Image credit: Jaden Noot (Nick Koza/Courtesy Photo)
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 SEC. Ten teams from the conference ranked in the Top 25 and two more made the next 10 classes. Links to full breakdowns for those teams can be found below, as well as a snapshot view of the class. Full breakdowns for the two teams that didn’t make the rankings can be found here.
The recruiting class 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. His fastball sits around 90 mph, and he mixes in solid secondary pitches to go with plenty of upside. Righthanders Gavin Jones (456) and Riley Quick give the class two more high-end arms.
The Razorbacks bring in another strong class that’s especially heavy on high-upside position players. With four regulars from their lineup drafted in the top 10 rounds this summer, those newcomers should have an opportunity to make an immediate impact in Fayetteville, starting with Neville and infielder Jayson Jones (185). Neville has standout athleticism, a good lefthanded swing and plus speed. Jones has an explosive righthanded swing that produces plus power potential. He has some swing and miss to his game, but he’s not an all-or-nothing hitter and could quickly step into the middle of the order.
Auburn lost eight players to the draft from the team this season that reached the College World Series, necessitating a larger incoming class. The Tigers shepherded their whole recruiting class through the draft, meaning they bring in a deep, talented group this fall. Murphy headlines a large group of recruits on the mound. Listed at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, he has a lean, projectable frame but also has the polish and pitchability to quickly make an impact. Outfielder Chris Stanfield (171) and catcher Ike Irish (173) give the class a pair of premium position players.
Florida consistently recruits at a high level and this class is another example of that, as the Gators bring in five players who were top-500 draft prospects. The class is deeper on the mound, but the Gators also landed some high-end position players. Kurland was originally a member of the 2023 prep class but graduated a year early and comes to Gainesville with the class of 2022. He was ranked as the No. 69 prep player in the 2023 class and his early arrival gives the Gators another premium player in the class. Lefthander Cade Fisher (221) and catcher Luke Heyman (234) also bring impact potential.
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. Outfielder Justin Thomas was a star football and baseball player in high school and brings that athleticism to the diamond.
Recruiting coordinator: Will Coggin
Top recruit: Drew Lafferty, RHP
Kentucky played heavily in the transfer portal, bringing in a large group that ranked No. 6 among transfer classes. Those players make up the bulk of the Wildcats’ newcomers and while their freshman class is small as a result, it has some players with true impact potential.
Lafferty has a strong build at 6-foot-1, 200 pounds and is a good athlete. His fastball works in the low 90s and he has a good feel for his changeup and curveball. Lefthander Aaron Blum has a projectable frame at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds and his three-quarters arm slot makes for a tough at-bat. His fastball gets into the upper 80s and his three-pitch arsenal could all make a jump as he physically matures. Lefthander Hayden Smith also has a projectable look at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds and runs his fastball up to 92 mph. He pairs it with a hard curveball and a changeup.
Carson Applegate has two-way ability as an infielder and righthander. He’s a plus runner and a good athlete with the infield actions to play up the middle. He has a quick, compact swing and a disciplined approach at the plate. He projects best as a position player, but he has a quick arm on the mound and can run his fastball up to 91 mph to go with a good breaking ball. Catcher Austin Fawley is coming off a strong summer in the South Florida Collegiate League and could quickly work his way into the mix for the Wildcats. He has a strong righthanded swing and a big arm behind the plate, along with the athleticism to also play the outfield. Outfielder Lukas Schramm stands out for his raw righthanded power. He profiles as a corner outfielder.
After Jay Johnson and his staff were hired last summer, they went to work and supplemented what was already a strong recruiting class with more high-end talent. The result is that even after losing five commits on the first day of the draft, LSU still brings in more players ranked as top-500 draft prospects than any other school. This is the Tigers’ third No. 1 class in the 23-year history of the rankings and their first since 2018. Noot is big and physical, at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds, and he has a loose, easy delivery. His fastball gets into the mid 90s, touching 97 mph, and plays up thanks to its hard, running life. Catcher Brady Neal (83) and righthander Chase Shores (90) give the class a trio of top-100 draft prospects, the most of any school in the nation.
The Rebels have compiled a strong recruiting class with some high-upside players and a lot of depth. Ole Miss has a veteran roster for 2022, so this class should be well positioned to make an impact in Oxford. Quinn came on strong this spring and has an ultra-projectable look at 6-foot-6, 200 pounds. His fastball gets up to 94 mph and his curveball projects as a second plus pitch in time. Righthander Grayson Saunier (181) was drafted in the 18th round by the Rangers but upheld his commitment to the Rebels. Like Quinn, he this spring took a step forward as his velocity improved and he touched the mid 90s.
