LISTEN IN: Aaron Fitt
College baseball expert talks LSU and SEC hardball with TR Radio
At 30-4 and No. 3 in the national rankings, Aaron Fitt of Baseball America joined Tiger Rag Radio and discussed whether Kentucky can continue its improbable run toward a national seed (photo courtesy Kentucky Athletics).
By RICHARD FISCHER
Tiger Rag Assistant Editor
Four weeks into the 10-week SEC marathon, Aaron Fitt of Baseball America joined Jeff Palermo, Richard Fischer and Ben Love on Tiger Rag Radio Tuesday night.
Fitt broke down the landscape of college baseball, starting right here at home where the Bayou Bengals are off of a 5-1 stretch versus national powers Arkansas and Florida.
“You’ve got to be incredibly impressed with that stretch. Those were the two teams coming into the year that we had as the favorite in the SEC East and the SEC West, respectively. I still believe at the end of the day that those teams are real Omaha-caliber teams, so to go 5-1 in those two weekends is just huge for LSU. We knew coming into the year that LSU with its pitching should have an opportunity to compete with anybody in a weekend series, but to see them go into Gainesville especially and take it to the Gators.”
Around the rest of the league, Kentucky continues its unlikely rise to the top of the league at 9-3 in SEC games and 30-4 overall, and Fitt told Tiger Rag Radio how the Bat Cats have been able to do it with seemingly their only elite player, Alex Meyer, signing a MLB contract after last season.
“They do have some experience, especially on the mound. They have three power junior lefthanders in the weekend rotation. They’re not going to blow you away like Alex Meyer could do last year, the guy who signed for $2 million. But they’re quality, solid veteran lefthanders who know how to pitch. And then you look at their freshman class. I think it makes a real difference when you look at a guy like Austin Cousino at the top of the lineup, a real spark plug for them, makes them go. Then A.J. Reed has been a really good two-way player for them… Cameron Flynn has given them a real presence in the middle, a junior college transfer. There’s not a real weakness in their lineup. Up and down they’ve got athleticism, speed and power. It’s just a nice blend.”
Fitt went on to give the number of SEC teams he thinks will make the NCAA Tournament field of 64, and he previewed the 2013 season with No. 2 Texas A&M set to enter the SEC.
“I think you’ll probably see a little bit of a drop off next year. A big reason why they’re No. 2 in the country right now is their 1-2 punch in the weekend rotation Michael Wacha and Ross Stripling. Both of those guys will be gone next year. Wacha is probably going to be a top-10 or top-15 pick as a junior this year and Stripling is a senior, a really good senior. Tyler Naquin is their best offensive player, and he’s a junior with a chance to go in the first round as well and Matt Juengel is another key veteran piece. But they’ll reload. They always do. They do a really good job recruiting over there, and they have a tendency to get really impactful junior college players as well - like they did with their shortstop Mikey Reynolds, a dynamic table-setter - but I do expect them to take a bit of a step back next year.”
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