MLB Draft Tracker 2012: SEC Studs Who Will Dominate at Next Level

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVJune 5, 2012

OMAHA, NE - JUNE 27:  Catcher Robert Beary #4 of the South Carolina Gamecocks makes the out against Mike Zunino #3 of the Florida Gators in the 9th inning during game 1 of the men's 2011 NCAA College Baseball World Series at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha on June 27, 2011 in Omaha, Nebraska.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Southeastern Conference has solidified itself as the top conference in college baseball in recent years after winning championship after championship. There's no shortage of studs from the SEC in the 2012 MLB draft. 

The SEC saw a few of its own names spring up early on the draft board, as two players from the conference were chosen in the first five picks. It closed out with a strong representation yet again in the draft.

It's unclear how long these players will be asked to work on their games in the farm system, but once they spring up in the league, they will be sure-fire contenders and will last in the league long enough to become household names. 

Let's take a look at the SEC players chosen in the MLB draft with the most upside that will dominate in the MLB. 

Mike Zunino, C, Florida, Drafted by Seattle Mariners

The 2011 SEC Player of the Year has had no shortage of high-quality competition in his years at Florida. His experience as the best player for years on a national powerhouse solidifies him as an obvious pick to become a great.

Top talent is a premium at the catcher position, as players tend to deteriorate athletically much quicker due to the nature of the position fielding-wise. 

Zunino ranks second on his Gators squad with a .316 batting average and is leading the Gators with 27 doubles, 18 home runs and 60 RBI. He helped Florida get back to a Super Regional this season and they remain strong national title contenders.

He'll be focusing on his play at Florida for now, but you can bet the program will notice Zunino for becoming the highest-drafted player in Florida history. 

Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU, Drafted by Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles have enjoyed a stellar start to their season, but the biggest news on Monday night won't be whether or not Baltimore pulled out a victory. It'll be that they stole arguably the best pitcher in this draft in Kevin Gausman despite the slim chances of landing him.

Gausman has had an incredible sophomore campaign with LSU, going 11-1 with a 2.72 ERA and 128 strikeouts in 16 games pitched. It's been a vast improvement from his 5-6 freshman season. 

He could've just as easily been picked with the top pick in the draft by the Astros, and it was rumored to be almost certain that he'd go in the top three picks. The Orioles luckily had Gausman fall in their lap and he could very well become the AL East's best pitcher in a few years.

Tyler Naquin, OF, Texas A&M, Drafted by Cleveland Indians

OK, so maybe Tyler Naquin isn't technically an SEC player, since the Aggies just now joined the conference and they've yet to play an SEC game. However, his potential is too ridiculously high to ignore as one of the best three "SEC" guys in this draft.

He's a pure hitter that's more focused on hitting in-the-park home runs than blasting them out of the ballpark. Any doubts about his power are lessened thanks to his great fielding and outstanding throwing arm. He's widely considered to have one of the best arms in the draft.

Whether or not Naquin becomes the power hitter that the Indians want him to be, he'll still find a way to contribute at a high level and be a solid piece to their team for a decade. 


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