College | Story | 6/14/2019

2019 College World Series Preview

Patrick Ebert         Mike Rooney        
Photo: Ethan Small (Kelly Donoho, Mississippi State Athletics)

CWS Set, Super Regional Recap | Rutschman named College POY
2019 College All-Americans | 2019 Freshman All-Americans

Bracket 1

Texas Tech vs. Michigan
Saturday, June 15, 1:00 p.m. CT

Arkansas vs. Florida State
Saturday, June 15, 6:00 p.m. CT

• The winners of the two games will play on Monday, June 17 at 6:00 p.m. CT.
• The losers of the two games will play in an elimination game on Monday, June 17 at 1:00 p.m. CT.

Preseason/Pre-Postseason rank in parenthesis

Texas Tech (5/11)

Preseason Prognostication:
“The Red Raiders are going to be fun to watch this year … their notable returners are highlighted by third baseman Josh Jung, who followed up a huge Freshman All-American season with national All-American campaign and a trip to Omaha. Gabe Holt hopes to follow in his footsteps after a Freshman All-American campaign of his own, while Cameron Warren and Brian Klein create further stability on the infield, and in the starting lineup. Caleb Kilian and John McMillon as expected to form a productive 1-2 punch at the top of the weekend rotation and overall Texas Tech should have no shortage of high-octane arms to throw at their opponents.

How They Got To Omaha:
Won the Lubbock Regional (3-0)
Won the Lubbock Super Regional (2-1)

Tim Tadlock brings the Red Raiders to Omaha for a remarkable fourth time in the last six seasons. This version of Texas Tech experienced significant choppiness, by their standards, early in the season but things changed when Tadlock moved first rounder Josh Jung to shortstop. This club does not offer a glaring weakness. The first six hitters in this lineup are as good as anyone in the country, however, Gabe Holt’s status is unknown as he fractured his thumb during Super Regional play. The rotation has been more than competent with freshman ace Micah Dallas showing maturity beyond his years and Bryce Bonnin overcoming below average command with an overwhelming power arsenal. Caleb Killian has been his normal steady self on the front end but this bullpen is a separator. Taylor Floyd, John McMillon, Dane Haveman, and Clayton Beeter offer a variety of looks and they can be dominant.

Draft Impact:
Players taken in the 2019 MLB Draft (round, team)

• Josh Jung (1, Rangers)
• Gabe Holt (7, Brewers)
• Caleb Kilian (8, Giants)
• Taylor Floyd (10, Brewers)
• John McMillon (11, Tigers)
• Caleb Freeman (15, White Sox)
• Cameron Warren (22, Reds)

Michigan (19/NR)

Preseason Prognostication:
“With more experience, the Wolverines return six regulars to the everyday lineup and two weekend starters. Juniors Tommy Henry, a lefthander, and Karl Kauffman, a righthander, had nearly identical seasons as sophomores … Jeff Criswell’s successful freshman year has him poised to take another weekend spot or possibly serve as a valuable long man out of the bullpen and making mid-week starts. Ako Thomas and Dominic Clementi will set the tone at the top of the batting order with Jordan Nwogu and Jesse Franklin poised to have big sophomore seasons as the team’s Nos. 3 and 4 hitters.”

How They Got To Omaha:
Won the Corvallis Regional (3-1)
Won the Los Angeles Super Regional (2-1)

The Wolverines were highly thought of in the preseason because of their success with a very young team in 2018. Unfortunately, lefthanders Ben Dragani and Steven Hajjar were soon to be lost for the year but the rotation of Tommy Henry, Karl Kauffmann and Jeff Criswell can go toe-to-toe with anyone. The lineup includes four individuals with 12 home runs and that group is led by a star-caliber player in Jordan Nwogu. The athleticism of this position player group is striking, and Michigan’s 98 stolen bases showcase that attribute. In the area of concerns, the bullpen has been inconsistent, and the Wolverines’ team defense has also wobbled at times. Most importantly, this team that didn’t win a series versus a Regional team all year and nearly went 0-2 in the Big Ten Tournament, has picked the perfect time to find the best version of itself.

