Image credit: Jason Savacool (Photo by Bill Mitchell)
With 302 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 and that has never been truer than this year due to the shortened draft. With that in mind, here are 10 more teams that fell just outside the Top 25, listed in alphabetical order. If a few of these classes had arrived on campus in a normal year, they likely would have been Top 25 classes.
To see the Top 25, click here.
Recruiting coordinator: Jerry Zulli
Top recruit: Grayson Hitt, LHP (No. 152)
The Crimson Tide landed the 15th-ranked class in each of the last two years before this fall landing just outside the Top 25. While this is a smaller class than those two, it still has impact talent. Hitt has made significant strides over the last year and has room for even more growth. His fastball has climbed from the mid 80s in his junior season to 93 mph early this spring. He also starred at football in high school and had an offer to play wide receiver at Memphis. He still needs some polish, but between his athleticism, projection and upward trend, he could soon take over a spot in the rotation.
Hitt is just one of a few exciting arms Alabama brings to Tuscaloosa. Like Hitt, righthander Dylan Ray (306) also played wide receiver in high school and brings athleticism to the mound. His fastball sits 92-94 mph and he mixes in a curveball, throwing both pitches for strikes. He’s polished enough to carve out a role right away for Alabama, likely in the bullpen. Righthander Jake Eddington (395) offers big upside as he grows into his 6-foot-3 frame. He has a quick arm and some feel for spin but will need some time to reach his considerable potential. Righthander Hunter Ruth, a junior college transfer, adds another big arm with upside to the class. He was a high-profile player in high school, standing out for a fastball that reached the mid 90s and good secondary stuff to match. He’s been limited by injury since then but if he’s back to full health, he’s capable of pitching important innings for the Tide. Righthander Brayden Rowe is a good athlete and his ability to throw strikes with his lively fastball, breaking ball and changeup will play well in the bullpen.
Infielder Caden Rose was high school teammates with Ray and doesn’t have as much pro upside, but figures to be a key part of the Tide’s lineup over the course of his career. He’s a plus runner, a good athlete and a former quarterback who can play up the middle. He has some feel for hitting and strength in his bat and could develop into a Mikey White or Kramer Robertson-type hitter. Catcher Grant Knipp has a big arm, is a good athlete behind the plate for his size (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) and offers power potential at the plate. Shortstop Bryce Elbin has the tools to be a good defender at the position but needs to add some strength to make an impact offensively. First baseman Davis Heller, a junior college transfer, has a big 6-foot-8, 235-pound frame and hit everywhere he went in 2020, first at South Mountain (Ariz.) JC and then in the San Diego League during the summer.
Recruiting coordinator: Ted Tom
Top recruit: Alex Freeland, SS (No. 269)
UCF brings in a solid class ready to help build on a strong spring that saw it climb in the rankings before the season was canceled. Freeland is ready to step right into the Knights’ lineup on the left side of the infield. The switch-hitter has solid power, especially from the left side, and a solid overall feel for hitting. He has good hands and arm strength and may ultimately fit best at second or third base but has a chance to play shortstop for UCF.
Infielder John Montes, a native of Puerto Rico, has good bat-to-ball skills and fits well at the top of the lineup. He’s a smooth defender and has good athleticism that plays anywhere on the infield. Outfielder Joseph Coffey is a plus runner with good bat speed that could turn into some pop in time. He figures to be the Knights’ center fielder of the future. Outfielder Colin Flynn has the raw tools to develop into a middle-of-the-order hitter, but still needs to add polish. He earns praise for his work ethic and offers versatility defensively, though he profiles well as a corner outfielder.
UCF brought in a deep group on the mound. Righthander Nick Vieira has a big, physical frame (listed at 6-foot-5, 220 pounds) that gives him the look of an innings-eating starter, though he still has some upside. His fastball sits around 90 mph and there could be more velocity in the tank. Righthander Ben Vespi, the younger brother of Orioles’ prospect Nick Vespi, stands out for his pitchability. He pounds the strike zone with a fastball around 90 mph and if he can add more velocity as he physically matures, he could make a significant jump. Righthander Zach Bennett needs some refinement but has the tools to pop. Listed at 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, he has the best breaking ball of the group and if he can add some more power to his upper-80s fastball, he’ll be a real weapon for the Knights. Lefthander Hunter Parrish came on late but competes well with an upper-80s fastball, drawing comparisons to former UCF closer Bryce Tucker.
