College : : Story
Thursday, June 14, 2012

CWS: Prospects to watch

Patrick Ebert        
Photo: Perfect Game

The 2012 College World Series begins on Friday, June 15 in Omaha, Nebraska at TD Ameritrade Park.  While Kendall Rogers covers the college game like no one else, and will be in Omaha to bring you the latest news and notes from this year's event, we thought it would be worthwhile to breakdown the top prospects for each of the eight teams that have advanced.  Players that were drafted last week are noted at the top, followed by the top prospects in both the 2013 and 2014 draft classes.

2012 College world series top prospects / players to watch
ucla bruins

2012 Draft Picks (round - team):
Jeff Gelalich, OF (1S - Cincinnati Reds)
Beau Amaral, OF (7 - Cincinnati Reds)
Tyler Heineman, C (8 - Houston Astros)
Scott Griggs, RHP (8 - Los Angeles Dodgers)
Trevor Brown, C (10 - San Francisco Giants)
Eric Jaffe, RHP (11 - Chicago White Sox)
Cody Keefer, OF (15 - Miami Marlins)
Top 2013 Prospect(s):
Adam Plutko, RHP
Zach Weiss, RHP
Nicolas Vander Tuig, RHP
Top 2014 Prospect(s):
Kevin Kramer, 2B
UCLA hasn't missed a beat after graduating two premium arms to the professional ranks a year ago in the form of the No. 1 overall pick, Gerrit Cole, and the No. 3 selection, Trevor Bauer.  The Bruins have been defined by pitching under the guidance of Coach Savage, and this year's team was carried by a dominant bullpen where Scott Griggs saved 15 games in 35 appearances.  Sophomore right-hander Adam Plutko is the team's top pitching prospect, expected to go in the first round of next year's draft, and he too enjoyed a very strong year on the mound, leading the Bruins in wins with a 11-3 record while also pacing the starters in ERA (2.56).  Athletic outfielder Jeff Gelalich did a little bit of everything at the plate and on the field, leading the team in hitting (.365) and stolen bases (15) while hitting 11 of the team's 23 home runs.
stony brook seawolves

2012 Draft Picks (round - team):
Travis Jankowski, OF (1S - San Diego Padres)
Pat Cantwell, C (3 - Texas Rangers)
Maxx Tissenbaum, 2B (11 - San Diego Padres)
William Carmona, 3B (11 - Philadelphia Phillies)
James Campbell, RHP (12 - Los Angeles Dodgers)
Jasvir Rakkar, RHP (26 - Chicago Cubs)
Tyler Johnson, RHP (33 - Oakland Athletics)
Top 2013 Prospect(s):
Brandon McNitt, RHP
Top 2014 Prospect(s):
Cole Peragine, SS
Kevin Krause, C
With seven players drafted this year, it's not a big surprise that Stony Brook posted the most wins in school history, 52 and counting, and look to add to that count in Omaha after storming through the Miami regional and upsetting LSU in the Super Regionals.  The team's offense is led by Travis Jankowski, whose patience, speed and ability to put the ball in play serve him well in a leadoff role, and he plays Gold Glove caliber defense in center.  Cantwell is a natural leader behind the plate, while Carmona offers the most power in his swing and an equally strong arm from the hot corner.  None of the team's pitchers stand out for their velocity, but they all do a good job expanding the strike zone by working the outer half and changing speeds, particularly staff ace Tyler Johnson.  Freshman shortstop Cole Peragine is a name to watch moving forward.
arizona wildcats

