Image credit: Brad Bohannon (Courtesy Alabama athletics)
With more than 300 Division I college baseball programs, it isn’t easy to break into the Top 25 recruiting classes. Narrowing down the field is a difficult task that always leaves some impressive classes off the list. With that in mind, here are the top classes that fell just outside the Top 25, listed in alphabetical order.
The Top 25 classes can be viewed here. The recruiting rankings take into account all players from the high school and junior college ranks and were compiled following many conversations with coaches and scouts. Four-year transfers were not considered for the ranking. All player rankings are from the top 500 draft prospects list, which includes all draft-eligible players.
Alabama was hit hard in the draft, losing four recruits to pro ball. While that knocked the Crimson Tide out of the top 25, they still bring a solid class to Tuscaloosa, especially on the mound.
Blatter is the rare high-end prospect from Montana. Listed at 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, he’s a good athlete who also was a star basketball player in high school. His fastball sits around 90 mph, and he mixes in solid secondary pitches to go with plenty of upside. Righthander Gavin Jones (456) has a strong build to go with a low-90s fastball. He throws a lot of strikes but will need more development of his breaking ball. Lefthander Alton Davis has an ultra-projectable build at 6-foot-5, 185 pounds. His fastball sits around 90 mph now, but there’s plenty more velocity to come. He throws a lot of strikes, but his breaking ball needs more development.
Infielders Colby Shelton and Mason Swinney highlight the Tide’s new position players. Shelton is a polished lefthanded hitter with a strong track record of hitting and the defensive tools to play up the middle. Swinney is a righthanded hitter with a strong build and power potential, who profiles best at second or third base. Outfielder Max Williams has a powerful lefthanded swing and big power potential.
The Chanticleers this fall bring in a large, deep recruiting class. Huesman stands out at the top of the class and was drafted in the 17th round by the Rays. His fastball gets up to 96 mph and he pairs it with a hard slider that can be a second plus pitch. He also works in a changeup. He’s a little undersized at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds, but he’s a good athlete and could develop into a Friday starter at Coastal.
Lefthander Liam Doyle has a similar build at 6-foot, 190 pounds. His fastball sits around 90 mph now with a chance to add more velocity as he physically matures. Righthander Bryce Archie is also playing quarterback at Coastal and was rated as a three-star recruit on the gridiron. On the diamond, he runs his fastball up to 94 mph and his athleticism plays well on the mound. Righthander Jacob Morrison has a projectable 6-foot-7 frame and can run his fastball into the low 90s. He’s a good athlete for his size and offers plenty of upside as he physically matures.
Catcher Caden Bodine is a switch-hitter with impressive power potential and a good feel for the bat. He’s got a strong arm behind the plate and his athleticism plays well defensively. First baseman Jake Books has a powerful lefthanded swing and a good feel for the barrel. Outfielder Sebastian Alexander, a junior college transfer, is a plus runner and has some righthanded power. His speed plays well on the bases and in center field.
Georgia shepherded its whole recruiting class through the draft and while the Bulldogs don’t have the biggest names among their newcomers, it is a strong, deep class. That’s especially true on the mound.
Finley has a big frame at 6-foot-5, 214 pounds and is an excellent athlete (he’s an above-average runner). He has a fastball that has touched 95 mph and typically works in the low 90s, and he pairs it with a sharp slider. Finley spent the summer playing for the Savannah Bananas in the Coastal Plain League and more than held his own as the team’s youngest player, striking out 15 batters in 11.1 innings. Righthander Matthew Hoskins also has a big build at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds and a big arm to match. His fastball also gets into the mid 90s, typically sitting in the low 90s. He mixes in a curveball and a changeup and throws a lot of strikes. Righthander Blake Gillespie attacks hitters with a low-90s fastball, curveball and changeup. He’s a good athlete and throws all three pitches for strikes. Righthander Kolten Smith has a solid three-pitch mix and a projectable 6-foot-3 build.
Outfielder Justin Thomas was a star football and baseball player in high school and brings that athleticism to the diamond. The righthanded hitter has promising power and above-average speed, allowing him to impact the game in several ways. Outfielder Luke Boykin also has projectable righthanded pop and above-average speed. He has quick hands and makes a lot of contact. Infielder Tanner Knowles stands out for his athleticism and plus speed. The righthanded hitter has good feel at the plate.
Jacksonville was one of the under-the-radar winners of the draft, as it brings two top-500 draft prospects to campus in Chrest and lefthander Dakota Stone (400). Chrest is a smaller righthander listed at 5-foot-11, 168 pounds, but he’s touched 95 mph and there’s room for projection. He has good feel for his slider and controls his fastball—which works in the 80s—well, giving him a chance to make a quick impact. Stone is also short at a listed 5-foot-11, 228 pounds but stands out for his pitchability. His fastball works in the low 90s, getting up to 95 mph, and he has a full complement of secondary offerings. He pounds the strike zone and gets some comparisons to former Florida State All-American Parker Messick.
