(Foley Field, home of the Georgia Bulldogs)
Throughout the years college baseball has been growing not only with college sports fans, but also fans of Major League Baseball. It's been an interesting transition, but it's not a surprising one. Not too long along ago information about college baseball players wasn't the easiest to come across, but that's not the case anymore.
Baseball, now more than ever, is a game of prospects. Scouting reports and information about amateur players used to be reserved for people on the "inside", but now any fan can type in a high school player or college player's name into a search engine and they can also feel like a scout or an insider as well. College baseball is becoming more prominent of late because of all the talented college players that are being drafted and developed. Just look over the past few years, you have: Stephen Strasburg, Danny Hultzen, Anthony Rendon, David Price, Mikie Mahtook, Trevor Bauer, Gerrit Cole, Buster Posey, Bryce Harper, Drew Pomeranz, and many more. College baseball is producing more and more MLB ready players. Unlike high school players, these players are competing in major conferences against other top prospects. In high school, it's hard to say this unless you live in a state like California, Texas, Florida, or Georgia. In college, you can be from any state and you can showcase your talents against the best of the best every weekend (assuming you play in a "power conference"). I understand that they're no guarantees with any prospect, high school or college, but it's becoming more evident to me that high college draft picks are becoming "safer" picks versus their high counterparts.
A major complaint many fans have towards college baseball is the "pinging" of the bats. They don't consider it to be real baseball. Well, the NCAA has made changes (click link for more info) to make the game less of a hitters paradise. This will cut down on "cheap" home runs and will also allow pitchers to actually pitch to their true ability instead of worrying about giving up home runs to a light hitting 2nd baseman. Sure, they aren't wooden bats, but this is as close it gets. Also, college players use wooden bats in summer leagues, and that should help determine their skills, even if it's a small sample size.
College baseball is rapidly growing amongst fans of Major League Baseball and it's due in large part from the success of players like Stephen Strasburg, Evan Longoria, and Bryce Harper. Fans know from their success that top prospects are coming from the college ranks and they want to say they knew of them before they are popular. Yes, high school draft picks come with just as much hype and promise, but you have to wait upwards of 5 years before most of them are Major League ready, that's not always the case, but recent college picks have only been taking around 1-3 years to develop properly. In some cases, they can be ready after a short stint in the minors, a trip to the AFL, and an impressive Spring Training campaign.
If you're a "true" baseball and you don't follow college baseball, you're doing a disservice to yourself.
Thanks for reading!