NCAA Regionals: A Preview

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 29: The South Carolina Gamecocks celebrate after defeating the UCLA Bruins in game 2 of the men's 2010 NCAA College Baseball World Series at Rosenblatt Stadium on June 29, 2010 in Omaha, Nebraska. The Gamecocks defeated the Bruins 2-1 in eleven innings to win the National Championship. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

It's time for NCAA Baseball post season play. Below are the various hosts with the teams participating in each Regional. Clicking on each link will send you to the capsule below, highlighting the prospects to watch and containing a short paragraph on the match-up as I see it. I was very liberal with whom I considered a prospect, and I also weeded out those who will probably not see much the field (e.g. John Stilson is omitted now that he has been diagnosed with a torn labrum).

 

Atlanta Regional hosted by Georgia Tech
No. 1 Georgia Tech (40-19) vs. No. 4 Austin Peay (33-22)
No. 2 Southern Miss. (39-17) vs. No. 3 Mississippi State (34-23)
Austin Regional hosted by Texas
No. 1 Texas (43-15) vs. No. 4 Princeton (23-22)
No. 2 Texas State (40-21) vs. No. 3 Kent State (43-15)
Chapel Hill Regional hosted by North Carolina
No. 1 North Carolina (45-14) vs. No. 4 Maine (32-22)
No. 2 Fla. International (40-18-1) vs. No. 3 James Madison (40-17)
Charlottesville Regional hosted by Virginia
No. 1 Virginia (49-9) vs. No. 4 Navy (33-23-1)
No. 2 East Carolina (39-19) vs. No. 3 St. John’s (NY) (35-20)
Clemson Regional hosted by Clemson
No. 1 Clemson (41-18) vs. No. 4 Sacred Heart (34-21)
No. 2 Connecticut (41-17-1) vs. No. 3 Coastal Caro. (41-18)
College Station Regional hosted by Texas A&M
No. 1 Texas A&M (42-18) vs. No. 4 Wright State (36-17)
No. 2 Arizona (36-19) vs. No. 3 Seton Hall (33-23)
Columbia Regional hosted by South Carolina
No. 1 South Carolina (45-14) vs. No. 4 Georgia Southern (36-24)
No. 2 Stetson (41-18) vs. No. 3 North Carolina State (34-25)
Corvallis Regional hosted by Oregon State
No. 1 Oregon State (38-17) vs. No. 4 Arkansas-Little Rock (24-32)
No. 2 Creighton (44-14) vs. No. 3 Georgia (31-30)
Fort Worth Regional hosted by TCU
No. 1 Texas Christian (42-17) vs. No. 4 Oral Roberts (36-20)
No. 2 Oklahoma (41-17) vs. No. 3 Dallas Baptist (39-17)
Fullerton Regional hosted by Cal State Fullerton
No. 1 Cal State Fullerton (40-15) vs. No. 4 Illinois (28-25)
No. 2 Stanford (32-20) vs. No. 3 Kansas State (36-23)
Gainesville Regional hosted by Florida
No. 1 Florida (45-16) vs. No. 4 Manhattan (34-17)
No. 2 Miami (Fla.) (36-21) vs. No. 3 Jacksonville (36-22)
Houston Regional hosted by Rice
No. 1 Rice (41-19) vs. No. 4 Alcorn State (27-28)
No. 2 Baylor (29-26) vs. No. 3 California (31-20)
Los Angeles Regional hosted by UCLA
No. 1 UCLA (33-22) vs. No. 4 San Francisco (31-23)
No. 2 Fresno State (40-14) vs. No. 3 UC Irvine (39-16)
Nashville Regional hosted by Vanderbilt
No. 1 Vanderbilt (47-10) vs. No. 4 Belmont (36-24)
No. 2 Oklahoma State (35-23) vs. No. 3 Troy (42-17)
Tallahassee Regional hosted by Florida State
No. 1 Florida State (42-17) vs. No. 4 Bethune-Cookman (36-23)
No. 2 Central Florida (38-21) vs. No. 3 Alabama (33-26)
Tempe Regional hosted by Arizona State
No. 1 Arizona State (39-16) vs. No. 4 New Mexico (20-39)
No. 2 Arkansas (38-20) vs. No. 3 Charlotte (42-14)

 

Atlanta Regional hosted by Georgia Tech

No. 1 Georgia Tech (40-19) vs. No. 4 Austin Peay (33-22)
No. 2 Southern Miss. (39-17) vs. No. 3 Mississippi State (34-23)

