Image credit: Cal Poly freshman shortstop Brooks Lee (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
With 300 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: Jason Hodges, OF/1B (No. 235 on BA 500)
With this class, the Razorbacks add some strength and physicality to the team, especially among its position players. That group features Hodges, who has plus-plus raw power and could hit the ball as far as almost anyone in the 2019 draft class. Learning to get to that power will be critical, however, as his approach needs refinement. He likely will start in an outfield corner, but he also has experience at first base. Braydon Webb was an All-American at Grayson (Texas) JC who offers defensive versatility and could quickly made an impact offensively.
Arkansas brought in three freshmen catchers, all of whom have good ability behind the plate and the versatility to play elsewhere on the diamond. Dominic Tamez is perhaps the most advanced hitter of the trio and could see time in the outfield. Nathan Stevens is a lefthanded hitter with good arm strength. Cason Tollette is an in-state kid who slid under the radar nationally due to an injury last summer but has good catch-and-throw skills.
Righthander Blake Adams was the Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year and won big in high school, helping his team to three straight state title games. He figures to be ready to carve out a role on the Razorbacks’ staff. Lefthander Zack Morris has a lean, projectable 6-foot-3 frame and a fast arm who could make a jump in college. Righthander Trey Valka has a low-90s fastball and some feel for his breaking ball and is advanced enough as a strike-thrower to quickly pitch in an important role.
Recruiting coordinator: Teddy Warrecker
Top recruit: Brooks Lee, SS (No. 38)
Lee, the son of Cal Poly coach Larry Lee, is the fourth-highest ranked player to make it to campus this year, trailing only Jack Leiter (Vanderbilt), Hunter Barco (Florida) and Maurice Hampton (Louisiana State). He’s likely the best recruit in Cal Poly history and has tremendous upside. A switch-hitter, Lee was seen as the best pure hitter in Southern California last year and hits line drives to all fields. He’s an advanced defender, and while he may end up at second base in pro ball, he should have no problem handling shortstop for the Mustangs.
Lee’s classmates aren’t as famous, but they are talented in their own right. Righthander Derek True is coming off a good summer in the California Collegiate League and a projectable frame that calls to mind former Cal Poly ace Spencer Howard. True’s fastball sits 88-92 mph, and he pairs it with a sharp slider. Righthander Drew Thorpe also has a great pitcher’s build at 6-foot-4, 195 pounds and has advanced pitchability that played well this summer in the Alaska League. He also has two-way ability and his lefthanded bat could get him time at catcher or first base.
Infielder Nick Marinconz, the younger brother of former Mustang Kyle Marinconz, has good athleticism and bounced back well this summer in the Northwoods League after a broken leg sidelined him this spring. Taison Corio comes to Cal Poly as a sophomore after one year of junior college and the switch-hitter provides a good feel for hitting and above-average speed. He’ll likely settle in at second base. Righthander Connor Wilford gives the class another pitcher with upside. His velocity has been ticking up, and if he can continue to make strides in that department, he has a chance to develop into a starter.
Recruiting coordinator: Josh Jordan
Top recruit: Chad Knight, C (No. 286)
The Blue Devils, fresh off back-to-back super regional appearances, continue to build momentum with another solid recruiting class. Knight and shortstop Grant Norris (385) headline the class and give Duke a pair of impact position players. Knight is a physical righthanded hitter with above-average power and an advanced approach at the plate. His arm strength plays behind the plate and he has a chance to catch long term, but he’s still trying to settle into a defensive home. Even if Knight moves to an infield corner, his bat will play well. Norris has the tools to make standout plays at shortstop and his arm strength especially stands out. He has some thump in his bat and runs well, making for an intriguing all-around package.
Thomas Keehn can do a lot of things on the diamond and can impact the game in a variety of ways. He has a good feel at the plate and can play anywhere on the infield. He also has two-way ability and can run his fastball into the low 90s when he gets on the mound. Graham Pauley played at a high level throughout high school and stands out for his lefthanded bat. He’ll likely settle in at third base and has solid power potential.
