Image credit: Shea Wendt (Bill Mitchell)
Recruiting is the lifeblood of every program in college baseball. After presenting the Top 25 recruiting classes and 10 classes that just missed the cut, here we focus on notable classes for teams outside the biggest conferences.
Teams from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC accounted for nearly all of the top 35 recruiting classes, making breaking into the rankings more difficult than ever for the mid-majors. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t many that merit recognition. These 10 programs brought in strong classes relative to a normal recruiting class at their school or in their conference.
The recruiting class rankings take into account all players from the high school and junior college ranks and were compiled following many conversations with coaches and scouts. Four-year transfers were not considered for the ranking. Player rankings refer to the Top 500 draft prospects, which account for draft-eligible players at all levels.
Recruiting coordinator: Connor Gandossy
Top recruit: Shea Wendt, RHP (No. 232)
Creighton hit the transfer portal hard and has a smaller traditional recruiting class as a result. Still, that group has some high-level talent. That starts with Wendt, who is from suburban Omaha. He’s a good athlete and has good feel for his fastball-curveball combination. He runs his fastball into the mid 90s with more velocity likely to come and plenty of upside to go with it.
Righthander Jack Pineau is a veteran of the Canadian Junior National Team, and he has solid pitchability. His fastball works in the upper 80s and he has good feel for two breaking balls. Lefthander Eli Nissen was named the Gatorade North Dakota Player of the Year. His fastball sits around 90 mph, and he has a standout changeup. Righthander Braden Gluth, a junior college transfer, figures to make a quick impact for the Bluejays. He has a solid sinker-slider combination and his fastball sits around 90 mph.
Creighton’s class is more focused on the mound, but Connor Capece provides exciting two-way ability as a catcher and righthander. He’s coming off an all-star summer in the MLB Draft League and has standout catch-and-throw skills. His strong arm also plays on the mound, where his fastball gets up to 94 mph, but his impact is more likely to come as a catcher.
Recruiting coordinator: Bobby Hearn and Todd Miller
Top recruit: Cooper Cavanaugh, LHP
Davidson has won 30 games in back-to-back seasons for just the second time in program history and now brings in a strong recruiting class. Cavanaugh has a projectable build at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds and came on strong this spring. His fastball reaches the low 90s and he mixes in a good curveball and changeup.
Outfielder Gavin Thomas has an easy righthanded swing and good bat-to-ball skills. Listed at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, he also offers some projectable power. Shortstop Justin Higgins, whose older brother Ryan pitches for Duke, is a good athlete with a strong arm. His defensive ability could get him in the lineup quickly. Adam Katz has two-way ability as a righthander and first baseman or corner outfielder. The lefthanded hitter has power potential at the plate, while on the mound he can run his fastball into the low 90s. Listed at 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, Jed Howard has projectable lefthanded power and above-average speed.
Davidson also tapped into the junior college ranks for a trio of players—more junior college transfers than the Wildcats have ever taken in one class. Listed at 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, righthander Wilson Perkins has a big, physical frame and a fastball to match. He’s been up to 95 mph and mixes in a good curveball, a combination that plays well out of the bullpen. Noah Jouras is a good athlete who can play catcher and the outfield. He’s an above-average runner and has solid arm strength behind the plate. Chris Schuchart has a powerful righthanded swing and profiles as a first baseman or corner outfielder.
Recruiting coordinator: Bryan Torresani
Top recruit: Tyler August, RHP
The Blue Hens this spring went 30-29 in coach Greg Mamula’s first year at the program’s helm, marking their best season since 2018. Now, as Mamula and his staff enter their second season, they’ve added a big, strong group of newcomers.
August was named the Gatorade Delaware Player of the Year and has a strong build at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds. His fastball gets up to 95 mph and he mixes in a good changeup and a tight slider. He has good feel for the game and could quickly make an impact for the Blue Hens. Lefthander Ethan Shaub, a junior college transfer, stands out for his pitchability and control of three pitches. He’s advanced enough to slide right into the rotation. Righthander Doug Marose has a big frame at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds. He attacks hitters with a fastball-slider combination.