Draft Impact:
Players taken in the 2019 MLB Draft (round, team)

• Tommy Henry (2, Diamondbacks)
• Karl Kauffmann (2, Rockies)
• Jordan Brewer (3, Astros)
• Mitchell Tyranski (12, Dodgers)
• Jack Weisenburger (20, Athletics)
• Indigo Diaz (27, Braves)
• Marty Bechina (32, Athletics)
• Jimmy Kerr (33, Tigers)

Arkansas (13/6)

Preseason Prognostication:
“For as good as (Casey) Martin and (Heston) Kjerstad are, Arkansas will need their returning upperclassmen to enjoy big seasons to help carry this team through the always-difficult SEC schedule. Outfielder Dominic Fletcher impacts the game with both his bat and his glove in center field, while Isaiah Campbell has the stuff to serve as the staff ace but with mixed results. Closer Matt Cronin brings some serious heat from the left side … lanky righty Jacob Kostyshock has the stuff to succeed in a swing role.”

How They Got To Omaha:
Won the Fayetteville Regional (3-0)
Won the Fayetteville Super Regional (2-1)

The Razorbacks have methodically returned to the scene of last year’s heartbreaking National Championship loss. The 2019 version of Arkansas has turned out to be much deeper than anticipated as role players Trevor Ezell, Jack Kenley, Casey Opitz, Jacob Nesbit, Matt Goodheart and Christian Franklin have been borderline star players at times. And high profiles stars Dominic Fletcher, Heston Kjerstad and Casey Martin all remain a threat to take over a game at any point. Isaiah Campbell has made the jump to true ace and his excellent performance in Omaha last year may have been the catalyst for that. One area of concern for Dave Van Horn would be the presence of two understandably inconsistent freshmen in the rotation. Patrick Wicklander and Connor Noland have had moments but both struggled in the Super Regional round. That said, the 2019 Razorbacks offer a deeper bullpen that last year’s.

Draft Impact:
Players taken in the 2019 MLB Draft (round, team)

• Dominic Fletcher (2, Diamondbacks)
• Isaiah Campbell (2, Mariners)
• Matt Cronin (4, Nationals)
• Jack Kenley (8, Tigers)
• Jacob Kostyshock (8, Rockies)
• Cody Scroggins (9, Red Sox)
• Zack Plunkett (20, Dodgers)

Florida State (14/NR)

Preseason Prognostication:
“Outside of Drew Mendoza – who could have a monster junior year after slugging 17 homers with 77 RBI over his first two seasons – the everyday lineup is going to look a lot different in 2019. Freshmen Nander De Sedas, catcher Matheu Nelson, outfielder Elijah Cabell and outfielder/designated hitter Robby Martin will enter the year as projected starters and arrive on campus with significant accolades for FSU’s fourth-ranked recruiting class. Like Mendoza, all four players can really swing the bat even if some (or even all) of them don’t hit the ground running.

How They Got To Omaha:
Won the Athens Regional (3-0)
Won the Baton Rouge Super Regional (2-0)

Speaking of teams who found themselves late in the season, Mike Martin’s Seminoles clearly saved the best for last. This group impressively ran roughshod over the Athens Regional with an assault of home runs. Veterans Reese Albert, Mike Salvatore and Drew Mendoza have carried the offense with former FSU Club Team member Tim Becker having been a really pleasant surprise in the bottom half of the order. While Drew Parrish has struggled during most of 2019, he did show signs of his old self at the end of the regular season. CJ Van Eyk on the other hand has blossomed into a top half of the first round candidate, showcasing a fastball that has touched 98 mph with an elite breaking ball. Defense has been a major challenge for this group and the Seminoles do start at least three true freshmen every day. That said, betting against Mike Martin is his final trip to Omaha feels foolish.

Draft Impact:
Players taken in the 2019 MLB Draft (round, team)

• Drew Mendoza (3, Nationals)
• JC Flowers (4, Pirates)
• Drew Parrish (8, Royals)
• Mike Salvatore (9, Mariners)

Bracket 2

Vanderbilt vs. Louisville
Sunday, June 16, 1:00 p.m. CT

Mississippi State vs. Auburn
Sunday, June 16, 6:30 p.m. CT

• The winners of the two games will play on Tuesday, June 18 at 6:00 p.m. CT.
• The losers of the two games will play in an elimination game on Tuesday, June 18 at 1:00 p.m. CT.