Righthander Billy Seidl was a two-sport star in high school and brings a football mentality to the mound. His fastball gets into the low 90s and he pairs it with a sharp slider, a combination that plays well in the bullpen. Lefthander Michael Foltz is undersized at 5-foot-11 but has a powerful fastball-curveball combination. He played at a high level during high school, and his stuff should help him quickly carve out a role for the Blue Devils. Righthander Marcus Johnson, however, has a projectable 6-foot-6, 180-pound frame. He fills up the strike zone already with a fastball that sits 88-90 mph. He also played basketball in high school, and if his velocity can take a step forward as he physically matures and focuses on baseball for the first time, he offers significant upside. Like Johnson, righthander Henry Williams is also loose and projectable and a former high school basketball player. His fastball has been up to 91 mph, and he also throws a lot of strikes.
Recruiting coordinator: Scott Daeley
Top recruit: Will Childers, RHP (No. 419)
The Bulldogs held their recruiting class together through the draft and, as a result, ended up with another solid group of newcomers. Childers, the son of former big leaguer Matt Childers, has a projectable, 6-foot-4 frame and a solid three-pitch mix. He can run his fastball into the low 90s at his best and should be able to quickly take on a spot on the Bulldogs’ staff.
Like Childers, righthander Jonathan Cannon offers big upside in his projectable 6-foot-6, 200-pound frame. He already pounds the strike zone and can run his fastball into the low 90s, a combination that could also help him get on the mound quickly. Righthander Cain Tatum fits right in with Childers and Cannon and is the biggest of the trio of projectable righthanders, as he’s listed at 6-foot-8, 200 pounds. Righthander Michael Polk stands out for his athleticism and slider and gives the class another intriguing arm.
Spencer Keefe is the class’ standout position player. He has a big, physical frame, is a good athlete and hits for power. He played shortstop in high school but is more likely to end up at second or third base for the Bulldogs. Infielder Buddy Floyd is undersized at 5-foot-7, 150 pounds but has a good feel for hitting and played at a high level in high school. He has an excellent feel for the game and has a knack for making things happen on the diamond. Infielder Garrett Blaylock, a junior college transfer who began his college career at Vanderbilt, brings a powerful, experienced lefthanded bat to the Bulldogs’ lineup.
Recruiting coordinator: Nick Schnabel
Top recruit: Jimmy Obertop, C (No. 456)
Coming off its breakthrough run to the College World Series finals, Michigan brings another strong class to Ann Arbor. The Wolverines lost two players to the draft but still have some star power in a group headlined by Obertrop and lefthander Colin Czajkowski, Michigan’s Gatorade Player of the Year.
Obertrop is physical and shows advanced feel behind the plate. He has plus arm strength and the versatility to play first base as well, which should help get his bat in the lineup this spring. He’s got solid raw power, especially when he’s hitting up the middle and to the opposite field. Cameron Hart impressed the Michigan staff during a scrimmage last fall when he was a freshman at Lansing (Mich.) JC. He has solid power and good infield actions at shortstop, tools that should help him step in immediately at one of the corner infield spots. Tito Flores provides the versatility to play in the corners in the infield or outfield and has some thump offensively. Clark Elliott has plus speed that will play up the middle, either in the infield or center field, and an offensive game well-suited for the top of the lineup. Infielder Ted Burton has good athleticism and can play on the left side of the infield, and his arm strength also plays well on the mound. He’ll likely get a chance as a two-way player thanks to a fastball that can touch 92 mph. Outfielder Joey Velazquez, a former Ohio State baseball commit, is playing both football and baseball for Michigan. He’s tooled up with big raw power and upside.
Michigan has made a habit of landing at least one premium pitcher every year, and Czajkowski is this year’s headliner. He has a loose, projectable 6-foot-4 frame and can already run his fastball up to 93 mph. Righthander Cameron Weston has a good fastball-slider combination and is a good strike thrower, while Jacob Denner gives the class another projectable lefthander with good pitchability.
