Ranking the Top 25 Incoming Freshmen in College Baseball
At Baseball America, we’re continuing to examine the best recruiting classes from across the country. Bringing in a strong group of newcomers is important for every team as it builds from year to year.
But who are the best individual freshmen entering college baseball? Here, we identify freshmen who will soon be the stars of the sport and helping their teams advance to the College World Series.
When creating this list, we considered both future projection and impact ability in the 2021 season. Future projection is weighed a bit more heavily. In 2021, with so many crowded rosters, immediate impact may be difficult to come by for many freshmen. But the best players on this list figure to both develop into premium draft picks in a few years and make an impact early in their college careers.
1. Carson Montgomery, RHP, Florida State
At No. 40, Montgomery is the highest-ranked player on the BA 500 to go undrafted. A fastball that sits in the low 90s and has reached as high as 96 mph, plus a slider that was one of the best in the 2020 draft class, gives him the stuff to compete at a high level right away. A Florida State pitching staff that lost a number of key contributors this offseason, most notably C.J. Van Eyk, will likely provide the opportunity he needs to do so.
2. Kevin Parada, C, Georgia Tech
In Parada, there’s a very real chance that Georgia Tech has its next elite catching prospect in a long line of elite catching prospects in Atlanta that includes Jason Varitek, Matt Wieters, and most recently, Joey Bart. His bat is ahead of his catching skills at this point, but given the program’s track record of developing catchers, there’s little reason to think he won’t come along. Plus, his bat is ready to make him a contributor now.
3. Chase Davis, OF, Arizona
The top-ranked player in Arizona’s No. 4 ranked recruiting class, Davis packs a punch in his left-handed swing, producing impressive raw power. Defensively, his plus arm strength will be a weapon. Arizona returns outfielders Mac Bingham, Ryan Holgate and Donta Williams, but Davis is dynamic enough that he’ll work his way into the lineup sooner than later.
4. Dylan Crews, OF, Louisiana State
Crews wanted to be a part of the LSU baseball program so much that he removed his name from the draft the week before the event began, reaffirming his commitment to the Tigers. He’s a part of the Tigers’ No. 2-ranked recruiting class and gives them a ready-made replacement for outfielder Daniel Cabrera. Crews has an easy righthanded swing and good bat speed, which could help him produce power over time.
5. Victor Mederos, RHP, Miami
The Hurricanes lost all three members of its weekend rotation to pro ball, which means that opportunity abounds for a highly-talented pitcher like Mederos to step into a big role right away. At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Mederos has a frame that suggests that he’s ready to handle the rigors of a full college season and with a four-pitch mix highlighted by a fastball up to 96 mph and a sharp slider, he has the stuff to match.
6. Alejandro Rosario, RHP, Miami
Rosario will join Mederos among the group of pitchers with a chance to step right into starring roles in 2021. While he doesn’t strike an imposing figure on the mound in the way that Mederos does, he has just as big an arm, as his fastball has been clocked as high as 97 mph. No matter how many innings they throw collectively in 2021, Miami has to be thrilled about the prospect of Mederos and Rosario developing together for the next three years.
7. Drew Bowser, SS, Stanford
Bowser leads a seventh-ranked recruiting class that will inject additional high-end talent onto a roster that underwent a lot of turnover going into 2020. Though Bowser’s skills might make him more of a natural third baseman than a shortstop, his arm strength and hands will give him a chance to play that position well. Offensively, he should hit for power thanks to his strength and bat speed.
8. Cade Horton, RHP/SS, Oklahoma
Horton boasts the athleticism and ability to be a two-way star for the Sooners. As a position player, he flashes good infield actions defensively and should be a power threat at the plate. On the mound, he’ll lean on a classic fastball-slider combination. He was initially slated to be a quarterback for the Oklahoma football team as well, but he is not currently on the OU football roster.
9. Enrique Bradfield, OF, Vanderbilt
Bradfield has elite speed, a quality Vanderbilt hasn’t had the last couple years. That plays well in center field and offensively, thanks to his bat-to-ball skills.
