The MLB Draft is just around the corner, and fans will get their first opportunity to see many of this year's top prospects in action this weekend when they take the field in NCAA Super Regionals.With the next crop of baseball talent on the verge of initiation into the professional
The MLB Draft is just around the corner, and fans will get their first opportunity to see many of this year's top prospects in action this weekend when they take the field in NCAA Super Regionals.
With the next crop of baseball talent on the verge of initiation into the professional ranks, a number of potential draftees will be preoccupied with their college programs vying for a trip to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb. The 2017 Draft will take place Monday-Wednesday, June 12-14, beginning with the Draft preview show on MLB Network and MLB.com at 6 p.m. Monday. MLB Network will broadcast the first 36 picks (Round 1 and Competitive Balance Round A), while MLB.com will stream all 75 picks on Day 1. MLB.com will also provide live pick-by-pick coverage of Rounds 3-10 on Day 2, starting at 1 p.m. ET. Then, Rounds 11-40 can be heard live on MLB.com on June 14, beginning at noon ET.
• 2017 MLB Draft: How to watch, what to watch for
Below is a look at the top prospects on display in each of the weekend's "Super 16" matchups, which begin Friday.
Kentucky at Louisville
Big names: This Super Regional between rivals Kentucky and Louisville is among the most star-studded in the tournament with seven players on MLB Pipeline's top 200 Draft prospects list, including No. 2 Brendan McKay. As a two-way player at Louisville, McKay rates among the best in the Draft as both a left-handed pitcher and a first baseman. It's not yet clear at which position clubs covet him most.
Others to watch: Third baseman Drew Ellis (No. 61) is the second-highest rated player on a stacked Cardinals squad that's likely to see several infielders drafted in the first few rounds, including McKay and shortstop Devin Hairston (131). Louisville's pitching staff is also well-represented with right-hander Riley Thompson (165), a rare freshman-eligible player, and righty Lincoln Henzman (163), who tied for the NCAA lead in saves with 16 entering the regional playoffs. Cardinals catcher Colby Fitch (146) backed up Dodgers 2016 first-rounder Will Smith for two seasons before taking over behind the plate and garnering attention for his left-handed power this year. On the Kentucky side, right-hander Zach Pop (95) was Canada's top high school pitching prospect in 2014, but opted not to sign with the Blue Jays as a 23rd-rounder.
Vanderbilt at Oregon State
Big names: Vanderbilt boasts two top 10 prospects on its roster -- right-hander Kyle Wright (No. 3) and outfielder Jeren Kendall (6). Wright, a potential No. 1 pick, is slated to be the latest in a long line of Commodore hurlers to come off the board in the first round. Kendall, meanwhile, also rates among this year's top college prospects as a versatile outfielder. The 21-year-old junior set a career high with 15 home runs entering tournament play.
Others to watch: Oregon State's top-rated prospect is hard-throwing right-hander Jake Thompson (71). First baseman KJ Harrison (76), who was selected late in the 2014 Draft as a catcher, is another player worth keeping an eye on for the Beavers. Third baseman Will Toffey (197) was one of Vanderbilt's best hitters this season, leading the Southeastern Conference in walks and ranking second in on-base percentage.
Wake Forest at Florida
Big names: Much of the attention in this matchup will be centered on Florida right-hander Alex Faedo (No. 11). After a slow start to the year, Faedo has resurfaced in top 10 conversations this Draft season.
Others to watch: Wake Forest outfielder Stuart Fairchild (57) is a power hitter and a speed threat likely to land in the early rounds of the Draft. His teammate, right-hander Griffin Roberts (178), warrants attention as the Demon Deacons' closer. For the Gators, shortstop Dalton Guthrie (141), the son of former big leaguer Mark Guthrie, has flashed significant offensive potential. Florida catchers JJ Schwarz (172) and Mike Rivera (173) are highly regarded, Schwarz more for his bat, and Rivera his defense.
Missouri State at TCU
Big names: Missouri State third baseman Jake Burger (No. 16) has been among the biggest college stars this season, winning Missouri Valley Conference player of the year honors this spring after leading the league in the Triple Crown categories (.341-22-63).
Davidson at Texas A&M
Big names: Right-handed reliever Corbin Martin (No. 32) could sneak into the first round out of Texas A&M. His fastball can touch 98 mph, generally operating in the 91-95 range as a starter, and he touts a nasty curve.
Others to watch: Righty Brigham Hill (160) is the Aggies' No. 1 starter and has been among the best hurlers in the Southeastern Conference this spring.
Mississippi State at LSU
Big names: Mississippi State first baseman Brent Rooker (No. 50) broke out with 11 home runs as a sophomore and has slugged his way into the top rounds of the Draft. The 2017 SEC player of the year led the NCAA in doubles (20), slugging (.858) and OPS (1.371) entering the postseason.
Others to watch: Rooker's teammate Jake Mangum (102), is the Bulldogs' leadoff hitter. The switch-hitter projects as a center fielder, but has a strong arm that would likely allow him to play anywhere in the outfield.
Sam Houston State at Florida State
Big names: The Seminoles' Taylor Walls (No. 85) is the program's highest-rated shortstop since Stephen Drew went No. 15 to the D-backs in 2004. Third baseman Dylan Busby (186) led Florida State with 13 home runs this spring, and could see his name called in the first five rounds next week.
Cal State Fullerton at Long Beach State
Cal State Fullerton's Connor Seabold (No. 189) is the lone player from either of these schools to crack the top 200. The right-hander saw his velocity spike late in the year from 88-90 mph to the 92-94 range, and he could have a high ceiling in the pros.
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.