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Notable Under-The-Radar 2022 College Baseball Recruiting Classes

Jay Knowles (Mike Janes Four Seam Images)
Jay Knowles (Mike Janes/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 half dozen schools brought in strong classes relative to a normal recruiting class at their school or in their conference.

The recruiting class rankings take into account all players from the high school and junior college ranks and were compiled following many conversations with coaches and scouts. Four-year transfers were not considered for the ranking.

Creighton

Recruiting coordinator: Connor Gandossy
Top recruit: Mason Koch, RHP

The Bluejays have a big, deep recruiting class as they aim to get back to the NCAA Tournament. Koch, an Omaha native, was the top recruit in Nebraska this spring and gives the class a high-end arm. Listed at 6-foot, 190 pounds, he has a powerful arm and runs his fastball up to 94 mph to go with a promising slider and changeup.

Righthander Anthony Watts isn’t far behind Koch with a fastball that reaches the low 90s and plenty of room for more velocity as he fills out his 6-foot-4 frame. Righthander Tommy Gross has a strong build at 6-foot-2, 210 pounds and is coming off an impressive year in junior college and then the MLB Draft League. His fastball works in the low 90s and he pairs it with a hard slider. Righthander Ben Ayala has a solid three-pitch mix and a good feel on the mound.

Shortstop Jack Scheri is a plus runner and a good athlete. He has a quick righthanded swing and could cause some havoc in the spacious Charles Schwab Field. Outfielder Cuyler Zukowski has a good righthanded swing and projectable power. He’s an above-average runner who covers ground well in the outfield. Outfielder Devin Jones is a good athlete, an above-average runner and has exciting offensive upside. Shortstop Maddux Fleck is a switch-hitter with an easy swing from both sides of the plate and smooth infield actions. Jack Torosian, a junior college transfer, has a good lefthanded swing and adds another athletic outfielder to the class.

Eastern Kentucky

Recruiting coordinator: Walter Jones
Top recruit: Lucas Reed, RHP

This spring, in EKU’s first season as a member of the ASUN Conference, the Colonels won 37 games and won the West Division. As EKU looks to reload and take the next step toward the top of the ASUN, it brings in a big, deep recruiting class.

The class is especially strong in the junior college ranks with players that can deliver instant impact. Reed has a starter’s profile and figures to step into the rotation soon. Infielder Miguel Larreal is a lefthanded hitter with good bat-to-ball skills. He’s a versatile defender and his athleticism plays well on the infield. Outfielder DeeJay Booth has a strong lefthanded swing with solid power potential. He profiles as a corner outfielder and middle-of-the-order hitter. Outfielder DJ Sullivan is a plus runner and can impact the game with his speed in multiple ways. He’s a threat to run on the bases and he covers ground well in center field. Infielder Gavin Baird is a lefthanded hitter with an exciting offensive skill set. He profiles best at second or third base.

EKU also has some exciting incoming freshmen, led by righthander Chase Alderman. Listed at 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, he has an athletic, projectable build. His fastball gets into the low 90s with more velocity to come as he focuses on pitching, and he pairs it with a promising curveball. Righthander Nathan Lawson was named Prep Baseball Report’s Kentucky player of the year after a standout two-way performance this spring. He’ll focus on pitching for the Colonels and has good pitchability to go with a fastball that sits around 90 mph. Righthander Logan Smothers is undersized but is a good athlete with a quick arm. His fastball reaches 94 mph.

Kennesaw State

Recruiting coordinator: Matthew Passauer
Top recruit: Jay Knowles, SS

Ryan Coe and his staff were hired last July, giving them little time to put their imprint on the Owls’ 2021 recruiting class. Now, having had a full year on the job and coming off its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2014, Kennesaw State brought in an impressive recruiting class that can keep the program’s momentum going.

Knowles is an advanced defender with the hands, infield actions and arm strength to stay at the position. His glove is ahead of his bat now, but as he physically matures, he should add more offensive impact to his game. Outfielder Jamarie Brooks has a good feel for the barrel and should be able to make an instant impact in the lineup. He projects for solid power. Listed at 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, Jackson Chirello is a good athlete with a strong lefthanded bat and room to add even more power in time. He’s a versatile defender who could fit at third base or an outfield corner.

Righthander Tanner Franklin has a big, physical frame at 6-foot-5, 235 pounds and this spring was named player of the year in Tennessee’s biggest high school baseball classification. His fastball sits in the low 90s with a high spin rate and a big breaking ball. Righthander Braden Osbolt has a projectable build and a low-90s fastball. He mixes in a changeup and curveball and has good feel on the mound. Lefthander Brendan Parks, a junior college transfer, has a good fastball-breaking ball combination. He figures to work important innings out of the bullpen. Righthander Agyei Quinichett stands out for his pitchability and control. He has promising stuff, and his changeup plays well off his upper-80s fastball.

