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2021 College Top 25

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As the 2021 season recedes into the rear view mirror, it’s time to take a first look at the 2022 college baseball season. Here we present our Never Too Early Top 25 for next spring.

While there are still unknowns about roster construction for many teams, with the draft having played out last week and many players having already committed to signing or returning to school, we have a reasonable idea of how things will look for most contenders. Surprises are still possible up until next week’s signing deadline and the transfer market remains hot. But we can start getting a feel for what teams will be the best around the country next spring.

Texas tops the ranking thanks to an impressive array of returning talent, bolstered by the decisions of slugger Ivan Melendez and starter Tristan Stevens to return to school. Vanderbilt, Arkansas and 2021 national champion Mississippi State follow, with Stanford rounding out the top five.

Positions listed are based on 2021 playing time, not projected 2022 lineups. Newcomer rankings are from the BA 500, which includes all draft-eligible players.

25 Matches
Expand Collapse All Updated on: 7/22/2021
  1. 1


    Big 12

    Projected key returners: C Silas Ardoin, 2B Mitchell Daly, SS Trey Faltine, SP Pete Hansen, OF Douglas Hodo, OF Eric Kennedy, DH Ivan Melendez, RP Aaron Nixon, SP Tristan Stevens, RP Tanner Witt

    Projected key departures: OF Mike Antico, SP Ty Madden, RP Cole Quintanilla, 3B Cam Williams, 1B Zach Zubia

    Projected key newcomers: RHP Josh Stewart (No. 198), 3B Skyler Messinger (Kansas)

    The skinny: Texas hasn’t topped the Top 25 since the 2010 preseason rankings. That drought may be about to end, however. The Longhorns this season won the Big 12 and advanced to the College World Series, where they lost to Mississippi State in the bracket final. They lose some important players from that team, including All-American Ty Madden, but they also return an awful lot. Texas could have the best rotation in the sport with Pete Hansen and Tristan Stevens returning and Tanner Witt ready to step into the mix. It will have a strong defense with catcher Silas Ardoin and shortstop Trey Faltine anchoring it. And the Longhorns got further good news this week as slugger Ivan Melendez said he will return to school instead of signing with the Marlins, who drafted him in the 16th round. As it stands, no team has a more complete roster than the Longhorns.

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    Projected key returners: OF Enrique Bradfield, DH Spencer Jones, 1B Dominic Keegan, SP Christian Little, RP Nick Maldonado, RP Chris McElvain, 2B Parker Noland, SP Patrick Reilly, OF Isaiah Thomas, SS Carter Young

    Projected key departures: SP Jack Leiter, RP Luke Murphy, SP Kumar Rocker, C CJ Rodriguez

    Projected key newcomers: LHP Carter Holton (No. 133), RHP Greysen Carter (No. 165), SS Jonathan Vastine (No. 207), LHP Devin Futrell (No. 304), LHP Ryan Ginther (No. 329), RHP Miles Langhorne (No. 390)

    The skinny: The incredible 1-2 punch of Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter is gone from Vanderbilt’s rotation, as both were top-10 draft picks. Their absence means the 2022 Commodores will look much different from the 2021 College World Series runners up, but they don’t need to take a step back. Vanderbilt returns nearly its entire lineup and it’s a group that could be even better than this spring with a fully healthy Spencer Jones. On the mound, the Commodores will have to find the right mix, but won’t lack for options with the likes of Christian Little, Nick Maldonado, Chris McElvain, Patrick Reilly and Thomas Schultz returning and a strong group of newcomers arriving.

