Ranking 25 College Baseball Players To Watch In 2020 Summer Ball

Image credit: Arkansas' Christian Franklin (Photo by John Bunch/Getty Images)

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has turned this into an unprecedented summer in college baseball. Several leagues, including the venerable Cape Cod League, canceled their seasons and even the leagues that are still playing are doing so under much different circumstances. 

Despite the challenges, summer ball has started around the country and there are still many good players in action. Here, we’ve spotlighted 25 to watch this summer.

This is not meant to be a prospect ranking, though we did include as many potential first-round picks in 2021 and 2022 as we could. Interspersed are also some players who have a chance to take a step forward this summer and some of the top incoming freshmen in the country.

1. Matt McLain, SS, UCLA
Santa Barbara (Independent)

McLain had to be as disappointed as anyone that the 2020 season got canceled when it did, because he was on fire at the time, ending the season with a .397/.422/.621 slash line. One of the best all-around players in college baseball, the shortstop is a big reason why UCLA will go into next season with national title aspirations. 

2. Jud Fabian, OF, Florida
Orlando (Florida Collegiate League)

Fabian was a major catalyst behind Florida’s run to the No. 1 spot in the rankings during the 2020 season and is a big part of the optimism surrounding UF heading into 2021. After struggling as an early-enrollee freshman in 2019, things really clicked in his second campaign, as Fabian hit .294/.407/.603 with six doubles and five home runs. He’s one of the best prospects playing this summer and a candidate to be a top-10 pick next June.

3. Robby Martin, OF, Florida State
Orlando (Florida League)

Martin emerged as a key run producer for Florida State as a freshman in 2019, hitting .315/.398/.449 with 17 doubles and 54 RBI. He was on a similar path in 2020 and was off to a .324/.439/.412 start. He’s now a part of the best outfield in summer ball and is looking to solidify his standing as a first-round pick in 2021.

4. Levi Usher, OF, Louisville
Waterloo (Northwoods League)

Usher was outstanding for Louisville this spring, hitting .411/.484/.571 with 11 stolen bases as a sophomore. That performance put him on the map as a potential first-round pick in 2021 and he’ll have a chance to burnish those credentials this summer in the Northwoods League.

5. Ethan Wilson, OF, South Alabama
Blue Rocks (Honor The Game League)

Wilson announced himself to the college baseball world with a breakout freshman season in 2019, hitting .345/.453/.686 with 17 home runs for South Alabama. He hit .282 with three homers in the shortened 2020 season. Travis Swaggerty was drafted 10th overall out of South Alabama in 2018 and Wilson has a chance to match that status next year.

6. Hunter Barco, LHP, Florida
Tulsa (Texas Collegiate League)

Barco’s coming out party as a star in college baseball, which was already well underway after a month in 2020, should pick back up this summer. The lefthander is one of a laundry list of reasons that Florida will go into the 2021 season as the favorite to win the national title and a very early candidate to be the top pick in the 2022 draft.

7. Robert Moore, INF, Arkansas
Rochester (Northwoods League)

Moore graduated high school a semester early to enroll at Arkansas in January and then was one of the breakout players of the abbreviated 2020 season. He impressed with his all-around ability for the Razorbacks while playing second base. He’ll likely next year get the chance to slide over to shortstop to replace Casey Martin, and this summer gives him an opportunity to get ready for that.

8. Bryce Osmond, RHP, Oklahoma State
Tulsa (Texas Collegiate League)

One of the best arms to enter college baseball ahead of the 2020 season, Osmond had an up-and-down first season in Stillwater and ended the year with a 5.06 ERA. A native of the Tulsa suburb of Jenks, Okla., the righthander will quite literally be at home this summer. 

9. Christian Franklin, OF, Arkansas
Santa Barbara (Independent)

Coming off a solid freshman season in 2019, Franklin looked like a much improved player in 2020, hitting .381/.467/.619. In an Arkansas lineup that will be looking to replace two key pieces in outfielder Heston Kjerstad and shortstop Casey Martin, having Franklin play at a high level this summer and again in the 2021 season is key to the Razorbacks’ success. 

10. Carson Montgomery, RHP, Florida State
Winter Garden Squeeze (Florida League)

Montgomery was the highest-ranked player on the BA 500 to go undrafted this year and will head to Florida State with high expectations. He’ll get a head start on facing college hitters in the Florida League, giving Seminoles’ fans an early look at his powerful arsenal.

11. Dylan Crews, OF, Louisiana State
Sanford River Rats (Florida League)

Crews was ranked No. 54 on the BA 500 before he announced in early June that he was taking his name out of the draft and intended to enroll at Louisiana State. That decision makes the power-hitting outfielder the top recruit in the LSU class and one of the top recruits to come to campus in this class. LSU fans in the Sunshine State can get a first glance at the prized recruit with Sanford in the Florida League. 

12. Jack Perkins, RHP, Louisville
Snapping Turtles (Grand Park Summer League)

Louisville will go into 2021 having lost two-thirds of its weekend rotation in lefthander Reid Detmers and righthander Bobby Miller, and Perkins could be a solution to filling those holes. This summer for the Snapping Turtles in the Indiana-based Grand Park Summer League will be important for Perkins, not just to start to show that he can be a weekend guy for the Cardinals, but also just to show that he’s healthy again after missing all of the 2020 season. 

