Ranking the Top 25 College Baseball Transfer Classes in 2022
All it took was one season after NCAA legislation allowed baseball players a one-time transfer between Division I schools to learn that building through the transfer portal can work.
At the top of the sport, Texas A&M heavily supplemented its roster with players through the transfer portal shortly after the arrival of new coach Jim Schlossnagle and ended the season playing in Omaha.
At the mid-major level, new Kennesaw State coach Ryan Coe did the same, and the Owls finished 2022 in a regional after winning the ASUN Tournament title.
Other schools simply choose to add a few players from the portal here and there, not unlike garnish being added to a restaurant dish, and already, certain programs are earning a reputation for being particularly adept at finding good fits through the portal.
The transfer portal is not a panacea, as coaching staffs have to evaluate transfer portal players for on-field and locker room fit basically on the fly, but it’s a new path to building a program that simply wasn’t available before.
Ranging from massive classes that promise to overhaul a team’s entire roster to smaller classes that fill specific needs for just the 2023 roster, here are the 25 best transfer classes in college baseball.
1. Louisiana State
Notable Additions: 3B/1B Tommy White (North Carolina State), RHP/C Paul Skenes (Air Force), RHP Thatcher Hurd (UCLA), RHP Christian Little (Vanderbilt), INF Ben Nippolt (Virginia Commonwealth)
Overview: Though its transfer class got picked over a bit thanks to the draft, LSU still brought in the best class in the country, highlighted by three of the five best players to transfer in this cycle in Tommy White (1), Paul Skenes (2) and Thatcher Hurd (5).
Player Breakdown: With a .362 average and 27 home runs as a freshman a season ago, Tommy White showed that he’s already one of the best hitters in college baseball, period, and more than good enough to set aside question marks about his defensive viability. Paul Skenes is an accomplished power hitter in his own right, with a .367/.453/.669 career slash line at Air Force with 24 home runs, and there is optimism about his ability to handle the defensive rigors of catching in the SEC. It will be interesting to see how that is balanced with his time on the mound, where he features a mid-90s fastball that touches the high 90s, a swing-and-miss mid-80s slider and a high-80s changeup that flashes plus. Infielder Ben Nippolt, a late addition to the class from VCU, had a .430 on-base percentage and walked more than he struck out last season, but perhaps more valuable to the Tigers is his ability to play just about anywhere on the infield.
Righthander Thatcher Hurd had a 1.06 ERA in 34 innings last season and looked like one of the best freshman arms in the country right up until a back injury ended his season prematurely. If he’s fully healthy and ready to go, his fastball that touched 96 mph last season and a low-80s slider that had a 56% whiff rate should get plenty of outs once again. Righthander Christian Little had moments of excellence at Vanderbilt, but now pitching coach Wes Johnson will look to bring that out of him more consistently. His stuff certainly stacks up, including a fastball that averaged over 94 mph and touched 98 last season.
2. Arizona State
Notable Additions: SS Luke Keaschall (San Francisco), LHP Ross Dunn (Florida State), OF Nick McLain (UCLA), SS Drake Varnado (Arkansas), RHP Khristian Curtis (Texas A&M), LHP Timmy Manning (Florida), RHP Owen Stevenson (San Francisco), RHP Cameron Repetti (Cal State Fullerton), OF Tervell Johnson (Georgia Tech)
Overview: Arizona State shopped for both quality—the Sun Devils have four of the top 30 transfers in the class—and quantity this offseason, giving the program a transfer group that is among the deepest and most talented in the country.
Player Breakdown: Shortstop Luke Keaschall from San Francisco is quietly one of the most dynamic players in college baseball. Last season, he batted .305/.445/.502 with eight home runs and 30 stolen bases. That, combined with being able to handle his position defensively, makes him a special talent. Outfielder Nick McLain and shortstop Drake Varnado are similar in profile in that both were blue-chip recruits at their original schools at this time last year but neither had breakout seasons. McLain missed all of 2022 with an injury while Varnado had just 17 at-bats. Both have extremely high ceilings but come with risk. Outfielder Tervell Johnson, the brother of 2022 No. 4 overall pick Termarr Johnson, didn’t see much playing time in two years at Georgia Tech and will look to find more opportunity in Tempe.
Lefthander Ross Dunn can be electric. Last season his fastball averaged more than 92 mph and touched the high 90s, his slider had a 62% whiff rate and his changeup had a 47% whiff rate. The challenge at ASU will be for him to be more like the pitcher he was early last season, when he had a 1.42 ERA through five starts, and less like the one who faded down the stretch and finished with a 4.88 ERA. Righthander Khristian Curtis and lefthander Timmy Manning were both highly-regarded recruits at their first stops, and both have good stuff and showed flashes, but neither was able to lock down a regular role. With ASU’s mound struggles last season, both will have opportunities for more innings this time around. Righthander Owen Stevenson doesn’t have the electric stuff of others in this class, but with 15 starts over two seasons at San Francisco, he has the most starting experience of any incoming transfer pitcher. Righthander Cameron Repetti had a 5.18 career ERA in 88.2 innings at Cal State Fullerton and brings with him a low-90s fastball that touched as high as 95 mph last season and a slider that had a 38% whiff rate.
Notable Additions: SS Maui Ahuna (Kansas), OF Griffin Merritt (Cincinnati), 3B Zane Denton (Alabama)
Overview: Tennessee’s class is on the smaller side, especially once it had some incoming transfers opt for professional opportunities instead of another year of college baseball, but what it lacks in numbers it makes up for in quality with three of the top 20 transfers in this cycle.
Player Breakdown: Maui Ahuna, who was the first blockbuster transfer player to commit this offseason, is the jewel of the class. After flirting with hitting .400 for much of the season—no small feat when you consider that opposing pitchers were extra careful with him as the clear centerpiece of the Kansas lineup—he finished with a .396/.479/.634 slash line and hit for much more power than he did in 2021. He also has all the tools you want to see in a solid defensive shortstop, including plus athleticism, good hands and a strong arm.
