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Breaking Down Notable Recruiting Classes Beyond Power Five Conferences

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Chandler Freeman (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

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 classes across the country.

Presented here is analysis of notable classes for teams outside the Power Five conferences. Brigham Young was the lone team outside the Power Five ranked in the Top 25. Cal Poly and San Diego State both made the next 10 classes. Here are 12 more recruiting classes that merit recognition.

Connecticut

Recruiting coordinator: Joshua MacDonald
Top recruit: Reggie Crawford, 1B/LHP (No. 411)

The Huskies' newcomers are brimming with potential, starting with Crawford, who has enormous upside and continuing through their freshmen and junior college transfers. UConn also brings in three four-year transfers, and while it waits to find out if two-way players Ben Casparius (North Carolina) and Erik Stock (Old Dominion) will be immediately eligible, righthander Justin Willis (Vanderbilt) is set to go this spring. He’ll be a boost to the bullpen thanks to his fastball-slider combination.

Crawford has premium two-way ability and last year was among the better prospects in the Northeast. He’s more advanced as a hitter, and the 6-foot-4, 206-pound lefthander has a good approach and impressive power potential. He’s raw on the mound but has plenty of arm strength—his fastball gets into the low 90s—and he has upside that may be unlocked during college. Lefthander Max Nielsen and righthander Nick Marrero should be able to help the pitching staff right away, while righthanders Josh Cohen and Sam Favieri offer upside.

The Huskies also bring in some important junior college transfers. Zach Bushling can play nearly anywhere on the field, and his speed and mentality will get him in the lineup every day. Righthander Nick Krauth has seen his velocity tick up to around 90 mph this fall, helping his secondary stuff and pitchability play up. He’ll have no problem finding a role on the staff somewhere.

Creighton

Recruiting coordinator: Connor Gandossy
Top recruit: Griffin Holderfield, RHP

After losing six players off last year’s Big East championship team in the draft, Creighton needed a strong recruiting class. That’s just what the Blue Jays got with this group, which has both impactful freshmen and junior college transfers.

Holderfield leads the way on the mound. Listed at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, the righthander has a promising overall package. His fastball sits around 90 mph and can reach 93 mph, while his slider shows promise. Righthander Wyatt Sellers comes to Creighton as a sophomore after helping Northern Oklahoma-Enid win the Division II Junior College World Series. His fastball sits in the low 90s, and he mixes in a curveball and changeup. He was successful as a reliever in junior college and could help the Blue Jays either as a reliever or a starter. Righthander Garret Reisz also comes to Creighton after one season in junior college. While he has two-way ability, he’s focused on pitching now and his fastball-slider combination plays well out of the bullpen.

Infielder Nick Gile put together an excellent season in junior college and has a consistent righthanded bat. He has some power but really stands out for his approach and feel at the plate. Infielder Josh Dudden helped Central Arizona to the Division I Junior College World Series title and does a lot of things well on the diamond. He’s an above-average runner, makes a lot of contact and plays hard—traits that will earn him a spot somewhere on Creighton’s infield. Outfielder Cole Evans was one of the best prep players in Nebraska last spring and offers impressive athleticism. He’s an above-average runner with a strong arm and can make an impact at the plate. Shortstop Cam Frederick, another Nebraska prep product, is a plus runner with a strong arm and some power in his bat who could quickly work his way into the lineup.

Dallas Baptist

Recruiting coordinator: Dan Fitzgerald
Top recruit: Chandler Freeman, 3B/RHP (No. 256)

Dallas Baptist has brought in some talented classes over the last decade, but this year’s group of newcomers has a chance to be its best yet. It’s heavy on junior college pitchers but also includes some premium prep players, headlined by Freeman.

Freeman can do a lot on the diamond and can be an impactful two-way player for the Patriots. As a hitter, he has a good approach at the plate and makes consistent contact with the chance to grow into more power in time. On the mound, his fastball gets into the low 90s and he has a wipeout slider. He’ll likely pitch out of the bullpen and see time in the field, maybe as a first baseman to reduce the wear and tear on his arm. Jeffrey David has the tools to be DBU’s shortstop of the future. He has well above-average speed, twitchy athleticism and good feel at the plate. Jace Grady, a switch-hitter, figures to carve out a role somewhere in the lineup thanks to his speed and athleticism.

