Feb. 12, 2006
Baseball America recently released its annual list of college baseball's top-100 prospects for the 2006 Major League baseball draft and Notre Dame was one of six teams in the nation to feature two starting pitchers among those top-100 prospects - with Jeff Manship slotted at No. 75 on that list while fellow junior righthander Jeff Samardzija is listed 94th.
Baseball America's annual college preview issue lists Notre Dame senior first baseman Craig Cooper and sophomore third baseman Brett Lilley on its preseason all-BIG EAST team. BA also cites three ND players - Lilley, senior shortstop Greg Lopez and junior catcher Sean Gaston - as the BIG EAST's best defensive players at their respective positions while tabbing Lilley as the BIG EAST batter with the "best strike-zone discipline," Samardzija as the BIG EAST's best athlete, Manship as the league's pitcher with the best breaking ball and senior lefthander Tom Thornton as the BIG EAST pitcher with the best control.
BA's prospect rankings also list Manship fourth and Samardzija sixth among the BIG EAST's top prospects while Cooper is listed 44th among the nation's top senior prospects.
Notre Dame narrowly missed making the preseason top-25 in the USA Today coaches poll, receiving the 26th-most votes.
Here are additional notes from the Baseball America preview and other college baseball preseason lists and polls:
* In addition to ND's duo of Manship and Samardzija, five other teams have starting pitchers among the BA top-100 prospects: North Carolina LHP Andrew Miller (1) and RHP Daniel Bard (4); Missouri RHP Max Scherzer (3) and LHP Nate Culp (64); Cal Poly RHPs Gary Daley (24) and Bud Norris (76); Washington RHPs Tim Lincecum (31) and Kyle Parker (92); and San Diego LHP Nate Boman (41) and RHP Josh Butler (66).
* Ten players from teams on ND's 2006 schedule are among the BA top-100 prospects: Nebraska RHP Joba Chamberlain (12); Arizona RHP Mark Melancon (14) and SS Jason Donald (17); Minnesota LHP John Gaub (53); South Florida RHPs Casey Hudspeth (54) and Chase Lirette (87); Pittsburgh 2B Jim Negrych (56); Ball State LHP Ben Snyder (60); Southern Illinois LHP Tyler Norrick (81); and Oklahoma RHP Daniel McCutchen (83).
* Manship is the 42nd pitcher listed on the top prospects list (#32 RHP) while Samardzija is the 53rd pitchers and 39th RHP.
* The BIG EAST's total of five players on the top-100 prospects list is sixth-most among any Division I conference.
* BA forecasts that Notre Dame and five of its 2006 opponents (Arizona, Nebraska, Purdue, South Florida and Southern Illinois) will advance to the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
* The Irish will face three BA preseason All-Americans in the 2006 season: Arizona 2B Jason Donald (2nd team), Nebraska RHP Joba Chamberlain (2nd team) and Pittsburgh 2B Jim Negrych (3rd team).
* In addition to Cooper and Lilley, the other players on the BA preseason all-BIG EAST team include: South Florida senior C Brian Baisley, junior RHP Casey Hudspeth and junior closer Chase Lirette; Pittsburgh junior 2B Jim Negrych and sophomore RHP Billy Muldowney; Rutgers sophomore SS Todd Frazier and junior OF David Williams; Louisville junior OF Isaiah Howes; West Virginia senior OF Stan Pozluszny; Georgetown senior DH Ryan Craft; and UConn senior RHP Tim Norton ... BA tabbed Negrych for preseason BIG EAST player of the year, Hudspeth for pitcher of the year and Louisville 3B Chris Dominguez for rookie of the year.
* BA's list of the BIG EAST's top newcomers includes: Louisville 3B Chris Dominguez, St. John's LHP Scott Barnes, catcher Ryan Mahoney (transfer from South Carolina) and LHP Luis Monell (via El Paso JC) and Louisville OF Alec Lowery.
* BA's list of the top prospects in the BIG EAST includes: USF ace Casey Hudspeth, Rutgers SS Todd Frazier ('07 draft), Pitts 2B Jim Negrych, ND's Manship, USF closer Chase Lirette, ND's Samardzija, Pitt RHP Billy Muldowney, South Florida RHP Daniel Thomas ('07 draft), UConn RHP Tim Norton and Villanova RHP Kevin Mulvey.
* In addition to the ND players mentioned above (Gaston, Lopez, Lilley, Samardzija, Manship and Thornton), BA also tabbed Pitt's Jim Negrych as the BIG EAST's best pure hitter and best baserunner while citing Pitt 1B Edgard Sucre, Louisville 2B Nick Haley and Louisville OF Boomer Whiting as the BIG EAST's best defensive players at their respective positions ... other BA "top tools" listings for the BIG EAST include West Virginia's David Carpenter as the catcher with the strongest arm, Rutgers SS Todd Frazier as the infielder with the strongest arm and RU's David Williams as the outfielder with the strongest arm - plus WVU's Stan Posluzsny as the league's batter with the best raw power, UL's Whiting as the fastest baserunner and USF's Casey Hudspeth as the pitcher with the best fastball.
* In addition to ND's Craig Cooper (44), seven players from teams on ND's 2006 schedule are among BA's list of the top-50 senior prospects: Southern Illinois LHP Tyler Norrick (5), Arizona 2B Brad Boyer (9), UConn RHP Tim Norton (18), Rutgers OF David Williams (19), Michigan catcher Jeff Kunkel (20), USF catcher Brian Baisley (37) and West Virginia OF Stan Posluszny (43).
* The top junior prospects include three ND opponents - Nebraska RHP Joba Chamberlain (12), Arizona RHP Mark Melancon (14) and SS Jason Donald (17) - while the top-50 sophomore prospects include four from '06 ND opponents: Arizona LHP Eric Berger (11), Rutgers SS Todd Frazier (12), Ball State LHP Ben Snyder (34) and Texas A&M RHP Jordan Chambless (50) ... six ND opponents are among the top-50 freshman prospects: Michigan 1B/RHP Zach Putnam (4), Arizona RHP Mike Colla (12), Louisville 3B Chris Dominguez (21), Arizona OF T.J. Steele (26), Texas A&M RHP Kyle Thebeau (44) and St. John's LHP Scott Barnes (46).
* Upcoming Notre Dame opponent Nebraska was 10th in the USA Today preseason coaches poll while four others received votes in the poll: Arizona (29), Oklahoma (37), St. John's (47) and South Florida (52).
* The new Rosenblatt's Report national poll included Nebraska (8), Notre Dame (21) and Oklahoma (23) among its preseason top-25 ... ND also currently is ranked 23rd in the Collegiate Baseball magazine poll and 24th per the National College Baseball Writers ... the Northeast Baseball Review lists Notre Dame as the top team in the northeast region while Pittsburgh is third.