Revisiting 2010 Recruiting Rankings

Last week we unveiled our annual recruiting class rankings for the players that showed up on campus this fall. Coaches often say the best time to evaluate recruiting classes is four years after recruits show up on campus, when the full measure of their impact can be accurately assessed.

Of course, we’re a forward-thinking publication for a forward-thinking audience, and we’ll always rank recruiting classes when they show up on campus in an attempt to predict which schools have bright futures ahead of them. It is instructional, however, to look back at the 2010 recruiting class rankings and see how we did. This is also a way to credit recruiting coordinators whose classes turned out far better than initially thought.

So, below is how we would rank the 2010 recruiting classes in hindsight, based on what the players accomplished in school. Postseason success weighs heavily in our calculus (and we did not include any classes that failed to reach at least one regional), but we’re also looking at whether the players in these classes were vital cornerstones or role players who were just along for the ride. The best classes have a blend of both. Draft results have little bearing on these revised rankings, but you’ll notice that most of the classes that experienced the most success also produced a number of marquee draft picks.

Seventeen of our Top 25 classes in 2010 crack our “revised” list four years later. The top six classes on the list below were all ranked four years ago. The highest-ranked 2010 class to miss out on our revised list is No. 6 Florida, which got just one year of high-level production from Karsten Whitson, two solid years from Jonathon Crawford, and not much else from its class. But otherwise, 14 of the top 15 classes four years ago crack our revised list this fall.

UCLA2010 rank: 3.
Recruiting coordinator: Rick Vanderhook.
BA All-Americans: Adam Plutko (2012 third team).
Other key players: Nick Vander Tuig, Pat Valaika, Pat Gallagher, Kevin Williams, Brian Carroll, Zach Weiss.

The bottom line: From 2008-2010, UCLA brought in three straight highly touted classes, and all three delivered on the hype. Its 2008 class ranked No. 7 at the time and No. 4 when we re-ranked the classes four years later. Its 2009 class ranked 19th at the time and sixth four years later. And its 2010 class ranked third at the time and first in retrospect. This group helped lead UCLA to the Pac-12 title as freshmen, then to the College World Series as sophomores, then to the national title as juniors. Plutko was a three-year weekend rotation stalwart and the CWS Most Outstanding Player in 2013. Vander Tuig stood out while closing as a freshman, then won 24 games as a starter over the next two years. Valaika was a rock-solid defender as the everyday shortstop for three years, while Carroll (the leadoff man), Gallagher and Williams developed into key regulars on the national title team, and Weiss found his niche as a shutdown setup man.

lsu2010 rank: 2.
Recruiting coordinator: David Grewe.
BA All-Americans: Kevin Gausman (2012 second team), Raph Rhymes (2012 third team).
Other key players: JaCoby Jones, Ryan Eades, Ty Ross, Nick Rumbelow, Kurt McCune.

The bottom line: Like UCLA's class, this banner haul proved as good as advertised, helping LSU win a regional in 2012 and reach the College World Series in 2013. Gausman lived up to his billing as a premium prospect, emerging as a bona fide ace and a first-round pick as a draft-eligible sophomore in 2012. Rhymes flirted with .500 that season en route to All-America honors, and finished with a career average of .373 in three years at LSU. Ross and Jones were three-year starters at premium up-the-middle positions. Eades spent two years as an effective weekend starter, while Rumbelow and McCune were nice complementary pitching pieces.

northcarolina2010 rank: 13.
Recruiting coordinator: Scott Jackson.
BA All-Americans: Colin Moran (2011 first team, 2013 first team).
Other key players: Kent Emanuel, Brian Holberton, Hobbs Johnson, Parks Jordan, Tom Zengel.

The bottom line: The highest-ranked recruit in this class, catcher Matt Roberts, never became an impact player, but the unheralded Moran turned out to be one of the most productive players in college baseball for three years, winning Freshman of the Year honors in 2011 and leaving UNC as a first-round pick. Emanuel, like Moran, was a star for three years, helping UNC reach Omaha in 2011 and 2013. In addition to the slugger and the ace, this class featured a front-line catcher/outfielder who hit 12 home runs as a junior (Holberton) and a second successful weekend starter who posted a 2.37 ERA in 2013 (Johnson).

louisville2010 rank: 24.
Recruiting coordinator: Chris Lemonis.
BA All-Americans: None.
Other key players: Cole Sturgeon, Jeff Gardner, Ty Young, Adam Engel, Jeff Thompson, Chad Green, Dace Kime, Cody Ege, Kyle Gibson, Alex Chittenden.

