College baseball recruiting classes can be measured a variety of ways.
Though many prefer to only look at recruiting classes after the Major League Baseball draft has taken place and everyone is on campus, it’s important to get a snapshot of the before and after on the recruiting trail, giving coaches their due for assembling elite recruiting classes regardless of the decision a prospect makes.
Some of the past pre and post-draft team recruiting results might surprise you. For instance, we released 2013 team recruiting rankings before the draft, and of course, after the draft with the final release last week. Interestingly, six of the top-10 teams remained the same, with three of the top five teams staying the same.
Furthermore, USC, Oregon, San Diego and UCLA — all top 10 in pre-draft rankings — were teams that endured some losses, with USC, San Diego and UCLA finishing outside the top 25 — UCLA barely — and Oregon slipping to No. 19 despite getting lefthanded pitcher Matt Krook, a first-round pick, on campus.
There’s no exact science when it comes to college baseball recruiting rankings, but it’s time to take an in-depth look at the nation’s top 25 recruiting classes for 2014 before the draft takes place.
North Carolina headlines the early signing period recruiting rankings, landing 17 high school commits, six players in the PG Top 100, and averaging an impressive 8.71 points per player with outfielder and PG All-American Braxton Davidson leading the charge.
Vanderbilt, Florida, Florida State and Miami round out the top five, with UF and FSU averaging an astonishing 9.69 and 9.73 points, respectively, per player. UF’s class is headlined by righthanded pitcher Grant Holmes, while FSU has a pair of stars in Nicholas Gordon and rising pitcher Sean Reid-Foley.
Both Oregon and Oregon State yet again assembled solid recruiting classes, finishing six and 12, respectively, while Arizona State, which didn’t finish in the top 25 for 2013, made an impressive leap forward by finishing No. 8 in the 2014 early period rankings. The Sun Devils’ solid recruiting class is spearheaded by outfielders Alex Verdugo and Marcus Wilson.
Without further ado, an early breakdown of the nation’s elite recruiting classes for ’14.
1. NORTH CAROLINA
High school commits/signees: 17
PG Top 100 commits/signees: 6
Crown jewel: OF Braxton Davidson (Ranked No. 18 nationally)
Notable junior college signee: SS Elijah Sutherland (Walters State)
Total points: 148
Average points per player: 8.71
The skinny: The Tar Heels assembled a sizable recruiting class, with eight of them ranked as top 200 prospects nationally by Perfect Game. Though Davidson leads the way in this class, shortstops Jack Flaherty and Forrest Wall also are talented prospects. Also keep an eye on New Jersey prep righthanded pitcher Joseph Gatto, a Perfect Game All-American, has a big-time arm with a fastball up to 94 at times. There are some draft risks in this class, but there’s also some balance.
PG Top 100 commits/signees: 5
Crown jewel: RHP Touki Toussaint (Ranked No. 10 nationally)
Notable junior college signee: None
Total points: 134
Average points per player: 7.88
The skinny: The Commodores put together an excellent recruiting class, but what makes this particular crop very interesting is the fact Vandy has done a great job of getting prospects on campus in the past. Interestingly, this class includes some serious draft risks, including righthanded pitchers Toussaint and Dylan Cease, in addition to lefthanded pitcher Justus Sheffield and outfielder Jeren Kendall. Kendall’s stock seems to have increased during the past few months. Vanderbilt likely will have to sweat the draft deadline next summer, but history is on its side.
High school commits/signees: 13
Crown jewel: RHP Grant Holmes (Ranked No. 6 nationally)
Notable junior college signee: RHP Taylor Lewis, Chipola Junior College
Total points: 126
Average points per player: 9.69
The skinny: The Gators assembled the nation’s top-ranked recruiting class for 2013, but fell just short of the top spot for the ’14 class. That’s certainly not bad news for the Gators, as they have an incredibly high average per player point total. RHP Grant Holmes is the gem of this recruiting class, but the Gators could have a tough time getting him on campus. With that said, the Gators have several other intriguing prospects, including catcher JJ Schwarz, who hails from South Florida. Once again, the UF staff did a terrific job with a recruiting class.
4. FLORIDA STATE
High school commits/signees: 11
PG Top 100 commits/signees: 4
Crown jewel: SS Nicholas Gordon (Ranked No. 2 nationally)
Notable junior college signee: LHP Michael Mader, Chipola JC
Total points: 107
Average points per player: 9.73
The skinny: The Seminoles put together a star-studded recruiting class that should be interesting to follow as the spring nears. Versatile Nicholas Gordon leads the charge when it comes to this class, but keep an eye on PG All-American and righthanded pitcher Sean Reid-Foley. Reid-Foley was outstanding in the PG All-American Classic this past August and was terrific this fall, too. Overall, there’s not much to dislike about this recruiting class, minus a few draft risks.
