The College World Series is back after a coronavirus-induced hiatus, and Vanderbilt will have the chance to defend its 2019 national title. The Commodores lead the eight teams in Omaha with seven players on MLB Pipeline's Draft Top 250 Prospects list, led by right-handers Jack Leiter and Kumar Rocker, both potential top-five picks. Rocker was named Most Outstanding Player at the 2019 CWS after winning both of his starts as a freshman.
All told, 25 members of the Draft Top 250 will play in an event that has sent scores of players to the big leagues, including past greats Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Barry Larkin, Mike Mussina, Mike Schmidt and Dave Winfield as well as current stars Trevor Bauer, Alex Bregman, Walker Buehler, Gerrit Cole and Buster Posey. Here's a breakdown of the best 2021 Draft prospects by team:
No. 2 national seed Texas (47-15)
Top 250 Prospects: Ty Madden, RHP (No. 9).
The Big 12 Conference pitcher of the year and the likely third college pitcher drafted after the two Vanderbilt aces, Madden owns a pair of plus pitches in his mid-90s fastball and mid-80s slider, and he throws plenty of strikes. The Longhorns have potential future first-rounders in slick-fielding shortstop Trey Faltine (2022) and projectable right-hander Tanner Witt (2023).
It's unclear which Volunteer will get drafted first: Ferguson, who has speed and versatility but struck out much more than expected this spring; Rucker, who could have average tools across the board; or Dallas, a short but gutty righty with a plus cutter. Outfielder Jordan Beck and right-hander Blade Tidwell could play themselves into 2022's first round if they continue to improve.
Leiter and Rocker rank 1-2 in NCAA Division I in strikeouts (156 for Leiter, 155 for Rocker) and should be the first two college arms drafted in July. Thomas' power/speed combo, Keegan's pop and Rodriguez's defense make them attractive to clubs in the first five rounds. Maldonado and Murphy are two of the best college relief prospects but not locks to sign as freshman-eligibles. The Commodores are loaded with future first-round candidates: shortstop Carter Young (2022); outfielder Enrique Bradfield and right-hander Patrick Reilly (2023); and righty Christian Little (2024).
Holgate has an intriguing left-handed bat with considerable raw power he’s still learning to tap into, though he has slugged .576 and hit .356 this year and is carrying an eight-game hit streak into Omaha. Boissiere gives the Wildcats another accomplished bat, one who has posted a .374/.456/.512 line this year and went 10-for-15 in their Super Regional win against Ole Miss. Jacob Berry leads the team in homers (17) and RBIs (70) and should be a college bat worth tracking for the 2022 Draft. Silseth has struggled of late, giving up three runs on six hits over 4 2/3 innings against Ole Miss (though he struck out six), but has an intriguing four-pitch mix that can make him formidable when he’s in sync.
The younger brother of Pirates reliever David Bednar, Will could land in the first round thanks to one of the best combinations of stuff (mid-90s fastball, quality slider and curveball) and control in the college ranks. MacLeod is a lefty with a deceptive fastball and plus curveball, while Cerantola has better stuff than either of the Bulldogs' top two starters but rarely pitches because he hasn't harnessed it. A 23-year-old fourth-year junior, Allen is a polished hitter who leads the SEC with a .390 average and has worked hard to improve his speed and athleticism. Right-hander Landon Sims and catcher Logan Tanner both could be first-rounders a year from now.
No. 9 national seed Stanford (38-15)
Top 250 Prospects: Brendan Beck, RHP (No. 164).
Beck’s older brother is Tristan, a prospect with the Giants, and he followed his brother to Stanford. He’s an outstanding strike-thrower with a four-pitch mix who has an impressive 128/23 K/BB ratio this year. He’s coming off a 13-strikeout performance against Texas Tech in the Super Regional. Tim Tawa, who was the Most Outstanding Player at Stanford’s Regional, hitting .526 with three homers there, could be an interesting senior sign in the middle rounds of this Draft and Brock Jones, who has 16 homers this year, is one to watch in 2022.
Torres sent the Wolfpack to Omaha with a ninth-inning, Super-Regional-winning homer against No. 1-ranked Arkansas, and though he has deceptive pop, his glove is what could make him a top-50 pick. Tresh offers plus raw power and arm strength, while McDonough is a steadier hitter with solid speed and defensive versatility.
Abbott has convinced many scouts he can start, or at least deserves to be given the chance to, with a move to the rotation after spending most of his Virginia career as a reliever. He has a 152/30 K/BB ratio in 100 2/3 IP. Vasil has struggled of late and didn’t start in Super Regional play, but he did come in to help in relief. Once thought to be a first-round candidate, Gelof started very slowly, but has come on of late, bringing his season line to .298/.380/.472 with nine homers and 11 steals. Right-hander Nate Savino could be one of the better college arms in the ’22 class and Kyle Teel, the team’s best hitter this year (.320/.402/.518) should be a top bat in 2023.