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Notable Under-The-Radar 2021 College Baseball Recruiting Classes

Dennis Colleran Brianwesterholtfourseam
Dennis Colleran (Photo by Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

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, Baseball America is breaking down every class in several of the biggest conferences in the country.

Presented here is analysis of notable classes for teams in conferences outside the American, ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC. With those conferences accounting for nearly all of the top 35 recruiting classes, breaking into the rankings was more difficult than ever for the mid-majors. But that doesn't mean there aren't many that merit recognition. These 10 schools brought in strong classes relative to a normal recruiting class at their school or in their conference.

Player rankings refer to the 2021 BA 500, which included all draft-eligible players. Players transferring from four-year schools were not considered for the recruiting class rankings.

Cal State Northridge

Recruiting coordinator: Eddie Cornejo
Top recruit: Ali Camarillo, SS (No. 306)

As Dave Serrano enters his third season as head coach, CSUN brings in perhaps its best recruiting class in recent vintage. Camarillo is the highest profile newcomer and is the Matadors’ shortstop of the future. He’s a standout defender with good range, hands and arm strength. The righthanded hitter has good feel at the plate but will need to get stronger to reach his potential offensively.

Sebastian Granados has two-way ability as a righthander and infielder, and he could fill either role for the Matadors. He’s an advanced defender at shortstop and on the mound he attacks hitters with an exciting fastball-slider combination. Third baseman Andrew Sojka, a junior college transfer, is a solid defender and adds some speed to the lineup. Braden Ross has a powerful lefthanded swing and profiles as a corner outfielder or first baseman.

Lefthanders Brayden Hiraki and Isaac Ontiveros have advanced pitchability that should help them contribute early for CSUN. Righthander Diego Gutierrez has a projectable look, and his fastball-slider combination offers a lot of upside to go with solid present control. He also has two-way ability as an infielder, but his upside is probably greatest on the mound.

Charlotte

Recruiting coordinator: Toby Bicknell
Top recruit: Evan Michelson, RHP

Coming off a Conference USA title and as it prepares to move to the American Athletic Conference, Charlotte brings a big, strong class of newcomers to campus. The 49ers lost a lot of talent off last year’s team but between their new recruits and their additions via the transfer portal such as lefthanders Quinton Martinez (Appalachian State) and A.J. Wilson (East Carolina), they have largely reloaded.

Charlotte hit the junior college ranks for several impact players. Michelson and fellow righthander Cameron Hansen both have powerful arms that play well out of the bullpen. Michaelson runs his fastball into the mid 90s and he combines it with a good breaking ball and splitter, while Hansen controls his fastball-slider combination well. Righthander Cameron Hansen Outfielder Blake Jackson this spring was a part of McLennan (Texas) JC’s national title team and has a good lefthanded swing that plays well at the top of the order. Cam Fisher adds a powerful lefthanded bat to the lineup and has the versatility to play outfield or catch.

Shortstop J.D. Suarez leads the way among Charlotte’s freshmen. He’s a solid defender who can play anywhere on the infield and is growing into more power at the plate to go with good bat-to-ball skills. Catcher Huck Wathan has a big frame and is a steady defender behind the plate. Righthander Nolan Straniero has a solid three-pitch mix and can run his fastball up to 94 mph.

Florida Atlantic

Recruiting coordinator: Greg Mamula
Top recruit: Gabriel Rincones, OF

FAU has a large group of newcomers that includes several impactful junior college transfers, headlined by Rincones. He this spring hit .415/.523/.636 at St. Petersburg (Fla.) JC and was named the state junior college player of the year. The lefthanded hitter stands out for his pure hitting ability, but he also has solid raw power and figures to slot in the lineup as a corner outfielder.

Righthander Tibur Rivero also had an impressive season in junior college, going 9-1, 3.86 with 84 strikeouts and 34 walks in 74.2 innings for Indian River (Fla.). His fastball sits in the low 90s and he mixes in a quality curveball and changeup. Shortstop Armando Albert and outfielder Dylan Goldstein, both junior college transfers, figure to quickly join Rincones in the lineup. Albert has good on-base skills and is a solid defender. Goldstein has a powerful lefthanded swing.

Lefthander Max Martzolf is the most prominent incoming freshman in the class. He built a strong track record of success during his prep career and has advanced pitchability. His fastball works in the upper 80s and he has solid offspeed stuff. Righthander Bryan Boully also is coming off a strong prep career and has a promising fastball-slider combination.

