Men’s College World Series: One player to know for each team still standing

The Super Regional matchups for the 2024 Men’s College World Series are now set.

The tournament started with 64 teams, but now just 16 remain standing. Over the upcoming weekend that field will be cut in half, as just eight teams will move on to the Men’s College World Series, set to start June 14 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Over the upcoming weekend these 16 teams will clash in eight best-of-three series, with the matchups as follows, with the host team listed first:

During these games we will get to know countless college baseball players, many of whom will go on to hear their names called in the upcoming 2024 MLB Draft. But ahead of the Super Regionals, here is one player from each team who may hold the keys to their team’s Omaha dreams.

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Clemson: Aidan Knaak, SP

Left-hander Tristan Smith is considered the top pitching prospect on the Tigers roster, and pitched Friday against High Point, allowing six hits and one earned run while striking out nine over just 5.2 innings of work. But Aidan Knaak gives the Tigers a stout one-two duo on the bump, and Knaak went six innings against Coastal Carolina on Saturday, allowing just two runs over six full innings.

On the year, Knaak went 5-1 with an ERA of just 2.96, holding hitters to a batting average of just .217, better than the .244 clip allowed by Smith. Both hurlers are worth watching this weekend, but Knaak could be critical to Clemson’s chances of advancing.

Connecticut: Korey Morton, LF

Korey Morton had a fantastic season for the Huskies. And in the thick of Monday night’s decisive game against Norman Regional host Oklahoma, there was Morton delivering a two-run shot in the top of the fourth to stake Connecticut to the early 2-0 lead:

Morton was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Norman Regional shortly after Monday night’s game went final.

On the season Morton put up a slash line of .322/.368/.534, and was a huge reason the Huskies — who were the third seed in the Norman Regional — are moving on to the Super Regionals. They might need more production from the left fielder if they are going to book a trip to Omaha later this week.

Evansville: Kenton Deverman, SP

When the Regional brackets were announced, Evansville learned they were headed to the Greenville Regional as the No. 4 seed, and would be playing the host team East Carolina in their first game.

No matter.

The Purple Aces stormed through the Greenville Regional, knocking off the host team twice en route to a spot in the Super Regionals. In that first game head coach Wes Carroll turned to left-hander Kenton Deverman, and the freshman was nearly perfect, going eight innings and allowing just three hits and one run as the Purple Aces knocked off the Pirates 4-1 to open their Regional slate.

On the season, Deverman posted a 9-1 record, with an ERA of 3.81 while holding hitters to a .259 batting average. The Purple Aces face a stiff test in the Super Regionals, as they’ll square off against a Tennessee lineup that can absolutely rake. The Volunteers were third in the nation in Team OPS with a mark of 1.021, so if Evansville is going to deliver another upset, their staff — led by Deverman — will need to be at their best.

Florida: Jac Caglianone, SP/1B/DH

We might not see anything like Shohei Ohtani in the major leagues anytime soon, if ever.

But on the list of players who have a shot at doing what he does, Jac Caglianone might be at the top.

Caglianone posted a stunning slash line of .407/.523/.845 this season while mashing 31 home runs, a mark which ranked third in college baseball behind Charlie Condon of Georgia and Roman Kuntz of Morehead State.

But while doing this, Caglianone finished with a 5-2 win/loss record on the bump for Florida as a starting pitcher, holding opponents to just a .225 batting average.

Caglianone got roughed up by Oklahoma State last Saturday, lasting just five innings and allowing four home runs. But his game Sunday against Nebraska in an elimination game saw him deliver this massive three-run shot to help the Gators keep their hopes alive:

Caglianone is expected to be a top-five pick in the upcoming MLB draft, but he has at least two more games for the Gators left in his collegiate career.

Florida State: Jaime Arnold, SP

Florida State has a number of players to watch this weekend, including infielder Cam Smith and outfielders James Tibbs and Jamie Ferrer. But if the Seminoles are going to advance to Omaha, they’ll need solid pitching in the Super Regional against an upstart Connecticut lineup.

That leads us to Jamie Arnold.

