Under-The-Radar Recruiting Classes

2016 Recruiting Rankings

SEE ALSO: Recruiting Archives

Last week, we unveiled the Top 25 recruiting classes in the country and 10 more that just missed the cut. But with 299 Division I college baseball programs, there are plenty of other notable recruiting classes beyond the top echelon. Here we look at some more schools that brought in strong classes relative to a normal recruiting class at their school or in their conference.

Cal State Fullerton

With a mostly veteran team coming back, the Titans won’t need most of this year’s newcomers to step into significant roles immediately, but they have a few who can do just that. Second baseman Dillon Persinger was named conference player of the year last season at Golden West (Calif.) JC and was drafted in the 17th round by the Dodgers. He stands out for his offense and could quickly establish himself as one of Fullerton’s best hitters. Junior college transfer righthanders Jack Pabich and Joe Willis have the stuff to work out of the back of the Titans’ bullpen this spring. Righthander Evan Larson has the most upside of any of the new pitchers. Listed at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, he runs his fastball up to 90 mph with a hard breaking ball. He has some crossfire in his delivery, adding deception, and he repeats his arm action well. Shortstop Sahid Valenzuela is unlikely to unseat senior Timmy Richards this year, but should become the starter later in his career.

Dallas Baptist
The Patriots’ class is led by righthander/third baseman Ray Gaither (No. 173 on the BA 500). Scouts were most interested him this spring on the mound where he can run his fastball into the mid 90s with a promising breaking ball. He is a good athlete and hits for power, making him a two-way player for DBU. Outfielder Jordan Hand, a junior college transfer, gives the class another physical power hitter. Infielders Luke Bandy and Camryn Williams have plenty of athleticism, and were both drafted in June. They have the athleticism to stay up the middle and become productive hitters for the Patriots.

Florida Atlantic

With the additions of junior college transfers third baseman Brad Mathiowetz and lefthander Jake Miednik, the Owls snagged a pair of players who should be able to help right away as they look to defend their Conference USA title. Miednik was named junior college pitcher of the year last season after going 13-1, 3.62 with 127 strikeouts in 79.2 innings for Walters State (Tenn.) CC. Miednik is undersized (5-foot-10, 175 pounds) and isn’t overpowering, but has a strong understanding of his craft. His fastball sits in the upper 80s and he throws three pitches for strikes. Mathiowetz was named Minnesota’s Mr. Baseball in 2014 and was drafted by the Twins that year. After a strong freshman season at Des Moines Area CC, he missed last season due to injury. He profiles at third base well thanks to his athleticism and powerful bat. Shortstop Gary Mattis may not be the Owls’ immediate replacement for All-American C.J. Chatham, but he has the tools to take over the position at some point in his career. Prep arms Dylan O’Connell and Nick Prather have upside to develop into weekend starters in time for FAU.

Florida Gulf Coast
With 24 newcomers, FGCU’s recruiting class is the largest in program history. It also has the potential to be the best. As junior college transfers, shortstop Julio Gonzalez, catcher Spencer Levine and outfielder Eli Lovell should all be able to help the Eagles’ lineup this season. Lovell has the best tools of the group, combining above-average speed with raw power and good hand-eye coordination. He is still somewhat raw, but has the makings of a solid all-around player. Gonzalez and Levine are both strong defenders who will help the Eagles up the middle. Outfielder Marc Coffers is the best of FGCU’s prep recruits, bringing impressive athleticism and offensive upside. He caught early in his prep career, but he has largely moved to the outfield so as not to waste his plus speed. Righthander Kutter Crawford, the younger brother of Reds prospect Jonathon Crawford, stands out among the new pitchers. The junior college transfer doesn’t have his brother’s arm strength, but throws four pitches for strikes and earns praise for his pitchability.

The Rainbow Warriors brought in 20 newcomers this year, a group that is one of their best in recent years. The class is heavy on physical, athletic players who can provide immediate impact. Hawaii added a pair of key two-way players in Carter Loewen and Logan Pouelsen. Loewen, who was drafted in the 40th round by the Blue Jays, is listed at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and figures to log important innings on the mound while also providing some thump at the plate. Pouelsen had Tommy John surgery last spring and will be unable to pitch at least part of this season. He’ll still be able to hit and his powerful bat should play right away. Before his injury, he threw in the low 90s and will be a key part of the pitching staff whenever he is able to get back on the mound. Infielder Dustin Demeter was drafted by the Marlins in the 38th round and has shown a good feel for hitting. The class also features some key additions from the junior college ranks. Both lefthander Dominic DeMiero and outfielder Dylan Vchulek come to Hawaii from Bellevue (Wash.) JC and will likely take on big roles this spring. DeMiero has some projectability to go with a good fastball-changeup combination. Vchulek is a disciplined hitter who runs and defends well in center field.