On the other end of the spectrum in terms of how quickly a transfer committed, reigning AAC player of the year Griffin Merritt didn’t officially commit until the calendar flipped to August. The outfielder hit 17 doubles and 19 home runs a season ago. Third baseman Zane Denton was at times Alabama’s best hitter over the last two seasons and he clubbed 23 home runs in that timespan. He has a high floor as a player who has been through the rigors of the SEC a couple of times before, but to reach his ceiling he’ll have to perform better against SEC pitching after batting just .193/.258/.345 in conference games a season ago.
4. Mississippi State
Notable Additions: RHP Landon Gartman (Memphis ), SS Connor Hujsak (Virginia Commonwealth ), OF Colton Ledbetter (Samford), RHP Aaron Nixon (Texas), 2B Amani Larry (New Orleans), LHP Tyler Davis (Virginia Commonwealth), RHP Nate Dohm (Ball State), 2B Wil Hoyle (Duke)
Overview: After dabbling in the transfer portal over the last couple of years, Mississippi State shopped the whole store in the portal this offseason, bringing in a deep class featuring more players (6) ranked among the top 100 transfers than any other team.
Player Breakdown: Righthander Landon Gartman was an immediate workhorse last season for Memphis, putting up a 3.56 ERA with a .175 opponent batting average in 86 innings. His fastball is a high-80s pitch that touches the low 90s and he got a 52% whiff rate on his changeup. Righthander Aaron Nixon is a high-ceiling transfer with some risk attached. At his best, he’s electric, with a fastball up to 98 mph and a slider with a 45% whiff rate, but he struggled mightily with command the second half of last season at Texas and fell out of favor in the bullpen pecking order. Lefthander Tyler Davis committed after a coaching change at VCU in the middle of the summer. He was very effective in general last season but was particularly tough on lefthanded batters, who had a .178 average against him. A fastball that averaged over 93 mph and touched 98 helped righthander Nate Dohm strike out 56 batters in 41 innings last season at Ball State, but the 26 walks issued shows that he also needs to throw more strikes to be at his most effective.
MSU also brought in a dynamic, athletic position player group. Shortstop Connor Hujsak will join VCU teammate Tyler Davis in Starkville. He hit 12 home runs and stole 17 bases last season and has 111 career games played at shortstop. Outfielder Colton Ledbetter comes from Samford, which is famous for sending Sonny DiChiara to Auburn last season. He hit 16 home runs, stole 14 bases and walked more than he struck out in 2022. Amani Larry can flat-out hit. He batted .370/.477/.578 at New Orleans last season and stole 16 bases. Wil Hoyle has 140 games of experience under his belt, including plenty of postseason games, from his time at Duke and is a steady defender at second base.
5. Texas Christian
Notable Additions: OF Austin Davis (West Virginia), 2B Tre Richardson (Baylor), RHP Hunter Hodges (UNC Wilmington), RHP Sam Stoutenborough (California), RHP Ryan Vanderhei (Kansas), LHP Brett Hansen (Vanderbilt)
Overview: TCU added experience and depth to the pitching staff and upgraded its lineup with a pair of accomplished hitters who also bring athleticism to the table.
Player Breakdown: Austin Davis is one of the most dynamic outfielders in college baseball. He has the speed to play center field and the arm to play right field, and his wheels serve him well on the base paths, where he swiped 29 bases last season. Tre Richardson batted .295/.387/.435 over three seasons at Baylor. He’s primarily played second base throughout his career but can also handle shortstop, which makes him a good fit at TCU, which is replacing both of its starting middle infielders.
Righthander Hunter Hodges has a high-spin curveball that he threw 58% of the time and had a 53% whiff rate last season. That helped him hold opponents to a .100 batting average and strike out 51 in 30.2 innings, but throwing more strikes will be a key for him after he also walked 33 a season ago. Righthander Sam Stoutenborough doesn’t have that kind of stuff but he has 202.1 innings of experience, much of them as a starter, over four years at California. Righthander Ryan Vanderhei struggled in the transition from the bullpen to the rotation at Kansas last season, going from a 2.70 ERA to a 6.46 ERA, but he has big stuff, including a fastball up to 96 mph and a mid-80s slider that had a 48% whiff rate in 2022. Lefthander Brett Hansen threw just 13.1 innings for Vanderbilt last season, but in that small sample, he had a 3.38 ERA with a fastball that touched as high as 95 mph.
Notable Additions: 3B/OF Ryan Waldschmidt (Charleston Southern), OF Kendall Ewell (Eastern Kentucky), 2B Patrick Herrera (Northwestern), SS Grant Smith (Incarnate Word), INF Isaiah Byars (North Florida), SS/RHP Ryder Giles (East Carolina), OF Jackson Gray (Western Kentucky), 1B Hunter Gilliam (Longwood), RHP Seth Chavez (East Tennessee State), C Chase Stanke (Minnesota), RHP Zach Hise (Missouri), RHP Logan Martin (Sewanee)
Overview: After successfully recruiting a large impact transfer class at this time last year, Kentucky ran it back by bringing in another large group this year that provides a little bit of everything.
Player Breakdown: Ryan Waldschmidt was quietly one of the most dynamic players at the mid-major level last season. He batted .310/.485/.559 with nine home runs and 18 stolen bases, and he played five different positions over the course of the campaign, including center field. After batting .361/.482/.607 with 14 home runs last season, Kendall Ewell will look to follow in the footsteps of former EKU teammate Daniel Harris IV by having a standout year as a transfer at UK. Patrick Herrera first broke into the Northwestern lineup with regularity in mid April, but he made the most of the rest of the season, batting .336/.457/.478 and ending the season as the Wildcats’ leadoff hitter. Shortstop Grant Smith batted .289/.401/.493 last season, but just as importantly, he’s played 117 career games at shortstop over three seasons and has a .950 or better fielding percentage in each season. Isaiah Byars began his career at Alabama before blossoming at North Florida, where he batted .330/.387/.479 with 16 stolen bases last season. He played every position on the infield at UNF and split his time evenly last season between second base and shortstop. After batting .203/.312/.399 last season, Jackson Gray will look to recapture more of his 2021 form, when he batted .363/.461/.592. Hunter Gilliam brings big power to the table from his 6-foot-2, 235-pound frame, as shown by his 13 homers a season ago, and he’s lauded for his leadership skills. Catcher Chase Stanke had a breakout year at the plate last season for Minnesota, slugging 13 home runs, and he brings with him 123 games of experience behind the plate.
