The 2013 MLB draft has come and gone, but amateur baseball fans everywhere are already tuning up for the 2014 draft. A great way to see some of the prospects who are likely to be drafted early is to watch the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
Although only five teams are remaining in the tournament, all of them have some players who will probably be a factor in next year's draft. Collegiate players must be in their junior year in order to be drafted, so they often have a pretty impressive track record heading into the draft.
Some of the top 2014 prospects still have an opportunity to improve their resume with big performances in the College World Series. Here are three players who are likely to do that and will ultimately be taken early in the 2014 MLB draft.
Carlos Rodon, LHP, NC State
Had NC State pitcher Carlos Rodon been eligible for the 2013 draft, it's certainly possible that he could have unseated Mark Appel as the No. 1 overall selection. The 6'3" southpaw has to wait until next season to enter the professional ranks, however. Rodon was drafted in the 16th round by the Milwaukee Brewers out of high school, but he decided to attend college. That was clearly a fantastic and lucrative decision on Rodon's part.
Rodon's numbers through two seasons are absolutely unreal. He posted a 9-0 mark with a 1.57 ERA and 135 strikeouts in less than 115 innings as a freshman. Rodon's ERA has risen to 3.04 this season, but the peripherals are still impressive, as he boasts a 10-2 record with 178 strikeouts in 127 innings. Rodon has also performed well on the College World Series stage, according to Aaron Fitt of Baseball America.
Rodon is a top prospect no matter how you slice it, but the fact he is a lefty makes him even more enticing. It's nearly impossible to find a left-handed pitcher with the top-flight stuff that Rodon possesses. Provided his strikeout rate is similar next season, and he improves slightly in other areas, it's tough to imagine anyone else being the top pick.
Michael Conforto, OF, Oregon State
Pitching has been the name of the game for the Oregon State Beavers for much of this season, but there is no way that they would be where they are without outfielder Michael Conforto. The sweet-swinging lefty has been Oregon State's offensive leader all season long as he leads with team with a .333 batting average, .453 on-base percentage and 11 home runs. Conforto is also second on the squad with 47 RBI, so he is the Beavers' offensive spark plug.
While there are definitely some players out there who fold in the big moments, Conforto has already proven that he doesn't fall into that category. Oregon State is two wins away from reaching the College World Series Finals and it is highly unlikely that they would have survived without the spectacular hitting of Conforto. The rising star leads all College World Series hitters in a number of key offensive categories, according to Jason Quick of The Oregonian.
Conforto is far from a perfect prospect, but he has already built a solid foundation. The next step for him includes adding a bit more power to the mix and polishing his defensive game as well. Not everyone can be a five-tool player, but if a prospect shows proficiency in all areas, the chances of him being taken early are obviously much higher. Conforto figures to be in the mix as a first-round pick in 2014.
Trea Turner, SS, NC State
MLB teams are constantly looking to improve up the middle as it is often said that championships are won that way. Shortstop has become a particularly important position, as they are expected to be great hitters in addition to great fielders. Due to the fact that good shortstops are at a premium, NC State's Trea Turner has to be considered a candidate for the No. 1 overall pick next year. Even if he is beaten out by Rodon, the odds are in Turner's favor when it comes to be being a top-five pick.
Like Rodon, Turner already looked like a seasoned veteran as a freshman last year. He hit .336 with five home runs and 43 RBI, but his most impressive attribute is his speed, as he swiped 57 bags in 61 chances. Turner hasn't run as much this season with 28 steals in 34 attempts, but he is hitting a blistering .373 and has improved markedly in the field as well.
According to Christopher Crawford of ESPN.com, an NL scouting director claims that the 2014 draft board starts with Turner and Rodon. A lot of things can obviously change over the next year, but neither Turner nor Rodon has done anything to suggest that they won't be very high picks. Turner has a chance to be something special, so he's definitely worth watching as the College World Series rolls on.
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