Florida's Mike Zunino is ready to prove that he is one of college baseball's elite players on a grand stage, but he's not alone. He and a few other players will be strutting their stuff as well.
The MLB Draft is on June 4th, so this may be a final peak at prospects before team's make a decision on who they will tab in the draft.
Zunino is without question the top catching prospect available, and you could argue he's the best overall. I fall short of endorsing him as the best overall prospect because he isn't a dominant defensive catcher.
He has only thrown out 19-of-64 runners attempting to steal against him. That's just under 30 percent, which is not a stellar rate, but Zunino can definitely swing the bat.
He is hitting .323, with 16 HR and 55 RBI in only 59 games. Because of his offensive prowess and throwing mediocrity he seems like a candidate to have his position changed to first base, but he has been lauded for his ability to handle a pitching staff.
Zunino figures to be a top five pick in the draft, and he'll be instrumental in the Gators' run at a title. His production at the plate is one of the most automatic things in college baseball today, and I expect to see nothing different in this tournament.
Here are some of the other top-notch players that will be in action.
Mark Appel - Stanford
Appel is considered one of the best pitching prospects in the nation. He could be selected in the top five as well in the MLB Draft, but first he will try to lead his Cardinal in the College Baseball Tournament.
Appel is 9-1 with 116 K in only 109 innings this year. He's sporting a filthy 2.37 ERA, and he'll likely go against Fresno State to open the tournament for Stanford.
The Bulldogs actually handed Appel his only loss of the season, but I believe he'll have his best stuff in this one, and he'll guide the Cardinal to victory.
Richie Shaffer - Clemson
Shaffer is the best power-hitting prospect in the draft in my opinion. He's 6'3" and 190 pounds now, and he'll fill out into one beast of a corner infielder before all is said and done. Shaffer has hit .339 with 10 HR and 46 RBI in 59 games this season.
His HR totals would probably be higher if it weren't for the walks. Teams have routinely pitched around Shaffer, and that will likely continue in the tournament.
He's drawn 58 walks so far this season, and that total will rise. His on-base percentage is .479 so it'll be up to his teammates to make opponents pay for pitching around Shaffer.
Either way he is helping his ball club with his presence.
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