College World Series primer
"Their Friday night guy, Ranaudo, he's just a big, powerful guy that can throw some fastballs at your belt and get away with it, that's how you know he's got a good fastball. He's got a good breaking ball to go with it.
"I'm not sure their pitching staff runs deep. You've got a power arm, then you've got an Ichabod Crane, across-his-body guy the second day, and a legitimate closer. Three legitimate pieces to a pitching staff: a No. 1, No. 2 and a closer. Then they've got some guys who compete a little bit like
"I like the Nola kid a lot defensively -- plus arm, good range, solid glove. I think putting him in there at short made them better. I always thought LeMahieu was a bigger kid, longer swing, a little slower actions because he's longer. I think second base matches his body more. Ochinko playing first base is pretty scary, but it's good to have his bat in there. The little Hanover kid at third, he's just a winner. He'll dive either side, get dirty; I respect that. That's a freshman left side of the infield that's worked for them.
"In the outfield they pretty much can go get it. Mahtook, I think he's going to be dynamic -- he might be the best of all of them. He's a big kid, gets great jumps, can run, and I think he's really going to swing it. He's good, going to be somebody to contend with for a while.
"I really think a lefty is the way to go against them. You get Dean, Schimpf, Mitchell and [
"Schimpf is the one who's a polished, balanced, short-approach guy. He's put up numbers for them this year. Dean's been playing better of late; a lot of it has to do with how he's been pitched, because people know he can hit.
"If your guy throws a fastball that comes in there a little bit straight, doesn't change planes that strong, four-seam fastball that has no action on it, they're going to knock that silly. You've got to be good to beat them. If those pitchers aren't getting life on their fastballs, LSU is going to be there. You're going to have to have not just run, but some sink, I believe. If a right-hander sincerely beats them, he's done a heck of a job."
"I don't think they're particularly vulnerable against lefties. They have a very balanced lineup. They don't have one or two guys that have 19 or 20 home runs, but a bunch of guys in that six to seven range. They play such an aggressive style of baseball, if you're calling pitches against them, you have to worry about a lot of things: You have to worry about the hit-and-run, you have to worry about the stolen base. They're powerful enough to drive the ball into the gaps and create a bunch of havoc on the bases.
"Parker's gotten better every game that he's gone out. The biggest difference from last year is how much stronger he's gotten. He's really snapping the barrel through the zone. He can go foul pole to foul pole from a power standpoint --there are not too many guys with that ability. Grovatt wakes up in the morning hitting line drives. It's just who he is -- the kid can hit. Gosselin has as quick a bat as you'll see. They can hit, and they hit good pitching.
"Hultzen should be pitching in A-ball right now. He's that good of a talent. From the left side he can move his fastball around, and it's a good fastball. The kid really likes to compete. Carraway's a senior who's won a lot of games for them. I don't know if Morey's on that kind of radar screen yet, but I think he's going to be a first-round pick next year. I saw a lot of velocity as well as the good slider.
"In the bullpen, [
"You have to be as balanced as they are to be able to beat them. You have to be able to match them pitch for pitch, and you're going to have to score seven or eight runs to beat them. They're going to win the low-scoring 2-1 games, because they're used to playing tight ballgames. They hit, but they don't hit enough home runs to really separate themselves from their opponent. Everybody on their pitching staff's going to attack the strike zone, they're going to go out there with a plan on both sides. They're not going to chase it as hitters, and on the mound they will attack the zone with all their stuff."
"The key to beating them, you've got to have velocity. They absolutely destroy mid-to-upper-80s pitching -- they destroy it. You've got to beat them with good fastballs. One thing about their guys, Dave Van Horn's kids will sit offspeed a lot. They'll sit offspeed with runners in scoring position. If they hit a fastball for a laser foul, they'll sit offspeed the very next pitch. They very much practice hitting offspeed.