San Diego

Recruiting coordinator: Matt Florer
Top recruit: Mikiah Negrete, LHP

San Diego is coming off its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2013 and now will look to build off that success with a strong recruiting class. Negrete has a long track record of success in high school and brings advanced pitchability to USD. His fastball works in the upper 80s and touches the low 90s. He has a good changeup and solid feel for spin, giving him all the tools he needs to make an early impact for the Toreros. He was also a talented hitter in high school but his future is on the mound.

First baseman Jack Gurevitch has a quick, easy lefthanded swing. His bat-to-ball skills stand out and give him a chance to make an early impact. Shortstop Ian Blazier has an exciting all-around skill set. The lefthanded hitter has a quick bat, above-average speed, athleticism and a strong arm. Infielder Christopher Esquivel has a strong righthanded swing and arm strength that plays well on the left side of the infield. Shortstop Brayden Grantham has an easy righthanded swing and good range on the infield.

Righthander Chase Minor, a junior college transfer who began his college career at San Francisco, has a strong build at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds. His fastball works in the low 90s and he has good feel for spin. Righthander Aidan Gonzalez is a bit undersized but came on strong late after converting from infield to pitcher. His fastball gets up to 92 mph and he has promising upside. Righthander Peter Michael also came on late and has a fastball that sits around 90 mph.

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Texas State

Recruiting coordinator: Josh Blakley
Top recruit: Jack Stroud, LHP

The Bobcats this spring won the Sun Belt Conference and reached the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011. They had an older team in 2022 and now bring in a larger class to help reload after last year’s run.

The class includes a strong group of junior college transfers, including Stroud. He isn’t physically imposing at 5-foot-9, 175 pounds, but he has good feel on the mound. His fastball sits around 90 mph, and he has solid secondary stuff and control. Lefthander Colten Drake is more physical at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds. His fastball works in the upper 80s and he pairs it with a good breaking ball. Shortstop Davis Powell is a steady defender who can step right into the Bobcats’ infield. The righthanded hitter has good feel for the barrel and brings some pop. Outfielder Kameron Weil is an above-average runner who profiles well in center field and at the top of the order. Infielder Jackson Blemer also brings above-average speed and a top-of-the-order skill set.

The Bobcats also have some impactful freshmen among the newcomers. Catcher Rashawn Galloway has a strong build at 5-foot-11, 225 pounds and is a good athlete who was a prolific high school quarterback. On the diamond, he has a strong arm and has power potential at the plate. Righthander Sam Peterson was also a talented quarterback in high school and now brings high-end upside on the mound. Listed at 6-foot-4, 194 pounds, his fastball works in the low 90s with more velocity to come. Chase Mora has two-way potential as an infielder and righthander. He’s a good defender up the middle and has a strong arm that can run his fastball up to 94 mph on the mound.

UNC Wilmington

Recruiting coordinator: Chris Moore
Top recruit: Tanner Thach, 1B/LHP

UNCW has been one of the most consistent mid-major programs in the 21st century and is no stranger to bringing in premium talent. This year’s class has significant upside and should keep the Seahawks among the Colonial Athletic Association’s best, even as the conference becomes more competitive.

Thach was drafted in the 18th round by the Giants but upheld his commitment to UNCW. He’s a two-way talent who figures to contribute in both areas. He was drafted as a hitter and he has a powerful lefthanded swing. On the mound, his fastball works in the upper 80s and he pairs it with a changeup and slider. Shortstop Brock Wills is a plus runner with a quick lefthanded bat that portends more power in time. He’s a good athlete with a strong arm and the infield actions to play up the middle. Aiden Evans is a versatile player with plus speed that plays on both sides of the ball. He has a quick righthanded swing and can play on the infield or in the outfield. Catcher Brad Gregory is a lefthanded hitter with good catch-and-throw skills. He adds a strong presence behind the plate.

Righthander Mason Murdock has a good build at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds. His fastball sits in the low 90s and has been up to 96 mph. He pairs it with a good breaking ball and also has a promising changeup. Righthander Aubrey Smith has a strong track record of success in high school. He attacks hitters with a good sinker-slider combination. Righthander Connor Kane stands out for his pitchability and makeup on the mound. His fastball sits around 90 mph, and he throws a lot of strikes with his three-pitch mix. Lefthander Case Stroup, a junior college transfer, should make a quick impact for UNCW. He attacks hitters with a fastball that works around 90 mph and mixes in a changeup and slider.

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