2012 Draft Picks (round - team):
Alex Mejia, SS (4 - St. Louis Cardinals)
Rob Refsnyder, 2B (5 - New York Yankees)
Kurt Heyer, RHP (6 - St. Louis Cardinals)
Seth Mejias-Brean, 3B (8 - Cincinnati Reds)
Joey Rickard, OF (9 - Tampa Bay Rays)
Top 2013 Prospect(s):
Konner Wade, RHP
Johnny Field, OF
James Farris, RHP
Top 2014 Prospect(s):
Riley Moore, C
Matthew Troupe, RHP
Trent Gilbert, 2B
Daniel Schuknecht, C
Tyler Parmenter, SS
The Wildcats have a dynamic offense in which Mejia, Refsnyder, Mejias-Brean, Rickard and Field all hit .326 or better and combined for 57 of the team's 81 stolen bases.  Refsnyder is the best overall athlete of the bunch, with an intriguing combination of power and speed that led to him being taken in the fifth round by the Yankees.  Kurt Heyer anchored the starting staff, going 12-2 with a 2.28 ERA while throwing 138 innings and seven complete games in 17 starts.  While Heyer works more in the upper-80s to low-90s, sophomore Konner Wade has a power arm capable of generating mid-90s heat.  Freshman Matthew Troupe excelled as the team's closer, saving six games this spring, and could be inserted into a starting role next season.

florida State seminoles

2012 Draft Picks (round - team):
James Ramsey, OF (1 - St. Louis Cardinals)
Jayce Boyd, 1B (6 - New York Mets)
Robert Benincasa, RHP (7 - Washington Nationals)
Devon Travis, 3B (13 - Detroit Tigers)
Sherman Johnson, 2B/3B (14 - Los Angeles Angels)
Hunter Scantling, RHP (14 - Detroit Tigers)
Justin Gonzales, SS (27 - Los Angeles Dodgers)
Top 2013 Prospect(s):
Pete Miller, RHP
Top 2014 Prospect(s):
Brandon Leibrandt, LHP
Luke Weaver, RHP
Mario Amaral, C
Jose Brizuela, 3B/OF

Senior outfielder James Ramsey has been the heart and soul for the Seminoles the last four years, and proudly wears the Captain's "C" on his chest.  He is a vocal leader, and does everything well on the field, hitting .382 with 13 home runs and 11 stolen bases while playing flawless defense in center.  First baseman Jayce Boyd led the Seminoles in hitting with a .389 average, and projects to hit for more power than the four home runs he hit this year may suggest.  Scantling is a bid-bodied righty that has served in a variety of roles for the Seminoles the last few years, while Brandon Leibrandt, son of former big-league star Charlie, responded with a promising 8-2, 2.58 season after being thrust into a weekend starting role as a freshman.
florida gators

2012 Draft Picks (round - team):
Mike Zunino, C (1 - Seattle Mariners)
Brian Johnson, LHP (1 - Boston Red Sox)
Nolan Fontana, SS (2 - Houston Astros)
Steven Rodriguez, LHP (2 - Los Angeles Dodgers)
Austin Maddox, RHP (3 - Boston Red Sox)
Preston Tucker, OF/1B (7 - Houston Astros)
Hudson Randall, RHP (7 - Detroit Tigers)
Daniel Pigott, OF (9 - Cincinnati Reds)
Greg Larson, RHP (20 - Boston Red Sox)
Top 2013 Prospect(s):
Karsten Whitson, RHP
Jonathan Crawford, RHP
Zack Powers, 3B
Jeff Driskel, OF
Keenan Kish, RHP
Daniel Gibson, LHP
Top 2014 Prospect(s):
Taylor Gushue, C
Josh Tobias, 3B
Brandon Sedell, C
Ryan Harris, RHP
Casey Turgeon, 2B
Justin Shafer, OF
The Gators are loaded with pro talent, with a roster that resembles a big-league team more so than a college one when it comes to recognizable names at the college level. Catcher and team leader Mike Zunino followed up his 2011 SEC Player of the Year season by hitting .322 with 28 doubles and 19 home runs, which led to him being taken third overall by the Mariners.  Freshman Taylor Gushue, who filled in for Zunino at times this season behind the plate, could become the team's primary backstop next year, and offers similar, exciting power potential.  Austin Maddox continued his conversion to a pitcher only, saving 12 games for the Gators with a dynamic one-two fastball-slider punch.  Steven Rodriguez and Greg Larson gave the Gators two more bullpen arms that were solid all year long, while Hudson Randall, Brian Johnson and Jonathan Crawford solidified the starting staff.  Crawford's stuff is filthy, as is Karsten Whitson's, who is one of the favorites to go No. 1 overall next year.
south carolina gamecocks