"Their catalyst is Tschepikow. He's a pretty damn good hitter for them. The other guys are OK. Tschepikow's their best senior by far, but Leavitt and Lyons are solid. Wilkins is definitely a power guy, but you've just got to jam fastballs right up his rear end. If he gets anything soft over the plate and gets extended, it's a home run. Cox is a dead-red fastball hitter. He's a professional hitter, reminded me as a freshman of
"Kuhn's a good little player. [
"Eibner's another cripple hitter, a 6-4 athlete with a power arm. If you hang something, he hits it out. But he's got a big arm, he fits the bill of the power arm type deal. He's a mid-90s guy.
"Their pitching is OK. Keuchel can beat anybody. He's a guy that can throw a lot of pitches, throws them where he wants to, does a very good job living down in the zone, getting hitters to chase out of the zone and make contact out in front. He has the fastball that if you don't lay off of, you'll just swing over it all night. He's a lefty that sinks it; a lot of lefties run the ball, but he's got true left-handed sink. His breaking ball is OK, but it maybe caused him some problems. He throws a changeup off that fastball, I would call the breaking ball a third pitch for sure.
"In the bullpen, I like Bolsinger. He's got a decent fastball from a three-quarters slot, a pretty firm fastball, but the slider's definitely his best pitch -- a hard, 10-to-4, sweeping kind of slider. He does a good job burying it and expanding it late for an out pitch. If you can lay off the slider below the belt, attack fastballs and hit the slider up in the zone, you can hit him OK. Richards is a three-quarters guy whose got an absolutely nasty slider. He comes after hitters with a fastball/slider mix and lives down in the zone. His slider has hard, frisbee action, and he uses it to expand away from lefties, uses it as a back-foot pitch against a right-hander. He's really effective when hitters leave the zone."
"I think the guys that scare you the most would be Fellhauer, Clark, Davis. They have very good team speed. I think [assistant coach
"Defensively, they're very, very good. You're talking about a USA player at short, a fifth-year guy at second, a fifth-year guy at first, a fifth-year guy behind the plate, a serviceable guy in Siddons at third, Fellhauer can track it in center.
"I do like their starters. Renken is very competitive, with the split, the change, he'll get left-handers out, he'll come right at you and throw strikes. I like
"In the bullpen, I like
"For me, the way you beat them is you've got to pound their pitching and get into their bullpen. I question their depth on the mound, but their offense is so good, they overcome it. When they give up five, they score six, and when they give up eight, they score nine. It's almost like their pitching depth doesn't ever come into play unless their backs are against the wall. But as long as Pill, [Noe] Ramirez and Renken are out there, they're just so good defensively and offensively, those guys are plenty good enough."
"Loy can play the heck out of shortstop. He has range to both sides, and he's got arm strength. He can play, and I think he's a guy that can really trigger their offense a little bit. He's got very little power, but he's a very good hitter, and an athlete.
"They play good defense, they cover the entire infield -- you don't see many ground balls slip through their infield. Torres can play the bunt. Rowe covers some ground in center field, and both their corner guys can cover it. There's a reason they lead the country in fielding [actually fifth in the nation with a .979 fielding percentage]: They've got guys who can play all over the field.
"With Ruffin, the catcher sets up down the middle, but he doesn't throw anything down the middle -- the ball goes to the corner. He has great life on his pitches. He attacks the zone, an above-average mix with the fastball and the slider, throws both for strikes, and the slider out of the zone when he needs to. He's got an occasional changeup.
"Jungmann, that's a failure on the part of professional baseball, that guy being in college. If he's on, you're going to really struggle. He throws very hard, and he's got good command, and he throws strikes. He's got confidence and doesn't pitch like a freshman.
"Wood's good. Anytime you can no-hit a team for 10 innings and give up two hits in 13 innings [as Wood did in relief against Boston College in regionals], that's good. His changeup is one of the best pitches we've seen all year long.
"You're going to beat Texas 2-1. Their whole thing is getting the leadoff runner on. It's built on scoring a run an inning, get the leadoff guy on, bunt him over or steal him. One through nine, they all have their role, and they're all going to execute. Hell, most of the time, they only need to score three or two, because their pitching's so good."