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    Projected key returners: SS Jalen Battles, 2B Robert Moore, SP Peyton Pallette, 1B Brady Slavens, OF Cayden Wallace, RP Jaxon Wiggins

    Projected key departures: OF Christian Franklin, DH Matt Goodheart, RP Kevin Kopps, C Casey Opitz, SP Patrick Wicklander

    Projected key newcomers: SS Peyton Stovall (No. 33), LHP Hagen Smith (No. 168), SS Drake Varnado (No. 195), SS/RHP Nick Moten (No. 287), RHP Brady Tygart (No. 407), OF Gabriel D’Arcy (No. 463), OF Jace Bohrofen (Oklahoma), C Michael Turner (Kent State)

    The skinny: Arkansas this spring was the No. 1 team in the country for 14 straight weeks but was upset in super regionals by North Carolina State. From that incredible team, the Razorbacks will lose some significant players - none more so than relief ace Kevin Kopps, the Golden Spikes Award winner. Still, Arkansas will not be short on talent. The Razorbacks this spring had the best offense in the SEC and will again have a high-powered lineup in 2022. Shortstop Jalen Battles and second baseman Robert Moore are back to anchor the defense and Arkansas has a high-impact recruiting class coming to campus, headlined by Louisiana prep infielder Peyton Stovall, who garnered first-round buzz but was the highest-ranked player on the BA 500 to go undrafted. The Razorbacks will need to sort out their pitching staff, but they can build around hard-throwing righthanders Peyton Pallette and Jaxon Wiggins.

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  4. 4
    New Mississippi State Logo

    Mississippi State


    Projected key returners: DH Kellum Clark, OF Brad Cumbest, SS Lane Forsythe, SP Jackson Fristoe, 1B Luke Hancock, 3B Kamren James, RP Landon Sims, C Logan Tanner

    Projected key departures: OF Tanner Allen, SP Will Bednar, 2B Scott Dubrule, OF Rowdey Jordan, SP Christian MacLeod

    Projected key newcomers: LHP Andrew Walling (No. 182), LHP Pico Kohn (No. 265), 3B Aaron Downs (No. 422), RHP Jack Walker (No. 489), OF Jess Davis (Alabama-Birmingham), INF R.J. Yeager (Mercer)

    The skinny: Coming off its first national championship, Mississippi State isn’t going anywhere in 2022. It has some key holes to fill, starting with SEC player of the year Tanner Allen and College World Series Most Outstanding Player Will Bednar, but it also still has plenty of talent on hand. First-team All-American Landon Sims is back to throw gas for the Bulldogs and much of the lineup returns as well. Mississippi State will have a new-look rotation and will need some new leaders to emerge. Repeating is never easy but the Bulldogs know what it will take.

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    Projected key returners: 3B Drew Bowser, C Kody Huff, OF Brock Jones, OF Eddie Park, SS Tommy Troy, SP Alex Williams

    Projected key departures: SP Brendan Beck, 1B Nick Brueser, RP Zach Grech, OF Christian Robinson, 2B Tim Tawa

    Projected key newcomers: OF/RHP Braden Montgomery (No. 86)

    The skinny: Stanford this year returned to the College World Series for the first time since 2008. The Cardinal had a young offensive core and that group is back for 2022, led by outfielder Brock Jones. Stanford must find some new answers on the mound with ace Brendan Beck and closer Zach Grech both gone, but it figures to enter next season as the Pac-12 favorite.

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    Projected key returners: 2B Max Cotier, 1B Jake Gelof, RP Brandon Neeck, OF Chris Newell, DH/RP Devin Ortiz, OF Brendan Rivoli, LHP Nate Savino, OF/C Kyle Teel, RP Kyle Whitten, SP Matt Wyatt

    Projected key departures: SP Andrew Abbott, 3B Zack Gelof, SS Nic Kent, SP Griff McGarry, RP Zach Messinger, C Logan Michaels, RP Stephen Schoch, SP Mike Vasil

    Projected key newcomers: RHP Shane Panzini (No. 239), SS/RHP Casey Saucke (No. 474)

    The skinny: After a second-half surge that ended with Virginia in the College World Series, the Cavaliers look solid going into 2022. Lefthander Nate Savino and righthander Matt Wyatt give the rotation serious upside. Slugger Kyle Teel, the team’s leading hitter, is back, as is much of the rest of the lineup.

