Mid-Major Bangers: 12 Small School Hitters With Impressive Performance
Tom Lipari played collegiate ball at New Orleans, then played five years professionally, in the Padres and Astros organizations as well as in Indy ball. He was a nine-year college coach and then spent seven years scouting for the Cardinals and is the signing scout for Paul DeJong, Mateo Gil, Luken Baker, Steven Gingery, Levi Prater and others.
Resident scouting expert Tom Lipari breaks down 12 high-performing hitters from mid-major programs through the first six weeks of the college season.
Carlos Contreras, OF, Sam Houston State
There may be no hitter hotter than Contreras up to this point of the season. Through 24 games, he is hitting .454/.500/.814 with seven home runs, four triples and six doubles. The junior outfielder had a school record week against Houston and Stephen F. Austin, going 11-for-17 over four games, with four home runs and 15 RBIs. Contreras and fellow junior 3B Justin Wishkoski (.41l/495/.611) have been the offensive powers for the Bearkats thus far.
Justin Starke, C, Virginia Military Institute
If a pitcher makes a mistake, Starke is going to make them pay. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound catcher is off to a tremendous start through 23 games, with a .407/.485/.802 slash line, nine home runs, seven doubles, 13 walks and 14 strikeouts. He has a very calm, simple approach and lets his hands work with a gap-to-gap mindset at the plate. He’s a disciplined hitter who lays off the close pitch and also handles offspeed offerings well.
Mike Boeve, 1B/3B, Nebraska-Omaha (2023)
Projected to be one of the top 2023 draft-eligible college bats, Boeve is certainly making a statement with his current performance. Through 22 games, he is slashing .385/.543/.692 with four home runs, 12 doubles and 14 walks, compared to just 10 punchouts. The slugger from Hastings, Neb., will be a solid follow throughout the year. With a 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame and lefthanded stick, his natural hitting ability with gap-to-gap power projects well at the next level.
Andrew Cossetti, C, St. Joseph’s
Cossetti certainly has a presence at the plate and looks the part as a physical, 6-foot, 215-pound catcher and designated hitter. He brings plus power with a simple, handsy swing and annihilates pitches in and out over the plate. Several of his home runs look like a tennis ball cooking off an aluminum bat. Through 21 games, Cossetti is hitting .360/.446/.860 with 11 home runs and eight doubles.
Brad Malm, MIF, Albany
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound middle infielder has hit .388/.475/.871 with 11 home runs and six doubles through his first 20 games this season. Malm competes with a level stroke that has some leverage and strength, and when he gets a pitch in the zone he doesn’t cheat himself. He has good offspeed pitch recognition and can move around the infield and play multiple positions.
Luke Franzoni, OF, Xavier
The 6-foot-2 220-pound outfielder has belted 10 home runs through 23 games this spring, and backed it up with a .294/.419/.694 slash line and 18 doubles. I love the stroke, which has slight lift and plenty of bat speed. Franzoni does a nice job keeping his hands inside the ball against velocity on the inner third of the plate and has displayed power to the opposite field as well.
Brett Johnson, UTL, Southern Illinois-Edwardsville
The lefthanded-hitting utilityman is off to a blazing start over his first 18 games, with a .369/.481/.862 slash line, with nine home runs and 10 walks. Most of his balls in play come with impact to the pull side, and he has shown an ability to handle the left-on-left matchup well.
Nick Wang, INF, Holy Cross (2023)
How about the freshman? Wang is hitting an impressive .375/.479/.604 with 14 doubles and 19 walks compared to 16 strikeouts through his first 26 games. He’s leading the Crusaders in almost every offensive category. I'm excited to see if Wang—who will be draft-eligible in 2023—can continue this production through conference play.
Jonathan Thomas (OF), Justin Cooper (INF), Texas Southern
Can we take a moment and acknowledge the combined 55 stolen bases already between Thomas and Cooper? It’s not a simple task for opposing pitchers to contain their running game, along with keeping them off base. Thomas is boasting an impressive .356/.500/.699 slash line and has gone 32-for-36 in stolen base attempts, while Cooper is hitting .301/.439/.438 and has gone 23-for-24 on the bases. It’s also worth noting that teammate Gabriel Vasquez is sitting atop the team leaderboard with a .453/.511/.920 slash line, four home runs and 11 doubles. As of March 28, Texas Southern leads all Division I teams with 117 stolen bases. Wofford checks in at the No. 2 spot with just 88.
Joe Kinker, 1B, Florida Gulf Coast
Kinker steps up to the dish with an imposing, 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame, which could be part of the reason why he is second in the country currently with 28 walks. He’s also hitting .311/.479/.633 with seven home runs and eight doubles. You'll see a more traditional offensive approach with Kinker and he has a level stroke that’s driven more by strength than bat speed, but he certainly carries enough intangibles and the batting eye to create stress for opposing arms.
Wyatt Henseler, 3B, Pennsylvania
We're not going to forget about our scholar friends out East. Henseler is currently leading the Ivy League in hitting and has slashed .429/.505/.779 through his first 20 games. With a wider stance and more of a bat-to-ball approach, Henseler has the ability to spray it around consistently while still packing some over-the-fence pop, with seven home runs.
Dominic Toso, INF, Richmond
The fifth-year senior is absolutely punishing the baseball this spring, with a .458/.495/.698 slash line, four home runs and nine doubles. Over 96 at-bats, Toso has struck out a mere seven times. Toso has shown the ability to spray the ball around the field and capitalize on pitches in his zone for further damage.