College Baseball Programs With The Most Players On 2020 MLB Opening Day Rosters
The MLB season opened this weekend to the delight of many around the game. Included in that group are many in college baseball who beyond just wanting to watch the highest level of baseball also have a rooting interest as they keep a close eye on their former players.
Cal State Fullerton had the most former players on Opening Day active rosters with 12, just ahead of North Carolina's 11. It is the second straight year Fullerton has held that honor. In 2019, the Titans had 10 players on Opening Day rosters, matched by Long Beach State. North Carolina ranked sixth with seven.
There were 185 four-year colleges represented on Opening Day rosters, from Akron to Wright State. Eighty-nine of those schools produced multiple big leaguers this season.
This count credits players only for their final college season before they went to pro ball. Players who began their careers at junior colleges but were drafted out of a four-year school are counted, but not the reverse. This count also only includes players on the active roster, not players on the injured list or the taxi squad.
Here's the full breakdown by school.
|Cal State Fullerton||12|
Cal State Fullerton—12
Reds RHP Michael Lorenzen, Astros C Dustin Garneau, Astros RHP Chris Devenski, Angels RHP Noe Ramirez, Dodgers RHP Dylan Floro, Marlins C Chad Wallach, Mets 3B J.D. Davis, Athletics 3B Matt Chapman, Athletics OF Khris Davis, Dodgers 3B Justin Turner, Nationals C Kurt Suzuki, Reds INF Christian Colon.
It speaks to the program’s consistency through the years that Fullerton has 11 big leaguers on Opening Day rosters from all different eras of Titan baseball. Pitching is the bread and butter of the program, but there are also a number of accomplished position players in this group.
Diamondbacks RHP Zac Gallen, Brewers RHP Mike Morin, Phillies RHP Trevor Kelley, Pirates C Jacob Stallings, Pirates 3B Colin Moran, Mariners 3B Kyle Seager, Blue Jays RHP Trent Thornton, Rockies RHP Daniel Bard, Yankees C Chris Iannetta, Cardinals LHP Andrew Miller, Blue Jays LHP Brian Moran
North Carolina’s numbers were bolstered this season by the inspiring story of Daniel Bard, who overcame a case of the yips to break back into the big leagues after seven years. There is a veteran feel to this group, with the presence of longtime MLB players like Chris Iannetta and Andrew Miller.
Tigers OF JaCoby Jones, Astros 3B Alex Bregman, Yankees 2B D.J. LeMahieu, Phillies RHP Aaron Nola, Giants RHP Kevin Gausman, Mariners C Austin Nola, Rangers RHP Nick Goody, Nationals OF Andrew Stevenson, Nationals RHP Will Harris
The Tigers boast some of the best players going in MLB these days, with two all-star level hitters in Bregman and LeMahieu and a workhorse starting pitcher in Nola. Without as many of the accolades, Harris has also emerged as one of the best at what he does as a reliever.
Braves SS Dansby Swanson, Braves RHP Kyle Wright, Reds C Curt Casali, Reds RHP Sonny Gray, Dodgers RHP Walker Buehler, Athletics OF Tony Kemp, Pirates Bryan Reynolds, Giants OF Mike Yastrzemski, Rangers LHP Mike Minor
Had it not been for injuries to the Braves’ Phil Pfeifer and Giants’ Tyler Beede, and for the Dodgers’ David Price opting out, Vanderbilt likely would have had 12 alumni on Opening Day rosters. As it is, it’s still an impressive group that reflects the Commodores’ continued excellence at putting loads of talent into pro baseball.
Red Sox 1B Mitch Moreland, Brewers RHP Brandon Woodruff, Yankees RHP Jonathan Holder, Pirates 2B Adam Frazier, Pirates RHP Chris Stratton, Mariners RHP Kendall Graveman, Cardinals RHP Dakota Hudson, Rays OF Hunter Renfroe
The Mississippi State group is fairly pitching heavy, but all three of the hitters on the list are accomplished big leaguers. Moreland has been a fixture at this level for 11 years now, Frazier just began his fifth season and Renfroe is entering his first season with the Rays but fourth season as a full-time power bat.
Andrew Benintendi and Dallas Keuchel lead a really solid group of Razorbacks' big leaguers. Those two are the headliners, but McCann was an all-star in 2019, Stanek has emerged as an effective reliever, Smyly has pitched for five clubs over seven years in a number of roles and Anderson finished fourth in National League Rookie of the Year voting in 2018.
Louisville’s list leans heavily on the recent wave of players it has put into pro baseball, highlighted by the debuts of Kyle Funkhouser, Will Smith, Nick Burdi and Nick Solak, all within the last several years.
Diamondbacks 1B Christian Walker, Diamondbacks RHP Taylor Widener, Red Sox OF Jackie Bradley, Jr., Tigers C Grayson Greiner, Royals 2B/OF Whit Merrifield, Brewers 1B Justin Smoak, Cardinals LHP Tyler Webb
South Carolina was the toast of college baseball at the start of the last decade, winning back-to-back national titles in 2010-11 and reaching a third consecutive College World Series final in 2012. With those players now populating big league rosters, it’s no surprise to see the Gamecocks on this list.
