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'Never Too Early' Projected 2021 College Top 25



The 2020 season should now be coming down the stretch, entering the final week of the regular season before conference tournaments begin. Instead, there have been no college baseball games for two months, the season cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While this season may have ended prematurely, it’s never too early to look ahead to next year. And, following Friday’s reports that MLB is set to announce the draft will officially be limited to five rounds with nondrafted free agents capped at $20,000 bonuses, college baseball just about has all the pieces necessary to build its rosters for 2021. The NCAA’s Division I Council already ruled every spring sports athlete received an extra year of eligibility to compensate for the lost 2020 season, effectively allowing every player to come back next spring. There are still some details to be ironed out - the American Baseball Coaches Association is lobbying the NCAA to relax some of its rules on roster construction for a season to deal with the roster crunch caused by the combination of a considerably shorter draft than normal and an extra year of eligibility - but coaches can now get a better picture of what their 2021 rosters will look like. So too, can we.

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With that in mind, we have put together a Never Too Early Top 25. To craft this ranking, some assumptions had to be made about who will and won’t return to college next year and which top recruits will make it to campus. An easy rule of thumb was if a college player ranked in the top 175 of the BA 500, they should be expected to sign. Anyone ranked lower than that is expected to return. It won’t be that cut-and-dry come draft day, but it’s a reasonable approximation for now.

Seniors were especially difficult to evaluate during this exercise. Few will be drafted, leaving them limited to a $20,000 signing bonus. Some will absolutely take those deals and begin their pro careers. Others may look at the uncertainty of minor league baseball this summer and opt instead to return for a final season of college baseball. Because the market is so unclear right now, they are generally not listed below unless they have made public declarations one way or the other.

Using those basic parameters, Florida tops the ranking. The Gators were No. 1 at the end of the abbreviated 2020 season and while righthanders Tommy Mace and Jack Leftwich figure to be drafted, they still will have a wealth of returning talent, especially in the lineup, in 2021. Another standout recruiting class will arrive in Gainesville this fall, giving Florida a deep, talented roster worthy of a national championship favorite.

There are still a lot of unknowns all around, but reasonable projections can be made for the 2021 season. This is just our first attempt. We will update these rankings a few times over the offseason months to come to reflect the latest developments.

25 Matches
Expand Collapse All Updated on: 5/11/2020
  1. 1
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    Florida

    SEC
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 16-1 (1)
    Notable Projected Departures: RHP Tommy Mace, RHP Jack Leftwich
    Top Projected Returners: OF Jacob Young, OF Jud Fabian, LHP/1B Hunter Barco, RHP Ben Specht, RHP Christian Scott, SS Josh Rivera

    BA 500 Recruits: OF Zac Veen (7), 3B Coby Mayo (78), SS Colby Halter (123), LHP Timmy Manning (129), SS Sterlin Thompson (187), RHP Franco Aleman (315), RHP Labarron Johnson (319), RHP Charez Butcher (323), RHP Jackson Nezuh (382), SS Jordan Carrion (397), C Mac Guscette (456)

    The No. 1 team in the country when the 2020 season was canceled, Florida should go into the 2021 season in a position of strength. It will almost certainly lose righthander Tommy Mace to the draft, and rotation mate Jack Leftwich is also likely to go. Even if they lose both, a talented young pitching staff, led by lefthander Hunter Barco, should be just fine. Barring surprise undrafted free agent signings or seniors like Austin Langworthy deciding to move on, the Gators should have just about everyone back. That roster combined with a recruiting class that features 11 members of the BA 500, the most in the country, is a formula for Florida being a national title favorite next season.

