In the pursuit of giving you the best Buckeye baseball coverage as well as supplementing any Big Ten coverage, The Buckeye Nine does what it can to provide you with exclusive content.
With the success of the last 9-Innings with College Baseball Today's Eric Sorenson, The Buckeye Nine sought after another prominant figure in the college baseball commnity in Baseball America's Aaron Fitt.
Aaron Fitt is the lead college writer for Baseball America. If you have questions or comments about college baseball you can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fitt's blog and weekly columns can be found here, and with the coverage I provide and link from Fitt you know he is one of the best in the business. Understandly Fitt is hard press for time right now, the questions aren't as in-depth or deep as what normally would be covered and focus more on the Big Ten than Ohio State. However, in the end Fitt does a great job of answering the questions and providing us with insight. The Buckeye Nine thanks Fitt and appreciates his time and efforts in covering college baseball.
B9: Who are the top Big Ten prospects?
AF: Arnett is actually the best prospect in the league: he is a likely late-first-round pick, whereas Phegley looks like a second-round type because of questions about his defense. Wimmers looks like a top-three type for next year, and McCallum could go in the top six or so this year. The guy to get really excited about for next year is Michigan's Ryan LaMarre, who I think has a chance to go in the first round. Great all-around tool package.
B9: Do you still believe Indiana is capable of making a run and winning the conferences auto-bid?
AF: Absolutely. Gun to my head, I'm taking the Hoosiers to win the conference tournament. Too much talent, and they've played well down the stretch.
9 up, 9 down
B9: Is Illinois in a position where they must win the BTT to reach a Regional or are they an at-large team?
AF: A week ago, I thought the Illini were in pretty good shape for an at-large bid, but dropping that series to Purdue was a killer. I think they've still got a shot at an at-large if they can at least reach the championship game of the Big Ten tourney, unless Indiana wins the tournament. If the Hoosiers win the tournament, Minnesota and Ohio State will get the two at-large bids, and Illinois will be squeezed out.
Perfect through 3
B9: Who has a better chance and reason to host a regional OSU or Minnesota?
AF: Minnesota is more deserving because of a stronger nonconference schedule (and a solid performance against that schedule), but Ohio State has a much better chance to host because of superior facilities.
Half way home
B9: Are you surprised Michigan struggled to a 7th place finish?
AF: Very surprised. There's a lot of young talent on that team, and a few quality veterans. They were extremely excited about their team early on, and I thought they were the team to beat in the Big Ten heading into March. But I was wrong. Hugely disappointing season.
Call to the bullpen
B9: Lesser known Big Ten players who will be drafted and surprise people?
AF: Here's a sleeper: Scott Kelley from Penn State, a smaller guy with plenty of athleticism and arm strength. Has been up to 94 this year, though works more in the 90-91 range. Not a top-10-rounds guy, but probably a top 15 guy.
7th inning stretch
B9: Is there a Big Ten team or teams with Omaha potential?
AF: I don't see it, though I'd give Minnesota an outside chance.
Last at-bat for the home team
B9: Big Ten Pitcher of the year Arnett or Wimmers?
AF: Really, really tough choice this year... I go back and forth, but I'll go with Wimmers. That no-hitter gives him a signature moment that will be the tie-breaker.
Closing it out
B9: Big Ten Player of the year Phegley or McCallum
AF: McCallum, again not by much. But he's the best player on what I believe is the best team in the league, and he's a better defender (though at a position that is not as demanding). Just a better all-around season.