SEC College Baseball Draft Preview, Part 1

Bruce Thorson-US PRESSWIRE

This is less of a preview of how the teams will do (although as a college baseball fan, I'll be sure to give my two cents on that) and more of a highlight of each team's draft prospects for the fine folks of minor league ball to track during the 2014 season leading up to the MLB draft in June.

Notes: The numbers in parentheses next to each MLB draft prospect are where the player ranks on Matt Garrioch's Preseason Top 300 Draft Prospects list.

The brief scouting blurbs under each player are based on a combination of what I've gathered from Baseball America, and Scouting.com notes as well as my own personal notes of those I've seen play.

SEC East

1. South Carolina Gamecocks

Thoughts on the Gamecocks: I go to school here so my opinion is biased but...I'm buying into the deserved preseason hype of the Gamecocks. The team is strong up the middle with Greiner, Pankake, and English, and the rotation looks strong with Friday night starter Jordan Montgomery and Jack Wynkoop returning. Talented arms such as Evan Beal and freshman righty Wil Crowe could also make an impact this season.

MLB Draft Prospects

Grayson Greiner - C - 6'5", 220 - (53) - 2013 Stats: .298/.365/.424 with 4 HR, 24 BB, 28 K, in 205 at bats

Tall, athletic catcher carries a strong arm and potential to show more in game power in 2014; Bats and throws right-handed; Has late first round potential if power develops; Rated best catching draft prospect in the SEC by Baseball America for 2014.

Joey Pankake - 3B - 6'1", 200 - (73) - 2013 Stats: .311/.387/.496 with 11 HR, 29 BB, 29 K, in 238 at bats

Wiry strong build with a strong arm for third but questionable throwing accuracy at times from what I've seen; Bats and throws right-handed; Approach is disciplined and above average bat speed generates enough power upside for third base standards; Rated best third base prospect in SEC by Baseball America for 2014.

Tanner English - 5'9", 170 - CF (186) - 2013 Stats: .283/.381/.404 with 1 HR, 21 BB, 46 K, 9-15 SB, in 166 at bats

Slight build but athletic and above average defender in the outfield; Has plus speed which should be utilized more effectively on the basepaths; Bats and throws right-handed; Below average power upside; Potential mid round pick.

Others to watch: Jordan Montgomery - LHP, Evan Beal - RHP, Forrest Koumas - RHP

2. Florida Gators

2013 was a disappointing season for the Gators who were a questionable at large bid pick after hovering around .500 for most of the year. The Gators should rebound with several talented players coming back on offense. A healthy and productive season from Karsten Whitson could also get the Gators back over the 40 win mark.

MLB Draft Prospects

Karsten Whitson - 6'4", 225 - RHP (34) - 2013 Stats: DNP

The rare former top ten pick out of high school (Padres) that opted for college; Missed 2013 season due to a shoulder procedure; Fastball touches mid 90's and slider considered above average; If he returns to previous form, he has first round potential

Taylor Gushue - 6'2", 215 - C (172) - 2013 Stats: .269/.349/.417 with 5 HR, 22 BB, 41 K, in 216 at bats

Switch hitting catcher with average power potential from both sides; Approach could use some work and needs to make more consistent contact; Has a chance to stick at catcher longterm.

Casey Turgeon - 5'9", 165 - SS (177) - 2013 Stats: .268/.367/.360 with 5 HR, 31 BB, 26 K, 9-for-11 in SB, in 228 at bats

Bats left, throws right; Hits for decent power considering dimunitive size; Capable defender at shortstop; Works count well and reminds me of former Gator, Nolan Fontana.

Ryan Harris - 6'2", 210 - RHP (206) - 2013 Stats: 3.07 ERA, .247 AVG, 2.30 BB/9, 7.82 K/9, 2 HR allowed, 58.2 IP; (3.03 FIP)

Pitched exclusively in relief in 2013; Hard thrower that has touched mid 90's and has a decent curve; Max effort delivery suggests he'll remain in relief at next level.

Josh Tobias - 5'10", 205 - 3B (221) - 2013 Stats: .260/.341/.351 with 3 HR, 9 BB, 23 K, 6-for-9 in SB, in 154 at bats

Bats switch, throws right; Plays third base for Gators but may be able to handle second; Line drive aproach at the plate with average power potential.

3. Vanderbilt

Vanderbilt lost several key hitters from last year's lineup as well as Friday night starter Kevin Ziomek. The roster is still talented but very young with an influx of freshman coming in highlighted by Jordan Sheffield. Tyler Beede has a chance to be the best pitcher in the SEC but I don't forsee the Commodores approaching the level of SEC dominance they achieved in 2013.