The presence of Cole and Bauer is going to make UCLA’s list of alumni among the most impressive one can put together. Having a longtime starter at shortstop in Brandon Crawford and an exciting young arm in righthander Griffin Canning makes it even better.
The dean of Arizona State products in MLB, Dustin Pedroia, is absent from this list due to injury, but it’s still an impressive showing for the Sun Devils. It seems to be a safe assumption that this list will grow significantly in the coming years as all of ASU’s 2020 draftees, led by Spencer Torkelson, make their way through the minor leagues.
There is a real mix of eras here for Stanford, with Jason Castro having played on The Farm from 2006-2008 and Nico Hoerner having done so just two years ago for a Cardinal team that was the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Texas A&M has developed a ton of pitching in recent years, which shows on its list of alumni. Wacha, after seven productive seasons with the Cardinals, is entering his first year with the Mets, while Stripling has emerged as an extremely valuable, versatile piece of the puzzle for the Dodgers.
Although their respective 2019 seasons weren’t their best, TCU’s list will always stand out so long as Jake Arrieta and Matt Carpenter, two of the most productive players in the game over the last five to seven years, are on it.
Ryan Zimmerman opting out of the 2020 season made Virginia’s list a tad bit shorter, but this is still a very solid list full of productive players at the major league level, including one of the best relievers in the business in Sean Doolittle.
Mark Melancon, a three-time all-star, is the elder statesman of a list that also includes young position players in Scott Kingery and Kevin Newman who are just beginning to come into their own as regulars at the big league level.
Pete Alonso, one of the brightest young stars in baseball, headlines the Gators’ list, which was as affected as any by injuries. Had it not been for players held out with various ailments, UF would have had eight players listed. As it is, the Gators have already added one more, with righthander Brady Singer, the 2018 College Player of the Year, debuting Saturday for the Royals.
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Even with its national title in 2008, Fresno State is a name you might not have expected to see on this list, especially when you consider that Justin Wilson was the only player of the five who played on that championship-winning team. Aaron Judge adds some serious star power to the group.
With accomplished careers behind them already, Ryan Braun, Jon Jay and Yasmani Grandal have been carrying the UM flag for a long time in the major leagues. Zack Collins and Bryan Garcia, both drafted in the last several years, bring some new blood to the group.
It’s all arms for Ole Miss. Lance Lynn started on Opening Day for the Rangers and was dominant as he begins his ninth season in the big leagues. All told, it’s an impressive array of pitchers that have come through Oxford.
The Fighting Irish have made regionals just once since 2006—Jeff Samardzija’s last season in South Bend—but are still well represented on MLB rosters. Biggio gives the group a fresh face to go with the more established veterans like Samardzija.
The Oregon State pitching pipeline has been strong, as evidenced by this list. There’s another wave of talent on the way from Corvallis as well, as the 2018 national champions work their way through the minor league system.
Alabama’s struggles over the last several years have left it out of the spotlight in college baseball. But the Crimson Tide still have a strong presence in the big leagues, particularly this year in Philadelphia.
The trio of Nick Ahmed, Matt Barnes and George Springer have long been carrying the UConn flag in the big leagues after playing a big part in the Huskies’ great teams in 2010-11. Now, Anthony Kay, a 2016 draftee, could be at the forefront of a new wave of Huskies.
The Bulldogs spent much of the 2010s scuffling in the SEC, but that hasn’t stopped them from putting players on big league rosters. The pipeline should strengthen in the coming seasons as the likes of righthanders Emerson Hancock and Cole Wilcox work their way up.
James Paxton is the standout of this group as a veteran starting pitcher with 132 starts under his belt, most of which came in a Mariners uniform. White, a first-year starter at first base for the Mariners, could be at the start of a similarly long run in Seattle.
Not one, but two former Indiana catchers are listed here, although Schwarber has found his home in the big leagues in the outfield rather than behind the plate. Baragar just made his debut over the weekend.
Given its history of developing pitchers, it’s no surprise that all four of the Missouri players on Opening Day rosters are hurlers. Scherzer and Gibson are veterans in the game, while McClain and Fairbanks are two of the program’s newer big leaguers.
It might be easy to overlook Missouri State, especially since it shares a state with a program in Missouri that is famous for developing pitching prospects, but the Bears do a nice job as well, as shown by having three pitchers on Opening Day rosters. Luke Voit, a former 22nd-round pick out of the school, is icing on the cake.
Given that they had all three members of their weekend rotation drafted in 2020, the Sooners will likely add to this group soon. For now, the list is headlined by righthander Jon Gray, a dependable starter for five seasons, and Jack Mayfield, a rookie in 2020, is the newest addition.
Kris Bryant, a Rookie of the Year and MVP, gives San Diego a headliner here, but having three pitchers on Opening Day rosters also reflects the Toreros’ history of putting together excellent pitching staffs and moving those pitchers along into pro baseball.
USC for years has had a strong pipeline to pro ball and it's still going in 2020. Garrett Stubbs is the only one of this quartet to have been drafted in the last decade, as Boxberger, Kennedy and Milone bring plenty of experience to their team’s pitching staff.
Jake Lamb, who was named an all-star in 2017, has proven himself as a productive hitter at the big league level when he’s been healthy. The three Washington pitchers are all relatively new to MLB, with Andrew Kittredge and his 85 career appearances the most experienced of the bunch.