The 2018 NCAA Men’s College World Series begins Saturday and there are at least two reasons for folks in this area to give it a watch.
No, there aren’t any local schools in the eight-team bracket. There are a couple players Kansas City Royals fans want to keep an eye on, though, named Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar.
Singer and Kowar — the Royals first two selections from this year’s MLB amateur draft — are pitchers for the Florida Gators. Florida is the No. 1 overall seed and will play Texas Tech at 6 p.m. Sunday, June 17. Singer will likely pitch against Texas Tech and Kowar will pitch Florida’s second game on Tuesday.
The Royals drafted Singer at No. 18, seemingly a steal for a pitcher that was projected at going in the top-five before the draft. He’s a 6-foot, 5-inch junior with a fastball in the mid-90s and good slider, with a changeup that’s improving but not major league ready, yet.
He gets credit for being a tough competitor who doesn’t want to come off the mound. Last Saturday he and the Gators squared off against Casey Mize and the Auburn Tigers in the Super Regional. Mize was the No. 1 pick in the draft but Singer was much better on Saturday as Florida got the win.
Kowar is the same height as Singer and has a mid-90s fastball also, though it’s reportedly not quite as lively as Singer’s. He has a solid changeup and a curveball that he needs to improve before pitching in Kansas City.
According to www.mlb.com, Singer was ranked No. 2 and Kowar No. 15 on their pre-draft list. The Royals scooped up both at No. 18 and No. 33, respectively. Those two picks, if they sign with KC, could potentially go a long way to improving the Royals low-ranked minor league system.
Neither player is a college senior, meaning they have some leverage when negotiating with Kansas City. The threat of returning to school for another year will make the Royals pay a little more than if both were seniors with no other options, but KC wouldn’t have drafter the duo if they felt it would be impossible to get their signatures on a contract. We’ll find out sometime shortly after the CWS ends.
Eric Cole, and outfielder from Arkansas, is another Royals draft pick in the CWS, so keep an eye on him, too. The fourth-round pick is a 5-11 sophomore.
There are other reasons to watch the CWS, too. In my younger years, when summer meant I was out of school and I had little to no other responsibilities, I would watch every game of the CWS. It seemed like a handful of the same teams were in Omaha for the series every year: LSU, Texas, Long Beach State and Wichita State would make an appearance now and then, too. I’ve always wanted to make the drive to Omaha to take in a few games but I haven’t quite yet; it’s still on the bucket list.