Prospects to Watch:

  • Luke Bard - RHP - Georgia Tech (2012)
  • C.T. Bradford - OF - Mississippi State (2013)
  • Jed Bradley - LHP - Georgia Tech (2011)
  • Buck Farmer - RHP - Georgia Tech (2012)
  • Matt Grimes - RHP - Georgia Tech (2013)
  • Mott Hyde - 2B - Georgia Tech (2013)
  • Todd McInnis - RHP - Southern Miss (2011)
  • Daryl Norris - RHP - Mississippi State (2013)
  • Daniel Palka - 1B - Georgia Tech (2013)
  • Mark Pope - RHP - Georgia Tech (2011)
  • Matt Skole - 3B - Georgia Tech (2011)
  • Chris Stratton - RHP - Mississippi State (2012)
  • Brandon Thomas - OF - Georgia Tech (2012)
  • B.A. Vollmuth - 3B - Southern Miss (2011)

Thoughts:

Southern Miss recently lost two of their weekend starters, Geoffrey Thomas – a potential top 3 round pick in the 2012 draft – and Jonathan Thompson, to academic suspensions, making the road through Georgia Tech that much more difficult. Tech is a young a team, but they should be able to roll through this regional without much difficulty. Neither Mississippi State nor Southern Miss has the pitching to hang with their three aces.

 

Austin Regional hosted by Texas

No. 1 Texas (43-15) vs. No. 4 Princeton (23-22)
No. 2 Texas State (40-21) vs. No. 3 Kent State (43-15)

Prospects to Watch:

  • Andrew Chafin - LHP - Kent State (2011)
  • Jacob Felts - C - Texas (2013)
  • Cole Green - RHP - Texas (2011)
  • Kyle Hallock - LHP - Kent State (2011)
  • Taylor Jungmann - RHP - Texas (2011)
  • Corey Knebel - RHP - Texas (2013)
  • Kyle Kubitza - 3B - Texas State (2011)
  • Brandon Loy - SS - Texas (2011)
  • Kyle McMillen - RHP - Kent State (2011)
  • Hoby Milner - LHP - Texas (2012)
  • Mark Payton - OF - Texas (2013)
  • Travis Shaw - 3B - Kent State (2011)
  • Carson Smith - RHP - Texas State (2011)
  • Sam Stafford - LHP - Texas (2011)
  • Cohl Walla - OF - Texas (2011)
  • Jonathan Walsh - OF - Texas (2012)

Thoughts:

What Texas lacks in offensive potency is more than made up for by their bevy of impressive arms. Texas State and Kent State will each have to throw their ace in game 1, Carson Smith and Andrew Chafin respectively, making for both a very intriguing match up for draft watchers and easing the road for Texas. UPDATE: It looks like we won't get a Smith/Chafin match-up after all as Kent St will save Chafin for Saturday (thanks CW13)

 

Chapel Hill Regional hosted by North Carolina

No. 1 North Carolina (45-14) vs. No. 4 Maine (32-22)
No. 2 Fla. International (40-18-1) vs. No. 3 James Madison (40-17)

Prospects to Watch:

  • Kent Emanuel - LHP - North Carolina (2013)
  • Rudy Flores - 1B - Florida International (2012)
  • Jeff Gibbs - RHP - Maine (2012)
  • Jabari Henry - OF - Florida International (2012)
  • David Herbek - SS - James Madison (2011)
  • Patrick Johnson - RHP - North Carolina (2011)
  • Jake Lowery - C - James Madison (2011)
  • Ty McFarland - 3B  - James Madison (2013)
  • Levi Michael - SS - North Carolina (2011)
  • Colin Moran - 3B - North Carolina (2013)
  • Michael Morin - RHP - North Carolina (2012)
  • Chris Munnelly - RHP - North Carolina (2012)
  • Steve Perakslis - RHP - Maine (2012)
  • Andrew Smith - RHP - North Carolina (2013)
  • Jacob Stallings - C - North Carolina (2011)
  • Cody Stiles - RHP - North Carolina (2012)

Thoughts:

Florida International is going into post season white hot, winning 21 of their last 24 games. Maine will likely throw Jeff Gibbs against North Carolina in game 1; with the big stuff that he possesses, Maine has a legitimate shot at pulling the upset if he can throw the ball over the plate consistently. In the unlikely even that that does happen, FIU would be in the driver's seat should they take care of business against James Madison. North Carolina should prevail, but I don't think this Regional is as much of a cake walk as it looks to be on paper.