Ryder Giles might bring a little something to the table on the mound and in the field. He can play second base, third base and shortstop—he made 112 career appearances at shortstop for ECU—and he has a career 3.93 ERA in 84.2 innings as a low-slot reliever. Righthander Seth Chavez didn’t pitch in 2022, but when he was last on the mound in 2021, he struck out 40 and walked nine in 22.2 innings of work, leaning on a fastball that touched 96 mph and a low-80s slider that had a 47% whiff rate. Righthander Zach Hise missed all of last season with injury, but in 2021 he earned weekend starts for Missouri and ran his fastball up to 95 mph. Righthander Logan Martin was the Southern Athletic Association pitcher of the year at Division III Sewanee (Tenn.) last season after striking out 98 batters in 69.1 innings.
Notable Additions: OF Ethan O’Donnell (Northwestern), RHP Nick Parker (Coastal Carolina ), RHP Brian Edgington (Elon), RHP Chase Hungate (Virginia Commonwealth), OF Tommy Courtney (Pennsylvania), LHP Connelly Early (Army), OF/C Travis Reifsnider (James Madison), LHP Angelo Tonas (Georgetown)
Overview: Led by a group of veteran pitchers who stand out for their durability and pitchability, what Virginia’s class might lack in recognizable star power it projects to make up for with depth and program fit.
Player Breakdown: Righthanders Nick Parker, Brian Edgington and Chase Hungate, and lefthander Connelly Early are similar in that none have electric stuff, but all three have track records of getting outs without the benefit of being able to blow it by hitters. Parker is coming off of putting up a 4.45 ERA in 85 innings for Coastal Carolina, Edgington just finished an Elon career where he had a 3.90 ERA in 170.2 innings and Hungate used his low-slot funk to finish last season with a 3.57 ERA as a multi-inning reliever at VCU. Parker and Edgington have similar stuff with fastballs in the high 80s and low 90s and swing-and-miss changeups. Hungate’s fastball didn’t touch 90 mph last season but it comes with plenty of run thanks to his low-slot release. Early was the Patriot League pitcher of the year last season after putting up a 3.26 ERA and 88 strikeouts in 85.2 innings with a four-pitch mix that includes a mid-80s fastball and a slider with a 47% whiff rate. Lefthander Angelo Tonas has less track record than the others, but he’s coming off of his best season at Georgetown, with a 4.99 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 39.2 innings.
Outfielder Ethan O’Donnell batted .320/.410/.619 last season with 10 home runs, and his 24 doubles were good for a tie atop the Big Ten leaderboard. He has experience playing both right field and center field, with the latter his full-time position in 2022. Tommy Courtney was also a starting center fielder last season at Penn. Over four seasons with the Quakers, he batted .298/.366/.393. Travis Reifsnider had a breakout season at JMU in 2022, batting .303/.369/.632 with 13 home runs. He’s also a very versatile defender who alternated between catcher and center field last season.
Notable Additions: OF Jared Wegner (Creighton ), RHP Koty Frank (Nebraska), 2B Tavian Josenberger (Kansas), C Hudson Polk (Oklahoma), C Cal Kilgore (New Mexico State), SS John Bolton (Austin Peay)
Overview: Arkansas in recent years has been very successful in using the transfer portal to fill specific needs within the program, and it looks to have another class like that lined up with a mix of established stars and lesser-known players set to arrive in Fayetteville.
Player Breakdown: Outfielder Jared Wegner is coming off of a big year where he batted .343/.459/.635 at Creighton, and his 11 home runs look even more impressive when you consider that he was playing his home games at cavernous Charles Schwab Field, often in cold weather. Tavian Josenberger was overshadowed by middle infield partner Maui Ahuna at Kansas, but he’s a dynamic player in his own right. He batted .296/.374/.399 across two seasons at KU, played center field in addition to second base and has the athleticism to handle shortstop if pressed into duty.
John Bolton batted .287/.384/.399 with 18 doubles at Austin Peay last season, but his value as a player who can handle both middle infield spots is just as noteworthy. Neither Hudson Polk nor Cal Kilgore has had a full season as a full-time catcher, but both will be in the catching group trying to replace the departed Michael Turner, a transfer portal acquisition from last season. Righthander Koty Frank was pressed into weekend rotation duty at Nebraska last season and shined in the role, putting up a 3.81 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 59 innings. His fastball is a high-80s pitch that touches the low 90s, and both his low-80s changeup and high-70s slider had 45% or better whiff rates last season.
9. South Carolina
Notable Additions: RHP Roman Kimball (Notre Dame), 2B Will McGillis (Southern Mississippi), RHP Nick Proctor (California), 1B/OF Jacob Compton (Memphis), OF Caleb Denny (Oral Roberts), RHP Ricky Williams (Clemson), 1B Gavin Casas (Vanderbilt), C Jonathan French (Clemson), OF Dylan Brewer (Clemson), 2B/RHP Chris Veach (Presbyterian)
Overview: South Carolina brings in a sizable transfer class, highlighted by five players ranked in the top 100 transfers in the country and several players from rival Clemson who are reunited with former coach Monte Lee, now an assistant with the Gamecocks.
Player Breakdown: Righthander Roman Kimball has potential greater than his 5.76 ERA last season at Notre Dame showed. His four-pitch repertoire includes a fastball that was up to 95 mph as a freshman and a slider that had a 41% whiff rate. Righthander Nick Proctor is a slider specialist who threw that pitch 58% of the time last season on the way to putting up a 4.11 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 30.2 innings. Righthander Ricky Williams had a 2.86 ERA in 28.1 innings across two seasons at Clemson with a fastball that touched 95 mph and a slider that had a 44% whiff rate a season ago.