Righthander Isaac Williams has a big frame at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and attacks hitters with a sinker-slider combination. His stuff could play right away in the bullpen. Righthander Aidan Kelley could quickly join Williams in the bullpen thanks to his low-90s fastball and competitive mindset.
Infielder Justin Nadeau has good bat-to-ball skills and profiles as a top-of-the-order hitter with some projectable pop. He’s a versatile infielder who likely will settle at second or third base. Outfielder Abdriel Delgado has a powerful lefthanded swing and a good feel at the plate. Catchers Chandler Howard and Nick Wrubluski give the class depth behind the plate. Howard has a strong lefthanded swing and could also see time at first base. Wrubluski stands out more for his work behind the plate.
North Carolina State
NC State this summer played heavily in the transfer portal, bringing in seven four-year transfers. That group buttresses a traditional recruiting class that’s especially strong among position players. Gupton was the fastest player in the draft class, and he was a standout in track and baseball in high school. His speed makes him a difference maker on the bases, and he covers a lot of ground in the outfield. The biggest question about his game is how consistently he’s able to get on base to use his speed. He has quick hands and a strong build, giving him a chance to become an impact hitter.
Eli Serrano (384) is listed at 6-foot-5, 195 pounds and stands out for his offensive impact. The lefthanded hitter has big power potential and creates good bat speed. He has a classic corner profile, fitting in at first base or in the outfield. Catchers Cannon Peebles and Graham Smiley have strong defensive skills behind the plate. Peebles has one of the strongest arms in the class and blocks balls well. Smiley also has a good arm to go with solid offensive upside. Infielder Isaiah Barkett has a consistent righthanded swing and a good understanding of the game. He has solid hands and the tools to play up the middle.
Righthander Derrick Smith has a projectable build and a promising three-pitch mix. His fastball isn’t overpowering, running into the low 90s, but he pairs it with a good slider and offers upside. Righthander William Bryant also has a strong build and a promising fastball-breaking ball combination.
Notre Dame last fall signed an impressive recruiting class and even after Link Jarrett and his staff left South Bend for Florida State following the season, the class largely stuck together. Now, with the Fighting Irish coming off a College World Series appearance, new coach Shawn Stiffler has a strong group of newcomers to work with.
Moreno has solid overall tools and came on strong this spring as a high school senior. He has a big build, above-average power potential and good plate discipline. He profiles well at third base. Shortstop Cooper Clapp, the son of Cardinals first base coach Stubby Clapp, has an advanced feel for the game. His smooth lefthanded swing and easy defensive actions give him a chance to quickly earn a role for the Irish. Catcher RJ Rickabaugh is a good athlete behind the plate and first baseman Hunter Russell gives the class a powerful bat with middle-of-the-order upside.
Righthander David Lally (248) has a big frame at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds and a big arm to match. His fastball touches 96 mph, and he has good feel for spin, throwing both a tight curveball and slider. He offers strong upside and could quickly work into a key role for the Irish. Righthander Caden Spivey attacks hitters with a good fastball-slider combination and can run his fastball into the low 90s. He’s a good athlete, pitches with good control and has solid upside.
Recruiting coordinator: Clay Overcash
Top recruit: Will Carsten, RHP (No. 419)
Oklahoma, the 2022 national runner-up, lost the most players to the draft this summer. To fill all those gaps on the roster, the Sooners bring a large recruiting class that’s heavy on junior college players, like Carsten. He has a projectable 6-foot-7, 235-pound frame and throws his fastball in the low 90s. He gets good angle on his fastball thanks to his height and works in a sharp breaking ball and promising changeup. Righthander Carson Pierce (427) also has a big frame at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds and a solid three-pitch arsenal. His fastball has been up to 96 mph to go with a good slider and changeup.
Shortstop Dakota Harris, a junior college transfer, stands out for his defense and was this spring named national co-defensive player of the year in junior college. He’s a switch-hitter and has a good approach at the plate. Outfielder Bryce Madron, a junior college transfer, has a disciplined approach at the plate and the lefthanded hitter has more power than his 5-foot-9 build suggests. He also runs well and can impact the game in a number of ways.
Oklahoma’s freshman class is highlighted by catcher Easton Carmichael, lefthander Julien Hachem, righthander Carson Turnquist and outfielder Tavion Vaughns. Carmichael is a good athlete with a powerful righthanded swing. Hachem has an easy delivery and a projectable build. Turnquist throws from an over-the-top angle and runs his fastball into the low 90s with room for more velocity as he physically matures. Vaughns has good feel at the plate and the righthanded hitter produces plenty of bat speed.
