College Home Run Kings

The top power hitters who return in 2008


Aug. 9, 2007

By Douglas Kroll

CSTV.com

 



DOUG KROLL

Doug Kroll is an editor for CSTV.com, focusing on baseball.
E-mail here!

It's tough to say, "In honor of Barry Bonds..." but it's going to be said anyway.  In honor of Barry Lamar Bonds, this week we take a look at the top power hitters who will return to the college game in 2008.

 

The phrase, "Chicks dig the long ball," has been around ever since Nike employed Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux for their famous ad campaign, and with the ball flying out of college stadiums across the nation, it's time to take a look at the guys who will be hitting them left and right in 2008.

 

If Kyle Russell does go pro, the top seven home run hitters from last season will be gone, leaving a new core of hitters to take over the top of the leaderboard.

 

Kyle Russell, Texas, Outfield, Redshirt Junior

Career Home Runs: 38

2007 Home Runs: 28

 

Texas outfielder Kyle Russell led the nation in home runs in 2006 and broke a single-season record in Austin as well with his 28 homeruns. While it's not a total lock that Russell will return for his junior season, it's tough not to put the reigning college homerun king on the top of this list. Drafted in the fourth round by the St. Louis Cardinals, as of this week, he still hadn't received an offer, and until he bolts for the pros, he'll stay on top of this list. Making it more impressive was the fact that the damage was done not at the Longhorns usual home of Disch-Falk Field, it was done at Dell Diamond, the home of the Double-A Round Rock Express.

 

Dominic de la Osa, Vanderbilt, Shortstop/Outfield, Senior

Career Home Runs: 36

2007 Home Runs: 20

 

Another guy that's in limbo and has not officially announced his decision to stay in school is Vanderbilt star Dominic de la Osa. The rising junior was drafted in the tenth round by the Detroit Tigers, and many reports have him returning to Nashville for his junior season to help the Commodores finish what was an extremely impressive season until the fateful game against Michigan in the NCAA Regionals. Making the case even better for his return to Vandy are his Cape Cod League numbers this summer. In 37 games, de la Osa is just 12-for-101, which is good for a .119 batting average to go along with only one homerun and nine RBIs. Another season in school certainly won't hurt the cause. Plus, he'll be angry.

 

Justin Smoak, South Carolina, First Base, Junior

Career Home Runs: 39

2007 Home Runs: 22

 

Justin Smoak was part of a South Carolina offense that launched 113 home runs in 2007 and will be right smack back in the middle of it in 2008 with some new digs. The Gamecocks are hoping their new $24-million facility along the Congaree River will be open in time for the first pitch of the 2008 season in February. Too bad the new stadium won't be facing the river, because there would be a lot of splashdowns taking place in Columbia off the bat of Smoak and his gang.

 

Yonder Alonso, Miami, First Base, Junior

Career Home Runs: 28

2007 Home Runs: 18

 

One of the strongest players in college baseball will be back in Coral Gables, and after leading Miami in home runs in 2007, Yonder Alonso will likely do the same in 2008, that's if anyone pitches to him. The Cuban native finished tied for second in the nation with 64 walks in 2007, which led his on-base percentage to be .507. Alonso has hit a healthy .338 in the Cape Cod League this summer to go along with four home runs, and of course, he's had 36 walks in 44 games, too. That's respect for the long ball.

 

Pedro Alvarez, Vanderbilt, Third Base, Junior

Career Home Runs: 40

2007 Home Runs: 18

 

Vanderbilt better enjoy the numbers that Pedro Alvarez puts up in 2008, because that will be the last they see of him in a Commodores uniform.  Despite his homerun tally falling off by four from his freshman campaign, Alvarez still finished tied for 16th in the nation in home runs in 2007 with 18.  The one-two punch of de la Osa and Alvarez ought to scare even the nation's best pitchers a little bit. If de la Osa does come back to school, that is one frightening middle of the lineup. 

 

Brett Wallace, Arizona State, First Base, Junior

Career Home Runs: 23

2007 Home Runs: 16

 

While Brett Wallace may not have the same resume as the others on the list as far as career homeruns, he's still one of the most feared hitters in the nation. The 2007 Pac-10 Player of the Year led Arizona State with a .404 batting average and 16 homeruns, and despite struggling mightily in the College World Series, Wallace still had a successful sophomore year at the plate. The rising junior has continued to hit this summer with Team USA, racking up a .324 average to go along with two home runs and 25 runs batted in.

 

James Darnell, South Carolina, Infield, Junior

Career Home Runs: 22

2007 Home Runs: 19

 

James Darnell is another one of the big bashers in the South Carolina lineup, as he put up some monster power numbers last season. And just because the Gamecocks' year ended in the Super Regionals doesn't mean Darnell has stopped putting them up. The rising junior is tied for second in the Cape Cod League this summer with eight home runs for the Hyannis Mets. Just like with Vanderbilt, South Carolina has one heck of a middle of the lineup for the 2008 season with Smoak and Darnell. 

 

Chris Dominguez, Louisville, Third Base, Junior

Career Home Runs: 15

2007 Home Runs: 15

 

After injuring his arm in 2006 and missing nearly all of the season, Chris Dominguez returned and helped carry the Cardinals to their first-ever College World Series appearance. The Miami, Fla. native caught the eye of many during his fantastic postseason run. Eight of his 15 home runs came in the NCAA tournament, and Domingeuz hit .350 with 19 RBIs in that span. That is the reason he's on this list, as he hopes to improve upon his nation-high 88 strikeouts from a season ago. 

 

Gordon Beckham, Georgia, Shortstop, Junior

Career Home Runs: 25

2007 Home Runs: 13

 

A guy that went under the radar on a poor Bulldogs team in 2007 had an impressive season and has continued it in the Cape Cod League. Beckham leads the league in home runs with nine and is a major reason why Yarmouth-Dennis is in first place. Beckham led Georgia in home runs and RBIs last season and will be counted on to get the Bulldogs back to the SEC Tournament. 

 

Scott Krieger, George Mason, First Base/Outfield, Junior

Career Home Runs: 28

2007 Home Runs: 20

 

With guys like Brandon Waring of Wofford, Kevin Kulbacki of James Madison, and Brian Rike of Louisiana Tech gone and in professional baseball, Scott Krieger is the next big bat that nobody's heard of. Krieger finished tied for ninth in the nation in home runs last year with 20, which put him in a dead heat with big names like Matt LaPorta of Florida and Dominic de la Osa. Look out Colonial Athletic Association, he's the real deal. 

 

Roger Kieschnick, Texas Tech, Outfield, Junior

Career Home Runs: 22

2007 Home Runs: 13

 

One of the most heralded Texas Tech freshman of all time backed up his first collegiate year with an impressive sophomore season to boot. Roger Kieschnick is also having a great summer with Team USA. The Rockwall, Texas native is tied for the team lead this summer with seven home runs.

 

Others Of Note: William Block-FAU, Allan Dykstra-Wake Forest, Rawley Bishop-Middle Tennessee State, Scott Hawkins-La.-Lafayette, Shane Kirkley-Wofford, Mike McKenna-FAU, Dennis Raben-Miami.

Related Stories