Top Recruiting Classes And Reports
1. Louisiana State
Recruiting coordinator: Nolan Cain
Top recruit: Jaden Hill, RHP (No. 86)
Overview: No one had a better draft than LSU. Not only did it get three key pieces from its 2017 team back when righthander Zack Hess and outfielders Antoine Duplantis and Zach Watson decided not to sign, but it also landed nearly its entire recruiting class. The Tigers lost just two commits, and first-rounder Brice Turang went down to the deadline before signing with the Brewers. They still ended up with eight players from the BA 500, the most in the nation, and, as a result, the No. 1 recruiting class. It is LSU’s first top-ranked class since 2014, a group that included future stars such as Alex Lange, Greg Deichmann and Mike Papierski and helped lead the Tigers to a runner-up finish at the 2017 College World Series.
Hitters: LSU brought in a trio of catchers who immediately take over at the position. C.J. Willis (195) is the lone freshman of the group and represents the future at the position. He is athletic and has a smooth lefthanded swing, but also has some rawness to his game still. Saul Garza and Brock Mathis, both junior college transfers, will help handle the catching load this year. Garza was drafted out of high school, last year hit 23 home runs at Howard (Texas) JC and graduated in just one year. He is big and physical and has a strong arm behind the plate. Mathis is also a solid defender behind the plate and is coming off a broken hamate, which limited him this spring. Giovanni DiGiacomo (465) fits the mold of speedy, high-end defenders LSU so often has in center field. With Duplantis and Watson returning he won’t be counted on this year, but he should be ready to succeed them. Third baseman Drew Bianco (490), the son of Mississippi coach Mike Bianco, is a solid all-around player. He has a good understanding of the game and will hit for solid power. Infielder Gavin Dugas is the sleeper of the group. He flew under the radar in high school but is a plus runner and has impressive bat speed. He could quickly assert himself at second or third base. First baseman Cade Beloso was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Louisiana and brings a powerful bat.
Pitchers: Several of the newcomers on the mound will make an immediate impact for LSU, with a few stepping into sizable roles. Righthander Landon Marceaux (109) was one of the most polished prep arms in the draft and pitched for USA Baseball’s 18U team at the 2017 World Cup. He’s undersized for a righthander but is advanced enough to begin his career in the Tigers' rotation thanks to his above-average control of a solid three-pitch arsenal. His fastball sits in the low 90s and he has two above-average secondary offerings. Righthanders Jaden Hill and Cole Henry (225) offer the most projection in the class. Hill was an accomplished prep quarterback and has high-end athleticism to go with a 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame. His fastball reaches 97 mph and he mixes in a good changeup. Henry is listed at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and has a track record for throwing strikes. His stuff is already solid—he throws in the low 90s with a curveball that shows plus—but as he matures, both physically and as a pitcher, he could make a big jump in college. Righthanders Will Ripoll (183) and Chase Costello (289) have been two-way players and will get a chance to continue in college, but figure to eventually settle on the mound. Ripoll has a solid three-pitch arsenal and Costello offers impressive projection thanks to his easy arm action and sinker-slider combination. Lefthander Easton McMurray missed last season due to a neck injury but over the summer got back on the mound. He has a big, physical frame and a lively fastball that sits around 90 mph. Righthander Aaron George served as the closer at San Jacinto (Texas) JC the last two years. He’s physically imposing at a listed 6-foot-5, 235 pounds and attacks hitters with his tight slider.
|Rank||Name, Pos.||B-T||Ht.||Wt.||Drafted||Previous school|
|86||Jaden Hill, RHP||R-R||6-4||215||Cardinals (38)||Ashdown (Ark.) HS|
|109||Landon Marceaux, RHP||R-R||5-11||180||Yankees (37)||Destrehan (La.) HS|
|183||Will Ripoll, RHP||R-R||6-0||185||Curtis Christian HS, River Ridge, La.|
|195||C.J. Willis, C||L-R||6-2||190||Rays (39)||Ruston (La.) HS|
|225||Cole Henry, RHP||R-R||6-4||205||Tigers (38)||Florence (Ala.) HS|
|289||Chase Costello, RHP||R-R||6-4||210||Pompano Beach (Fla.) HS|
|465||Giovanni DiGiacomo, OF||L-L||6-1||185||Pirates (29)||Canterbury School, Fort Myers, Fla.|
|490||Drew Bianco, 3B||R-R||6-0||200||Oxford (Miss.) HS|
|Easton McMurray, LHP||R-L||6-4||198||Rockies (37)||Liberty HS, Bakersfield, Calif.|
|Saul Garza, C||R-R||6-3||225||Cardinals '17 (31)||Howard (Texas) JC|
Recruiting coordinator: Mike Baxter
Top recruit: Kumar Rocker, RHP (No. 13)
Overview: The Commodores on signing day last year officially committed six of the top 20 prep players in the 2018 class but holding on to that haul was always going to be difficult. Vanderbilt landed two of those six players—righthanders Kumar Rocker and Austin Becker—but it saw six commits sign for a total of $13.4 million. After those losses, the Commodores fell short of a second straight top-ranked class. They did, however, extend their record streak of Top 25 classes to 14 years.
Hitters: First baseman John Malcolm (325) was one of the top prep players in Michigan and brings a powerful lefthanded swing to Nashville. He has plus raw power and is well built at a listed 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. Isaiah Thomas is a toolsy outfielder with plus speed. He had a strong summer in the Cal Ripken League, an indication that he may be able to quickly break into a crowded Vanderbilt lineup. Third baseman Justyn-Henry Malloy has a long track record for hitting and brings an advanced approach at the plate. Infielder Tate Kolwyck was an accomplished high school quarterback in Tennessee and brings athleticism to the diamond. He can play anywhere on the infield and has some pop in his bat.
Pitchers: The Commodores’ class features high-end pitching, headlined by Rocker, the highest ranked player from the BA 500 on campus this fall. He stands out both for his physicality (he’s listed at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds), his powerful arm (his fastball reaches 98 mph) and his track record (he was a part of the elite pitching staff for Team USA). Rocker has the makings of a future Friday starter and he’ll quickly provide impact for the Commodores. Becker (65), an Ohio native, is a little more typical of a high-end pitcher who makes it to college. He has a projectable 6-foot-6 frame and needs to get stronger to allow him to be more consistent on the mound. He has the tools to be a starter once he puts everything together. Righthander Ethan Smith (210) showed impressive polish with a four-pitch arsenal, which he controls well. His fastball sits in the low 90s and his slider is his best secondary offering. Righthander Chance Huff (280) has more projection in his 6-foot-4 frame but has a solid fastball-breaking ball combination with good life on both pitches. As he physically matures, he figures to throw harder more consistently and has already touched 96 mph. Makenzie Stills is an undersized righthander with a solid three-pitch arsenal. He earns praise for his competitiveness and his stuff should fit well in the bullpen.
|Rank||Name, Pos.||B-T||Ht.||Wt.||Drafted||Previous school|
|13||Kumar Rocker, RHP||R-R||6-5||250||Rockies (38)||North Oconee HS, Bogart, Ga.|
|65||Austin Becker, RHP||R-R||6-6||185||Rangers (37)||Big Walnut HS, Sunbury, Ohio|
|210||Ethan Smith, RHP||R-R||6-3||200||Mount Juliet (Tenn.) HS|
|280||Chance Huff, RHP||R-R||6-4||205||Niceville (Fla.) Senior HS|
|325||John Malcom, 1B||L-L||6-4||220||Detroit Country Day HS|
|Isaiah Thomas, OF||R-R||6-3||190||Rockies (39)||The Benjamin School, Palm Beach, Fla.|
|Justyn-Henry Malloy, 3B||R-R||6-2||200||St. Joseph Regional HS, Montvale, N.J.|
|Dominic Keegan, C||R-R||6-0||210||Central Catholic HS, Lawrence, Mass.|
|Makenzie Stills, RHP||R-R||5-11||180||Fayette County HS, Fayetteville, Ga.|
|Tate Kolwyck, SS||R-R||6-0||190||Arlington (Tenn.) HS|
3. Florida State
Recruiting coordinator: Mike Martin Jr.