2012 Draft Picks (round - team):
Christian Walker, 1B (4 - Baltimore Orioles)
Matt Price, RHP (7 - Baltimore Orioles)
Evan Marzilli, OF (8 - Arizona Diamondbacks)
Michael Roth, LHP (9 - Los Angeles Angels)
Adam Matthews, OF (29 - Cincinnati Reds)
Top 2013 Prospect(s):
Forrest Koumas, RHP
Top 2014 Prospect(s):
Tanner English, OF
Joey Pankake, 3B
Evan Beal, RHP
Grayson Greiner, C
Joel Seddon, RHP
T.J. Costen, IF/OF
The two-time defending College World Series champions, the Gamecocks' experience alone gives them an advantage over the seven other teams, which will go a long way for a team that has a very promising freshman class that will help define this team for the next 2-3 years.  Tanner English and Joey Pankake assumed everyday roles from the onset of the season, and responded well hitting .306 and .286 respectively.  First baseman Christian Walker was the Orioles' fourth round pick thanks to his .315-11-54 season, leading South Carolina in nearly every notable offensive category, and is the one player that hit the ball consistently hard last June in Omaha.  Michael Roth pitches in the low-80s, but exhibits excellent command and competitiveness, while Matt Price, who works in the low-90s with a solid slider, has been a rock in the bullpen in each of the last three seasons with 41 career saves.
Kent State golden flashes

2012 Draft Picks (round - team):
David Starn, LHP (7 - Atlanta Braves)
Ryan Clark, LHP (20 - Houston Astros)
Jimmy Rider, SS (26 - Pittsburgh Pirates)
Ryan Bores, RHP (27 - Texas Rangers)
David Lyon, C (34 - Texas Rangers)
Nick Hamilton, SS (35 - Cleveland Indians)
Top 2013 Prospect(s):
Tyler Skulina, RHP
Derek Toadvine, 2B
Top 2014 Prospect(s):
Brian Clark, LHP
Kent State gives this year's College World Series a pair of surprise participants to go along with Stony Brook, which is somewhat surprising since their 2011 roster was loaded with more pro talent, as evidenced by the five players drafted in the top 20 rounds a year ago.  Their weekend starting trio of David Starn, Ryan Bores and Tyler Skulina collectively went 31-8 with a 3.03 ERA.  Their bullpen is also strong, with a committee effort in which four different players made at least 19 appearances, and five different pitchers had at least two saves.  Catcher David Lyon led the team in home runs with 10, while shortstop Jimmy Rider had 29 doubles playing solid defense up the middle.
Arkansas razorbacks

2012 Draft Picks (round - team):
Matt Reynolds, 3B (2 - New York Mets)
Nolan Sanburn, RHP (2 - Oakland Athletics)
D.J. Baxendale, RHP (10 - Minnesota Twins)
Tim Carver, SS (19 - Philadelphia Phillies)
Sam Bates, 1B (28 - Kansas City Royals)
Randall Fant, LHP (29 - Cleveland Indians)
Derrick Bleeker, OF (37 - Baltimore Orioles)
Jacob Morris, OF (37 - Cleveland Indians)
Top 2013 Prospect(s):
Ryne Stanek, RHP
Dominic Ficociello, 1B/3B
Barrett Astin, RHP
Brandon Moore, RHP
Jake Wise, C
Top 2014 Prospect(s):
Brian Anderson, SS
Conor Costello, OF
Joe Serrano, SS
Mark Reyes, LHP
Third baseman Matt Reynolds led the Razorbacks in nearly every offensive category by hitting .338-7-43 while swiping 15 bases and playing solid defense at third.  He could be groomed as a second baseman at the next level, and shows a solid approach with a quick bat at the plate.  Sophomore corner infielder Dominic Ficociello has the more promising offensive upside, and could slide from first over to third next year assuming Reynolds signs with the Mets.  Ryne Stanek, who owns a mid- to upper-90s fastball and nasty slider, put his name in the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick in 2013 with a strong season, while D.J. Baxendale and Randall Fant assumed the other two critical weekend starting roles.
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