2021 AAC College Baseball Recruiting Classes Breakdown
Recruiting is the lifeblood of every program in college baseball. After presenting the Top 25 recruiting classes and the 10 classes that just missed the cut, Baseball America is breaking down every class in several of the biggest conferences in the country.
Presented here is team-by-team analysis for the American Athletic Conference. East Carolina brought in the conference’s top class, which landed in the 10 classes that just missed the rankings. Here, we have a snapshot view of the Pirates’ class as well as full breakdowns for the rest of the conference.
Player rankings refer to the 2021 BA 500, which included all draft-eligible players. Players transferring from four-year schools were not considered for the recruiting class rankings.
Recruiting coordinator: Ted Tom
Top recruit: Cole Russo, C/3B
UCF brings in a large group of newcomers that includes some impactful four-year transfers but is also heavy on freshmen who stand out for their athleticism and upside. Russo only began catching about a year ago and has quickly shown an aptitude for the position. He has a strong arm and can play either behind the plate or at the hot corner. The lefthanded hitter has a powerful swing and could be a physical presence in the lineup.
Ryan Taylor is a good athlete whose glove plays well on the left side of the infield. He’s a lefthanded hitter with some power potential. Outfielder Jason Ambos has an easy lefthanded swing and a good feel for the barrel. Lex Boedicker has a powerful lefthanded swing and a lot of offensive upside. He’s a good athlete, which will help him find a role defensively.
Lefthander Dominic Castellano built a long track record of success on big stages in his prep career. His fastball works in the upper 80s and he stands out for his advanced pitchability and control of his three-pitch arsenal. Lefthander Jacob Marlowe also stands out for his pitchability and has good feel for three pitches. His fastball sits in the mid 80s and he has room to add more velocity as he gets stronger. Lefthander Cameron Crain, a junior college transfer, has a good fastball-changeup combination that will help him quickly carve out a role on staff.
Recruiting coordinator: JD Heilmann
Top recruit: Tommy O’Connor, LHP
Cincinnati this year took a compact class that’s heavy on pitching, supplementing it with some experienced hitters in the transfer portal. O’Connor has a physical frame at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds and an exciting package on the mound. His fastball gets up to 93 mph and he pairs it well with a biting breaking ball. He’s a good athlete and offers a good combination of upside and present ability.
Righthander Garrett Harker has a strong build at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds and a powerful arm. His fastball gets up to 94 mph and he pairs it with a good slider. That combination should play well right away in the bullpen. Lefthander Carter Earls stands out for his athleticism and upside. His fastball gets into the upper 80s now, but there’s more velocity to come in his 6-foot-4, 200-pound frame.
CJ Dean is a good athlete with two-way ability as a righthander and outfielder. He runs well and has a sound righthanded swing to go with a promising skill set on the mound. Catcher Boston Smith has an easy lefthanded swing and is a solid defender, tools that will help him quickly work his way into the lineup.
ECU, coming off its second straight super regionals appearance, brings a strong class to Greenville that’s especially impactful on the mound. New pitching coach Austin Knight, promoted after Jason Dietrich was hired away to be the head coach at Cal State Fullerton, will build the core of future Pirates staffs around lefthanders Merritt Beeker and Erik Ritchie and righthanders Jake Hunter, Jordan Little, Wyatt Lunsford-Shenkman and Yesavage. Catcher Ryan McCrystal adds a powerful lefthanded bat to the class.
Recruiting coordinator: Ross Kivett
Top recruit: Brandon Burckel, INF
Houston is coming off its first losing season since 2012 and will look to this class to help it quickly bounce back. The Cougars, as they often do, brought in a mix of high-end junior college transfers and freshmen.
Burckel has a good understanding of the game and can do a lot of things well on the diamond. The righthanded hitter has a good feel for hitting and packs some power. He’s a solid defender who could step right into the Houston lineup. Malachi Lott has two-way ability as a lefthander and outfielder. He isn’t overpowering on the mound but has an advanced feel on the mound and can quickly make an impact. He’s also a solid athlete with a good lefthanded swing.
Houston has a promising group of junior college transfers on the mound. Righthander Logan Clayton has a projectable 6-foot-5, 188-pound frame and a promising fastball-breaking ball combination. He mostly worked in relief this spring and could slot into a variety of roles on staff. Lefthander Kyle LaCalameto is coming off a solid spring and has a loose delivery. His fastball reaches the low 90s and he mixes in a good changeup. Righthander Taylor Parrett can run his fastball into the mid 90s with promising offspeed pitches. Lefthander Jose Torrealba is undersized but has a good feel on the mound and can pitch in a variety of roles for the Cougars.
Sources: Notre Dame Targeted Paul Mainieri In Coaching Search
Multiple sources told Baseball America that Paul Mainieri was the initial target to replace Link Jarrett as coach at Notre Dame.
Recruiting coordinator: Clay Greene
Top recruit: Landon Gartman, RHP
After a last-place finish this spring in the conference standings, Memphis focused its recruiting efforts on experienced players who can quickly make an impact—working both the transfer portal and the junior college ranks. Righthander Connor Shamblin (Alabama) and lefthander Dalton Fowler (Oklahoma) are two of the key transfers to watch.
