The final eight teams in college baseball are officially heading to Omaha for the 2014 College World Series, and there are a few already-drafted MLB prospects to keep an eye on over the next couple of weeks.
The College World Series will officially begin on Saturday, as UC Irvine will take on Texas and Louisville will play Vanderbilt. There will be plenty of pressure heading into the first games, but it won't be the end of the world if the teams lose, as they'll have a chance to redeem themselves, thanks to the double-elimination format.
There's bound to be plenty of drama during the College World Series, but let's take a look at a few of the top MLB prospects in Omaha who have helped carry their teams up to this point.
Nick Burdi, RHP, Louisville
Selected No. 46 overall by the Minnesota Twins
Just because he wasn't drafted as early as he was expecting doesn't mean that Nick Burdi won't be an exciting relief pitcher one day in the majors.
The hard-throwing right-handed pitcher has been almost untouchable as Louisville's closer this season, posting an ERA of just 0.56 with 57 strikeouts and just 15 hits allowed in 27 appearances. With such a dominant year, Burdi was expecting to go late in the first round, but the fact he dropped obviously upset him.
"I said, 'Nick, for 22 years, I've been dealing with the draft. It's not an exact science,'" Louisville coach Dan McDonnell told Jeff Greer from The Courier-Journal. "I've told the kids for years not to let someone define who you are ... He has a right to be (pissed). He's gonna pitch in the big leagues this summer."
Greer's statement about Burdi pitching in the majors this summer might be accurate. He has arguably the most impressive fastball in the draft, which regularly hits triple digits and has plenty of life when heading to the plate. He also has a plus slider and a developing changeup, but his heater will get him to the majors in a hurry.
Kendall Rogers from Perfect Game USA watched Burdi pitch against Kennesaw State and was impressed by his fastball and slider.
Burdi won't be a starter in the majors, but with that fastball, he could be in the Minnesota Twins bullpen as early as this season.
Derek Fisher, OF, Virginia
Selected No. 37 overall by the Houston Astros
Left-handed outfielder Derek Fisher has been an intriguing prospect to scouts for a while now, and the Houston Astros decided to pull the trigger on him with the No. 37 overall pick.
In 38 games this season, Fisher has hit .285 with three home runs and 26 RBI. Those numbers aren't incredibly impressive, but keep in mind that Fisher plays in a pitcher-friendly stadium at Virginia and will have the chance to show off his bat more at the next level.
Fisher has solid size for a prospect at 6'3'' and 205 pounds, and he has a high ceiling. He doesn't have the raw power of someone like Kyle Schwarber, but he works the gaps and can crush some line drives into the outfield with regularity. Still, there's untapped power potential in his bat, thanks to quick bat speed and patience when at the plate.
Defensively, Fisher will probably be limited to left field. He's not a slow outfielder, but average arm strength and quick instincts will likely keep him from playing center or right. Overall, the potential is there for Fisher to be a great MLB player, but he'll need some time in the minors to fully develop.
Brandon Finnegan, LHP, TCU
Selected No. 17 overall by the Kansas City Royals
One of the best left-handed pitchers in the most recent MLB draft, there's a reason the Kansas City Royals took Brandon Finnegan in the first round, as he looks like he'll be a great starter once he hits the big leagues.
Finnegan has been dominant in 15 starts this season. Along with an ERA of just 2.07, Finnegan has gone 8-3 with 122 strikeouts and a WHIP of just 1.01 in 91.1 innings of work. What's even more impressive is that in 232 career innings with the Horned Frogs, he's given up just five home runs.
According to TCU director of athletics media relations Mark Cohen, Finnegan actually led the nation with 12 strikeouts per nine innings as of June 5.
Along with a solid, mid-90s fastball, Finnegan has a great slider and a developing changeup. He does a very nice job using those pitches and mixing speeds, but he's had issues at times commanding his pitches. That hasn't been the case as much recently, as he's continued to develop and become more comfortable with his pitches.
With as much power as Finnegan has behind his fastball, combined with a nasty slider, Finnegan looks like he'll be a part of the Royals rotation in the near future.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!