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  2. 2
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    Texas Tech

    Big 12
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 16-3 (2)
    Notable Projected Departures: RHP Clayton Beeter, RHP Bryce Bonnin
    Top Projected Returners: RHP Micah Dallas, LHP Mason Montgomery, RHP Hunter Dobbins, LHP Jakob Brustoski, C Cole Stilwell, INF Nate Rombach, SS Cal Conley, OF Dylan Neuse

    BA 500 Recruits: RHP Brandon Birdsell (140), RHP Levi Wells (207), RHP Chase Hampton (267), RHP Marco Raya (290), RHP Brendan Girton (386)

    Even in years when they lose a ton of players to professional baseball, the Red Raiders reload like few others in college baseball. With minimal departures, they could be even better than usual at putting a roster together. The fact that both of their serious draft risks are pitchers isn’t ideal, and senior righthander John McMillon could get an offer to move on to pro baseball. But there should still be plenty of talent on the staff, led by righthander Micah Dallas and lefthander Mason Montgomery, and if there’s one thing this coaching staff has proven, it’s that they always figure out how to fit the pieces together in the pitching staff puzzle. Offensive production is also never a question with Texas Tech. A deep, talented recruiting class means that Tim Tadlock and his staff will have some roster decisions to make ahead of 2021, but that theoretically will only make the finished product even stronger.

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  3. 3
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    UCLA

    Pac-12
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 13-2 (4)
    Notable Projected Departures: OF Garrett Mitchell, RHP Holden Powell
    Top Projected Returners: SS Matt McLain, 1B J.T. Schwarz, C Noah Cardenas, RHP Zach Pettway, RHP Kyle Mora, RHP Jesse Bergin, RHP Nick Nastrini

    BA 500 Recruits: C Tyler Soderstrom (18), LHP Kyle Harrison (72), OF Jake Vogel (91), SS Milan Tolentino (96), RHP Max Rajcic (167), OF Jonathan Vaughns (427)

    UCLA is going to lose outfielder Garrett Mitchell, one of the most dynamic players in college baseball, and closer Holden Powell could well join him in the draft, though how the market will value relievers is unclear. Perhaps righthander Zach Pettway draws some interest as a very accomplished pitcher at an elite program known for developing arms. Mostly, though, at this early juncture, just about everyone is expected to be back from a team that was rounding into form nicely in 2020. Another outstanding recruiting class will only help it to be an elite team in 2021.

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  4. 4
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    Mississippi

    SEC
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 16-1 (8)
    Notable Projected Departures: SS Anthony Servideo, 3B Tyler Keenan
    Top Projected Returners: LHP Doug Nikhazy, RHP Gunnar Hoglund, RHP Derek Diamond, INF Peyton Chatagnier, OF Hayden Leatherwood, C Hayden Dunhurst, 1B Cael Baker

    BA 500 Recruits: C Calvin Harris (285), SS Jacob Gonzalez (299), SS TJ McCants (362), 1B/RHP Kemp Alderman (377)

    The Rebels will try to grab the momentum from a great start to the 2020 season and take that into the 2021 campaign. The pitching staff, led by lefthander Doug Nikhazy and righthanders Gunnar Hoglund and Derek Diamond, should be excellent. The lineup will need some tweaking after the likely departures of shortstop Anthony Servideo and third baseman Tyler Keenan, but young catalysts like infielder Peyton Chatagnier and catcher Hayden Dunhurst will help make that task a lot easier.

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  5. 5
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    Virginia

    ACC
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 14-4 (17)
    Notable Projected Departures: LHP Andrew Abbott
    Top Projected Returners: OF Chris Newell, 3B Zack Gelof, SS Nic Kent, 2B Max Cotier, RHP Griff McGarry, RHP Mike Vasil, LHP Nate Savino

    BA 500 Recruits: RHP Nick Bitsko (19), OF Alex Greene (492)

    Virginia has been stockpiling high-end talent in a big way of late, getting the likes of righthander Mike Vasil, outfielder Chris Newell and lefthander Nate Savino to campus when they could easily have started pro careers. They’re doing it again this year with catcher Kyle Teel, who was a top-100 draft prospect before informing teams in April that he wouldn’t sign and would uphold his commitment to Virginia. All that talent is starting to pay dividends and the Cavaliers could get back to being one of the ACC’s elite teams in 2021. They’ll combine a talented core in the lineup with a group of veterans itching to get a proud program back into regionals and beyond.

