2018 Recruiting Rankings: The Next 10
With 298 Division I college baseball programs, it isn’t easy to break into the Top 25 recruiting class rankings. Narrowing down the field is a difficult task that always leaves some impressive classes off the list. With that in mind, here are 10 more teams that fell just outside the Top 25, listed in alphabetical order.
Recruiting coordinator: Nate Thompson
Top recruit: Patrick Wicklander, LHP
Arkansas last year landed the No. 3 ranked recruiting class which quickly paid off with two Freshmen All-Americans who helped the Razorbacks to a runner-up finish at the College World Series. This year’s class doesn’t have the same kind of star power, but it’s a large class that has solid talent.
Righthander Jacob Burton and lefthander Patrick Wicklander both have the tools to quickly make an impact on the Razorbacks’ staff. Wicklander has a loose, projectable frame and a good four-pitch mix. His fastball typically sits in the upper 80s, touching 91 mph, and he locates it well. Burton also still has some projection to him to go with good athleticism, a fastball that sits in the low 90s and good feel for his slider.
Lefthander Steven Sanchez, an Illinois native, gives the class another arm with big upside as he fills out his big, 6-foot-7 frame. Righthander Connor Noland is perhaps the most intriguing player in the class. He is also playing football at Arkansas and was rated as a four-star quarterback. On the mound, his fastball typically sits around 90 mph and he offers plenty of athleticism and room to grow as a pitcher, though managing the demands of two sports is never easy.
Matt Goodheart, a junior college transfer, figures to quickly find a spot in the lineup. He has a knack for barreling up the ball and has enough athleticism and versatility to play a corner spot in the infield or outfield. Outfielders Christian Franklin and Dillon Lifrieri are both dynamic players with intriguing combinations of power and speed that could quickly put them in the mix.
Arkansas also added infielder Trevor Ezell as a graduate transfer from Southeast Missouri State. He doesn’t factor into the rankings but has a solid track record of hitting in college and adds an experienced hitter to the lineup.
Recruiting coordinator: Josh Jordan
Top recruit: Cooper Stinson, RHP (No. 229 on the BA 500)
Fresh off its first super regional appearance in program history, Duke added a solid recruiting class that will look to maintain that momentum. Righthander Cooper Stinson, the younger brother of lefthander Graeme Stinson, is the class’ headliner. Cooper differs from his brother in two key ways—he is not lefthanded and his breaking ball doesn’t grade out as a present plus offering. But he has a big frame at a listed 6-foot-6, 250 pounds and is more advanced at the same age, especially with his control.
Stinson is one of a trio of advanced prep pitchers in the class. Righthander Jack Carey and lefthander Oliver McCarthy both also figure this spring to log important innings. Carey can run his fastball up to 94 mph and has good feel on the mound. McCarthy uses his 6-foot-4 frame to his advantage and throws from a steep downhill angle and creates a lot of groundball outs. Lefthander Kyle Salley is undersized at a listed 5-foot-9 but he has a power arm and good athleticism.
Outfielder Damon Lux and catcher Rudy Maxwell give the class a pair of exciting position players. Lux is a physical, former football player with good speed who could take over in left field. Maxwell is still developing defensively, but his bat speed and power give him good offensive potential.
Duke’s group of newcomers also includes two Ivy League grad transfers who do not count toward the rankings. Still, outfielder Kyle Gallagher (Cornell) and righthander Ben Gross (Princeton) figure to play key roles for the Blue Devils. Gallagher, who began his college career as a quarterback for the Big Red, has plenty of righthanded power. Gross in June was drafted in the 34th round by the Astros and brings experience to the staff.
Recruiting coordinator: Scott Daeley
Top recruit: Cole Wilcox, RHP (37)
The Bulldogs last spring had a young team and, as a result, this year’s recruiting class is a smaller one. But with righthander Cole Wilcox, the third-highest ranked player to make it to campus, headlining the class, it isn’t short on star power.
Wilcox was a part of electric pitching class that in 2017 helped USA Baseball to the 18U World Cup title. He’s listed at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds and has a mature approach to the game. His fastball typically sits in the low to mid-90s with running action and his slider and changeup both have the makings of above-average offerings. He’ll likely slide right into Georgia’s rotation, but with so much of its pitching staff returning he won’t have to take on more than he’s ready for.
Righthanders Garrett Brown and Hunter Goodwin are both big and projectable and have upside as potential starters. Brown, a former high school quarterback, takes advantage of his 6-foot-7 frame to throw his fastball from a good downhill angle. Goodwin is a little more advanced and has a good three-pitch mix. Righthander Jack Gowen figures to fit right into the bullpen, where his ability to throw from multiple arm angles plays up.
