Coach: Mike Bianco (14th season)
CWS appearances: Fifth
Drafted prospects: RHP Chris Ellis (3rd round, LAA Angels), OF Auston Bousfield (5th round, San Diego), 3B Austin Anderson (9th round, Baltimore), RHP Josh Laxer (9th round, Detroit), OF Braxton Lee (12th round, Tampa Bay), C Will Allen (13th round, Detroit), RHP Hawtin Buchanan (20th round, Seattle), RHP Aaron Greenwood (28th round, Houston), LHP Christian Trent (29th round, Los Angeles Dodgers),
Pound for pound, the Rebels have the best offense in this CWS field. The Rebels are just solid all the way around one thru nine and have plenty of table setters atop the lineup with Austin Bousfield and others leading the way. Sikes Orvis is a big-time power producer, while Austin Anderson and Will Allen are productive, experienced, bats. Preston Overbey had some big hits in last weekend's NCAA Super Regional series against Louisiana-Lafayette, while freshmen J.B. Woodman and Errol Robinson are capable of big showings, with Braxton Lee a very athletic player to watch.
I really like this Ole Miss weekend rotation. Yes, righthanded pitcher Chris Ellis had a tough start against ULL last weekend, mainly because of his faulty command, but he's still an elite arm who can sit 91-94 with two good secondary pitchers. Christian Trent is a talented lefty who showed an impressive ability to move down and elevate in the strike zone against the Cajuns last weekend, while veteran righty Sam Smith is just a guy who will battle his tail off and pound the strike zone in the process. Experience is aplenty with this talented trio of arms.
Here's arguably the most underrated aspect of this club. The Rebels have some very good options out of the bullpen entering the CWS. Scott Weathersby and Aaron Greenwood pound the zone and have been consistent the entire season, while hard-throwing Josh Laxer was dominant against ULL last weekend. Wyatt Short, Jeremy Massie, and others, also are worth watching in Omaha. Overall, I really like this group.
* NCAA tournament stats only
C Will Allen (.280 AVG, 2 2B, 3 RBIs)
1B Sikes Orvis (.333 AVG, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, .810 SLG%)
2B Preston Overbey (.412 AVG, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, .524 OBP)
SS Errol Robinson (.174 AVG, 3 RBIs, .208 OBP)
3B Austin Anderson (.348 AVG, 1 HR, 2 RBIs, .464 OBP)
LF Braxton Lee (.273 AVG, 2 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBIs)
CF Auston Bousfield (.346 AVG, 2 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, SB)
RF J.B. Woodman (.158 AVG, 1 2B, 3 RBIs, .261 OBP)
DH Colby Bortles (.385 AVG, 1 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBIs)
SP Chris Ellis (4.76 ERA, 11.1 IP, 10 K, 6 BB, .220 BAA)
SP Christian Trent (0.68 ERA, 13.1 IP, 13 K, 3 BB, .191 BAA)
SP Sam Smith (2.16 ERA, 8.1 IP, 5 K, 1 BB, .353 BAA)
CL/RHP Aaron Greenwood (1.93 ERA, 2 APPS, 4.2 IP, 6 K, 2 BB, .188 BAA)
Coach: Jim Schlossnagle (11th season)
CWS appearances: Two
Drafted prospects: LHP Brandon Finnegan (1st round, Kansas City), RHP Jordan Kipper (9th round, Angels), 1B Kevin Cron (14th round, Arizona), C Kyle Bacak (25th round, Washington), OF Jerrick Suiter (26th round, Pittsburgh), OF Cody Jones (38th round, Cleveland)
The Horned Frogs don't have a highly explosive offensive lineup, but certainly have the ability to score some runs. There's some versatility with this lineup, too. Catcher Kyle Bacak caught everyone's attention last weekend against Pepperdine by dropping down a squeeze bunt, while Dylan Fitzgerald and athletic Boomer White are consistent threats, with Fitzgerald having a little pop in his bat. The X-factor in this CWS could be first baseman Kevin Cron. Cron hasn't had a great campaign, but is hitting .296 in the postseason with an OBP over .400. Cron having a big showing in Omaha could be the difference for this offense.