5. MIAMI (FLA.)
High school commits/signees: 14
PG Top 100 commits/signees: 3
Crown jewel: OF Justin Smith (Ranked No. 30 nationally)
Total points: 105
Average points per player: 7.50
The skinny: The Hurricanes have a highly ranked recruiting class for a reason. And while there are some draft risks with this group, there also are several elite prospects that have a great shot to get on campus in Coral Gables, Fla. Justin Smith and hard-hitting Carl Chester lead this recruiting class, while lefthanded pitcher Luke Spangler, ranked No. 212 nationally by PG, is an intriguing prospect to watch as the spring approaches.
High school commits/signees: 12
Crown jewel: C Alex Jackson (Ranked No. 3 nationally)
Notable junior college signee: OF/RHP Conor Harber, Western Nevada
Total points: 104
Average points per player: 8.67
The skinny: Could lightning possibly strike twice for the Ducks? This time last year it was thought that lefthanded pitcher Matt Krook would end up signing in the MLB draft. However, Krook is now on campus and ready to compete for the Ducks in the spring. Now, the Ducks hope to strike the same deal with Jackson, who possesses an impressive 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame with some pop. Once again, the Ducks are yet another team with some impressive balance in its class.
7. LOUISIANA STATE
PG Top 100 commits/signees: 2
Crown jewel: SS Greg Deichmann (Ranked No. 19 nationally)
The skinny: The Bayou Bengals went high school heavy with the early recruiting class, and of course, it’s an impressive crop of players. The Tigers put together a balanced class that includes a couple of draft risks, but overall, a group of prospects that likely will end up on campus. Deichmann, lefthanded pitcher Mac Marshall (No. 20 nationally) and righthanded pitcher Alex Lange (No. 112 nationally) are the highlighted prospects in this class.
8. ARIZONA STATE
High school commits/signees: 16
Crown jewel: OF Alex Verdugo (Ranked No. 17 nationally)
Total points: 103
Average points per player: 6.44
The skinny: After assembling a good, but not elite, recruiting class for the 2013 signing period, the Sun Devils did some serious work on the recruiting trail for the 2014 recruiting class, landing one of the nation’s elite prospects in outfielder Alex Verdugo, while also snagging several good prospects that likely will attend college. The Sun Devils’ recruiting class also includes outfielder Coltin Gerhart. The brother of Toby Gerhart will sign with the ASU football team in February, but also will play baseball for the Sun Devils.
High school commits/signees: 15
Crown jewel: RHP Keaton McKinney (Ranked No. 37 nationally)
Notable junior college signee: INF Matt Campbell, McLennan JC
Total points: 99
Average points per player: 6.60
The skinny: With former recruiting coordinator Todd Butler going to Wichita State as head coach, the Razorbacks turned things over to Tony Vitello, a rising assistant who formerly was on Jim Schlossnagle’s TCU staff. Vitello didn’t disappoint, helping land one of the nation’s elite classes. McKinney spearheads this signing class, though outfielder Luke Bonfield thoroughly impressed me during his stint in Jupiter this past October. The Hogs also inked lefthanded pitcher Ryan Fant, the brother of recent Razorbacks lefty Randall Fant. Overall, this is a very solid and balanced class.
Crown jewel: LHP Brady Aiken (Ranked No. 24 nationally)
Total points: 96
Average points per player: 8.00
The skinny: Fresh off a national title, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that recruiting coordinator TJ Bruce assembled a very impressive recruiting class. Elite lefthanded pitcher Brady Aiken spearheads the recruiting class, while third baseman Sean Bouchard (58) and righthanded pitcher Grant Hockin (133) both are prospects who earned solid reviews this past summer and in the fall. The Bruins also inked middle infielder Nicholas Valaika (235), the younger brother of former Bruins infielder Pat Valaika.
Crown jewel: RHP Michael Kopech (Ranked No. 44 nationally)
Total points: 94
Average points per player: 5.53
The skinny: The Wildcats have quite an impressive recruiting class from a geographical balance standpoint. Arizona snagged one of the top arms in the State of Louisiana in righthander Kaleb Roper, while the class was capped off by the addition of Texas righthanded pitcher Michael Kopech, who has a fastball up to 94 with a nice 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame. The Wildcats signed five players in the PG Top 200, but overall, have few draft risks at this juncture.