DBU’s junior college transfers include some premium arms, as well as powerful slugger Dan Pruitt. Listed at 6-foot-6, 245 pounds, he has impressive feel for hitting and can play first base or either corner outfield spot. On the mound, righthanders Ross Carver and Dan Hamel lead the newcomers and could both end up in the rotation. Carver’s fastball reaches 95 mph, and he has good feel for his hard, downer curveball. Hamel has a physical frame and good pitchability. His fastball also reaches 95 mph, and he has good feel for his changeup. Lefthander Chas Sagedahl also stands out for his pitchability and control, traits that will help him take on a significant role.

Fresno State

Recruiting coordinator: Ryan Overland
Top recruit: Jake Harrell, LHP

Following its appearance in the Stanford Regional final, Fresno State brings in a solid class as it looks to keep its momentum going. Harrell is one of a few pitchers who can make an impact, and the Bulldogs also added some junior college position players who will also factor in quickly.

Harrell and righthanders Alex Kendrick and Will Springer give the class a trio of pitchers with high upside. Harrell is the best of the bunch and was drafted by the Indians in the 39th round. He has a projectable, 6-foot-3, 180-pound frame and throws his fastball in the upper 80s with good life to go with a good changeup and curveball. Kendrick throws his fastball in the low 90s and holds that velocity well, giving him a chance to start. Springer has a touch less velocity but has good feel for his three-pitch mix and pounds the strike zone.

Third baseman Mason Grotto showed a good feel for hitting in junior college, where he was a career .300 hitter and is a solid defender. Jake Gentry, another junior college transfer, has the versatility to play anywhere on the infield and stands out for his feel for the barrel and plate discipline—he struck out just 10 times in nearly 300 plate appearances for Orange Coast (Calif.). Andrew Kachel and Blake Wink, two prep products, also add two solid hitters into the infield mix for the Bulldogs.

Grand Canyon

Recruiting coordinator: Gregg Wallis
Top recruit: Dawson McCarville, RHP

The Antelopes haul in a strong recruiting class that features some premium junior college transfers, as well as some freshmen who offer plenty of upside. McCarville, a junior college transfer, has a strong, 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame and a solid fastball-slider combination. His fastball sits in the low 90s and has been up to 94 mph, and he has good feel for his slider, which will help him take on an important role for GCU.

With McCarville headlining the junior college transfers on the mound, infielders Juan Colato and Drew Smith can also provide big impact. Smith was named the Division II junior college player of the year after hitting .465/.538/.897 and helping Northeast (Neb.) reach the DII JC World Series. Colato has plus speed and makes consistent contact, giving him a chance to be a top-of-the-order hitter.

Righthander Luke Bell and lefthander Shane Murphy both have lots of projection and headline the freshmen class. Bell is the son of D-backs director of player development Mike Bell and is a member of one of five families to have three generations play in the big leagues. Listed at 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, his velocity figures to tick up as he physically matures, and he already offers pitchability. Murphy, listed at 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, has good feel for his three-pitch mix. If his velocity ticks up, he has the potential to be a true Friday starter. Lefthander Cal Lambert wasn’t as prominent as Bell and Murphy in high school but also has plenty of projectability and a good breaking ball.

High Point

Recruiting coordinator: Jason Laws
Top recruit: Carter Sheppard, RHP

For the second straight year, High Point brought in a large recruiting class to replace a large senior class. And this group of newcomers is full of talent that will be expected to impact the Panthers this spring and over the next few years.

On the mound, High Point landed a trio of righthanders who have the potential to be weekend starters in time in Ohjiro Motoki, Dawson Place and Carter Sheppard. Sheppard has the most upside of the group, as he’s listed at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds and touched 96 mph last fall. He more typically pitches in the low 90s and can mix in a hard breaking ball. Motoki doesn’t have Sheppard’s big, projectable frame, but he is strong and physical at 6-foot, 210 pounds. His fastball sits around 90 mph, and he mixes in a sharp, powerful breaking ball. Place has the most pitchability of the trio and can manipulate the shape of both his fastball and breaking ball, giving him a full complement of a sinker, cutter, curveball and slider.

