With the Major League Baseball Draft just weeks away, college baseball is moving into the national spotlight with the start of conference tournaments this week.
The premier conference in all of baseball, the SEC, will feature several elite talents who will hear their name called on draft day, but right now all of the focus is on winning the conference tournament and a national championship.
We will break down the field of 10, and tell you who and what to watch this week at Hoover Park in Regions, Alabama.
Where: Hoover Park in Regions, AL
When: May 22 to May 27
Watch: Charter Sports Southeast; SportSouth Channel; ESPN 2 (Championship Game)
Live Stream: All Games On ESPN3.com
|SEED||TEAM (OVERALL RECORD, SEC RECORD)|
|No. 1||LSU Tigers (42-14, 19-11)|
|No. 2||South Carolina Gamecocks (39-15, 18-11)|
|No. 3||Florida Gators (40-16, 18-12)|
|No. 4||Kentucky Wildcats (41-15, 18-12)|
|No. 5||Vanderbilt Commodores (29-25, 16-14)|
|No. 6||Arkansas Razorbacks (39-17, 16-14)|
|No. 7||Mississippi State Bulldogs (34-21, 16-14)|
|No. 8||Georgia Bulldogs (31-24, 14-15)|
|No. 9||Mississippi Rebels (34-22, 14-16)|
|No. 10||Auburn Tigers (30-26, 13-17)|
South Carolina Gamecocks
Though they finished one-half game behind LSU in the conference standings thanks to a head-to-head loss on Saturday, South Carolina has been the best and most dominant team in the SEC all season.
The Gamecocks surprised a lot of people when they won the College World Series in 2010 and were able to prove their staying power by winning the whole thing again last year. They started out 2012 on fire, with 15 wins in 16 games, albeit against mostly inferior competition.
Prior to losing the final series of the year, the Gamecocks had a 6-0-1 record in their previous seven SEC series.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
An inconsistent season overall has taken some of the shine off the Bulldogs, but an impressive finish to the regular season, which included a three-game sweep over Kentucky, has this team dreaming big heading into the conference tournament.
The starting rotation, led by likely first-round pick Chris Stratton, has been stellar this season. The offense has been spotty at times, but when you have quality pitching you don't have to score a lot to win games.
|DATE||MATCHUP (DOUBLE-ELIMINATION TOURNAMENT)|
|May 22||Game 1: No. 4 Kentucky vs. No. 9 Mississippi|
|May 22||Game 2: No. 6 Arkansas vs. No. 7 Mississippi State|
|May 22||Game 3: No. 3 Florida vs. No. 10 Auburn|
|May 22||Game 4: No. 5 Vanderbilt vs. No. 8 Georgia|
|May 23||Game 5: Game 1 Loser vs. Game 2 Loser|
|May 23||Game 6: No. 1 LSU vs. Lowest-Seeded Winner From Game 1 & 2|
|May 23||Game 7: Game 3 Loser vs. Game 4 Loser|
|May 23||Game 8: No. 2 South Carolina vs. Lowest-Seeded Winner From Game 3 & 4|
|May 24||Game 9: Game 6 Loser vs. Game 5 Winner|
|May 24||Game 10: Game 6 Winner vs. Highest-Seeded Winner From Game 1 & 2|
|May 24||Game 11: Game 8 Loser vs. Game 7 Winner|
|May 24||Game 12: Game 8 Winner vs. Highest-Seeded Winner From Game 3 & 4|
|May 25||Game 13: Game 9 Winner vs. Game 10 Loser|
|May 25||Game 14: Game 11 Winner vs. Game 12 Loser|
|May 26||Game 15: Game 10 Winner vs. Game 13 Winner|
|May 26||Game 16: Game 12 Winner vs. Game 14 Winner|
|May 27||Game 17 (Championship): Game 15 Winner vs. Game 16 Winner|
MLB Draft Prospects To Watch
Kevin Gausman, RHP, LSU Tigers
Gausman has been the best starter in college baseball this season. He has had the raw stuff to intrigue big league scouts in the past, but a refined approach to go along with an improved breaking ball have put him in the mix to be the No. 1 player taken in June's Draft.
Mike Zunino, C, Florida
Like Gausman, Zunino also has a chance to be the No. 1 overall pick. He doesn't boast a lot of projection for professional baseball, but he offers a solid, wide-variety of tools that will make him at least an above-average big leaguer.
Chris Stratton, RHP, Mississippi State
Stratton has been a revelation for the Bulldogs this spring. He has a low-90s fastball and a very good slider that has become his go-to pitch. His crowning achievement came against LSU and Kevin Gausman earlier this year, when Stratton struck out 17 Tigers. He is likely a mid- to late-first-round pick.