Long Beach State

Recruiting coordinator: Daniel Costanza
Top recruit: Eddie Saldivar, INF (No. 180)

The Dirtbags have a strong group of newcomers that includes some top prep talent from California. Saldivar leads the way after a strong spring that saw him impress at the plate. He has an easy lefthanded swing, has a good feel for the barrel and an advanced approach. He’s an above-average runner who will slide right into the Dirtbags’ infield, likely at second base.

Like Saldivar, Tyler White stands out for his hittability and above-average speed. He has some righthanded power potential and fits well in center field. Kaden Moeller has two-way ability as a lefthander/first baseman and may have more upside on the mound. He’s a good athlete and can run his fastball into the low 90s. He’s a good defender at first base and has an easy lefthanded swing. Infielder Peyton Schulze is a good righthanded hitter with power potential.

Righthander Gavin Ochoa has a projectable build and can run his fastball into the low 90s. He has good secondary stuff and could work his way into the rotation in time. Righthander Ray Cebulski stands out for his pitchability and has intriguing upside. Lefthander Josh Haley, a junior college transfer, has exciting upside and should quickly find a role on the pitching staff.

Northeastern

Recruiting coordinator: Kevin Cobb
Top recruit: Michael Sirota, OF (No. 201)

Northeastern, which this year made the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons, continues to operate at a high level on the recruiting trail. With Sirota and righthander Dennis Colleran (211) leading the way, the Huskies brought in the best recruiting class in the northeast and one that stacks up well nationally.

Sirota stands out for his athleticism and plus speed. He’s got a good approach at the plate and his quick righthanded swing creates solid power potential. He was drafted in the 16th round by the Dodgers but will instead be the center fielder of the future for the Huskies. Colleran has a strong frame (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) and a big right arm that gets his fastball up to 97 mph. He has an unusual delivery and throws from a low three-quarters slot. He impressed this summer in the Futures League, going 2-0, 1.24 with 41 strikeouts and 12 walks in 29 innings (including playoffs).

Outfielder Luke Masiuk is a good athlete with above-average speed and a powerful righthanded swing. Righthander Jack Beauchesne has a projectable look and his changeup and control are already exciting tools. Justin Bosland and Brett Dunham have two-way ability. Bosland has a big, toolsy build, while Dunham stands out on the mound for his fastball-curveball combination.

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South Carolina-Upstate

Recruiting coordinator: Adam Brown
Top recruit: Nick Iannantone, OF

Upstate this spring made significant strides in Mike McGuire’s second season as head coach. This recruiting class should help the Spartans continue to build on that success.

Iannantone leads a strong group of junior college transfers. The lefthanded hitter has a good approach at the plate and can hit for power. Grant Sherrod has a strong build, a disciplined approach at the plate and profiles well as a corner infielder. Troy Hamilton began his college career at Florida State before transferring to junior college. He’s a good athlete, has a smooth righthanded swing and could step into the lineup at shortstop.

Righthander Ben Roberts is perhaps the most exciting freshmen in the group. His fastball has been up to 95 mph and there’s room for more projection in his 6-foot-3, 185-pound frame. Catcher Jace Rinehart is a solid defender with a strong work ethic who figures to quickly get in the mix behind the plate. First baseman Al Holguin is a physical lefthanded hitter with power potential who also has the potential to help on the mound as a lefthander.

Southeast Missouri State

Recruiting coordinator: Trevor Ezell
Top recruit: Josh Cameron, OF

The Redhawks brought in a deep, talented group of junior college transfers to anchor their recruiting class. Cameron this spring at Butler (Kan.) JC hit .412/.518/.925 and finished second in the nation with 25 home runs. His powerful lefthanded bat profiles well in an outfield corner and he figures to slot right into the heart of the SEMO lineup.

Joel Vaske is a righthanded hitter, but otherwise has a similar profile to Cameron. He brings good speed and a powerful swing to the lineup. Tommy Windt has two-way potential as a righthander and infielder. His fastball gets up to 91 mph and he pairs it with a good curveball and also brings a powerful righthanded bat. Catcher Wyatt Grant is a strong righthanded hitter and could also see time at first base to keep his bat in the lineup. Infielder Ben Palmer is a smooth defender with a strong arm who is a good fit on the left side of the infield.