10. Ty Floyd, RHP, Louisiana State
Floyd is LSU’s top newcomer on the mound and while breaking into the Tigers’ rotation this spring won’t be easy, he’s got the talent to pitch important innings. His electric fastball sits 92-95 mph to go with a big breaking ball and changeup.
11. Yohandy Morales, SS, Miami
Miami’s top-ranked recruiting class wasn’t just built on pitching, it also has star power among its position players with Morales leading the way. He’s got big upside and righthanded power in his 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame.
12. Tanner Witt, RHP/3B, Texas
Witt could contribute as a two-way player at some point in his career, but his ceiling may be highest on the mound, where he flashes a fastball up to 96 mph to go along with a quality curveball. As a hitter, his raw power stands out.
13. Kyle Teel, C, Virginia
Another player who removed his name from draft consideration to honor his college commitment, Teel will join an already-stacked Virginia club in 2021. That removed him from the BA 500, but prior to that, he was considered a top-100 prospect. His tools offensively and his athleticism give him a chance to have an impact right away.
14. Patrick Reilly, RHP, Vanderbilt
Reilly took a step forward last fall and saw his velocity jump up, touching 95 mph. Now, he’s the latest prominent pitcher to join a stacked Commodores’ pitching staff. He’s got the ability to pitch important innings this spring, though predicting what role he’ll fill isn’t easy.
15. Colby Halter, INF, Florida
Halter made a jump last year and was one of Team USA’s best hitters at the World Cup. His overall toolset doesn’t stand out, but he has good hittability and understanding of the game. He’ll likely be able to quickly find a way into the Gators’ lineup.
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16. Mason Miller, LHP, Florida Gulf Coast
Pitching prospects of Miller’s ability don’t often end up at the mid-major level in college baseball, so it’s quite a coup for Florida Gulf Coast to get him on campus. His high-spin breaking ball projects as a plus offering, and he currently complements that with a fastball that reaches the low 90s.
17. Nate Wohlgemuth, RHP, Arkansas
Wohlgemuth might be considered undersized at 5-foot-11, but his stuff plays bigger than that, thanks in large part to a strong frame. His fastball sits in the low 90s and can reach 97 mph, and his changeup is his best secondary offering, which is fairly rare for a young pitcher.
18. Cole Foster, SS, Auburn
Foster has solid all-around tools and has an advanced feel for the game. He has a smooth swing and barrels up a lot of balls, while also providing steady, reliable defense that could make him the Tigers’ shortstop sooner than later.
19. Jason Savacool, RHP, Maryland
One of the best prep pitchers in the northeast in 2020, Savacool brings high-end ability to Maryland’s recruiting class and 2021 roster. He boasts four pitches, but his best offerings are a sinking fastball that reaches the low 90s and a slider that projects as an above-average pitch.
20. Daniel Susac, C, Arizona
Arizona lost both Austin Wells and Matthew Dyer to pro ball, opening a path for Susac to take over behind the plate. Listed at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, he’s big and athletic and has plenty of offensive upside as a switch-hitter with power potential
21. T.J. Nichols, RHP, Arizona
Nichols has two-way ability, but he’s shown the most promise on the mound. He has a big arm and can run his fastball up to 94 mph to go with a hard slider. How he develops under pitching coach Nate Yeskie will be interesting to watch.
22. D’Andre Smith, SS, Southern California
Smith is toolsy and athletic and packs more punch than his 5-foot-10 frame suggests. His tools play at shortstop, but his versatility will help him quickly break into the Trojans’ lineup somewhere.
23. Cam Brown, RHP, Texas Christian
At 6-foot-3, Brown is an imposing figure on the mound, and he has the stuff to match, with a fastball that sits in the low 90s and reaches 95 mph to go along with a slider and changeup that both should be weapons in his college career.
24. Timmy Manning, LHP, Florida
Manning has the potential to make a significant jump over the next three years at Florida and also can be a weapon right away thanks to his fastball-curveball combination. As he physically matures and adds velocity, he has top-of-the-rotation upside for the Gators.
25. Mario Zabala, OF, Florida International
Zabala has some of the best raw tools of any player to make it to college but will need to refine his in-game skills. He’ll get the chance to do so at FIU, where his power-speed combination could make him a force.