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  6. 6
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    Louisiana State

    SEC
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 12-5 (20)
    Notable Projected Departures: OF Daniel Cabrera, RHP Cole Henry
    Top Projected Returners: RHP Jaden Hill, RHP Landon Marceaux, RHP A.J. Labas, RHP Devin Fontenot, OF Giovanni DiGiacomo, 1B Cade Beloso

    BA 500 Recruits: C Drew Romo (38), OF Dylan Crews (54), RHP Ty Floyd (70), RHP Beck Way (85) SS Jordan Thompson (308), RHP Blake Money (360), OF Brody Drost (368), RHP Theo Milas (403), 1B Tre Morgan (404)

    The Tigers project to get through the draft in fairly good shape, with outfielder Daniel Cabrera and righthander Cole Henry the only significant draft risks. For that matter, in a draft very heavy on college pitching, perhaps Henry, a draft-eligible sophomore, is the type of pitcher who would consider returning to a less jam-packed draft in 2021. Even if it loses him, however, LSU should have plenty of pitching, led by righthanders Jaden Hill, Landon Marceaux and A.J. Labas. And as always, the Tigers will get reinforcements from a top recruiting class.

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  7. 7
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    Vanderbilt

    SEC
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 13-5 (11)
    Notable Projected Departures: 3B Austin Martin, LHP Jake Eder, RHP Mason Hickman, LHP Hugh Fisher
    Top Projected Returners: RHP Kumar Rocker, RHP Jack Leiter, RHP Tyler Brown, RHP Ethan Smith, RHP Sam Hliboki, OF Cooper Davis, SS Carter Young, 1B/LHP Spencer Jones

    BA 500 Recruits: OF Robert Hassell (16), OF Pete Crow-Armstrong (17), OF Enrique Bradfield (55), RHP Patrick Reilly (104), C Jack Bulger (173), RHP Gage Bradley (363), SS Jack O’Dowd (372), 1B Gavin Casas (385), LHP Nelson Berkwich (391)

    There’s no way around the fact that the personnel losses to the draft will be heavy for the Commodores, including Austin Martin, one of a handful of the best players at the college level. Even without Opening Day starter Mason Hickman, they will still arguably have the best pitcher in the country in righthander Kumar Rocker and righthander Jack Leiter will make for a dynamic 1-2 punch in the rotation. Closer Tyler Brown would have drawn draft interest, but he has already announced his intention to return for another season in Nashville. The Commodores are bringing in another excellent recruiting class, meaning the roster will have exceptional depth in 2021.

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  8. 8
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    Louisville

    ACC
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 13-4 (6)
    Notable Projected Departures: LHP Reid Detmers, RHP Bobby Miller, LHP Michael Kirian, SS Justin Lavey
    Top Projected Returners: OF Levi Usher, OF Luke Brown, 3B Alex Binelas, C Zach Britton, C Henry Davis, RHP Michael Prosecky

    BA 500 Recruits: 3B AJ Vukovich (154), SS Christian Knapczyk (272), RHP Ben Wiegman (415), RHP Alex Galvan (496)

    The Cardinals expect to lose two-thirds of their rotation in lefthander Reid Detmers and righthander Bobby Miller to the draft, and the third member of the rotation, senior righthander Luke Smith, could have enough interest to sign a deal after the draft. But while there might be rebuilding going on in the rotation, and perhaps in the bullpen if lefthander Michael Kirian departs, the Louisville lineup should be quite good. Outfielders Levi Usher and Luke Brown can really make things happen on the basepaths, catcher Henry Davis brings a cannon arm and a solid bat and third baseman Alex Binelas, returning from an injury that caused him to miss most of 2020, will provide pop.

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  9. 9
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    Florida State

    ACC
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 12-5 (19)
    Notable Projected Departures: RHP C.J. Van Eyk, OF Elijah Cabell
    Top Projected Returners: LHP Shane Drohan, RHP Conor Grady, OF Reese Albert, OF Robby Martin, C Matheu Nelson, SS Nander De Sedas

    BA 500 Recruits: RHP Carson Montgomery (36)

    Figuring out the starting rotation without righthander C.J. Van Eyk will be the primary challenge for the Seminoles in 2021. The return of righthander Conor Grady and lefthander Shane Drohan, if things go particularly well for FSU in the draft, would help. Offensively, they have some draft risks in outfielders Elijah Cabell and Reese Albert, but it certainly seems unlikely that they would lose both. Either way, a lineup centered around either one of those players, plus outfielder Robby Martin, catcher Mat Nelson and shortstop Nander De Sedas should be solid.