Top recruit: Nander De Sedas, SS (No. 28)
Overview: Florida State brought in its fifth straight top-10 class, headlined by Nander De Sedas, the highest ranked position player to make it to college. After a pitching-heavy 2017 class, this year’s class is more focused on versatile position players who can give the Seminoles immediate impact and improve their depth.
Hitters: For the second time in three years, Florida State landed the highest ranked position player not to sign. Now, De Sedas will be expected to team with Drew Mendoza, the top position player in the 2016 class, on the left side of the infield. De Sedas is a switch-hitter with plus power and an exciting tool set. But this spring his swing got long and there are questions about his long-term future as a shortstop due to his size and fringy speed. Those concerns helped push him to Tallahassee, where he will be a dynamic presence. Outfielder Elijah Cabell (70) was originally committed to Louisiana State and was a late addition to the class. He stands out for his well above-average raw power that makes any ballpark look small. He’s an aggressive player who will get a chance in center field and will need to show he can be consistent enough in his all-around game to let his big tools play. Catcher Matheu Nelson (260) is a polished all-around player who can take over behind the plate for All-American Cal Raleigh, who was drafted in the third round. He is especially advanced defensively and has an above-average arm. Alec Sanchez (379) has experience at both second base and in center field, but above all he has a strong track record of hitting that will help him get on the field quickly. Robby Martin (390) drew the most pro interest as an outfielder thanks to his plus speed and defensive acumen in center field. But he also has a big arm and may get on the mound for the Seminoles. Infielders Cade Hungate (386) and Corey Yawn both have two-way potential but have only recently started pitching. Hungate has above-average raw power and has mostly played third base, but also can run his fastball up to 92 mph. Yawn was not well known in high school because he was a three-sport star and played little travel baseball. But he has excellent athleticism and the ability to play on the left side of the infield. Outfielder/lefthander Parker Pillsbury also has two-way skills, with some lefthanded juice at the plate and enough feel on the mound to take on a role in the bullpen.
Pitchers: While the class stands out more for its position players, Florida State still landed two drafted pitchers in righthanders Jack Anderson and Cole Beverlin. They are similar pitchers who stand out for pitchability and can run their fastballs into the low 90s. Beverlin, the son of former big leaguer Jason Beverlin, has some projection left in his frame, while Anderson is a little more physically mature.
Recruiting coordinator: Eric Snider
Top recruit: Kerry Wright, RHP (No. 115)
Overview: This is Louisville’s highest-ranked class ever and just its second top-10 class. The Cardinals largely stuck to their traditional Midwestern recruiting base, but have also started successfully recruiting further south, a recognition of their increased national profile and move a few years ago to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Hitters: Infielder Jared Poland (272) may be the most polished bat in a class that has several players who stand out for their hittability. He has a good feel for hitting and quick hands and could immediately step into the Cardinals’ lineup at second base, though he also has experience at third base. He’ll also get a chance to pitch out of the bullpen thanks to his fastball-curveball combination. He is one of four intriguing infielders in the class, joined by shortstops Tim Borden (340) and Andrew Benefield and third baseman Alex Binelas. Borden grew up in the area and has been committed to Louisville for years. He is in the mold of current Cardinals shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald and will next year likely succeed him at the position. Benefield is physical, has power potential and the versatility to move around the infield, likely ending up either at third base or as an offensive second baseman. Binelas in high school worked out at the same Wisconsin facility as Jarred Kelenic, who was committed to Louisville before being drafted sixth overall. Binelas has an intriguing combination of power and speed that should help him play quickly. Henry Davis (306) and Ben Metzinger are both glove-first catchers. Davis had perhaps the strongest arm of any catcher in the draft class but will need time to develop as a hitter.
Pitchers: Kerry Wright is a big, physical righthander who made a jump this spring. His fastball sat around 92 mph and he ran it up to 96 mph to go with a slider that has plus potential. His powerful arm and frame give him plenty of potential. Lefthander Carter Lohman (199) was the top prep pitcher in Indiana and he has a good feel for his three-pitch mix. He has a projectable frame, throws strikes consistently and should be able to quickly take on a role in the pitching staff. Righthander Jack Perkins (394) has an electric fastball-slider combination but is still learning to harness it. Once he does, he has the potential to lead Louisville’s staff. Righthander Luke Smith, a junior college transfer, gives the class another polished arm.
Recruiting coordinator: Craig Bell
Top recruit: Kendrick Calilao, OF (No. 137)
Overview: For the sixth year in a row, Florida’s recruiting class has at least five players from the BA 500. As a result, the Gators have a top-five recruiting class for the sixth straight year and eighth time in 11 years under Bell and coach Kevin O’Sullivan. This ranking doesn’t include outfielder Jud Fabian and righthander Nolan Crisp, a pair of top 2019 prep players who are slated to graduate high school a semester early and enroll at Florida in January. Both figure to quickly make an impact for the Gators once they arrive in Gainesville.
Hitters: Kendrick Calilao and infielder Cory Acton (147) both stand out for their hittability and fit the profile of players who can quickly make an impact in college. Calilao has a smooth, simple swing and fits best in a corner outfield spot, possibly right field where his arm strength profiles well. Acton has a polished lefthanded swing that produces consistent, hard contact. He played just about everywhere in high school and is likely to settle at second or third base. Outfielder Jacob Young (466) has well above-average speed and athleticism but needs more development offensively. As is typical for Florida, the class also includes a few two-way players. Third baseman Roberto Pena has a long track record for hitting and is a solid defender. He also runs his fastball into the low 90s and mixes in a slider. Kris Armstrong is perhaps the most intriguing freshman in the country. He is both a switch-hitter and a switch-pitcher and truly could be a super-utility player. The Gators will have to figure out what role(s) he is best in, but O’Sullivan is sure to find innovative ways to take advantage of the seemingly infinite matchup possibilities he creates.