Recruiting coordinator: Bradley LeCroy
Top recruit: Caden Grice, LHP/OF (No. 289)
The Tigers bring in another strong recruiting class, headlined by Grice, a true two-way threat. Listed at 6-foot-5, 210 pounds, the lefthander can run his fastball up to 94 mph to go with a solid slider and changeup. That’s a strong profile on its own, but he also impressed scouts early this spring with his raw power at the plate and multiple scouts graded it out at the top of the scale. How much contact he makes is the biggest question to answer, but he’ll get the opportunity to prove himself offensively for the Tigers.
Infielder Max Wagner is the latest player to come to Clemson from the Midwest. The Gatorade Player of the Year in Wisconsin has a quick, short swing that helps him consistently barrel up balls and profiles best defensively at second or third base. Shortstop Blake Wright is a good hitter with power to the gaps and good hands on the infield. Outfielder Alex Urban adds another powerful bat to the class.
The class has strong depth on the mound. Righthander Ricky Williams (410) has a projectable 6-foot-4 frame and pounds the strike zone with three solid pitches. His fastball has been up to 93 mph, but he’ll need to get stronger to hold that velocity consistently. Righthander Alex Edmondson built a strong track record throughout his scholastic career, including throwing a no-hitter at the Little League World Series, but missed the last year after undergoing Tommy John surgery, pushing him off the radar. When he’s at full health, his fastball gets up to 95 mph with a good slider. Righthander/third baseman Landon Lucas offers power both on the mound, where his fastball touches 95 mph, and at the plate, giving him a chance to contribute as a two-way player. Righthander Ty Onlenchuk is another high-end arm thanks to a low-90s fastball, a good changeup and a strong mentality on the mound.
Recruiting coordinator: Will Coggin
Top recruit: Ryan Hagenow, RHP (No. 194)
Hagenow headlines Kentucky’s recruiting class, which also includes some high-end junior college transfers who will quickly make an impact in Lexington. Hagenow has a projectable 6-foot-5 frame and made solid progress over the last year, getting his fastball up to 93 mph last fall. He throws a lot of strikes with his fastball and promising slider and changeup. He doesn’t have any standout tool right now, but the ingredients are all there for him to take the next step.
Righthander Wyatt Hudepohl was a standout athlete in high school and has a strong 6-foot-3 frame. His fastball has reached 94 mph and he’ll mix in a curveball and changeup. Outfielder Houston King is an above-average runner and covers ground well in center field. The lefthanded hitter makes a lot of line-drive contact and could develop into a top-of-the-order hitter. Infielder Reuben Church is a strong, powerful righthanded hitter. He also has a strong arm that plays well at third base.
Kentucky’s junior college transfers are led by shortstop Ryan Ritter (321). He has good infield actions, arm strength and range, which will help him step right into the Wildcats’ lineup. He’s an above-average runner, but will need to get stronger to reach his offensive ceiling. Infielder Jake Plastiak is a switch-hitter and brings power potential from both sides of the plate. He profiles best at third base. Catcher Alonzo Rubalcaba is a solid defender and gives the Wildcats another option behind the plate.
After hauling in a Top 25 class last year, Maryland this fall brought another solid group to College Park. Savacool is the headliner and gives the Terrapins a premium arm who can step right into a prominent role. His fastball sits in the low 90s with sinking action and pairs it with a promising slider. He can also mix in a changeup and a curveball, but both need further refinement.
Righthander Nigel Belgrave is a big righthander (listed at 6-foot-4) with a low-90s fastball. He offers solid upside and could quickly find a role in the Terps’ bullpen. Righthander Gavin Stellpflug is listed at 6-foot-6, 210 pounds and throws from a low three-quarters slot, making for a difficult at-bat. He attacks hitters with a good sinker-slider combination. Righthander Chris Bookhultz throws from an even lower slot, a true submariner. He throws three pitches for strikes and has a good understanding of how to get outs. Lefthander Ryan Murphy has a big, physical frame at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. He has good athleticism and projectability, who has the tools to make a jump at Maryland.
Logan Ott has two-way potential as a lefthander/outfielder. On the mound, he stands out for his pitchability and mentality. At the plate, he profiles well in right field and has a good lefthanded swing. Matt Shaw can play all over the diamond, either in the infield or outfield. He’s strong, drives the ball well and makes good use of his above-average speed. Infielder Kevin Keister, the son of high Class A Fredericksburg manager Tripp Keister, can play up the middle and has a good feel for the game. Catcher Luke Shliger is a good lefthanded hitter and adds good leadership skills behind the plate.