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  10. 10
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    Oklahoma

    Big 12
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 14-4 (9)
    Notable Projected Departures: RHP Cade Cavalli, RHP Dane Acker, LHP Levi Prater
    Top Projected Returners: OF Tanner Tredaway, 1B Tyler Hardman, 3B Peyton Graham, C Justin Mitchell, RHP Wyatt Olds, LHP Jake Bennett, RHP Ben Abram

    BA 500 Recruits: SS Ed Howard (20), LHP Daxton Fulton (52), SS/RHP Cade Horton (67), OF Jace Bohrofen (137)

    What the Sooners can count on in 2021, barring surprises in the draft or among undrafted free agent signings, is the return of an experienced offense that was showing significant signs of improvement in 2020. What’s more up in the air is the state of the pitching staff. Righthander Cade Cavalli is as good as gone, but it remains to be seen if that will also be the case for righthander Dane Acker and lefthander Levi Prater. How that plays out likely holds the key to the ceiling of the Sooners in 2021, although even if they lose more than they expect, a high-end recruiting class will help restock the cupboard.

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  11. 11
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    Arkansas

    SEC
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 11-5 (14)
    Notable Projected Departures: OF Heston Kjerstad, SS Casey Martin, C Casey Opitz
    Top Projected Returners: RHP Connor Noland, RHP Caleb Bolden, OF Christian Franklin, 2B Robert Moore, DH Matt Goodheart

    BA 500 Recruits: SS/RHP Masyn Winn (44), OF David Calabrese (68), RHP Nate Wohlgemuth (109), RHP Markevian Hence (120), 3B Cayden Wallace (139), LHP Nick Griffin (189), RHP Jaxon Wiggins (262), SS Michael Brooks (350)

    The bad news for Arkansas is that it is going to lose outfielder Heston Kjerstad and shortstop Casey Martin, two very accomplished players who will go down as greats in program history. They also figure to lose catcher Casey Opitz, an advanced defensive backstop. The good news is that a veteran starting rotation should return, infielder Robert Moore, an early-enrollee freshman for 2020, already looks like a cornerstone of the future and another top-notch recruiting class is on its way in, bolstered by lefthander/outfielder Lael Lockhart, a graduate transfer from Houston.

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  12. 12
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    Texas

    Big 12
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 14-3 (NR)
    Notable Projected Departures: RHP Bryce Elder
    Top Projected Returners: 1B Zach Zubia, OF Eric Kennedy, SS Trey Faltine, LHP Pete Hansen, RHP Ty Madden, RHP Coy Cobb

    BA 500 Recruits: RHP Jared Kelley (11), RHP/OF Jared Jones (13), SS Carson Tucker (62), OF Petey Halpin (82), 3B/RHP Tanner Witt (94), RHP Travis Sthele (210), LHP Lucas Gordon (324), SS Aaron Nixon (405)

    Ultimately, they didn’t get a chance to fully prove it, but the Longhorns looked like an improved bunch in 2020, and another year for the young team should only help. The only real draft risk is righthander Bryce Elder. As the ace of the pitching staff, that’s no small loss, but considering what most other top teams are expected to lose, it means that Texas should mostly be coming back intact in 2021, with the addition of a recruiting class that ranked No. 1 on Signing Day.

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  13. 13
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    Arizona

    Pac-12
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 10-5 (NR)
    Notable Projected Departures: C Austin Wells
    Top Projected Returners: OF Ryan Holgate, OF Donta Williams, INF Dayton Dooney, OF Mac Bingham, C Matthew Dyer, LHP Garrett Irvin, RHP Quinn Flanagan

    BA 500 Recruits: OF Chase Davis (57), SS Nick Yorke (87), C Daniel Susac (116), 3B Jacob Berry (214), RHP TJ Nichols (233), RHP Josh Swales (237), RHP Chase Silseth (303), RHP Matt Olsen (470)

    With catcher Austin Wells the only surefire departure from a prolific offense that also includes utility man Matthew Dyer, outfielder Ryan Holgate, outfielder Donta Williams and infielder Dayton Dooney, the Wildcats’ lineup should return in 2021 in good shape. What’s more of a question is the pitching staff, but with everyone from the 2020 staff expected to be back and another year for pitching coach Nate Yeskie to build up that unit, improvement can likely be expected.

