Image credit: Florida State righthander Jackson Baumeister (Photo courtesy of Florida State)
The first full week of the 2023 college baseball season was an exciting one with plenty of strong performances; projected day one draft picks showed why they are the cream of the crop, a certain lefthanded pitcher continued to establish himself as a household name and two grand slams were hit by one player in a single game.
Hurston Waldrep, RHP, Florida
After an extremely successful sophomore season at Southern Mississippi, where he struck out 140 hitters, Waldrep decided to enter the transfer portal and ended up at Florida. His first career start was a modest one from a numbers standpoint, but his stuff was still loud. This past Saturday was a coming out party of sorts for Waldrep, as he threw six innings and struck out 13 against Cincinnati. His fastball was up to 98 mph with plenty of carry and his slider was sharp as usual. The biggest revelation for Waldrep, however, has been the development of his split-change. On Saturday it showed flashes of a potential 70-grade offering—it seemingly fell off a table about 5 feet from home plate with plenty of fade as well. Waldrep will face his toughest test yet this weekend when the Gators take on Miami.
Jac Caglianone, LHP/1B, Florida
There is an argument to be made that Caglianone is the best two-way player in college baseball. The true sophomore is a weekend starter in the SEC, has thunderous raw power and a fastball that has been up to 99 mph. Last week his talent was on full display, as he went 10-for-21 with five home runs and 10 RBIs. The 6-foot-5 Caglianone was great all week, but Sunday was by far the best performance of his college career to date. He got the start on the mound and although his numbers might appear modest when glancing at the box score, Caglianone still was able to touch 97 with his fastball and struck out six over 4.2 innings pitched. The real story is the day he had in the batter’s box; Caglianone hit three home runs that traveled 375 feet, 462 feet and 445 feet, and all had exit velocities greater than 110 mph. The sophomore has quickly established himself as a household name and is well on his way to being a potential first-round pick in the 2024 draft.
Gavin Kash, 1B, Texas Tech
Kash continued his torrid start to the 2023 season, going 10-for-21 with three doubles, one triple, two home runs and 10 RBIs in what was a busy five-game week for the Red Raiders. Kash has a relaxed setup at the plate with a very minimal load and stride, an operation that lets his natural strength shine. His best performance of the weekend came in a 4-for-6 outburst in which he slugged two opposite field home runs, while also contributing a double and driving in six runs. The sophomore first baseman is a key reason for the Red Raiders’ 8-0 start and sustaining his production will be important as they head into conference play.
Sean Sullivan, LHP, Wake Forest
Sullivan’s Wake Forest career could not have gotten off to a better start, as he took home ACC pitcher of the week honors in his debut for the Demon Deacons. However, he somehow one-upped his first outing last week as he tossed six perfect innings, striking out 11 in the process. Through two appearances (one start) and 10 innings pitched, Sullivan has yet to allow a run, has surrendered just two hits and has a ridiculous strikeout-to-walk ratio of 21-to-1. Due to his deceptive delivery, low arm slot and fastball that plays up, Sullivan has drawn comparisons to 2022 first-round pick Cooper Hjerpe.
Cade McGee, 3B, Gonzaga
McGee had a great freshman season in 2022, taking home WCC freshman of the year honors after hitting .298 with 15 doubles and 10 home runs. The sophomore third baseman looks to have taken a big step forward through the Zags’ first eight games, as he’s hitting .438 with three doubles, four home runs and 12 RBIs. This past week is where most of McGee’s production thus far has come from, as he went 11-for-20 with three doubles, hit a home run in four straight games, tallied four-straight multi-hit games and drove in 12 runs in the process. McGee is an extremely physical hitter with strong wrists, and he plays great defense at third base with an above-average arm. McGee has asserted himself as one of the best hitters on the West Coast.
Noah Hall, RHP, South Carolina
Hall transferred to South Carolina following two strong seasons at Appalachian State, and in his junior year for the Gamecocks he pitched his way to a 4.34 ERA with 78 strikeouts in 76.2 innings pitched. After being selected by the Brewers in the 20th round of the 2022 draft, Hall opted to return to Columbia. This year he’s off to a great start with a miniscule 0.68 ERA and 16 strikeouts to just one walk across 13.1 total innings pitched. This past Saturday was the best performance of his college career, as he threw eight shutout innings, allowed just three hits and struck out 12 hitters while walking none. Hall has an easy delivery that is relatively effortless, but he possesses great hand speed that allows him to run his fastball into the mid 90s. It was up to 96 in his most recent start, but his calling card is a 70-grade changeup that he is comfortable throwing to both righthanded and lefthanded hitters. It is a true out pitch, and one with which he gets plenty of swing-and-miss.
Coleman Picard, RHP, Bryant
In all of 2022, Picard struck out 18 hitters across 26.2 innings. In two starts this spring (10 IP), he has nearly matched that total with 17. Picard was dazzling this past weekend as he neutralized a high-powered Virginia Tech lineup that features the likes of Jack Hurley and Carson DeMartini. Over five innings, Picard struck out 12 hitters and walked just one. His velocity is far from overwhelming, but his ability to throw quality strikes allows him to avoid hard contact. His slurvy, back-foot breaking ball is his best secondary offering, and he made the Hokies hitters look silly all afternoon with it. Picard moves well on the mound with an athletic delivery and a clean, loose arm action.
Jackson Baumeister, RHP, Florida State
Baumeister turned in what was perhaps the best performance of his college career this past Friday night, shutting down then No. 10 TCU. The 6-foot-4 righthander was twirling a no-hitter through 5.2 innings until an Austin Davis double broke it up, but his final line showed 5.2 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts to just two walks—and the lone hit being Davis’ double. Baumeister pitched comfortably in the low 90s while touching 94 with his fastball, a pitch that generated 10 swings and misses from the Horned Frogs. Baumeister relied heavily on his fastball, but his slider and changeup were each quality secondary offerings. As a draft-eligible sophomore, this past start was huge for Baumeister and his draft stock, as he proved he can dominate a high-quality lineup in a hostile environment. If Baumeister can continue to string together quality starts, he has a chance to hear his name called on day one of this year’s draft.
Janzen Keisel, RHP, Oklahoma State
Keisel entered the 2023 season as one of the most notable transfers in all of college baseball after a Freshman All-American season at BYU in 2022, in which he had a 4.34 ERA with 58 strikeouts in 46.1 innings. His Oklahoma State career started off with a sparkling performance in which he threw 5.1 no-hit innings with 11 strikeouts and just one walk against Cal Baptist this past Tuesday. Keisel relied heavily on his power fastball, throwing it 76% of the time and generating an astounding 18 swings and misses with it. Even though it sat in the 89-93 mph range, Keisel’s fastball has ample ride and carry that makes it play like a mid-90s fastball. Keisel throws from a low-three quarter slot, and although he didn’t need it this past Tuesday, his slider has the makings of a potential plus pitch down the road.
Liam McFadden-Ackman, INF, Northern Kentucky
McFadden-Ackman had arguably the best individual performance of the week, going 5-for-6 this past Sunday with a whopping 10 RBIs. McFadden-Ackman hit two grand slams, both coming in the first inning, while also hitting for the cycle, capping off an 8-for-14 (.571) week in which he drove in 13 runs.