Outfielder Aaron Graeber this spring was named NJCAA Division III player of the year and helped Gloucester (N.J.) JC to a national championship. He hit an unbelievable .500/.566/.897 with 18 home runs and 20 stolen bases and brings an exciting combination of athleticism, power and speed to Delaware.
Recruiting coordinator: Walter Jones
Top recruit: Bradley Stewart, LHP
EKU has consistently brought in strong recruiting classes both under coach Chris Prothro and former coach Edwin Thompson. This year’s class is no exception, starting with Stewart, who was drafted in the 17th round by the Tigers but opted to come to college instead. He has a physical build at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and this spring returned from injury. At full health, his fastball gets into the low 90s and he pairs it with a hard slider.
Righthander Mitchell Berger is the son of former EKU star and big leaguer Brandon Berger. He missed the spring due to a knee injury he suffered while playing football. He’s a good athlete and attacks hitters with a good fastball-curveball combination, running his fastball into the low 90s. Righthander Ryker Walton is coming off a strong season in junior college and has a solid four-pitch mix. His fastball sits in the low 90s and he has a good feel for his curveball.
Elijah Underhill was named Mr. Kentucky Baseball and has two-way ability. On the mound, he attacks hitters with a good sinker-slider combination from a low three-quarters slot. His fastball sits in the low 90s and there’s more projection in his 6-foot-2 frame. As a hitter, he offers righthanded power. Shortstop Mauricio Bejarano stands out for his athleticism and defense. He has smooth infield actions and hands, while also providing some offensive upside as a projectable switch-hitter. Outfielder Jayden Brown also brings high-level athleticism and good bat-to-ball skills. Infielder Justin Carinci this spring stole 43 bases in junior college and that speed plays well at the top of the order.
Recruiting coordinator: Michael Cleary
Top recruit: Trey Beard, LHP (No. 384)
As FAU moves from Conference USA to the American, it will do so with a big, strong group of recruits. It starts with Beard, a projectable lefthander who looks like a future frontline starter for the Owls. Listed at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, he has a promising three-pitch arsenal and a long track record of success. His lively fastball works in the upper 80s now and it pairs well with his big curveball. His advanced pitchability helps him get outs now and as he adds strength and velocity, he could take a leap forward.
Lefthander Kide Adetuyi isn’t overpowering but has excellent feel on the mound. His fastball sits in the mid 80s, but it plays up thanks to its life and his control of it. He mixes in a changeup and slider and if he’s able to add velocity as he physically matures, he has intriguing upside. Listed at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, first baseman Emilio Gonzalez has a powerful lefthanded swing and creates plenty of bat speed. For a player of his size and profile, he does a good job of limiting swings and misses, which portends well for his adjustment to college. Catcher Dylan LaPointe has a physical build and solid righthanded power potential. He’s worked with high-level pitching in high school and has solid tools behind the plate.
The class also includes several impactful junior college transfers. Shortstop Brando Leroux, a Canadian native, stands out for his defense and athleticism. He has advanced infield actions and smooth hands and could provide more impact offensively than his 5-foot-7 frame suggests. Righthander Kyle Beaty stands out for his pitchability and ability to throw strikes with four pitches. He’s not overpowering with a fastball that works around 90 mph, but he could pitch in a variety of roles. Lefthander Ben Gilbert is a good athlete who was a two-way player in junior college. He’ll focus on pitching, and his fastball-slider combination plays well out of the bullpen.
Recruiting coordinator: A.J. Battisto
Top recruit: Porter Buursema, RHP
Georgia Southern’s class is heavy on junior college transfers and the Eagles add some instant impact from that pipeline. But it also gets a high-level freshman pitcher in Buursema, who has the upside to be a frontline starter in Statesboro. He runs his fastball up to 95 mph with cutting and riding life. He has a good feel for spin and throws both a curveball and slider and it is his slider that may be his best pitch. It makes for an explosive arsenal and gives him plenty of upside.
