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This week on the Baseball America College Podcast, Texas coach David Pierce, Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn and Mississippi State coach Chris Lemonis join Teddy Cahill for a Signing Day special. All three coaches signed top-five 2020 recruiting classes this week and break down those classes on the podcast.
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Texas signed the No. 1 class, headlined by righthander Jared Kelley, the top-ranked prep player in the country. The class also includes outfielder Petey Halpin, righthander/outfielder Jared Jones and righthander/third baseman Tanner Witt, two of the best two-way prospects in the class.
Kelley, a 6-foot-2, 200-pound power righthander, is from Refugio, Texas, and has the look of a prototypical power Texas righthander. Pierce said Kelley has immediate impact potential.
“An easy mid-90s arm, a kid that’s well equipped with secondary pitches, very poised on the mound, very strong frame and a competitor that knows how to win,” Pierce said. “The key with him and a few of our guys is the draft and we we’ll have to deal with that, and we understand that. But when you have a kid like that in your back yard, you want him to sign with you. If he chooses to go to professional baseball, we’ll see how that turns out next summer.
“He’s a guy that if he does show up on campus you can build around, for sure.”
Arkansas’ signing class ranks No. 3 in the nation and is an important class as the Razorbacks expect to lose several premium players off their current team to the draft. It features infielder/righthander Masyn Winn, the top-ranked two-way player in the class, and has a lot of depth, both among pitchers and position players.
The Razorbacks’ signees have plenty of talent and can follow in the footsteps of players like Heston Kjerstad and Casey Martin, but Van Horn doesn’t want to put too much pressure on them at the outset of their college careers.
“It plays into a part of what you’re thinking, and these guys are going to have a chance to come in and contribute as a true freshman and that’s all we ask them to do,” Van Horn said. “We don’t expect guys to come in and have a year like Kjerstad did or Martin did their freshman year – helped us get to the championship series in ’18.
“But there are going to be spots. These guys are going to have an opportunity to play. That’s one thing that should help us when the draft gets here for these ’20 grads. They know that if they don’t sign, they have a real opportunity to get on the field as a true freshman. There’s no doubt in my mind that some of these kids are not only going to contribute but can play every day.”
Mississippi State signed the fifth-ranked class in the country, which is headlined by sluggers Austin Hendrick and Blaze Jordan. That duo, along with Kellum Clark, could bring big power to Dudy Noble Field for the Bulldogs, something Lemonis is excited about.
“Maybe they could be Thunder, Lightning and Tornado,” Lemonis said. “They’re that type of players. They’re some of the better bats in the country.
Jordan, a Mississippi native, was already committed when Lemonis got hired last summer. Jordan wasted no time making an impression when Lemonis went to see him.
“I showed up and I saw two of the more impressive swings in a long time,” Lemonis said. “He was one of the first guys I went to see. What he’s really done over the last year or two is becoming a better athlete. But it’s a special, special hitter, a lot of bat speed.”