Infielder Jakob Lewis is a switch-hitter with a quick bat and plus speed. His athleticism plays well defensively. Lefthanders Alex Esker and Ethan Osborne have solid three-pitch mixes and offer good pitchability. Righthander Tanner Mueller has a big build with an upper-80s sinking fastball and some deception.

Tarleton State

Recruiting coordinator: Jon Ubbenga
Top recruit: Kyler Mentzel, RHP

As Tarleton State continues its reclassification process from Division II, it brings in a strong recruiting class. Mentzel has a strong arm, and his fastball typically sits in the low 90s, touching 95 mph. He has a promising three-pitch arsenal and figures to quickly take over a significant role on the Texans pitching staff.

Infielder Dylan Kurahashi-Choy Foo is coming off an impressive spring at Fort Scott (Kan.) JC, where he hit .446/.513/.693 with nine home runs and 19 stolen bases. He can do a little of everything offensively and should stay up the middle for Tarleton State. Carter Dobrinski also comes to Stephenville from Fort Scott, where he this spring hit 19 home runs. He has a powerful righthanded bat and figures to slot in at a corner position. Jamie Perez does a little of everything on the diamond and has two-way ability. He’s likely to make more impact as a hitter and has a good righthanded swing.

Righthander Matthew Hickey, a junior college transfer, throws from a submarine arm slot and can fill a variety of roles on staff. Lefthanders Aiden Adams and Kaden Krowka aren’t overpowering but have a good feel on the mound. Krowka, a junior college transfer who began his college career at Oklahoma State, will quickly take on significant innings, while Adams could develop into a starter.

UNC Wilmington

Recruiting coordinator: Chris Moore
Top recruit: Marty Gair, RHP (No. 288)

The Seahawks this fall again have a strong class of newcomers that stands out for its depth on the mound, but also has some impact position players. Gair leads the way on the mound and got a lot of attention this spring after touching 98 mph with his fastball. Listed at 6-foot-6, 225 pounds, there may be even more velocity to come as he continues to physically mature. His curveball is promising, but his overall game still has some rough edges to hone.

RJ Sales has two-way potential as a righthander and outfielder, but his upside is highest on the mound. His fastball reaches 95 mph, sits in the low 90s and he has the makings of a solid three-pitch arsenal. Righthander Brett Banks, a junior college transfer, also has a powerful fastball that gets up to 95 mph. He pairs it with a hard breaking ball and a changeup, giving him a chance to step into the rotation. Lefthanders Logan Everett, Cyle Phelan and Evan Marcinko have good feel on the mound and will compete for innings quickly. Righthander Zane Taylor has an advanced feel and could quickly work his way into the rotation.

Catcher Bryan Arendt has a physical frame (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) and is a good athlete with above-average speed. He’s a good defender with a strong arm and a solid righthanded swing. He offers significant upside. Outfielder John Newton stands out for his offensive ability. The righthanded hitter has a good feel for the barrel and his strength gives him power potential. Teddy Ruffner is a good athlete who offers versatility defensively. Cam Muprhy, a junior college transfer, is an exciting, toolsy athlete who can also play a variety of positions.

Wright State

Recruiting coordinator: Nate Metzger
Top recruit: Josh Laisure, RHP

Wright State has become a regional power and consistent NCAA Tournament team over the last decade and produced a trio of top-100 draft picks since 2016 (Sean Murphy, Peyton Burdick and Tyler Black). With that in mind, the latest Raiders’ newcomers have a lot to live up to, but they have the talent to fit right in with those previous stars.

Laisure, the Gatorade Ohio Player of the Year, is undersized at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, but he has a big arm and he’s a standout athlete. His fastball gets up to 95 mph and he pairs it with a promising breaking ball and changeup. Righthander Ty Roder has a big, projectable frame (6-foot-3, 190 pounds) and a fastball that gets up to 93 mph to go with solid pitchability. Righthander Chris Gallagher throws from a submarine slot and has good feel on the mound.

Andrew Patrick stands out for his athleticism and plus speed. He fits well in the outfield, but also has the versatility to play on the infield. Infielder Carson Clark has a smooth lefthanded swing and a good feel at the plate. Parker Harrison brings a powerful righthanded bat to the lineup, while catcher Lucas Johnson has impact tools and a big arm behind the plate.

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