This class was ranked No. 25 going into the draft, but lost some of its juice when righthander Mick Abel, the top-ranked prep pitcher in the draft, went in the first round. Still, the Beavers have a solid overall group.
Several of Oregon State’s position player recruits were big football players in high school, including Kasper. He was a two-way football player and didn’t play much on the showcase circuit, but impressed baseball scouts with his athleticism and raw tools. His swing is geared to hitting line drives, but he could grow into more power with time. He’s a solid defender as a middle infielder, but his plus speed would also play well in center field. Shortstop Paul Myro also played quarterback in high school and brings plenty of athleticism to the diamond. He’s an above-average runner and offers some power as well. Outfielder Thomas Dukart was perhaps the best football player of the group and won a state title in Oregon in 2018. Instead he joins his brother Jake in the Beavers baseball program, bringing plus speed and athleticism to the table. Infielder Jordan Donahue is also following in his older brother’s footsteps—Christian Donahue played for the Beavers from 2015-17. He has good speed and profiles well up the middle.
Righthanders Jaren Hunter and Ian Lawson are both Oregon natives with solid upside. Their fastballs sit around 90 mph and mix in a changeup and a slider—Hunter’s changeup is better, while Lawson’s fastball gets the edge. Lefthander Justin Thorsteinson pitched for the Canadian Junior National Team, where he was teammates with current Beavers Cesar Valero Sanchez and Micah McDowell. His fastball sits in the upper 80s and his curveball and changeup give him a pair of solid offspeed offerings.
Recruiting coordinator: Justin Seely
Top recruit: Wyatt Tucker, RHP (No. 355)
This class doesn’t come to College Station with as much fanfare as some of the Aggies’ recent classes. Still, it’s a solid all-around class that fits into what Texas A&M needs. Tucker and fellow righthander Kristian Curtis (389) both generated draft buzz thanks to their projectability. Tucker throws in the low 90s and has a promising slider, a combination that figures to play in the bullpen right away. Curtis, listed at 6-foot-5, 190 pounds, is very athletic, has an easy delivery and his fastball can reach the mid 90s, though he’ll need to add strength to hold that velocity and refine his breaking ball.
Righthander Nathan Dettmer was off to a sensational start this spring before the season was canceled. His fastball sits in the low 90s and he mixes in a powerful curveball, a combination that should help him contribute immediately. Gabe Craig saw his velocity jump in junior college after a late growth spurt, and the 6-foot-5 righthander now throws in the low 90s and fills up the strike zone.
Catcher Taylor Smith was a Freshman All-American in 2019 at Incarnate Word before transferring to junior college. Now, he arrives at A&M with the ability to be a middle-of-the-order bat right away and brings big arm strength behind the plate. Shortstop Kalae Harrison, the younger brother of Nationals prospect K.J. Harrison, makes a lot of contact with a smooth lefthanded swing. He has good infield instincts and could quickly take over the position for the Aggies. Catcher Kimble Schuessler is an impressive athlete behind the plate and stands out for his catch-and-throw ability. Outfielder/first baseman Brett Minnich, a junior college transfer, adds a strong lefthanded hitter to the class. He stands out most for his hittability, but at 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, he may still have raw power to tap into. Infielder Cade Merka brings an aggressive mindset to the diamond and has the athleticism and defensive ability to play up the middle.
Recruiting coordinator: Bryant Ward
Top recruit: Max Rajcic, RHP (No. 176)
UCLA was in contention for the top-ranked class on Signing Day but in June saw its top-four recruits drafted. They all signed, combining for more than $8 million in bonuses. What’s left is still a strong group, but with a bit less upside.
Rajcic is a little undersized but has a good low-90s fastball and curveball. He has advanced pitchability and could slot right into the Bruins’ rotation. Righthander Jake Brooks was off to a strong start this spring before the season was canceled. He made a jump, with his fastball sitting around 90 mph to go with a good slider. Righthanders Carson Hamro and Kenji Pallares aren’t as advanced but offer projection and promising sinker-slider combinations. Righthander Chase Aldrich was a position player most of his prep career but has upside on the mound thanks to a four-pitch mix and clean delivery.