Outfielder Sean Smith is coming off an all-American season in junior college after hitting .392/.476/.759 with 15 home runs. He has a powerful righthanded bat and a strong arm, giving him a prototypical right-field profile. He figures to step right into the heart of the lineup. Daniel Haab this spring was named Georgia’s junior college player of the year. He’s a versatile defender who can catch, play first base or the outfield. The righthanded hitter has good feel for the barrel and some pop. Infielders Luke Odden and Cade Parker, both junior college transfers, are solid, versatile defenders.
Landry Mead, a junior college transfer, has two-way ability as a righthander and infielder. His glove and arm strength play well on the left side of the infield, while on the mound his fastball sits around 90 mph, with more velocity in the tank if he were a pitcher only. JD Rediger also brings two-way ability but stands out more on the mound. The righthander has a fastball that sits around 90 mph and pairs it with a good slider.
Recruiting coordinator: Dallas Correa
Top recruit: Elijah Ickes, SS
In the two years that Rich Hill has led the program, Hawaii has had its best two conference finishes since joining the Big West a decade ago. The Rainbow Warriors will look to take the next step forward as they seek their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2010 with a strong group of newcomers arriving this fall.
Ickes, the Gatorade Hawaii Player of the Year, was drafted in the 19th round by the Rangers but opted not to sign. He spent the summer playing in the West Coast League, where he was named the league’s top prospect after hitting .277/.381/.322 with 11 stolen bases. He’s a good athlete with plus speed and good bat-to-ball skills. The Rangers drafted him as an outfielder and he can play there, but he’ll likely get an opportunity to play middle infield for Hawaii. Itsuki Takemoto, a native of Japan, brings exciting two-way ability to the class. He runs his fastball up to 91 mph and it pairs well with his cutter, which may be his best pitch. He shows good feel for spin overall and can mix in a changeup. His impact is most likely to come on the mound, but he’s also got solid offensive upside as a lefthanded hitter.
Righthander Brayden Marx has a powerful arm and a good feel for spin. His fastball can get into the mid 90s and it pairs well with a hard, power curveball. That combination should help him quickly carve out a role on staff. Lefthander Sebastian Gonzalez was a late addition to the class, joining after a coaching change at Saint Mary’s. He stands out for his advanced pitchability and this summer was named pitcher of the year in the Prospect League. His changeup is his best pitch, and he throws strikes with three pitches.
Recruiting coordinator: Sam Tinkham
Top recruit: Braden Connors, C
Holy Cross this year brought in a large group of freshmen that’s especially strong among position players. Connors leads the way thanks to his physical build (6-foot-1, 215 pounds) and powerful lefthanded bat. He has a strong arm and could quickly see action at catcher, but his bat would also play at DH or first base.
Outfielder Gianni Royer is a plus runner with a good feel for the barrel. He profiles well in center field and at the top of the lineup. Catcher Colin Brown is an advanced defender who this spring caught several high-level arms in high school. His offense isn’t as advanced, but the righthanded hitter has solid contact skills. Shortstop Zach Wieder has a long track record of hittability in high school. The lefthanded hitter profiles as a top-of-the-order hitter and is a steady defender.
Righthander Lion Gardiner attacks hitters with a fastball-slider combination. His fastball gets up to 93 mph and while he isn’t the most physical pitcher (6-foot, 170 pounds), he has the upside to develop as a starter for Holy Cross. Righthander Thomas Skrobe is also a bit undersized at 5-foot-10, 205 pounds but his fastball-slider combination can play right away. His fastball sits around 90 mph and his hard slider plays off it well.
Recruiting coordinator: Cody Livingston
Top recruit: Jack Nelson, LHP
The Colonels this spring advanced to regionals for the first time since 1998. Now, they bring in an exciting recruiting class that’s especially strong on the mound looking to build on that success. Nicholls also went heavy in the junior college ranks, starting with Nelson. The lefthander is listed at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and has the stuff to move right into the rotation. His fastball sits around 90 mph, and he pairs it with a good slider. He pounds the strike zone with both pitches and could take off this spring.
