2024 College World Series preview

Photo: Christian Moore (L) and Kavares Tears (R) of Tennessee

The College World Series starts on Friday, June 14, and includes a slew of future major leaguers, including a dozen or more who could be MLB first-rounders at some point in their careers. 

Here’s a list of who to watch on each team in order of interest; all players are in the 2025 draft class unless noted. It’s a double-elimination tournament with the first-game matchups listed below. 

 

FRIDAY, GAME 1

North Carolina
OF Vance Honeycutt’s swing-and-miss (28% K%) is a concern, but his tools will likely make him a first-rounder anyway. The 26-HR, 28-SB combo over 58 games easily makes him one of the more exciting fantasy prospects in the tournament. … C Luke Stevenson (’25) was considered a potential first-rounder for 2025 and a 14-HR season probably didn’t hurt that. … OF Casey Cook smacked 18 HR with a 1.4 Eye and may be a good enough to stick as an MLB corner outfielder.

Virginia
SS Griff O’Ferrall may be the headliner here; he’s probably a better real-life prospect than one for the fantasy game but could help with average and chip in a few steals. … C/1B Ethan Anderson saw a power dip in ’24 but his switch-hitting ability and positional versatility will give him a shot. … OF Harrison Didawick (23 HR, 14 SB) offers a power-speed combo within a 6-4, 215-pound frame if swing-and-miss (23% K%) isn’t an issue. … C Henry Ford was a first-team freshman All-American this season, hitting .339 with 17 HR; he and IF Henry Godbout (9 HR, 1.4 Eye) are ones to watch in the ’25 draft.


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FRIDAY, GAME 2

Tennessee
2B Christian Moore and 1B Blake Burke will end their Tennessee careers ranked first and second on the school’s career home-run list; both have projectable MLB power (Burke’s is better) and could stick at their current positions. … OF Kavares Tears and OF Dylan Dreiling are corner outfielders with similar power tools to Moore and Burke; Tears has the arm to stick in right. … The same can be said of 3B Billy Amick, perhaps the highest-regarded pro bat on the team, but inconsistency is a concern. … RHP Drew Beam had a consistent college career but isn’t overpowering and profiles as an innings-eating No. 4 or 5 starter. … SS Dean Curley showed pop as a freshman and could profile as a high draft pick in 2025, though he’s a work in progress defensively. … A pair of ’25 RHPs, Nate Snead and Marcus Phillips, are enticing as both touch 100 with their fastballs. Snead doesn’t dominate with his as much as he should but was durable and effective, while Phillips is wild and unpolished and got hit hard at times. 

Florida State
The Seminoles have a pair of probable 2024 first-rounders in 3B Cam Smith and OF James Tibbs; Smith hit .402 with 14 HR after earning Best Pro Prospect honors in the Cape Cod League last year, while Tibbs is considered a hit-over-power prospect who mashed 28 HR. … LHP Jamie Arnold may be the best pitching prospect in Omaha; size (he’s 6-1, 180) is a concern but a 13.9 Dom, a 2.0 Ctl and just 6 HR allowed over 100 2/3 innings in a power-heavy ACC were loud. … RHP Cam Leiter—yes, he’s part of that Leiter family—could join Arnold in next year’s first round but has been out with injury since March 28 and probably won’t be available in Omaha. 

 

SATURDAY, GAME 1

Kentucky
OF Ryan Waldschmidt broke out as a pro prospect this year and could sneak into the first round; a 14-HR, 24-SB season with plate discipline and improving power has scouts excited. … 2B Emilien Pitre is a long-shot to be an MLB star, but outstanding defense could get him to the majors and 24 SB and 1.3 Eye could make him rosterable. 

North Carolina State
His defense was already good enough and now, C Jacob Cozart could ride a 19-HR, 1.0 Eye campaign into this July’s first round as the power is expected to carry other the pro level. … LHP Dominic Fritton saw his draft stock drop markedly after posting a 7.35 ERA with 21 HR allowed in 71 IP, but he’s still likely to be drafted this year. 

 

SATURDAY, GAME 2

Florida
P/1B Jac Caglianone, nicknamed “Jactani” due to being the country’s best two-way player, mashed 33 HR but more notably, improved maturity as a hitter (0.3 Eye in ’23, 2.1 in ’24). A huge lefty with a massive power stroke that produced a 500-plus-foot homer this year, he adds a high-90s fastball along with a slider, fastball and change-up, but consistency with control has always plagued him. … SS Colby Shelton (’25) moved from third after transferring from Alabama; he needs polish but 45 HR over two years can’t be ignored. … LHP Cade Fisher (’25) needs refinement but has a chance to be a first-rounder next season.

Texas A&M
OF Jace LaViolette could be a 1/1 candidate for 2025; a smooth, 6-foot-6 lefty who manned center while mashing 48 HR with 23 SB over two seasons, the the swing-and-miss element (25% k%) is the biggest concern. … Freshman 3B Gavin Grahovac showed terrific power (21 HR) as a freshman and could easily be a first-rounder in ’26 if contact (26% k%) doesn’t remain an issue. … LHP Ryan Prager missed 2023 with injury but had one of the best seasons among starting pitchers in the country; he’s not overpowering but his smarts, 7.1 Cmd and three-pitch mix give him a shot to be a quality back-of-the-rotation arm. … RHP Chris Cortez dominated with his 100-mph fastball and a quality slider and is likely a reliever, but was durable enough out of the bullpen that starting could be an option with secondary-pitch improvement. … OF Braden Montgomery, a likely first-rounder this summer, will miss the CWS due to a severe ankle injury. 

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