Third baseman Kyle Karros, the son of former big leaguer and UCLA star Eric Karros, joins his older brother Jared with the Bruins. Kyle is a big righthanded hitter with plenty of upside. The Bruins are also betting on the athleticism and upside of infielder/righthander Jonathan Vaughns (427) and outfielder Carson Yates. Vaughns will be playing both football and baseball at UCLA and has two-way potential on the diamond thanks to his elite athleticism (he’s a three-star linebacker/safety in football, according to 247 Sports). Yates was previously more of a football player (he had interest from mid-major schools as a quarterback) but impressed at Area Code Games tryouts this summer and has well above-average speed and plenty of athleticism. Daylen Reyes can play anywhere on the infield and has the tools to contribute quickly in college. Infielder Eli Paton offers good lefthanded power and profiles well in an infield corner.
Recruiting coordinator: Kevin McMullan
Top recruit: Kyle Teel, C
Perhaps no top-end class has changed as much as this one since Signing Day. At that time, lefthander Nate Savino led the way and the class ranked No. 15. But he enrolled early and this spring stepped into the Cavaliers’ pitching staff. Meanwhile, righthander Nick Bitsko, one of the top players in the 2021 draft class, reclassified and immediately moved into the top tier of the 2020 class. He ultimately was drafted in the first round, but Virginia still got good draft news when catcher Kyle Teel officially opted out of the draft.
Before Teel removed his name from the draft, he ranked in the top 100 of the BA 500. He stands out for his athleticism, which plays well behind the plate. He’s still refining his defense, in part because he’s played a lot of infield during high school but has all the raw tools. The lefthanded hitter produces good bat speed and figures to grow into more power as he physically matures. Alex Greene (493) has two-way potential as an outfielder/righthander. He’s done both at a high level throughout high school, showing good contact skills at the plate and good feel for his three-pitch mix on the mound. Shortstop Jake Gelof, the younger brother of Virginia sophomore Zack Gelof, has played at a high level throughout high school and combines athleticism with a good feel for the game. Channing Austin has two-way potential as an infielder/righthander. He has a fast arm and can run his fastball up to 93 mph, while also showing good actions on the infield. Outfielder Addie Burrow is a plus runner with a compact lefthanded swing and some power projection.
Lefthander Jake Berry isn’t quite as advanced but has an ultra-projectable 6-foot-10, 230-pound frame. His fastball gets into the low 90s but plays up thanks to the extension he throws with and he pairs it with a big, sweeping curveball. He needs some more refinement, but it’s easy to dream on his potential. Lefthander Rece Ritchey is also plenty projectable at 6-foot-4, 170 pounds. His fastball gets into the low 90s with life on the pitch and he pairs it with a slurvy breaking ball that figures to improve with more strength. Righthander Avery Mabe has a strong 6-foot-4 frame and good feel for his three-pitch mix.
Recruiting coordinator: Elliott Cribby
Top recruit: Cole Fontenelle, 3B (No. 225)
The Huskies narrowly missed on having their first Top 25 class since 2016 and, even without that standing, have a talented group of newcomers. Fontenelle, first baseman Mike Brown (255) and lefthander/outfielder Tyson Guerrero (253), a junior college transfer, make for a formidable trio to headline the class.
Fotenelle may have been the best prep hitter in the Pacific Northwest this year. Listed at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, the lefthanded hitter has good feel at the plate and big power potential, which could make him a middle-of-the-order hitter for the Huskies. Brown, listed at 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, also has big lefthanded power now and still has room to add more muscle. UW has done a great job of developing catchers in recent years and Carson Blatnick will look to become the latest in that line. He’s advanced enough behind the plate to step into the lineup quickly and has an easy lefthanded swing. Shortstop Mason Weathers, a junior college transfer, has a solid toolset and could quickly establish himself in the lineup.
Guerrero stands out the most on the mound and figures to step right into UW’s rotation, though he also has two-way ability. On the mound, his fastball sits 90-94 mph with a hammer curveball and a changeup that still needs some work. He’s a plus runner and can help offensively as well. Righthander Reilly McAdams offers considerable upside. Listed at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, his fastball sits in the low 90s and he throws a lot of strikes with his three-pitch arsenal. Lefthander Colton Charnholm, a junior college transfer, throws from a low, almost submarine arm slot. His fastball sits around 90 mph and he mixes in a wipeout slider—a combination that figures to make him a weapon out of the bullpen. Righthanders Brock Gillis and Davis Spencer give the class two more pitchers with big upside.