|CWS PREVIEW: BRACKET ONE |
|INDIANA HOOSIERS |
CWS APPEARANCES: First
KEY PLAYERS: The Hoosiers enter the College World Series with an extremely potent offensive lineup, hitting .305 on the season. For the Hoosiers, everything seems to start with hard-hitting catcher Kyle Schwarber, who's hitting an impressive .376 with 10 doubles, 18 homers and 54 RBIs, while fellow All-American Dustin DeMuth is hitting .389 with five homers and 41 RBIs. Meanwhile, designated hitter Scott Donley is hitting .361 with five homers and 58 RBIs, and first baseman Sam Travis is hitting .313 with 10 homers and 56 RBIs. I'd also keep an eye on shortstop Michael Basil, who has had some key hits the past couple of weeks, and who has 48 runners batted in this spring. From a pitching standpoint, the Hoosiers have an excellent ace pitcher in Aaron Slegers, who has an imposing 6-foot-10 frame and a 2.13 ERA in 97 innings. He also has struck out 54 and walked 15, while teams are hitting him at a .263 clip. Joey DeNato is a crafty pitcher who has a 2.76 ERA in 94 2/3 innings, while freshman talent Will Coursen-Carr has the ability to start or work out of the bullpen, showing a lot of mental toughness last weekend against FSU. Also keep an eye on talented relievers Ryan Halstead (2.40 ERA, 11 saves), Scott Effross (2.47 ERA, 62 IP) and Luke Harrison (2.82, 38.1 IP).
THEY CAN WIN THE TITLE IF: It'll be interesting to see how the Indiana offense matches up with TD Ameritrade Park. Though the Hoosiers aren't ultra powerful from top to bottom in their lineup, almost all of their key hitters have tallied impressive power numbers this spring. However, keep in mind that TDA plays very much in pitchers' favor, facing against the wind most of the time. The Hoosiers should be fine, but this is something to watch moving forward. Meanwhile, most importantly, the Hoosiers have some solid arms on the mound, but must play better defense. Poor defense kept FSU in the game in some big situations last weekend, and that can't continue in Omaha if IU wants to play and perhaps win the program's first national title.
PROSPECT WATCH: P Aaron Slegers (5th round, Minnesota) -- 3B Dustin DeMuth (8th round, Minnesota) -- P Ryan Halstead (26th round, Minnesota)
| LOUISVILLE CARDINALS |
CWS APPEARANCES: 2
KEY PLAYERS: The Cardinals play a high-octane style of offense that puts much pressure on opposing defenses, and that might just be something that leads to success in Omaha. The Cardinals hope to have Nick Ratajczak back from a shoulder injury, while reliever Joe Filomeno is listed day-to-day after being removed from last weekend's game against Vanderbilt because of an injury. From an offensive standpoint, UL is hitting .291 with hard-hitting Jeff Gardner leading the charge with a .335 with nine homers and 43 RBIs, while third baseman Ty Young has four homers, 57 RBIs and 26 stolen bases. Meanwhile, keep an eye on outfielder CoCo Johnson, who has eight homers 50 RBIs and 22 stolen bases, along with Cole Sturgeon and Sutton Whitting, who each are hitting well over .300 and have a combined 37 stolen bases. Last but not least, speedster Adam Engel might not have the best batting average, but he's a terror on the base-paths with 41 stolen bases. Pitching-wise, the Cardinals have a very stable weekend rotation with Chad Green and hard-throwing Dace Kime and Jeff Thompson leading the charge, while Nick Burdi, who can get his fastball up to 100, leads the bullpen. Cody Ege, who has appeared in 36 games and has a phenomenal 1.19 ERA in 30 1/3 innings is another talented arm to watch. UL is a very balanced club.
THEY CAN WIN THE TITLE IF: The Cardinals will have a chance to take the national title in Omaha if the offense meets expectations. UL plays much better offensively than its .291 batting average would indicate because of the way it moves around the bases and puts pressure on opposing teams. UL must execute that style of play flawlessly throughout the next week. Meanwhile, the Cards just need starting pitchers Chad Green, Dace Kime and Jeff Thompson to continue their impressive ways. Thompson was fantastic last weekend against VU, topping out at 93 with great location.