The left-handed hurler took to the bump Saturday with Florida State facing elimination, and delivered an incredible performance, going seven innings and allowing just two runs while striking out 12. Along the way Arnold accomplished one of the rarer feats in baseball, delivering an immaculate inning for three of those punchouts:

On the season Arnold posted an 11-3 record with an ERA of just 2.45 while holding opposing batters to just a batting average of .212. He’ll be a big part of Florida State’s story this weekend.

Georgia: Charlie Condon, 3B

Depending on who you talk to, Georgia infielder Charlie Condon might be the first player selected in the upcoming MLB Draft by the Cleveland Guardians.

Or he might fall all the way to the Minnesota Twins at No. 2.

But that is how talented Condon is. The Georgia third baseman put up the kinds of numbers you need to adjust the sliders for on MLB the Show, as he posted a slash line of .445/.566/1.036 this year, leading to an OPS of 1.602. He was tops in the nation in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, and home runs, with 36.

Just how good is Condon? On Sunday night the Bulldogs trailed Georgia Tech 5-4 in the top of the ninth. A home run from Kolby Branch tied the game, and after a popout Condon came to the plate representing the go-ahead run.

Georgia Tech intentionally walked him:

The strategy worked as Georgia Tech got out of the inning, but that tells you exactly what kind of player Condon is.

Kansas State: Brendan Jones, CF

Kansas State advanced to the Super Regional on Sunday with a 7-2 win over Southeast Missouri State.

And in the thick of that victory was leadoff hitter Brendan Jones, who went 3-for-5 with 3 RBI in the win, and stole his 39th base of the season in the process.

On the year Jones posted a .303/.441/.482, while using his speed to cause havoc on the bases. He helps set the table for the Kansas State offense, and if the Wildcats are going to head to Charlottesville and knock off Virginia, they’ll need him kickstarting the Kansas State offense all weekend long.

Kentucky: Émilien Pitre, 2B

Kentucky has a number of players worth watching this weekend — and likely beyond — including outfielder Ryan Waldschmidt and right-handed hurler Travis Smith. But infielder Émilien Pitre is a big spart at the top of the Wildcats’ lineup, hitting in the No. 2 spot behind Waldschmidt.

On Sunday night Pitre’s opposite-field shot gave Kentucky a 5-0 lead over Indiana State, all but booking their spot in the Super Regionals:

On the season Pitre posted a slash line of .303/.421/.516, and if Kentucky is going to advance to the Men’s College World Series, the Wildcats might need him to duplicate those numbers.

North Carolina: Vance Honeycutt, CF

Power, speed, and average. Vance Honeycutt checks a lot of boxes in the North Carolina lineup, as the center fielder produced a slash line of .309/.408/.687 this season for the Tar Heels while belting 24 home runs and swiping 28 bases.

He put on a show in North Carolina’s win over LSU on Saturday, as he went 2-for-4 with a pair of home runs in the Tar Heels’ 6-2 victory. His first blast on Saturday was a no-doubter, and the 60th home run of his collegiate career:

Honeycutt is considered one of the top prospects for the upcoming MLB Draft, and a solid weekend against West Virginia could boost his stock even higher.

NC State: Alec Makarewicz, 3B

After four seasons at East Carolina, Alec Makarewicz transferred to NC State for the 2024 season, and the move absolutely paid off. The switch hitter posted career numbers for the Wolfpack, with a slash line of .379/.442/.736 and 20 home runs, all of which were single-season highs for the third baseman.

Makarewicz got his Regional weekend off to a tremendous start, going 4-for-5 with three RBI in NC State’s 9-2 win over Bryant on Friday. When NC State booked their Super Regionals spot with a 5-3 win over James Madison on Sunday, Makarewicz had another solid day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double and this solo shot, that staked the Wolfpack to a 3-1 lead:

That blast also made him one of just nine players in school history with 20+ home runs in a single season.

Oregon: Kevin Seitter, SP

At first blush, there might be some other options as players to watch for the Ducks. Shortstop Maddox Maloney posted a slash line of .341/.429/.607 this season for Oregon, and fellow starting pitcher Grayson Grinsell went 7-2 for the Ducks this season with an ERA of 3.82 while holding opposing hitters to a .185 batting average, tops on the team.

