SEC 2020 College Baseball Recruiting Breakdown
Recruiting is the lifeblood of every program in college baseball. After presenting the Top 25 recruiting classes and the 10 classes that just missed the cut, Baseball America is breaking down every class in several of the biggest conferences in the country.
Presented here is team-by-team analysis for the SEC. While a team from the conference did not take the top spot in this year’s Top 25 for the first time since 2010, the SEC continues to recruit at a higher level than any other league. It this year landed two top-three classes and 10 of the Top 25.
Links to full breakdowns of the classes that made the Top 25 and the next 10 classes can be found below, as well as a snapshot view of the class. Full breakdowns for the teams that didn’t make the rankings can be found here.
All rankings are according to the 2020 BA 500, which included all draft-eligible players.
After consecutive 15th-ranked recruiting classes, Alabama this year finished just outside the rankings with a slightly smaller group. Still, it delivers impact talent to Tuscaloosa, starting with Hitt. He still needs some polish, but between his athleticism, projection and upward trend, he could soon take over a spot in the rotation. Righthander Dylan Ray (306) throws a lot of strikes with his fastball-curveball combination and could carve out a role right away on staff. Righthander Jake Eddington (395) has plenty of upside but isn’t as advanced as Hitt and Ray. Righthander Hunter Ruth, a junior college transfer, adds another big arm with upside to the class. Catcher Grant Knipp and infielder Caden Rose both have the tools to become important players in the Crimson Tide’s lineup.
As the stars of Arkansas’ vaunted 2017 recruiting class move on to pro ball, the Razorbacks bring in another standout class. Wohlgemuth is a bit undersized at 5-foot-11, but he gets good running action on his fastball and his changeup and curveball are both quality secondary offerings. He’s got all the tools to make an impact in Fayetteville. Lefthander Nick Griffin (198) may have the most projection of any player in the Razorbacks’ class and has a promising fastball-slider combination. Righthander Jaxon Wiggins (266) also offers plenty of projection thanks to his 6-foot-6 frame. Cayden Wallace (144) fits the third base profile well and his ability to get to his raw power will quickly get him in the Razorbacks’ lineup. Infielder Michael Brooks (349) has a solid all-around skill set and impacts the game in a variety of ways.
Auburn has now brought five straight Top 25 classes to campus under coach Butch Thompson. This class doesn’t have as much hype as some of the Tigers’ previous groups—like last year’s top-10 class—but it’s a strong group overall. Foster has solid all-around tools and an advanced feel for the game that gives him the look of the Tigers’ shortstop of the future. Shortstop Bryson Ware (231), a junior college transfer, has an exciting combination of tools and athleticism, but is not as polished as Foster. Outfielder Bobby Pierce, another junior college transfer, is a powerful righthanded hitter. Righthander Joseph Gonzalez (229) pitches with good control and this spring saw his velocity start to tick up, giving a glimpse of his upside. Righthander Carson Swilling (327) has a good fastball-curveball combination that could play right away for the Tigers.
The Gators extended their streak of top-five classes to eight years even though they brought in a slightly smaller group than expected, a side effect of not losing any players in the draft and bringing their 2020 team back nearly intact. Halter made a jump last year and was one of Team USA’s best hitters at the World Cup. He and Sterlin Thompson (196) are advanced hitters who can quickly step into Florida’s lineup. Shortstop Jordan Carrion (394) and catcher Mac Guscette (457) also can quickly make an impact, but they stand out more for their defense. Lefthander Timmy Manning (135) has big upside on the mound and his fastball-curveball combination can play right away. Righthander Franco Aleman (315), a junior college transfer, had an excellent summer in the Cape Cod League in 2019 and will pitch important innings at Florida.
The Bulldogs’ class provides a combination of immediate impact and strong depth. The result is the Bulldogs’ highest-ranked class since 2012. Collins and fellow catcher Fernando Gonzalez (339) put the class in an enviable position behind the plate. Collins is the stronger offensive player of the pair, while Gonzalez stands out more for his defense. Infielder Parks Harber (384) has a strong, athletic build and plenty of power potential. On the mound, Georgia went heavy on lefthanders in this class, starting with Jaden Woods (222) and Luke Wagner (322). Woods has the most upside, while Wagner’s advanced feel for his fastball-slider combination will play quickly in Athens. Patrick Holloman and Liam Sullivan both offer strong upside as well, while Colin Caldwell could quickly become a weapon out of the bullpen.
Hagenow headlines Kentucky’s recruiting class, which also includes some high-end junior college transfers who will quickly make an impact in Lexington. The righthander has a projectable 6-foot-5 frame and made solid progress over the last year, getting his fastball up to 93 mph last fall. Righthander Wyatt Hudepohl is a good athlete and has a promising three-pitch mix. Shortstop Ryan Ritter (321) leads the Wildcats’ junior college transfers. He’s got the defensive tools to step into the position right away and brings speed into the lineup. Infielder Jake Plastiak, another junior college transfer, is a switch-hitter with power potential who could also quickly make an impact.
LSU came through the draft in great shape, aided in part by Crews’ decision to officially withdraw from the event. He was rated as a top-two rounds talent and instead gives the Tigers another star outfielder in their pipeline. Shortstop Jordan Thompson (215) is a good defender and has made strides offensively, while Brody Drost (367) has two-way ability as an outfielder and lefthander. Righthander Ty Floyd (69) has premium stuff and can quickly make an impact in Baton Rouge. Righthanders Blake Money (359) and Theo Milas (402) both throw a lot of strikes and also figure to be able to quickly carve out roles on the pitching staff.
North Carolina State Baseball: Five Questions to Answer Entering 2021
NC State is one of the most consistent programs in the country, and expectations should be high once again in 2021.
