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10 Great Current Major Leaguers Who Dominated the College World Series

CWS Players
Andy Lyons/Stephen Dunn/Kevon C. Cox, Getty Images

The College World Series has gotten underway, with the NCAA’s best duking it out to be crowned the best baseball team in the land. The series is often a breeding ground for future major league stars.

It’s hard to predict which players will pan out in the big leagues, but the guys who dominate the College World Series seems like a good place to start. Over the course of the past decades, some great players like Dave Winfield and Sal Bando have been named Most Outstanding Players of the CWS, but future duds like Calvin Schiraldi and Phil Nevin have earned top individual honors. And then there are the athletes who never made it to the majors.

Here’s a look at how some of the best stars from the CWS have performed in the Big Leagues after glorious collegiate tournaments:

HUSTON STREET

Since entering the league in 2005 and being heralded as the next supreme closer for the A’s, Street hasn’t exactly lived up to expectations. He’s still hanging around with the Padres, but his 182 career saves pale in comparison to what could have been. Street helped propel the University of Texas to a CWS win in 2002, setting the record for most saves and earning himself the Series Most Valuable Player honors. Street was later named to the NCAA College World Series Legends Team.

PAT BURRELL

Technically, Burrell retired in May, but his signing with the Phillies for a one-day contract to leave before his beloved fans gives him a deserving spot on the list. Burrell was the first overall pick in the 1998 draft but he never reached his potential, failing to make an All-Star team. At the University of Miami, Burrell was a First-Team All-American and was also named the Most Outstanding Player of the 1996 College World Series. He had an impressive career, but Burrell could have been one of the all-time greats.

mark kotsay

This journeyman has proven that persistence pays off, putting together a 15-year career for seven different teams without anyone really stopping to notice. Before his big league days, Kotsay played at Cal State-Fullerton where he won the Golden Spikes Award and was the Most Outstanding Player of the College World Series. During that time, Kotsay was a closer and pitched the final outs to clinch his team’s CWS title. In the majors, he’s been mostly an outfielder known for his killer arm and defensive skills.

J.D. DREW

While playing for Florida State University, Drew was the winner of the 1997 Dick Howser Trophy and the 1997 Golden Spikes Award. He also was named the 1997 ACC Player of the Year. In 2010, he was named one of the all-time best CWS players on the Legends Team. The outfielder, who isn’t currently with a team, was the first player in college baseball history to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season, and he still holds FSU hitting records.

RICKY ROMERO

This young pitching ace for the Blue Jays has been heavily scouted and known since his time with Cal State-Fullerton at the turn of the century. He helped them to the 2004 College World Series and was picked for the All-Tournament team in 2005. That year, he led Fullerton in wins and helped bring the team back to the title game. Romero was the Opening Day starter for Toronto this season, and we can expect a long career to come.

LANCE BERKMAN

At Rice University, Berkman was named the 1997 National College Player of the Year. His dominance didn’t pop up overnight — he batted .385 with 67 home runs and 272 RBI during his time with Rice. His 1997 season ranks among the best ever, while leading his team to their first College World Series appearance. In the tournament, his team ran into several budding stars who would go on to join Berkman in the pros for many years to come.

RYAN BRAUN

The NL MVP put together some stellar credentials even before joining the Milwaukee Brewers. From the beginning, Braun was named National Freshman of the Year after batting .364 with 76 RBIs and 17 home runs for the University of Miami. He continued to kill the ball over the next two seasons, with his junior year being his best one, getting chosen for Baseball America’s 2005 College All-American Team as DH. He led Miami to the College World Series that year.

JACOBY ELLSBURY

Ellsbury entered the league with lots of potential, but he’s been besieged by injuries throughout his career. Many wondered if he could ever make it back. But he had a huge breakout season last year that’s quieted Ellsbury’s skeptics, although injuries have dogged him again in 2012. While at Oregon State, he led his team to their first College World Series appearance in decades, leading the way with a .406 batting average. Now, the Red Sox rely on the outfielder’s uncanny ability to get on base to lead them back to the top of the standings.

JOBA CHAMBERLAIN

Chamberlain played for the University of Nebraska and helped drive the team to the the 2005 College World Series, earning the school’s first-ever win there. Chamberlain went 10–2 with a 2.81 ERA on the season. Chamberlain’s tenure helped raise the profile of baseball on the school’s campus, where football was once the lone sport that students talked about. Now, however, baseball is front and center at Nebraska. Perhaps that will be Joba’s greatest legacy, as injuries have stalled his professional career with the Yankees.

DARWIN BARNEY

This young Cubs infielder could be part of the team’s rebuilding plans for many years to come. While at Oregon State University, Barney played in back-to-back NCAA Division I Baseball Championships in 2006 and 2007. During his three trips to Omaha, he recorded 52 assists, second-most among all players. He was selected to the All-College World Series Team in 2007 and was voted to the Legends Team in 2010 as a utility player.

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