 

Charlottesville Regional hosted by Virginia

No. 1 Virginia (49-9) vs. No. 4 Navy (33-23-1)
No. 2 East Carolina (39-19) vs. No. 3 St. John’s (NY) (35-20)

Prospects to Watch:

  • Shawn Armstrong - RHP - East Carolina (2011)
  • Jeremy Baltz - OF - St. John's (2012)
  • Matt Carasiti - RHP - St. John's (2012)
  • Reed Gragnani - OF - Virginia (2012)
  • Kyle Hansen - RHP - St. John's (2012)
  • John Hicks - C/1B - Virginia (2011)
  • Danny Hultzen - LHP - Virginia (2011)
  • Branden Kline - RHP - Virginia (2012)
  • Joe Panik - SS - St. John's (2011)
  • Steven Proscia - 3B - Virginia (2011)
  • Jack Reinheimer - SS - East Carolina (2013)
  • Chris Taylor - SS - Virginia (2012)
  • John Wooten - 1B - East Carolina (2012)
  • Michael Wright - RHP - East Carolina (2011)
  • Zach Wright - C - East Carolina (2011)

Thoughts:

Outside of the final series of year against North Carolina, Virginia has done nothing but cruise through their competition. Future top 5 overall draft pick, Danny Hultzen is perhaps the best college pitcher in the nation. Hitters have no chance when his command is at its best and struggle to do much at the plate when he's at his worst. The offense can go quiet at times and the rest of the weekend rotation lacks star power, but UVa looks primed to make the trip to Omaha.

 

Clemson Regional hosted by Clemson

No. 1 Clemson (41-18) vs. No. 4 Sacred Heart (34-21)
No. 2 Connecticut (41-17-1) vs. No. 3 Coastal Carolina (41-18)

Prospects to Watch:

  • Nick Ahmed - SS - Connecticut (2011)
  • John Andreoli - OF - Connecticut (2011)
  • Matt Barnes - RHP - Connecticut (2011)
  • Kevin Brady - RHP - Clemson (2011)
  • Josh Conway - RHP - Coastal Carolina (2012)
  • John Hinson - 3B - Clemson (2011)
  • Spencer Kieboom - C - Clemson (2012)
  • Will Lamb - OF/LHP - Clemson (2011)
  • L.J. Mazzilli - 2B - Connecticut (2012)
  • Anthony Meo - RHP - Coastal Carolina (2011)
  • Tyler Motter - SS - Coastal Carolina (2011)
  • Brad Miller - SS - Clemson (2011)
  • Mike Nemeth - 1B - Connecticut (2011)
  • Kevin Pohle - RHP - Clemson (2013)
  • Jeff Schaus - OF - Clemson (2011)
  • Richie Shaffer - 1B - Clemson (2012)
  • George Springer - OF - Connecticut (2011)
  • Jason Stolz - 2B - Clemson (2011)
  • Scott Weisman - RHP - Clemson (2011)
  • Kevin Vance - RHP - Connecticut (2011)

Thoughts:

Any one of the top three seeds could realistically take this Regional. Clemson comes into the tournament with plenty of momentum after having a very strong second half of the year. Their offense is patient and should have no problems scoring runs. The weekend rotation was in flux for most of the year before finding stability with the emergence of college ace, Dominic Leone. UConn has played below their talent level often in 2011; however that talent is still undeniable. If they can get their bats working and not repeat the futility they displayed during the Big East Tournament, I like them to advance to Super Regionals. Two potential first round picks will square off as Matt Barnes takes on Anthony Meo in a must see game 1.

 

College Station Regional hosted by Texas A&M

No. 1 Texas A&M (42-18) vs. No. 4 Wright State (36-17)
No. 2 Arizona (36-19) vs. No. 3 Seton Hall (33-23)

Prospects to Watch:

  • Bryce Bandilla - LHP - Arizona (2011)
  • Jett Bandy - C - Arizona (2011)
  • Krey Bratsen - OF - Texas A&M (2012)
  • Kurt Heyer - RHP - Arizona (2012)
  • Seth Mejias-Brean - 3B - Arizona (2012)
  • Tyler Naquin - OF - Texas A&M (2012)
  • Robert Refsnyder - OF - Arizona (2012)
  • Joey Rickard - OF - Arizona (2012)
  • Kyle Simon - RHP - Arizona (2011)
  • Adam Smith - 3B - Texas A&M (2011)
  • Ross Stripling - RHP - Texas A&M (2011)
  • Michael Wacha - RHP - Texas A&M (2012)
  • Konner Wade - RHP - Arizona (2013)

