Breaking Down The Big 12's 2019 Recruiting Classes
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 for the rankings, Baseball America is breaking down every class in several of the biggest conferences in the country.
Presented here are team-by-team analysis for every team in the Big 12. Four teams from the conference ranked in the Top 25 and a fifth 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 four teams not to make the rankings can be found here.
Recruiting coordinator: Mike Taylor
Top recruit: Will Rigney, RHP (No. 91 on the BA 500)
Rigney, a Waco native, headlines this class and gives his hometown team a foundational piece on the mound. Big and physical, his fastball sits in the low 90s and touches 95 mph. His slider is a plus pitch at its best and he also has advanced feel of his changeup. He can be an impact arm from the start for the Bears. Lefthander Jack Hattrup and righthander Kyle Stremski give the class a pair of high-upside pitchers behind Rigney.
Among position players, Baylor added outfielder Jared McKenzie, a lefthanded hitter with good feel for the barrel and a gap-to-gap approach who made some big strides over the last year. Ben Greer is a switch-hitter with above-average speed. He’s got the versatility to play all over the diamond and does a good job of using the whole field to hit. Catcher Nic Balsano has solid arm strength and moves well behind the plate and the righthanded hitter should develop more power as he physically matures.
Recruiting coordinator: Ritchie Price
Top recruit: Anthony Tulimero, C
The Jayhawks brought in a smaller class this year, but it has some impact players among the newcomers. Tulimero broke out last year and brings a good righthanded bat to Lawrence. He has a strong arm and the versatility to also play in the infield when he doesn’t catch. Outfielder Blake Ebo was drafted out of high school in 2016 but battled injuries during his junior college career. He has good raw tools when he’s healthy to go with a strong, physical frame. Kansas also added outfielder Zach Hanna, a grad transfer from Missouri, who missed this spring due to a wrist injury.
On the mound, righthander Ryan Vanderhei stands out for his projectable 6-foot-7, 180-pound frame. His fastball gets up to 91 mph and he figures to add velocity as he physically matures, which will also help his developing curveball and changeup. Righthander Thane McDaniel was perhaps the best prep pitcher in Kansas last year and can run his fastball up to 90 mph with promising secondary stuff. Righthanders Everhett Hazelwood and Cole Larsen, both junior college transfers, have good fastball-slider combinations that should help them quickly carve out important roles on the Jayhawks’ staff.
Recruiting coordinator: Ryan Connolly
Top recruit: Nico Rodriguez, RHP
Kansas State went junior college heavy in this class as Pete Hughes and his staff get settled in their second year in Manhattan. It’s a physical group that should quickly add strength to the lineup and some power on the mound.
Rodriguez is a big, strong righthander with a mature mentality on the mound. His fastball sits around 90 mph and he pairs it with a big curveball. Righthander Logan Mueller is a little undersized but has a fast arm and a good fastball-slider combination. Righthander Zach Ebert isn’t overpowering, but his pitchability helped him put together an impressive career at Johnson County (Kan.) JC. With his feel for pitching, he figures to carve out a significant role on the Wildcats’ staff. Righthander Zach Herbers, another junior college transfer, has a power arm that plays well in the bullpen.
Infielder Elijah Dale has good infield actions and quick-twitch athleticism, giving him a good chance to stay up the middle. Elijah Jackson is a little more physical and profiles more as a corner player. Dominic Hughes, the son of coach Pete Hughes, also has a physical frame and offers offensive upside. Outfielder Zach Hogueisson, a junior college transfer, has solid power potential and figures to step right into the heart of the Wildcats’ lineup. Second baseman Gary Mattis last season led the Division II junior college ranks with 64 stolen bases and will add speed to the lineup.
Recruiting coordinator: Clay Van Hook
Top recruit: Christian Ruebeck, RHP (No. 373)
Ranking: No. 22
The Sooners’ class initially stood out because it featured Bobby Witt Jr., the top-ranked prep player in the country. While he went on to become the No. 2 overall pick, Oklahoma still brought a talented group of newcomers to Norman. The class is especially deep on the mound, where Ruebeck, righthander Dane Acker (388) and lefthander Jake Bennett (393) add power arms to the staff. Acker, a junior college transfer, has the best chance to start this year, but Ruebeck and Bennett offer plenty of upside. Second baseman/outfielder Connor Beichler (376) and outfielder Kendall Pettis bring speed and athleticism to the Sooners, while shortstop Petyton Graham is a good defender with offensive upside.