12. OREGON STATE
PG Top 100 commits/signees: 1
Crown jewel: 3B Joe Gillette (Ranked No. 70 nationally)
Notable junior college signee: OF Grant Heyman, Southern Nevada
Total points: 91
Average points per player: 6.07
The skinny: The Beavers finished very high in our recruiting rankings for the 2013 recruiting class, and have followed that class up with a stellar group for ’14, too. The Beavers landed outstanding third baseman Joe Gillette late in the game, while Hawaii product and catcher KJ Harrison spent much of the past year as the Beavers’ most heralded recruit. Also keep an eye on highly touted lefthanded pitcher Christian Martinek, who has a lot of upside with a fastball up to 90.
High school commits/signees: 10
Crown jewel: C Devon Fisher (Ranked No. 61 nationally)
Total points: 10
Average points per player: 8.90
The skinny: The Cavaliers didn’t sign an incredibly large recruiting class, but what an impressive crop of players Karl Kuhn and Kevin McMullan helped assemble. The Hoos’ class is led by talented catcher Devon Fisher, but also keep an eye on rising righthanded pitcher Derek Casey (96), who’s up to 94 with his fastball, and first baseman Pavin Smith (115), who has much upside. Virginia has three top 100 prospects in this class, but even more impressive is the fact seven of the 10 are top 200 prospects, with even shortstop Jack Gerstenmaier ranked No. 201 nationally.
Crown jewel: SS Ti’quan Forbes (Ranked No. 22 nationally)
Notable junior college signee: RHP Sean Johnson, Iowa Western CC
Total points: 87
Average points per player: 6.21
The skinny: Ole Miss received an early Christmas gift last summer when versatile JB Woodman made it abundantly clear he was headed to college. Well, the Rebels hope the same type of scenario plays out next summer with a couple of prospects, particularly shortstop Ti’quan Forbes (22), lefthanded pitcher Foster Griffin (25) and shortstop Tate Blackman (54). Though the Rebels have some draft risks with that trio, the class is balanced as a whole with the rest of the class including one prospect in the top 100, the rest 250 or lower.
15. NORTH CAROLINA STATE
High school commits/signees: 19
Crown jewel: OF Gareth Morgan (Ranked No. 34 nationally)
Notable junior college signee: LHP Sterling Wynn, McLennan CC
Total points: 83
Average points per player: 4.37
The skinny: The Wolfpack already had an impressive recruiting class fresh off a trip to the College World Series, but they added some nice punch at the end with the addition of PG All-American outfielder Gareth Morgan. As is the case with many elite prospects, getting Morgan on campus next fall will be difficult. However, the Wolfpack has a large, and balanced, recruiting class. Outfielder Raphael Ramirez and shortstop Joseph Dunand are the other top 200 prospects besides Morgan.
16. FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL
PG Top 100 commits/signees: 0
Crown jewel: RHP Erik Manoah Jr. (Ranked No. 111 nationally)
Notable junior college signee: RHP Gianni Zayas, Seminole State CC
Total points: 82
Average points per player: 5.47
The skinny: The Panthers really have done a solid job on the recruiting trail the past couple of seasons. FIU finished the 2013 recruiting season ranked in the top 25, and are there yet again in ’14. The Panthers don’t have a prospect ranked in the PG Top 100, but there are plenty in the top 200-range — four to be exact, including Manoah Jr., who has a fastball up to 93-94 on the radar gun. Meanwhile, it’s interesting to note the Panthers spread their wings with this class, landing outfielder Jack Schaaf (196) from Ohio, catcher Mitchell Robinson (243) from British Columbia, and outfielder Evan Holland (343) from New Jersey.
17. SOUTH CAROLINA
Crown jewel: LHP Alex Destino (Ranked No. 38 nationally)
Notable junior college signee: P Dylan Rodgers, Spartanburg Methodist
Total points: 81
Average points per player: 6.23
The skinny: With the success of the past few seasons, the Gamecocks have the ability to land some key recruits on the national stage and not just in South Carolina. This class has some key cogs from all over, including two of the better prospects in righthanded pitchers Brandon Murray (66) from Indiana and Braden Webb (106) from Oklahoma. Meanwhile, Georgia product, righty Clarke Schmidt (208) and shortstop Madison Stokes (448) have upside. This is a balanced crop for the Gamecocks.
Crown jewel: C Benito Santiago (Ranked No. 68 nationally)
Notable junior college signee: RHP Steven Kane, Cypress CC
Total points: 72
Average points per player: 6.55
The skinny: The Volunteers put together yet another solid recruiting class with new recruiting coordinator Aric Thomas arriving near the end of the process. Catcher Benito Santiago spearheads this impressive crop of players, while righthanded pitcher Jake Westphal, ranked as one of the top 500 prospects on the national stage, is a potential riser with a fastball up to 91. Also keep an eye on talented infielders Chris Bec (275) and Brett Langhorne (339).
