The national spotlight doesn’t shine on college baseball the same way it does college football or college hoops. So, for many baseball fans, the first chance they will have – well, the first chance they will take – to watch the future stars of their favorite team is the College World Series, which is held annually in Omaha, in the Neb.
And that dynamic has changed a bit for the 2021 season. For the first time, the MLB draft is part of the All-Star festivities in July, pulled back from its normal location in early June. So instead of looking at the players your favorite team just drafted, fans will instead watch the players their teams might draft a few weeks later. CWS begins June 19; The MLB Draft kicks off July 11 in Denver, also featuring the First Round and Competitive Round A.
MORE: College World Series Format, Explained
Rounds 2-10 (and Competitive Balance B) are July 12, and Rounds 11-20 are July 13, All-Star Game Day.
Let’s take a look at the top draft prospects among the eight teams playing in Omaha, taken from Baseball America’s ranking of the top 500 draft prospects. Here are the 10 players in the top 100 on this list.
Jack Leiter, Vanderbilt
Baseball America Draft Prospect Ranking: 3
Should know: Once upon a time, Jack Leiter was best known as the son of former Big League pitcher – and current MLB network analyst – Al Leiter. Then he carved out a reputation for himself as one of the top preparation prospects ahead of the 2019 MLB Draft. His commitment to Vandy and his requests for bonuses scared the teams, and he was only chosen. when the Yankees took a flyer on him in the 20th round. He didn’t sign, of course. Then, along with Vandy, he quickly carved out a reputation as one of the best pitchers in college baseball. he had a 1.72 ERA in 15 2/3 innings in his freshman before the sport was shut down due to the pandemic. In 2021, Leiter has a 2.16 ERA with 156 strikeouts in 96 innings. Oh, and he’s a Pitching Ninja favorite, the so much fun twitter account which showcases the best pitchers in the sport, at almost every level.
Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt
Ranking of BA draft prospects: 5
Should know: The rocker is a Regular Ninja Pitching, too, and because it’s 2021 and it’s an article about why you should like watching potential draft picks happen at the College World Series, it seems important. As with Leiter, the appreciation for Rocker’s talent is increased with the help of the Ninja. Rocker came into play this season in the conversation for the 1-1 Draft, and he’s been very good again in 2021. In 17 starts, the big right-hander has 155 strikeouts against just 59 hits allowed in 106 innings.
Ty Madden, Texas
Ranking of BA draft prospects: 12
Should know: There’s nothing quite like a dominant pitcher performance in Omaha, and Madden is able to throw zeros on the set almost as consistently as Rocker and Leiter. He has 119 strikeouts in 100 2/3 innings. In the Super Regional against South Florida, Madden threw 6 2/3 frames scoreless, with nine strikeouts and just three hits allowed.
Will Bednar, State of Mississippi
Ranking of BA draft prospects: 38
Should know: Bednar’s super regional start wasn’t great, but the Bulldogs beat Notre Dame in a slugfest. For the year, his ERA stands at 3.53, with 113 strikeouts and just 20 walks in 74 innings. Fun fact: He’s the younger brother of David Bednar, the right-hander who had a solid season in the Pirates reliever box in 2021 (3.38 ERA, 12.0 K / 9 in 24 innings).
Andrew Abbott, Virginia
Ranking of BA draft prospects: 67
Should know: Abbot’s Virginia team is here because the other Cavaliers took over Abbot after his middling start against Dallas Baptist resulted in a 1-0 loss and series deficit in the best of three Super Regionals. But the Cavaliers rally did, and you can bet Abbott is willing to make amends. He’s had an exceptional season, posting 152 strikeouts in 100 2/3 innings. Oh, and Abbott might only be there because the 2020 MLB Draft was only five rounds; any normal-length draft and he would almost certainly have been picked high enough to convince him to start his professional career. These stories tend to play out well in Omaha.
Luca Tresh, State of North Carolina
Ranking of BA draft prospects: 75
Should know: This isn’t Jim Valvano’s Wolfpack, but absolutely no one expected NC State to oust Arkansas, the nation’s No.1 team. Especially after the Razorbacks won the series’ best-of-three game opener. But the Wolfpack shocked the college baseball world, thanks in part to Tresh, who went 2-on-4 with a home run in Game 2 to help his club upset. The power is clear – he’s hit 15 home runs this season – but his average has dropped over the season, to his current .240.
Zack Gelof, Virginia
Ranking of BA draft prospects: 79
Should know: Lots of power, and isn’t it fun to watch at the College World Series? It’s not quite like the ubiquitous ping of billowing bats at Rosenblatt Stadium years ago, but there’s still something special about the sound of a home run flying over the outfield fence on this scene. Gelof has nine this year, with 11 stolen bases as well.
Brendan Beck, Stanford
Ranking of BA draft prospects: 81
Should know: Beck has been a reliable part of Stanford’s rotation since his first season, accumulating year-to-year ERAs of 2.43, 3.63, 2.82 and 2.96. His strikeout count has skyrocketed during his senior season year; he finished with 128 in 100 1/3 innings. In the Super Regional against Texas Tech, he beat 13 in 7 1/3 innings, a game the Cardinal won 15-3.
Jose Torres, State of North Carolina
Ranking of BA draft prospects: 92
Should know: Do you want to talk about theater? Torres hit a solo home run in the ninth inning of a draw in a win-all contest against Arkansas No.1 in the Super Regional, with a College World Series spot on the line. was his third home run of the series. Wow. Wolfpack fans hope the same will be true in Omaha.
Isaiah Thomas, Vanderbilt
Ranking of BA draft prospects: 195
Should know: The numbers are impressive: 0.330 average, 13 homers, 12 goals stolen (in 12 chances). In the Regional’s decisive game against Georgia Tech, a game that lasted 11 innings, Thomas went 3 for 5, with a homerun, a double and five RBIs. This homer? A grand slam in the 11th. Slightly important, eh?