Catcher Shane Marshall and outfielder Randall Jernigan stand out among the class’ position players. Marshall has good catch-and-throw skills and the chance to hit for some power. Jernigan has built his game around his elite speed and can impact the game in a few different ways.
Recruiting coordinator: Carl Lafferty
Top recruit: Gunnar Hoglund, RHP (84)
Ole Miss this spring had some tense moments as righthander Gunnar Hoglund put together a spectacular senior season of high school, striking out 105 batters and walking just two in 52.1 innings. His exceptional strike-throwing ability, as well as an uptick in velocity that saw him run his fastball up to 96 mph, led the Pirates to draft him 36th overall. But he decided not to sign and instead headlines the Rebels’ recruiting class. His control gives him a chance to step right into the Ole Miss rotation and his power as a lefthanded hitter gives him the opportunity to be a two-way player, likely at first base or DH.
Lefthander Kaleb Hill (205) gives the class another premium arm. Hill, listed at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, has an excellent athleticism and a good fastball-curveball combination. Ole Miss also landed a trio of solid junior college transfers who can impact the pitching staff in righthanders Taylor Broadway and Tyler Myers and lefthander Zack Phillips. Broadway was a two-way player at Tyler (Texas) JC and was the 2017 Division III junior college player of the year. He’ll just be a pitcher at Ole Miss and his fastball-slider combination has played well in the bullpen. Myers also is a former two-way player with a good fastball-slider combination. Phillips has a lean frame and pitches with a solid three-pitch mix.
Outfielder Josh Hall stands out among the class’ position players thanks to his well above-average speed that plays well both on the base paths and in center field. Kevin Graham is a solid lefthanded hitter who fits best at an infield corner.
Recruiting coordinator: Lance Rhodes
Top recruit: Trey Dillard, RHP (122)
Missouri brought in a large class heavy on junior college transfers who have the ability to quickly make an impact on the program, including a trio of quality pitchers from San Jacinto (Texas) JC, a powerhouse program.
Righthander Trey Dillard leads the group from San Jacinto and was the top-ranked junior college player not to sign in the draft. His fastball sits in the mid- to upper 90s and he mixes in a power curveball. It’s a combination that has been very effective at the back of the bullpen but also may be worthy of a look in the rotation.
Lefthander Jacob Cantleberry was very good pitching at the front of San Jac’s rotation thanks to an upper-80s fastball with a high spin rate and an above-average changeup. Righthander Lucas Feinberg began his college career at Indiana as a catcher before transferring to San Jac and converting to pitching. He pounds the strike zone with a sinker-slider combination that creates lots of groundballs.
Seth Halvorsen (221), a two-way talent, is the Tigers’ top freshman. The Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year has big-time arm strength and runs his fastball into the mid-90s. He’s still developing physically, however, and is likely to start his career in the bullpen until he can hold his velocity better. He has solid raw power but is still raw as a hitter. Luke Mann also has two-way ability and was the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year. He is more of a hitter than a pitcher with good feel at the plate and some power potential. On the mound, he fills up the strike zone and pitches in the upper 80s with his fastball.
Recruiting coordinator: Ted Silva
Top recruit: Spencer Schwellenbach, RHP/SS (458)
The Cornhuskers managed to get their whole recruiting class to campus and may have unearthed some gems along the way. Spencer Schwellenbach, a true, two-way talent, is the headliner. A native of upstate Michigan, he was difficult to scout in the spring but has exciting tools. On the mound, his fastball sits in the low 90s and he has enough pitchability to quickly make an impact on the pitching staff. He’s an excellent athlete and has some feel for hitting, which gives him a chance as a position player, possibly at shortstop.
Righthander Bo Blessie was hampered this spring by an ankle injury but has an electric arm at his best. He throws his fastball in the low 90s, has good feel for his slider and can mix in a changeup. Colby Gomes is big and physical at a listed 6-foot-5, 225 pounds and has a chance as a two-way player. His future is likely on the mound, where he runs his fastball into the low 90s with a chance to develop more velocity.
Infielder Cameron Chick is a switch-hitter with advanced feel at the plate. He could push his way into the lineup at second or third base. Outfielder Aaron Palensky is coming into school as a sophomore after one year at junior college. He has a short swing and gets good backspin on the ball, enabling him to consistently drive the ball for extra-base hits.
Recruiting coordinator: Jay Uhlman
Top recruit: Vinny Tosti, OF (265)
Oregon has missed the NCAA Tournament for three consecutive seasons in part because of a scuffling offense. This class is heavy on position players and at least a few of them figure to quickly assert themselves in the Ducks’ lineup.