Will McGilllis played first base, second base and shortstop at USM—second base was his full-time position over the last two seasons—and showed power at the plate, with 27 combined homers in 2021 and 2022. Jacob Compton came out of the gate ready to take on college pitching, as he put up 18 doubles and 11 home runs as a freshman last season at Memphis. Caleb Denny began his career at Arkansas before moving on to Oral Roberts, where he enjoyed a breakout season in 2022 with a .331/.389/.565 slash line and 11 home runs. Gavin Casas, standing a statuesque 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, has plenty of raw power but didn’t get much chance to show it at Vanderbilt. Jonathan French showed flashes of being an impact hitter at Clemson, including hitting eight homers a season ago, but he’ll look to be a more consistent contributor moving forward. Something similar could be said about Dylan Brewer, who hit 15 home runs in three seasons at Clemson, including 10 in 2021, but batted just .212 in that time. Chris Veach was a key two-way player on Presbyterian’s 2021 regional team, but due to recovery from Tommy John surgery, he only appeared in 16 games last season, all of them as a DH, where he batted .322/.412/.525 in 68 plate appearances.
Notable Additions: RHP Hurston Waldrep (Southern Mississippi), 3B Dale Thomas (Coastal Carolina), OF Richie Schiekofer (Rutgers)
Overview: Florida lost dynamic Mercer transfer outfielder Colby Thomas to the draft but still brought in a small class of potential impact players, led by a national top-five transfer in righthander Hurston Waldrep.
Player Breakdown: Righthander Hurston Waldrep has some of the best stuff in college baseball. His fastball last season averaged nearly 95 mph and touched 98, his mid-to-high-80s slider had a 55% whiff rate and his mid-80s changeup had a 64% whiff rate on the way to striking out 140 batters in 90 innings at Southern Miss. He and Brandon Sproat project to make for an excellent one-two punch in the Florida rotation.
Dale Thomas had a breakout season from a power standpoint at Coastal Carolina last season, slugging 15 doubles and 13 home runs. He was the Chanticleers’ starting third baseman last season, their starting second baseman in 2021 and he can also handle shortstop, though he never got playing time there at Coastal in deference to Eric Brown, a first-round pick this summer. Outfielder Richie Schiekofer batted .330/.421/.464 last season at Rutgers, which was just about exactly in line with his career .330/.422/.458 slash line with the Scarlet Knights.
Notable Additions: SS Ed Johnson (Tennessee Tech), OF Ryan Guardino (Tennessee Tech), RHP Aidan Moza (Alabama-Birmingham), RHP Zane Probst (Seton Hall), C Mac Guscette (Florida)
Overview: The Crimson Tide grabbed a pair of dynamic Tennessee Tech position players and rounded out the transfer class with a couple of power arms to add to the depth of the pitching staff and a catcher who has been around the block in the SEC.
Player Breakdown: Ed Johnson began his career at Auburn before transferring to Tennessee Tech, where he’s coming off of batting .367/.420/.591 with 14 home runs. Similarly, outfielder Ryan Guardino played a year at Wofford before batting .339/.408/.661 with 16 home runs at Tennessee Tech last season. Guardino is also coming off of a massive summer in the Northwoods League, where he had a .343 batting average with eight home runs, more walks (29) than strikeouts (25) and 27 stolen bases in 27 tries. You can nitpick both of their offensive resumes by pointing out that they played in an offense-friendly environment at Tennessee Tech in the OVC, an offense-friendly conference, but both have shown varied skill sets that will give them a chance to compete well in the SEC.
Righthander Aidan Moza from UAB has good stuff, including a fastball that reached 97 mph last season. With 30 strikeouts in 34.2 innings with the Blazers, he didn’t miss as many bats as you might think given his power arm, but Alabama is hoping that comes with experience. Righthander Zane Probst had a 5.28 career ERA in two seasons at Seton Hall, but his stuff is good, with a fastball up to 95 mph and a slider that had a 45% whiff rate last season, and he’s coming off of a summer as an all-star in the Cape Cod League. Helping the pitching staff is the addition of catcher Mac Guscette, who batted .259/.320/.395 in 186 plate appearances across two seasons at Florida but also provides valuable SEC experience.
Notable Additions: OF Ethan Groff (Tulane), LHP Xavier Rivas (Indianapolis), 1B Anthony Calarco (Northwestern)
Overview: The defending national champions brought in a small class, but all three players will have a real shot to be impact players from the start.
Player Breakdown: Ethan Groff might have been the AAC player of the year had he not missed the last month of the season with injury. As it was, he batted .404/.503/.709, which led the conference in all three categories, including in batting average by more than 50 points. He mostly played the outfield corners at Tulane but can play center field if needed. First baseman Anthony Calarco slugged nine home runs during Northwestern’s abbreviated 36-game season in 2021 but really broke out last season by hitting 18 doubles and 13 home runs to make him one of the best power bats in the Big Ten. He’s obviously not going to be a Tim Elko-type cult hero but he’s similar to the departed Ole Miss captain as a slugging first baseman with a pretty straightforward power-hitting profile.
On the mound, the Rebels grabbed lefthander Xavier Rivas from Division II Indianapolis. Last season, he had a 2.24 ERA, held batters to a .170 average and struck out 128, good for a rate of 14.34 strikeouts per nine innings. He doesn’t have premium velocity on his fastball but either through deception or the unique characteristics of the pitch, he gets lots of swings and misses on it. He also features two distinct breaking balls and a changeup.
13. Texas A&M
Notable Additions: RHP Carson Lambert (Southern California), RHP Josh Stewart (Texas), SS/3B Hunter Haas (Arizona State), RHP Jace Hutchins (Texas), LHP Matt Dillard (Sam Houston State), LHP Troy Wansing (Purdue), LHP Brandyn Garcia (Quinnipiac), RHP Max Debiec (Washington)
Overview: Texas A&M didn’t go into this offseason needing to overhaul the roster in the way that it did last offseason, but it still brought in a big transfer class, this time seemingly more focused on players who will provide quality depth or fill specific needs.