Among position players, the Panthers have a few players ready to contribute right away. Catcher Blake Sutton is a good defender with a smooth, lefthanded swing who will figure into the mix behind the plate. Infielder Justin Ebert has good feel for the barrel and produces consistent quality at-bats. Cole Singsank is a big, powerful righthanded hitter who profiles at either first base or a corner outfield position. Shortstop Trevor Omahen, a junior college transfer, is a consistent defender and should be able to step right into the lineup.

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Illinois-Chicago

Recruiting coordinator: John Flood
Top recruit: Christian Lopez, RHP

Coming off their second regionals appearance in three seasons, the Flames reload with a strong class that’s heavy on junior college talent. The class is also heavy on physicality, both on the mound and among position players.

Lopez last year in junior college became a full-time pitcher for the first time after converting from catcher. His fastball sat around 90 mph, and he also has a good slider and developing changeup. If he’s able to continue to make strides, he figures to take on an important role for the Flames. Righthander Teague Conrad has a lean, projectable frame and throws from a low, three-quarter arm slot that plays well with his sinker-slider mix. Righthander Joey Morris, a junior college transfer, also has a good sinker-slider combination and has taken a step forward over the last six months.

Bryan Rosario, a junior college transfer, is a switch-hitter who has the versatility to play anywhere on the field. He’s expected to see some time behind the plate, while also filling in at the corners. Outfielder Garrett McCarthy, also a junior college transfer, is a strong center fielder with a dirtbag mentality on the diamond. Nick Lopez has two-way potential. He can play anywhere on the infield and is a switch-hitter with some power. On the mound, he’s raw but has a promising sinker-slider combination.

Louisiana-Lafayette

Recruiting coordinator: Jeremy Talbot
Top recruit: Carter Robinson, RHP

As the Ragin’ Cajuns begin a new era under Matt Deggs, they have a large, talented group of newcomers to work with. Robinson was named NJCAA Division II pitcher of the year after going 9-3, 1.53 and helping Mesa (Ariz.) to a runner-up finish in the DII Junior College World Series. Listed at 6-foot-8, 225 pounds, he has good pitchability and the downhill angle he throws from helps his fastball play up from its 89-90 mph range. He has a chance to step right into the rotation this spring.

Robinson is just one of a few exciting junior college transfers on the mound. Righthander James Nelson helped Central Arizona to the Division I national championship and may have the best stuff of the group but will be out this year after undergoing Tommy John surgery this summer. Righthander Conor Angel has a lean, 6-foot-5, 190-pound frame and can run his fastball up to 96 mph. He needs to refine his control but offers plenty of upside.

Outfielder/first baseman Brandon Talley hit more than 30 home runs during his junior college career and adds a big lefthanded bat to the Louisiana lineup. Catcher Julian Brock is a solid defender behind the plate and has a strong, physical frame that portends more power in time. Infielder Peyton Holt was a three-sport star in high school and has plenty of athleticism and versatility. A hard-nosed player, he figures to quickly carve out a role, possibly at second base.

McNeese State

Recruiting coordinator: Nick Zaleski
Top recruit: Cameron Meeks, RHP (No. 240)

Coming off a regionals appearance in 2019, McNeese brings in strong recruiting class headlined by Meeks, who was one of the top prep pitchers in Louisiana last spring, as well as some high-end junior college players. The Cowboys return a lot of talent this year, but this class will still figure prominently into their plans this spring.

Meeks, a Lake Charles native, will play for his hometown team and offers big upside. He has an athletic, 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame and throws in the low 90s. His upside is significant, and he earns praise for his demeanor on the mound. Righthanders Cameron Foster, Kevin Roliard and Andrew Sheridan, all junior college transfers, should be able to quickly carve out roles on staff. Foster, listed at 6-foot-5, 205 pounds, has a quick arm and throws his fastball in the low 90s. Roliard also throws in the low 90s and was versatile in junior college, pitching both in the rotation and bullpen. Sheridan is undersized but attacks hitters well and was the ace for LSU-Eunice on its national championship-winning team.

