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College Baseball Check In: Its Time For Conference Tournaments

The regular season has come to an end in College Baseball now it is time for the Conference Tournaments. As teams jockey for final invites to make it to the College World Series, we take a look at some more college players who will be draft-eligible this season. The idea is to get to know some of the prospects who will be selected in the first 3-4 rounds and who to watch after the draft concludes. Let’s dive into some of the draft-eligible college players right now.

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Draft Eligible Profiles

Travis Bazzana, 2B/OF Oregon State

(53 GP, .429/.587/.963, 26 HR, 80 R, 62 RBI, 14 SB)

One of the best college players this season has been Travis Bazzana of Oregon State. So good in fact he could go first overall when Clevland selects. Born in Hornsby Australia Bazzana has put together three stellar seasons at Oregon State and impressed in one season in the Cape Cod League. While in the CCBL with Falmouth Bazzana slashed .375/.456/.581 with six home runs, 33 runs scored, 31 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases in 33 games played. This was a precursor for what was to come with Oregon State in the 2024 season.

The increased power output displayed in the CCBL was fantastic to see from a college prospect who had hit just 17 home runs in 124 games played to that point in his college career. With the power gains and one of the best bat-to-ball grades in college baseball, Bazzana went off. In 53 games played Bazzana is slashing .429/.587/.963 with 26 home runs, 80 runs scored, 62 RBIs, and has stolen 14 bases. Across 191 at-bats Bazzana has struck out 16.2% while walking a staggering 35.6%. This is why it wouldn’t surprise me if Travis Bazzana goes first overall in the MLB draft or in FYPD during the winter.

Sam Antonacci, INF Coastal Carolina

(54 GP, .381/.542/.508, 4 HR, 84 R, 41 RBI, 14 SB)

Standing out at Coastal Carolina this season has been Sam Antonacci. The 6’0” 195 pound Antonacci has played all over the infield this season playing at third, second, and shortstop. The advanced bat-to-ball skills will be Antonacci’s calling card until a team unlocks some raw power like the Guardians did with C.J. Kayfus in last year’s draft. In 54 games played Antonacci is slashing .381/.542/.508 with four home runs, 84 runs scored, 41 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases. When it comes to his plate discipline Antonacci is striking out 16.7% while walking 23.8% of his 197 plate appearances.

The only thing that gives me pause when it comes to Antonacci is his performance in the Cape Cod Baseball League prior to the 2024 season. In 17 games played Antonacci slashed .216/.310/.255 with six runs, five RBIs, and three stolen bases. Though this is not an “end all be all” the CCBL is a wood-bat league so we get a small glimpse into what College hitters could do once they are drafted and playing in the minor leagues. Could this just be a negative blip on the radar for some teams or not at all? Either way, a Jeff McNeil-style leadoff hitter holds value in the MLB draft and it will be curious to see who snags Antonacci.

A.J. Causey, RHP Tennessee

(14 GP, 6 GS, 70.2 IP, 93 K, 11.8K/9, 4.08 ERA)

We have seen college relievers selected in the MLB Draft with high strikeout upside but so-so results in ERA turned into dominant starting pitchers. Pitchers like Christian Scott have been one of the most recent to debut in the majors that was solely a reliever while at Florida. A name that stands out in this year’s draft is A.J. Causey of Tennessee. Causey started his college career at Jacksonville State where he started his sophomore season before transferring to Tennessee for his junior year. With the Voles Causey has appeared in 14 games starting six with 93 strikeouts over 70.2 innings pitched while having a 4.08 ERA.

The strikeouts are great at 11.8 per nine but what could be a major plus to some teams this draft is the command and control. In Causey’s 70.2 innings pitched he has walked just 15 batters good for a stellar 1.9 BB/9. This more than likely is not a top three-round pick but in the right organization, Causey has some interesting upside.

Aiden May, RHP Oregon State

(11 GS, 59 IP, 68 K, 10.4 K/9, 2.59 ERA)

Another mid-round arm to watch come draft day is Aiden May. The 6’2” 196-pound right-handed pitcher has been solid this season but missed time due to a minor arm injury forcing him to sit out roughly a month. Originally with Arizona in 2023 May transferred to Oregon State where he has seen much improvement in not only his game but his potential draft stock. Oregon State’s Friday night starter has 68 strikeouts in 59 innings pitched, good for a solid 10.4 K/9 while walking just 2.4 batters per nine and currently has a 2.59 ERA across 11 starts.

May features a three-pitch mix in a mid-90s four-seam fastball that tops out at 97 mph. The slider is far and away his best offering coming in at 82 mph and has a ton of movement thanks to the high spin rates. When it comes to the change-up it needs more work as it’s a pitch he doesn’t throw often at Oregon State. This could be an interesting mid-round college prospect in the draft and in the right organization who can improve upon his change-up to make it an average offering May could garner some attention.

Josh Kross, 1B/3B/C Cincinnati

(54 GP, .321/.440/.656, 19 HR, 49 R, 65 RBI, 1 SB)

One bat to watch in the second to third round of the MLB Draft should be Cincinnati’s Josh Kross. The catcher and corner infield prospect has been solid in his only season at Cincinnati. In 54 games played Kross is slashing .321/.440/.656 with 19 home runs, 49 runs scored, 65 RBIs, and has one stolen base. Hitting for average and getting on base is something Kross has done well this season as well as his lone season at Eastern Michigan. In 52 games played Kross slashed .376/.433/.651 with only 26 strikeouts in 229 at-bats.

Along with excellent bat-to-ball skills, Kross has hit the ball with authority this season with 32 of his 67 hits going to extra bases. This profile could be very interesting in the right organization that can get the most out of Kross’s power. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see a strong debut from Kross and he climbs the FYPD rankings this winter.

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