Thoughts:

Losing John Stilson is a significant blow to Texas A&M's chances of advancing deep into post season play. Michael Wacha will be able to fill the role of team ace about as well as any #2 in the country, but one of their biggest strengths is now no longer a separator. Even with underclassmen Krey Bratsen and Tyler Naquin doing a fantastic job atop A&M's lineup, I worry about the offense. Seton Hall shocked everyone by their run in the Big East Tournament; however, they should not pose too much of a threat to 2 seed Arizona. Riding their pair of aces, Kyle Simon & Kurt Heyer, Arizona will take A&M to the edge in the Regional Finals before ultimately falling short.

 

Columbia Regional hosted by South Carolina

No. 1 South Carolina (45-14) vs. No. 4 Georgia Southern (36-24)
No. 2 Stetson (41-18) vs. No. 3 North Carolina State (34-25)

Prospects to Watch:

  • DeSean Anderson - OF - South Carolina (2013)
  • Chris Beck - RHP - Georgia Southern (2012)
  • Danny Canela - C - North Carolina State (2012)
  • Ben Carhart - RHP - Stetson (2011)
  • Forrest Koumas - RHP - South Carolina (2012)
  • Adam Matthews - OF - South Carolina (2011)
  • Pratt Maynard - C - North Carolina State (2011)
  • Cory Mazzoni - RHP - North Carolina State (2011)
  • Matt Price - RHP - South Carolina (2011)
  • Nick Rickles - C - Stetson (2011)
  • Victor Roache - OF - Georgia Southern (2012)
  • Harold Riggins - 1B - North Carolina State (2011)
  • Terran Senay - OF - North Carolina State (2012)
  • Spencer Theisen - OF - Stetson (2011)
  • Christian Walker - 1B - South Carolina (2012)

Thoughts:

South Carolina's road to defending their National Championship has had a lot of impediments thrown in the way. The team has been ravaged with injuries with the most notable being to center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. Despite not being much of an MLB prospect, Michael Roth has been one of the best college pitchers in the country. USC will also need continued excellence out of true freshman, Forrest Koumas. NC State hasn't exactly been the picture of consistency, but they're a dangerous 3 seed that has beaten some good teams along the way. They're certainly capable of giving USC a scare should they get past Stetson. For at least one more week, I think the rubber bands hold firm, allowing South Carolina to advance to Super Regionals.

 

Corvallis Regional hosted by Oregon State

No. 1 Oregon State (38-17) vs. No. 4 Arkansas-Little Rock (24-32)
No. 2 Creighton (44-14) vs. No. 3 Georgia (31-30)

Prospects to Watch:

  • Ty Blach - LHP - Creighton (2012)
  • Tony Bryant - RHP - Oregon State (2012)
  • Zach Cone - OF - Georgia (2011)
  • Chase Davidson - OF - Georgia (2011)
  • Kyle Farmer - SS - Georgia (2012)
  • Sam Gaviglio - RHP - Oregon State (2011)
  • Kavin Keyes - 2B - Oregon State (2013)
  • Josh Osich - LHP - Oregon State (2011)
  • Michael Palazzone - RHP - Georgia (2011)
  • Jake Rodriguez - 3B - Oregon State (2013)
  • Andrew Susac - C - Oregon State (2011)
  • Ben Wetzler - LHP - Oregon State (2013)
  • Alex Wood - LHP - Georgia (2012)

Thoughts:

Oregon State has had a tremendous season, overcoming mid-season injuries to their biggest offensive pieces, Andrew Susac and Jake Rodriguez. Despite getting both back, they're limping into postseason play, losing the last two weekend series of the year to teams that they should have handled. The third starter role has been a bit of an adventure in recent weeks, and they'll need aces Josh Osich and Sam Gaviglio to finish the year strong. The enigmatic Georgia squad stunned everyone by rattling off three wins to keep their season alive in the SEC Tournament, while Creighton has done everything expected of them and more. I don't think either will do enough to get past Oregon State.