The bottom line: Louisville's class was loaded with difference-makers. Sturgeon, Gardner, Chittenden and Gibson stayed for four years and helped lead Louisville to Omaha as juniors and seniors (Gardner hit nine home runs each of those two seasons, while Sturgeon was a four-year stalwart in the outfield and a key lefthander in the bullpen). Thompson and Green formed an overpowering one-two punch atop the rotation for the 2013 team that bested mighty Vanderbilt in super regionals. Kime was a strikeout machine as a junior, when he was drafted in the third round, and Ege posted a 1.04 ERA as a lefthanded bullpen force. Young was Louisville's best all-around player for two years, while Engel stole 94 bases in three years, helping set the team's breakneck tempo. As sophomores, this class led Louisville to the Big East title and a runner-up finish at the Tucson Regional (losing to eventual national champion Arizona).

Mississippi-State2010 rank: 22.
Recruiting coordinator: Butch Thompson.
BA All-Americans: Hunter Renfroe (2013 first team).
Other key players: Adam Frazier, Ross Mitchell, C.T. Bradford, Wes Rea, Demarcus Henderson, Luis Pollorena, Evan Mitchell.

The bottom line: As juniors, this group formed the backbone of the best team in Mississippi State's illustrious history, the first to reach the CWS Finals. Renfroe harnessed his enormous raw tools to become a first-round pick and a first-team All-American, while Frazier and Mitchell also turned in All-America-caliber junior seasons in 2013. Like Frazier, Bradford was an offensive catalyst and a defensive standout up the middle. Rea was a vital run producer on the 2013 team and is still on the roster heading into 2015, giving him a chance to provide even more value. Henderson and Pollorena were nice role players. Several members of this class also made meaningful contributions for MSU's 2011 super regional team and helped lead the Bulldogs to the SEC tournament title in 2012.

vanderbilt2010 rank: 12.
Recruiting coordinator: Josh Holliday.
BA All-Americans: Tony Kemp (2013 first team), Kevin Ziomek (2013 third team).
Other key players: Conrad Gregor, Spencer Navin, T.J. Pecoraro, Steven Rice, Jack Lupo.

The bottom line: Kemp was the SEC player of the year in 2013, when this group of juniors led Vanderbilt to more SEC wins than any team in history before getting upset by Louisville in super regionals. Ziomek (the Friday starter), Navin (the starting catcher) and Gregor (a key run producer) were also vital components of that 2013 team. Kemp, Gregor, Ziomek and Pecoraro also played meaningful roles on Vandy's 2011 Omaha team—especially freshman All-American Kemp and on-base machine Gregor. In between, the 'Dores overcame a sluggish start in 2012 to catch fire down the stretch and make a regional final. But no member of this class made a significant contribution to Vandy's 2014 national title run.

Indiana2010 rank: NR.
Recruiting coordinator: Ty Neal.
BA All-Americans: Dustin DeMuth (2013 third team, 2014 first team).
Other key players: Joey DeNato, Aaron Slegers, Ryan Halstead, Will Nolden, Brian Korte.

The bottom line: This class helped elevate Indiana's program to new heights, propelling the Hoosiers to Omaha for the first time in 2013 and to their first national seed in 2014. DeMuth was an All-American for both of those teams as an upperclassman, and DeNato performed at an All-America level as a senior in 2014, going 13-1, 1.82 to finish his brilliant career at 37-9, 2.58. Slegers was a late-bloomer who won Big Ten pitcher of the year honors in 2013, while Halstead owns Indiana's career saves record (23). Korte and Nolden were valuable complementary pieces.

mississippi2010 rank: 18.
Recruiting coordinator: Carl Lafferty.
BA All-Americans: None.
Other key players: Bobby Wahl, Will Allen, R.J. Hively, Austin Anderson, Mike Mayers, Preston Overbey, Blake Newalu, Zack Kirksey, Austin Wright.

