Ranking The Top 25 New Additions in College Baseball in 2020
Every year in college baseball, there is a lot of newness around the sport. New players arrive in college as freshmen and junior college transfers. Other players transfer between schools, a route that increased this year due to the extra year of eligibility all players received after last spring’s early cancellation.
Coaches also come and go, as new head coaches take over programs following retirements, firings and resignations. Assistant coaches also move around the sport, bringing new methods and philosophies with them.
Which of these moves this year were the most impactful? That’s the question we try to answer today. Any new addition was considered for this list, both among players and coaches. Impact for the 2021 season was one factor considered, but a player or coach’s extended impact over the next few seasons was considered as well.
1. Carson Montgomery, RHP, Florida State
Montgomery this year was the highest-ranked player (40) on the BA 500 to go undrafted and instead headlined Florida State’s 11th-ranked recruiting class. He’s ready to step into a big spot in the Seminoles’ pitching staff that needs some new players to step up after losing ace C.J. Van Eyk, Shane Drohan and Antonio Velez to pro ball.
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 middle-of-the-order contributor right now.
3. 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.
4. Tanner Witt, RHP/3B, Texas
Witt has two-way ability and could contribute both at the plate and on the mound this spring. He has impressive raw power and this fall it was his offense that stood out the most. He has big upside on the mound as well, flashing a fastball that gets up to 96 mph to go with a quality curveball. However Texas uses him, Witt will play a big role going forward.
5. 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. He’ll give the Commodores a different look and something else for opposing pitchers to consider when he gets on base.
The Hurricanes lost all three members of its weekend rotation to pro ball, which means that opportunity abounds for Mederos and Rosario. The pair of freshmen headline the Hurricanes’ top-ranked recruiting class thanks to their impressive stuff. 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. 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.
8. Brandon Birdsell, RHP, Texas Tech
Texas Tech will have a new-look pitching rotation in 2021 after losing starters Clayton Beeter and Bryce Bonin to the draft. Birdsell, the top-ranked junior college transfer, figures to play a prominent role for the Red Raiders as they build a new staff. He attacks hitters with a powerful fastball-slider combination.
9. Jake Smith, RHP, Miami
In addition to adding premium freshmen pitchers like Mederos and Rosario, Miami also adds Smith, one of the top junior college transfers. He throws a lot of strikes with his fastball and has the potential to pitch at the front of the Hurricanes’ rotation.
10. Drew Bowser, INF, 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. A shortstop in high school, Bowser may end up at third base. But no matter where he ends up defensively, his bat has impact potential for the Cardinal.
11. Edwin Thompson, Head Coach, Georgetown
Thompson was hired at Georgetown after five seasons at Eastern Kentucky. He turned around the Colonels, leading them to consecutive 30-win seasons in 2018 and 2019. They were off to a strong start to the 2020 season, including an upset win at Louisiana State. Now, he’ll try to do the same thing at Georgetown, which has never reached the NCAA Tournament.
12. Mike Antico, OF, Texas
Antico has been a key piece of the St. John’s lineup for four years, putting up a career .332/.451/.519 slash line. The 2019 season featured his best work, when he hit .386/.500/.598 and then spent the ensuing summer playing in the Cape Cod League. A natural fit to slide into the outfield spot vacated by Duke Ellis, Antico was everything that Texas was looking for him to be during fall practice.
13. Brett Centracchio, 1B, North Carolina
With Aaron Sabato and Dylan Harris now in pro baseball, the Tar Heels will need new faces to step up and provide extra-base pop in the middle of the order, and Centracchio is more than capable of being the primary power threat in a lineup that may also lean on junior college transfer Justice Thompson and freshmen Johnny Castagnozzi, Mac Horvath and Jack Riedel to provide pop. The former Davidson first baseman hit 27 homers in four seasons and finished the 2020 campaign hitting .352/.410/.648.
14. Tristan Peterson, 1B, Washington State
Nick Gonzales was the headline star of the New Mexico State lineup, but Peterson played his supporting role extremely well. In 2019, he hit .400/.510/.769 with 20 home runs and 90 RBI. Now, he’ll follow his former NMSU coach Brian Green in making the trip from Las Cruces to Pullman. Last season, the Cougars appeared to be a much-improved club, and the addition of Peterson to the middle of the order can only help in the rebuilding project.
15. Justin Wrobleski, LHP, Oklahoma State
The Cowboys have had plenty of success in recent years with junior college transfers and Wrobleski should be no different. A power lefthander with a fastball up to 95 mph and a good slider, Wrobleski could step right into the rotation for Oklahoma State.
College Baseball Takeaways: Arkansas Comes Back For Another Big Road Win
No. 1 Arkansas beat another ranked team on the road, highlighting Friday's action in college baseball.
16. 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.
17. Christian Scafidi, RHP, Notre Dame
Notre Dame got arguably the best Ivy League grad transfer on the market in Scafidi, the 2019 conference pitcher of the year. Notre Dame was off to a nice start in 2020, and it will be interesting to see what it can do with an experienced rotation that may also include fellow transfers Joe Sheridan from Central Florida and John Michael Bertrand from Furman.
18. Lael Lockhart, LHP/1B, Arkansas
Lockhart served as the Friday starter at Houston for much of 2019 and all of the 2020 season, such as it was, in addition to being a key part of the Cougars’ lineup at different points in his career. He doesn’t have the type of electric stuff that much of the rest of the Arkansas pitching staff has, but he impressed in the fall and could very well earn starting assignments come the 2021 season.
19. Benjamin Sems, SS, Michigan
Sems looks the part of a ready-made replacement for departed Michigan shortstop Jack Blomgren. He is an extremely solid defensive shortstop, he runs well and in 2019, he hit .305/.414/.437 at Kansas. He showed well this fall and could be the centerpiece of a talented grad transfer class that arrived at Michigan this year.
20. 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 FGCU 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. If he develops like he’s expected to, Miller has the potential to elevate the Eagles to new heights.
21. Scott Dubrule, 2B, Mississippi State
Dubrule was a hitting machine at Jacksonville, with his best season coming in 2018, when he hit .348 to help him earn first-team all-Atlantic Sun honors. Justin Foscue is gone after being drafted 14th overall in June, so second base is wide open for Dubrule to hit his way into the lineup.
22. Kyle Hallock, Head Coach, Bowling Green State
No program had a more eventful summer than Bowling Green, which was eliminated by the school in May before it was saved less than three weeks later following a successful fundraising effort. In the wake of that decision, longtime coach Danny Schmitz moved to a new role in the department, passing the reins on to Hallock, who is the youngest coach in the country. The Falcons have a strong history on the diamond. Now it’s up to Hallock to return them to it.
23. Ty Floyd, LHP, 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.
24. Scott Forbes, Head Coach, North Carolina
Forbes takes over UNC following the retirement of Mike Fox after 22 years as head coach. Forbes served as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator under Fox and played a big role in helping Fox build the Tar Heels into one of the most consistent programs in the 21st century. Now, he is tasked with keeping them among the elite programs both in the ACC and nationally.
25. 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.