What an outstanding collection of arms the Horned Frogs have in this College World Series. Lefthanded pitcher Brandon Finnegan has big-time stuff with a fastball anywhere from 92-95, along with a wipeout slider, while righthanded pitcher Preston Morrison just hammers the strike zone with immaculate command, and freshman lefty Tyler Alexander is a premium arm. Alexander will sit anywhere from 88-92 with his fastball, and has very good command of the zone as a young arm.
The Frogs haven't had to rely too much on their bullpen this season, but when they do, it usually ends with good results. TCU sophomore righthanded pitcher Riley Ferrell leads the pitching staff. Ferrell has a huge arm with a 95-98 fastball to go with an upper-80s slider, while Trey Teakell and Alex Young have made appearances in the postseason. Also keep an eye on Brian Trieglaff, Travis Evans and Jordan Kipper.
* NCAA tournament stats only
C Kyle Bacak (.333 AVG, 2 RBIs, .500 OBP)
1B Kevin Cron (.296 AVG, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, .406 OBP)
2B Garrett Crain (.308 AVG, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 SBs)
SS Keaton Jones (.296 AVG, 2 SBs)
3B Derek Odell (.167 AVG, 2 2B, 3 RBIs)
LF Boomer White (.258 AVG, 1 2B, 5 RBIs)
CF Cody Jones (.200 AVG, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 3 SBs)
RF Dylan Fitzgerald (.276 AVG, 2 2B, 2 RBIs)
DH Jerrick Suiter (.240 AVG, 3 RBIs, SB)
SP Brandon Finnegan (1.98 ERA, 13.2 IP, 19 K, 3 BB, .152 BAA)
SP Preston Morrison (1.93 ERA, 14 IP, 9 K, 5 BB, .174 BAA)
SP Tyler Alexander (3.00 ERA, 12 IP, 6 K, 1 BB, .267 BAA)
CL/RP Riley Ferrell (0.00 ERA, 4 APPS, 7.1 IP, 12 K, 3 BB, .050 BAA)
Coach: Tim Tadlock (2nd season)
CWS appearances: First
Drafted prospects: LHP Chris Sadberry (6th round, Miami), C Hunter Redman (8th round, Los Angeles Dodgers), SS Tim Proudfoot (21st round, Oakland), RHP Dominic Moreno (33rd round, St. Louis)
Anyone looking for a constant stream of fireworks from the Red Raiders in the offensive category might be disappointed in Omaha. Then again, perhaps the Red Raiders, after scoring two runs in two games against College of Charleston last weekend, will breakout in Omaha. Either way, despite some unimpressive offensive numbers in the postseason, Tech has some quality bats to watch. Eric Gutierrez and Tim Proudfoot are consistent and key leaders, while Adam Kirsch and Tyler Neslony both are guys with some pop in their bats. I'd also keep a very close eye on second baseman Bryant Burleson. Burleson is a seasoned player with a good skill set, and could be due for a big showing after hitting .043 in the first two rounds of the NCAA postseason.
The Red Raiders might not have any household names in the weekend rotation, but that doesn't mean anything. Lefthanded pitcher Chris Sadberry has been terrific in the postseason with two quality starts and even a relief appearance. Sadberry has a fastball anywhere from 89-92 with good overall stuff, while freshman Dylan Dusek has been terrific with no runs allowed in 13 innings. The Red Raiders didn't have to use a third starter last weekend against Charleston, but Cameron Smith and Ryan Moseley are both seasoned and talented arms capable of putting together a good start in Omaha.
Tech doesn't necessarily possess an overwhelming bullpen, but does have several quality arms to watch throughout the College World Series. For instance, Jonny Drozd has a big-time arm and a 2.00 ERA in 72 innings, while Cameron Smith and Ryan Moseley (if they don't start) can come out of the bullpen and give some quality innings. Corey Taylor, who has a 2.62 ERA in 20 appearances and 48 innings, is another good arm to watch after he stepped up in the Coral Gables Regional a couple of weeks ago. The good thing about Tech's bullpen? It's very fresh after last weekend.