 

Fort Worth Regional hosted by TCU

No. 1 Texas Christian (42-17) vs. No. 4 Oral Roberts (36-20)
No. 2 Oklahoma (41-17) vs. No. 3 Dallas Baptist (39-17)

Prospects to Watch:

  • Garrett Buechele - 3B - Oklahoma (2011)
  • Jason Coats - OF - Texas Christian (2011)
  • Josh Elander - C - Texas Christian (2012)
  • Taylor Featherston - SS - Texas Christian (2011)
  • Alex Gonzalez - RHP - Oral Roberts (2013)
  • Sean Johnson - RHP - Oral Roberts (2011)
  • Brandon King - OF - Oral Roberts (2011)
  • Dillon Overton - LHP - Oklahoma (2011)
  • Steven Maxwell - RHP - Texas Christian (2011)
  • Andrew Mitchell - RHP - Texas Christian (2013)
  • Dillon Overton - LHP - Oklahoma (2013)
  • Matt Purke - LHP - Texas Christian (2011)
  • Cameron Seitzer - 1B - Oklahoma (2011)
  • Burch Smith - RHP - Oklahoma (2011)
  • Max White - 2B - Oklahoma (2012)
  • Kyle Winkler - RHP - Texas Christian (2011)

Thoughts:

Matt Purke is the ultimate X-factor, both in the MLB Draft and for TCU's post season hopes. If the 2010 version should show up – the one that had command of a mid 90s fastball, an above average breaking ball and an average change – TCU should have no trouble rolling through this Regional. If the 2011 version should show up – the one that showed little command of a high 80s fastball – TCU will need the rest of their starters to continue to pick up the pieces. Kyle Winkler has filled in as the de facto ace, bringing his game to a level that no one anticipated, and Freshman Andrew Mitchell has emerged as a very good starter. Oklahoma will be a tough out and has handled TCU during mid-week action this year. The outcome of this Regional likely hinges on Purke, and I'm not confident in his health at this point; I'll take Oklahoma to advance.

 

Fullerton Regional hosted by Cal State Fullerton

No. 1 Cal State Fullerton (40-15) vs. No. 4 Illinois (28-25)
No. 2 Stanford (32-20) vs. No. 3 Kansas State (36-23)

Prospects to Watch:

  • Mark Appel - RHP - Stanford (2012)
  • Willie Argo - OF - Illinois (2011)
  • Adam Davis - C - Illinois (2011)
  • Kenny Diekroeger - SS - Stanford (2012)
  • Jake Floethe - RHP - Cal State Fullerton (2011)
  • Dylan Floro - RHP - Cal State Fullerton (2012)
  • Tyler Gaffney - OF - Stanford (2012)
  • Brandon Hohl - 3B - Illinois (2012)
  • Kevin Johnson - RHP - Illinois (2012)
  • Lonnie Kauppila - 2B - Stanford (2013)
  • Michael Lorenzen - OF - Cal State Fullerton (2013)
  • Evan Marshall - RHP - Kansas State (2011)
  • Nick Martini - OF - Kansas State (2011)
  • Colin O'Connell - RHP - Cal State Fullerton (2011)
  • Richy Pedroza - SS - Cal State Fullerton (2012)
  • Tyler Pill - RHP - Cal State Fullerton (2011)
  • Stephen Piscotty - 3B - Stanford (2012)
  • Jordan Pries - RHP - Stanford (2011)
  • Brian Ragira - 1B - Stanford (2013)
  • Nick Ramirez - 1B/LHP - Cal State Fullerton (2011)
  • Noe Ramirez - RHP - Cal State Fullerton (2011)
  • Chris Reed - LHP - Stanford (2011)
  • Jake Stewart - OF - Stanford (2012)
  • Ivory Thomas - OF - Cal State Fullerton (2012)
  • Joe Terry - 3B - Cal State Fullerton (2011)
  • A.J. Vanegas - RHP - Stanford (2013)
  • Austin Wilson - OF - Stanford (2013)

Thoughts:

Big Ten Champion Illinois is coming into this tournament hot and could sneak up on Fullerton should they take them too lightly. Fullerton has had a bit of an uneven season, losing some games in un-Fullerton fashion to teams that they simply shouldn't lose to. Still, they did enough to secure the #1 seed which is all that can really be expected from a team in any given year. Stanford is the most prospect laden team in the west, loaded with athleticism and high ceilings. It's a young team that has had its share of difficulties. Sophomore Mark Appel has the stuff to be drafted in the top 5 overall in 2012 and will need to have a strong outing for Stanford to have a chance. Like with UConn earlier, I'm going to bet on upside and take Stanford to advance.