But Kevin Seitter is coming off a dominant performance Sunday as the Ducks advanced with a 3-0 win over host team UC Santa Barbara. He held the 14th-ranked Gauchos to just four hits, no runs, and a single walk, going the distance in the victory. That type of performance could be huge this weekend as the Ducks travel to Bryan-College Station to take on 3rd-seeded Texas A&M in the Super Regionals.

Oregon State: Travis Bazzana, 2B

As noted above, there is a chance that Georgia third baseman Charlie Condon, video game numbers and all, falls to the second-overall selection by the Minnesota Twins. Of course, that would mean that the Cleveland Guardians prefered someone else at the top of the draft.

Oregon State infielder Travis Bazzana is likely that someone else.

If you thought Condon put up video game numbers, just wait to read what Bazzana did this past season for the Beavers. He posted a slash line of .419/.580/.951 while belting 28 home runs, and also lead Oregon State with 15 steals.

The Australian native made an immediate impact as a freshman at Oregon State, with an OPS of .902 his first year on campus. He also turned heads this past summer in the Cape Cod League, leading all hitters with a .375 batting average and hitting six home runs, en route to winning the Pat Sorenti Award, giving to the Most Valuable Player in the Cape Cod League regular season.

You will want to watch him this weekend.

Tennessee: Christian Moore, 2B

The Volunteers have one of the most potent offensive lineups in all of college baseball. Tennessee was third in the nation with a team OPS of 1.021, behind only Austin Peay and Georgia. Their slugging percentage of .604 was second in the nation, trailing only .661. At the moment the Volunteers have a number of notable MLB prospects in their batting order, including 1B Blake Burke, OF Kavares Tears, OF Dylan Dreiling, and 3B Billy Amick.

But the player to watch right now is Christian Moore, The second baseman posted video game numbers for the Volunteers this season, leading Tennessee in almost every offensive category. Moore delivered a slash line of .378/.449/.780, and his OPS of 1.229 was tops on a team that features five hitters with an OPS over 1.000.

He was red-hot during Regionals, going 2-for-5 in a win over Northern Kentucky and then 2-for-4 with a home run and 3 RBI in Saturday’s 12-6 win over Indiana. He finished the weekend 4-for-13 and 4 RBI over their three games at home.

Texas A&M: Braden Montgomery, CF

We have used the phrase “video game numbers” a lot in this piece, but that description certainly applies to a pair of Texas A&M outfielders. Braden Montgomery and Jace Laviolette have both put up monster numbers this year, with Laviolette delivering a .315/.451/.767 slash line while belting 28 home runs.

As for Montgomery, he posted a slash line of .322/.452/.733 while mashing 27 home runs, and in Sunday’s 9-4 win over Louisiana that clinched a spot in the Super Regionals for the Aggies, Montgomery delivered a 2-for-6 afternoon that included 4 RBI, three of which came on this blast:

Montgomery is considered a top ten prospect for the upcoming MLB Draft, and that swing is a huge reason why.

Virginia: Jay Woolfolk, SP

Evan Blanco has not been a workhorse for the Cavaliers, he has been THE workhorse for Virginia. Blanco started 16 games on the bump for Virginia — the only pitcher on the roster with double-digit starts, and posted a 7-3 record this year.

But Sunday the team turned to Jay Woolfolk against Mississippi State with a chance to clinch a spot in the next round, and Woolfolk delivered perhaps his best outing of the year. After giving up a pair of runs in the first inning the right hander settled in, going eight full innings while allowing just those two runs. The eight innings, and seven strikeouts he recorded, were both career highs.

Duplicating that kind of performance next weekend against Kansas State would be massive for Virginia’s Omaha hopes.

West Virginia: J.J. Wetherholt, SS

J.J. Wetherholt missed time earlier this season with a hamstring injury, but he has come back with a vengeance. The middle infielder led the Mountaineers with a .345 batting average this season along with a team-high OBP of .487, and he did this while belting eight home runs and posting an OPS of 1.108. Wetherholt also walked twice as many times as he struckout (30-15), and his 29 RBI almost doubled those strikeout numbers.

While he was quiet in West Virginia’s first two games of Regional action, he went 3-for-6 on Sunday as the Mountaineers knocked off Grand Canyon, booking their spot in the Super Regionals where they will take on North Carolina.

Wetherholt is considered a top ten prospect for the upcoming 2024 MLB draft, and this weekend you are likely to see exactly why.

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