"Spence is a touch and feel guy, he can really, really differentiate speeds. He's got I don't know how many pitches. It's a handful of pitches, he throws them all for strikes. There's no pattern he could fall into. Blair's got good stuff. He's pretty firm, low slot, 88-91, pretty good breaking ball, he's tough. Lambson's got a filthy change, a money change. He can throw that change at any time in any count, that's his weapon. [
"Offensively, the guy you really have to be concerned about is Kipnis. Everybody else, they don't put any fear into you. They're scrappy, they don't chase pitches. They do a good job producing runs without the thunder.
"Ramirez is a threat, but you can get the ball in on him. He wants to get extended, he's got some power to the middle of the field, and to the opposite field. I think he does a good job of blocking and receiving with the pitching staff.
"I think Maggi's a real good player, really a tough out, very efficient defensively, not flashy at all. He's a solid runner, a plus runner. I like him the best of the freshmen. [
"I like the outfield, they're fast, all left-handed. Kipnis is clearly the superstar. Newman is a dangerous guy, he can play real good, sound defense in right field. Calhoun is a dangerous, offensive guy. They hit right-handed pitching, they've got a little power, they all can run a little bit.
"I think they're pretty good defensively. Maggi is the best defender in the infield at short, Torrez and MacPhee are adequate. Their strength defensively is Ramirez, Maggi and their outfield, and believe it or not their pitcher off the mound.
"[To beat them], you have to throw strikes, and you've got to pound the zone, or else they're going to get into your bullpen. You've got to get that leadoff hitter out -- they create havoc, they've got good team speed, they've got enough thunder in the lineup with Kipnis and Newman and Ramirez to hurt you. And Leake and Spence are going to be out there regardless of what you do, they're going to throw their pitches."
"McInnis is their guy; he's as good a college pitcher as most college pitchers out there. McInnis has good command of his fastball, and two different types of breaking balls. He throws a 12-to-6 curveball and also a harder slider. Ballinger's a little bit of a harder thrower, 88-93, a little bit harder stuff than McInnis, but a really hard breaking ball, too. Ballinger's got really good movement on his fastball -- it's got more of a run to it than a sink. Our guys were coming back to the dugout saying his ball has more movement than anybody we'd seen all year.
"I think with McInnis and Ballinger, they can beat anybody, and with Cargill at the back end. But I think their biggest weakness is probably those middle innings. If Ballinger and McInnis don't pitch deep, their bullpen is suspect. Cargill is 82-85, a sidearm guy. He just changes the look enough. That's why I think if those guys pitch into the seventh or eighth inning, bring that guy in, he can create problems. Stanley, he was like 86-88, and he had a pretty good 12-to-6 curveball that had pretty good depth on it, and he commanded it pretty well.
"When you look at their team, there is absolutely nothing flashy about Southern Miss. But they know how to play the game, like they always have. Davis has become the sparkplug guy for them. He's absolutely what makes them go. They've got some power guys: Archer's got some pop in his bat; Brunty and Stephens are solid.
"They're a streaky offensive team. If they get going, they can be tough. They can be pitched to; I think a guy with a solid breaking ball can keep them at bay for a while, because they're a pretty aggressive fastball hitting team.
"I remember when [senior shortstop
"Their guys all throw strikes, their guys are all around the zone -- [pitching coach]
"People talk about how you can get them with a left-hander, but I think he's got to be a special left-hander for him to get them. With Seager and Ackley, it doesn't really matter, he could be throwing through his legs and they're going to hit him. I do think Fleury struggles a bit against left-handed pitchers, and some of their table-setters are not as good against left-handed pitching as they are against right-handers.
"I don't think you have to worry too much about
"I like Moran a lot. He's got deception to him, he can get out left-handed hitters and he can get out right-handed hitters. I thought he was probably the best bullpen guy in the league this year. They will be able to have enough other guys, because in a three-game series like that they can put
"They're a pretty solid defensive team. Graepel's good -- nothing flashy but makes all the plays. Michael's really athletic at second base, Ackley plays an athletic first as a 6.5 runner. There is no glaring weakness with them from a defensive standpoint. Seager makes all the plays, and my favorite thing about him is there's no flash to him, it's just blue collar.
"I just think with the experience they have, and their core of premier players, I thought they weren't head and shoulders the best team we played this year, but they were the best team."