Five Names from College Baseball’s First Weekend

As the author has apparently had cause to mention here before, Apophatic [ap-a-FAT-ik] Theology is the method by which one endeavors to describe God by describing what God is not — the suggestion being that fewer persons and places and things belong to that latter category than the former.

Applied to something less substantial than an all-seeing and -knowing deity, however — like a human man, for example — apophasis [uh-PAW-fa-sis] naturally becomes a more time-consuming endeavor, on account of how human men are little more than walking husks of carbon consumed by vanity. Applied to the sort of very flawed human man who’s also the one composing this document, the process would become nearly infinite.

Which, what I mean to say is: among the many things I’m not, one of them is an expert in the field of college baseball. Accordingly, what follows ought not to be regarded as an attempt to analyze all collegiate baseball prospects. Instead, what I’ve done is merely to assemble — after having consumed the broadcasts of several games this weekend, read reports concerning others, and manipulated data from some of the top conferences — what I’ve done is to assemble a collection of five players whose performances this weekend were notable for one reason or another.

Here are some qualities which might contribute to a prospect’s notability for the purposes of this post:

  • He appeared within Kiley McDaniel’s way-too-early draft rankings; or
  • He played well relative to his age/level of competition; or
  • Video is available for him from this weekend; or
  • He possesses some other compelling feature.


Mike Bell, 2B, Georgia (So)
Using a methodology similar to the one I employed recently while identifying the Babe Ruth of the 2014 SEC season — and based largely on work performed by (new employee) Chris Mitchell — here are the top-10 regressed hitters in the SEC following the first weekend of play:

# Player School Pos Class PA K% ISO BABIP xK% xISO xBABIP KATOH+
1 Harrison Bader Florida LF/CF Jr 14 14.3% .917 .571 14.4% .225 .379 122
2 Mike Bell Georgia 2B So 12 16.7% .818 .286 14.8% .211 .375 115
3 Greg Fettes Kentucky C/DH RS-Jr 10 10.0% .857 .250 13.8% .207 .375 115
4 Logan Taylor Texas A&M LF/SS Jr 9 0.0% .714 .500 12.5% .196 .377 113
5 Zack Bowers Georgia C/DH Jr 11 9.1% .667 .375 13.6% .199 .376 112
6 Wes Rea Miss St 1B RS-Sr 13 0.0% .500 .286 11.8% .192 .375 112
7 Kyle Watson Ole Miss LF/3B Fr 7 14.3% .750 1.000 14.4% .192 .380 110
8 Ronnie Gideon Texas A&M 3B So 16 25.0% .533 .667 16.6% .200 .380 110
9 Rhett Wiseman Vandy RF Jr 14 21.4% .583 .375 15.7% .200 .376 110
10 Casey Hughston Bama RF So 15 13.3% .385 .917 14.2% .186 .383 109

There are nearly one-thousand caveats to supply concerning the data here. Chief among them: these numbers don’t account at all for quality of opponent. That’s important because, in light of how the SEC features a number of college baseball’s best teams and the SEC featured zero conference matchups this weekend, that means (almost by definition) that most SEC teams faced inferior competition. A likely illustration of this: SEC hitters produced a collective .376 BABIP over the weekend. Among his conference peers, however, Georgia sophomore second baseman Mike Bell posted the second-best offensive line of the weekend, recording four extra-base hits, including two home runs, in 13 plate appearances.

Here’s his first home run against Easter Illinois on Friday:

Mike Bell HR 1

And here’s his second:

Mike Bell HR 2

Ryan Chandler, CF, Rice (Fr)
The Rice-Texas series was the best one available by means of the CBS College Sports Live feed this weekend, with both those clubs situated among D1 Baseball’s top-25 preseason rankings. Notable in light of the team’s overall quality, Rice coach Wayne Graham inserted a true freshman, center fielder Ryan Chandler. into the leadoff spot for all four games of the series. Chandler was impressive, perhaps swinging and missing a bit too frequently against a Texas staff that produced barely any whiffs all weekend, but exhibiting a number of other useful skills.

Here, for example, is a tiny GIF of Chandler somehow transforming what might have otherwise been a long single into a weird triple:

Chandler 2B

Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt (Jr)
With teammate Walker Buehler unable to pitch due to concerns over a sore elbow, the right-handed Fulmer was the top draft prospect to also make a televised start this weekend, facing a Santa Clara team that caused the top-ranked Commodores some difficulties in the second and third games of the series. Fulmer acquitted himself nicely, striking out seven of the 19 batters he faced (or, 37%) — a figure, that, roughly 10 points higher than his strikeout rate last season. For those who’ve never seen footage of Fulmer, that exists below. One wouldn’t say his delivery is “max effort” so much as it’s “alarmingly sudden.”

Here’s a GIF of Fulmer recording a strikeout (while also missing his target pretty badly on probably a 95 mph fastball:

Fulmer Florentine FA SS K

And also another strikeout by way of the breaking ball:

Fulmer Budnick CU SS K

Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois (Jr)
As noted by McDaniel, the left-handed Jay was a relative unknown entering the summer but pitched in relief for Team USA and exhibited a “93-97 mph [fastball] with above-average to plus curveball and changeup.” He faced Lamar University in a televised game on Sunday — his first career collegiate start — and was excellent, producing a 6:0 strikeout-to-walk ratio against 16 total batters and conceding just two weak hits. He worked quickly and demonstrated outstanding command of a fastball that sat in the 92-95 mph range, it seems, according to the broadcast.

He exhibited entirely adequate secondary pitches, too –like this changeup, to strike out Lamar left fielder Kevin Santana.

Jay Santana Certainly CH SS K

And that same thing, but in slow motion:

Jay Santana Certainly CH SS K Slow

Kyle Watson, 2B/3B/LF, Ole Miss (Fr)
The 6-foot-3 and 195-pound Watson, a true freshman, was named Ole Miss’s player of the game in his first collegiate appearance ever, a 9-4 victory over William and Mary. Over the course of two games — during which he made appearances at second base, third base, and left field — Watson recorded three doubles and a stolen base. The combination of age, defensive flexibility, and hitting ability is impressive — and placed him among the top-10 SEC batters according to the methodology discussed above regarding Mike Bell.

Here’s the very well-hit double from his first ever plate appearance at Ole Miss:

Watson 2B 1

Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Jasper Franciscomember
9 years ago

Say Carson, what’s the purpose of the clock in right-center in the Watson gif?

9 years ago

It’s a pitch clock! College baseball has one, and it’s employed in a manner much like the one that the minor leagues now have.