Pitchers: Florida hauled in a strong group of tall righthanders with advanced pitchability and control. Nick Pogue (250) is the most physical of the newcomers and takes advantage of his 6-foot-5 frame to throw his heavy, sinking fastball from a good downhill angle. David Luethje (303) has a projectable frame and may grow into a plus fastball. His present fastball-breaking ball combination already makes him tough on opposing hitters. Christian Scott also has a projectable frame with a good three-pitch mix and a fastball that has been up to 95 mph. Ben Specht fills up the strike zone with his low-90s fastball and has a chance to take off if his secondary offerings continue to develop. Lefthander Devin Hemenway was solid as a starter in junior college and has a good feel for his breaking ball. He could pitch in a variety of roles for the Gators, but he should at least give them another lefty out of the bullpen.
Recruiting coordinator: Bryant Ward
Top recruit: Matt McLain, SS (No. 61)
Overview: The Bruins have been hit hard by the draft over the last three years and saw seven recruits sign for $23.8 million in that time, including first-rounders Mickey Moniak, Hunter Greene and Blake Rutherford. So, in some respects, UCLA was due to keep a player like Matt McLain, who was drafted in the first round by the D-backs but chose not to sign. As a result, UCLA landed the best recruiting class in the Pac-12 Conference.
Hitters: McLain played his way up draft boards with a strong spring. He does just about everything well and can help his team win in several ways. His hittability is perhaps his best tool and he has more power than his 5-foot-10 frame belies. He’s mostly played shortstop and that’s what the D-backs drafted him as, but he also has the versatility to play center field or anywhere on the infield. He’ll immediately factor into the Bruins’ lineup and is likely their shortstop of the future, but he’ll have competition at the position this year. McLain is one of five infielders the Bruins bring in this year and they all have the versatility to play anywhere on the infield. Jake Moberg (363) at one point looked like the best hitter in Southern California’s prep ranks but fell on draft boards after a poor spring. He has above-average power potential and may also pitch for the Bruins thanks to his ability to throw three pitches for strikes from a simple delivery. How much he pitches may determine whether he ends up at second or third base. J.T. Schwartz (456) is a big lefthanded hitter who fits best on the infield corners, where his power plays. Jack Filby and Mikey Perez provide a lot of versatility. Perez, whose mother, Kelly Inouye-Perez is UCLA’s softball coach, is a better shortstop, while Filby has a good lefthanded swing and a strong track record of hitting. Catcher Noah Cardenas, whose older brother Ruben Cardenas this year was drafted by the Indians out of Cal State Fullerton, has good catch-and-throw skills and could be the sleeper of the class after going under the radar in high school.
Pitchers: Righthanders Sean Mullen (315) and Jesse Bergin suffered injuries in the last year that likely helped push them to college. Mullen broke his left wrist at the end of his junior year of high school, knocking him out of last summer’s showcase events. He was running his fastball up to 93-95 mph late this spring and pounds the strike zone. Bergin missed this spring following a knee injury, but when he’s at his best he pounds the zone with a low-90s fastball and a firm slider. Righthander Nick Nastrini (370) also provides solid pitchability and this summer more than held his own in the West Coast League, going 4-2, 1.88. His fastball sits around 90 mph and he mixes in a good changeup and slider. All three figure to be ready to contribute right away for the Bruins. Righthander Dennis Boatman offers more projection and, as he fills out his 6-foot-5 frame, he should develop into another solid piece of the pitching staff.
7. Texas A&M
Recruiting coordinator: Justin Seely
Top recruit: Joseph Childress, LHP (No. 107)
Overview: Despite a pair of its commits being drafted in the first round and eventually signing, Texas A&M hauled in its first top-10 class in a decade. The Aggies took advantage of a strong year in Texas, especially for lefthanded pitching, when putting the class together.
Hitters: Miko Rodriguez (349) is one of the few out-of-state players in the class, as Texas A&M went to the Michigan prep ranks for the speedy outfielder. He has plus speed and exciting athleticism but may take a while to put everything together offensively. Hunter Watson (354) was a dual-threat quarterback in high school and has impressive athleticism and a powerful bat well suited for the infield corners. Ty Coleman, the younger brother of Aggies first baseman Hunter Coleman, isn’t as toolsy as some of his classmates but figures to quickly find a role. He may start at second base this season and eventually take over at shortstop thanks to his solid defense and gamer mentality. Catcher Mikey Hoehner, a junior college transfer, has the skill set to provide immediate help behind the plate.
Pitchers: Joseph Childress (no relation to coach Rob Childress), Joseph Menefee (247) and Chris Weber (480) give the class an impressive trio of lefthanders. Childress offers an idyllic package, combining a 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame with a low-90s fastball, feel for his slider and good feel for pitching. Menefee in March had Tommy John surgery but when he’s healthy he has a powerful fastball-slider combination that played well out of the bullpen for Team USA during the 18U World Cup. He also has a smooth lefthanded swing and will get a chance as a first baseman. Weber is the most advanced of the trio with a four-pitch mix and solid pitchability that will play right away. Righthander Brandon Birdsell (268) figures to find a role in the bullpen thanks to his fastball-slider combination. Righthander Bryce Miller transferred after one year in junior college and has a quick arm. He’s relatively new to pitching and has been used in a variety of roles. With a fastball that reaches 95-96 mph, he’ll find a role somewhere on the pitching staff.
Recruiting coordinator: Sean Allen
Top recruit: Bryce Reagan, SS (No. 220)
Overview: The Longhorns in 2018 made it back to the College World Series but saw many of the key contributors on that team move on to the minor leagues, especially on the pitching staff. This year’s recruiting class, its first to rank in the top 10 since 2013, does well to fill those holes.
Hitters: Bryce Reagan, a New Hampshire native, grew up as a Texas fan and was strongly committed to playing for the Longhorns. He’s a switch-hitter with some intriguing power. He’ll be in the mix this season at second and third base, where his professional future may lie, before likely succeeding David Hamilton at shortstop. Outfielders Eric Kennedy and Chase Roberts both bring plus speed, an important characteristic at spacious Disch-Falk Field. Kennedy, the younger brother of former Texas lefthander Nick Kennedy, is toolsy and has a strong frame. Roberts packs a punch in his short, compact frame and has a dirtbag mentality on the field. He has a big arm and may get also a chance to pitch. Alec Carr led Texas in home runs as a junior but missed this spring due to labrum surgery. He profiles best as an offensive second baseman or corner outfielder.
Pitchers: The class’ strength is on the mound, where the Longhorns are bringing in a large group—both in number and in size. Righthander Coy Cobb (487) is probably the most advanced of the group. He was up to 97 mph in the state playoffs but came into that velocity late in his career, which helped him develop his pitchability when he was younger. Righthander Ty Madden (239) has impressive physicality and stuff that figures to play well in the back of the bullpen immediately and could make him a rotation stalwart later in his career. He has a good three-pitch mix and can run his fastball comfortably into the mid-90s. Righthander Jack Neely (357) is listed at 6-foot-9 and throws his fastball in the low 90s with heavy sink. He’s still developing on the mound but has a big ceiling. Righthander Mason Bryant (478) is an elite athlete but has pitched sparingly because he was a quarterback in football and more of a position player in baseball until late in his high school career. His upside is as good as any of the group, but he also has the furthest to go. Righthander Koby Kubichek is well polished with a good sinker-slider combination. Righthander Owen Meaney has a lot of intriguing tools but still needs to put it all together. If he does, he could give the class yet another premium arm.