Player Breakdown: If you’re looking for a breakout player in this class, the best bet might be Josh Stewart from Texas. The righthander threw just 11.2 innings as a freshman last season, but he has good stuff, including a high-spin fastball that touches the mid 90s, he has a prototypical starting pitcher’s build and delivery, and he’s coming off of allowing just one run in 16.1 innings on the Cape this summer. Righthander Carson Lambert had a 3.46 ERA in 54.2 innings as a versatile reliever at USC and perhaps could fill the Jacob Palisch role on A&M’s pitching staff in 2023.
Lefthanders Matt Dillard and Troy Wansing were both solid starters in their previous locations last season. With 61 strikeouts in 51.1 innings as a freshman in 2022, Wansing had a higher strikeout rate than Dillard had in any single season in his four years at Sam Houston State, but Dillard has the experience edge with 167.2 innings under his belt. Lefthander Brandyn Garcia had a 6.09 career ERA at Quinnipiac, but with 121 strikeouts in 105 innings, he proved that he can miss bats. Infielder Hunter Haas brings elite defensive skill to the table both at third base and shortstop. He took a step back offensively in an injury-plagued 2022, but in 2021, he batted .304/.371/.402. Righthander Max Debiec missed all of last season at Washington while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he was a top-200 draft prospect with a fastball up to 98 mph coming out of high school last year.
14. North Carolina State
Notable Additions: OF Carter Trice (Old Dominion), OF Trevor Candelaria (Davidson), OF Parker Nolan (Davidson), SS Kalae Harrison (Texas A&M), LHP PJ Labriola (Clemson), RHP Creed Watkins (Oklahoma)
Overview: One season after having a lot of success in the transfer portal by bringing in LuJames Groover III and Josh Hood, among others, NC State recruited another talented class of transfers, highlighted by a group of players from mid-major programs in the region.
Player Breakdown: Carter Trice is a dynamo who does a lot of things well. A premium athlete, he played mostly second base in 2021 and mostly right field in 2022 but also played third base, shortstop and left field for Old Dominion at various points. Offensively he batted .324/.411/.620 with 31 home runs and 26 stolen bases across two seasons for the Monarchs. Trevor Candelaria and Parker Nolan were two big catalysts in a very prolific Davidson lineup last season. The former batted .342/.452/.607 with 13 home runs and 13 stolen bases, while the latter batted .310/.442/.663 with 15 home runs and 12 stolen bases. Both can also provide some defensive value, as Nolan was a full-time center fielder last season, while Candeleria has experience in both right and center.
Speaking of defense, shortstop Kalae Harrison was a steady defender as the starting shortstop at Texas A&M in 2021 and should provide the type of sound play that Elliott Avent and his staff are accustomed to seeing on the infield but that didn’t necessarily come to fruition last season. Lefthander PJ Labriola hasn’t thrown more than 10.2 innings in any of his three seasons at Clemson, but he’s gotten a lot of whiffs when he has been on the mound, as he has 24 career strikeouts in 19.2 innings. Righthander Creed Watkins pitched in just one game for Oklahoma last season after transferring in from the junior college level, where his fastball touched the high 90s.
15. Oklahoma State
Notable Additions: RHP Juaron Watts-Brown (Long Beach State), RHP Janzen Keisel (Brigham Young), 1B Noah Turley (Arizona), INF Brennan Holt (Louisiana State), RHP Brian Hendry (St. John’s)
Overview: Oklahoma State got one of the biggest prizes in the portal in righthander Juaron Watts-Brown late in the summer as the headliner in a small class that also features some projected depth pieces with high ceilings.
Player Breakdown: After putting up a 3.68 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 73.1 innings last season at Long Beach State and starring on the Cape this summer, Juaron Watts-Brown looks like a potential ace in a rebuilt Oklahoma State rotation. His fastball last season averaged nearly 92 mph and this summer on the Cape sat 93-96 early in starts. Both his slider and his curveball, which have similar velocities but different shapes, had gaudy whiff rates last season, and a changeup gives him a fourth pitch. Righthander Janzen Keisel has a big arm, with a fastball up to 97 mph last season that helped him strike out 58 batters in 46.1 innings. Having started and come out of the bullpen at BYU as a freshman in 2022, Keisel could hold any number of roles at OSU. Righthander Brian Hendry missed all of last season with injury, but had a combined 6.18 ERA in 51 innings with the Red Storm the three years prior. He has a low-90s fastball that touched as high as 96 back in 2021.
Noah Turley has big-time power from a 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame, and while he hit eight home runs at Arizona last season, he also batted just .226 and struck out 63 times in 164 at-bats. If he can make more contact and unlock more of that raw power, he has a ceiling as a middle-of-the-order bopper. Brennan Holt played in just five games as a freshman at LSU. He brings the ability to play just about anywhere on the infield, and going into last season in Baton Rouge, there was optimism about his growing ability to impact the baseball at the plate.
Notable Additions: RHP Zach Franklin (Western Carolina), 1B Hank Zeisler (Nevada-Las Vegas), RHP Chandler Murphy (Arizona), LHP Jacob Hasty (Louisiana State), C Dylan Leach (Arkansas), LHP Javyn Pimental (Arizona), RHP Rorik Maltrud (New Mexico State), OF/2B Cam Chick (Nebraska), SS Matthew Garcia (Bethune-Cookman), INF Brock Daniels (Oklahoma)
Overview: For the second straight year, Missouri pulls in a ranked transfer class featuring a wide swath of players from all over the country, some exclusively to improve the 2023 roster and others with more of an eye on the future.