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    Duke

    ACC
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 12-4 (10)
    Notable Projected Departures: RHP Bryce Jarvis
    Top Projected Returners: C Michael Rothenberg, OF Joey Loperfido, SS Ethan Murray, RHP Cooper Stinson, RHP Thomas Girard, RHP Jack Carey

    BA 500 Recruits: 3B Jordan Walker (34)

    Behind outstanding pitching from righthander Bryce Jarvis, Duke got off to a hot start in 2020 and ended the season ranked 10th. Repeating that performance in 2021 without Jarvis will be a tough task, but the Blue Devils have earned the benefit of the doubt with their consistency year after year. There are some milder draft risks like catcher Michael Rothenberg and the versatile Joey Loperfido, and there are also some seniors who could elect to move on, but mostly, the expectation is that just about everyone will be back.

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  15. 15
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    Mississippi State

    SEC
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 12-4 (13)
    Notable Projected Departures: RHP JT Ginn, SS Jordan Westburg, 2B Justin Foscue
    Top Projected Returners: OF/1B Tanner Allen, INF Josh Hatcher, OF Rowdey Jordan, LHP Christian MacLeod, RHP Eric Cerantola, RHP Will Bednar

    BA 500 Recruits: OF Austin Hendrick (9), 3B/1B Blaze Jordan (92), RHP Jackson Fristoe (184), 3B Kellum Clark (280), RHP Mikey Tepper (291), RHP Cade Smith (455)

    Not unlike Arkansas, Mississippi State is in a position where they will lose some key pieces to the draft. In this case, it’s righthander JT Ginn, shortstop Jordan Westburg and second baseman Justin Foscue. Also not unlike the Razorbacks, the Bulldogs should also bring back a lot of exciting talent in the likes of Josh Hatcher, Rowdey Jordan and Tanner Allen in the lineup and lefthander Christian MacLeod and righthander Eric Cerantola on the pitching staff. Plus, another highly-ranked recruiting class is on the way.

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    Long Beach State

    Big West
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 10-5 (12)
    Notable Projected Departures: None
    Top Projected Returners: LHP Adam Seminaris, LHP Alfredo Ruiz, RHP Luis Ramirez, RHP Devereaux Harrison, OF Connor Kokx, 1B/OF Leonard Jones

    BA 500 Recruits: RHP Julian Aguiar (344), C Connor Burns (485)

    Long Beach State, the biggest surprise of the 2020 season, is in a position where they can potentially bring back every player of consequence in 2021. The one draft risk is Adam Seminaris, and that’s a significant one, as the lefty was the Dirtbags’ best starting pitcher and a veteran presence on an otherwise fairly inexperienced team. If Seminaris returns, it raises the ceiling for what Long Beach State can accomplish, but even if he doesn’t, this team can still back up what it did in 2020.

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  17. 17
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    Michigan

    Big 10
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 8-7 (25)
    Notable Projected Departures: RHP Jeff Criswell, OF Jesse Franklin
    Top Projected Returners: OF Jordan Nwogu, SS Jack Blomgren, C Joe Donovan, LHP Steven Hajjar, LHP Ben Dragani, RHP Blake Beers, RHP Isaiah Paige

    BA 500 Recruits: OF Owen Caissie (196)

    When it comes to outfielders Jesse Franklin and Jordan Nwogu, the Wolverines will simply have to wait and see how the draft unfolds, as those two are both in the range where they may or may not be drafted. But even if both turn pro, there is plenty of reason for optimism in this program, most notably on the mound, where lefthanders Steven Hajjar and Ben Dragani, and righthanders Blake Beers and Isaiah Paige make for an outstanding nucleus.

