With the MLB Draft approaching on June 9, the opening round of the NCAA Baseball Tournament, which begins this Friday, gives scouts and fans alike one last look at those highly coveted prospects. In his latest mock, ESPN's Keith Law has half of the 34 four first-round picks coming from the college ranks, 11 of which are playing in the tourney.
Let's run through some of the prospects MLB fans should keep an eye on this weekend.
(If a name is hyperlinked, click it for a more detailed scouting report.)
Pretty much every Gator
Florida, the No. 1 national seed and the favorite to win it all, basically has a pro pitching staff, with four of its top arms rated in D1 Baseball's top 50 college college prospects. It all starts with A.J. Puk, the presumptive No. 1 overall pick. He's been a touch erratic this season (he leads the team with 31 walks and his 2.88 ERA isn't great by college standards), but he's a 6'6 lefty with 97 mph heat and phenomenal stuff. The scary thing is that Puk isn't even Florida's ace—that'd be Logan Shore, who picked up SEC Pitcher of the Year after going a perfect 10-0 this season.
Relievers Dane Dunning, a three-pitch righty who could be a Friday night starter on a lot of teams, and Shaun Anderson, a former MLB Mr. Irrelevant who's worked his way into one of the country's best closers, will also hear their names early.
The Gators have position players to gawk at as well: Outfielder Buddy Reed is a potential top-10 pick despite a slow season at the plate (he's batting .260), while first baseman Peter Alonso and his .581 slugging percentage figures to be an early-rounder.
Florida opens the tourney at 6 p.m. ET Friday against Bethune-Cookman. You can catch it on SEC Network or WatchESPN.
Vandy pitchers, of course
The 'Dores have become a damn pitching factory under Tim Corbin, who's cranked out eight first-round pitchers during his tenure. That'll continue this year with Jordan Sheffield, a kid whose pro dreams were put on hold after an arm injury midway through his senior year of high school, who had to toil in the bullpen behind guys like Carson Fulmer and Walker Buehler, and who finally got his chance as a Friday night ace this season. Lefty Ben Bowden is an early round-guy as well.
For the second straight season, however, a position player is the top prospect in Nashville. A year after Dansby Swanson went No. 1 overall, outfielder Bryan Reynolds figures to be an early first-round selection.
Vandy plays Xavier at 8 p.m. ET on Friday, with the live stream available on WatchESPN.
Kyle Funkhouser, the fading star in Louisville
Like Florida, Louisville's bristling with 2016 prospects, including edit outfielder Corey Ray, stud closer Zack Burdi and ACC Pitcher of the Year Drew Harrington. The most interesting, though, is Funkhouser, a 6'3 righty who turned down $1.3 million last season in the hopes of improving his draft stock as a senior. It hasn't been the bounce-back campaign he was looking for: Funkhouser got bumped out of the Friday night ace role and has an unimpressive 4.11 ERA. The tourney will be his last chance to remind scouts of the size and velocity that once made him a presumptive top-10 pick.
Funkhouser has been named the starter in Louisville's Friday opener against Western Michigan, which you can stream live on WatchESPN beginning at 6 p.m. ET. That sets up an intriguing duel between he and WMU ace Keegan Akin, a first-round hopeful himself.
Mississippi State ace Dakota Hudson
Hudson was arguably the most dominant pitcher in the country through the first two months of the season before cooling off over a few starts in the middle of SEC play. He appears to be back to his old self. The hard-throwing righty allowed just three earned runs in his last 31.1 innings pitched, a span that includes two complete-game shutouts to close SEC regular season play. It'll be hard to keep State out of Omaha if Hudson keeps up that pace, and he'll likely lock himself into a top-15 spot in the draft.
State head coach John Cohen hasn't announced whether he'll throw his ace on Friday against regional four-seed Southeast Missouri State, a game that streams at 2:30 p.m. ET on WatchESPN.
Clemson's Chris Okey is one of the most complete backstops in the draft, possessing elite defensive skills while hitting .330/.450/.577 with 12 homers. Virginia's Matt Thaiss and Miami's Zack Collins aren't as polished behind the plate, but they're two of the best pure hitters in the country. Those two should be solid first-rounders, while Okey is in the late first, early second fringe.
While we're on the subject, you'll also want to keep an eye on the guy Thiass catches for on Friday nights: Virginia righty Connor Jones is one of top aces in the conference and should hear his name called in the first round.
Um, how bout some other conferences?
You may have noticed this post has a decidedly SEC/ACC flavor. That's not a coincidence: 13 of the 16 regional hosts and 10 of D1 Baseball's top 13 college prospects hail from those two conferences.
But there's plenty of other talent in this tournament. How about Boston College's Justin Dunn, a projected first-rounder who will start Friday against Tulane in the Oxford regional? Or AAC Pitcher of the Year Anthony Kay, who looks like a first-rounder after leading UConn to a conference championship. FAU shortstop C.J. Chatham, Nebraska outfielder Ryan Boldt, St. Mary's ace Corbin Burnes and Tulane shortstop Stephen Alemais are other prospects to watch.