The regional round of the NCAA Division I baseball tournament concluded Tuesday with Virginia beating Old Dominion. With the Draft being moved from June to July, big league teams scouted the 16 regional tournaments much more extensively than in the past, and several 2021 Draft prospects stood out with their performances over the weekend.
Niko Kavadas, 1B, Notre Dame (No. 139)
Kavadas powered Notre Dame to its first super regional appearance since 2002, going 6-for-10 with five homers, 13 RBIs and six walks in three games -- good for a .600/.750/2.100 slash line and Most Outstanding Player honors at the South Bend Regional. Kavadas is a one-tool player but his double-plus raw power from the left side of the plate really plays, as evidenced by his Fighting Irish-record 21 homers this season.
Dominic Keegan, 1B, Vanderbilt (No. 181)
What, you were expecting Jack Leiter or Kumar Rocker? Keegan was named Most Outstanding Player at the Nashville Regional after going 5-for-11 with three homers, seven RBIs and four walks in three contests. He didn't play much in his first two years at Vanderbilt, but he's the top hitter on this year's club (.374/.449/.697 with 14 homers) and may be able to handle a more challenging position than first base in pro ball.
Matt McLain, SS, UCLA (No. 12)
After getting off to a slow start, McLain got hot and then got hurt, missing a chunk of time with a thumb injury. Once thought to have the chance to be the first college bat taken, the injury made his status a bit more cloudy. He returned the weekend before regional play and then looked very much like a guy who could be the second college hitter selected (after Louisville’s Henry Davis), going 7-for-16 with four doubles and seven RBIs. His season is now over and he finished with a .333/.434/.579 line with nine homers and nine steals while continuing to show more aptitude at shortstop than many thought when he was a first-round pick coming out of high school.
Doug Nikhazy, LHP, Mississippi (No. 67)
Nikhazy has replaced injured Gunnar Hoglund as Mississippi's top starter and possibly could sneak into the first round. He struck out a school-record 16 in seven innings to beat Florida State in the winner's bracket final at the Oxford Regional, then came back in relief on one day's rest to get out of a bases-loaded jam and defeat Southern Mississippi in the clincher. A four-pitch lefty with good feel for his curveball and slider, he owns a 9-2 record with a 2.18 ERA, .179 opponent average and 114/27 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Aaron Zavala, OF, Oregon (unranked)
As the year progressed, Zavala has gone from a good college performer to an intriguing advanced bat to a guy who is considered the best hitter in the Pacific Northwest. It was more of the same as the Ducks weren’t able to advance from the Eugene Regional they hosted, as Zavala went 6-for-18, showing off a bit more power (one of the questions scouts have had about him) with two homers, two doubles and four RBIs. For the season, the Pac-12 Player of the Year hit .392/.525/.628 with nine homers and 11 steals and should make a nice jump onto the Draft rankings when we expand to a Top 250 in the near future.