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  18. 18
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    Tennessee

    SEC
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 15-2 (23)
    Notable Projected Departures: LHP Garrett Crochet, OF Alerick Soularie
    Top Projected Returners: OF Zach Daniels, INF Liam Spence, INF Jake Rucker, 1B Luc Lipcius, RHP Chad Dallas, LHP Redmond Walsh, RHP Sean Hunley

    BA 500 Recruits: SS Alec Gonzalez (302), RHP Ben Joyce (318), RHP Blade Tidwell (411)

    Tennessee will lose lefthander Garrett Crochet to the draft, but the Vols didn’t have Crochet for essentially all of the abbreviated 2020 season and that didn’t stop them from elbowing their way into the rankings before the season was shut down. Outfielder Alerick Soularie is also a draft risk, but barring surprises, those are the only two players in the mix. With another big recruiting class slated to come in for the fall, Tony Vitello and his staff could have a team on their hands in 2021 that boasts productive experienced players and highly-talented newcomers in equal measure.

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    Georgia Tech

    ACC
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 11-5 (NR)
    Notable Projected Departures: SS Luke Waddell
    Top Projected Returners: OF Michael Guldberg, 1B Drew Compton, OF Stephen Reid, OF Baron Radcliff, RHP Zach Maxwell, LHP Brant Hurter, RHP Cort Roedig

    BA 500 Recruits: C Kevin Parada (48), RHP Marquis Grissom Jr. (144), OF/C Jake Deleo (263)

    If you liked what Georgia Tech brought to the table in 2020, you’re probably going to really like what you see in 2021, as the Yellow Jackets are expected to bring just about everyone back, save for shortstop Luke Waddell. The upside of outfielder Baron Radcliff or lefthander Brant Hurter could tempt a team in the draft, but it’s not a stretch to think both could be back on The Flats in 2021. On offense, Tech projects to have a good mix of veteran bats like Radcliff and outfielder Michael Guldberg and younger standouts like first baseman Drew Compton and outfielder Stephen Reid. The pitching staff could be a similar mix of veterans like righthander Cort Roedig and Hurter, who will be returning from injury, and newer faces like righthander Zach Maxwell. To top it off, another strong recruiting class will arrive this fall.

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  20. 20
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    Pepperdine

    WCC
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 12-3 (16)
    Notable Projected Departures: None
    Top Projected Returners: SS Wyatt Young, OF Billy Cook, OF Reese Alexiades, RHP Cooper Chandler, RHP Wil Jensen, RHP Gunnar Groen

    BA 500 Recruits: None

    One of the biggest disappointments of having the 2020 season canceled prematurely was not getting to see how far Pepperdine could go after a hot start that included a series win over Michigan in what became the last weekend of the season. As much as any team in this version of the rankings, at least on paper, the Waves will have a chance to run it back with the same group in 2021. In a season that could benefit teams with loads of experience, the Waves will have plenty of it. They project to be led by tablesetter Wyatt Young at shortstop, dynamic outfielder Billy Cook and righthander Wil Jensen, who is Pepperdine’s top draft prospect, albeit one unlikely to be selected in a five-round draft.

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  21. 21
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    North Carolina State

    ACC
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 14-3 (18)
    Notable Projected Departures: C Patrick Bailey, LHP Nick Swiney
    Top Projected Returners: OF Tyler McDonough, C/OF Luca Tresh, 3B/OF Devonte Brown, SS Jose Torres, LHP David Harrison, RHP Sam Highfill, RHP Dalton Feeney, LHP Chris Villaman

    BA 500 Recruits: RHP Eddie Eisert (419)

    The loss of catcher Patrick Bailey and potential loss of lefthander Nick Swiney to the draft are significant, but NC State is one of the more consistent programs in the country in terms of annually losing players to pro baseball but finding a way back to the Top 25. The 2021 season should be no different, and if Swiney drops in the draft and finds his way back to campus, the Wolfpack, which already projects to return key pieces like Luca Tresh, Tyler McDonough, Devonte Brown and Jose Torres, will be even more dangerous.

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    Texas Christian

    Big 12
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 11-4 (NR)
    Notable Projected Departures: None
    Top Projected Returners: 2B Gray Rodgers, SS Tommy Sacco, OF Porter Brown, RHP Riley Cornelio, RHP Johnny Ray, LHP Russell Smith, RHP Drew Hill

    BA 500 Recruits: RHP Cam Brown (126), RHP Carter Baumler (212), RHP Storm Hierholzer (320), OF Elijah Nunez (351), RHP Braxton Pearson (359), 3B Luke Boyers (392)

    The Horned Frogs are another program that projects to bring back much of its nucleus, as it doesn’t have any elite draft prospects, although it does have some talented seniors who might make the decision to sign as undrafted free agents and begin pro careers. TCU was on the rise in 2020 thanks to a mix of veteran players who had been around the block in the program and a top-five 2019 recruiting class, highlighted by righthander Riley Cornelio. With some of those veterans back for 2021, that 2019 recruiting class a year older and a strong 2020 recruiting class, the Frogs should be back in a big way next season.

