With prospect-laden teams such as Oregon State, Tennessee, and Virginia Tech not making it to Omaha, this year’s College World Series doesn’t boast the usual cadre of future high-end major leaguers like most years. However, there will still be plenty of intriguing players on display at Charles Schwab Field starting on Friday, including Ole Miss SS Jacob Gonzalez, a guy who could very well go 1-01 next July. It’s also interesting to note just how representative this list is of the current state of pitching in the college game—following a season during which arguably the top six draft-eligible hurlers missed significant time due to injury, only four of the top 15 draft prospects appearing at CSF will be pitchers.
1) Jacob Gonzalez, SS, Ole Miss (Draft Class of 2023): Don’t be fooled by Gonzalez’ rather pedestrian .278 average in ’22. His K-rate was a sterling 10 percent while his BB-rate checked in at an equally impressive 17 percent. He also hit 17 HR and played a sparkling shortstop for the Rebels.
2) Brock Jones, OF, Stanford (2022): Jones, an athletic dynamo, was a likely top-10 pick headed into the spring, but an early slump caused him to drop on draft boards. Since then, he’s been on fire and hasn’t looked back. Despite persistent swing-and-miss issues, he profiles as a more physical Brett Gardner clone and should be taken near the end of Round 1.
3) Peyton Graham, SS/3B, Oklahoma (2022): Like Jones, contact issues will muddy Graham’s draft stock to an extent, but there’s no denying Graham’s athleticism or upside. He reached the coveted 20 HR/30 SB plateau this spring while playing a strong SS. He should also hear his name called before the 2nd round begins.
4) Cayden Wallace, 3B, Arkansas (2022): An age-eligible sophomore, Wallace has developed into a prototype third sacker. Not flashy, he projects to hit 20 homers annually and contribute solid defense. It’s worth noting that Wallace improved his SLG from .500 to .554 while lowering his K-rate from nearly 22 percent to a tick above 17 percent.
5) Braden Montgomery, OF/RHP, Stanford (2024): Montgomery moonlighted on the mound earlier in the season for the Cardinal, but his true calling is in the outfield. Though the Mississippi native still has work to do on his swing decisions and ability to make consistent contact (6 percent BB-rate vs near 27 percent K-rate), Montgomery’s power and arm have been evident since the day he arrived in Palo Alto.
6) Jack Moss, 1B, Texas A&M (2023): A transfer from ASU, Moss has a pretty left-handed swing that is more geared for average than power. This should change once Moss adds good weight to his 6-05/205 frame.
7) John Spikerman, OF, Oklahoma (2024): A multi-sport star in high school, Spikerman is still raw. The switch-hitter flashed all five tools during the course of ’22, going 12/14 in stolen bases and walking at an impressive 15 percent clip. A right fielder this spring, he should shift to the middle of the lawn in 2023.
8) Ivan Melendez, 1B, Texas (2022): The “Hispanic Titanic” has more power than anyone else in the nation, making cavernous Disch-Falk Field seem like a bandbox. But Melendez’ status as a 22-year-old R/R first baseman will hamper his draft status, making it unlikely he’ll come off the board within the first 50 picks.
9) Jake Bennett, LHP, Oklahoma (2022): A pitchability lefty, Bennett’s stuff won’t wow evaluators, but he has excellent control and command of three pitches. He was particularly adept at limiting the long ball, giving up just 6 in 104 IP in ’22.
10) Cade Horton, RHP, Oklahoma (2022): Don’t be deceived by Horton’s 5.58 ERA or 13 XBHs allowed in just 40 IP. This was the former two-way player’s first season back after Tommy John surgery, and he just needs more repetitions before he can harness his electric repertoire.
11) Carter Graham, 1B, Stanford (2023): The Pac-12 home run leader showed prodigious right-handed power as he anchored a devastating Cardinal lineup. Like Texas’ Melendez, his draft stock next year will be hampered by his R/R profile at first base.
12) Drew Bowser, 3B, Stanford (2023): When he matriculated at Stanford, Bowser was considered a near lock as a 1st round pick in 2024. While swing-and-miss issues have taken a bite out of his production, Bowser still offers 60-grade power and a cannon arm at the hot corner.
13) Hayden Dunhurst, C, Ole Miss (2022): Dunhurst was thought to be a back-end-of-the-1st-round talent coming into this season, but never got on track at the plate. Still, his above average power and ability to halt the running game will make him an intriguing Day 2 option.
14) Alex Williams, RHP, Stanford (2022): In a year when Tommy John surgery reached near pandemic levels in college baseball, Williams’ success caught the eyes of countless evaluators looking for reliable pitching options on Day 2. Williams doesn’t offer one plus pitch, but his sound command and ability to keep hitters guessing with his diverse pitch selection should help him advance through the minors quickly.
15) Pete Hansen, LHP, Texas (2022): Hansen’s pinpoint control offsets the lack of electricity in his pitch arsenal. The California native acquitted himself nicely after a poor showing on the Cape last summer.