Braden Montgomery, Dakota Jordan Highlight NCAA Week 7 Standouts (Hot Sheet)

& 0

Image credit: Braden Montgomery (Photo by Eddie Kelly / ProLook Photos)

The College Hot Sheet has returned for the 2024 season. Like our pro Hot Sheet that runs during the minor league season, we’re recognizing some of the top performers from around the country in college baseball after each weekend of play. Carlos Collazo and Peter Flaherty contributed to the College Hot Sheet this week. Players are listed in alphabetical order.

You can find our updated 2024 draft rankings here. All of our college coverage each week during the season can be found here.

Bowen Baker, LHP, Fairfield

Class: 2024

What He Did: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K

Baker has been a solid starter for Fairfield throughout the 2024 season but he turned in his best start of the year last Friday against Iona. The 6-foot-2, 195-pound lefty struck out a season- and career-best nine batters over eight shutout innings and allowed just a pair of walks and a pair of hits. Baker doesn’t have big time stuff—he sits in the upper 80s and will touch 90 mph with his fastball, but he has solid feel to throw the pitch for strikes and mixes in a low-80s changeup that he lands consistently and also throws an upper-70s slider that could use a bit more refinement. On the season Baker has a 4.22 ERA in seven starts and 32 innings with a 24.8% strikeout rate and 8.5% walk rate. –CC

Nick Brink, RHP, Portland

Class: 2024

What He Did: 9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 12 K

Brink has had a tremendous 2024 season through seven starts and 45 innings of work and he turned in his best outing of the season last week against Mount St. Mary’s. Brink threw a complete game shutout and allowed just two hits while striking out 12 and walking none. He lowered his season ERA to 2.80 and now has a 33.7% strikeout rate and 5.1% walk rate—both career-best marks. Brink throws a fastball in the low 90s that has touched 96 and complements the pitch with a low-to-mid-80s slider, a mid-80s changeup and a slower curveball in the upper 70s. Brink missed the 2022 season with injury and is old for the class but there’s a chance he’s doing enough to warrant a day two draft pick. –CC

Austin Bunn, OF, Northern Colorado

Class: 2024

What He Did: 10-for-15 (.667), 8 R, 13 RBI, 3 HR, 3 2B, 2 BB, 4 K

It was a monster week for the entire Northern Colorado offense as it scored a whopping 64 runs across three games against South Dakota State. However, nobody in the lineup had a better weekend than Austin Bunn. Bunn collected at least three RBIs in all three games, headlined by a six RBI, two home run performance in Thursday’s series opener. After crushing his third home run of the series in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader, Bunn capped off his excellent weekend by going 5-for-6 with a three doubles and three RBIs. He saw his average skyrocket from .222 to .381 and upped his RBI total from four to 17. -PF

Greysen Carter, RHP, Vanderbilt

Class: 2024

What He Did: 8.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 11 K

Carter on Thursday turned in the best start of his college career, as he struck out 11, walked one and did not allow an earned run across a career-high 8.1 innings. Carter generated 14 whiffs with his premium fastball—which sat in the high-90s and topped out at 101—that flashed life up in the zone, and seven with his low-80s curveball that showed both depth and sharp, downward bite. Command is still the biggest question with Carter, but when he is around the strike zone he is one of the more difficult pitchers to hit in college baseball. He has a 3.80 ERA with 24 strikeouts to 13 walks across 21.1 innings and figures to be selected somewhere between the fourth and seventh rounds this July. Carter’s athleticism, arm speed and pure stuff will be hard to pass up on for long even with the reliever risk he poses. -PF

Jakob Christian, OF, San Diego

Class: 2024

What He Did: 8-for-17 (.471), 7 R, 12 RBI, 3 HR, 3 2B, 2 BB, 5 K

After hitting over .400 with 17 extra-base hits last year at Division-II power Point Loma Nazarene, it has taken a bit for Christian to get going for the Toreros. However, he enjoyed his most productive week of the 2024 season to this point with 12 RBIs across four games. Christian had multiple hits and at least three RBIs in each of his three games this weekend, including a 3-for-5 two home run performance in the series opener. Christian has above-average power to the pull side, and this spring is hitting .297 with a team-leading seven home runs. -PF 

Bryce Cunningham, RHP, Vanderbilt

Class: 2024

What He Did: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 12 K

Cunningham has been Vanderbilt’s most consistent starter this season and owns a 2.87 ERA over seven starts and 37.2 innings. His most recent start against Missouri was perhaps his best of the season when he struck out 12 and walked two while allowing just a single hit and no runs in seven innings. Cunningham has a loud three-pitch mix that centers on a 94-95 mph fastball that has been up to 97, a mid-80s slider and a mid-80s changeup. The fastball and slider were his best swing-and-miss pitches against Missouri. He recorded 11 whiffs on the heater, seven on the changeup and finished 11 of his 12 strikeouts with either the fastball or change. Cunningham was a significant up-arrow prospect on our top 300 draft update and he’s making a case to be the first Vandy arm selected in this year’s draft. –CC