Rutgers has made significant strides since coach Steve Owens was hired three years ago and this spring fell just short of making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007. Those gains have also been felt on the recruiting trail and this year’s class has a chance to be the program’s best in some time.
Martin has an exciting all-around skill set and if he adds more consistency as he physically matures, he offers significant upside. He’s a good defender who should be able to stick at shortstop. Offensively, he has some rough edges to hone, but has power potential and above-average speed. Catcher Hugh Pinkney was drafted in the 17th round by the Padres and earlier this fall played for the Canadian Junior National Team at the 18U World Cup. He has an easy lefthanded swing and has good catch-and-throw skills behind the plate. He’s athletic enough to also play some in the outfield. Outfielder Trevor Cohen was a high school quarterback, and that athleticism plays well on the diamond. The lefthanded hitter has the potential for solid power and speed.
Lefthander Donovan Zsak (462) was originally committed to Virginia before the New Jersey native this summer made a late switch to Rutgers. He has a projectable 6-foot-3 frame and his fastball touches 95 mph with riding life. He pairs it with a good curveball and has exciting upside. Lefthander Grant Besser, a junior college transfer, is undersized at 5-foot-9 and isn’t overpowering but pounds the strike zone and is coming off a solid summer in the New England Collegiate League. He figures to take on a role in the bullpen. Righthander Andrew Goldman throws his fastball in the upper 80s and mixes in a good breaking ball.
UC Santa Barbara
UCSB under coach Andrew Checketts has been the Big West’s top program both on the diamond and on the recruiting trail. This year’s recruiting class is again the conference’s best, with some premium talent on the mound and high-upside position players.
Bremner has a projectable 6-foot-3, 180-pound build and offers high-end upside. At his best, his fastball touches 95 mph, he shows feel for his changeup and can mix in a big curveball. He pounds the strike zone and has an easy delivery. He was young for the class and still needs to physically mature. As he does so, he has the potential to take a big step forward. Righthander Frank Camarillo also has a projectable look at 6-foot-4, 185 pounds and his fastball gets up to 94 mph. He throws both his fastball and breaking ball with a high spin rate. He was under the radar but has the tools to make a jump in college. Lefthander Barrett Hudson has a big, physical frame at 6-foot-5, 210 pounds and has advanced pitchability. He isn’t overpowering, throwing his fastball in the upper 80s, but he has good feel on the mound and some projection left. He’s also a talented hitter and could be a two-way player for the Gauchos.
Outfielder Jared Sundstrom (488), a junior college transfer, this summer led the California Collegiate League in home runs (15) and has a powerful righthanded swing. He has an exciting offensive profile—combining power, speed and bat control—and profiles as a right fielder. Jonah Sebring, also a junior college transfer, is an above-average runner and has a quick righthanded swing. His athleticism gives him defensive versatility and he could stay in the middle of the diamond. Shortstop Corey Nunez could be similar to former UCSB standout Clay Fisher. Nunez is a sound defender and has a good approach at the plate, though it may take some time for him to realize his offensive impact.
Recruiting coordinator: Kurt Elbin
Top recruit: Tommy Szczepanski, RHP (No. 256)
Virginia Tech had a breakthrough 2022, winning the ACC and advancing to super regionals. The Hokies now have a strong class arriving in Blacksburg, a group that should keep them rolling in 2023 and beyond.
Szczepanski was committed to Michigan before the coaching change in Ann Arbor and he was drafted in the 19th round by the Royals. When he didn’t sign, he committed to Virginia Tech and adds a high-upside arm to the class. Listed at 6-foot-4, 206 pounds, he has a tall, projectable build and touched 96 mph this spring. He combines that fastball with two promising breaking balls and while there’s still some rawness to his game to be worked out, his athleticism should help him improve in time. Griffin Stieg (459) has two-way ability as a righthander and outfielder, though it is on the mound where his upside is highest. He throws his fastball in the low 90s, touching 95 mph, and gets solid life on the pitch thanks to his low arm slot. He mixes in a breaking ball and changeup. He is a good athlete and offers righthanded power. Lefthander Andrew Sentlinger has a projectable build at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds and his fastball can reach the low 90s, though it typically sits in the 80s. He has good feel on the mound and is coming off a strong spring.
Brody Donay has a big frame at 6-foot-6, 215 pounds and a big arm. He’s tall for a catcher but has soft hands and throws well behind the plate. He offers big raw righthanded power and still has room to physically fill out. Infielder Garrett Michel has a quick lefthanded swing and big power potential. He has a good approach at the plate and fits well on the right side of the infield. Shortstop Clay Grady has plus speed and has the defensive skills to stay at shortstop. He’s a little undersized, but he has exciting offensive skills. Chris Sparber, a junior college transfer, has a powerful righthanded swing. He has the defensive versatility to catch or play an outfield corner.