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    Projected key returners: 1B Kris Armstrong, SP Hunter Barco, OF Jud Fabian, C Mac Guscette, INF Colby Halter, SS Josh Rivera, RP Brandon Sproat, OF Sterlin Thompson

    Projected key departures: 2B Cory Acton (Georgia), SP Franco Aleman, C Nathan Hickey, RP Jack Leftwich, SP Tommy Mace, RP Christian Scott, RP Trey Van Der Weide, OF Jacob Young

    Projected key newcomers: LHP Pierce Coppola (No. 90), OF Michael Robertson (No. 92), LHP Philip Abner (No. 106), LHP/1B Jac Caglianone (No. 122), RHP Brandon Neely (No. 154), OF Ty Evans (No. 187), C Rene Lastres (No. 262), RHP Karl Hartman (No. 312), OF Corey Robinson (No. 376), C/1B B.T. Riopelle (Coastal Carolina)

    The skinny: As is typically the case, Florida this year lost a lot of talent to pro baseball, as it had seven players drafted. But the Gators also return plenty of impact players, including lefthander Hunter Barco, who is a projected top-10 pick next year. They also project to have the most BA 500 recruits in the nation reach campus, giving them a shot at the No. 1 recruiting class. Florida will again have one of the sport’s deeper rosters - it’s just a matter of figuring out how all the pieces best fit together.

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  8. 8

    Notre Dame


    Projected key returners: SP John Michael Bertrand, 3B Jack Brannigan, OF Ryan Cole, C David LaManna, SP Will Mercer, OF Spencer Myers, DH Carter Putz, SS Zack Prajzner, RP Alex Rao, RP Liam Simon, SP Aidan Tyrell

    Projected key departures: 1B Niko Kavadas, RP Tanner Kohlhepp, RP Joe Sheridan

    Projected key newcomers: RHP Roman Kimball (No. 284), LHP Jack Findlay (No. 454), RHP Ryan McLinskey (Seton Hall)

    The skinny: Notre Dame had a sensational 2021 season that saw it win the ACC, host a regional and advance to super regionals before losing in three games to eventual national national champion Mississippi State. While the Irish’s success came as a surprise to some - including ACC coaches, who picked them to finish last in the Atlantic Division - that shouldn’t happen again. Notre Dame is largely going to run it back in 2022, with a couple big exceptions in first-team All-American first baseman Niko Kavadas and relief ace Tanner Kohlhepp. The Fighting Irish will have a talented, veteran team and are 45-15 in two seasons under Link Jarrett. As they showed in 2021, that’s a dangerous formula.

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    Projected key returners: OF Justin Bench, 2B Peyton Chatagnier, SP Derek Diamond, C Hayden Dunhurst, 1B Tim Elko, SS Jacob Gonzalez, 3B Kevin Graham, OF TJ McCants, SP Drew McDaniel

    Projected key departures: RP Taylor Broadway, SP Gunnar Hoglund, SP Doug Nikhazy

    Projected key newcomers: LHP Hunter Elliott (No. 405), LHP John Gaddis (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi), RHP Jack Washburn (Oregon State)

    The skinny: Ole Miss is in an interesting position of bringing back its whole lineup but having to replace its three most important pitchers from 2021. Offense won’t be a problem for the Rebels, who ranked second in the SEC in scoring (7.1 runs per game). They’ll need to find some answers on the mound, however, and will need righthanders Derek Diamond and Drew McDaniel - or someone else - to step forward.