Infielder Nate Collins showed off a good feel for hitting in junior college and offers defensive versatility that will help him get in the lineup quickly. Catcher Tre Obregon, a junior college transfer, is a switch-hitter who has some exciting offensive tools. Outfielder Jaxsen Davis, a junior college transfer, has a physical, 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame and an intriguing combination of speed and power.

Northeastern

Recruiting coordinator: Kevin Cobb
Top recruit: Sebastian Keane, RHP (No. 140)

Under head coach Mike Glavine and pitching coach Kevin Cobb, Northeastern has become adept at developing pitching. In Keane, the Huskies bring in their highest-profile pitcher yet and the rest of the class is also full of high-upside arms.

Keane, listed at 6-foot-2, 170 pounds, throws in the low 90s and has touched 95 mph to go with good feel for spinning his curveball and slider, as well as a developing changeup. He throws a lot of strikes and has a chance to eventually be a frontline starter for Northeastern. Lefthander James Quinlivin and righthanders Thomas Balboni and Cam Schlittler are all long and projectable. Schlittler is the most advanced thanks to a fastball that sits around 90 mph with a good slider and control.

While the class’ pitchers stand out for their upside, the Huskies also brought in a good group of position players. Outfielder Solomon Canada profiles well in the outfield thanks to his above-average speed and arm strength. He has good athleticism and bat speed. Infielder Zach Bailey is a big, physical righthanded hitter who has the versatility to play all over the infield. Catcher JP Olson is a good athlete behind the plate and offers upside.

San Diego

Recruiting coordinator: Brock Ungricht
Top recruit: Carter Rustad, RHP (No. 168)

USD has consistently produced pro talent over the last decade and 19 Toreros have been drafted in the top 10 rounds over the last 10 years. This year’s class is especially strong on the mound, led by Rustad.

Rustad has premium talent and can be the next in an impressive line of USD pitchers. Listed at 6-foot-4, 195 pounds, he has a quick arm and a smooth delivery that’s easy to project. His fastball has a high spin rate and has been up to 97 mph, but typically sits in the low 90s. His changeup and curveball need some refinement, but he has first-round potential. USD will also get impact on the mound from a pair of junior college transfers. Righthander Garrett Rennie stands out for his pitchability and control. His fastball sits in the upper 80s, and he pounds the zone with a four-pitch mix. Righthander Kohl Simas comes to USD as a sophomore and will be focusing on pitching for the first time after previously being a two-way player. He offers upside thanks to his fastball-slider combination.

Among position players, outfielder Michael Dixon and shortstop Chase Meidroth lead the freshman class. Dixon is a physical righthanded hitter with big power potential that profiles well in an outfield corner. Meidroth is a well-rounded player and played at a high level throughout his prep career. That success carried over to the summer in the West Coast League, where he hit .424/.494/.606 in 20 games.

Troy

Recruiting coordinator: Shane Gierke
Top recruit: Kyle Mock, INF

Troy brings in a large, strong class with impact potential both on the mound and in the lineup. Kyle Mock has a good lefthanded swing and played at a high level throughout his prep career. He’s an advanced enough hitter to find a spot somewhere in the lineup this spring, whether in the infield or the outfield. Like Mock, first baseman William Sullivan is coming off a strong high school season in the Orlando area. Sullivan, listed at 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, has big lefthanded power and still has room to add more strength to his frame. Catcher Easton Kirk last season won the Alabama Community College Conference triple crown after hitting .480 with 18 home runs and 64 RBIs. His powerful lefthanded bat will help him step right into the heart of the Troy lineup.

On the mound, righthander DJ Wilkinson, a junior college transfer, has a strong frame (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) and a strong three-pitch arsenal to match. His fastball sits in the low 90s, and he has the potential to step right into the rotation for the Trojans.

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