North Carolina State
Recruiting coordinator: Chris Hart
Top recruit: Chris Villaman, LHP (No. 407)
NC State brought in an intriguing class, and while it doesn’t match the upside of its 2011 group that included Carlos Rodon and Trea Turner, this year’s class is in some ways reminiscent of that banner class. This year’s headliners are Villaman and shortstop Jose Torres (448).
Torres is an advanced defender with fluid infield actions and good arm strength. He does a good job of putting the bat on the ball, but some concerns about how much power he produces helped push him to campus. NC State has done very well with shortstops over the last eight years with Turner, Joe Dunand and Will Wilson all impressing in Raleigh. If Torres can follow in their footsteps, the Wolfpack will have another star to build around. Outfielder Noah Soles is an athletic lefthanded hitter who brings some speed and power potential. Austin Murr hit .440/.531/.710 over two seasons in junior college and should step right into the Wolfpack lineup, either at first base or a corner outfield spot. He has an average-over-power profile and gives NC State an experienced lefthanded hitter.
Villaman impressed last summer with a low-90s fastball and a projectable frame. His stuff dipped a bit this spring, but he offers considerable upside. He throws a lot of strikes and has a promising breaking ball that he’s never really worked on. If he can harness the pitch, he has a chance to quickly take on a big role for NC State. Righthander C.J. Neese can also run his fastball into the low 90s and pairs it with a good, hard slider. Righthander Austin Pace is listed at 6-foot-11 and will remind NC State fans of Andrew Brackman. His fastball sits around 90 mph, and he’ll likely add more velocity in time. Matt Willadsen has impressive two-way ability and may have as much upside as any of the Wolfpack’s newcomers. He has advanced pitchability on the mound and has a projectable 6-foot-3 frame. He’s also a good infielder with wiry strength and some feel for hitting.
Recruiting coordinator: Pat Bailey
Top recruit: Cesar Valero, 3B/OF (No. 379)
As Mitch Canham takes over the program in Corvallis, he will have a strong group of newcomers to work with. The Beavers added some speed and athleticism with their position players and have some high-upside pitchers. Valero and outfielder Micah McDowell played for the Canadian Junior National Team at this year’s 18U World Cup.
Valero was young for the class and provides plenty of upside, but he still needs to smooth out some rough edges of his game. He projects to have plenty of offensive impact and settle into a corner position, either at third base or the outfield. McDowell is a good athlete with the speed to stay in center field and good on-base skills. Justin Boyd and Kyle Dernedde give the class a pair of solid infielders with a chance to stay up the middle.
Righthander Will Frisch (450) has a strong frame and a fastball that can reach 95 mph to go with the makings of an above-average slider and changeup. He needs to refine his control but figures to quickly step into an important role for the Beavers. Righthander Ryan Brown throws in the low 90s and has an athletic, 6-foot-2, 185-pound frame. He also is a good hitter and could get a chance as a two-way player. Cooper Hjerpe is an advanced lefthander with an upper-80s fastball and good breaking ball. Righthander Jack Washburn, the son of former big leaguer Jarrod Washburn, has a good arm and can reach 94 mph with his fastball. Kai Murphy, the son of Brewers bench coach Pat Murphy, is undersized at 5-foot-9 but has a great feel for the game both as a lefthander and an outfielder. He pitches in the mid-80s with a plus changeup, and his pitchability and competitiveness play up.
San Diego State
Recruiting coordinator: Joe Oliveria
Top recruit: Wyatt Hendrie, C (No. 357)
The Aztecs watched this spring as Keoni Cavaco’s stock exploded and he became the 13th overall pick. While they also lost Garrett Frechette in the fifth round, they held on to Hendrie, who was one of two players drafted in the top 10 rounds not to sign.
Hendrie, a junior college transfer, is an athletic catcher with advanced defensive skills, especially his plus arm strength. His swing is geared toward contact and he has a good feel for hitting. Xavier Carter, a lefthanded hitter, offers big raw power. He can play anywhere in the outfield or first base and could quickly push his way into the lineup. Shortstop Caden Miller is a plus runner and switch-hitter. He’s a smooth defender and can add some dynamism to the lineup.