13. Sal Frelick, OF, Boston College
North Shore (Futures League)

A dynamic offensive player who fits the mold of a typical table-setter, Frelick hit .367/.447/.513 in his first season at Boston College in 2019, while walking (22) more than he struck out (16) and stealing 18 bases. He and BC teammate Cody Morissette should be quite the productive pair in the North Shore lineup. 

14. Henry Davis, C, Louisville
Tropics (Grand Park Summer League)

He’s always been a talented defensive catcher with a cannon for an arm, but Davis looked like a different player at the plate in 2020. After hitting .280/.345/.386 in a part-time role as a freshman, Davis hit .372/.481/.698 in 2020 and had already tied his doubles (5) and home run (3) total from the previous year in about one-third as many plate appearances. Keeping the ball rolling offensively with the Tropics in the Grand Park Summer League would go a long way toward proving that the hot start in 2020 was no fluke. 

15. Ryan Cusick, RHP, Wake Forest
High Point-Thomasville (Coastal Plain League)

Cusick has made strides over the last two years at Wake Forest and is hoping now to follow former Demon Deacon teammate Jared Shuster’s path of breakout summer to first-round pick. He’s off to a good start, throwing four no-hit innings Friday in his summer debut for the HiToms. 

16, Tommy Mace, RHP, Florida/Jack Leftwich, RHP, Florida
Orlando (Florida League)

It only seemed fair to tie these two together given the way things have transpired this year. The juniors were the 1-2 punch atop Florida’s rotation this spring and were expected to be drafted. But neither was selected in the five-round event and they will instead return to Florida in a bid to elevate their draft stock and make another run at the national title. This summer, they’re again joining forces for a loaded Orlando Scorpions squad.

17. Mason Black, RHP, Lehigh
Boca Raton (South Florida League)

Black last year broke out in the Cape Cod League and started the all-star game following a freshman year at Lehigh that was abbreviated due to injury. That put him on the map as a player to watch in the 2021 draft and he’ll look to add to that resume this summer.

18. Connor Prielipp, LHP, Alabama
Rockhounds (Honor The Game League)

Debut seasons, even in an abbreviated format, don’t get much better than the one Prielipp enjoyed in 2020, when he allowed just five hits and no runs with 35 strikeouts in 21 innings of work. With the Rockhounds of the Honor the Game League, he’ll look to keep the momentum building ahead of the 2021 season. 

19. Derek Diamond, RHP, Mississippi
Fond du Lac (Northwoods League)

Diamond established himself as Ole Miss’ No. 3 starter this spring, following lefthander Doug Nikhazy and righthander Gunnar Hoglund in the rotation. He impressed as a freshman and is now looking to build off that this summer. 

20. Cody Morissette, INF, Boston College
North Shore (Futures League)

Morissette burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2019, hitting .320/.371/.476. He was even better in the small sample that was the 2020 season, putting up a .448/.522/.655 slash line. Morissette has proven to be versatile defensively for BC, playing second and third base. That’s been enough to get him high on early draft boards and if he can further refine that side of his game, he could move up even higher.

21. Chayce McDermott, RHP, Ball State
Local Legends (Grand Park Summer League)

With a fastball that can reach the mid-90s, McDermott is next in the long line of impressive hard-throwing arms to come through Ball State in recent years. The best outing of his career was the last of his 2020 season, when he threw six no-hit innings against Richmond, striking out 11 batters along the way. 

22. Blake Dunn, OF, Western Michigan
Kalamazoo Growlers (Northwoods League)

Dunn is playing this summer in Kalamazoo, also the home of Western Michigan. He brings premium athleticism and speed and last week announced his presence with authority, hitting a leadoff home run on Opening Day.

23. Cole Percival, RHP, UC Riverside
Sharks (San Diego League)

Percival has a powerful arm like his father Troy Percival, the former all-star closer and current UC Riverside coach. Cole was off to a solid start in 2020 at 1-0, 3.38 and will look to build on that this summer. He’s one of a handful of players in the San Diego League that’s the son of a former big leaguer, including Quinn and Wyatt Hoffman, the sons of Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman.

24. Zack Gelof, 3B, Virginia
High Point-Thomasville (Coastal Plain League)

An infielder who has started at third base in every game for the Cavaliers since the beginning of the 2019 season, Gelof will be one of the key pieces of an extremely talented Virginia team in 2021. After hitting .313 in 2019, he was off to a torrid start in 2020, hitting .349 with six doubles and five home runs, which helped him lead the ACC in total bases, with 47, and slugging percentage at .746. 

25. Reggie Crawford, 1B, Connecticut
Westfield (Futures League)

Crawford didn’t have very much time to show why he was such a highly-regarded player coming into Connecticut, but he made the most of it by hitting .365/.414/.558 while handling first base for the Huskies. His breakout game came in the finale of UConn’s series win over Michigan in Florida, when he went 4-for-4 with three doubles. He has two-way potential and figures to be a star for the Huskies for the next couple years. 

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