Ty Dalley, 1B/OF, Mercer

Class: 2025

What He Did: 8-for-15 (.533), 7 R, 11 RBI, 5 HR, 0 BB, 1 K

Dalley entered last weekend’s series against Seton Hall with just two home runs in 22 games. He then proceeded to homer five times in 10 at-bats in his first two games of the series with a three-homer game on Thursday and a two-homer game on Friday. He increased his season batting average nearly 60 points with the power surge and is now hitting .253/.333/.563 on the season. –CC

Carson Gross, OF, Northern Colorado

Class: 2024

What He Did: 9-for-16 (.563), 7 R, 9 RBI, 2 HR, 3 2B, 0 BB, 1 K

Gross entered the weekend series against South Dakota State with a season line under .200 so it was unexpected when he proceeded to tally multi-hit games in all three games of the series. He went 2-for-5, 3-for-5 and then 4-for-6 in the finale, including a pair of homers and three doubles. That was enough to kick start his season line to .267/.394/.520 which is suddenly looking like the best offensive performance of his four-year career with Northern Colorado. –CC

Parks Harber, 1B, North Carolina

Class: 2024

What He Did: 8-for-17 (.471), 7 R, 9 RBI, 6 HR, 1 BB, 4 K

The Georgia transfer has been a steady presence in the Tar Heels’ lineup all season, but this past week was without a doubt his best of the season. After going 2-for-4 with a pair of long balls in Tuesday’s midweek win over North Carolina A&T, Harber accounted for four of North Carolina’s 14 total home runs in its sweep of Wake Forest. While the veteran first baseman took potential top-five pick Chase Burns deep on Friday, he went 3-for-4 with three home runs in Saturday’s series-clinching victory. Harber is a physical player with plenty of natural strength who can drive the baseball to all fields, and this season he is hitting .330/.414/.700 with a team-leading 10 home runs. -PF

Sam Highfill, RHP, N.C. State

Class: 2024

What He Did: 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K

The fifth-year righthander has had to deal with his fair share of adversity during his lengthy career, and on Thursday he spun a complete-game—the Wolfpack won by way of the run-rule in the eighth inning—shutout in which he struck out 10, walked none and surrendered just three hits. Highfill’s low-90s fastball is an effective pitch, flashing life through the zone from a low release height. He pairs it with an average high-70s-to-low-80s slider that has both sweep and depth, while also occasionally mixing in a low-80s changeup. After a modest 2022 and 2023, Highfill is in the midst of a bounce back season in which he has a 3.72 ERA and 42 strikeouts across 38.2 innings. -PF

Dakota Jordan, OF, Mississippi State

Class: 2024

What He Did: 7-for-15 (.467), 5 R, 6 RBI, 3 HR, 2 2B, 5 BB, 2 K

Jordan is building significantly on a strong 2023 season and after a three-homer, seven-hit week he is slashing .393/.532/.869 with 14 home runs. That’s already four more homers than he managed in 44 games in his freshman 2023 season, and he’s also made a significant jump in his walk rate. Jordan walked at a respectable 13.6% clip in 2023 but so far in 2024 that has improved to 21.6%, though he has done so with similar underlying contact and chase rates as a year ago. Jordan pummeled secondary pitches last week and homered on two changeups to the pull side against Florida and sent a hanging 77-mph breaking ball out to straight away center field. His tremendous bat speed and titanic raw power were some of the best tools entering the season and now he’s adding more impressive performance to his resume. There’s real first round buzz with Jordan at this stage. –CC

Aidan Knaak, RHP, Clemson

Class: 2026

What He Did: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K

Knaak bounced back from a tough outing last weekend against Florida State with a shutout effort against Miami in which he picked up a career-high 10 strikeouts. The true freshman’s fastball was up to 95, but his feel for his secondary offerings is incredibly impressive. Knaak’s low-80s curveball has plenty of teeth, while his high-70s changeup—which he’ll throw to both right and lefthanded hitters—is already a plus pitch that flashes big-time late tumbling life. It has a 55% miss rate this season and is a legitimate out pitch. Knaak seems destined to headline Clemson’s rotation in 2025 and could be one of the more impressive college arms in the 2026 class. -PF

Wyatt Lunsford-Shenkman, RHP, ECU

Class: 2024

What He Did: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K

It’s hard to make the hot sheet as a reliever given the lack of volume during each week. But it’s probably time to recognize just how good Lunsford-Shenkman has been for the Pirates out of the bullpen this season. He’s pitched in 13 games and has posted a 0.96 ERA in 28 innings with a 42.6% strikeout rate and 7% walk rate. That 35.7 K-BB% puts him behind only Hagen Smith (47%), Chase Burns (42.4%) and Riley Huge (39.7%) for the fourth-best mark among D-I arms in the country. Lunsford-Shenkman primarily throws a low-90s fastball and a sweeping, low-80s slider but he has upped the slider usage north of 50% this spring and still maintains a 51% miss rate on the pitch from a low three-quarters slot. –CC