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    LSU Primary 03

    Louisiana State


    Projected key returners: OF Drew Bianco, OF Cade Beloso, OF Dylan Crews, OF Giovanni DiGiacomo, 2B Gavin Dugas, 3B Cade Doughty, RP Ty Floyd, RP Devin Fontenot, SP Will Hellmers, SP Ma’Khail Hillard, 1B Tre’ Morgan, SS Jordan Thompson

    Projected key departures: SS Zack Arnold, SP Jaden Hill, SP AJ Labas, SP Landon Marceaux

    Projected key newcomers: 3B/RHP Luke Leto (No. 277), RHP Grant Taylor (No. 381), SS/RHP Connor Simon (No. 418), RHP Cale Lansville (No. 468), 3B Jacob Berry (Arizona), C Tyler McManus (Samford), RHP Eric Reyzelman (San Francisco)

    The skinny: As Jay Johnson takes over as head coach following the retirement of Paul Mainieri, he will be leading a very intriguing roster. The Tigers had just two players drafted - ace Landon Marceaux and righthander Jaden Hill, who was their Opening Day starter before ultimately missing most of the season due to Tommy John surgery. They return a powerful core in the lineup, led by sophomores Dylan Crews and Tre’ Morgan, and have been active in the transfer portal, including bringing on All-American DH Jacob Berry from Arizona. LSU is not going to lack offense in 2022. If it can find enough pitching, its upside is even greater than this ranking.

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  11. 11

    Florida State


    Projected key returners: SP Bryce Hubbart, OF Logan Lacey, 1B Tyler Martin, SP Parker Messick, SP Carson Montgomery

    Projected key departures: RP Jack Anderson, OF Elijah Cabell, SS Nander De Sedas, SP Conor Grady, OF Robby Martin, C Mat Nelson, RP Hunter Perdue

    Projected key newcomers: RHP Jackson Baumeister (No. 83), OF James Tibbs (No. 382), SS/RHP Jordan Carrion (Florida), INF Brett Roberts (Tennessee Tech), 1B Alex Toral (Miami)

    The skinny: Third-year lefthanders Parker Messick and Bryce Hubbart return to the top two spots in Florida State’s rotation and if second-year righthader Carson Montgomery can effectively make the leap from Tuesdays to Sundays, the group will be one of the best rotations in the country. The Seminoles must replace some key pieces offensively, but their pitching staff should mean they won’t need an elite offense to win a lot of games.

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    nc_state.jpg (1)

    North Carolina State


    Projected key returners: OF Devonte Brown, SP Sam Highfill, 2B J.T. Jarrett, C Luca Tresh, RP Chris Villaman

    Projected key departures: OF Jonny Butler, SP Reid Johnston, RP Evan Justice, OF Tyler McDonough, 3B Vojtech Mensik, 1B Austin Murr, OF Terrell Tatum, SS Jose Torres

    Projected key newcomers: SS Payton Green (No. 112), 3B Tommy White (No. 163), INF LuJames Groover III (Charlotte), OF Sam Hall (Clemson), SS Josh Hood (Pennsylvania), OF Dominic Pilolli (Charlotte)

    The skinny: NC State this year had eight players drafted, tied for the fourth most in the nation. That speaks to the talent of the 2021 College World Series team, but also means the Wolfpack will need to retool for 2022. This projection has catcher Luca Tresh returning to school but the Royals drafted him in the 17th round and intend to make a run at signing him. Getting him back would be a big deal for NC State, which could use his powerful bat and defense behind the plate.

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    Oregon State


    Projected key returners: 3B Jake Dukart, DH Garret Forrester, RP Will Frisch, SP Cooper Hjerpe, OF Wade Meckler, OF Jacob Melton, 1B Ryan Ober, SP Jake Pfennigs

    Projected key departures: SP Kevin Abel, SS Andy Armstrong, C Troy Claunch (Texas A&M), RP Jake Mulholland, RP Jack Washburn (Mississippi)

    Projected key newcomers: RHP Jacob Kmatz (No. 136), SS Mason Guerra (No. 181), OF Ty Reed (No. 275), RHP Victor Quinn (No. 414), SS Travis Bazzana

    The skinny: Oregon State was one of the winners of the draft process, as righthanders Will Frisch and Jake Pfennigs were not selected and will return to Corvallis, while the Beavers’ recruiting class made it through nearly unscathed. There are still holes to be filled for sure - Kevin Abel, Andy Armstrong, Troy Claunch and Jake Mulholland all played a lot of games at Oregon State in their careers - but there’s a lot to be excited about as well.

