Join Today! Become A Baseball America Insider

2019 College World Series 'Best Tools'

CWS_BestTools.jpg
Kumar Rocker (left) and Gabe Holt (right). (Photos by Bill Mitchell, John Williamson)

Before the College World Series begins Saturday in Omaha, Baseball America identified the players in the tournament with the best tools. For a breakdown of all eight teams in the field, click here.


Best Hitter


1. Austin Martin, Vanderbilt
2. JJ Bleday, Vanderbilt
3. Jake Mangum, Mississippi State

Martin is hitting .410, sixth in the nation. He has a rare combination of contact skills with the ability to consistently drive the ball—he has eight home runs and 19 doubles this year—always making him a threat.


Best Power


1. JJ Bleday, Vanderbilt
2. Heston Kjerstad, Arkansas
3. Drew Mendoza, Florida State

The nation’s home run leader is an easy choice. Bleday comes to Omaha with 26 home runs on the season, the most of anyone in the last two years. While TD Ameritrade Park tends to play big, Bleday should have no trouble driving the ball in Omaha.


Best Strike-Zone Discipline


1. Logan Wyatt, Louisville
2. Josh Jung, Texas Tech
3. Drew Mendoza, Florida State

Wyatt has drawn 68 walks and struck out just 47 times this season. Over the last two seasons, he’s drawn 131 walks and struck out 84 times in 129 games.


Best Athlete


1. Casey Martin, Arkansas
2. J.C. Flowers, Florida State
3. Jordan Brewer, Michigan

This year’s field is full of dynamic athletes, which should make for an exciting tournament. Martin’s athleticism plays at shortstop and on the bases, and he always has a chance to make a game-changing play.


Fastest Runner


1. Gabe Holt, Texas Tech
2. Jake Mangum, Mississippi State
3. Miles Lewis, Michigan

Holt and Mangum were the two fastest players in the college draft class, and they share that distinction again in Omaha. Both can change the game with their speed.


Best Baserunner


1. Gabe Holt, Texas Tech
2. Trevor Ezell, Arkansas
3. Tyler Fitzgerald, Louisville

Holt is almost impossible to catch on the bases. Over the last two years, the sophomore is 28-for-31 in stolen base attempts.


Best Defensive Catcher


1. Casey Opitz, Arkansas
2. Ty Duvall, Vanderbilt
3. Henry Davis, Louisville

It’s a good year for defensive catchers in Omaha. Opitz and Davis have thunderbolts for arms and shut down opponents’ running games. Duvall has yet to make an error this season and handles Vanderbilt’s premium pitching staff with aplomb.


Best Defensive Infielder


1. Jack Blomgren, Michigan
2. Josh Jung, Texas Tech
3. Will Holland, Auburn

Blomgren can make special plays at shortstop, but, more than anything, he just makes all the plays he needs to with extraordinary consistency.


Best Infield Arm


1. Will Holland, Auburn
2. Josh Jung, Texas Tech
3. Casey Martin, Arkansas

Holland’s arm strength—combined with his athleticism—allows him to make highlight-reel plays at shortstop. Jung and Martin both had plenty of arm at third base before moving to shortstop this season, and their arm strength continues to play.


Best Defensive Outfielder


1. Jake Mangum, Mississippi State
2. Dominic Fletcher, Arkansas
3. J.C. Flowers, Florida State

Mangum’s speed gives him excellent range in center field, but his defensive ability goes beyond pure speed. He gets good reads and has the feel to make the spectacular play—like robbing a grand slam last week in super regionals.


Best Outfield Arm


1. Dominic Fletcher, Arkansas
2. J.C. Flowers, Florida State
3. JJ Bleday, Vanderbilt

Fletcher has the arm strength necessary to make opponents think a few times about trying for an extra base against him. Flowers, who can run his fastball up into the mid-90s on the mound, is also dangerous in center field.


Best Fastball


1. Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt
2. J.T. Ginn, Mississippi State
3. John McMillon, Texas Tech

McMillon has the biggest velocity in the field, as he’s lit up the radar gun at 100 mph this year. But Rocker and Ginn reach the upper 90s at their best and have a little more feel for the pitch.


MLBDraft_Getty.jpg

How Moving The Draft Would Impact College Baseball

MLBs proposal to reshape the minor league would almost certainly impact amateur baseball as well.

Best Breaking Ball


1. Reid Detmers, Louisville
2. Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt
3. Tanner Burns, Auburn

Detmers’ curveball helped him pile up strikeouts this spring and it’s a devastating pitch. Rocker last week proved just how good his slider can be in his no-hitter, when he struck out 19 batters, all on sliders.


Best Changeup


1. Ethan Small, Mississippi State
2. Isaiah Campbell, Arkansas
3. Jack Owen, Auburn

Small flummoxed hitters all season for several reasons, but one of the primary reasons was his changeup. It gives him a serious weapon against righthanded hitters and is a big part of why he enters the CWS leading the nation in strikeouts.


Best Control


1. Isaiah Campbell, Arkansas
2. Jack Owen, Auburn
3. Tyler Brown, Vanderbilt

Campbell harnessed his electric stuff this season and has averaged just 1.62 walks per nine innings. It was a big development for the righthander and allowed him to become a lockdown Friday night starter.

Are you a member?

In order to access this exclusive content you must have a Baseball America Account. 

Login or sign up  

of Free Stories Remaining