MLB Draft Propsects

Tyler Beede - 6'4", 215 - RHP (5) - 2013 Stats: 14 - 1 record, 2.52 ERA, .187 AVG, 5.61 BB/9, 9.18 K/9, 3 HR allowed, 101 IP; (3.72 FIP)

Former Blue Jays 1st rounder has a chance to go top ten in June; Needs to sharpen command and control of premium arsenal; Rated top pitcher and best overall draft prospect in SEC by Baseball America for 2014.

Chris Harvey - 6'5", 215 - C (147) - 2013 Stats: .250/.328/.442 in 52 at bats

Should be in mix to take over starting catcher duties from departed Spencer Navin; Strong, athletic kid that "looks the part" but only hit .246 with 0 home runs in 130 Northwoods League at bats over the Summer; More potential than production at this point.

Adam Ravenelle - 6'2", 190 - RHP (227) - 2013 Stats: 3.18 ERA, .210 AVG, 8 BB, 9 K, in 17 IP

Talented arm with low 90's fastball that could see an increased role this year; Needs to sharpen command and control; Rated number 19 on BA's preseason Top 20 SEC draft prospects.

T.J. Pecoraro - 6'0", 170 -RHP (298) - 2013 Stats: 4 - 1 record, 5.97 ERA, .271 AVG, 3.63 BB/9, 3.89 K/9, 2 HR allowed, 34.2 IP; (4.55 FIP)

Struggled to pitch at 100% health during 2013 season; Solid arsenal highlighted by low 90's fastball and out pitch curveball; Showed flashes of potential in Hamptons Collegeiate league where BA rated him 4th best prospect; Could rate much higher on this list with a strong (and healthy) 2014 campaign.

Others: Steven Rice - LHP

4. Kentucky

Kentucky faded down the stretch in 2013 after starting out 22-6. I expect them to fare better this season if they can improve upon that sub-par team AVG of .255. They could have one of the better rotations in the SEC highlighted by Kyle Cody and A.J. Reed.

MLB Draft Prospects

A.J. Reed - 6'4", 240 - LHP/1B (60) - 2013 Stats: 2 - 8 record, 4.04 ERA, .301 AVG, 1.64 BB/9, 5.68 K/9, 6 HR allowed, 82.1 IP; (3.72 FIP)

Two-way talent that also batted .280 with 13 home runs as a first baseman for the Wildcats in 2013; Shows great control of an average three pitch mix; Some like him more as a 1B prospect with his intriguing power potential.

Austin Cousino - 5'10", 185 - CF (122) - 2013 Stats: .249/.383/.402 with 6 HR, 25 BB, 46 K, 14-for-15 in SB, in 209 at bats

Followed up impressive freshman season with middling sophomore campaign; Bats and throws left handed with average power potential; Plus defender in centerfield with above average running speed.

Chase Mullins - 6'9", 280 - LHP (137) - 2013 Stats: DNP

Sophomore was injured last season: Former 24th rounder out of high school by Rangers; Monstrous presence on the mound; Throws in the low 90's; Intriguing name to follow if he stays healthy.

5. Tennessee

All nine starters return to the lineup on this young and improving team that could be a sleeper to watch in the SEC East if the rotation performs better than expected.

MLB Draft Prospects

None - They are in full rebuild mode and the future looks promising for the Coach Dave Serrano as his son, right hander Kyle Serrano, should have an impact as soon as his freshman year and could be a first rounder in 2016.

6. Georgia

Georgia rode the caboose in the SEC East standings in 2013 and will likely be amongst the bottom three again. However, the future looks bright with new head coach Scott Stricklin, a master recruiter at Kent State who led the Golden Flashes to an Omaha appearance in 2012.

MLB Draft Prospects

Hunter Cole - 6'1", 195 - OF (296) - 2013 Stats: .303/.378/.436 with 4 HR, 27 BB, 50 K, in 211 at bats.

Good athlete that can run and throw well enough to handle center; Needs to make more consistent contact but flashes above average power; Potential mid round pick.

Others: Luke Crumley - RHP, Jared Walsh - LHP

7. Missouri

The Tigers bring up the rear. Their inaugural season in SEC play ended with a 5th place finish in the SEC East but I think Georgia and Tennessee will surpass them in 2014. Rob Zastrzyny is a key loss from last year's rotation but Brett Graves looks like an intriguing replacement.

MLB Draft Prospects

Brett Graves - 6'1", 190 - RHP (285) - 2013 Stats: 2 - 5 record, 3.80 ERA, 2.66 BB/9, 4.06 K/9, 9 HR allowed, in 71 IP; (4.96 FIP)

Not imposing but features fastball that can touch 94 MPH; Slider shows flashes above average but needs to work on changeup; Rated 6th best prosepct in NECBL by BA; Previously drafted by hometown Cardinals in 26th round.

Others: Keaton Steele - RHP

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