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By Scott Barancik, editor

Alex Bregman didn’t have to go to college.

By his senior year in high school, in 2012, he had led the USA Baseball 18-and-under National Team to a gold medal, just as he had done with the 16-and-under National Team before. He had set a New Mexico single-season record with 18 HRs. ESPN had named him the No. 3 prospect among high school catchers nationwide, and Baseball America rated him among the top 150 draft prospects overall.

But Alex Bregman didn’t want to go pro just yet, and so he signed on to play for Louisiana State University.

Lucky for LSU, which plays UCLA this evening in the 8-team College World Series (8pm EST on ESPN2). As a freshman in 2013, Bregman led the LSU Tigers during the regular season in batting average (.380), doubles (18), triples (7), runs (59), and stolen bases (16 out of 17 attempts), and his season included a 23-game hitting streak. He also has won a raft of awards, including:

  • Freshman Hitter of the Year (National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association)
  • National Freshman of the Year (Baseball America)
  • SEC Freshman of the Year
  • All-SEC Baseball First Team, Shortstop
  • Invited to play this summer for Team USA during its 33-game international tour

Bregman also is one of three finalists currently vying for the Brooks Wallace Award, which recognizes the best college shortstop in the country.

In its 2013 College World Series preview, Baseball America wrote that Bregman, a “converted catcher,” “plays shortstop like a pro, not like a freshman.” It went on to say that “Bregman has special leadership qualities; he is the kind of player that championship teams are often built around.”

Here’s a video interview in which Bregman reflects on his decision to attend LSU rather than go pro in 2012.

Bregman’s teammate (and fellow Jew) Mason Katz — who was selected by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 4th round of this month’s amateur draft — hit .366 during the regular season (second only to Bregman) and led the team with 15 HRs, 68 RBIs, 37 walks, a .454 on-base percentage, and a .630 slugging percentage.

In tonight’s College World Series game, Bregman and Katz will square off against UCLA, whose pitching staff includes Zach Weiss. Weiss is a recent 6th round draft pick of the Cincinnati Reds.

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