The bottom line: The members of this class who remained as seniors in 2014—Allen, Anderson and Overbey—played critical roles for the team that finally broke the Rebels' 42-year Omaha drought. Allen had his best season as a senior, when he put up All-America-caliber numbers as the team's leader behind the plate. Anderson was one of the team's best hitters as a junior and senior, while Wahl and Mayers formed an excellent duo in the Ole Miss rotation as sophomores and juniors. Hively, Newalu and Kirksey were juco transfers who each performed well for the Rebels' 2012 regional team.

arkansas2010 rank: 8.
Recruiting coordinator: Todd Butler.
BA All-Americans: Ryne Stanek (2013 second team).
Other key players: Barrett Astin, Dominic Ficociello, Nolan Sanburn, Colby Suggs, Brandon Moore.

The bottom line: The power arms in this class formed the backbone of Arkansas' 2012 College World Series team and the 2013 team that finished third in the SEC before losing in regionals at Kansas State. Stanek learned to harness his electric stuff during his three years at Arkansas, earning All-America honors as a junior and departing as a first-round pick. Astin posted a 2.11 career ERA in three seasons as a standout in the bullpen and rotation before leaving as a third-rounder. Sanburn and Suggs both became second-round picks after shining in the Arkansas bullpen, and Moore threw 198 valuable innings in his three-year career. The best bat in this class proved to be Ficociello, but he regressed each year over the course of his Arkansas tenure.

arizona2010 rank: NR.
Recruiting coordinator: Mark Wasikowski.
BA All-Americans: None.
Other key players: Konner Wade, Johnny Field, James Farris, Brandon Dixon.

The bottom line: Wade, Farris and Field were standouts on Arizona's 2012 national championship team, the first two as weekend starters and Field as a key bat. Wade went 2-0, 0.50 in Omaha that year, while Farris turned in a gem in his lone CWS start—the title clincher. Dixon struggled that season but delivered the go-ahead RBI double in the CWS-clinching game, then hit .369 as one of Arizona's few bright spots in 2013. Field hit .343 in his outstanding, consistent career, but Wade followed up his CWS heroics with a rough junior year.

Oregon State Logo2010 rank: 13.
Recruiting coordinator: Marty Lees.
BA All-Americans: Ben Wetzler (2014 first team).
Other key players: Scott Schultz, Jake Rodriguez, Kavin Keyes, Dan Child.

The bottom line: Wetzler was the lone star in this group; he spent four years as a starter and improved each year, culminating in his 12-1, 0.78 senior year to finish his career 36-7, 2.56. Schultz was a four-year bullpen stalwart, saving 19 games in his career with a 2.46 ERA in 208 innings. Rodriguez and Keyes were gritty regulars who helped form Oregon State's hard-nosed identity. Child had a very good sophomore year in the rotation but struggled as a junior. OSU's 2011 recruiting class with Michael Conforto and Dylan Davis got more fanfare, but the 2010 group also played a big part in the Beavers' run to Omaha in 2013 and to the No. 1 national seed in 2014. Keyes, Wetzler, Schultz and Rodriguez also contributed on the 2011 team that won a regional.

sandiego2010 rank: 4.
Recruiting coordinator: Jay Johnson.
BA All-Americans: Kris Bryant (2012 first team, 2013 first team).
Other key players: Michael Wagner, Dylan Covey, Corey LeVier, James Pazos, Max McNabb.

The bottom line: No college player was more productive from 2011-13 than Bryant, who finished his career with a .353 average, .702 slugging percentage, 54 home runs and 34 stolen bases in three years. A freshman All-American and a two-time first-team All-American, Bryant turned in one of the great seasons in college baseball history in 2013, when he earned College Player of the Year honors. Bryant and righthanders Wagner and Covey led the Toreros to back-to-back regionals in 2012 and '13 but could not get the program over the hump to its first super regional. Juco transfers LeVier (who hit .365 in two years) and Pazos (who posted a 2.14 ERA in 63 innings in 2012) also made impacts. Covey, an unsigned first-round pick out of high school, could never make the most of his talent in college but was still a valuable contributor.

texas2010 rank: NR.
Recruiting coordinator: Tommy Harmon.
BA All-Americans: Corey Knebel (2011 second team); Mark Payton (2014 third team).
Other key players: Nathan Thornhill, Erich Weiss, Jacob Felts.