Lefthander Dylan Farley, a junior college transfer, also has a physical build at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. His fastball works in the low 90s and he mixes in a breaking ball and changeup. He needs to refine his control but has starter upside. Righthander Dallis Moran has a projectable look at 6-foot, 165 pounds. He has a promising three-pitch mix and as he physically matures he should be able to add the velocity necessary to take a step forward.
Drake Anderson, a junior college transfer, is a righthanded hitter with good control of the strike zone and solid athleticism. He can play anywhere on the infield and likely will settle in at third base for the Colonels. Aaron Biediger is coming off a massive junior college season that saw him hit 18 home runs and steal 15 bases. The big righthanded slugger (he’s listed at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds) profiles as a corner infielder. Outfielder Ashton Quiller is a good athlete with a feel for the barrel and feel for the game.
Recruiting coordinator: Tyler Shrout
Top recruit: Brooks Rice, RHP
Samford brings in a deep, balanced class that should help keep it in the mix atop the Southern Conference. Rice began his college career at LSU before transferring to junior college. Listed at 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, he throws from a low three-quarters slot that adds life to his low-90s fastball and he mixes in a good slider. Righthander Carson Lore, another junior college transfer, stands out for his pitchability. He this spring helped Delgado (La.) JC reach the Junior College World Series and could quickly step into the Samford rotation.
Cade Carr is from Hoover, Ala., just down the road from Samford and he brings solid all-around tools and the defensive versatility to play anywhere up the middle, including catcher. His athleticism, baseball IQ and hittability will help him get on the field quickly in some capacity. Outfielder Angelo Prieto has solid projectable power and the righthanded hitter already has a good approach at the plate. He profiles as a prototypical right fielder. Outfielder Christopher Johnston has a similar profile as a corner outfielder. He has a quick righthanded swing, average speed and projects for solid power. Jackson Harris has two-way ability as a first baseman and lefthander, but his impact is most likely to come as a hitter. He has a good feel for the barrel and solid power potential.
Righthander Matt Manley attacks hitters with a fastball-curveball combination. He can run his fastball into the low 90s with more velocity to come. Righthander Ben Moyer pounds the strike zone with three pitches. He isn’t overpowering with a fastball that reaches the upper 80s, but his pitchability could help him carve out an early role.
Recruiting coordinator: Kane Sweeney
Top recruit: Junior Lopez, SS
Since coach Mike McGuire took over USC-Upstate four years ago, the program has taken off, going 123-65 under his direction. This year’s recruiting class promises to build on that success and provide some instant impact.
Lopez, a junior college transfer, is a switch-hitter who produces impressive bat speed from both sides of the plate. He’s an above-average runner and uses that speed well on the bases. There’s some swing-and-miss in his game, but he provides exciting offensive upside and can play anywhere on the infield. Vance Sheehan has standout athleticism and uses it well defensively. He’s a smooth defender at shortstop with good hands and range. He’s glove over bat now but could grow into more offensive impact as he continues to physically mature. Ryan Fluharty was named Gatorade West Virginia Player of the Year after a big senior season. He can do a little bit of everything on the diamond but stands out most for his righthanded bat. He’s an advanced enough hitter to quickly work his way into the lineup somewhere.
Pierce Bouwman has two-way potential as an infielder and righthander. The righthanded hitter produces good bat speed and power potential. His arm strength and hands play well on the left side of the infield. On the mound, he throws a lot of strikes with his fastball-curveball combination. He’s not overpowering—his fastball works in the upper 80s—but his pitchability helps his stuff play up. Listed at 6-foot-5, 185 pounds, righthander Darin Kuskie runs his fastball into the low 90s and has more velocity to come. He mixes in a changeup and a promising slider and has the potential to develop into a frontline starter for the Spartans. Righthander Cooper Ellingworth doesn’t have the same projectable build (he’s listed at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds) but pounds the strike zone and has solid pitchability. His fastball sits in the upper 80s and he pairs it well with a slider.