At this time last year, the below-listed players had just graduated from high school and were moving on to top college baseball programs.
Certainly, they hoped to make their mark quickly at the next level. As the College World Series opens Friday, these freshmen are now playing prominent roles for teams that qualified for the eight-team event.
Of the 96 players recently selected to the 2012 Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American team
, nine will be in action in Omaha, Neb., including six pitchers.
What a difference a year has made for these nine standouts:David Berg, P, UCLA
Berg has emerged as one of the key members of the Bruins bullpen. The sidearming righthander, a first-team All Pac-12 honoree, has a 1.58 ERA in 47 appearances (68.1 innings) and 61 strikeouts. Last season at Bishop Amat (La Puente, Calif.)
he led the Lancers to the CIF Southern Section Division IV title while posting a 7-1 record with four saves and a 1.05 ERA.
Brian Clark, P, Kent State
The big lefthander has been one of the stoppers out of the bullpen for the Golden Flashes, who are making their first CWS appearance. Clark has a glittering 5-0 record, four saves and a 1.59 ERA this season. At Stow-Munroe Falls (Stow, Ohio)
, Clark was ranked as the second-best prospect in the state as a senior.Mike Compton, P, Florida State
Compton has emerged as one of the aces of the Seminoles' staff. In 85 innings he has gone 11-2 with a 2.86 ERA in 17 starts. Compton pitched at Branson (Mo.)
and during his four years went 21-7 with a 1.40 ERA. He set a school record with 243 career strikeouts and walked only 28 batters in 195 innings during his prep days.Grayson Greiner, C, South Carolina
The alumnus of Blythewood (S.C.)
has been a rock behind the plate for the two-time defending CWS champions. The 6-foot-5 Grenier has started 48 of the Gamecocks' 55 games. Although he has batted only .236, he has six homers and 31 RBIs. As a senior at Blythewood he was the state's Class AAAA Player of the Year and was a three-time all-state selection for the Bengals.Kevin Krause, DH, Stony Brook
The fifth-leading hitter for the Seawolves with a .335 average, Krause also has three homers and 40 RBIs. As a senior, Krause was an all-state selection as a catcher for Tottenville (Staten Island, N.Y.)
.Brandon Leibrandt, P, Florida State
The son of former Major Leaguer Charlie Leibrandt, the lefthander was a second-team All-American by MaxPreps in 2011
in his final season at Marist (Atlanta)
, which he led to consecutive Class 4A state titles. As a senior for the War Eagles he went 13-0 with a 0.71 ERA with 120 strikeouts and only 11 walks in 79 innings. He continued that success with the Seminoles with an 8-2 record and 2.58 ERA in a team-best 94 innings so far.Jordan Montgomery, P, South Carolina
The lefthander has been a staple in the rotation for the Gamecocks, making 12 starts en route to a 5-1 record and 4.05 ERA. Montgomery, who played at Sumter (S.C.)
, also was a MaxPreps second-team All-American
. As a senior he was selected the state's Player of the Year by Gatorade after compiling an 11-0 record, 0.38 ERA and 114 strikeouts – against 11 walks – in 74-plus innings.Cole Peragine, SS, Stony Brook
Peragine, who played his high school baseball in Ontario, Canada, at Belle Ewart, is one of only three players to have started 64 of 65 games for the Seawolves this season. He has batted .314 with 39 RBIs and was selected the America East League Rookie of the Year. Grant Watson, P, UCLA
The product of Centennial (Bakersfield, Calif.)
has gone 9-2 with a 4.41 ERA (33 appearances, 15 starts) in his first college season. Last season, the lefthander posted a 9-1 record with a 2.02 ERA in leading the Golden Hawks to the Central Section title game.