College baseball 2023 preview – high groups, gamers, males’s school world collection picks
The school baseball season is totally underway and already displaying off. With high groups being upset this early and gamers placing on unbelievable performances, the season is bound to be an thrilling one.
So, simply how good is the SEC? And which gamers ought to we be following? Our school baseball analysts give their tackle the 2023 season and supply some early Men’s College World Series predictions.
Just how good is the SEC?
Chris Burke: The SEC is totally loaded once more this 12 months. LSU and Tennessee had been virtually everybody’s No. 1 and No. 2 to begin the 12 months and have not executed something to counsel they will not reside as much as that billing. What’s attention-grabbing is that whereas Ole Miss, Vandy and Arkansas have all proven the potential to be in that top-tier dialog as effectively, I feel perhaps the most probably disrupter is Florida. The Gators’ rotation options simply as a lot firepower as Tennessee’s and their offense seems to be simply as potent as LSU’s. Watch out, the Gators are again!
Kiley McDaniel: Somehow, even higher than it usually is. Given the attendance, services, cash and total expertise within the convention, it’s all the time beneath a microscope with critics attempting to decipher if the SEC resides as much as the sky-high expectations. This 12 months particularly, there is a bumper crop of top-of-the-draft abilities together with big-time flexing within the NIL and switch portal areas, making it so the hole to the next-best convention in on-field expertise is in keeping with the large benefit the SEC has in fan curiosity, attendance, services, recruiting and training expertise.
Ryan McGee: Like, tremendous good. We joke about “It just means more,” however the actuality is that it does. I used to be at LSU final month chatting with the entire Tigers’ transfers, guys like Thatcher Hurd from UCLA, joined by Paul Skenes from Air Force and Tommy White from NC State, actually good baseball applications. When I requested them why LSU, nobody talked about unhappiness at their earlier college or NIL, they talked about enjoying on the Box in entrance of 10,000 folks and hitting the highway to Ole Miss, South Carolina, Texas A&M and Hoover. There’s been a dedication to the game of baseball inside the convention that’s second to none, and through the switch portal period, that recruiting instrument — and the rosters — will solely get stronger.
Mike Rooney: If not for a foul popup that discovered grass, the SEC could be searching for a sixth straight nationwide championship in baseball in 2023. Here’s the actually scary half: that “streak” concerned 5 completely different SEC applications, and none of them is called Tennessee or LSU. The Vols’ rotation is a remake of the Braves’ well-known crew from the Nineties. And LSU sports activities a roster that will make the late George Steinbrenner blush. By the best way, the SEC West earned 4 of the eight spots in Omaha final June.
What different groups ought to we be following?
Burke: Outside of the SEC there are a variety of fascinating groups/storylines to observe. The Big 12 is all the time an uber-competitive league, and whereas it won’t be as top-heavy this 12 months, I nonetheless suppose it will be a captivating race with TCU and Oklahoma State showing to be the front-runners. Also, the race for the ACC might be brutal. Wake Forest has a lot juice in its lineup, Louisville seems to be like it’s prepared for the lengthy haul, Virginia Tech and North Carolina are actually offensive groups, however the crew I’ve my eye on is Link Jarrett’s Florida State Seminoles. They began the 12 months exterior the highest 25 and have already jumped to No. 16 on the heels of a highway collection win at TCU. I feel the Noles are right here to remain.
McDaniel: I come at this from a extra draft prospect-focused perspective. Wake Forest is fascinating because of the analytics-heavy method, and it is loaded in expertise this 12 months: Brock Wilken, Nick Kurtz, Rhett Lowder et al. Stanford can also be cresting in total expertise with Tommy Troy, Drew Bowser and Braden Montgomery main the best way. I’d additionally control Oklahoma State with returning two-way expertise Nolan McLean, switch righty Juaron Watts-Brown and center infield combo Roc Roggio and Marcus Smith.
McGee: How in regards to the far ends of Tobacco Road? Wake Forest is loaded. And in my humble opinion, East Carolina is the best school baseball program by no means to make it to the College World Series. Greenville is already a legendary social gathering city. If ECU lastly makes it to Omaha, there will not be sufficient rum in North Carolina to fulfill the Pirates devoted … or if they arrive up brief once more.
Rooney: Stanford owns probably the most proficient roster on the West Coast. Oklahoma State could be the most balanced crew within the Big 12. And on condition that an ACC squad has taken down the No. 1 crew within the nation prior to now two NCAA tournaments, we have to determine who’s going to win that league. Will or not it’s Wake Forest? Louisville? Florida State perhaps? If you want Cinderella groups, the highest of the WAC is excellent. Grand Canyon, Cal Baptist and Sam Houston State have made loud statements within the first two weeks of the season.
Who’s the participant with probably the most energy price watching?
Burke: Jac Caglianone — the faculty model of Shohei Ohtani — has dazzled to begin the season. “Cags” has an OPS north of 1.500 and eight homers with the bat, and 15 K’s in 11 IP in his two begins with a fastball that has topped at 99 mph. This dude is as proficient as any participant in America and is only a sophomore.
McDaniel: Back to the SEC, I’d control the Gators’ bash brothers, Wyatt Langford and Caglianone, together with LSU’s Dylan Crews and Ole Miss’ Kemp Alderman. Kurtz, Wilken, Bowser and McLean even have uncooked juice together with Clemson’s Caden Grice, Arizona’s Chase Davis and Miami’s Yohandy Morales. Oregon State freshman outfielder Gavin Turley is one with electrical bat velocity as effectively.