The bottom line: Payton and Thornhill were four-year stalwarts who helped Texas reach Omaha as freshmen and seniors—but the Longhorns missed regionals both years in between. Thornhill posted a 1.51 ERA as the staff ace in 2014, when Payton earned All-America honors. Knebel earned first-team All-America honors as a freshman closer in 2011, while Weiss was a freshman All-American, helping the 'Horns reach Omaha that season. Knebel and Weiss were both standouts again as sophomores and solid as juniors, when a lack of leadership helped cause Texas to finish in last place in the Big 12.

stanford2010 rank: 1.
Recruiting coordinator: Dean Stotz.
BA All-Americans: None.
Other key players: Austin Wilson, Brian Ragira, A.J. Vanegas, Danny Diekroeger, Lonnie Kauppila, Brant Whiting.

The bottom line: This group won back-to-back regionals in 2011 and '12, missed regionals in 2013 (despite ace Mark Appel sticking around as a senior) and ultimately fell short of sky-high expectations by never reaching Omaha. Wilson and Ragira helped anchor the middle of the Stanford lineup for three years, while Kauppila provided slick defense at shortstop. Injuries hindered Vanegas throughout his career, but he provided extra value as a senior, anchoring the bullpen for a super regional team. Diekroeger and Whiting were two other key pieces of that 2014 super regional team as seniors. That trio reached three super regionals in four years.

oregon2010 rank: 5.
Recruiting coordinator: Andrew Checketts.
BA All-Americans: Jimmie Sherfy (2012 second team).
Other key players: Ryon Healy, Aaron Payne, Brett Thomas, Brando Tessar, Aaron Jones, Kyle Garlick.

The bottom line: The two biggest names in this class belonged to Stefan Sabol (No. 95 in BA's Top 200 for the 2010 draft) and Tyler Kuresa (No. 163), both of whom transferred before ever making a mark in Eugene. But Ryon Healy hit .322 in three years and led the Pac-12 with 11 homers as a junior, when the Ducks won 48 games and earned a national seed (but lost a home regional to Rice). The previous year, Oregon won 46 games and reached its first super regional, falling at home to Kent State. Payne, a three-year starter at second base, was a spark plug near the top of Oregon's order, while Thomas, Jones and Garlick were steady run producers. The electric Sherfy saved 40 games in two years as Oregon's shutdown closer.

kansasstate2010 rank: NR.
Recruiting coordinator: Sean McCann.
BA All-Americans: Ross Kivett (2013 third team).
Other key players: Jared King, Shane Conlon, Blair DeBord, R.J. Santigate, Mitch Meyer.

The bottom line: This class stands as the best in Kansas State history, having helped the Wildcats make their third-ever regional in 2011 and win their first regional in 2013. King was a star center fielder for three years, while Kivett was a four-year standout who won Big 12 player of the year honors in 2013. Conlon, DeBord, Santigate and Meyer joined that duo to form one of college baseball's most formidable offenses that season.

georgiatech2010 rank: 7.
Recruiting coordinator: Bryan Prince.
BA All-Americans: Daniel Palka (2013 first team); Zane Evans (2013 third team).
Other key players: Kyle Wren, Mott Hyde, Dusty Isaacs, Matthew Grimes, Alex Cruz, Devin Stanton, Jonathan Roberts.

The bottom line: The biggest name in this class, DeAndre Smelter, never produced for the Jackets on the diamond; he's now the football team's top wide receiver, a testament to his considerable athletic ability. But this group still produced a pair of All-Americans in the slugging Palka and the invaluable two-way talent Evans. Hyde, Isaacs, Grimes, Roberts and Stanton stayed for four years and made four straight regionals, but the Yellow Jackets could never get over the hump into super regionals during that stretch.

Samford2010 rank: NR.
Recruiting coordinator: Tony David.
BA All-Americans: Brandon Miller (2012 second team); Philip Ervin (2013 second team); C.K. Irby (2013 third team).
Other key players: Saxon Butler.