Outfielder Vinny Tosti stands out for his athleticism and well above-average speed. That plays well defensively, and he’ll cover plenty of ground in the spacious PK Park outfield. He missed most of the spring due to hamstring injuries and he has some swing and miss in his game that he’ll have to clean up to get the most out of his tools.
A.J. Miller has some strength in his lefthanded swing and figures to be in the mix at an outfield corner or first base. Kyle Froemke is one of the most intriguing players in the class. Listed at 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, he has mostly played shortstop growing up and is athletic enough to get a chance to stay there, though he profiles well at third base as well. He has impressive offensive potential, but that part of his game is still catching up to his defense. James Bell has a physical frame and righthanded power potential that could play quickly. He’s a catcher by trade but has enough athleticism to play third base or the outfield to get his bat in the lineup.
On the mound, righthander Christian Ciuffetelli stands out. He throws his fastball in the low 90s and mixes in a big breaking ball and changeup to go with solid pitchability. Righthander Jack Noble has good athleticism and pounds the strike zone, giving him the look of a future starter.
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Recruiting coordinator: Nate Yeskie
Top recruit: Jacob Pfennigs, RHP (320)
The Beavers, fresh off their College World Series triumph, added a solid class that offers good upside. Righthander Jacob Pfennigs may have the highest ceiling in the class. Listed at 6-foot-7, 195 pounds, he was named Idaho’s Gatorade Player of the Year for basketball and is a premium athlete. His fastball sits 87-91 mph now, but as he physically matures and focuses on baseball he figures to take off on the mound.
Shortstop Beau Phillip, a junior college transfer, offers a little more certainty. He is a steady defender with an above-average arm who can step right into the lineup and hit for some power. Infielder Matthew Gretler is in many ways a similar player to his older brother, Michael, who started at third base the last couple years. Matthew is a little more offensive than his brother and may settle at second base. Andrew Walling has two-way potential thanks to his powerful bat, but his future is as a lefthander. He has a good three-pitch mix and a projectable frame. Righthander Joey Mundt, whose older brother, Johnny, plays tight end for the Los Angeles Rams, is also very projectable and athletic. He comes right after hitters with a three-pitch mix and throws a lot of strikes.
Recruiting coordinator: Josh Elander
Top recruit: Austin Knight, SS (398)
Tennessee has been very active on the recruiting trail since Tony Vitello was hired as head coach last summer. This year’s class was hit hard in the draft when three commits were drafted and went on to sign, but it remains a solid group of newcomers that adds needed depth to the roster.
Shortstop Austin Knight and catcher Connor Pavolony (429) are the standouts among the position players. Knight is a plus runner with a solid overall skillset. He can play anywhere on the infield and figures to find a role quickly. Pavolony has plus arm strength behind the plate and some pop in his bat. He works hard at catching and could soon take over the position for the Volunteers.
Righthanders Elijah Pleasants and Camden Sewell give the class a pair of high-upside arms. Pleasants has an ultra-projectable frame and has good pitchability but doesn’t yet hold his velocity deep into games. Sewell struggled this spring and dealt with injury, but at his best he throws his fastball in the low 90s and can spin his breaking ball well.
Tennessee also picked up a few solid junior college transfers. Catcher Landon Gray is a dependable defensive catcher with a disciplined approach at the plate. Shortstop Ricky Martinez began his college career at Sacramento State before transferring to Grayson (Texas) JC and is a strong defender. Alerick Soularie brings a solid track record for hitting, good speed and enough athleticism and versatility to play nearly anywhere on the field.
Recruiting coordinator: Bill Cilento
Top recruit: Ryan Cusick, RHP (235)
Because Wake Forest had a younger team last year and didn’t lose many players to the draft or graduation, it was able to bring in a smaller recruiting class that targeted some specific needs. It ended up with a solid group that figures to have an immediate impact.
Righthander Ryan Cusick, listed at 6-foot-7, 240 pounds, is the standout on the mound. He has reached 97 mph with his fastball and has shown some feel for control and spinning his breaking ball, giving him plenty to dream on. Shane Smith is another physical righthander with a power arm. He probably fits best in the bullpen now, but if he can improve his secondary pitches, he offers plenty of promise.
Catcher Brandon Tinsman and shortstop Michael Turconi have the most impact potential on the position player side. Tinsman has a simple swing and good raw power in his 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame. He has a good arm and could quickly take over behind the plate if he proves to be a strong enough receiver. Turconi went to the same high school as Brendan McKay, and while he doesn’t have the same elite tools as the three-time All-American, he does have a mature approach at the plate and a steady, all-around skill set.
Lefthander Brennan Oxford, the 2017 New Hampshire Gatorade Player of the Year, last year rose to notoriety when he threw four consecutive no-hitters. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, but he has good pitchability and athleticism.