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  14. 14



    Projected key returners: OF Mac Bingham, OF Chase Davis, SP Garrett Irvin, SS Nik McClaughry, RP Chandler Murphy, RP Dawson Netz, RP TJ Nichols, C Daniel Susac

    Projected key departures: DH Jacob Berry (Louisiana State), 1B Brandon Boissiere, OF Ryan Holgate, 2B Kobe Kato, SP Chase Silseth, OF Donta Williams

    Projected key newcomers: RHP Christopher Cortez (No. 220), RHP Anthony Susac (No. 292)

    The skinny: Arizona is coming off a Pac-12 title, its first outright since 1992, but it hasn’t been able to rest on its laurels. Soon after the Wildcats were eliminated at the College World Series, coach Jay Johnson was hired away by Louisiana State and pitching coach Nate Yeskie left for Texas A&M. Chip Hale was hired to replace Johnson and his first objective had to be retaining the Wildcats’ talented young core, which largely happened. The upshot is that while Arizona has some holes to fill in its lineup, it has the talent to compete in a wide-open Pac-12.

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  15. 15

    East Carolina


    Projected key returners: 3B Zack Agnos, LHP Jake Kuchmaner, RP C.J. Mayhue, 1B Josh Moylan, LHP Carson Whisenhunt, OF Bryson Worrell

    Projected key departures: RHP Matt Bridges, C Seth Caddell, RHP Cam Colmore, OF Thomas Francisco, 2B Connor Norby, RHP Gavin Williams

    Projected key newcomers: RHP Trey Yesavage (No. 491)

    The skinny: The Pirates are losing first-team All-Americans Connor Norby and Gavin Williams from a team that reached super regionals for the second straight season, but remain well-positioned to be the favorites in the American Athletic Conference. Lefthanders Jake Kuchmaner and Carson Whisenhunt give ECU a pair of veteran starters, while Zack Agnos, Josh Moylan and Bryson Worrell form a strong core to a new-look lineup.

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    UC Irvine New

    UC Irvine

    Big West

    Projected key returners: RP Tanner Brooks, C Jacob Castro, OF Nathan Church, SP Michael Frias, RP Jacob King, SP Nick Pinto, OF Luke Spillane

    Projected key departures: RHP Trenton Denholm, OF Mike Peabody, C Dillon Tatum, SP Peter Van Loon

    Projected key newcomers: OF Myles Smith, RHP Finnegan Wall

    The skinny: The Anteaters this spring won the Big West title for the second time in program history and they look like the favorites in the conference for 2022. Veterans Trenton Denholm and Mike Peabody leave significant holes behind, but UCI welcomes back a wealth of talent. Leading hitter Nathan Church, starters Michael Frias and Nick Pinto and closer Jacob King all return, making for a formidable group.

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    Texas Tech

    Big 12

    Projected key returners: SP Brandon Birdsell, SP Chase Hampton, 2B Jace Jung, DH Cole Stilwell

    Projected key departures: OF Dru Baker, SS Cal Conley, SP Micah Dallas (Texas A&M), RP Hunter Dobbins, C Braxton Fulford, SP Patrick Monteverde, SP Mason Montgomery, OF Dylan Neuse, 1B Nate Rombach (Dallas Baptist), RP Ryan Sublette

    Projected key newcomers: RHP Kyle Robinson (No. 490), INF Ty Coleman (Texas A&M), LHP Garrett Crowley (Fordham)

    The skinny: Only UCLA had more players drafted than Texas Tech, which also lost a pair of significant transfers as righthander Micah Dallas and slugger Nate Rombach both exited via the portal. That’s a lot to replace both in the lineup and on the mound. But the Red Raiders under Tim Tadlock have been among the best in the country at reloading and the cupboard is far from bare in Lubbock. Infielder Jace Jung is one of the best hitters in the country and if righthanders Austin Becker and Brandon Birdsell bounce back from injury they will team with righthander Chase Hampton to form a solid rotation.