The Dolphins’ recruiting class featured commitments from a pair of righthanders who ranked in the BA 500 this spring. They lost Chris Rodriguez (No. 162) after he was drafted in the fourth round by the Angels, but they held on to Mark Potter (No. 357), who has a chance to become a Friday starter. Listed at 6-foot-6, 235 pounds, he fills up the strike zone with his three-pitch mix. His fastball can reach 94 mph, but should improve even more as he physically matures and learns how to use his height to its full advantage. Righthander Tyler Santana wasn’t as high-profile as Rodriguez and Potter, but he also has the potential to become a member of the rotation during his career. He has advanced pitchability to go with a fastball that gets up to 90 mph and a solid changeup. Among the position players, both second baseman Scott Dubrule and outfielder Ruben Someillan could earn big roles as freshmen. Dubrule has a good feel for hitting, while Someillan has plus speed and runs down balls well in center field.

Kent State
Though the Golden Flashes brought in a smaller class this year, it still has some impactful players. Shortstop/righthander John Matthews is the biggest addition and has the tools to help in multiple facets of the game. Kent State returns senior starting middle infielders, but Matthews will likely factor into the infield in some role. On the mound, he has the makings of a solid starter. His fastball gets up to 89 mph, and he throws three pitches from two distinct arm slots – one over the top and one sidearm. Outfielder Nick Kanavas, a junior college transfer, is still learning to tap into his raw power, but has a chance to step into a spot in the outfield. Righthander Tyler Drabick gives pitching coach Mike Birkbeck a projectable arm to mold. Drabick, listed at 6-foot-3, 180 pounds, has a loose arm and a good fastball-breaking ball combination.

The Wolfpack staff has a strong group of newcomers in their first full recruiting class since coming to Nevada last June. Raw, toolsy outfielder Otis Statum (No. 344) has the most upside in the class. He has a physical frame (6-foot-2, 190 pounds) with the power potential to match. But he is also an above-average runner and could play either center or right field for the Wolfpack. Junior college transfer Michael Echavia began his college career at Hawaii as a pitcher and was a two-way player at Chabot (Calif.) JC, but will just be a hitter at Nevada. He drives the ball with a quiet lefthanded swing and has the versatility to play anywhere in the outfield or at first base. Lefthander Ryan Anderson has the most upside of the incoming pitchers. Listed at 6-foot-6, 180 pounds, he throws in the upper 80s now, but offers plenty of projection to go with solid pitchability. Righthander Grant Ford may make an impact quicker, as he has a loose, easy delivery and runs his fastball up to 94 mph.

Saint Louis
The Billikens’ large recruiting class is one of the best in head coach Darin Hendrickson’s 10 years at Saint Louis. Righthander Garret Acton, drafted in the 35th round by the White Sox, has the most upside of the newcomers. He is still learning the finer points of his craft, but can run his fastball up to 94 mph to go with a promising changeup and breaking ball. The class also includes several junior college transfers who will be expected to make more immediate impacts. Third baseman Carter Hanford is a good defender and has some pop in his bat. He was an all-star in the Northwoods League this summer and has a good feel for the game. SLU went West to get outfielder Aaron Case and first baseman Nick Reeser from Cyrpress (Calif.) CC. Case has the speed to hit leadoff and play center field, while Reeser has a mature approach at the plate with gap power.

San Diego State
The Aztecs’ recruiting class is highlighted by outfielder Avery Tuck (No. 177) who combines big-time tools and a physical 6-foot-5, 190-pound frame. He has plus raw power and is an above-average runner underway. He could play center field for San Diego State, though he profiles better in right field as a professional. Projectable lefthander Hayden Petrovick has advanced control that should allow him to take on a significant role as a freshman. He pitches in the upper 80s now with good feel for his changeup, and projects to add velocity as he fills out his 6-foot-4 frame. Righthander Jorge Fernandez, a transfer from San Jacinto (Texas) JC, could immediately take over the closer’s role this spring after saving 10 games last spring to help San Jack reach the Junior College World Series. His low-90s fastball has running action and his breaking ball gives him an out pitch.

