The 2014 College World Series begins this Saturday, and there will be a ton of exciting games to watch as well as some terrific pitching prospects to keep an eye on.
Only eight teams remain, and they'll all be playing this weekend. There will be a lot of pressure to win their first games, but the good news is that their postseason hopes will still be alive if they lose since this is a double-elimination tournament.
Before the tournament begins, let's take a look at the viewing information for the entire College World Series, followed by a breakdown of some of the top pitching prospects to watch for.
|College World Series Schedule|
|June 14||3 p.m.||ESPN 2||UC Irvine vs. Texas|
|June 14||8 p.m.||ESPN 2||Louisville vs. Vanderbilt|
|June 15||3 p.m.||ESPN 2||Texas Tech vs. TCU|
|June 15||8 p.m.||ESPN 2||Virginia vs. Ole Miss|
|June 16||3 p.m.||ESPN 2||Game 5|
|June 16||8 p.m.||ESPN 2||Game 6|
|June 17||3 p.m.||ESPN 2||Game 7|
|June 17||8 p.m.||ESPN||Game 8|
|June 18||8 p.m.||ESPN||Game 9|
|June 19||8 p.m.||ESPN||Game 10|
|June 20||3 p.m.||ESPNU||Game 11|
|June 20||8 p.m.||ESPN||Game 12|
|June 21||3 p.m.||ESPN2||Game 13*|
|June 21||8 p.m.||ESPN||Game 14*|
|June 23||8 p.m.||ESPN||CWS Finals: Game 1|
|June 24||8 p.m.||ESPN||CWS Finals: Game 2|
|June 25||8 p.m.||ESPN||CWS Finals: Game 3*|
Nick Burdi, RHP, Louisville
Few pitchers in the most recent MLB draft throw as hard as Louisville's Nick Burdi, and while he may not be a starter in the majors, he could be a thrilling reliever in the near future.
The Cardinals have gone 50-15 this season and have been able to shut down more than a few late-inning rallies thanks to Burdi. In 32.1 innings pitched this season, he's posted an ERA of just 0.56, striking out 57 batters and allowing just 24 total baserunners.
Few batters have been able to make solid contact on Burdi's fastball this season, as he arguably has the best heater of his draft class. The second-round pick has a fastball with plenty of life that can routinely touch triple digits. Along with the heater, he also has a strong slider.
Burdi was expected to go in the first round, and his slide to the second did not make him happy.
"They're getting one of the most determined people in the whole draft," Burdi told Jeff Greer of The Courier-Journal. "I'm not upset. I'm pissed now. I'm ready to play."
Bob Valvano of ESPN 680 believes that Burdi's stuff is so good that he'll be pitching in the majors this season.
With a fastball like Burdi's no one would be surprised if makes it into the Minnesota Twins bullpen by the end of the season.
Andrew Morales, RHP, UC Irvine
Few pitchers have been as dominant as Andrew Morales in college baseball this season, and that's a big part of why the St. Louis Cardinals drafted him in the second round.
Morales has been almost untouchable all year, posting a 1.53 ERA with an 11-2 record and 136 strikeouts in 129.2 innings pitched while holding opposing hitters to a .182 batting average. During his college career, he's almost never lost, posting an unreal 42-3 record.
As a right-handed pitcher, Morales doesn't have the ideal height at 6'0'' and the velocity on his fastball is only in the low-90s, but he has great control of his pitches and can constantly put balls in the strike zone.
Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA gave his take on Morales after the Cardinals drafted him.
While he may never become an ace, Morales has the potential to be in the starting rotation down the road. Right now, however, he's focused on leading his team to a national championship.
Tyler Beede, RHP, Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt's Tyler Beede was one of the first players taken in the 2014 MLB draft, going No. 14 overall to the San Francisco Giants. That's up seven spots from when he was drafted No. 21 overall by the Toronto Blue Jays back in 2011, and he'll be looking to move through the farm system quickly over the next couple of years.
In 2013, Beede had a 14-1 record with a 2.32 ERA and 103 strikeouts. Those numbers have dipped slightly this year, as he's gone just 8-7 with a 1.22 WHIP, 3.58 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 103 innings pitched. However, those slightly worse numbers don't mean that Beede isn't any less of a promising prospect.
At 6'4'' and 215 pounds, Beede looks like a major league starting pitcher. He has a smooth delivery with a mid-90s fastball, a plus curve and a plus-plus changeup. The pitches are all promising, but he must work on his inconsistent command before moving onto the majors.
Problems with command are fixable, and with the three pitches that Beede has in his arsenal, his upside is huge, as he could end up being yet another valuable starter in the rotation for the Giants in a few years.