Recruiting coordinator: Bradley LeCroy
Top recruit: Justin Wrobleski, LHP (No. 215)
Overview: The Tigers have had more success in recent years landing premium hitters such as Seth Beer and Logan Davidson, but this year reversed the trend and hung on to several high-end pitchers. Thanks in part to that success, Clemson hauled in a top-10 class for the first time since 2006.
Hitters: Catcher Adam Hackenberg (255), the younger brother of NFL quarterback Christian Hackenberg, is the class’ top position player. He has an above-average arm and is a solid defender to go with his powerful bat. He’s advanced enough to this spring at least share the catching duties and has the tools to develop into middle-of-the-order hitter. James Parker is an athletic, glove-first shortstop in the mold of former Tiger Eli White. He’s capable of this spring playing second or third base before succeeding Davidson at shortstop. Outfielder Michael Green, a junior college transfer, missed the spring with a broken wrist. He has the tools to be an immediately impactful hitter. Infielder Bryar Hawkins is an advanced hitter with impressive bat speed who may hit his way into the lineup sooner than later.
Pitchers: Justin Wrobleski, lefthander Nate Lamb (309) and righthanders Carter Raffield (341) and Davis Sharpe (479) give Clemson a group of exciting arms. Wrobleski has the ability to provide immediate impact with a fastball that reaches 94 mph and a good breaking ball. Lamb has a projectable frame, impressive athleticism and a good fastball-breaking ball combination. Raffield has a powerful frame and right arm but this spring was hampered by injury. When he’s healthy, he can run his fastball up to 94 mph and there may be more in the tank to go with a solid curveball and changeup. Sharpe is very athletic, throws his fastball in the low 90s and mixes in a swing-and-miss breaking ball. He also has a powerful bat that gives him a chance to see some action as a first baseman, particularly if he ends up in the bullpen. Righthander Jackson Lindley has consistently increased his fastball velocity throughout high school and touched 94 mph this spring to go with a solid changeup. Lefthander Keyshawn Askew has an ultra-projectable frame and throws from a low three-quarters arm slot that figures to at least make him an effective reliever.
Recruiting coordinator: Norberto Lopez
Top recruit: Slade Cecconi, RHP (No. 79)
Overview: Before this summer being elevated to head coach following Jim Morris’ retirement, Gino DiMare was recruiting coordinator and put together another solid class headlined by a trio of top-200 players. After missing the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons, Miami will be counting on many of these newcomers to provide immediate contributions.
Hitters: Adrian Del Castillo (196) is a bat-first catcher who will quickly find his way into the lineup. He has above-average power and a smooth lefthanded swing. There are more questions about him defensively though he has a plus arm. If the Hurricanes can clean up his defense, as they did with Zack Collins, Del Castillo has immense potential. If not, he’s athletic enough to handle a move to the outfield or first base. Miami brought in a trio of infielders with solid offensive profiles in Cal Conley, Luis Tuero and Henry Anthony Villar. Villar isn’t super toolsy, but he has an easy lefthanded swing and a good feel for hitting. Tuero is also a lefthanded hitter and has a good feel for the barrel to go with above-average speed. Conley, a switch-hitter, has a dirtbag mentality and can play anywhere on the infield. Outfielder Jordan Lala is a prototypical leadoff hitter/center fielder who has a solid prep track record. Outfielder Chad Crosbie began his college career at San Diego before transferring to Saddleback (Calif.) JC. He should bring some experience to an otherwise young Hurricanes’ lineup.
Pitchers: Slade Cecconi has impressive stuff to go with impressive athleticism and a 6-foot-4, 193-pound frame, but was hampered by injury much of the spring. When he’s right, he can run his fastball up to 97 mph and throws a plus slider. He also shows some feel for a curveball and a changeup, giving frontline-starter potential. Lefthander J.P. Gates (133) is well polished with the potential for three average-or-better offerings and above-average control. He also has two-way potential thanks to a powerful lefthanded swing and advanced approach at the plate. Righthander Tyler Keysor, a junior college transfer, has a big frame and a solid fastball-slider combination. He is coming off a solid summer pitching in the bullpen in the Cape Cod League, a role he may reprise this spring, though he also has experience starting. Righthander Mark Mixon, another junior college transfer, throws from a low three-quarter delivery. Miami in the past has had success with pitchers like that in their bullpen and his fastball-slider combination gives him a chance to follow that path.
Recruiting coordinator: Kevin McMullen
Top recruit: Brandon Neeck, LHP (No. 157)
Overview: Virginia brought in a larger class that adds depth and versatility to the team. The Cavaliers also benefitted from righthander Mike Vasil’s decision to formally withdraw from the draft. Though an injury this spring added some uncertainty to his profile, he and Brandon Neeck give Virginia a pair of premier arms at the top of the class.
Hitters: Zack Gelof (333) and Ben Harris (364) exemplify the kind of athletes Virginia brought in among the position players in the class. Both have two-way potential and bring intriguing skill sets. Gelof can play anywhere on the infield, has above-average speed and has some pop in his bat. Harris’ skills are reminiscent of former All-American Adam Haseley. He has the potential to play center field, hit in the middle of the order and on the mound has a solid three-pitch arsenal. Harris’ high school teammate Drew Hamrock is exceptionally versatile and also has two-way potential as an infielder and righthander, but he also has caught and played the outfield. Outfielder Jimmy Sullivan has a good feel for the barrel but is a little more raw as he enters college.
Pitchers: Vasil and Neeck both have the potential to quickly move into starting roles for the Cavaliers. Vasil can run his fastball up to 94-95 mph and has the makings of solid secondary stuff to go with it. Neeck is a polished lefthander with a good fastball-breaking ball combination with which he consistently throws strikes. Righthanders Cristian Sanchez (275), Sean Kenneally and Zach Messinger are all athletic and projectable and figure to throw in the low to mid-90s. They aren’t as advanced but give pitching coach Karl Kuhn plenty to work with. Righthander Paul Kosanovich, a junior college transfer, started his college career as a football player at New Mexico Highlands, a Division II school. He brings more physicality to the pitching staff. Lefthander Billy Price in February was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, but this spring kept playing through his chemotherapy. He is now cancer free and is fully participating in fall ball. He’s exceptionally competitive and pounds the strike zone with his fastball-changeup combination.
12. Mississippi State
Recruiting coordinator: Jake Gautreau
Top recruit: J.T. Ginn, RHP/DH (No. 39)
Overview: New coach Chris Lemonis got quite the welcome present when J.T. Ginn decided not to sign with the Dodgers, who had drafted him 30th overall, and instead uphold his commitment to Mississippi State. The Bulldogs had a chance at landing two unsigned first rounders in the same class when righthander Carter Stewart (9) couldn’t come to an agreement with the Braves. While Stewart’s exact plans remain unsettled, he is not in Starkville this fall. Still, Mississippi State landed a strong recruiting class, especially when considering the roller coaster spring it had and the fact it went into the draft without a permanent head coach.
