College World Series: Players To Watch

There are two different perspectives from which to watch the College World Series. There is, of course, the important aspect of winning and losing. But, if you're a fan of Major League Baseball you will also be paying close attention to players recently drafted and even players who may figure prominently in the 2012 draft class. Here's a look at some players to keep an eye on this year in Omaha.

Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Texas
Few pitchers in recent years in college baseball have the big game pedigree that Jungmann has. And, for that very reason he could be one of the stars of the series. Jungmann will also soon be starring in the Milwaukee Brewers' organization. This is a young righty with front-of-the-rotation type upside, and well worth keeping an eye on over the next week.

Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt
Like Jungmann, Gray profiles as a potential fast mover at the professional level. And, he'll also serve as a major weapon for Vanderbilt to wield in Omaha. He's another college pitcher who has a legitimate history of pitching in big games. Gray has a knack for slowing the game down and succeeding without his best stuff in any given game. The 5-foot-11 right-hander is also a pitcher that soon after his College World Series stint figures to sign his professional contract with the Oakland A's very quickly. So, if you're looking to get one last that look at the Vandy star at the college level, this is probably it. In a matter of weeks he'll likely be bringing his 92-95 mph and plus breaking ball to the professional ranks.

Mike Zunino, C, Florida
If you'd like a glimpse of one of the best sophomores in the nation or one of the likely top picks in the 2012 draft, Zunino is your man. Regardless of draft year, Zunino is arguably the best and most dangerous hitter in Omaha. He's strong behind the dish and is an on field leader for the Gators. If he gets hot with the bat he's the type of talent that can carry a team for long stretches. Florida is stacked top to bottom but Zunino stands out in their galaxy of stars. And, if he continues to swing the bat the way he did this spring, he's a potential top-15 pick next June.

Danny Hultzen, LHP, Virginia
Hultzen, who was recently taken second overall by the Seattle Mariners in the draft, has some lofty bonus demands, and Virginia fans can at least hold out hope that this series won't be the last time they see their left-handed ace on a college mound. The reality is, however, that the Mariners taking Hultzen second overall is a pretty strong indication that they are confident in signing him. Hultzen, in a tournament loaded with elite pitchers, can stake the strongest claim for being the best of the bunch and his exploits may be enough to carry the Cavaliers to a national championship.

Michael Wacha, RHP, Texas A&M
Like Zunino, Wacha is not a 2011 draft prospect. But, he is one of the top players in the 2012 class, and this will be another big stage for him to showcase his skills. Wacha is the owner of a 91-94 mph fastball that reaches as high as 95-96 mph at times, and he's piled up an outstanding track record over the first two years of his college career. With junior ace John Stilson on the shelf, the Aggies are going to rely heavily on their sophomore star in Omaha. And, if you're thinking ahead to the 2012 draft, Wacha is an early favorite to be a top-20 pick in the first round come next June.

Levi Michael, SS, UNC
Omaha is seemingly going to be dominated by pitching in this College World Series, but Michael, the 30th overall pick of the 2011 draft, stands out as one of the elite bats. Michael is going to make a fantastic professional and fits the Minnesota Twins' mold exceptionally well, but for now he could be major key to the Tar Heels success in Omaha. He hits well against top notch pitching, and puts the ball in play consistently enough to play the little ball needed to win in tight games.

Grayson Garvin, LHP, Vanderbilt
No team in Omaha boasts the one-two punch that Vanderbilt has in Sonny Gray and Grayson Garvin. Garvin was taken 59th overall by the Tampa Bay Rays in this year's draft, and like Gray figures to move to pro baseball rather soon after Vanderbilt finishes up in Omaha. While he's not as overpowering as his right-handed teammate, Garvin has been just as effective at the collegiate level. And, having him backing up Gray could be the key to Vanderbilt going all the way in Omaha.

Jackie Bradley Jr., OF, South Carolina
Bradley is the wildcard of the entire College World Series. He's been working tirelessly to recover from a wrist injury he suffered in April and he may get back just in time. He's officially on the roster for the series and has recently started taking batting practice. Whether Bradley can come back and be a factor could make or break South Carolina's hopes. But, if you're the Boston Red Sox, who took Bradley in the compensation round in the draft, you just have to hold your breath and hope he hasn't rushed back. If he is in top form, however, he's potentially the most electrifying position player in the tournament, and he can make an impact in every aspect of the game.

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