A few observations from hanging around the teams’ hotel, talking to a few scouts, and watching lots of baseball (Saw every game from Hogs-Rebels on Wednesday to Vandy-LSU on Saturday).
- Maybe the “eye test” means more in other sports than it does in baseball, but it’s still telling when you watch a team get off the bus (or walk through a hotel lobby). With that said, here’s how I’d rank the teams I saw (the “eye test” ranking, if you will)
- Vanderbilt. Wow. Lots of amazing looking athletes. Especially 3-4 of their pitchers (particularly Rocker and Fellows). Bleday looks like a big leaguer. They are a very, very impressive looking team.
- Georgia. Also have plenty of imposing looking players. Shunk is another that looks like a big leaguer.
- Ole Miss. Their pitching staff has some really good looking kids. The Hill kid (from Pine Bluff) looks like an NFL safety. Cooper Johnson looks like a big league catcher.
- Mississippi State. Similar to Ole Miss, especially the pitching staff.
- tie. Arkansas and A&M. Fairly similar looking players. A few physical specimens on each team, but noticeably different overall compared to the teams mentioned above.
- LSU. They have some decent sized pitchers, but their roster is otherwise full of guys smaller than Casey Martin.
Even though overall they didn’t hit the ball well in Hoover, Mississippi State has a very impressive lineup. No easy outs in that lineup. LF Rowdy Jordan was only one hitting under .300, and he is over .290.
Vandy must have the best 1-2 hole hitters in all of college baseball. If not, I hope we don’t face whoever does. Martin was hitting .424 at the start of Saturday’s game, and Bleday has 26 jacks while hitting over .350.
Talked to a few scouts. Bleday is the consensus best pro prospect in the league. Yankee scout thought he might go as high as 4th overall. Same guy thinks Martin is Hogs’ best prospect (and, according to him, it’s not even close).
Like MSU, Hogs performed below expectations at the plate this week. But we, too, have an impressive lineup. No easy outs. While the Bulldogs have more guys hitting over .300 in their lineup than us (8 to 6), none of their guys “strikes fear” in you when he steps up to the plate. Kjerstad does.
Arkansas and LSU have lots of speed. Vandy might be most aggressive on the bases.
TV just doesn’t do justice to velocity of pitchers (much the same way that you have to see the Augusta National greens in person to appreciate the undulations). There is a noticeable difference between 92 and 96. The guys from Georgia really throw hard. So does Rocker from Vandy and Hess from LSU.
Of the top 4 teams, I was least impressed by Georgia offensively. They seem to have more holes than the other 3, especially at the bottom of their order.
Any of the top 7 SEC teams are more than capable of getting to Hoover. The top 4 are capable of making a run while there. To my eye, I’d say Vanderbilt, then State and Arkansas (tie) have the best shot at winning it all (of the SEC teams).