Hitters: The class is heavy on pitchers, but it does include some toolsy position players. Shortstop Gunner Halter had two very productive years in junior college and is a good defender. He creates good bat speed and has some power to go along with his steady defense and plus arm strength. He has pitched some in the past thanks to that arm strength, but his focus is as a position player. Catcher Hayden Jones is big and physical and has a strong arm behind the plate. Outfielder Basiel Williams (342) has big tools and athleticism but is still learning how to put it all together. He’ll need some time to develop but has upside. Bryce Brock has been more of a pitcher and can run it up to 92 mph from the left side, but he also offers an intriguing option as a hitter. He has a smooth swing, hits for some power and has good athleticism in the outfield.
Pitchers: Ginn had one of the biggest arms in the draft class and can run his fastball up to 99 mph. He has a potentially plus breaking ball and a changeup that already flashes average though he rarely used it in high school. He’s advanced enough to step right into the weekend rotation. Ginn is also an impressive hitter and the chance to continue as a two-way player is part of what attracted him to college. He has big power and good feel at the plate. Righthander Eric Cerantola (323), a Canadian native, is another power arm who will quickly figure prominently into Mississippi State’s staff. He has a projectable frame, big-time athleticism (he was also a hockey prospect) and excellent feel for a curveball that can be a plus pitch. Lefthander Christian MacLeod also offers plenty of projection in his 6-foot-4 frame to go with a good three-pitch mix. Righthander Sam Knowlton also has a big frame and powerful right arm—his fastball reaches 95 mph—but was inconsistent this spring. Righthander Colby White, a junior college transfer, is capable of running his fastball into the upper 90s to go with a good changeup that should play well in the bullpen. Lefthander Jack Eagan, another junior college transfer, has a good three-pitch mix and a deceptive delivery that makes his fastball play up.
Recruiting coordinator: Sergio Brown
Top recruit: Austin Wells, C (No. 206)
Overview: Despite lefthander Matthew Liberatore and third baseman Nolan Gorman both being drafted in the top 20 picks and going on to sign, the Wildcats still hauled in their third straight Top 25 class under the direction of Sergio Brown and head coach Jay Johnson. It’s a big class after Arizona last spring had 10 seniors on its roster and five juniors who signed out of the draft.
Hitters: Austin Wells headlines the class as an athletic, physical lefthanded hitter with solid defensive skills behind the plate. He was limited by an elbow injury for most of the last year, but this summer was able to get back to catching and is working back to full strength. Outfielder Ryan Holgate (362) has plus raw power that will play even in the spacious Hi Corbett Field. How much he gets to that power will depend on his ability to take consistent at-bats. Infielder Dayton Dooney is a switch-hitter with the ability to play anywhere on the infield. He’ll likely profile best as an offensive second baseman, but if he continues to make strides defensively, he may be able to man shortstop for the Wildcats later in his career. Branden Boissiere started and won the gold medal game at the 2015 15U Pan-Am championship. In the last two years, he had Tommy John surgery and broke his ankle, but he is working back to full strength and still has the ability to be an impactful two-way player. He has good hittability and fits well either at first base or an outfield corner as a position player.
Pitchers: Righthander Bryce Collins (316) attended the same high school as Trevor Bauer and has patterned himself after the Indians’ star. His fastball sits around 90 mph and he combines it with a tight breaking ball. Lefthander Andrew Nardi (482), a junior college transfer, has been drafted twice. He looks the part thanks to his athletic 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame, clean arm action and fastball-breaking ball combination. He has the potential to step right into Arizona’s rotation. Righthander Tony Bullard (498) has solid fastball-breaking ball combination that figures to let him quickly carve out a role on the mound. He also has above-average raw power and is a good defender at the infield corners, giving him a chance as a two-way player. Lefthander Randy Abshire, the son of Grossmont (Calif.) JC coach Randy Abshire, and righthander George Arias Jr., whose father pitched in the big leagues, give the class a pair of polished pitchers with strong baseball backgrounds. Abshire throws his fastball around 90 mph with a big curveball and a developing changeup. Arias is undersized but has impressive pitchability and a solid four-pitch mix. Righthander Ian Mejia offers more projection and a good fastball-slider combination.
14. Southern California
Recruiting coordinator: Gabe Alvarez
Top recruit: Chandler Champlain, RHP (No. 92)
Overview: The Trojans have often been hammered by the draft in recent years but this year they didn’t lose any players from their class. As a result, they bring in a strong class, especially on the pitching side.
Hitters: Shortstop Emilio Rosas (356) is a high-level defender with smooth infield actions and an above-average arm. He was known as a glove-first player in high school, but he has the potential to grow into some power as he physically matures. Outfielder Preston Hartsell (382) offers impressive physical tools. He has plus raw power and speed but will need to work out some of the rough edges of his game. Clay Owens (447) is a lefthanded hitter with some power who has built a long track record for hitting against high-level competition. Where he fits best defensively remains to be seen and he may end up at first base. Catcher Tyler Lozano flew under the radar but has a short, compact swing and average speed and may quickly find his way into the lineup.
Pitchers: Chandler Chaplain has premier stuff and if he can get to a point where he can hold it deep into starts, he could be a frontline starter for USC. His fastball has heavy sinking action and has been up to 95 mph. He has feel for his big curveball, giving him two potentially plus pitches, and he consistently fills up the strike zone. Righthander Ethan Reed (262) has a big, projectable frame and exciting raw tools with a fastball that reaches 95 mph. He was a star basketball player in high school and now that he’s pitching full time, there’s reason to believe he will be able to make a jump on the mound. Righthander Carson Lambert is more polished and consistently pounds the strike zone with a fastball that sits around 90 mph. Lefthander Calvin Schapira missed time this year due to injury but has been up to 93 mph and has a big, athletic frame. Righthander Gus Culpo, a junior college transfer, has battled injuries during his college career but is healthy now and can help in the bullpen thanks to a fastball that reaches 94 mph with running action. Righthander Patrick Hubbs, the son of head coach Dan Hubbs, is a sidearmer who figures to find a role in the bullpen.
Recruiting coordinator: Jerry Zulli
Top recruit: Tyler Ras, RHP/OF (No. 188)
Overview: After getting hired last summer, this is the first recruiting class head coach Brad Bohannon and his staff have really been able to put their stamp on. It is reminiscent of the class Bohannon put together in 2016 at Auburn, his first full class after arriving on The Plains as recruiting coordinator. It’s a larger class due to Alabama’s large senior class last year and includes several junior college players who will be counted on to quickly step in and contribute.
Hitters: Shortstop Isaiah Byars (380) is an advanced defender with above-average hands and smooth infield actions. His glove is ahead of his bat right now, but he has above-average speed and athleticism and should grow into more power as he gets stronger. Outfielder T.J. Reeves (412) has an intriguing combination of power and speed. He fits well in center field. Catcher Brett Auerbach, a junior college transfer, is a solid defender who brings experience to the class. Morgan McCullough last year was named MVP at the Junior College World Series after helping Chipola (Fla.) JC to the national championship. He started his college career at Oregon, where he started 51 games before transferring. He’ll likely figure into Alabama’s middle infield and hit near the top of the lineup. Outfielder Tyler Gentry, another junior college transfer, adds a powerful righthanded bat who can hit in the middle of the order and play one of the outfield corners. First baseman Drew Williamson has a big 6-foot-5 frame and is an advanced hitter. He has a powerful bat now and figures to only add more power as he physically matures.
