College | Rankings | 1/21/2020

2020 Preseason JUCO Top 25

Brian Sakowski        
Photo: Jalen Battles (McLennan Athletics)

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As I sit here and write this intro to the JUCO rankings, it's currently 8 degrees with a windchill lower than that and nearly a foot of snow accumulated after last weekend's blizzard rolled through the Midwest. To sum it up...I, and likely all of you reading this, am ready for baseball season. 

Welcome back to Perfect Game's coverage of JUCO baseball, spanning nationwide and including every level of JUCO baseball played, from all three divisions of the NJCAA, to the CCCBA (California) and the NWAC (Pacific Northwest). It's another loaded year in JUCO ball, with high-end clubs scattered across the country, as well as scores of legitimate draft prospects making up these clubs. 

As it usually goes, we start thinking about these rankings in the fall, with JUCO's playing a lot of fall games and getting in front of a ton of pro scouts and college recruiters. That's the genesis of how we start formulating these rankings: Talking to scouts and coaches who saw these teams play and getting their opinions. When asked about who should be No. 1 heading into the 2020 season, the answers were nearly unanimous: It's McLennan. 

Mitch Thompson's club is absolutely loaded, with the kind of depth throughout the lineup and the pitching staff not often seen at this level. In fact, at least 2-3 of the coaches we asked likened this McLennan club to the Chipola team of 2017, the one who went wire-to-wire at No. 1, won the NJCAA World Series, and had double-digit players drafted off of it. With a potential first rounder in Connor Phillips in the rotation and a pair of potential top five rounders in Jalen Battles and Brett Squires in the lineup, McLennan will have the star power for sure, but the aforementioned depth is what stands out. They'll have somewhere around a dozen players in the Top 300 JUCO Prospects List, which releases this coming Friday. 

Regionally, JUCO baseball looks like it's as strong as it's ever been, at least through my somewhat limited scope. Texas and Florida are absolutely loaded per usual, and one can say the same for Arizona, California, the Midwest in general, as well as the Northeast in some respects. In fact, speaking strictly of the Midwest, Iowa Western and Wabash Valley check in at No. 2 and No. 3 respectively in these preseason rankings, which could end up being an absolutely mammoth matchup for the right to go to Grand Junction later on this year, much like it was last spring. 

The depth overall is impressive across the entire JUCO scene, which makes not only for exciting on-field battles throughout the country, but also makes for a fascinating case study from the perspective of the draft, which is what we focus on primarily throughout the entire Perfect Game College Baseball coverage as a whole, anyways. Over 100 JUCO players were drafted in 2019, and by the looks of things 2020 could eclipse that mark (other factors such as sign-ability notwithstanding). 

The season starts at a staggered pace for clubs around the country, but the earliest starters will begin play in just a few short days, so, as I say every year in this space, welcome back baseball season, you've been sorely missed. Good luck to all of the clubs participating across the country, we're looking forward to following along.

See also: Reloaded McLennan Tops in JUCO

2020 Preseason Junior College Top 25

Rk. Team State '19 Rec. '19 Rk.
1 McLennan TX 42-17 13
2 Iowa Western IA 52-11 2
3 Wabash Valley IL 55-4 5
4 Central Arizona AZ 50-20 1
5 Chipola FL 38-20 20
6 San Jacinto TX 43-11 NR
7 Southern Nevada NV 46-12 21
8 Northwest Florida State FL 44-12 7
9 John A. Logan IL 44-13 NR
10 Walters State TN 54-11 4
11 Sacramento City CA 35-15 15
12 Grayson TX 42-14 NR
13 Cowley KS 47-14 9
14 Johnson County KS 46-12 23
15 Hinds MS 26-20 NR
16 Seminole State OK 39-14 NR
17 Crowder MO 47-16 NR
18 LSU-Eunice LA 51-8 22
19 Central Florida FL 46-9 NR
20 Howard TX 32-35 NR
21 San Joaquin Delta CA 39-9 11
22 St. John's River FL 37-19 NR
23 JeffCo MO 47-10 NR
24 Kirkwood IA 33-20 NR
25 State College of Florida FL 38-20 NR

See also: Final 2019 Junior College Top 25

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