Player Breakdown: Righthander Zach Franklin was quietly dominant last season at Western Carolina, putting up a 2.06 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 56.2 innings, working with a fastball up to 98 mph, a mid-80s changeup and a high-70s curveball that had a 54% whiff rate a season ago. Righthander Chandler Murphy had a tough, injury-plagued season in 2022, but in 2021, he had a 4.29 ERA in 63 innings and helped Arizona to the College World Series. He has a low-90s fastball that touched as high as 96 mph last season. Lefthander Javyn Pimental, Murphy’s former teammate with the Wildcats, had a 3.90 ERA last season in 30 innings using a high-80s fastball that touched the low 90s. Lefthander Jacob Hasty used a fastball up to 95 mph and a low-80s breaking ball that had a greater than 40% whiff rate to put up a 3.55 ERA in 25.1 innings at LSU last season. Righthander Rorik Maltrud, working with a low-90s fastball, had a 4.40 ERA over 88 innings across two seasons at New Mexico State.
First baseman Hank Zeisler has hit at every level in which he’s played. After dominating the competition at times at Division III Chapman (Calif.), he transferred to UNLV last season and batted .396/.494/.693 with 14 home runs. Catcher Dylan Leach has been stuck behind top-notch backstops at Arkansas the last two years, but will have a chance for regular reps this time around. Cam Chick played second base, third base, left field and center field, all in fairly good sample sizes, over four seasons at Nebraska, and he’s hit eight home runs in each of the last two seasons. Shortstop Matthew Garcia had a breakout season at Bethune-Cookman in 2022, batting .310/.367/.460. Brock Daniels, a highly-regarded prep recruit from the St. Louis area coming out of high school in 2021, didn’t see the field in his one season at Oklahoma, but was lauded for his athleticism, defense and above-average speed as he arrived in Norman at this time last year.
Four Of A Kind? Examining The Candidates For The No. 1 Pick In the 2023 Draft
Just how good is this fearsome foursome? How much separation is there between them and how do the players compare and contrast with one another?
17. Wake Forest
Notable Additions: C Bennett Lee (Tulane ), RHP Michael Massey (Tulane), LHP Sean Sullivan (Northwestern), RHP Cole Roland (Dartmouth), SS Justin Johnson (Lafayette)
Overview: With a class made up entirely of players from highly academic private schools, and with a majority of the incoming talent on the mound, Wake Forest clearly went into the offseason looking for a specific type of player in the portal and seems to have had success in reeling those players in.
Player Breakdown: Righthander Michael Massey was immediately one of Tulane’s most trusted pitchers as a freshman last season. He put up a 5.03 ERA in 68 innings, leaning on a low-90s fastball that was up to 96 mph. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Massey certainly looks the part of a rotation workhorse. Lefthander Sean Sullivan had a very similar experience at Northwestern. He was effective from the start as a freshman and finished with a 4.45 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 64.2 innings using a fastball in the high 80s that touched 94 mph, a mid-70s slider and a high-70s changeup. After missing three straight seasons due to injury (2019), the pandemic (2020) and the Ivy League’s decision to curtail the baseball season (2021), righthander Cole Roland finally got on the mound in 2022 and pitched well, with a 3.90 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 30 innings. His fastball sits in the high 80s, reaching the low 90s, and his high-70s curveball last season had a 56% whiff rate.
Catcher Bennett Lee batted .255/.366/.398 last season, but Wake Forest is hopeful that in 2023 he performs a bit more like the player who batted .440/.527/.600 as a freshman in 2021 to earn AAC newcomer position player of the year honors. Justin Johnson didn’t play at all last season at Lafayette, but in the three seasons prior, he batted a combined .262/.365/.369 and played every one of his 92 games for the Leopards at shortstop.
Notable Additions: OF Ian Farrow (Florida Gulf Coast), OF Dario Gomez (Nevada), C Jack Scanlon (Oregon), RHP Carlos Lequerica (Florida International)
Overview: As was the case last year, Miami brought in a small transfer class, but this group boasts two of the most dynamic outfielders who are transferring up from the mid-major ranks and a catcher with experience on his side.
Player Breakdown: One of the most prolific mid-major power hitters in the country last season, Ian Farrow is coming off of batting .322/.510/.624 with 21 home runs at Florida Gulf Coast. Defensively, he’s played some right field, but left field is where he’s spent most of his time. Across two seasons at Nevada, Dario Gomez batted .350/.385/.558 with 34 doubles, 13 home runs and 22 stolen bases, all while serving as the Wolf Pack’s starting center fielder. Though he doesn’t have the versatility of having played both infield and outfield like Jacob Burke, in terms of athleticism and being an impact bat right away, Gomez could be that kind of player for the Hurricanes. Catcher Jack Scanlon batted just .180/.288/.320 in three seasons at Oregon, but he comes with 103 games of experience behind the plate, and his defensive tools, including a big arm, add to his value. Righthander Carlos Lequerica, who began his career at Bethune-Cookman before a stopover at the junior college level, had a 5.16 ERA in 52.1 innings at FIU last season, leaning on a high-spin fastball up to 94 mph.
Notable Additions: RHP Dalton Rhadans (Wofford), RHP Zach DeVito (Tulane), 3B Will David (Samford), SS Sebastian Murillo (Long Beach State), SS/3B Mason LaPlante (Yale), RHP Kyle Greenler (Elon)
Overview: Georgia brought in a class that brings a diverse set of skills to the table, with each player looking on paper ready to have an important role in 2023.
Player Breakdown: Righthander Dalton Rhadans will give hitters a look not often seen in the SEC. Throwing from a funky low slot, his fastball averages less than 80 mph and he uses his frisbee-style slider more than 60% of the time. It was effective in his time at Wofford, as he had a 3.43 ERA in 154.2 innings there. Righthander Zach DeVito had a 4.01 ERA, held opponents to a .216 batting average and compiled 40 strikeouts in 24.2 innings as Tulane’s closer last season. His fastball averaged over 92 mph and touched 95, and his low-to-mid-80s slider had a 55% whiff rate. Righthander Kyle Greenler had a 3.84 career ERA in 133.2 innings as a reliever at Elon. Last season, his fastball touched 93 mph, his low-80s slider had a 62% whiff rate and his mid-80s changeup had a 42% whiff rate.
