Tag:College baseball
Posted on: February 20, 2011 12:46 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:29 pm

College baseball undergoing major change in bats

FeatherstoneAh, the sweet sounds of baseball... the ball smacking in the glove, the ping off the bat...

Yep, college baseball is gearing up for its season amid the trademark ping of its aluminum bats.

However, the bats players will use this season are drastically different from previous bats, ones that scorched line drives, struck mortal fear in infielders and launched moon shots. A new rule has been instituted which could change college baseball forever -- but figures to improve scouting on a MLB level.

The NCAA has decreed all new bats must meet the .50 figure submitted by the Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR), using bats made of aluminum alloy, solid wood, solid wood laminate, solid bamboo laminate, hollow fiber composite and multiple-material composites. 

That's a mouthful, so let's make it simple: NCAA has deadened the aluminum bats, so the days of an off-balance flailing of a pitch down and away turning into a home run are gone. Indeed, as mentioned in a recent Baseball America article, Texas coach Augie Garrido noted home-run numbers in batting practices have dropped from 15 to 20 all the way down to five or six. Similarly, LSU coch Paul Mainieri says home runs dropped from 36 in 2008 to only six in fall intrasquad games.

"The new bats don't have the same pop, that same trampoline feel, and my first hits didn't go as far, maybe like 30 feet less," UCLA sophomore Beau Amaral told the Orange County Register. It's tough on everybody. Our coach even made a rule that we can't complain about the bats anymore."

Despite the precipitous home-run drop, professional scouts have indicated the new setup is far more accurate at predicting success on a big league level. The impact of this can't be understated, as players that may have otherwise flown under the radar, not been drafted and went home could morph into baseball stars while those whose games were all about aluminum will see their luster fall. For all the money poured into the draft and scouting, this could represent major cost-savings while boosting the quality of pro ball.

"The new bats are doing what they are supposed to do, which is act like wood," UC Irvine coach Mike Gillespie confirmed. "They take like five percent of the flight off the ball from last year. ... I still see hard hit line drives. I see doubles. I just think that the flyball that used to loft over the fence isn't doing it now."

This is all a positive, but there's one negative, which comes at the college baseball level. Players and coaches alike believe college teams will start promoting small-ball tendencies such as bunting, steals and baserunning. That could in turn affect recruiting with coaches going after fast, contact hitters instead of sluggers.

The new rule also has a chance of influencing professional baseball as the pool of available college hitters drops in power potential. After all, you can't draft a potential 40-home run hitter if the player can't get a scholarship in favor of someone who can swipe 40 bases. Given power often develops late, however, this may end up a non-factor. In addition, only the stars at the college level tend to get noticed and drafted, so this will likely only affect those in which college is their last stop in playing baseball. The stars should remain in the game, just with lesser offensive numbers -- but, again, their statistics will be more translatable to pro ball.

-- Evan Brunell

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PHOTO: TCU Horned Frogs infielder Taylor Featherston (12) hits a home run against the UCLA Bruins in the ninth inning during game 11 of the 2010 College World Series championships at Rosenblatt Stadium. TCU defeated UCLA 6-2.

Category: MLB
Posted on: February 8, 2011 10:20 am
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:26 am

Wake Forest coach gives player a kidney

Look no further than Wake Forest coach Tom Walter as the NCAA Coach of the Year. Heck, no need to limit it to the NCAA. Just Tom Walter, Coach of the Year. Anywhere.

Monday the Wake Forest baseball coach donated one of his kidneys to freshman outfielder Kevin Jordan, according to USA Today .

Jordan, a 19th-round pick of the Yankees in 2010, became sick in January of 2010, two months after committing to play at Wake Forest. He suffers from Anti-Neutrophil Cytoplasmic Autoantibody vasculitis. Jordan had been undergoing 18 to 20 hours of in-home dialysis each day and needed a transplant. None of Jordan's family members were a match, but Walter was.

"When we recruit our guys, we talk about family and making sacrifices for one another," Walter told the newspaper prior to the surgery. "It is something we take very seriously. I had the support of my family, Wake Forest and my team. To me it was a no-brainer."

Walter is in his third year at Wake Forest, after coaching at George Washington and the University of New Orleans. UNO was forced to move to Division III after Hurrican Katrina, and Walter moved on to Wake Forest.

Walter, who is expected to be discharged from the hospital on Thursday, said he doesn't think he'll coach third base or hit fungous "any time soon" but hopes to be back to normal in a couple of months. His Demon Deacons start the season Feb. 18 at LSU and he hopes to travel with the team and and coach them against the Tigers.

Of course, knowing how the NCAA operates, Wake Forest and Walter will likely be punished for giving an "extra benefit" to a student-athlete.

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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Posted on: December 27, 2010 3:13 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2010 3:15 pm

College star charged with rape

Garrett Wittels
Garrett Wittels, the Florida International University star who stands two games shy of Robin Ventura's college record 58-game hitting streak, has been charged with rape in the Bahamas, according to the Miami Herald.
Wittels, 20, and two friends were charged with the rape of two 17-year-old girls at the Atlantis Resort and Casino on December 20. He was released on $10,000 bond.

"Anyone can accuse anyone of anything at any time,'' his father, Michael Wittels, told the Herald. "He's not doing well, obviously. He's blown away. He's devastated that someone would accuse him of this.''

Michael Wittels said his son and his friends met the girls at the casino and they went together to a private party. He said surveillance videos exist that show the girls were the aggressors, at least in public.

"The next morning, they found out who [Wittels] was, and that was the road they took,'' Michael Wittels said. "He hasn't been found guilty of anything. I hope [the media] doesn't hang him for merely an allegation. That's all this is.''

FIU had no comment. Wittels ended last season with a 56-game sitting streak and batted .417. FIU is scheduled to open play February 18.

--David Andriesen

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Category: MLB
Posted on: June 10, 2010 12:33 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2010 11:19 am

Pac-16 would be baseball power

Colorado has reportedly accepted an offer to join the Pac-10, and many expect Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to follow suit.

While most (OK, all) of the attention has been focused on what the massive shift will do to the world of college football, it would create a pretty sweet college baseball conference as well. Of 63 College World Series titles awarded since 1947, 35 of them have gone to schools that would be in the expanded conference.

Eight of the 13 schools to have won multiple titles would be in the conference, including all-time leader USC (12) and Texas (6, tied for second with LSU).

-- David Andriesen

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Category: BBD
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