PROSPECT WATCH: P Dace Kime (3rd round, Cleveland) -- P Jeff Thompson (3rd round, Detroit) -- 3B Ty Young (7th round, Tampa Bay) -- OF CoCo Johnson (11th round, Miami) -- P Chad Green (11th round, Detroit) -- P Cody Ege (15th round, Texas) -- OF Adam Engel (19th round, White Sox)
| MISSISSIPPI STATE BULLDOGS |
CWS APPEARANCES: Nine
KEY PLAYERS: Mississippi State is one of the more intriguing teams to watch in this CWS for a good reason. The Bulldogs are playing an exceptional brand of baseball and showed very well last weekend against Virginia with some key hits, clutch pitching, and of course, great defense, led by middle infielders Adam Frazier and Brett Pirtle. From an offensive standpoint, it doesn't get much better than outfielder Hunter Renfroe, who's hitting .360 with 16 doubles, three triples, 15 homers and 61 RBIs. Meanwhile, Frazier is an outstanding overall player with a .359 average, while Alex Detz is hitting .323 and Wes Rea is a very intriguing bat to watch. Rea has really progressed well offensively this season, and especially in the past few weeks. Rea has a .288 average, seven homers and 37 RBIs. MSU is most impressive on the mound, where it doesn't necessarily have an elite weekend rotation, but top-to-bottom it doesn't get any better. Right-hander Kendall Graveman and left-hander Luis Pollorena are gritty and good starting pitchers, while in the bullpen, closer Jonathan Holder is outstanding with 18 saves and a 1.31 ERA in 48 innings. Holder seems to change the feeling of the game when he comes in with a hard-nosed and attacking approach. Also keep an eye on other talented arms such as Chad Girodo (1.38 ERA, 45.2 IP), Ross Mitchell (1.35 ERA, 86.2 IP), Ben Bracewell (1.48, 30.1 IP) and Myles Gentry (3.69, 31.2 IP), among others.
THEY CAN WIN THE TITLE IF: State made several outstanding defensive plays last weekend against Virginia, led by second baseman Brett Pirtle. MSU is a solid defensive club, from Frazier and Pirtle up the middle to ultra-athletic Hunter Renfroe in right field. But the Bulldogs will need to keep that level of play going this weekend to take home the program's first national title. Meanwhile, though the Bulldogs have hit the ball well the past few weeks, there have been times this season when the offense has gone into some lulls. Recent trends suggest the Bulldogs will show up to Omaha and continue to perform well at the plate, but it's certainly something to watch. Pitching-wise, this club is setup well with a unique ability to roll out 8-9 high quality arms.
PROSPECT WATCH: OF Hunter Renfroe (1st round, Padres), SS Adam Frazier (6th round, Pittsburgh) -- P Kendall Graveman (8th round, Toronto) -- P Chad Girodo (9th round, Toronto) -- P Evan Mitchell (13th round, Cincinnati) -- P Darryl Norris (22nd round, Detroit) -- P Luis Pollorena (23rd round, Texas)
| OREGON STATE |
CWS APPEARANCES: 5
KEY PLAYERS: Oregon State certainly wouldn't be classified as a potent offensive club, but this club is very opportunistic and typically takes advantage of big situations. With that said, the Beavers do possess a few very impressive bats, including All-American outfielder Michael Conforto, who's hitting .320 with 11 homers and 45 RBIs, while leading hitter Dylan Davis is hitting .343 with five homers and 58 RBIs. I'd also keep an eye on shortstop Tyler Smith, who's hitting .313, and second baseman Andy Petersen, who's hitting .329, while Danny Hayes has some pop in his bat with six homers and 39 RBIs. Where the Beavers excel the most is on the mound with starting pitchers Matt Boyd, Andrew Moore and Ben Wetzler leading the way. Boyd, Moore and Wetzler are all high pitchability guys who have had tremendous campaigns. Meanwhile, Tony Bryant (1.76, 30.2 IP) and Scott Schultz (2.03, 10 saves) are impressive arms, while freshman left-handed pitcher Max Engelbrekt, who reminds the OSU coaching staff of a younger Matt Boyd, should be back this weekend from back spasms.
THEY CAN WIN THE TITLE IF: The Beavers actually matchup pretty well with the rest of the CWS field. OSU has an outstanding weekend rotation, the best in the field of eight. The Beavers, though, really need to get Engelbrekt back in the mix this weekend. If not, that puts much pressure on Bryant and Schultz to take care of business. From an offensive standpoint, the Beavers have gotten key hits when needed the past few weeks, but more offensive production definitely is needed to capture the program's third national title.
PROSPECT WATCH: P Ben Wetzler (5th round, Philadelphia) -- P Matt Boyd (6th round, Toronto) -- SS Tyler Smith (8th round, Seattle) -- 1B Danny Hayes (13th round, Chicago White Sox) -- P Scott Schultz (17th round, Miami) -- P Dan Child (18th round, Philadelphia) -- C Jake Rodriguez (19th round, Houston)