Ranking College Baseball's 2021 Home Run King Candidates
College baseball in 2020 had a chance to have one of the most fun home run races in recent seasons. Premium prospects Nick Gonzales, Heston Kjerstad, Aaron Sabato and Spencer Torkelson all had the juice to make a run at the top of the leaderboard and were off to good starts, and they would have had strong competition from some players a little further off the radar like Justin Dirden and Kale Emshoff.
But that group has now all moved on to pro baseball. Gonzales, Kjerstad, Sabato and Torkelson were all first-round picks in June, while Dirden and Emshoff signed as undrafted free agents. Their departures leave college baseball with a dearth of established sluggers and leaves unanswered the question of who is the best home run hitter in the country.
Just because there aren’t many proven sluggers in the game doesn’t mean, however, that there is a power outage. Many players are capable of leading the country in home runs in 2021, ranging from top prospects like Miami catcher Adrian Del Castillo to veteran sluggers like Tennessee Tech first baseman Jason Hinchman to young hitters with big raw power like Texas Tech catcher Nate Rombach.
Who will be 2021’s home run king? We break down the top 25 candidates.
1. Alex Toral, 1B, Miami
Toral’s power has been obvious from the moment he stepped on campus, and after struggling throughout his freshman season in 2018, he broke out in 2019 and clubbed 24 homers, good for a tie for third in the country. In 2020, he had five at the time the season was canceled, bringing him to 30 for his career. In terms of true power hitters, there may not be any better in college baseball than Toral.
2. Niko Kavadas, INF, Notre Dame
In 2019, Kavadas hit 12 home runs for Notre Dame, but his 10 home runs on the Cape that ensuing summer did more to announce that he had the potential to be one of the best power bats in the country. In 2020, he kept up that kind of pace, hitting seven homers in 13 games, putting him among the national leaders.
3. Hunter Goodman, C, Memphis
Goodman burst onto the scene with 13 home runs as a freshman. In 2020, with eight home runs in 17 games, he was headed for a massive season that included being on pace for more than 20 homers. One of the best prospects in the country for the 2021 draft, Goodman has more to his game than just power, but that skill will put him in position to hit a ton of balls out of the yard next season.
4. Elijah Cabell, OF, Florida State
Cabell has been somewhat inconsistent in his first two years at Florida State, but his power has shined through. As a freshman in 2019, seven of his 36 total hits were home runs. In 2020, he had seven more home runs in just 17 games. In terms of raw talent, Cabell is one of the best players in the country and could be in for a big third season in Tallahassee.
5. Jason Hinchman, 1B, Tennessee Tech
Hinchman, like Toral, had a close call when it came to leading the nation in home runs, as he also had 24 in 2019, putting him tied with the Miami slugger for third in the country. When you combine that track record with the fact that he plays his conference games in the OVC, a notoriously hitter-friendly league, Hinchman is a relatively safe bet to at least finish in the upper echelon of the home run leaderboards.
6. Ethan Wilson, OF, South Alabama
With 17 home runs in his freshman season, Wilson’s career started much in the same way as Goodman’s. In 2020, he struggled from a power standpoint, hitting just three homers total, but two of those came in one game against Arkansas in the last weekend of the season. It’s a safe bet that next season his numbers will be much closer to what we saw two years ago.
7. Chris Lanzilli, OF, Wake Forest
Lanzilli has been a consistent power threat in his time at Wake Forest, and he will go into his fourth season on campus with 31 career homers. With 16 home runs during the 2019 season alone, Lanzilli topping the leaderboard in 2021 isn’t out of the question.
8. Nate Rombach, C, Texas Tech
Rombach announced himself as a power threat to watch early in his freshman season in 2020 with three home runs in one game against Houston Baptist on the second day of the season. He ended up with five homers during the opening weekend against HBU and Northern Colorado alone. The next step for Rombach will be putting up home runs against better competition in 2021, but he has the raw power to do so.
9. Alex Binelas, 3B, Louisville
He missed most of 2020 with injury, but Binelas did enough as a freshman in 2019 to make him a name to look for on home runs leaderboards in 2021. Specifically, he hit 14 home runs in his first season, despite taking a couple of weeks to crack the starting lineup. Binelas will be motivated to get back on the field and put up more big numbers next season.
10. Maxwell Costes, 1B, Maryland
Stocky and strong, few hitters look the part of a slugger more than Costes, who has 19 career home runs. He hit 15 as a freshman two seasons ago, and in 2020, he hit .432/.620/.750 with four home runs, putting him among the best hitters in the country at the time the season was canceled.
11. Jake MacNichols, C, Santa Clara
MacNichols will go into the 2021 season with 37 career home runs. His best single-season output came in 2019, when he had 16. In 2020, he had seven in just 17 games, which put him on pace to set a career high and perhaps go over 50 career home runs. With his track record, 50 career home runs at the end of the season might be a conservative estimate.