The bottom line: The best class in Samford history, this group led the program to its first-ever regional in 2012, when Miller led the nation in home runs (23) and Butler also provided big power (15 homers, .575 slugging). Getting those two juco transfers to supplement the Ervin/Irby core in the fall of 2010 was huge. Ervin, a five-tool center fielder, was drafted in the first round after his All-America junior year, his second straight huge season. Irby was a 10th-round pick after hitting .378 with eight homers and throwing 91 innings as a junior, earning him All-America honors as a two-way player.

19. RICE
rice2010 rank: 9.
Recruiting coordinator: Mike Taylor.
BA All-Americans: None.
Other key players: Austin Kubitza, John Simms, Michael Aquino, Shane Hoelscher, Keenan Cook.

The bottom line: Aquino, Hoelscher and Cook stayed four years and played in four regionals, while Kubitza and Simms left for pro ball after leading the Owls to super regionals in 2013. A weekend starter all three years, Kubitza posted a 2.33 career ERA and 309 strikeouts in 290 innings. Simms was another key workhorse for the 2013 team that won a regional at Oregon. Aquino developed into a nice power threat, hitting 16 homers over his final two seasons, and Hoelscher hit .292 over four years as a starter at third base. Cook was a solid everyday player in three of his four years at Rice.

oklahomastate2010 rank: 15.
Recruiting coordinator: Billy Jones.
BA All-Americans: None.
Other key players: Jason Hursh, Vince Wheeland, Zach Johnson, Saulyer Saxon, Jared Womack, Gabe Weidenaar, Chris Marlowe.

The bottom line: This huge 26-man class played a key part in helping Oklahoma State make regionals in 2011, when Johnson hit .356 with 13 homers, Weidenaar was a valuable two-way contributor and Womack socked eight homers as a catcher. Weidenaar and Womack each gave OSU two solid seasons as juco transfers. Hursh emerged as a star (and a first-round pick) in 2013 after recovering from Tommy John surgery. Wheeland and Saxon stayed four years and played major roles on OSU's 2013 regional team and 2014 super regional club.

calpoly2010 rank: NR.
Recruiting coordinator: Jason Kelly.
BA All-Americans: None.
Other key players: Reed Reilly, Jimmy Allen, Chris Hoo, David Armendariz, Chase Johnson, Tim Wise, Michael Holback.

The bottom line: Reilly, Allen, Hoo and Wise stayed for four years and helped Cal Poly make back-to-back regionals in 2013 and 2014 (just the second and third regionals in the program's Division I history). The Mustangs won their first Big West title and hosted their first regional in 2014. A strong case can be made that Reilly was Cal Poly's MVP over the last three years, when he threw 161 innings over 85 relief appearances and posted a 2.29 ERA. Allen was a four-year starter who hit .306 in his career while playing sound infield defense, and Hoo hit .301 as the starting catcher as a senior. Johnson (a third-round pick in 2013) and Holback supported Reilly in Cal Poly's standout bullpen.

pepperdine2010 rank: NR.
Recruiting Coordinator: Jon Strauss.
BA All-Americans: None.
Other key players: Corey Miller, Jon Moscot, Scott Frazier, Matt Maurer, Bryan Langlois, Eric Karch, Michael Swanner.

The bottom line: As seniors, Miller, Karch, Maurer and Langlois were cornerstone pieces of a team that won a regional and fell just short of reaching Omaha. Miller was a standout member of the weekend rotation for three years, and Frazier was a workhorse starter for two years, though he never quite lived up to the massive expectations he carried to campus. Moscot was a quality staff ace in 2012, and Swanner provided three years of very useful bullpen work. This group of Waves also won the West Coast Conference and made a regional in 2012.

california2010 rank: 11.
Recruiting coordinator: Dan Hubbs.
BA All-Americans: Louie Lechich (2014 third team at San Diego).
Other key players: Andrew Knapp, Kyle Porter, Derek Campbell, Vince Bruno.