Santa Clara
The Broncos believe their 18-man recruiting class is their best since head coach Dan O’Brien and recruiting coordinator Gabe Ribas came to Santa Clara after the 2011 season. The class adds some high upside, athletic position players and pitchers. Outfielder Andre Nnebe (No. 343) is both the biggest name and, at 6-foot-7, 214 pounds, biggest player in the class. Thanks to his size, righthanded power and Northern California background, he often is compared to Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge. But it may take him a while to reach that kind of ceiling as he adjusts to a higher level of pitching than he saw in high school. Catcher Jake MacNicholas is much more polished, especially at the plate. He’ll need some refinement behind the plate, but with his advanced approach and power potential he could quickly become one of the Broncos’ best hitters. On the mound, righthander Grant Nechak offers some upside with an athletic, projectable frame and a deceptive crossfire delivery that allows his fastball-slider combination to play up.

Stony Brook
The Seawolves bring in a solid all-around class with athletic position players and projectable pitchers. Michael Wilson, picked in the 15th round by the Red Sox, is the most high-profile newcomer. He was drafted as a shortstop, but his speed and athleticism would also play well in the outfield. The lefthanded hitter has a smooth swing and should grow into more power as he physically matures. Outfielder Chris Hamilton stands out for his feel at the plate and gap-to-gap approach. He is a good defender with a strong arm who could fit in center or right field. Righthanders Brian Herrmann and Sam Turcotte are the best of the freshmen pitchers. Both have the makings of future weekend starters thanks to the plane they get on their fastballs, ability to throw their breaking balls for strikes and their projectable frames (Herrmann is listed at 6-foot-4, 170 pounds, Turcotte at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds).

Washington State
Following Marty Lees’ first season as head coach at Washington State, he and recruiting coordinator Dan Spencer bring in a 12-man class heavy on junior college transfers they believe can provide immediate impact for the Cougars. Shortstop Andres Alvarez, one of the junior college transfers, comes to Washington State as a sophomore and will be expected to lead a new-look infield for the Cougars this spring. Righthander Danny Wallum, listed at 6-foot-7, 225 pounds, also transferred in after one year of junior college and will likely pitch on the weekends. His fastball sits in the low 90s and he has feel for a pair of secondary offerings. The class also includes a pair of in-state prep stars who were drafted in June with projectable lefty A.J. Block (39th round) and speedy middle infielder Danny Sinatro (40th round).

West Virginia
The Mountaineers leaned heavily on their strong freshman class last year, averaging about five freshmen per game in the starting lineup, including freshmen All-Americans outfielder Darius Hill and third baseman Ivan Vera. West Virginia probably won’t need as big a contribution from this year’s newcomers, but several have a chance to be impactful, especially on the mound. Massive righthander/first baseman Alek Manoah (No. 349) is listed at 6-foot-6, 280 pounds and has power both on the mound and at the plate. His fastball can reach 94 mph, though he pitched more in the upper 80s this spring. His professional future is on the mound, but he will play both ways for West Virginia. Righthander/third baseman Isaiah Kearns will also have a chance to be a two-way player. He also is more of a pitcher with a low-90s fastball and feel for his changeup, but his athleticism plays well in the batter’s box as well. Righthander Carter Camp was a late addition to the class and brings another big, physical power pitcher to Morgantown. He runs his fastball up to 94 mph and a tight curveball. Righthanders Sam Kessler, Kade Strowd and Frank Vesuvio all have a chance to develop into solid members of West Virginia’s staff.

Western Kentucky
As head coach John Pawlowski heads into his second season at Western Kentucky, a 16-man recruiting class adds new talent to the Hilltoppers. Righthander Paul Kirkpatrick, a junior college transfer, got some notoriety this fall as he joined Great Britain’s roster for the World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament. He appeared in two games and went 1-0, 0.00 as Britain made the finals before falling to Israel. Kirkpatrick isn’t overpowering, but he has a good pitchability and feel for three pitches. Physical and toolsy, Wyatt Featherston was drafted in the 34th round by the Rockies and has the makings of a prototypical corner outfielder. Junior college transfer Colie Currie has above-average speed that makes him a good fit at the top of the lineup and in center field. Kevin Lambert is a steady defender on the left side of the infield with an above-average arm. He is still developing as a hitter, but his defensive ability gives him a chance to play right away.

William & Mary
Coming off a berth in the NCAA tournament last season, William & Mary brings in a strong group of freshmen. The newcomers are led by righthander Jamie Sara, who was drafted in the 12th round by the Padres. Listed at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, he has a good pitcher’s frame and can run his fastball into the low 90s. He still has some projection to him and has a chance to develop into a key piece of the Tribe’s staff. Righthander Wade Strain doesn’t throw as hard as Sara, but also offers plenty of projectability in his 6-foot-5, 180-pound frame. The Tribe also adds athletic two-way player Michael Goldak, who can help both in the infield and on the mound.