The MLB regular season doesn't start for about a month and a half. Feel free to go ahead and get your baseball fix on by watching college games and eventually some high school games. I tried to put together a random list of the best teams and players coming to your neighborhood who may possibly make it to the professional level.
• Ten days in late March, Wichita State's Eck Stadium will host some great baseball. First Missouri State (Mar. 21-23) comes to town pitting the top two pre-season ranked teams in the Missouri Valley. Nebraska (Mar 25th) stops by for a one game set. Later in the week (Mar 28th to 30th), pre-season #1, Cal-State Fullerton comes to town. Fullerton placed two players on Baseball America's 2nd team ( J.D. Davis, Matt Chapman) and one on the 3rd team ( Justin Garza)
• Switch hitting, Junior first baseman, Casey Gillispie of Wichita State. He already has the following accolades.
Baseball America 1st Team All-American
Cape Cod League All League Team (led the league with 9 home runs)
Gillispie may be the best college bat, but since he is a pedestrian first baseman, his draft position will probalby be in the second round.
• Several SEC power houses are coming to Columbia to play Missouri. Here are the teams and players to watch.
Apr 3rd to 5th - Tennessee (unranked)
Mar 4th to 6th - Georgia (unranked)
Mar 20th to 22nd - Mississippi St (2nd in pre-season poll): Jonathan Holder - RP
May 2nd to 4th - Vanderbilt (9th in pre-season poll) Tyler Beede SP
May 15th to 17th - Arkansas (unranked) Brian Anderson 2B
• Nineteenth ranked TCU and its two All-Americans, Brandon Finnegan and Kevin Cron, visit KU from Mar 11th to 13th to deliver an ass-whoopin.
• Second basemen Ross Kivett (above image) of Kansas State. He was drafted in the 10th round by the Indians, but returned for his senior season. He is on Baseball America's 3rd All-American team and was on the Cape Cod League All-Star Team.
• Kansas State looks to build on their 2013 season when the won the Big 12 title and hosted and won their regional. Besides Kivett, their short stop Austin Fisher and first baseman Shane Conlon may get drafted. Pre-season polls have the Wildcats ranked around 25th nationally.
• On the the junior college front, quite a few area teams are in the top 20 with Neosho County ranked 5th.
#11 Iowa Western
#12 Cowley County (KS)
#14 Crowder (MO)
Quite a few junior college players will eventually get drafted like Mark Meadors did last season after playing for Cowley County.
• Besides decent junior college teams, the local teams populate the NAIA rankings. The 4th to 7th ranked teams are from Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma. While players from these small will unlikely ever get any major league consideration, it may be the best game in town.
• Blue Valley West High School is ranked 24th in the country.
• On the other side of the river, Lee Summit West has two potential early round picks in super athlete Monte' Harrison (outfield - committed to Nebraska in football) and Alex Lange (LSU commit, right-handed pitcher)
• Now, if you want to see a high school powerhouse, head to Oklahoma to see the number one ranked Owasso High School and their three players on the pre-season All-American team.
• For those around DeMoines, Iowa, make sure you check potential draft prospects pitcher Keaton McKinney (Centennial H.S.) and infielder Ryan Lillard (Urbandale). Both are not expected to meet during the regular high school season, but may at the Brent Prange Classic.
• In Nebraska, try to caught a Firth High School game. Pitcher Byron Hood and catcher Jakson Reetz both made the Louisville Slugger pre-season first team. Reetz is getting consideration as a late 1st to 3rd round pick.
• Bryce Montes De Oca (Lawrence) 6-8, 265 lbs right-hander hit 97 mph before having Tommy John surgery over a year ago. He is supposed to throw this spring. Someone should show up with a camera to record all the radar guns.
• While I have gone over quite a few local draft prospects, bigleaguefutures.net and minorleagueball.com both have a good list of possible draft prospects.