Preseason/Pre-Postseason rank in parenthesis

Vanderbilt (3/2)

Preseason Prognostication:
“It could be a special year for Vanderbilt, as it certainly seems as though the pieces are conveniently coming together for them to have a big year. Getting five seniors back – including weekend starter Patrick Raby and everyday hitters Ethan Paul, Stephen Scott and Julian Infante –  was huge for the Commodores, and their top prospect, JJ Bleday, is healthy heading into 2019 after missing significant time last year with a severely strained oblique. The team’s sophomore class already appears to be special, and the incoming freshmen, headlined by big-bodied flamerthrower Kumar Rocker, offers the next wave of impact talent.”

How They Got To Omaha:
Won the Nashville Regional (3-0)
Won the Nasvhille Super Regional (2-1)

Vanderbilt arrives in Omaha as the favorite to win it all as the No. 2 National Seed and a 54-11 overall record. Their lopsided loss to Duke on Friday in the Super Regional round was their first in nearly a month (May 11) and they’re 30-3 since their series loss to Georgia in Athens in early April. Kumar Rocker got the Commodores back on track Saturday, and then some, with his incredible 19-strikeout no-hit performance and their lineup 1-through-9 can score with anyone. Austin Martin and JJ Bleday have been especially dangerous at the top of the lineup and closer Tyler Brown is an underrated fixture at the back-end of the bullpen. Their defense and the bullpen’s ability to throw consistent strikes are their two weaknesses, but if their starters work deep into games and the offense puts runs on the board early and often this will be a difficult team to beat.

Draft Impact:
Players taken in the 2019 MLB Draft (round, team)

• JJ Bleday (1, Marlins)
• Drake Fellows (6, Padres)
• Philip Clarke (9, Blue Jays)
• Ethan Paul (9, Pirates)
• Stephen Scott (10, Red Sox)
• Zach King (13, Marlins)
• Jackson Gillis (13, Brewers)
• Joe Gobillot (16, Rays)
• AJ Franklin (17, Royals)
• Patrick Raby (17, Reds)
• Pat DeMarco (17, Yankees)
• Ty Duvall (25, Athletics)
• Julian Infante (36, Marlins)

Louisville (8/10)

Preseason Prognostication:
“Six of the nine projected starting regulars are juniors, with a senior and two sophomores sprinkled in, led by all-ACC first baseman and Preseason All-American Logan Wyatt. Wyatt is one of the nation’s premier run producers, driving in 69 a year ago behind 29 extra-base hits, 22 of which were doubles while nearly walking twice as much as he struck out (63 to 37). The rest of the infield looks strong as second baseman Lucas Dunn, shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald and third baseman Justin Lavey are all expected to take another step forward while mentoring the next wave of talent with a very strong freshman class waiting patiently to make their mark.”

How They Got To Omaha:
Won the Louisville Regional (4-1)
Won the Louisville Super Regional (2-0)

One win away from another 50-win season, Louisville has made winning look easy. Since mid-April they have series wins over NC State, Miami and Florida State. After eliminating both Indiana and Illinois State in Regional play they made quick work of East Carolina, outscoring the Pirates 26-1. The teams 1-6 hitters came up big in game one of the Super Regionals while the bottom of the order did their part to even things out in game two. Starting pitchers Reid Detmers moved to 12-4 on the year and Bobby Miller carried a no-hitter into the ninth, meaning the rest of the staff, including usual Saturday starter Nick Bennett and closer Michael McAvene, didn’t get much work. From top to bottom the Cardinals arrive in Omaha with one of the deepest, most complete rosters with a good blend of hitting, pitching and defense.

Draft Impact:
Players taken in the 2019 MLB Draft (round, team)

• Logan Wyatt (2, Giants)
• Michael McAvene (3, Cubs)
• Tyler Fitzgerald (4, Giants)
• Nick Bennett (6, Brewers)
• Bryan Hoeing (7, Marlins)
• Jake Snider (20, Pirates)
• Drew Campbell (23, Braves)
• Shay Smiddy (36, Rays)

Mississippi State (17/4)

Preseason Prognostication:
“Mississippi State’s season took quite a few turns in 2018, a season that ended with them advancing to the Final Four in Omaha. Much of the headlining talent is back for this year, including seven of nine starting regulars in the everyday lineup. The pitching staff looks to just as strong, as staff ace Ethan Small is one of the favorites for SEC Pitcher of the Year honors heading into the season after fanning 122 batters in just over 100 innings of work as a sophomore … freshman JT Ginn, the 30th overall pick from the 2018 draft, looked very strong in the fall and could make a loud, immediate impact.”