Will David is coming off of batting .303/.412/.434 with 11 doubles, five home runs and more walks (31) than strikeouts (29) last season at Samford. After arriving in college as a catcher, he settled in at third base. Sebastian Murillo batted .293 with a .398 on-base percentage in two seasons at Long Beach State. After playing second base almost exclusively in 2021, Murillo slid over to become the Dirtbags’ full-time shortstop last season. Mason LaPlante was a career .302/.407/.390 hitter in three seasons at Yale, splitting his time just about evenly between third base and shortstop.
Notable Additions: OF Porter Brown (Texas Christian), C Garret Guillemette (Southern California), RHP Charlie Hurley (Southern California), RHP Heston Tole (Arkansas), 3B Tanner Carlson (Long Beach State), LHP David Shaw (Rice), RHP Cody Howard (Baylor)
Overview: After just dipping its toe in the transfer portal waters last year, most notably for third baseman Skyler Messinger, Texas was aggressive this time around in bringing in a larger class, which isn’t a huge surprise given the level of roster turnover the Longhorns faced this offseason.
Player Breakdown: When outfielder Porter Brown was healthy and getting regular at-bats at TCU, he was extremely productive and at times even electric, but unfortunately those times were fewer and further between than Brown or the Horned Frogs would have liked. A .286/.395/.428 career hitter in four seasons at TCU, Brown will look to put it all together in Austin. Catcher Garret Guillemette batted .292/.361/.429 with 20 doubles and eight home runs in 98 games across two seasons at USC and will be in the battle for regular reps at catcher after the departure of Silas Ardoin. Tanner Carlson batted .345/.397/.466 last season in 131 plate appearances across 39 games, but in part due to the pandemic in 2020 and Long Beach State playing an abbreviated schedule in 2021, those 39 games are the most he’s played in one season. Carlson and the Longhorns hope he can be just as productive next season in something closer to a full 56-game slate.
Righthander Charlie Hurley had a 4.19 ERA in a team-leading 73 innings at USC last season. His fastball sits in the high 80s, touching the low 90s, and his high-70s curveball is his best secondary offering. Righthander Heston Tole didn’t get a ton of innings at Arkansas, but he was effective in the opportunities he did get, with a 3.08 ERA in 26.1 innings across two seasons. Tole last season threw his slider in the high 70s and low 80s more often than he threw his fastball that averaged just under 90 mph, with the former inducing a 37% whiff rate. Lefthander David Shaw had a 6.57 ERA in 37 innings last season as a freshman at Rice, but his potential exceeds that performance. He works with a fastball in the high 80s and low 90s, a high-70s slider and a low-80s changeup. Righthander Cody Howard will join former Baylor head coach Steve Rodriguez in Austin, where the latter is now an assistant. Howard didn’t pitch for the Bears last season, but in high school, he worked with a fastball in the low 90s and was a good athlete who also played the outfield.
21. Texas Tech
Notable Additions: RHP Jack Washburn (Mississippi), OF Nolen Hester (Wofford), INF Jake Dukart (Oregon State), 1B Gavin Kash (Texas)
Overview: Texas Tech signed a small class but it stands out as a group that either fills a specific need, seems like an extremely good fit for the hard-nosed culture in the program or both.
Player Breakdown: Righthander Jack Washburn, brother of Texas Tech outfielder Owen Washburn, has plenty of pedigree—he was a member of USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team in 2021—and his stuff is plenty good, including a fastball up to 95 mph, but in his previous two stops at Oregon State and Mississippi, that hasn’t added up to him nailing down a regular role. With lots of opportunity to be found in the Texas Tech rotation, perhaps that’s on the horizon in 2023. Outfielder Nolen Hester, a native of Rockwall, Texas, is coming off of batting .321/.442/.402 at Wofford last season and over four years with the Terriers, he drew 90 walks and struck out just 59 times.
Infielder Jake Dukart can play anywhere on the dirt and had experience at second base, third base and shortstop at Oregon State. He batted .262/.368/.418 last season with the Beavers, and the Red Raiders have to hope his transfer goes as well as Ty Coleman’s did at this time last year, when Coleman went from light-hitting utility infielder to key cog in the lineup. Gavin Kash got just 23 at-bats last season as a freshman at Texas, but he has big-time power in his 6-foot-3, 198-pound frame. He only played first base in Austin last season, but coming out of high school, there was optimism about his athleticism allowing him to play the outfield as well.
Notable Additions: UTL Towns King (Samford), OF Owen Diodati (Alabama), RHP Josh Mollerus (San Francisco)
Overview: Oregon dealt with some transfer class attrition through the summer but still finished with a strong, albeit small, class of players who should be ready to step into major roles for the Ducks.
Player Breakdown: Towns King was a good offensive player at Samford and he’s coming off of batting .310/.392/.548 with 10 home runs last season, but his defensive versatility might be an even bigger asset. At Samford, he played 18 games in center field, 19 at first base, 20 at second base, 31 in right field and 34 in left field, and he played first base, second base, center field and right field during the 2022 season alone. Outfielder Owen Diodati has impressive offensive tools, most notably plus raw power, but he never could quite put it all together at Alabama. The Ducks have to hope that his standout summer in the Cape Cod League, where he batted .344/.500/.557 in 22 games, is a sign of things to come. Righthander Josh Mollerus struck out 52 batters and walked just nine in 36.1 innings last season at San Francisco. His fastball is a low-90s pitch that touched 94 a season ago, and his low-to-mid-80s slider had a 46% whiff rate.
23. West Virginia
Notable Additions: RHP Grant Siegel (Tulane), RHP Blaine Traxel (Cal State Northridge), 1B/OF Landon Wallace (Nevada), RHP/OF Keegan Allen (Oklahoma)
Overview: Just like last year, West Virginia recruited a ranked transfer class highlighted by players who should be ready for important innings on the mound right away.
