June. The best month in college baseball is feeling closer and closer every day. Selections for the 2022 NCAA baseball tournament will be at 12 p.m. ET on Monday, May 30. So with that in mind, we had D1Baseball's Kendall Rogers and Aaron Fitt make some predictions for not only the rest of the season, but the Men's College World Series as well.
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Here are their takes:
Storylines ahead of selections
With selections looming, I asked Rogers and Fitt which storylines they are most interested in seeing play out. Here were their answers:
Rogers was interested in seeing how the teams they thought were going to be successful this season and how the ones that started in the preseason top 10 but underperformed will finish off. Will they get back in the postseason discussion?
"We're talking about Ole Miss, preseason top 10, Mississippi State preseason top 10... teams like that," Rogers said. "Will they even be in the discussion on selection Monday?"
Fitt is interested in seeing how the hosting race shakes out. D1Baseball in particular has a lot of teams ranked fairly high in their polls that have very low RPIs. UCLA is ranked No. 8, Texas Tech is No. 9, but these are teams that are as low as the 40s or 50s in the RPI.
"Usually that's bubble territory just to get an at large bid," Fitt said. "But is there any chance that these teams can play their way up to get themselves into that hosting conversation? Because they've had that kind of season."
Golden Spikes Award pick
Rogers and Fitt: Sonny DiChiara — Auburn
Easy pick for the both of them. Sonny-D, as they both would say. Fitt started off saying he is just as lovable as it gets.
"He's just a big, burly first baseman who's got power and the thing that really strikes me is just how well he controls the strike zone," Fitt said. "It's 50 walks against 28 strikeouts. He's second in the country in OPS, a few points behind Ivan Melendez from Texas, and its just incredible the impact that he's had at Auburn"
Rogers couldn't argue with that and couldn't bear to pick another player. But two others he said to keep an eye on are Melendez and Trey Lipscomb at Tennessee who has 18 homers and over 70 RBI.
Freshman of the year
Rogers: Chase Burns — Tennessee
Rogers doesn't think anybody in the country has been as valuable as Chase Burns. The Vols lost their ace early in the season to injury, and Burns was thrown into the Friday night roll. He now leads a pitching staff that leads the NCAA in ERA. Rogers also mentioned how Burns is so consistent, the same guy every time he steps onto the mound.
"He's shown command. He's got an explosive fastball to 98," Rogers said. "He's got a big-time slider and to me the most impressive thing is like he's never too high or never too low."
Fitt: Tommy White — NC State
Fitt agreed about Burns, but wanted to throw another name into the mix. And who else other than Tommy Tanks?
"He had that great start the year hit all those home runs... kind of captivated America's attention," Fitt said. "And then it seemed like he cooled off just a little bit but then he got hot again. He started hitting home runs by the bushel in ACC play."
Dark horse team to watch in the postseason
Looking at the Sooners, Rogers thinks this is a ream that has the pitching to get them through the regionals. They have power arms in Cade Horton, Jake Bennett and Chaz Martinez out of the bullpen. Then offensively, he mentioned Jimmy Crooks got off to a slow start but has been really good lately.
"Keep an eye out on Oklahoma," Rogers said. "They were almost in our top 25 coming into the season. They're a team I think down the stretch could play really well and easily win a regional."
Campbell was an easy pick for Fitt. He mentioned that they got off to a rough start this season, but then really found their stride and dominated their league. The thing that stands out to him is the reliable starting pitching, and particularly, Justin Harrington.
"Harrington's been one of the best pictures of the country," Fitt said. "He's got 93 strikeouts, just 12 walks in 65 Innings. Those are absurd numbers with a 1.25 area, right? He's gonna be a first round pick. I mean it's four real pitches and behind him, you got Cade Kuehler who's potentially a first round pick for next year with huge stuff."
Fitt went even further to praise their lineup as well, noting Zach Neto as one of the best overall players in the country playing at shortstop. Fitt said there is a lot to like about this team with postseason experience on their roster, and he is buying in on the Camels to make a run for it.
Eight picks for Omaha
And lastly, the toughest prediction of all. I had both Rogers and Fitt predict the eight teams that will make it to the 2022 College World Series to play for a national title. Bolded are their national champion picks. Here are their predictions:
- Notre Dame
- Oregon State
- Oklahoma State
Rogers picked the Zags to make it to Omaha for the first time in history.
- Oklahoma State
- Oregon State
- Florida State
- Southern Miss