These are six of the best players in college baseball, but also six of the most entertaining. There’s at least a skill or two that just feels different about these guys when you watch them.
Let’s get to it.
C Adley Rutschman, Oregon State
The College World Series MVP is an all-around stud. Rutschman is a walks machine who currently has a .577 on-base percentage; his knowledge of the strike zone is unreal. Every Rutschman at-bat is a game of cat and mouse between him and the pitcher, which is always a fun subplot. He won’t swing at your out pitch, but you also don’t want to be wild in the strike zone, because Rutschman is slugging .798 (!) and can hurt you in so many ways.
He also has a cannon for an arm; there was a time when his defense was considered better than his offense. That’s probably not the case anymore, as Rutschman has an absurd 1.375 OPS at the moment. But it goes to show you that he’s a true two-way player.
There are no holes in this guy’s game, and several elite traits.
3B Josh Jung, Texas Tech
Bat speed, bat speed, bat speed. Jung makes hitting look easy. With an athletic, powerful build, Jung is the prototypical third baseman. And his hit tool is off the charts.
He slashed .392/.491/.639 last season. His numbers are slightly down in 2019, but Jung at-bats are appointment viewing for college baseball diehards.
Jung’s stroke is simple, yet powerful. It looks effortless, yet he generates a ton of force. Defensively, he’s solid, though not great. The batter’s box is where he really shines, and Jung’s power and discipline combination is a perfect fit in today’s game.
SP Alek Manoah, West Virginia
This guy is just a straight-up powerhouse. At 6-6, 260 pounds, Manoah is one of the most intimidating pitchers in the country. And he has the stuff to back it up.
He’s a strikeout machine. In his last two outings, Manoah has punched out 26 batters and hasn’t walked anyone. He sits in the mid ’90s with his fastball and can reach the high ’90s when he really reaches back.
Manoah has a commanding presence on the mound. He has supreme confidence in his stuff, and he coaxes a ton of swings and misses. Manoah is filthy, and one of the most fun pitchers to watch in the land.
1B Andrew Vaughn, California
Vaughn’s hit tool is crazy. He slashed .402/.531/.819 as a sophomore and has followed that up with a .364/.541/.701 line as a junior. What’s funny about Vaughn is that he doesn’t look like your typical slugger; he’s exactly 6 feet tall. When you picture power-hitting first basemen, you are probably thinking about guys who are 6-3 and up.
But Vaughn has a ton of quick twitch and lower body strength to work with. He’s an artist in the batter’s box. Vaughn has walked about twice as much as he’s struck out over the last two years, which is incredibly impressive. And he’s known for hitting the occasional moon shot.
Vaughn has a long and productive baseball career ahead of him.
SS Logan Davidson, Clemson
Davidson is just so smooth. If you like watching big shortstops who can do everything there is to do on a diamond, this is your guy.
Davidson is big for his position at 6-3, but he’s got serious defensive range. He’s swiped double-digit bases in all three of his college season and adds value defensively and on the base paths. But his bat is really what sets him apart from other shortstops.
Davidson has smacked double-digit homers in all three years at Clemson and has a cool .976 OPS right now, a career high. Davidson has never hit .300 (he’s come close) but he’s another patience/power guy. He’s on track to post an on-base percentage of higher than .400 for the second straight year, and his power speaks for itself.
He’s the ultimate “makes the game look easy” guy. Davidson’s versatility is a huge asset for the Tigers.
P Noah Song, Navy
Song is 7-0 with a 1.53 ERA, but that doesn’t pop off the page nearly as much as his strikeout numbers.
He’s punched out 110 batters in 59 innings; no other pitcher is above 100 this season. Opponents are hitting an abysmal .170 against him, and while Song has always been a strikeout pitcher, he’s taken a sizable leap as a senior. He notched 121 of them in 89 innings as a junior, which is really good. If your K/9 innings ratio is above nine, you’re doing pretty well.
Song is striking out 16.8 (!) batters per nine innings this year, almost two Ks per inning. He sits in the mid ’90s with his fastball, but his slider is his wipeout pitch. It’s one of the most lethal in America, and he’s developed his curve and change into out pitches, as well.
Song doesn’t face the level of competition that some of college baseball’s other top hurlers do, but it’s hard to poke any holes in what he’s done this year. What a gem.