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    Nebraska New


    Big Ten

    Projected key returners: 3B Max Anderson, RP Jake Bunz, DH Cam Chick, 2B Brice Matthews, SP Shay Schanaman

    Projected key departures: OF Joe Acker, OF Jaxon Hallmark, SP Chance Hroch, SP Cade Povich, C Luke Roskam, RP/SS Spencer Schwellenbach, RP Cam Wynne

    Projected key newcomers: RHP Drew Christo (No. 151), OF Chase Mason (No. 191), RHP Dawson McCarville (Grand Canyon), RHP Mason Ornelas (Texas A&M)

    The skinny: Nebraska broke through with a Big Ten title in coach Will Bolt’s second season and while there are some important roles on the mound to be filled next season the Cornhuskers have what it takes to repeat. Nebraska returns Freshman All-American Max Anderson and brings in a strong recruiting class it kept together through the draft.

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    Projected key returners: OF Jordan Beck, OF Drew Gilbert, OF Evan Russell, RP Camden Sewell, SP Blade Tidwell, RP Redmond Walsh

    Projected key departures: SP Chad Dallas, DH Pete Derkay, 2B Max Ferguson, SP Will Heflin, RP Sean Hunley, C Connor Pavolony, 3B Jake Rucker, SS Liam Spence

    Projected key newcomers: RHP Chase Burns (No. 49), SS Seth Stephenson (No. 245), 1B Blake Burke (No. 264), SS Chris Moore (No. 298), RHP Chase Dollander (Georgia Southern), RHP Seth Halvorsen (Missouri), C Matt McCormick (West Virginia)

    The skinny: The Volunteers are riding high after their first College World Series appearance since 2005. They lost a lot of talented veterans from that team and will need returners and newcomers alike to step up in 2022. But Tennessee has recruited at a high level under Tony Vitello and they have the talent to keep things rolling next spring, especially if righthander Blade Tidwell keeps developing into an ace.

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    TCU Logo Dark

    Texas Christian

    Big 12

    Projected key returners: OF Luke Boyers, OF Porter Brown, SP Austin Krob, OF Elijah Nunez, RP River Ridings, 3B Brayden Taylor

    Projected key departures: RP Haylen Green, C Zach Humphreys, RP Charles King, RP Marcelo Perez, SP Johnny Ray, OF Phillip Sikes, SP Russell Smith, OF Hunter Wolfe

    Projected key newcomers: OF Thomas DiLandri (No. 139), RHP Caedmon Parker (No. 222), RHP Gray Thomas (No. 467), RHP Caleb Bolden (Arkansas), LHP Tommy Vail (Notre Dame), RHP Brett Walker (Oregon)

    The skinny: Longtime coach Jim Schlossnagle left after the season to take over at Texas A&M and pitching coach Kirk Saarloos was promoted to replace him. The Horned Frogs have several key players to replace from this year’s team, but also get back key contributors like freshmen River Ridings and Brayden Taylor, as well as starter Austin Krob. If some young players are ready to take a step forward in 2022, TCU can again compete for a Big 12 title.

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    Projected key returners: SP Jonathan Cannon, DH Corey Collins, C Fernando Gonzalez, OF Riley King, SS Cole Tate, OF Connor Tate, SP/OF Luke Wagner, RP Jaden Woods

    Projected key departures: RP Ben Harris, RP Ryan Webb

    Projected key newcomers: RHP Dylan Ross (No. 114), RHP Coleman Willis (No. 120), INF Cory Acton (Florida)

    The skinny: Georgia was one of the first teams out of the NCAA Tournament, but the Bulldogs are looking much better for 2022. Righthander Jonathan Cannon went undrafted after an up-and-down season that was marred by illness. With a more normal year, he can give Georgia a true Friday starter to build around. Most of the Bulldogs’ young lineup returns as well, giving them a chance to take a big step forward.