Pitchers: Tyler Ras has a powerful arm and can run his fastball up to 95 mph. He fills up the strike zone with his fastball-changeup combination but needs to work on developing a breaking ball that works for him. He also has a chance to be a two-way player thanks to his switch-hitting ability and athleticism. Righthander Will Freeman (489), a junior college transfer, figures to slide right into the starting rotation. His fastball sits in the low 90s and he mixes in a good slider and a developing changeup. Righthander Dylan Smith came on late in high school but has plenty of upside. He has easy arm action, an athletic frame and has solid secondary offerings. He may need some time to develop but he has as much upside as anyone in the class. Lefthander Jake Kelchner is a little more advanced and will figure into the staff somewhere. His fastball sits around 90 mph to go with a good breaking ball and changeup.
16. Cal State Fullerton
Recruiting coordinator: Chad Baum
Top recruit: Kameron Guangorena, C (No. 114)
Overview: The Titans landed their best recruiting class since 2013, when unsigned first rounder Phil Bickford got to campus. This year’s class doesn’t have that kind of headliner but is deep and balanced.
Hitters: Kameron Guangorena was one of the best defensive catchers in the draft class and is also one of the most polished hitters to make it to Fullerton in recent years. He has good feel for the barrel and solid power potential. He is strong and athletic and has enough versatility to play in the outfield to keep his bat in the lineup when he’s not catching. Outfielders Trevor Cadd (338) and Jason Brandow have big tools to work with. Cadd combines athleticism with above-average raw power but was hampered this spring by a broken leg. Brandow has a projectable frame and produces impressive bat speed that portends huge raw power as he physically matures. First baseman A.J. Curtis, a junior college transfer, has more speed and athleticism than most players of his profile. He is a good defender at first base and should be able to quickly step into the lineup there.
Pitchers: Righthander Kyle Luckham (241) is the best of a solid group of pitchers. His fastball sits around 90 mph, touching 93, but he has a projectable frame and has always been a two-way player, leading to optimism that he’ll make a jump in velocity. His changeup has plus potential and he’s very competitive, a trait that will serve him well no matter where he settles on staff. Righthander Joe Magrisi also has a two-way background. His stuff isn’t overpowering but he pounds the strike zone with his three-pitch mix and he has some projectability to him, especially now that he’s focusing on pitching. Righthander Michael Knorr has as much upside as any of the freshmen arms but needs to smooth out the rough edges of his game. Listed at 6-foot-6, 215 pounds, he pitches from a good downhill angle and has plenty of projection. Righthanders Damon Treadwell and Michael Weisberg were both high school seniors in 2017 but didn’t play anywhere last spring. Treadwell was recovering from Tommy John surgery and this spring should be ready to help in the bullpen. Weisberg this spring ran his fastball up to 95 mph and has the makings of a good slider and changeup. Lefthander Titus Groneweg is ultra-projectable and has plenty of deception. He needs to get stronger, but at his best throws his fastball in the upper 80s with an above-average changeup.
Recruiting coordinator: Karl Nonemaker
Top recruit: Garrett Wade, LHP (No. 141)
Overview: Auburn last year brought in a banner class that ranked No. 6 and produced three All-Freshman players. This year’s class isn’t as deep, but it still offers premium prep talent and some junior college transfers who can help the Tigers fill some holes left by the draft and graduation.
Hitters: Ryan Bliss (450) is an advanced defender who will likely start his college career at second or third base before sliding over to shortstop to succeed Will Holland. He’s an above-average runner and has a simple, compact swing. Outfielder Kason Howell is an elite athlete who last spring won state titles in Texas in both baseball and long jump. He’s a plus runner and profiles well in center field. Devin Warner is a switch-hitter with big raw power who figures to end up playing first or third base. Infielder Rankin Wooley began his college career at Louisiana State before transferring to junior college. He’s coming off an impressive season at Chattahoochee Valley (Ala.) JC and adds another solid hitter to the lineup. Catcher Matt Scheffler, another junior college transfer, has a strong arm and is a solid defender.
Pitchers: Auburn went heavy on lefthanders this year, especially in its prep class, a group headlined by Garrett Wade. He was the Alabama Gatorade Player of the Year and should be ready to step into the Tigers’ rotation. He doesn’t have a big fastball—it’s been up to 94 mph, but more typically sits around 90 mph—but has tremendous feel for spin. His breaking ball was one of the best in the high school class and he does a good job of throwing strikes. Lefthander Brooks Fuller, whose father Mark Fuller pitched for Auburn and was the Tigers pitching coach from 2001-2004, is physical and athletic. He has a solid three-pitch mix and good feel for his craft. Lefthander Bailey Horn, a junior college transfer, throws his fastball in the low 90s and mixes in a slurvy breaking ball. He missed much of the spring due to injury but should be able to contribute this year. Lefthander Dawson Sweatt has a projectable 6-foot-2 frame and a loose, easy arm.
2018 Recruiting Rankings: The Next 10
On the heels of last week's top 25, we looked at 10 teams who just missed the cut, but still have impressive classes entering 2019.
18. Texas Tech
Recruiting coordinator: J-Bob Thomas
Top recruit: Max Marusak, OF (No. 138)
Overview: The Red Raiders have produced four first-team All-Freshman players in the last three years, but this year may be bringing their strongest group of newcomers yet to Lubbock. This is Texas Tech’s highest-ranked class in program history and adds plenty of upside and athleticism to the team.
Hitters: Max Marusak—whose parents were both athletes at Texas Tech—was perhaps the fastest player in the draft class. He has top-of-the-scale speed and his game is geared toward making the most of it. He has a flat swing and likely won’t ever hit for much power but will be a threat at the top of the order. Catcher Cole Stillwell changed his commitment from Kansas State to Texas Tech following the retirement of Wildcats coach Brad Hill. Stillwell has the potential to one day hit in the middle of the lineup and is a solid defender. Dylan Neuse, a junior college transfer, is the younger brother of Sheldon Neuse, but is a different kind of player than the former All-American. Neuse is a plus runner who has some power in his bat and can play up the middle either in the outfield or on the infield. Shortstop Dru Baker in high school was a dual-threat quarterback and has well above-average speed and a strong arm. He’s an impressive athlete and an aggressive player on the diamond. Outfielder Tanner O’Tremba has a powerful bat and is reminiscent of former Texas Tech outfielder Stephen Smith. Toby Rumfield Jr., whose father caught for 14 years in the minor leagues, has a good feel for hitting and some power potential.