This class isn’t as big as Ole Miss’ 2019 group that ranked No. 2 in the nation, but it still provides impact potential, especially offensively. Harris built a strong offensive track record in high school and has the tools to become a good defender behind the plate, though he also offers versatility to help get his bat in the lineup. Jacob Gonzalez (299) has an advanced offensive approach and the defensive ability needed for the left side of the infield. Shortstop TJ McCants (361) has loud raw tools and athleticism that give him a lot of upside, while Kemp Alderman (374) has two-way ability thanks to his powerful bat and arm. On the mound, the Rebels brought in a group of projectable strike throwers. Righthanders Jack Dougherty and Brandon Johnson, a junior college transfer, both fit that mold and were trending up this spring.
The Bulldogs’ class is especially strong on the mound and brings more impact talent to Starkville. Fristoe and righthander Mikey Tepper (292) have the biggest upside, thanks to fastballs that reach the mid 90s and promising secondary offerings. Righthander Cade Smith (456) has a promising three-pitch arsenal as well. Kellum Clark was ranked as a top-300 draft prospect before removing his name from consideration and has impressive two-way potential, offering power both at the plate and on the mound. Mississippi State also has a few junior college transfers who could quickly make an impact on the mound, including righthanders Preston Johnson, Parker Stinnett and Cameron Tullar.
Missouri’s class is deep on the mound and adds several older players as transfers, both from junior college and four-year schools. Day, a junior college transfer, was one of the top players in Missouri in the draft class and brings an exciting set of tools to Columbia. He’s got top-of-the-scale speed and is an excellent athlete, both of which play well defensively. He has plus raw power but will need to refine his approach to reach his ceiling offensively. His upside is considerable, and the Tigers will look for him to quickly make an impact.
Catcher Michael Coletta, another junior college transfer, has a strong frame, which plays both offensively and defensively. He’s a powerful righthanded hitter and a reliable defender behind the plate. Outfielder CJ Cepicky has an exciting toolset that will continue to develop as he grows into his 6-foot-4 frame. The righthanded hitter covers ground well defensively and has power potential. The Tigers also added first baseman Torin Montgomery as a transfer from Boise State, giving the class another powerful righthanded hitter.
Righthander Parker Wright has a strong build and a powerful arsenal. His fastball has been up to 95 mph and he mixes in a good slider and changeup. He’s a good athlete and has two-way potential as well, but he’s best on the mound. Righthanders Zach Hise and Holden Phelps have big 6-foot-5 frames and can run their fastballs into the low 90s. Righthander Drew Garrett and lefthander Jared Simpson, both junior college transfers, have projectable builds and offer upside, but also should be able to quickly help the Tigers’ staff. Simpson has been a starter, while Garrett’s power arm plays well at the back of the bullpen.
The Gamecocks put together another strong class that has especially good depth among its position players. Fields was ranked as a top-three rounds talent before officially withdrawing his name from the draft. He offers premium athleticism (he once was committed to South Carolina for football as well), raw power and plenty of upside. Catcher Alek Boychuk (258) and shortstop Jalen Vasquez (301) are good defenders and could quickly work their way into the lineup. Lefthander Jackson Phipps (178) has a projectable 6-foot-5, 210-pound frame and his fastball-curveball combination can play right away. Lefthander Magdiel Cotto (222) made a jump going into the spring when his fastball ticked up to go with his good control. Righthander Will Sanders (200) also has plenty of upside in his projectable 6-foot-6 build.
The Volunteers have been aggressive on the recruiting trail since Tony Vitello was hired as head coach in 2018 and those efforts paid off this year with their first Top 25 class since 2016. It’s a large, deep group and brings an impressive array of talent to Knoxville. Gonzalez stands out for his defense and also offers offensive upside thanks to his contact-oriented approach that could lead to more impact as he physically matures. The class’ strength is on the mound, as Tennessee added several impact arms, starting with righthander Blade Tidwell (408). He generated some significant pre-draft buzz when his fastball touched 97 mph in a tournament the week of the draft and seems to be poised for a breakout. Righthander Charez Butcher (323) is still a bit raw but also has a powerful arm and big upside. Twin righthanders Ben and Zach Joyce come to Tennessee from junior college. Ben (No. 318) was the better draft prospect after Zach missed the season due to Tommy John surgery, but both figure to play important roles for the Volunteers.
The Aggies have a solid all-around class that is a good fit for their roster and needs. Tucker and fellow righthander Khristian Curtis (389) both have projectable builds and could blossom, like so many other pitchers in recent years, in College Station. Righthander Nathan Dettmer isn’t as famous as his classmates but his fastball-curveball combination can play right away. Catcher Taylor Smith was a Freshman All-American in 2019 at Incarnate Word before transferring to junior college. He can be a middle-of-the-order hitter for the Aggies, and Brett Minnich gives the class another slugger who transferred from junior college. Shortstop Kalae Harrison’s defensive actions and smooth lefthanded swing could soon have him stepping into the lineup.
The Commodores last fall landed their record sixth top-ranked recruiting class thanks to a star-studded freshman class that arrived in Nashville. This year’s class also has premium talent, but unlike the last two years when a Vanderbilt righthander was the highest-ranked player to make it to campus (Kumar Rocker in 2018, Jack Leiter in 2019), this year’s group is built more on position players. Bradfield has elite speed, a quality Vanderbilt has lacked the last few years. Catcher/outfielder Jack Bulger (183) and infielder Jack O’Dowd (370), the son of former Rockies general manager Dan O’Dowd, have good approaches offensively and defensive versatility. First baseman Gavin Casas (381) is another advanced hitter and outfielder/righthander Grayson Moore (250) can help the Commodores in a variety of roles. Righthander Patrick Reilly (103) took a step forward last fall and adds another premium arm to the pitching staff.