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    Projected key returners: SP Jake Brooks, OF Michael Curialle, SP Jared Karros, 3B Kyle Karros, RP Max Rajcic

    Projected key departures: SP Jesse Bergin, C Noah Cardenas, OF Kevin Kendall, SS Matt McLain, SP Sean Mullen, SP Nick Nastrini, SP Zach Pettway, 1B JT Schwartz

    Projected key newcomers: RHP Thatcher Hurd (No. 44), LHP Gage Jump (No. 57), OF Malakhi Knight (No. 72), OF Nick McLain, SS Cody Schrier, RHP Alonzo Tredwell (No. 338), RHP/1B Josh Alger (No. 342), INF Kenny Oyama (Loyola Marymount)

    The skinny: The Bruins this year had 10 players drafted, the most of any school. Their recruiting class, however, went nearly untouched and could wind up as the top group of newcomers in the nation. So, while UCLA might be light on returners, it won’t be lacking talent. There will be growing pains, but there’s also upside for 2022.

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    Georgia Tech


    Projected key returners: RP Luke Bartnicki, DH Drew Compton, OF Jake DeLeo, SP Marquis Grissom Jr., 1B Andrew Jenkins, OF Tres Gonzalez, RP Zach Maxwell, C Kevin Parada, OF Stephen Reid

    Projected key departures: SP Andy Archer (Hawaii), 3B Justin Henry-Malloy, SP Brant Hurter, SS Luke Waddell

    Projected key newcomers: RHP Logan McGuire (No. 372), INF Timmy Borden (Louisville), INF Chandler Simpson (Alabama-Birmingham)

    The skinny: Georgia Tech last year had an exciting, high-powered offense and the bulk of it is set to return for 2022. The Yellow Jackets should again score plenty of runs but with starting pitchers Andy Archer and Brant Hurter departing, they’ll need to retool the rotation for 2022.

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    Charlotte Logo



    Projected key returners: DH Will Butcher, 2B Nate Furman, RP Spencer Giesting, 3B Austin Knight, SP Andrew Lindsey, RP Christian Lothes, 1B David McCabe

    Projected key departures: OF LuJames Groover III (North Carolina State), RP Austin Marozas, SP Bryce McGowan, C Aaron McKeithan, OF Dominic Pilolli (North Carolina State)

    Projected key newcomers: RHP Antony Casciola, C Kaden Hopson (Arizona), LHP Will Lancaster (South Carolina-Upstate), 1B Josh Madole (UNC Greensboro)

    The skinny: Charlotte under second-year coach Robert Woodard had a fantastic run in 2021 to win Conference USA and reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in a decade. Now, the 49ers are looking to build on that success. They got good news in the draft, as C-USA player of the year Austin Knight, slugger David McCabe and closer Chrsitian Lothes all went unpicked and will now return to form a strong veteran core in 2022. The 49ers continue to recruit well and should again make plenty of noise in C-USA and beyond.

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    Oklahoma State

    Big 12

    Projected key returners: SP/DH Justin Campbell, RP Kale Davis, INF Nolan McLean, SP Bryce Osmond, INF Jake Thompson

    Projected key departures: 3B Christian Encarnacion-Strand, OF Carson McCusker, OF Cade Cabbiness, C/INF Max Hewitt, RP Brett Standlee, SP Parker Scott, SP Justin Wrobleski

    Projected key newcomers: OF Roc Riggio (No. 175), 1B Griffin Doersching (Northern Kentucky), LHP Dillon Marsh (Kentucky), RHP Victor Mederos (Miami), RHP Jimmy Ramsey (Kentucky)

    The skinny: Oklahoma State has some significant departures to account for, starting with fourth-round pick Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and has hit the transfer portal hard in an effort to beef up its pitching staff. With All-American Justin Campbell returning to the rotation and the makings of a typically strong offense, if the newcomers find success in Stillwater, the Cowboys will have solid upside.

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