With the Major League Baseball draft beginning today and Kansas State playing in its first super regional starting Saturday at Oregon State, I thought we could take a look at what makes Kansas State junior center fielder Jared King the Wildcats’ top pro prospect.
I talked to a couple of guys who know a few things about college baseball — Baseball America national college baseball writer Aaron Fitt and Rob Buska, host of The Bush Leagues on NBC Sports Radio, about King’s future.
Fitt has been with Baseball America for nine years. Buska was the play-by-play man for Cal State Fullerton from 2001 to 2004, including College World Series trips in ’03 and ’04 including a national championship game in ’04. He also spent a couple of years in our fair state as the Sports Director for the Western Kansas Broadcast center in Garden City.
Without knowing who they would pick, I asked both of them, separately, who was K-State’s top guy on MLB radars. Both answered in about a half-second.
“It’s King,” Fitt said.
“Jared King,” Buska said. “King all the way.”
Both said King, 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, could go in the first two rounds of the draft because of his combination of size, hitting ability and improved defense.
“King is a top two rounds kind of talent,” Fitt said. “(Kansas State second baseman Ross Kivett) is a really good player, too, but King is their best. Just the size and talent.”
King was the preseason Big 12 player of the year this season after leading the Big 12 with a .378 batting average as a sophomore, but only two other teammates batted over .300 last year and the Wildcats didn’t make the NCAA Tournament.
This year, he hit .327 — and had seven teammates hit over .300, and the Wildcats are playing in the Super Regionals for the first time. He made his teammates better this year.
“He’s shown this year how solid he is defensively,” Buska said. “He was already a guy teams were looking at, but with the success the team has had this year, he’s really helped himself. So what if his numbers aren’t as good? They’re still numbers most guys would kill for, and they (the Wildcats) are still playing. That matters.”
I’m headed to Corvallis this afternoon to cover the super regional, and I’ll be in Eugene on Friday to watch K-State’s Eryk Kynard in the high jump finals at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Tournament.
— Tony Adame