12. Jud Fabian, OF, Florida
After hitting seven home runs during the 2019 season, Fabian hit five in 2020, suggesting that a power surge was underway for the Gators’ outfielder. Now, coming off of a successful summer, all signs point toward Fabian becoming one of the most productive and dynamic players in the country in 2021, and that could include a big jump in home run power.
13. Adrian Del Castillo, C, Miami
Toral may be the more accomplished pure power bat in the Miami lineup, but Del Castillo is the better all-around hitter and he’s got more than enough power to put up eye-popping home run totals. Though he had just two home runs in the abbreviated 2020 season, he had 12 the season prior as a freshman.
14. Bobby Seymour, 1B, Wake Forest
As good as he’s been throughout his career at Wake Forest, Seymour actually hasn’t put up huge home run numbers yet. He had seven as a freshman, nine the next year and just one in 2020. But there’s no doubt that he has more than enough pop to produce double-digit home run totals, especially in a good hitter’s environment at home, so big numbers could be ahead in 2021.
15. Colton Cowser, OF, Sam Houston State
In the mold of Goodman and Wilson, Cowser broke out as a freshman in 2019 and quickly became one of the best hitters in college baseball. He hit .361/.450/.602 with seven home runs in that first season, and while he was off to a slower start in 2020, there’s little doubt that a big season is on deck for the Bearkats’ star player next season.
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16. T.J. Collett, DH, Kentucky
Collett has 26 career home runs over four seasons at Kentucky, with 10 home runs in 2018 and 2019 serving as his high-water marks. He possesses the power for higher totals than that, however, as evidenced by his participation in the 2019 college home run derby at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha.
17. Wes Clarke, C, South Carolina
After hitting just one home run in 46 at-bats as a freshman, Clarke set a torrid home run pace in 2020 with eight in 56 at-bats. They were also fairly well spread throughout the schedule, as he hit at least two in three of four weekends. As part of a talented South Carolina lineup in 2021, Clarke will look to set a similar pace.
18. Brock Anderson, OF, Murray State
Anderson arrived at Murray State out of the junior college ranks prior to the 2019 season and he started mashing immediately. With 13 home runs in his first season and then eight in 17 games in 2020, he’s a threat in 2021 for the same reasons as Hinchman at Tennessee Tech—he has a proven track record and plays his conference games in the OVC.
19. Stephen Reid, OF, Georgia Tech
Reid took to college baseball nicely as a freshman in 2020, slugging five home runs in 44 at-bats. He already had the type of prodigious power that could have placed him among the nation’s best sluggers next season, but Reid is also said to have improved his body and added muscle this offseason, which can only help.
20. Zach Presno, C, Fresno State
Presno has hit for power from the moment he arrived at Fresno State, hitting eight home runs as a freshman, 10 as a sophomore and eight more in just 16 games in 2020. Presno doesn’t need any assistance getting the ball out of the park, but it will only help that he’ll play a certain number of his conference games in the Mountain West in high-altitude environments.
21. Dylan Crews, OF, Louisiana State
While Crews will be just a true freshman in 2021, Seth Beer and Spencer Torkelson have shown in recent years that freshmen can’t be discounted from the home run race. Crews’ track record and tools mean that he should soon be sending balls out of Alex Box Stadium and possibly pushing his way up the leaderboard.
22. Peyton Graham, 3B, Oklahoma
Graham had a breakout freshman season interrupted in 2020. At the time the season was canceled, he was hitting .358/.457/.612, and while three home runs didn’t put him near the top of the national leaderboard, he also had eight doubles. With another step forward and some of that gap power developing into traditional power, more round-trippers could be in store for the Sooners’ third baseman.
23. Parker Chavers, OF, Coastal Carolina
Offseason shoulder surgery forced Chavers to miss all of the 2020 season, but with 15 home runs in 2019 and seven as a freshman the season prior, he had done enough to earn his place on this list. He’ll look to cap off an accomplished career at Coastal Carolina with a bounceback season in 2021.
24. Cael Baker, 1B, Mississippi
With a breakout performance in Mississippi’s season-opening series win over Louisville, Baker became a cult hero in Oxford. While his performance tailed off as pitchers adjusted to him, there’s no doubt about his raw power. If he improves as a hitter overall, Baker could have a huge season in 2021, but even if he doesn’t, he’ll run plenty of balls out of the park.
25. Grant Richardson, OF, Indiana
Indiana coach Jeff Mercer is adept at getting his teams to swing with an intent to do damage, and Richardson clearly took those lessons to heart, hitting .424/.453/.797 with five home runs in 2020 a year after clubbing nine home runs. Richardson will lead the way for a Hoosiers offense that will likely hit home runs in bunches next season.