Pitchers: Lefthander Mason Montgomery (244) has the makings of a frontline starter for Texas Tech. His fastball this spring jumped up to 96 mph and while he didn’t consistently maintain that velocity, his athleticism, arm action and frame give him a chance to grow into it in the future. Lefthander Cade Farr has a big, 6-foot-6 frame with a funky arm action. He pitches off a heavy, sinking fastball that sits around 90 mph. Righthander Micah Dallas made a jump in velocity last year and has a powerful fastball-slider combination that should play well right away. Righthander Carson Carter, a junior college transfer, is big, athletic and has a solid three-pitch mix that gives him a chance to start.
19. Florida International
Recruiting coordinator: Jered Goodwin
Top recruit: Christopher Williams, OF/LHP (No. 257)
Overview: For the second year in a row and third time in program history, FIU landed a Top 25 class. This year’s group is smaller than last year’s but features some high-end talent.
Hitters: Christopher Williams offers two-way ability but came on strong as a hitter late in his high school career and now is seen as a hitter first. The lefthanded hitter has a loose swing, average power and is an average runner who profiles in an outfield corner. He can run his fastball up to 91 mph and has a slider—a combination that should play well out of the bullpen. Jarret Ford (377) is an above-average runner with good instincts on the base paths. He figures to hit at the top of the lineup and can play up the middle, likely either at second base or in center field. John Rodriguez is an advanced defender who is ready to compete right away at shortstop. He is still developing offensively, especially in his approach, but is young for the class and has the tools to develop as a hitter. Kaber Rog is a switch-hitter with power from both sides of the plate who looks like the Panthers’ future third baseman. Catchers Humbert Torres and Luis Chavez are both solid defenders and add depth behind the plate. Chavez, a junior college transfer, is more advanced offensively but Torres has righthanded power and impressive catch-and-throw skills. Nathan Housen offers defensive versatility and righthanded power.
Pitchers: Righthander Franco Aleman (304), a Cuban native, this spring was named Hillsborough County pitcher of the year by the Tampa Bay Times after going 9-1, 0.58 with 106 strikeouts and six walks in 72 innings. He was young for the draft class, is ultra projectable and this year took a step forward with his control. Righthander Angel Tiburcio can run his fastball up to 93 mph and has some projection left in his 6-foot-2 frame. He also has big righthanded power at the plate and will be a two-way player, likely also seeing time at first base. Righthander Christian Dearman, a junior college transfer, has an intriguing fastball-splitter combination that should play well in the bullpen.
20. Texas Christian
Recruiting coordinator: Kirk Saarloos
Top recruit: Brandon Williamson, LHP (No. 168)
Overview: After making the College World Series for four straight years, TCU missed the NCAA Tournament entirely in 2018. This year’s recruiting class is heavy on junior college position players as the Horned Frogs look to get back on track and help replace some of the talent they lost when their last two prep classes were hit hard in the draft.
Hitters: Shortstop Hunter Wolfe (432) has been drafted the last two years and comes to TCU after helping Walters State (Tenn.) JC to a runner-up finish at the Junior College World Series. He is a dynamic athlete and has the ability to impact the game in several ways. Infielder Austin Henry was Wolfe’s teammate in junior college and outperformed him last year en route to earning conference player of the year honors. Henry is a solid all-around player who could be an offensive second baseman but offers versatility on the infield. Outfielder/first baseman Jacob Guenther is a physical lefthanded hitter. He went to junior college as a pitcher but moved to hitting after undergoing Tommy John surgery and has above-average raw power. Second baseman Dean Frew is following in the footsteps of former TCU second baseman Cam Warner. Like Warner, Frew is an Australian native who went to Hill (Texas) JC before transferring to TCU. He is a little more athletic and powerful than Warner but not as polished a hitter. Andrew Keefer has a flat swing and makes a lot of contact, which will help him get in the lineup somewhere. Outfielder Porter Brown is the top prep position player in the class and has an intriguing combination of power and speed as well as a high baseball IQ.
Pitchers: Brandon Williamson started his college career as a walk-on at North Iowa Area JC and has since taken off. His fastball reaches 95 mph and he has a chance to have three average-or-better secondary pitches. If he can throw strikes more consistently—and his delivery is repeatable, which is a good sign—his ceiling is very high. Righthander Matt Rudis (343), whose father caught at TCU, has a good fastball-breaking ball combination that should play right away in the bullpen. Righthander Marcelo Perez is undersized and throws from a low arm slot but can run his fastball up to 94 mph and has good feel on the mound. He’s athletic, repeats his delivery well and will quickly find a role on the staff. Righthander Dawson Barr underwent Tommy John surgery early in high school and is still working his way back. If he can recapture his previous form, he will add another solid arm to the staff.
21. South Carolina
Recruiting coordinator: Mike Current
Top recruit: Andrew Eyster, OF (No. 358)
Overview: South Carolina last year brought in the fifth-ranked class in the country. This year’s group of newcomers doesn’t have as much star power as last year’s, but it has good depth and will help the Gamecocks in some key areas.
Hitters: Andrew Eyster, a junior college transfer, is a solid all-around hitter with a good feel for the barrel and some raw power. He has the tools to step right into the middle of South Carolina’s lineup and play in an outfield corner. Josiah Sightler (383) originally committed as a pitcher but after last summer needing shoulder surgery he has been more of a hitter. He has power potential and offers some athleticism. Brady Allen (486) has some righthanded power and is a good athlete who should fit well in right field. He also could be a factor on the mound, where he throws in the upper 80s as a lefthander. Wes Clarke is an offensive catcher with big, righthanded power potential. He’ll likely split time with senior Chris Cullen this year before taking over as the starter. Shortstop George Callil, a junior college transfer, is an above-average defender with a strong arm but is not as advanced offensively. An Australian native, if he makes strides at the plate, he could end up as an intriguing prospect. Outfielder Xavier Bussey is raw and toolsy with plus speed and bat speed. He’ll need some time to develop but has a high ceiling.
Pitchers: Lefthander Julian Bosnic and righthander Daniel Lloyd both have high ceilings but will need some time to reach them. Bosnic this spring was limited by injury, but this fall will be ready to go. He has solid pitchability and may be able to develop into a weekend starter. Lloyd last fall threw his fastball in the low 90s and showed the makings of a good breaking ball from a lower arm slot. If he can make some mechanical adjustments to allow him to be more consistent he also could develop into a starter, but he’ll at least be able to help out of the bullpen. Righthander Wesley Sweatt converted from catching a couple years ago and has a good fastball-slider combination. Righthander Hayden Lehman is more advanced and had success in junior college. He throws his fastball in the low 90s and has two good breaking balls. There’s some funk to his delivery that may push him to the bullpen, but he worked as a starter for a Walters State (Tenn.) JC team that finished as runner-up at the Junior College World Series.
22. North Carolina
Recruiting coordinator: Scott Forbes
Top recruit: Stephen Pell, RHP (No. 395)
Overview: The Tar Heels lost only two-sport star Jordyn Adams to the draft, holding on to the rest of a solid recruiting class. It is a deep class, especially on the mound, where North Carolina focused on pitchers who fill up the strike zone.
