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Juco  | Rankings  | 1/26/2023

JUCO: Preseason Top 50

Brian Sakowski      Blaine Peterson      Troy Sutherland      Cameron McElwaney     

Preseason Top 50

Rk. Team City ST
1 Central Arizona Coolidge AZ
2 McLennan Waco TX
3 Central Florida Ocala FL
4 San Jacinto Houston TX
5 Crowder Neosho MO
6 Florida SouthWestern Fort Myers FL
7 Cowley Arkansas City KS
8 Iowa Western Council Bluffs IA
9 Northwest Florida State Niceville FL
10 Pearl River Poplarville MS
11 Salt Lake Salt Lake City UT
12 Miami Dade Miami FL
13 Heartland Normal IL
14 Cochise Douglas AZ
15 Walters State Morristown TN
16 Florence-Darlington Florence SC
17 LSU-Eunice Eunice LA
18 San Joaquin Delta Stockton CA
19 Dyersburg State Dyersburg TN
20 Wabash Valley Mount Carmel IL
21 Chipola Marianna FL
22 Johnson County Overland Park KS
23 Gulf Coast State Panama City Beach FL
24 Ohlone Fremont CA
25 John A. Logan Carterville IL
26 New Mexico Hobbs NM
27 Snead State Boaz AL
28 Riverside Riverside CA
29 South Mountain Phoenix AZ
30 Pima Tucson AZ
31 Lansing Lansing MI
32 Harford Bel Air MD
33 Kirkwood Cedar Rapids IA
34 Gaston Dallas NC
35 Linn-Benton Albany OR
36 Georgia Highlands Cartersville GA
37 Palomar San Marcos CA
38 Weatherford Weatherford TX
39 Meridian Meridian MS
40 Alvin Alvin TX
41 Midland Midland TX
42 State College of Florida Bradenton FL
43 Cypress Cypress CA
44 Wallace-Dothan Dothan AL
45 Kansas City Kansas Kansas City KS
46 Kellogg Battle Creek MI
47 Pensacola State Pensacola FL
48 Seminole State (OK) Seminole OK
49 Tacoma Tacoma WA
50 Indian Hills Ottumwa IA

JUCO Top 50 Team Breakdowns

1. Central Arizona (Coolidge, Ariz.)

It’s business as usual heading into the 2023 season for the Central Arizona Vaqueros, coming off of another national title in 2022. They’ve had quite the recent streak of success, having won it all in 2019 as well as in 2022, and they’re our pick for the grand prize this year. They, like every other JUCO baseball team in the country, will have to replace a seriously veteran club but have the pieces to do it and, most importantly, they have the overall makeup and work ethic to want to achieve greatness. It starts on the mound for the Vaqs, with their rotation headlined by lefty Matt Wilkinson and righty Ryan Schiefer, both Arizona State commits. Wilkinson, nicknamed “Tugboat”, saw a fair bit of time last year out of the bullpen and should slide into a starting role right away while Schiefer, who is likely the team’s best draft prospect, was at GCU in 2022. Kansas commit Patrick Steitz likely rounds out the rotation, with other notable names like Theo Millas, Jasiah George and Tommy Brandenburg also expected to fill key roles. Catcher Lou Albrecht earned quite a bit of praise from head coach Anthony Gilich in our recent conversation, lauded for his defensive abilities and leadership skills behind the plate, and he’ll be a key offensive piece as well. Blake Avila is back and should be a key offensive contributor, as he had a strong freshman season from the left side, and others like shortstop Luke Thiele give CAC a good amount of athleticism and balance through their lineup. Watch out for freshman center fielder Sebastian Tomerlin, who is an extremely advanced defender who may lead off right away as well, as Coach Gilich couldn’t have sounded more excited when he spoke on Tomerlin’s upside, both short and long term. It’s a loaded club and our national title pick for a reason, but per usual, it’ll be a gauntlet to get there. -Brian Sakowski

2. McLennan (Waco, Texas)

McLennan has a new head coach for the first time in quite awhile, with long-tenured Mitch Thompson off to Baylor. Thompson protégé Tyler Johnson got the call to lead the Highlanders, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone better suited to step up and maintain excellence at a place like McLennan. Johnson’s club looks to be loaded, per usual, though, as is a common theme this year, the Highlanders will have to work to replace more than they’ve had to worry about in the last few years. COVID granted JUCO players TWO extra years, so in 2022 JUCO baseball was full of 21-23 year old players. Those guys have moved on, and we’re back to the old standard of JUCO baseball, which is to say replacing at least half your roster most years. McLennan does bring a fair bit back, led by sophomore righty Devin Bennett, who is one of JUCO’s top prospects in 2023. He’s a Kansas commit and should be the ace, giving them a chance to win every time out. He’s joined on the mound by fellow returner Will Clements, a righty who saw a little time last year but comes with a fair bit of expectation, as well as a pair of extremely talented lefties in Trenton Shaw and Kyndon Lovell. Positionally, the returning core will lead the way. That core is outfielder Ty Johnson, catcher Cole Dillon and third baseman Chase Brown, all of whom are expected to shoulder the load as far as consistent performance and leadership expectations. It’s a new era in Waco, but the mission and the process stay the same. -Brian Sakowski

3. Central Florida (Ocala, Fla.)

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