Righthander Ricky Tibbett has an advanced three-pitch mix and excellent pitchability. That combination gives him a chance to quickly become a starter for the Aztecs. Righthander Javier Felix was banged up this spring but may have the biggest upside in the class thanks to his two-way potential. On the mound, he can run his fastball up to 92 mph and has a promising slider and changeup. He’s an advanced hitter as well, and this spring, limited to hitting only due to his injury, he earned all-state honors. The Aztecs also added a pair of intriguing lefthanders in Trevor Fondtain, who offers projection and is a good strike-thrower, and Drew Summers, who throws three solid pitches from a low three-quarter arm slot.
Recruiting coordinator: Gabe Alvarez
Top recruit: Ethan Hoopingarner, RHP
USC’s recruiting class took some hits both to the draft and decommitments following the firing of head coach Dan Hubbs. But, for the most part, the Trojans kept their class together, and new coach Jason Gill, hired away from Loyola Marymount, will have a solid group of newcomers to work with.
Hoopingarner headlines the class on the mound. He’s a good athlete with advanced pitchability and the makings of a solid three-pitch repertoire. His fastball typically sits in the upper 80s but can touch higher, and he may be able to hold that velocity as he gets stronger. He has good feel for his changeup and also throws a hard curveball. Charles Acker is a physical lefthander with feel for three pitches. His fastball-curveball combination gives him a chance to work out of the bullpen right away.
Outfielder Adrian Colon, a native of Puerto Rico, is an excellent athlete and will have a chance to step right into the Trojans’ lineup. He’s a plus runner, and the lefthanded hitter’s bat speed portends solid power in time. His tools play well in center field and can fit anywhere in the outfield. Shortstop Tyresse Turner also has plus speed and a chance to stay up the middle defensively. He’s a switch-hitter with some feel for the barrel on both sides of the plate. Johnny Olmstead can play anywhere on the infield and an advanced approach at the plate, two tools that will help him quickly get in the lineup. Outfielder Rhylan Thomas is a plus runner and the lefthanded hitter does a good job of putting the bat on the ball. Connor Buchanan is a big righthanded slugger that has above-average raw power and profiles well as a corner outfielder or first baseman.
Recruiting coordinator: J-Bob Thomas
Top recruit: Nate Rombach, C (No. 284)
The Red Raiders landed another strong class that features some impact position players, headlined by Rombach. On the mound, Texas Tech’s most important addition was righthander Austin Becker, a transfer from Vanderbilt. He doesn’t count to the rankings, but he figures to step right into the Red Raiders’ rotation. Rombach comes from a baseball family—his grandfather was a longtime high school coach and his father is a national crosschecker for the Braves. Rombach earns praise for his makeup and stands out for his plus raw power and above-average arm strength. He’s advanced enough offensively to hit in the middle of the order early in his career.
While Texas Tech lost Josh Jung in the draft, it landed his younger brother Jace, who could step right in at third base. Jung is built like his older brother but is a lefthanded hitter with power potential. Outfielder Dillon Carter is a strong, athletic lefthanded hitter. He has above-average raw power and played at a high level for Argyle (Texas) High, the 2019 High School Team of the Year. He runs well enough to play center field, but he will likely begin his college career in one of the corners. Shortstop Jared Cushing has a chance to be a solid defender, reminiscent of former Red Raider Orlando Garcia. His glove is ahead of his bat right now, but he’s a good enough defender to work his way into the lineup soon.
Texas Tech added several pitchers with a chance to quickly earn roles in the bullpen. Lefthander Jacob Brustoski, a junior college transfer, has run his fastball up to 97 mph in the past. He struggled with command at times last year, but his powerful fastball plays well in relief. Righthander Brandon Hendrix, the younger brother of Reds prospect Ryan Hendrix, throws his fastball in the low 90s and has a promising breaking ball and changeup. Righthander Andrew Devine is undersized at 5-foot-9, but his fastball can reach the mid-90s and he mixes in a slider and changeup. His overall game is similar to former Red Raider Jose Quezada.