SEC Baseball Tournament 2014: Breaking Down Most Exciting Players to Watch

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIMay 19, 2014

Kentucky's A.J. Reed pitches in the third inning of a 2-0 win over Mississippi in an NCAA college baseball game at the Southeastern Conference tournament in Hoover, Ala., Tuesday, May 22, 2012. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
Dave Martin/Associated Press

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:

2014 SEC Tournament Seedings
SeedTeamSEC Record
1Florida Gators21-9
2Ole Miss Rebels19-11
3LSU Tigers17-11-1
4South Carolina Gamecocks18-12
5Mississippi St. Bulldogs18-12
6Vanderbilt Commodores17-13
7Arkansas Razorbacks16-14
8Alabama Crimson Tide15-14
9Kentucky Wildcats14-16
10Texas A&M Aggies14-16
11Tennessee Volunteers12-18
12Georgia Bulldogs11-18-1

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:

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:

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:

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:

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.


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