Baseball America: Five to watch in 2006

From freshmen to juniors to teams outside the Top 25 that could make it to Omaha, Baseball America has five players and programs to watch in 2006.

Updated: January 27, 2006, 10:57 AM ET
By Will Kimmey | Special to ESPN.com

From freshmen to juniors to teams outside the Top 25 that could make it to Omaha, Baseball America has five players and programs to watch in 2006.

Five Juniors to Watch
LHP Andrew Miller and RHP Daniel Bard, North Carolina
This duo will be linked together for any success or failure for the Tar Heels this year. Miller, 6-foot-6 with a power slider, and Bard, 6-foot-4 with easy mid-90s velocity, could be among the first five players drafted in June.

OF Drew Stubbs, Texas
The best athlete in college baseball led the Big 12 in steals and topped his team in home runs a year ago -- including inside-the-parkers in consecutive games against Stanford. Plus, he's a highlight reel in center field.

2006 Baseball America Season Preview
Preseason Top 25 rankings
Tuesday: North Carolina pitching
                Five to watch in 2006
Wednesday: Oregon State's hopes for '06
Thursday: Wichita State's pivotal season
                 Can No. 1 Texas repeat?
Friday:     Fresno State expects to contend                     Top 25 capsules
                All-America teams
2006 Baseball America coverage

RHP Max Scherzer, Missouri
Scherzer is a closer who throws seven to nine innings. He's as intense as they come, throws fastballs that sear toward 100 mph, mixes in a power slider and walks so few hitters that he considers a BB a pitcher's error.

1B Matt LaPorta, Florida
Texas coach Augie Garrido said NASA doesn't launch things with LaPorta's efficiency. He led college baseball with 26 homers last season using a stance and swing that recall Albert Pujols.

RHP Ian Kennedy, Southern California
From the school that brought you Tom Seaver, Randy Johnson, Barry Zito and Mark Prior, meet Ian Kennedy. He led the nation with 158 strikeouts a year ago because he can locate his fastball anywhere in any count.

Five Freshmen to Watch
OF Jordan Danks, Texas
Older brother John was a first-round pick of the Rangers, but 6-foot-5 Jordan decided college was the route for him and turned down first-round offers. He's the favorite to lead the Longhorns in homers.

1B/LHP Ike Davis, Arizona State
Arizona State's lineup will be peppered with freshmen, but Davis' two-way role means he could end up in the weekend rotation and the middle of the lineup. He was considered a key pro prospect both ways as a prep.

OF Jarred Bogany, Louisiana State
LSU stole 37 bases as a team last year, and quick, athletic Bogany could reach that himself if coach Smoke Laval keeps his word about letting his team run more. He'll also provide excellent defense in center field.

1B Justin Smoak and SS Reese Havens, South Carolina
Smoak and Havens turned down more than $2 million in combined bonus money to provide some much-needed punch in the middle of South Carolina's lineup. The Gamecocks need both to play like veterans from Day One.

RHP Josh Lindblom, Tennessee
A third-round pick of the Astros, Lindblom was the highest-drafted prep to attend a Division I school. His polish and power repertoire should help Tennessee get over losing Luke Hochevar.

Five teams from outside the Top 25 that could reach Omaha
Notre Dame
Six seniors return to a lineup that's almost fully intact after winning the Big East tournament in '05. A rotation of Matt Manship, Tom Thornton and Jeff Samardzija (yes, the wide receiver) looks as solid as any in the country.

Miami
Miami lost twin first-rounders Ryan Braun and Cesar Carrillo and twin brothers Danny and Paco Figueroa and must rebuild the rotation in front of power closer Chris Perez. The talent is there, but it's inexperienced and unproven.

Nebraska
Right-handers Joba Chamberlain and Johnny Dorn return after excellent Division I debuts, but three-quarters of the infield (including Player of the Year Alex Gordon), center fielder Daniel Bruce and two starters are gone, plus injuries struck Andy Gerch and Ryan Bohanan.

Florida Atlantic
FAU won the '05 Atlantic Sun tournament in a rebuilding year, returns every player and added more talent with freshmen and juco transfers. Center fielder/closer Mike McBryde is one of the nation's premier two-way players.

Wichita State
The Shockers won the Missouri Valley tournament last year with a young team, and almost every position player is back. Ace right-hander Mike Pelfrey signed with the Mets, but Kris Johnson returns from injury to add to the depth.

Editor's note: ESPN.com has a partnership with Baseball America, which will provide weekly updates, analysis and notebooks on college baseball.

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