The bottom line: As freshmen, Porter and Campbell played key roles on Cal's Omaha team; both players battled injuries in their careers but stayed for four years and performed well as seniors. Knapp's standout junior year got him drafted in the second round by the Phillies. Lechich transferred to San Diego in the wake of Cal's attempt to cut its baseball program, and he became an All-American two-way player for the Toreros as a senior. But he was still part of Cal's 2010 recruiting class, and we'll give the Bears credit for him. Cal made only one regional with this group, but that is largely a product of the crippling blow the program's recruiting efforts took in the wake of its near-elimination.

calstatefullerton2010 rank: 10.
Recruiting coordinator: Greg Bergeron/Sergio Brown.
BA All-Americans: Michael Lorenzen (2013 first team).
Other key players: Chad Wallach, Keegan Dale, Greg Velazquez.

The bottom line: The Titans went to regionals every year with this group and won a regional in 2013, but only Lorenzen and Wallach became impact players. Lorenzen hit .322 during his sterling career while playing sterling defense in center field and saving 35 games with a 1.61 ERA. After struggling in part-time duty for two years, Wallach developed into an outstanding catcher as a junior, when he was drafted in the fifth round. The supporting players in this class had disappointing careers, and heralded juco transfer Joe Terry flopped.

images2010 rank: NR.
Recruiting coordinator: Eric Snider.
BA All-Americans: Justin Parr (2013 second team).
Other key players: Thomas Lindauer, Drasen Johnson, Reid Roper, Ronnie Muck

Parr transferred from junior college as a sophomore to help Illinois break its 11-year NCAA tournament drought in 2011. Parr was Big Ten player of the year in 2013, when Lindauer hit nine home runs as the starting shortstop to help lead the Illini back to regionals. Roper was a solid complementary player who started for three years on the infield. Johnson was a late bloomer who helped anchor the rotation as a senior, and Muck was a useful bullpen piece.

THE NEXT FIVE (in alphabetical order)
centralflorida2010 rank: NR
Recruiting coordinator: Cliff Godwin.
Key players: Ben Lively, Travis Shreve, Ray Hanson, Erik Hempe, Danny Winkler, Chris Matulis

The bottom line: Juco transfers Shreve, Hanson, Hempe, Winkler and Matulis helped UCF reach back-to-back regionals in 2011-12, snapping a seven-year drought. (Winkler went on to lead the minors in strikeouts in 2013.) Lively became a genuine ace and a fourth-round pick by the time he was a junior.

kentucky2010 rank: NR.
Recruiting coordinator: Brad Bohanon.
BA All-Americans: None.
Other key players: Trevor Gott, Corey Littrell, J.T. Riddle, Matt Reida, Thomas McCarthy, Alex Phillips.

The bottom line: Aside from Reida (who stayed four years and played in a regional as a senior), the rest of this group reached just one regional (2012). But Gott was a marquee closer for three years, and Littrell was a very good weekend starter as a sophomore and junior. Riddle and Reida formed a sound middle-infield duo, and McCarthy was a reliable run producer.

miami2010 rank: NR.
Recruiting coordinator: J.D. Arteaga.
BA All-Americans: None.
Other key players: Bryan Radziewski, Dale Carey, Brad Fieger, Javi Salas, A.J. Salcines

The bottom line: This group of Hurricanes went to four straight regionals, keeping the school's unprecedented postseason streak alive, but failed to advance past the regional round. This crop yielded an ace (Radziewski) and four solid complementary pieces.

newmexico2010 rank: NR.
Recruiting coordinator: Ken Jacome.
BA All-Americans: D.J. Peterson (2012 second team, 2013 first team).
Other key players: Luke Campbell.

The bottom line: Peterson nearly lifts this class into the Top 25 on his own; he was one of college baseball's most dangerous sluggers as a sophomore and junior, playing a crucial role in leading the Lobos to three straight regionals. But the rest of the class proved very disappointing, particularly big arms Jake McCasland and Sam Wilson.

2010 rank: 17.
Recruiting coordinator: Eric Valenzuela.
BA All-Americans: None.
Other key players: Tim Zier, Philip Walby, Brad Haynal, Evan Potter, Justin Hepner, Cole Swanson, Cody Smith, T.J. Kendzora

The bottom line: As upperclassmen, Zier, Haynal and Potter helped lead the Aztecs to regionals in 2013 and '14. Zier was a four-year starter who hit better than .300 all four years. Haynal clubbed 13 homers as a senior catcher. Walby was a workhorse rotation piece as a junior, and Potter was a slick-fielding four-year starter at shortstop, though he brought no offensive value.