How They Got To Omaha:
Won the Starkville Regional (3-0)
Won the Starkville Super Regional (2-0)

Big offenses are a common theme in the 2019 College World Series and Mississippi State has a lineup full of firepower. From leadoff hitter Jake Mangum to Jordan Westburg, Justin Foscue, Elijah MacNamee and reigning Player of the Week Dustin Skelton, there’s not an easy out in their entire lineup. Getting Freshman of the Year JT Ginn back to the mound healthy will be huge for this team although SEC Pitcher of the Year Ethan Small and Peyton Plumlee more than held their own in the team’s two wins over Stanford in the Super Regional round. Setup man Jared Liebelt and closer Cole Gordon have formed quite the effective 1-2 punch at the back-end of games, allowing this team to squeeze out tight contests when they’re not simply out-scoring their opponents. If the Bulldogs stay in the winner’s bracket and give Small the opportunity to start three games in Omaha they have a real chance to emerge as champs.

Draft Impact:
Players taken in the 2019 MLB Draft (round, team)

• Ethan Small (1, Brewers)
• Jake Mangum (4, Mets)
• Colby White (6, Rays)
• Trysten Barlow (16, Rockies)
• Dustin Skelton (18, Marlins)
• Jared Liebelt (20, Diamondbacks)
• Keegan James (25, Rockies)
• Marshall Gilbert (29, Pirates)
• Peyton Plumlee (31, Astros)
• Cole Gordon (32, Mets)
• Tanner Allen (34, Rockies)

Auburn (15/NR)

Preseason Prognostication:
“…this this year’s roster will have no shortage of star players. Shortstop Will Holland is ready to make a bigger name for himself, coming off of a big sophomore campaign with exciting five-tool talents. Live-armed righthander Davis Daniel passed on the opportunity to go pro to return for his junior year of eligibility. Projected staff ace Tanner Burns, closer Cody Greenhill, outfielder Steven Williams and third baseman/designated hitter Edouard Julien were all Freshmen All-Americans that made significant contributions.”

How They Got To Omaha:
Won the Atlanta Regional (3-0)
Won the Chapel Hill Super Regional (2-1)

Auburn hit the road and took not one but two big series over ACC opponents in the Regional and Super Regional rounds. First it was Georgia Tech in Atlanta, and North Carolina in Chapel Hill came next, and this team had some big moments along the way, including scoring 13 runs in the first inning of their winner-take-all contest against the Tar Heels. Although the season-long numbers may not have shown it, Judd Ward, Conor Davis, Eduoard Julien and Steven Williams came up big at key points as the offense appears to be clicking at the perfect time. The pitching is a big question mark, and getting staff ace Tanner Burns back strong will be key to this team’s success should they continue to advance. Jack Owen has the moxie to provide a big game while Elliott Anderson and closer Cody Greenhill have each provided key, extended innings down the stretch.

Draft Impact:
Players taken in the 2019 MLB Draft (round, team)

• Will Holland (5, Twins)
• Davis Daniel (7, Angels)
• Eduoard Julien (18, Twins)
• Jack Owen (21, Cardinals)
• Elliott Anderson (23, Royals)

2019 College World Series Predictions

Mississippi State over Texas Tech
This would be the first National Championship for either program and these two teams are very similar in many ways. Both clubs bring a relentless offense to the party, and while Texas Tech offers more speed, the Bulldogs offer more raw power. With the recent performances of Peyton Plumlee, Mississippi State’s rotation now has depth to go with its star power in JT Ginn and Ethan Small. The bullpen is an area of strength for both teams with Texas Tech getting a slight edge for consistency. As it is very difficult to separate these two clubs, the injury to leadoff hitter extraordinaire Gabe Holt is significant for Tim Tadlock’s club and we’ll use that as the separator here.  – Mike Rooney

Texas Tech over Vanderbilt
You could legitimately make a case for each of the eight teams winning a national championship, making it especially difficult to predict this year. In watching the action the past two weekends I was especially impressed with Texas Tech and their absolute resolve to never back down. They had arguably the hardest-fought Super Regional series in taking down Oklahoma State, and while they don't have star power on their pitching staff, coach Tim Tadlock and his staff have done and excellent job balancing the roles to keep the arms fresh while playing the right matchups. Considering Tadlock and TTU have made it to Omaha four times in the last six years, including an appearance a year ago, they also have the experience of playing under the bright lights of TD Ameritrade. – Patrick Ebert

The full 2019 College World Series bracket can be viewed here.

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