 

Gainesville Regional hosted by Florida

No. 1 Florida (45-16) vs. No. 4 Manhattan (34-17)
No. 2 Miami (Fla.) (36-21) vs. No. 3 Jacksonville (36-22)

Prospects to Watch:

  • Chris Anderson - RHP - Jacksonville (2013)
  • Anthony DeSclafani - RHP - Florida (2011)
  • Zeke DeVoss - OF - Miami (2011)
  • E.J. Encinsoa - RHP - Miami (2012)
  • Steve Ewing - LHP - Miami (2012)
  • Nolan Fontana - SS - Florida (2012)
  • Dan Gulbransen - OF - Jacksonville (2012)
  • Brian Johnson - LHP/1B - Florida (2012)
  • Keenan Kish - RHP - Florida (2013)
  • Austin Maddox - 1B/RHP - Florida (2012)
  • Nick Maronde - LHP - Florida (2011)
  • Harold Martinez - 3B - Miami (2011)
  • Nathan Melendres - OF - Miami (2011)
  • Alex Panteliodis - LHP - Florida (2011)
  • Stephen Perez - SS - Miami (2012)
  • Zach Powers - 3B - Florida (2013)
  • Hudson Randall - RHP - Florida (2012)
  • Steven Rodriguez - LHP - Florida (2012)
  • Shane Rowland - C - Miami (2013)
  • Tommy Toledo - RHP - Florida (2011)
  • Preston Tucker - OF/1B - Florida (2011)
  • Adam Brett Walker - OF - Jacksonville (2012)
  • Kamm Washington - OF - Florida (2012)
  • Eric Whaley - RHP - Miami (2012)
  • Karsten Whitson - RHP - Florida (2013)
  • Mike Zunino - C - Florida (2012)

Thoughts:

Florida is absolutely loaded. They have an offense that can put up runs in a hurry and a pitching staff so loaded with power arms that they have a bullpen filled with guys that would be weekend starters on another team. Mike Zunino – a plus defensive catcher with power – is one of my favorite 2012 draft prospects and could have his official coming out party this postseason. Indeed, the 2012 class is well represented in this Regional with, in addtion to Zunino, Austin Maddox, Nolan Fontana, Brian Johnson, Miami's Stephen Perez, and Jacksonville's Adam Brett Walker all having a chance to go in the first round. Florida should roll through this one.

 

Houston Regional hosted by Rice

No. 1 Rice (41-19) vs. No. 4 Alcorn State (27-28)
No. 2 Baylor (29-26) vs. No. 3 California (31-20)

Prospects to Watch:

  • Dixon Anderson - RHP - California (2011)
  • J.T. Chargois - 1B - Rice (2012)
  • Anthony Cingrani - LHP - Rice (2011)
  • Trae Davis - RHP - Baylor (2013)
  • Erik Johnson - RHP - California (2011)
  • Justin Jones - LHP - California (2012)
  • Chadd Krist - C - California (2011)
  • Austin Kubitza - RHP - Rice (2013)
  • Jake Miller - 3B - Baylor (2012)
  • Max Muncy - 1B - Baylor (2012)
  • Brooks Pinckard - RHP/OF - Baylor (2011)
  • Kyle Porter - LHP - California (2013)
  • Michael Ratterree - 2B - Rice (2011)
  • Matt Reckling - RHP - Rice (2011)
  • Tony Renda - 2B - California (2012)
  • Anthony Rendon - 3B - Rice (2011)
  • Marcus Semien - SS - California (2011)
  • John Simms - RHP - Rice (2013)
  • Cal Towey - OF - Baylor (2012)
  • Logan Verrett - RHP - Baylor (2011)
  • Logan Vick - OF - Baylor (2012)

Thoughts:

California is an awful tough #3 seed. After having their baseball program cut – later reinstated via private fundraising – Cal showed tremendous fortitude by taking games against a few tough opponents, one of them being Rice in the AT&T Tournament, early in the year. They may have lost some fire after receiving the good news as they had some difficulties down the stretch, but Cal will still be a tough out. Baylor will have it's hands full and will need a strong outing from Logan Verrett to win game 1. Rice has the most talented player in the nation in Anthony Rendon who finally saw some field work – at second base – during the Conference USA Tournament. He also seems to be turning it on offensively. The weekend rotation is very talented – lead by freshman ace, Austin Kubitza – and I have a hard time envisioning Rice losing this week.