* NCAA tournament stats only
C Hunter Redman (.176 AVG, .176 OBP)
1B Eric Gutierrez (.300 AVG, 3 2B, 2 RBIs, .333 OBP)
2B Bryant Burleson (.043 AVG, 1 2B, .120 OBP)
SS Tim Proudfoot (.353 AVG, 1 RBI, .476 OBP)
3B Ryan Long (.150 AVG, 1 RBI)
LF Tyler Neslony (.238 AVG, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 4 BB/3 K)
CF Devon Conley (.176 AVG, .263 OBP)
RF Stephen Smith (.200 AVG, .304 OBP)
DH Adam Kirsch (.294 AVG, 2 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBIs, .478 OBP)
SP Chris Sadberry (1.80 ERA, 15 IP, 13 K, 4 BB, .204 BAA)
SP Dylan Dusek (0.00 ERA, 13 IP, 5 K, 2 BB, .152 BAA)
SP Ryan Moseley (0.00 ERA, 6 IP, 6 K, 4 BB, .105 BAA)
CL/RP Jonny Drozd (1.00 ERA, 4 APPS, 9 IP, 4 K, 0 BB, .152 BAA)
Coach: Brian O'Connor (11th season)
CWS appearances: Three
Drafted prospects: RHP Nick Howard (1st round, Cincinnati), OF Derek Fisher (Compensation A, Houston), OF Mike Papi (Compensation A, Cleveland), OF Brandon Downes (7th round, Kansas City), SS Branden Cogswell (7th round, Oakland), RHP Artie Lewicki (8th round, Detroit), RHP Whit Mayberry (21st round, Detroit), C Nate Irving (34th round, Arizona)
Some would say we're giving the Cavaliers a generous grade considering what they've done most of the season, but consider this: Virginia is hitting .316 in the NCAA postseason, meaning it has gotten hot at exactly the right time. The Cavaliers have a talented lineup one through nine with first baseman Mike Papi leading the way with a .480 batting average. The athletic and talented outfielder trio of Derek Fisher, Joe McCarthy and Brandon Downes can make things go, while infielders Kenny Towns, Branden Cogswell and Daniel Pinero are capable of having strong showings in Omaha, with Towns stepping up in a big way against the Terps last weekend.
I really like the way the Cavaliers stack up from a starting pitching standpoint entering the weekend. Sophomore lefthanded pitcher Nathan Kirby is a premium arm with a fastball anywhere from 90-94 with good secondary stuff, while lefty Brandon Waddell will touch 90-92, but focuses strongly on his often plus changeup. Meanwhile, righthanded pitcher Josh Sborz caught my attention last weekend with a strong showing against Maryland. Sborz has a huge arm with a fastball up to 94-95, but command is an issue at times. It was not against the Terps last weekend.
You're going to get a mixed bag of feelings from me about the Virginia bullpen. For starters, the Cavaliers get a very high grade for simply having a shutdown closer in righthanded pitcher Nick Howard. Howard will touch 97-98 on the radar gun with a wipeout breaking ball, while Whit Mayberry is a quality, experienced, option, and Artie Lewicki can come out of the bullpen. Meanwhile, Austin Young and Connor Jones are other talented arms to watch. Coaches around the country are very open with the fact they feel very confident if you can get deep into the Virginia bullpen. Therefore, the Cavaliers must avoid that in Omaha.
* NCAA tournament stats only
C Robbie Coman (.143 AVG, .400 OBP)
1B Mike Papi (.480 AVG, 1 2B, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, .552 OBP)
2B Branden Cogswell (.269 AVG, 1 2B, 5 RBIs)
SS Daniel Pinero (.280 AVG, 1 2B, 2 RBIs)
3B Kenny Towns (.370 AVG, 1 2B, 1 3B, 7 RBIs, .393 OBP)
LF Derek Fisher (.292 AVG, 9 RBIs)
CF Brandon Downes (.364 AVG, 2 2B, 3 RBIs, .440 OBP)
RF Joe McCarthy (.304, 2 RBIs, .448 OBP)
DH John La Prise (.375, 3 RBIs, .423 OBP)
SP Nathan Kirby (3.55 ERA, 12.2 IP, 11 K, 3 BB, .190 BAA)
SP Brandon Waddell (2.19 ERA, 12.1 IP, 4 K, 2 BB, .286 BAA)
SP Josh Sborz (0.00 ERA, 7 IP, 9 K, 3 BB, .174 BAA)
CL/RP Nick Howard (0.00 ERA, 2 APPS, 2.1 IP, 1 K, 0 BB, .250 BAA)