In the Tigers’ traditional recruiting class, Gartman, the Division II junior college pitcher of the year, stands out. He went 9-0, 1.95 this spring for Pearl River (Miss.) JC and brings good pitchability to Memphis. His fastball gets into the low 90s and he has good feel for his breaking ball. Righthander David Warren, another junior college transfer, pounds the strike zone and has a good splitter. Lefthander Logan Rushing, whose older brother Dalton Rushing plays for Louisville, has intriguing upside and came on late in his prep career. His fastball gets into the low 90s with a high spin rate.
Infielders Tyler Harrington and Jonah Sutton were high school teammates in Memphis and will team up again with the Tigers. Harrington has a strong righthanded swing and profiles well on a corner, while Sutton fits up the middle. Outfielder Rashad Robinson has a good feel at the plate and his skill set fits well at the top of the lineup and in center field. Shortstop Jackson Musrock is a strong defender thanks to his arm strength and range.
Recruiting coordinator: Bo Durkac
Top recruit: Austin Grause, RHP
Coming off its super regional appearance, South Florida adds a solid recruiting class to its roster. It’s particularly deep on the mound, but also includes some exciting, athletic position players.
Grause has a strong build and can run his fastball into the low 90s, pairing it effectively with a slider. He’s a good athlete and throws a lot of strikes, which should help him carve out a role early in his college career. Righthander Tyler Dietz has a projectable look at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds and throws his fastball in the low 90s. He has a promising slider and splitter. Righthander Jack Cebert also has a projectable frame at 6-foot-3, 195 pounds and a good feel for pitching. As he adds more velocity—his fastball works in the upper 80s now—he has intriguing upside. Lefthander Ethan Brown, a junior college transfer, stands out for his pitchability and has the versatility to pitch in a variety of roles. His control and four-pitch mix are likely to earn him an important role on staff.
Catcher Tayden Hall, the son of former big league catcher Toby Hall, has a physical frame at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds and a strong lefthanded swing that portends more power in time. He has a good approach at the plate and is a solid receiver defensively. Outfielder Jackson Mayo has plus speed and a solid approach at the plate. Bobby Boser has two-way ability as an infielder and righthander. He can run his fastball into the low 90s and his arm strength and glove play well on the left side of the infield.
Recruiting coordinator: Jay Uhlman
Top recruit: Teo Banks, OF/RHP (No. 433)
Under Jewett, the talent level at Tulane has trended up and the Green Wave produced top-40 picks in back-to-back years in Kody Hoese (25th, 2019) and Hudson Haskin (39th, 2020) before this year having five players drafted. This year’s recruiting class will look to continue that trend and includes some of the conference’s best recruits.
Banks is a prototypical athletic, toolsy outfielder and was drafted in the 12th round by the Cubs. He has a long track record of hitting and has righthanded power potential. He was drafted as a hitter, but he has a strong arm and can run his fastball into the low 90s, giving him a chance to be a two-way player for the Green Wave. Jackson Linn (481) also has two-way ability as an outfielder and righthander and was drafted in the 20th round by the Astros. Linn has an intriguing combination of speed and righthanded power, though he does have some rough edges to round out. Like Banks, he was drafted as a hitter but his low-90s fastball gives him a chance on the mound as well. Landry Alligood also has two-way ability as an infielder and righthander. He’s a good athlete with a powerful righthanded swing and can run his fastball up to 90 mph.
Righthander Michael Massey has a projectable build at a listed 6-foot-5, 215 pounds. His fastball typically sits in the upper 80s and can push into the low 90s to go with a short slider. Righthander Jonah Wachter, who was originally committed to Hartford before the university announced its intention to drop to Division III and the coaching change that followed, also has a projectable frame and a fastball that gets into the low 90s. He offers a four-pitch arsenal and has a strong track record of success. Shortstop Gavin Schulz is a speedy, versatile infielder with a promising righthanded swing. First baseman Brady Marget has big lefthanded power potential in his 6-foot-5 frame.
Recruiting coordinator: Mike Sirianni
Top recruit: Xavier Casserilla, 3B
As Wichita State continues to gather momentum under third-year coach Eric Wedge, it this fall brought in a solid recruiting class. Casserilla highlights the newcomers after choosing to go to college despite being drafted in the 20th round by the Cardinals. He has a physical build at 6-foot, 212 pounds and a strong righthanded swing. He has a good feel for the barrel and makes a lot of hard contact.
Will Stark has good athleticism and speed that plays well in the outfield or the infield. He has a compact lefthanded swing and creates good bat speed. Catcher Jackson Young is a switch-hitter and has a strong arm behind the plate.
Lefthander Jace Miner has a projectable 6-foot-3 frame and has come on strong in the last year, beginning to tap into more velocity. His fastball touched 95 mph and now sits in the low 90s to go with a good breaking ball. Righthander Will Stevens, a junior college transfer, has a strong build at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds and an exciting fastball-breaking ball combination. His fastball gets into the mid 90s and he has the versatility to pitch in a variety of roles. Righthander Ben Taxdahl attacks hitters with a fastball-slider combination and his fastball sits around 90 mph with a chance for more velocity down the line. Righthander Taylor Calcote also has a fastball that sits around 90 mph and a projectable build.