Player Breakdown: Righthander Grant Siegel as a freshman at Tulane last season had a 3.02 ERA and a 53-to-13 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 59.2 innings. His fastball sits in the high 80s, touching the low 90s, and his slider in the high 70s and low 80s induced a 41% whiff rate. Righthander Blaine Traxel doesn’t have high-end stuff—his fastball sits in the low-to-mid 80s—but he’s a classic workhorse starter. Over four seasons at Cal State Northridge, he piled up 270.1 innings and had a 3.43 ERA. He issued just 56 walks in his career at CSUN, so you know he’s going to throw strikes.
Landon Wallace batted .331/.454/.474 across two seasons at Nevada and he just batted .315/.420/.508 this summer in the Northwoods League. He spent some time at DH for the Wolf Pack, but also played first base and left field. Righthander Keegan Allen threw just seven innings across nine appearances as a freshman at Oklahoma last season, giving up seven earned runs along the way, but he showed a fastball up to 95 mph. He arrived in Norman as a two-way player but didn’t see any time as a position player in 2022.
Notable Additions: LHP Jace Kaminska (Nebraska), DH Charlie Fischer (Southern Mississippi), RHP Michael Garza (Incarnate Word), OF Casey Burnham (Kansas), 2B/OF Cayden Brumbaugh, RHP Will Rizzo (Texas A&M)
Overview: Coming off of a disappointing 2022 season, Nebraska was aggressive in re-tooling the roster through the transfer portal, bringing in a fairly large class full of players headlined by former Wichita State lefthander Jace Kaminska, who could be a staff ace in the making.
Player Breakdown: Lefthander Jace Kaminska didn’t have a season to write home about at Wichita State in 2022, with a 5.49 ERA, but in 2021, he had a 2.39 ERA in 62 innings. His stuff also suggests he was better last season than the ERA shows. His fastball, which he threw 74% of the time, averaged just above 90 mph and touched 95. Righthander Michael Garza had a 5.65 ERA and 179 strikeouts in 172 innings over four seasons at Incarnate Word. His fastball last season touched 92 mph and his high-70s curveball had a 40% whiff rate. Righthander Will Rizzo didn’t see any mound time at Texas A&M as a freshman last season, but he struck out 46 batters in 36.2 innings in the Northwoods League over the summer, leaning on a fastball up to 93 mph and a low-80s slider that had a 42% whiff rate.
Charlie Fischer struggled last season at Southern Miss, batting .167 in just 48 at-bats, but in 2021, he batted .304/.467/.491 with seven home runs, one season after putting up a .322/.400/.542 slash line during the abbreviated 2020 season. He was listed as an infielder at USM, but he was almost exclusively a DH, with the totality of his time in the field being four games in left field last season. Casey Burnham batted .258/.377/.353 in four seasons at Kansas, mostly as a regular in the lineup. Burnham can play all three outfield spots and played center and right field at KU. Cayden Brumbaugh didn’t see much playing time at Oklahoma State as a freshman last season, but he swung the bat well in those limited chances, going 7-for-22. He also showed defensive versatility. He only appeared in the field five times, but played three different positions—second base, center field and right field.
Notable Additions: 3B Michael Brooks (Central Florida), RHP Sam Ireland (Minnesota), LHP Ethan Bradford (Nebraska), RHP Hunter Cranton (San Diego State), RHP Carson McKinney (Texas), OF Sam Hunt (Texas Tech), LHP Gavin Brasosky (Tennessee), C Cole Elvis (California), RHP Collin Baumgartner (Southern Illinois-Edwardsville), RHP Thaniel Trumper (Doane), INF Collier Cranford (Louisiana State), INF Luke Leto (Louisiana State)
Overview: With a new coaching staff in place, some outgoing transfers like Maui Ahuna and Tavian Josenberger departing, and coming off of going 4-20 in the Big 12 last season, Kansas completely overhauled its roster with a massive transfer class that touches every part of the team.
Player Breakdown: Michael Brooks began his career at Arkansas before transferring to Central Florida, where he redshirted in 2021 prior to batting .261/.384/.438 with seven home runs and more walks (33) than strikeouts (27) for the Knights last season. Sam Hunt hit well in limited opportunities last season at Texas Tech, batting .348 (16-for-46) with a .475 on-base percentage, and he brings additional value by virtue of being a center fielder. Catcher Cole Elvis brings a ton of experience to the table, including 115 games behind the plate at Cal and 528 career plate appearances. He had nine home runs in 2021 and last season he batted .266/.343/.392 with 17 doubles. Collier Cranford was a role player in three seasons at LSU, appearing in 77 games during that time, but with the Tigers, he played all four infield positions. Luke Leto was the highest-ranked recruit to make it to LSU’s campus last year, but he got just 10 at-bats with the Tigers last season. Coming out of high school, he was lauded for his power potential and seemed like a good defensive fit on the left side of the infield.
Righthander Sam Ireland has a fastball up to 95 mph and two secondary pitches, a slider in the high 70s and low 80s and a low-80s changeup, that had greater than 40% whiff rates last season. He had a 5.15 career ERA in 117 innings at Minnesota. Lefthander Ethan Bradford works with a low-90s fastball that touched 95 mph last season. He threw 11.2 total innings over three seasons at Nebraska. Righthander Hunter Cranton struck out 13 in 9.1 innings last season at San Diego State using a fastball from 89-93 mph. Righthander Carson McKinney didn’t pitch last season at Texas but has the frame of a workhorse at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds. Lefthander Gavin Brasosky struck out six batters in 4.1 innings as a freshman last season at Tennessee. He has a high-80s fastball that will touch the low 90s. Collin Baumgartner had an up-and-down career at SIU-Edwardsville, with a 5.43 ERA in 187.1 innings in the end, but the 6-foot-6, 240-pound righthander has good stuff, including a fastball that has touched 94 mph in the past. Righthander Thaniel Trumper was unhittable as a reliever last season at NAIA Doane (Neb.), putting up a 1.15 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 39 innings. Over the summer in the Northwoods League, he struck out 54 batters in 26.1 innings, a rate of 18.5 per nine innings. His fastball is a high-80s pitch but it had a 37% whiff rate in the NWL over the summer, an extraordinarily high rate for a fastball.