Kingery. Unfortunately, UCLA didn't score a run for him until the 10th inning so Kaprielian had to combine with David Berg on the no-no effort. He has now tossed 23.1 consecutive scoreless innings and finished with a 1.95 ERA in 92.2 innings with 105 strikeouts, most in the Pac-12.
Kaprielian stands in at 6'4", 200 pounds and has risen into the middle 1st round draft discussion with his strong and consistent performance in 2015, especially in conference play. He works in the low 90's with good arm side run with his fastball and can reach back for 94 when he wants to. He also has an out pitch in his curveball and a potential solid average pitch in his change up. His overhead delivery makes his curveball difficult to pick up. With a solid three pitch mix he can control, Kaprielian is the proverbial "safe college right hander" in this year's draft with reasonable probability of developing into a mid-rotation starter. BA has him going to the Yankees at pick 16 in their latest mock draft.
(Photo By: Joel Auerbach/ Getty Images)
Hitter of the Week: David Thompson - 3B - Miami
There's really no other obvious choice for this award after the monster weekend Thompson had. He went 6-for-17 with 5 home runs, 12 RBI, and scored 8 times. He also finished the regular season with 19 home runs to lead the nation. We've profiled Thompson before, noting that he entered the year with expectations of a rebound from a down sophomore season after a strong summer performance on the cape. He shattered those expectations, finishing with a .336/.442/.647 line, 19 HR, and an impressive 38 walks to 24 strikeouts in 247 PA.
Thompson is a guy I believe is going to start generating more draft buzz in the coming weeks with his breakout season at the plate. He's currently rated a 2nd-3rd round talent by Baseball America but I expect him to move firmly into the 2nd round picture, possibly even supplemental first. He's always had plus raw power that finally materialized in 2015 and showed improved plate discipline that should allow him to hit for average in pro ball. His main knock has been where his future defensive home will be, with some going so far as to list him as a corner outfielder on their draft prospect rankings. Reports in the comings weeks on how his defense at third has looked this year for Miami will play a crucial role in whether I'm right in suggesting his draft stock will rise because he has the hitting part down.