2012 College World Series Preview and Team Reviews
The 2012 College World Series gets underway in Omaha tomorrow, Friday, June 15. Here is a look at the squads who will be competing for the NCAA Division I baseball championship. The focus is on players who are professional prospects.
Arizona Wildcats: Five Wildcats were drafted, all before the 10th round. The best prospect on the team is shortstop Alex Mejia (4th round, Cardinals), a line drive hitter and solid defender who profiles as a utility player at the highest levels. Outfielder/second baseman Robert Refsnyder (5th round, Yankees) doesn't have Mejia's tools but has more pop in his bat. Third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean (8th round, Reds) has a terrific glove and doubles power. Center fielder Joey Rickard (9th round, Rays) is another defensive expert with a line drive bat and some speed. The key to the pitching staff is RHP Kurt Heyer (6th round, Cardinals), who uses a deceptive delivery and strong command to help his average stuff play up. Sophomore left fielder Johnny Field, RHP Konner Wade, closer Matt Troupe, and freshman catcher Riley Moore are good targets for 2013 and 2014.
Arkansas Razorbacks: Eight players were drafted off this team, with third baseman (2nd round, Mets) and fireballing RHP Nolan Sanburn (2nd round, Athletics) at the top. RHP curveballer D.J. Baxendale (10th round, Twins), first baseman Sam Bates (28th round, Royals), LHP Randall Fant (29th round, Indians), and outfielders Derrick Bleeker (37th round, Orioles) and Jacob Morris (37th round, Indians) all had their names called on draft day. Fant has superb control. The best prospect on the team is RHP Ryne Stanek, a hard-throwing sophomore who should be a first round pick next year.
Florida Gators: Nine Gators were drafted, eight of them before the ninth round. Catcher Mike Zunino (1st round, Mariners) is one of the best hitting prospects in college baseball and has a strong glove too. Lefty Brian Johnson (1st round, Red Sox) has terrific pitchability, while shortstop Nolan Fontana (2nd round, Astros) provides impressive defense and an OBP threat. The bullpen is lead by deadly closer Austin Maddox (3rd round, Red Sox) and versatile lefty Paco Rodriguez (2nd round, Dodgers), who could both reach the majors quite rapidly. RHP Hudson Randall (7th round, Tigers) is an efficiency expert, while outfielder Preston Tucker (7th round, Astros) has one of the best power bats in college baseball. Seniors Dan Pigott (OF, 9th round, Reds) and Greg Larson (RHP, 20th round, Red Sox) have a chance as role players. RHPs Karsten Whitson and Jonathan Crawford are strong first-round candidates for 2013.
Florida State Seminoles: Seven Seminoles were drafted, led by senior OF James Ramsey (1st round, Cardinals), who provides power, OBP skills, a sound glove, and leadership. First baseman Jayce Boyd (6th round, Mets) can field and hit for average but doesn't have classic first base power. RHP Robert Benincasa (7th round, Nationals) is the key reliever due to sharp command of a low-90s fastball and slider. Third baseman Devon Travis (13th round, Tigers), infielder Sherman Johnson (14th round, Angels), RHP Hunter Scantling (14th round, Tigers) and infielder Justin Gonzalez (27th round, Dodgers) all project as solid organization players. Gonzalez has the best tools but is also the most erratic. Keep an eye on RHP Mike Compton and LHP Brandon Leibrandt (son of Charlie), impressive command pitchers who will be eligible for the draft in 2014.
Kent State Golden Flashes: This club produced six 2012 draft picks, led by southpaw starter David Starn (7th round, Braves), who doesn't throw hard but has superior command. Southpaw Ryan Clark (20th round, Astros) and RHP Ryan Bores (27th round, Rangers) help anchor the staff, with Bores an inning-eating control starter. Seniors Jimmy Rider (SS, 26th round, Pirates) and David Lyon (C, 34th round, Rangers) anchor the lineup, are sharp on defense, and should be sound organization players. Lyon has power, Rider has a reliable glove. RHP Tyler Skulina is a draft prospect for 2013.
South Carolina Gamecocks: Can South Carolina win three CWS titles in a row? Five players were drafted off the club, beginning with powerful first baseman Christian Walker (4th round, Orioles) and hard-throwing RHP closer Matt Price (7th round, also to the Orioles). OF Evan Marzilli (9th round, Diamondbacks) provides speed and defense. LHP Michael Roth (9th round, Angels) dominated college competition despite a low-80s fastball due to his amazing command. OF Adam Matthews (29th round, Reds) interested pro scouts despite a poor hitting record this year. Freshmen Joey Pankake (SS) and Tanner English (OF) will be watched for the draft in 2014.
Stony Brook Seawolves: Seven Seawolves were drafted last week, led by supplemental first round pick (by the Padres) Travis Jankowski, a speedy centerfielder with an excellent glove. Third round pick Patrick Cantwell (Rangers) is also a strong defender, while 11th round second baseman Max Tissenbaum (Padres) is a favorite of scouts due to his tremendous work ethic and feel for the game, even though his tools are just average. Third baseman William Carmona somehow fell to the 11th round (Phillies) despite a strong power bat, likely due to an erratic glove. The best arm belongs to RHP James Campbell (12th round, Dodgers), a hard-throwing reliever. The rest of the staff is anchored by Tyler Johnson (33rd round, Athletics), Jasvir Rakkar (26th round, Cubs), Brandon McNitt, Evan Stecko-Haley, and Frankie Vanderka, who make up in pitchability what they lack in pure stuff.
UCLA Bruins: Seven players were chosen off this club, led by outfielder Jeff Gelalich (1S-Reds) and his combination of power, speed, and improved approach. Veterans Beau Amaral (OF, 7th round, Reds) and Tyler Heineman (C, 8th round, Astros) impress scouts with their defensive ability but concerns about their bats kept them out of earlier rounds. Versatile C-INF Trevor Brown (10th round, Giants) could be a highly useful utility player. OF Cody Keefer (15th round, Marlins) hits for average but doesn't show enough power for a corner outfielder in pro ball. Closer Scott Griggs (RHP, 8th round, Dodgers) could zip through the minors if his command improves. RHP Eric Jaffe (11th round, White Sox) also throws hard but has an erratic track record. Three pitchers, RHP Adam Plutko, RHP Nicolas Vander Tuig, and RHP Zach Weiss should all be drafted in 2013, with Plutko projecting as a first-day choice.