Connor Mattison, RHP, Grand Canyon

Class: 2026

What He Did: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K

Mattison made Grand Canyon history in his true freshman season last weekend against Sacramento State when he threw the first no-hitter since 1982 and its first ever as a Division I program. A 6-foot-2, 195-pound righthander, Mattison has an unusual pitching profile in that he uses an upper-70s changeup as his primary pitch. That was the case in this outing and he generated 21 whiffs with the pitch while backing it up with a low-90s fastball and occasional upper-70s curveball. Mattison’s changeup features a tremendous amount of tumbling action with arm-side life that makes it look like a screwball-esque pitch at times. Mattison has a 2.75 ERA in seven starts and 36 innings this season with a 33.6% strikeout rate and 7.5% walk rate. –CC

Braden Montgomery, OF, Texas A&M

Class: 2024

What He Did: 7-for-17 (.412), 8 R, 8 RBI, 4 HR, 2 2B, 4 BB, 0 K

Montgomery’s four-homer weekend vaulted him over the likes of Travis Bazzana and Grant Knipp into second place outright in the home run race that Georgia’s Charlie Condon is currently leading. Montgomery sits with 16 homers compared to Condon’s 19, and the switch-hitting Texas A&M outfielder is now just two shy of his season-best 18 homers that he managed in 2022 with Stanford. Montgomery homered in each game against Auburn in the weekend series including a two-homer game on Friday where went to left-center on a 90-mph slider that didn’t slide and also yanked a low-80s changeup at the bottom of the zone to straightaway center. All his damage came as a lefthanded hitter and this season Montgomery is hitting .382/.495/.987 as a lefty compared to .360/.543/.720 as a righty and leads D-I hitters with 47 RBIs. He feels like a top-five draft pick at the moment. –CC

Griffin Naess, RHP, Cal Poly

Class: 2026

What He Did: 8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K

The true freshman continued his excellent start to his college career with an eight-inning gem against in-state rival Cal State Fullerton. Naess carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning before a lead-off single ended his bid at history. The freshman righthander’s heater sat 87-90, but he accompanied it with an above-average changeup—a pitch he has an advanced feel for—that flashed both tumble and fade. Naess does a nice job of staying off the barrel of opposing hitters, and this season has pitched his way to a 2.70 ERA with 33 strikeouts to just eight walks across 30 innings. Naess is a freshman arm to follow closely. He has plenty of room to fill out physically and there is some low-hanging fruit to clean up in his delivery that will help maximize his arsenal. -PF

Louis Rodriguez, RHP, TCU

Class: 2025

What He Did: 8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K

In just his second-career start, the sophomore righthander carved through Houston’s lineup and collected 10 strikeouts across eight shutout innings. Rodriguez featured an effective high-80s cutter with late life, a low-80s sweeping slider that is comfortably an above-average offering and a distinct mid-70s curveball that flashed big-time depth and some downward teeth. Both his slider and curveball project as future pitches, and Rodriguez has the look of a professional starter. Rodriguez this season has a 1.40 ERA with 32 strikeouts to just five walks across 25.2 innings and is on track to be a top-five round draft choice in 2025. -PF

Josh Salinas, LHP, Incarnate Word

Class: 2024

What He Did: 9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K

Salinas shutout New Orleans for nine complete innings while racking up 10 strikeouts to two walks last weekend. The 5-foot-10, 225-pound lefthander is having the best season of his career with Incarnate Word and has posted a 1.59 ERA over 34 innings with a 26.7% strikeout rate and 8.4% walk rate. He pitches in the upper-80s with his fastball and will scrape a 91-92 at peak velocity, while mixing in an upper-70s sweeping slider and occasional low-80s changeup. –CC

Grant Taylor, RHP, Washington State

Class: 2024

What He Did: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 17 K

Taylor turned in the best start of any pitcher in the country this week, as in his complete-game shutout he punched out a career-high 17 hitters and allowed just one hit—an infield single. After an infield single with two outs in the first inning, Taylor set down the next 25 hitters in order and struck out 10 in a row between the first and fifth innings. The fifth-year righthander generated an impressive 32 whiffs, with 29 coming against his fastball and slider. While his fastball sat in the low-90s, it played well in the top-half of the zone thanks to its carrying life. Taylor’s mid-80s gyro slider was also plenty effective and garnered a handful of ugly swings and misses. He rounds out his arsenal with a high-70s curveball and mid-80s changeup, but he relies heavily on his fastball and slider. Taylor lowered his ERA to 3.27 and has 47 strikeouts to 16 walks across 41.1 innings this season. -PF

Gage Ziehl, RHP, Miami

Class: 2024

What He Did: 9 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 15 K

Ziehl was outstanding in his outing against No. 2 Clemson and tossed a complete-game in which he collected a career-high 15 strikeouts. The physical righthander collected 22 swings and misses, but he dominated with his mid-to-high 80s slider to the tune of 17 whiffs. It flashed tight, two-plane break and played particularly well against the Tigers’ righthanded hitter-heavy lineup. Ziehl has continued to flash plus control this season and while both his changeup and slider are effective secondary offerings, he lacks a bat-missing fastball. Ziehl has pitched his way to a 4.50 ERA with 48 strikeouts to just 11 walks across 46 innings, and he figures to be a mid-day two pick this July. -PF

Download our app

Read the newest magazine issue right on your phone