Recruiting coordinator: Marty Lees
Top recruit: Bryce Osmond, RHP (No. 41)
Ranking: No. 14
Osmond is the highest ranked player to make it to a Big 12 school in more than five years. He’s the centerpiece of the Cowboys’ class thanks to his athletic, projectable frame and upside on the mound. Second baseman/outfielder Kaden Polcovich, a junior college transfer, comes to Stillwater after an outstanding summer in the Cape Cod League that should have him set up to contribute right away. Third baseman Blake Robertson and outfielder Caden Trenkle offer power potential.
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Recruiting coordinator: Sean Allen
Top recruit: Trey Faltine, SS/RHP (No. 89)
Ranking: No. 10
Faltine, perhaps the most versatile player in the country, anchors a class that is heavy on pitching and will be asked to contribute immediately. While he has big upside on the mound, he’ll get a chance to win the shortstop job first. He’s part of a position player group that is strong up the middle with the likes of catcher Silas Ardoin, outfielder Douglas Hodo and infielder Camryn Williams, a junior college transfer. With prep righthanders Jared Southard (231), Andre Duplantier (241) and Will Swope and junior college transfer Dawson Merryman, the class has several pitchers who will quickly take over roles on the Longhorn staff.
Recruiting coordinator: Kirk Saarloos
Top recruit: Riley Cornelio, RHP (No. 69)
Ranking: No. 4
TCU took a bigger class this year and the group has the potential to quickly make an impact, both with pitchers and position players. Cornelio and righthander Jacob Meador (172) should be able to make an immediate impact on the mound. The Frogs’ pitching staff will also get a boost from several important junior college transfers, led by righthander Drew Hill (382), who will likely slot into the rotation. Among position players, outfielder Austin Plante (266) and catcher Kurtis Byrne (413) add physicality to the TCU lineup and have standout potential.
Recruiting coordinator: J-Bob Thomas
Top recruit: Nate Rombach, C (No. 284)
Ranking: Next 10
The Red Raiders landed some impact position players in this class, led by Rombach. He brings a powerful bat to Lubbock and should help lengthen the lineup. Infielder Jace Jung, the younger brother of Josh Jung, and outfielder Dillon Carter also figure to quickly join the lineup and both have the potential for above-average power. On the mound, righthander Austin Becker, a Vanderbilt transfer, is the most important addition and figures to join the rotation. Lefthander Jacob Brustoski and righthanders Andrew Devine and Brandon Hendrix will bolster the bullpen with their power stuff.
Recruiting coordinator: Steve Sabins
Top recruit: Matt McCormick, C (No. 378)
Fresh off what may have been the best season in program history as they hosted a regional for the first time since 1955, the Mountaineers landed what may be their best recruiting class ever. McCormick and lefthander Daniel Batcher were both drafted and bring plenty of upside to Morgantown.
McCormick has an advanced approach at the plate and good bat-to-ball skills. He has above-average arm strength but will need to improve his receiving to stay behind the plate in the long run. No matter where he ends up defensively, his bat will be an asset in the Mountaineers’ lineup. Tyler Demartino is a strong righthanded hitter with good power potential. He profiles best at left field or first base but has the offensive upside to fit well there.
West Virginia went heavy on pitchers in the class, headlined by Batcher. He’s a projectable lefthander whose fastball sits in the mid to upper 80s now, but figures to improve as he fills out his 6-foot-4 frame. He has good feel for his changeup and also mixes in a big curveball that he can land for strikes. Batcher pitches with good control now and offers plenty of velocity if his velocity does tick up in time. Righthander Jimmy Starnes is slightly undersized but has a fastball-curveball combination that could help him quickly carve out a role on the staff. Righthander Haden Erbe has power stuff and is coming off a solid season in junior college and should be able to take on a significant role for the Mountaineers.