McGee: All Caglianone has executed is mash eight homers in 9 video games. That’s fairly good, proper? Oh, and he is additionally struck out 15 from the mound.
Two-way Florida sophomore Jac Caglianone has THREE dwelling runs in a sport he began!
4.2 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 Okay, 92 P
3-for-5, 3 HR, 5 RBI 🤯
— Farm To Fame (@FarmToFame_) February 26, 2023
Rooney: The phrase “power” presumes offense, however Caglianone affords two-way pop. He leads the nation with 8 HRs, and his fastball touches the higher 90s with stunning regularity. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound left-hander is school baseball’s greatest two-way expertise since Brendan McKay. If Caglianone continues this trajectory, you are taking a look at a sleeper candidate for the Golden Spikes award.
Who’s probably the most enjoyable participant we must be watching?
Burke: If you want the mix of world-class velocity, protection, energy and athleticism, then Vance Honeycutt is your man. On the heels of an All-American freshman season the place he posted 25 dwelling runs and 29 stolen bases, he is off to a strong begin with an OPS over 1.000 and already 6 SBs … oh and he is a “SportsCenter” Top 10 play ready to occur on protection.
McDaniel: Jurrangelo Cijntje at Mississippi State is a simple one right here as a real professional prospect switch-pitcher. I additionally suppose the 2 battles on the high of the draft — Crews and Langford for high school hitter, Chase Dollander (Tennessee) and Paul Skenes (LSU) for high school pitcher — might be a heavyweight slugfest. Tommy Hawke, Camden Minacci and Lowder at Wake Forest are all entertaining to observe for various causes.
McGee: When I used to be in Daytona for the five hundred over school baseball opening weekend, I made my annual sneak journey right down to Stetson to see the Hatters open the season. Remember the title Andrew Estrella, sophomore shortstop. I noticed him begin the 2023 season with a homer that hasn’t landed but and he has added 4 extra since … and he is the leadoff hitter! Dude has 38 whole bases in 9 video games. That sounds fairly enjoyable to me.
Rooney: Honeycutt is an apparent reply. He is a respectable candidate to guide the nation in dwelling runs. And stolen bases. And stolen dwelling runs in middle area. There is nothing Honeycutt cannot do on a baseball area. Rhett Rosevear of Southeastern Louisiana deserves point out as effectively. He led the nation in HBP final 12 months with 37. Through 9 video games in 2023, he has scored 15 runs … on simply two hits. His 13 walks and 10 HBP are carrying his .581 OBP. #WinningPlayer
What under-the-radar crew may make a shock run?
Burke: I already tipped my hand right here, it is Florida State. Jarrett is in Year 1 at his alma mater and is available in with a ton of momentum having led Notre Dame to the MCWS final 12 months. The roster has loads of expertise highlighted by the pitching workers and ace Jackson Baumeister. Combine that with Jarrett’s successful historical past and I feel the Noles may go from unranked to Omaha in Year 1 of their new teaching workers.
McDaniel: Virginia. The lineup is sneaky deep, headlined by potential first-rounders in Jake Gelof and Kyle Teel whereas freshmen righty Jack O’Connor and infielder Henry Godbout could also be adequate to push them into the elite tier by 12 months’s finish.
McGee: I have not stopped keeping track of the Grand Canyon Antelopes since they knocked off Tennessee over opening weekend. They misplaced their subsequent two to Michigan and Michigan State however have not misplaced since, together with a pair of wins over Ohio State. They host Arizona subsequent week earlier than starting the wacky WAC schedule, after which play each Arizona State and Arizona by the tip of March. In April they go to Texas Tech, host Oregon State, play Long Beach State. Give the Antelopes credit score, they ain’t scared.
Rooney: Iowa dealt with top-ranked LSU final weekend, beating the Tigers 12-4 within the Karbach Round Rock Classic. The Hawkeyes received 36 video games a 12 months in the past, together with successful 20 of their ultimate 27 video games. Skipper Rick Heller has enviable pitching depth and a high-end arm in right-hander Brody Brecht. Brecht, who touched 101 mph versus LSU, additionally occurs to be a scholarship extensive receiver on the Iowa soccer crew. If middle-of-the-order bats Keaton Anthony and Brennen Dorighi can create sufficient offense, it is a crew that might make an enormous run.
What’s your school world collection prediction?
Burke: Not going to exit on a limb with full Omaha predictions but, let’s get into convention play and see what occurs when the actual grind begins.
McDaniel: The greatest/most proficient crew virtually by no means makes it to the tip, so I’m tossing out LSU although the Tigers appear greatest on paper proper now. Florida is my choose, over Wake Forest.
McGee: LSU, Tennessee, Stanford, Wake Forest, East Carolina, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Arkansas.
Rooney: The quickest video games we have seen in current MCWS reminiscence. The pitch timer has been totally activated in school baseball in 2023. We’ve already seen a major enchancment within the tempo of play. We’ve additionally seen the legislation of unintended penalties, together with a game-ending strike penalty final weekend. The hope is that gamers and coaches will proceed to get acclimated to this new system. The strict enforcement of the pitch timer makes me nervous, and I used to be a naysayer. But if I’m being trustworthy, I have not minded it to this point.