Crown jewel: OF Michael Gettys (Ranked No. 1 nationally)
Total points: 71
Average points per player: 5.46
The skinny: It has long been said that Georgia has one of the most impressive recruiting advantages of any program in the country. The Bulldogs’ 2014 recruiting class would indicate that with every member of the class hailing from the State of Georgia. The Bulldogs’ class is spearheaded by outfielder Michael Gettys, though getting him on campus will be a recruiting process by itself. The Bulldogs have a solid overall class with lefthanded pitcher Ryan Avidano a solid prospect with a fastball in the upper-80s with even more potential. This is a relatively risk-free recruiting class outside of a couple of players, showcasing a solid recruiting job by coach Scott Stricklin and his staff in their first fall in Athens, Ga.
Crown jewel: RHP Bryan Dobzanski (Ranked No. 97 nationally)
Total points: 70
Average points per player: 4.67
The skinny: What a terrific job assistant coaches Chris Lemonis and Roger Williams did on the recruiting trail for the Cardinals. The Cards put together a perfect type of class, including very few draft risks and plenty of talent. Righthanded pitcher Bryan Dobzanski would qualify as a draft risk, ranked as one of the top 100 players in the country with a low-to-mid 90s fastball. Meanwhile, righthanded pitcher Kade McClure (246) and catchers Mitch Trees (288) and Colby Fitch (295) are talented top 300 prospects to watch.
Crown jewel: 3B Michael Chavis (Ranked No. 12 nationally)
Notable junior college signee: RHP Derek Vail, Santa Fe CC
Total points: 68
Average points per player: 6.18
The skinny: The Tigers assembled yet another impressive recruiting class. PG All-American third baseman Michael Chavis leads the charge, while outfielders Kevin Bryant Jr. (82) and Dalton Ewing (144) are talented prospects with upside who should end up in college next fall. Also keep an eye on righthanded pitcher Austin DeCarr (240), who’s one of the top arms in the Northeast part of the country with a fastball up to 93 this past summer.
Crown jewel: RHP Keith Weisenberg (Ranked No. 26 nationally)
Total points: 66
The skinny: The Cardinal didn’t assemble a massive recruiting class, but it’s a good one packing plenty of punch. Righthanded pitcher Keith Weisenberg, a Florida product, is the headliner in this recruiting class after flashing a fastball up to 95 at the PG WWBA Championship in Jupiter, Fla., this past October. Meanwhile, keep an eye on third baseman Mikey Diekroeger (336), joining brothers and Stanford products Danny and Kenny. Also worth noting, Stanford dipped into Oklahoma, landing one of the nation’s elite catchers in Bryce Carter (50).
23. TEXAS CHRISTIAN
Crown jewel: RHP Tyler Kolek (Ranked No. 4 nationally)
Notable junior college signee: RHP Preston Guillory, Panola CC
Total points: 65
Average points per player: 5.42
The skinny: The Horned Frogs are fully expected to sweat some things out next summer, but for now, this is a very solid recruiting class. The Frogs landed one of the nation’s elite prospects in PG All-American and righthanded pitcher Tyler Kolek (4), while catcher Evan Skoug (63) was a late addition and nice pickup from the State of Illinois. Also keep an eye on in-state product and shortstop Justin Twine, who has impressive tools with a good bat.
24. FRESNO STATE
High school commits/signees: 8
Crown jewel: RHP Luis Ortiz (Ranked No. 8 nationally)
Notable junior college signees: None
Total points: 63
Average points per player: 6.20
The skinny: The Bulldogs didn’t sign a massive recruiting class, but boy, does this group pack a powerful punch. Fresno certainly has some big-time draft risks in righthanded pitcher Luis Ortiz, outfielder Trenton Kemp (40) and shortstop Luke Dykstra (69), while righty Stetson Woods (104) is another interesting prospect to watch with a fastball up to 93 in Jupiter this past October. Color me intrigued to see how Fresno’s elite prospects progress in the spring.
25. SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
Crown jewel: SS Jacob Gatewood (Ranked No. 9 nationally)
Notable junior college signee: LHP Tyler Gilbert, Santa Barbara CC
Total points: 62
The skinny: The Trojans have fallen into the trap of signing too many draft risks the past few seasons, but coach Dan Hubbs and his staff put together a balanced class this time around. The Trojans have one of the nation’s elite prospects in shortstop Jacob Gatewood, who’s expected to be a very high draft pick next summer. But the rest of the class looks very solid with righthanded pitchers Mitch Hart (98), Bryce Dyrda (176) and Brad Wegman (280) leading the charge. The Trojans also have an elite junior college southpaw in Tyler Gilbert.
OTHERS TO WATCH
28. Texas A&M
31. Notre Dame
32. Cal State Fullerton
33. Florida Atlantic
34. Oklahoma State
The entire top 100 can be viewed here.