 

Los Angeles Regional hosted by UCLA

No. 1 UCLA (33-22) vs. No. 4 San Francisco (31-23)
No. 2 Fresno State (40-14) vs. No. 3 UC Irvine (39-16)

Prospects to Watch:

  • Beau Amaral - OF - UCLA (2012)
  • Trevor Bauer - RHP - UCLA (2011)
  • Gerrit Cole - RHP - UCLA (2011)
  • Phillip Ferragamo - RHP - UC Irvine (2013)
  • Jeff Gelalich - OF - UCLA (2012)
  • Kyle Hooper - RHP - UC Irvine (2012)
  • Aaron Judge - OF - Fresno State (2013)
  • Cody Keefer - OF - UCLA (2012)
  • Tyler Linehan - LHP - Fresno State (2013)
  • Adam Plutko - RHP - UCLA (2013)
  • Cody Regis - 3B - UCLA (2012)
  • Jordan Ribera - 1B - Fresno State (2011)
  • Dusty Robinson - OF - Fresno State (2011)
  • Matt Summers - RHP - UC Irvine (2011)
  • Andrew Thurman - RHP - UC Irvine (2013)
  • Nick Vander Tuig - RHP - UCLA (2013)
  • Zack Weiss - RHP - UCLA (2013)
  • Steven Yarrow - 3B - San Francisco (2011)

Thoughts:

Fresno State is a solid team that has had a great season, and UC Irvine is always a difficult out, but UCLA has the arms to power through this regional without much effort. Trevor Bauer is right there with Danny Hultzen as one of the best pitchers in the college game. I have some reservations about how his tendency to elevate the fastball and his lack of great command of it will play at the next level; those worries are not relevant here though. He will pitch deep into the game he starts and is almost a near lock to get the win. UCLA's offense is a question mark, but it's not hard to win when your starter throws a  complete game 2 hitter. Looking deeper into the tournament, I expect Bauer to start on short rest whenever UCLA is facing a game where they really need him. Gerrit Cole has the kind of stuff where he should dominate a lineup; however, his lack of fastball command and near abandonment of his change-up has caused him to under perform. Freshman Adam Plutko rounds out the weekend rotation and is looking like a potential first rounder for 2013.

 

Nashville Regional hosted by Vanderbilt

No. 1 Vanderbilt (47-10) vs. No. 4 Belmont (36-24)
No. 2 Oklahoma State (35-23) vs. No. 3 Troy (42-17)

Prospects to Watch:

  • Jack Armstrong Jr. - RHP - Vanderbilt (2011)
  • Curt Casali - C - Vanderbilt (2011)
  • Will Clinard - RHP - Vanderbilt (2011)
  • Dylan Craig - OF - Belmont (2011)
  • Jason Esposito - 3B - Vanderbilt (2011)
  • Grayson Garvin - LHP - Vanderbilt (2011)
  • Matt Ginther - 3B - Oklahoma State (2011)
  • Anthony Gomez - SS - Vanderbilt (2012)
  • Sonny Gray - RHP - Vanderbilt (2011)
  • Connor Gregor - OF - Vanderbilt (2013)
  • Connor Harrell - OF - Vanderbilt (2012)
  • Andrew Heaney - RHP - Oklahoma State (2012)
  • Taylor Hill - RHP - Vanderbilt (2011)
  • Jimmy Hodgskin - LHP - Troy (2013)
  • Jason Hursh - RHP - Oklahoma State (2013)
  • Tony Kemp - OF - Vanderbilt (2013)
  • Chris Marlowe - RHP - Oklahoma State (2011)
  • Randy McCurry - RHP - Oklahoma State (2011)
  • Navery Moore - RHP - Vanderbilt (2011)
  • Dane Phillips - C - Oklahoma State (2012)
  • Tyler Ray - RHP - Troy (2011)
  • Aaron Westlake - 1B - Vanderbilt (2011)
  • Nate Woods - OF - Belmont (2011)
  • Michael Yastrzemski - OF - Vanderbilt (2012)
  • Kevin Ziomek - LHP - Vanderbilt (2013)

Thoughts:

Vanderbilt is my pick for National Champion this year. If there is a weakness on that team, I have yet to find it. The offense is lead by first baseman Aaron Westlake who has easy power to all fields, while also showing a good feel for hitting. Tony Kemp is a perfect lead off hitter with excellent plate discipline who generates a surprising amount of pop for someone that small. There really isn't an easy out in the lineup, and the pitching staff might be even better. Sonny Gray will be drafted high in the first round, while Grayson Garvin could sneak into the supplemental round. Senior Taylor Hill is a rock solid #3 and they back it all up with a lights out bullpen. Jack Armstrong and Kevin Ziomek are luxuries and gives Vanderbilt back up plans in case anything should go awry – both would be starting on all but a handful of teams. OK State & Troy are fine teams; I'd just be shocked if they gave Vanderbilt much difficulty.

 

Tallahassee Regional hosted by Florida State

No. 1 Florida State (42-17) vs. No. 4 Bethune-Cookman (36-23)
No. 2 Central Florida (38-21) vs. No. 3 Alabama (33-26)

Prospects to Watch:

  • Jayce Boyd - 1B - Florida State (2012)
  • Taylor Dugas - OF - Alabama (2011)
  • Sean Gilmartin - LHP - Florida State (2011)
  • Rayan Gonzalez - RHP - Bethune-Cookman (2011)
  • Adam Morgan - LHP - Alabama (2011)
  • Peter O'Brien - C - Bethune-Cookman (2011)
  • James Ramsey - OF - Florida State (2011)
  • Ronnie Richardson - OF - Central Florida (2011)
  • Austen Smith - 1B - Alabama (2013)
  • Darnell Sweeney - SS - Central Florida (2012)
  • Beau Taylor - C - Central Florida (2011)
  • Devon Travis - 2B - Florida State (2012)

Thoughts:

The Tallahassee Regional looks wide open to me. Florida State seems like the weakest of the #1 seeds, while Alabama is a strong #3 seed. Sean Gilmartin is a true ace, but the rest of that rotation is patched together. The best thing FSU has going for it is that they're playing in their own ballpark – a place where they have historically thrived. Alabama doesn't exactly have a wealth of pro prospects either, but they held their own through the SEC grind. Central Florida could also step up to take the Regional if everything clicks. The smart money is probably on Florida State, but I just can't get behind that pitching staff; I'll take Alabama to advance.

 

Tempe Regional hosted by Arizona State

No. 1 Arizona State (39-16) vs. No. 4 New Mexico (20-39)
No. 2 Arkansas (38-20) vs. No. 3 Charlotte (42-14)

Prospects to Watch:

  • Andrew Aplin - OF - Arizona state (2012)
  • Tyler Barnette - RHP - Charlotte (2013)
  • Jake Barrett - RHP - Arizona state (2012)
  • D.J. Baxendale - RHP - Arkansas (2012)
  • Alex Blackford - RHP - Arizona state (2012)
  • Dominic Ficociello - 1B - Arkansas (2013)
  • Mitchell Lambson - LHP - Arizona State (2011)
  • Zack MacPhee - 2B - Arizona State (2011)
  • Deven Marrero - SS - Arizona State (2012)
  • James McCann - C - Arkansas (2011)
  • Corey Roberts - RHP - Charlotte (2012)
  • Johnny Ruettiger - OF - Arizona State (2011)
  • Nolan Sanburn - RHP - Arkansas (2013)
  • Ryne Stanek - RHP - Arkansas (2013)
  • Zach Wilson - OF/1B - Arizona State (2011)
  • Riccio Torrez - 3B/1B - Arizona State (2011)
  • Brady Rodgers - RHP - Arizona State (2012)

Thoughts:

Arizona State will need to get strong outings from their weekend rotation in order to win this one. The committee did them no favors by placing Arkansas and Charlotte in their Regional. Even New Mexico is a strong team given their seed. Brady Rodgers is a pretty good bet to do just that, but Jake Barrett has been very inconsistent. 3 seed Charlotte has three excellent starters in Corey Roberts, Andrew Smith and Tyler Barnette that could allow them to steal a few games. Arkansas received a fantastic start from Ryne Stanek during the SEC Tournament and he could be a game changer if he does something like that again. DJ Baxendale has stepped into the ace role with Davenport down to injury. Arkansas takes this one after a big week from their talented freshmen.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Jeff Reese is a member of Bullpen Banter. He can be reached at JReese@BullpenBanter.com or via twitter. An index of his College Baseball Notes series can be accessed here.

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