College | Rankings | 6/6/2019

Final 2019 Junior College Top 25

Photo: Central Arizona College (CAC Athletics)

JUCO Top 25: May 22 | Top 300 JUCO Prospects

Everyone exhale! After a crazy spring, the 2019 JUCO season is in the books, and we have some national champions to discuss. After Iowa Western beat Wabash Valley for the right to go to Grand Junction, it was up in the air from our perspective as to who would reign supreme at the top. You really have to hand it to Central Arizona, who entered the season ranked in the Top 5 overall, went on to drop out of the rankings completely as they struggled with consistency out of the gate and through a fair bit of the season. However, they then caught fire at the end of the regular season, blew through the playoffs and wound up on top out in Colorado. They had to work to win it in Grand Junction, as every champion does, actually losing to Iowa Western earlier in the week before coming through the loser's bracket to take down the Reivers and hoist that trophy above their heads. Many congratulations are in order the players, the coaches and the school as a whole. 

On the NJCAA D-II side, Northern Oklahoma College (NOC) - Enid got to hoist that national title trophy in their hometown of Enid, Oklahoma, site of the D-II World Series. They entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed and had to slay some giants to win the thing, including taking down No. 1-seeded Pearl River earlier on. On the other side, Mesa, the No. 3 seed, took down second-seeded Madison to get to the title game, where they fell just short. A huge year for Enid, but what Madison did all year, as well as what Pearl River did to get to the World Series, can't be overlooked in what was very good years for all of them. 

It was an All-Jersey final in the NJCAA D-III World Series. Cumberland County beat Rowan-Gloucester to advance to the national title game, where they saw Rowan-Gloucester again, who had to beat Brookhaven to get to the title game themselves. All three of those teams entered the tournament as the top three-highest seeded clubs, in what had to have been a historic year for New Jersey JUCO baseball. Cumberland County beat R-G in the final game by a score of 11-7 to be crowned national champions. 

Out in California, the South took down the North this season. San Joaquin Delta and Sacramento City both came in from the North hot to take on Orange Coast and El Camino out of the South, though it was the two SoCal schools that matched up in the final. Orange Coast took down El Camino in the championship game to be named the state champion, since California does it's own thing and only competes within itself. It's always a fascinating case study to try and match up the California schools with the NJCAA schools based on prospect stock, and what scouts and four-year recruiters say, and I'd be hard-pressed to believe that those four aforementioned schools wouldn't be right up there with any of the NJCAA schools given the talent and coaching and just general team makeup. It's quite a fantasy to think of an NJCAA champion vs. a CCCAA champion matchup, but I'll keep dreaming.

2019 Perfect Game/Rawlings JUCO Player of the Year: Cael Baker, Wabash Valley
Personally, I still attest that Wabash Valley was the most talented JUCO team in the country this season. Amongst all that talent, with several drafted players, Cael Baker's performance stood out the loudest not only on the team, but in the whole country. An Ole Miss commit who will likely be a DH in the SEC, Baker slashed .506/.596/1.051, good for an OPS of 1.647(!!!). He hit 21 doubles, 25 home runs, drove in 101 runs and walked 51 times compared to just 32 strikeouts. The numbers are absurd, and he did it in an area of the country where the numbers aren't as easily inflated as they may be in other parts given climate and park conditions. It was truly a remarkable season, and he should be a big piece of the Ole Miss offense right from the get-go in 2020.

2019 Perfect Game/Rawlings JUCO Pitcher of the Year: Jackson Rutledge, San Jacinto 
Could it have been anyone else? A first round pick, one of the highest-drafted JUCO players of all time, the owner of arguably the best pure stuff in the draft class as well as monster numbers earn Rutledge this nod, a well-deserved one. Rutledge went 9-2 this spring with a 0.87 ERA across 82 2/3 innings, racking up 134 strikeouts (14.6 K/9) while allowing just 42 hits, 30 walks, and eight earned runs total. He'll have a chance to follow in Nate Pearson's (College of Central Florida, 2017) footsteps as a highly-drafted JUCO pitcher who immediately stakes his claim as one of the top prospects in professional baseball after he signs, and to those who saw him pitch this spring, it'll be no surprise when he does so.

Rk. Prev. Team ST Record
1 10 Central Arizona AZ 50-20
2 2 Iowa Western IA 52-11
3 9 Orange Coast CA 39-9-1
4 1 Walters State TN 54-11
5 4 Wabash Valley IL 55-4
6 15 El Camino CA 40-9
7 5 Northwest Florida State FL 44-12
8 NR NOC-Enid OK 42-18
9 6 Cowley KS 47-14
10 23 Navarro TX 41-18
11 3 San Joaquin Delta CA 39-9
12 7 Connors State OK 48-13
13 8 McLennan TX 42-17
14 NR Mesa AZ 44-23
15 22 Sacramento City CA 35-15
16 16 Chattahoochee Valley AL 37-20
17 12 Pearl River MS 41-14
18 NR Cumberland County NJ 47-5
19 NR Lower Columbia WA 40-9
20 11 Chipola FL 38-20
21 13 Southern Nevada NV 46-12
22 17 LSU-Eunice LA 51-8
23 14 Johnson County KS 46-12
24 NR Rowan-Gloucester NJ 42-11
25 NR Everett WA 39-11

Dropped out: Wallace-Dothan (18), New Mexico (19), San Jacinto (20), Madison (21), Monroe (24), Central Florida (25).

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