Hitters: Danny Serretti is a switch-hitter with the defensive tools to man shortstop. He may not do that as a freshman but thanks to his speed and steady swing from both sides of the plate, he may push into the lineup somewhere. Aaron Sabato is also a switch-hitter but is a more physical infielder. He has solid power and may fit best as a third baseman or as an offensive second baseman. Outfielder Dylan Harris, a junior college transfer, is an above-average runner who fits in center field and at the top of the lineup. Catcher Caleb Roberts this spring was named Florida’s Mr. Baseball after leading the state in slugging percentage (.988). He’s an athletic, lefthanded hitter with some power in his bat and an above-average arm. He’ll likely catch some this season but has the versatility to move around defensively to keep his bat in the lineup.
Pitchers: Righthander Max Alba was a three-sport star in high school and was named all-state in Wisconsin in both football and basketball. His fastball reaches the mid-90s and he has good pitchability to go with his power stuff. Stephen Pelli stands out most for his changeup, which can be a swing-and-miss offering. His fastball isn’t overpowering, but his changeup and strike-throwing ability should allow him to soon find a role on staff. Righthander Andrew Grogan, a junior college transfer, is similar to Cooper Criswell, who this spring unexpectedly emerged as North Carolina’s Friday starter. Grogan isn’t overpowering but pounds the bottom of the strike zone with his three-pitch arsenal and creates plenty of groundballs. Connor Ollio has a big frame and two-way potential. He has the makings of a starter on the mound and has power as a righthanded hitter. Will Sandy is more of a pitchability lefthander and has a long track record of success in high school. Righthander Austin Elliott has a quick arm and his fastball has been up to 95 mph to go with a good breaking ball.
Recruiting coordinator: Roland Fanning
Top recruit: Cole Ayers, RHP (No. 476)
Overview: After having the most players drafted of any college in the country, Kentucky brought in a large recruiting class to help fill the holes left by the draft. Its depth stands out and many of these players will have a chance to quickly find roles for the Wildcats.
Hitters: Playing for Kentucky is a family affair for Jaren Shelby (493), the son of former major leaguer John Shelby. His older brothers John T. and JaVon both played for Kentucky and John T. is Kentucky’s volunteer assistant coach. Jaren, a junior college transfer, is an above-average runner with some pop in his bat who fits best in an outfield corner. Shortstop Austin Schultz was named 2017 Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year and is a plus runner with plenty of athleticism who fits well at the top of the order. Infielder Dalton Reed produced impressive power numbers in junior college and adds a physical presence to the lineup. Outfielder Breydon Daniel was Reed’s teammate at junior college and has impressive raw tools. A switch-hitter, he produces good bat speed and is a plus runner. Outfielder Justin Olson, the Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year, is a physical corner outfielder with a powerful lefthanded bat.
Pitchers: Cole Ayers has the tools to become a starter in time, but his fastball-breaking ball combination will play in some capacity quickly. He has a projectable frame and a fast arm to go with an above-average breaking ball. Lefthander Braxton Cottongame and righthander Will Gambino also both have big upside. Cottongame also has a good breaking ball that makes him a tough matchup. Gambino has a powerful arm and can run his fastball up to 95 mph. He came to pitching late in his prep career, however, and is still developing on the mound. Lefthander Dillon Marsh has a good three-pitch mix and pounds the strike zone. He isn’t overpowering but his pitchability gives him a chance to start. Righthander Alex Degen is very athletic—he runs triathlons—and has a big, physical frame. His fastball reaches 92 mph and there may be more in the tank.
Recruiting coordinator: Adam Christ/Drew Dickinson
Top recruit: Jacob Campbell, C (No. 155)
Overview: Thanks in part to landing Jacob Campbell and righthander Aiden Maldonado (287), the Illini ended up with their first Top 25 recruiting class in program history. It’s a compact group that’s heavier on the pitching side but also has impactful position players.
Hitters: Campbell, a Wisconsin native, is strong and physical and has a well-rounded skill set. His glove is a little more advanced than his bat, and his solid receiving skills should help him quickly adjust to the college game. Infielder Branden Comia put together a strong track record of production in high school and has a good feel for hitting. He can play anywhere on the infield and may take over at shortstop later in his career. Cam McDonald, whose father pitched in the minor leagues, has a projectable 6-foot-4 frame and a chance to grow into big raw power. He does a good job of putting the barrel on the ball and fits best as either a corner infielder or outfielder.
Pitchers: Maldonado has a powerful fastball-slider combination. He throws his fastball 91-95 mph with heavy life and his slider has plus potential. He pounds the strike zone and pitches with confidence. Lefthander Nathan Lavender has a good three-pitch mix and a projectable 6-foot-2 frame that gives him the look of a starter. Righthander Riley Gowens is coming off an injury at the end of the spring, but when he’s healthy he has a low-90s fastball and a good breaking ball. That combination should play well in the bullpen, possibly in high-leverage situations. Righthander Caleb Larson is projectable, has a loose arm and a good three-pitch mix. He has plenty of upside to tap into as he physically matures. Illinois also brought in three junior college transfers who add depth to the staff. Righthanders Garrett Acton and Josh Garner began their college careers at Saint Louis before transferring to Parkland (Ill.) JC. Acton has a low-90s fastball-slider combination that plays well out of the bullpen. Lefthander Josh Harris has one of the most interesting backgrounds in college baseball. After serving in the Marines, Harris got back into baseball and eventually got a chance at Kankakee (Ill.) JC. He throws his fastball in the low 90s and mixes in a hard slider that plays well in the bullpen.
25. Coastal Carolina
Recruiting coordinator: Kevin Schnall
Top recruit: Garrett McDaniels, LHP (No. 203)
Overview: The Chanticleers held their recruiting class together through the draft and, as a result, hauled in a Top 25 class for the first time in program history. The group is headlined by Garrett McDaniels, righthander Jacob Maton and infielder Nick Lucky, all of whom were drafted but chose to instead play for Coastal.
Hitters: Lucky has a smooth lefthanded swing and produces solid power. His advanced feel at the plate will get him in the lineup quickly, possibly at second or third base. Catchers Dallas Callahan and Bradley Riopelle are both solid defenders and could soon take over behind the plate. Riopelle is very athletic, and Callahan has a strong arm. Shortstop Scott McKeon, a junior college transfer, is a solid defender and adds another experienced hitter to the mix. Outfielder Jake Wright began his college career at South Carolina as a pitcher. He moved to hitting after some injury issues and offers lefthanded power.
Pitchers: McDaniels has a lean, projectable frame and solid pitchability that gives him plenty of upside. His fastball has been up to 93 mph but he more typically throws it in the upper 80s with sinking action to go with a curveball and changeup that have the potential to be above-average offerings. Maton’s older brothers Phil and Nick are both pitching in pro ball—Phil in the big leagues with the Padres and Nick in the Phillies’ system. Jacob Maton will likely have a chance to follow his older brothers into pro ball in a few years thanks to his fastball-slider combination. He runs his fastball up to 93 mph and could soon factor into the Chants’ rotation. Righthander Rhett Daniel is very projectable and has run his fastball up to 94 mph already. He’s still raw but has the makings of another power arm. Righthander Jakob Mattos has a good understanding of his craft and a fastball that sits around 90 mph who could soon carve out a role on the pitching staff.