The sports world may be a bit preoccupied with the NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Final and Women's World Cup at the moment, but there's also the matter of crowning a national champion in college baseball. And that means there are quite a few very talented players all gunning for the title you should be familiar with, as well.
Let's break down the biggest names and most talented players still competing in the tournament.
Dansby Swanson, SS, Vanderbilt
The top pick in this year's MLB draft by the Arizona Diamondback, shortstop Dansby Swanson, is arguably the top player remaining in the tournament.
Swanson, who converted to shortstop from second base this season, was the Most Outstanding Player at the College World Series, leading the Commodores to a title, and he is also a finalist for the Golden Spikes Award and Howser Trophy.
It's no wonder, after he hit .350 with 15 home runs and 16 stolen bases this season. He's a complete player who looks like a legitimate shortstop at the next level and has also proved the pressure of this tournament doesn't bother him one bit. Don't be surprised if he comes up clutch for Vanderbilt again.
Oh, and Vanderbilt also has first-round picks in pitchers Carson Fulmer (eighth overall) and Walker Buehler (24th) on the roster as well. The defending champs are stacked, folks.
Alex Bregman, SS, LSU
Everything you need to know about shortstop Alex Bregman—the No. 2 overall pick by the Houston Astros in this year's MLB draft—can probably be summed up in the following tweet by Brian McTaggart of MLB.com:
That's high praise in baseball parlance.
Bregman has backed it up on the field, however, hitting .312 with nine home runs, 49 RBI, 37 stolen bases and a .406 on-base percentage. He's a force in LSU's lineup and plays a pretty mean shortstop, too, making him one of the most well-rounded players in this tournament.
LSU has enough talent that it can overcome a Bregman slump. But if he's atop his game, it certainly makes an already tough Tigers side that much tougher to beat.
Andrew Benintendi, OF, Arkansas
All the No. 7 player in this year's MLB draft (Boston Red Sox) did this year was hit .380 with 19 home runs, 55 RBI and 23 stolen bases. Talk about a complete package.
Andrew Benintendi leads a talented Arkansas offense that can simply bash its way past opponents when it gets hot. And his power surge this year was somewhat unexpected, as the outfielder's game had previously been marked by his elite speed.
But a summer spent rehabbing injuries and hitting the weight room really added the ability to drive the ball to his game. One scout commented on his development as a sophomore to Alex Speier of the Boston Globe:
“I thought he could really hit and the power was the biggest thing I saw over the spring,” said [scout Chris Mears]. “His ability to use his lower half is really phenomenal. He’s got a really solid base. He generates a lot of power with everything he’s got in his body. It’s been impressive to see how far he’s hit the ball and who he’s hit off of.”
Speier gave his own opinion:
The long ball surge defined the 20-year-old as someone with an unusual combination of speed and power, a particularly noteworthy combination given that he can fly. Mears clocked Benintendi from home to first at 4.0 seconds – a plus time for a lefthander getting down the line, and an indication that he has the speed to make an impact both on the bases and in center field.
Benintendi is the type of player who can help a team win in a number of ways, and if he gets hot during the College World Series, Arkansas is going to be a tough out. The sky appears to be the limit for the sophomore, and all eyes will be on him during the remainder of this tournament.