The 2014 SEC baseball tournament kicks off on Tuesday and will feature a star-studded cast.
This year features plenty of strong teams, as eight of the 12 participants earned winning records in SEC play this season.
The Florida Gators come in with the conference's best record at 21-9 while the Georgia Bulldogs just squeezed in with an 11-18-1 record, and there's a plethora of talent in between.
Here's a look at the tournament's seeding:
|2||Ole Miss Rebels||19-11|
|4||South Carolina Gamecocks||18-12|
|5||Mississippi St. Bulldogs||18-12|
|8||Alabama Crimson Tide||15-14|
|10||Texas A&M Aggies||14-16|
Before the first contest gets underway, let's take a look at some of the most captivating and exciting players to watch throughout the tournament's duration.
Dansby Swanson, 2B, Vanderbilt
It wasn't smooth sailing for Swanson during his freshman campaign last season. After being marred by injuries, he only appeared in 11 games.
Well, he's certainly made up for lost time in 2014.
Swanson's been lights out this season, leading the Commodores with a .340 batting average while racking up three home runs and 30 RBI in 56 games.
The Gators, the tournament's best record-holders, have seen first hand what Swanson is capable of, according to a tweet from Kendall Rogers of PerfectGame.org:
Goodness gracious RT @CJonesScout: Leadoff hitter Dansby Swanson, in his second AB of inning, hits a 3RHR. Vandy leading Florida 8-0 in 1st— Kendall Rogers (@KendallRogersPG) May 10, 2014
Not only is Swanson an exciting and reliable hitter, but he has some defensive prowess as well.
This gem earned him a spot on SportsCenter's Top 10:
Be sure to keep a watchful eye on Swanson throughout the tournament.
Taylor Gushue, C, Florida
Gushue is simply a big-time slugger.
He leads the Gators with a .335 batting average, 67 hits, six home runs, 16 doubles, 46 RBI and a .505 slugging percentage. That's right, he tops the SEC's best team in each of those categories.
On Monday, Gushue was named SEC player of the week after a dazzling hot streak which led to a .615 batting average over his last four games, according to a tweet from Gator Baseball:
#Gators' Taylor Gushue was chosen as the SEC Player of the Week after hitting .615 and leading the Gators to the SEC Championship— Gator Baseball (@GatorZoneBB) May 19, 2014
He continues to ride that hot streak right into the SEC tournament.
Here's a good look at Gushue's sweet swing during one of his games in the Cape Cod Baseball League:
Expect him to be a big factor in the upcoming tournament.
A.J. Reed, P/1B, Kentucky
Reed is arguably the most polarizing player in the SEC tournament.
Not only is he a major threat as a hitter, but he can dish it from the mound as well.
In 2014, Reed leads the nation with an astonishing 23 home runs and 70 RBI. He's batting .359 and has a .788 slugging percentage as well. Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal tweeted about the separation from Reed and the rest of the pack:
UK's A.J. Reed enters postseason with 11 more HR, 15 more RBI than anyone in the SEC and just 0.0002 in batting average from Triple Crown.— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) May 19, 2014
Reed has also started 14 games on the mound this season and holds a 10-2 record, a 2.11 ERA and has struck out 66 batters.
On Sunday, he was named the SEC pitcher of the week and will start Kentucky's opening tournament game on Tuesday, according to a tweet from Kentucky Athletics:
We simply don't see that kind of versatility come around very often.
Reed has been garnering plenty of praise around the NCAA, as Tucker points out in this tweet:
Texas A&M's coach on UK's Reed: "I don’t think there’s any question as to who the National Player of the Year is. It’s A.J. Reed."— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) May 19, 2014
So, just how good is he?
Here's a look at his power, hitting his 22nd homer of the season:
Kentucky enters the tournament with a 14-16 record in SEC play; however, with Reed in the fold, the Wildcats can't be counted out.