After a disappointing last-place finish in the SEC West in 2022—coming on the heels of the 2021 national championship—Mississippi State brings a massive, talented class to Starkville. It’s full of players who can make a quick impact, as the Bulldogs look to quickly rebound this spring. Holcombe is physically imposing at 6-foot-7, 225 pounds and has a big arm to match. His fastball this spring touched 100 mph and sat 93-95. Holcombe is still a bit raw, but his upside is massive. Switch-pitcher Jurrangelo Cijntje (259) is an ultra-rare and exciting prospect on the mound.
After winning just 18 SEC games over the last two years, Missouri this year hit the transfer portal hard and brought in a large class of four-year transfers that ranked No. 16 in the country. The Tigers’ traditional recruiting class has some intriguing talent as well, especially with the addition of Horn. The big righthander was also a premium recruit for Missouri football (he was a four-star recruit) and he could be the program’s quarterback of the future. On the diamond, he was a high-end draft prospect and ran his fastball up to 95 mph. He’s a premium athlete with enticing potential on the mound—if he gets the time to develop, something that impact-level SEC football players rarely get on the diamond.
Shortstop Jackson Lovich (277) was drafted in the 19th round by the Mets, but instead joins his older brother Ross in Columbia. He’s ultra-projectable at 6-foot-4, 180 pounds and has big offensive upside. He already has solid bat speed and should add more power as he physically matures. His future is likely at third base, where his arm profiles well. Catcher Dalton Bargo has a simple lefthanded swing and an advanced approach at the plate. He’s a good athlete behind the plate and could also see time at first base if his bat pushes him into the lineup. Outfielder Derek Williams this spring hit 25 home runs as a freshman at Mineral Area (Mo.) JC and now brings his powerful righthanded bat to Columbia. There’s some swing and miss to his game, but he adds plus raw power to the class.
Righthander Bryce Mayer, a junior college transfer, has a strong build at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds and should slide right into the Tigers’ bullpen. He attacks hitters with a fastball that gets up to 94 mph and a good slider. Lefthander Nic Smith has a projectable 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame and is a good athlete who also was a standout basketball player in high school. His fastball works in the upper 80s now with more velocity to come as he physically matures. He also mixes in a changeup and curveball. Righthander Logan Lunceford attacks hitters with a good fastball-curveball combination. His fastball gets into the low 90s and he consistently throws it for strikes.
This is South Carolina’s 13th straight Top 25 recruiting class, a streak only bested by Vanderbilt (18) and Florida (15). The class stands out for its depth on the mound, but also includes some exciting position players. Jerzembeck has a projectable 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame and has substantial upside. His fastball was up to 95 mph and his curveball has a high spin rate that makes it one of the best in the prep class. He throws a lot of strikes and as he adds strength, he could make a big jump.
Tennessee has recruited at a high level under coach Tony Vitello and Elander and results on the field have followed. This is another strong class for the Volunteers, especially among position players. Stanwich has a strong, quick swing and he impacts the ball with authority. He still has some physical projection in his 6-foot-2 frame and has some rawness to his game (especially his approach at the plate), but the offensive upside is clear. Outfielder Dylan Dreiling (336) isn’t as tooled up as Stanwich but does a lot of things well and has advanced baseball IQ.
Texas A&M is coming off a College World Series appearance in its first season under coach Jim Schlossnagle and this recruiting class will be looking to push the Aggies back to Omaha. It’s an especially strong position player group, which will add a lot of athleticism to the roster. LaViolette is a tremendous athlete with a big, physical frame at a listed 6-foot-5, 220 pounds. He’s a plus runner and his lefthanded swing does damage thanks to his combination of bat speed and strength. Lefthander Justin Lamkin (246) leads the newcomers on the mound.
Vanderbilt had the No. 1 class on signing day, but it was clear then that getting it through the draft was a challenge. That came to pass, as five of the Commodores’ commits were picked in the first round. Vanderbilt still has a talented group of freshmen, though it no longer is the nation’s best. Dutkanych was seen as a top-two rounds pick before he formally removed his name from the draft, becoming the latest premium pitcher to come to Vanderbilt. His fastball reaches 95 mph, and he also has a pair of good breaking balls that he can land for strikes.