Draft prospects impress as regionals begin

June 5th, 2021

The NCAA Tournament kicked off Friday and several top Draft prospects are looking to boost their stock one final time before Omaha. Here’s a look at who impressed on the opening night of regionals:

RHP Kumar Rocker (MLB.com No. 5), Vanderbilt
Rocker showed once again why he is a consensus top-10 pick in the 2021 Draft. The big right-hander struck out nine in seven shutout innings for the Commodores, throwing 60 of his 97 pitches for strikes as Vanderbilt took down Presbyterian 10-0. Rocker allowed just two hits and walked two in his stellar performance.

OF Christian Franklin (MLB.com No. 46), Arkansas
Arkansas had a little scare from NJIT on Friday, as the Highlanders hung three runs on the top-ranked Razorbacks to take an early 3-0 lead. Then the bats, led by Franklin, came to life for the Hogs. Franklin went 3-for-5 on the day, slugging a game-tying homer in the bottom of the fourth inning and scoring twice. Franklin also made a terrific catch in center field that saved at least a run in the top of the fourth to swing the momentum the Razorback's way.

LHP Rodney Boone (MLB.com No. 186), UC Santa Barbara
Boone had Oklahoma State hitters looking silly as he led UC Santa Barbara to an upset win to open the Tucson regional. The southpaw struck out 11 in 7 1/3 innings pitched, his third straight start with at least 11 strikeouts. He dominated the zone as well, throwing 83 of his 118 pitches for strikes. Boone surrendered four runs (three earned) and seven hits, but UCSB scored 14 to back their starter up.

C Matheu Nelson (MLB.com No. 90), Florida State
The Seminole catcher launched his 23rd home run of the season and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Nelson slapped a two-run shot in the eighth inning to extend a one-run FSU lead over Southern Mississippi to 5-2, a score that held until the end. Nelson broke a tie with South Carolina’s Wes Clarke at the top of the NCAA home run leaderboard in the process.

SS Matt McClain (MLB.com No. 12), UCLA
The Bruins may have come up just short in their opening matchup against UNC, but Matt McLain did all he could to keep UCLA in it. The projected first-round pick went 2-for-3 on the night with a double, two RBIs and a run scored. It wasn’t enough though as 21st-ranked UCLA fell 5-4 to the Tar Heels.