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    Arizona State

    Pac-12
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 13-4 (7)
    Notable Projected Departures: 1B Spencer Torkelson, SS Alika Williams, 3B Gage Workman
    Top Projected Returners: OF Trevor Hauver, 2B Drew Swift, OF Hunter Jump, RHP Boyd Vander Kooi, RHP R.J. Dabovich, LHP Erik Tolman, RHP Tyler Thornton, LHP Cooper Benson

    BA 500 Recruits: RHP Hunter Barnhart (58), SS Colt Keith (59), SS Hunter Haas (242), LHP Ronan Kopp (265), 3B Jack Moss (287), 3B/RHP Ethan Long (295), SS Blake Shapen (373)

    Arizona State stands to lose as much talent to the 2020 draft as any team in college baseball. With a ton of elite draft prospects on the roster, the 2020 season was the clear window for the Sun Devils to break back through to Omaha. Still, the cupboard will be far from bare. Outfielder Trevor Hauver could join his classmates in the draft, but it’s also possible he’ll be back to anchor the lineup in 2021. Infielder Drew Swift and outfielder Hunter Jump are quality pieces to build around as well. On the mound, the Sun Devils could bring just about everyone back, and on top of all of that, ASU will welcome in a top-10 recruiting class that will undoubtedly help fill in the gaps on the roster.

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    Miami

    ACC
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 12-4 (5)
    Notable Projected Departures: RHP Chris McMahon, RHP Slade Cecconi, SS Freddy Zamora, 1B Alex Toral
    Top Projected Returners: C Adrian Del Castillo, OF Gabe Rivera, OF Tony Jenkins, LHP/DH J.P. Gates, 2B Anthony Vilar, RHP Daniel Federman

    BA 500 Recruits: RHP Victor Mederos (46), RHP Alejandro Rosario (61), SS Yohandy Morales (77), C Carlos Perez (131), SS Sammy Infante (147), RHP Jake Smith (203), RHP Carlos Rodriguez (209), 1B CJ Kayfus (345)

    Like Arizona State, Miami had a window of opportunity in 2020 to make a deep postseason run, and now it’s facing losing a lot of talent to pro baseball. The Hurricanes have some upside from a draft perspective, however. Could Slade Cecconi, as a draft-eligible sophomore, elect to come back to enter a draft in 2021 that will be lighter on college pitching? Could Freddy Zamora come back healthy in 2021 and try to rebuild his stock as a potential first-round pick? There’s also downside uncertainty as well, what with senior pitcher Brian Van Belle a candidate to sign and begin his pro career. Depending on how all of this shakes out, this ranking could be far too low or perhaps somewhat optimistic. An elite incoming recruiting class will help introduce some new high-end talent to the roster to complement the likes of Adrian Del Castillo, J.P. Gates, Gabe Rivera and Anthony Vilar, regardless of who the Canes lose.

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    Central Florida

    AAC
    Notes:

    2020 record (final rank): 15-3 (15)
    Notable Projected Departures: None
    Top Projected Returners: RHP Trevor Holloway, LHP Colton Gordon, LHP Joe Sheridan, RHP Jeffrey Hakanson, 1B Nick Romano, OF Gephry Pena, C Ben McCabe, OF Dalton Wingo

    BA 500 Recruits: OF/RHP Grayson Moore (246), SS Alex Freeland (264)

    Another darling of the 2020 season, the Knights’ campaign was spent trying to announce itself as the team to beat in the American Athletic Conference, and barring surprises in the draft and free agent signing period, it will go into 2021 as the team to beat in the league. A returning veteran rotation featuring righthander Trevor Holloway and lefthanders Colton Gordon and Joe Sheridan would certainly give them a chance every weekend, and an offense that was already fairly experienced at the top could be even better.

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