College | Story | 4/1/2020

2020 College Honor Roll

Patrick Ebert        
Photo: Nick Gonzales (NM State Athletics)

College Top 25: Moving Forward | College Top 25: On the Cusp Letter to College Baseball

The idea of assembling College All-American teams for the 2020 season was a difficult one to grasp. On one hand, we wanted to acknowledge some of the top performers, even if it was only through four weeks of the season. Based on the feedback we received from individual teams, coaches and fans, there clearly was interest for us to do so.

However, it’s important to note before we go any farther that we did not want to frame this as an All-American exercise. The season was only four weeks long, and for as much as we wanted to recognize certain players, we really were hesitant to leave anyone off.

Because of that we decided to make what we’re calling our 2020 Honor Roll, a team of players who especially stood out.

Before we even started we knew we had to make some strict parameters. The team would consist of 18 players – 9 position players and 9 pitchers – knowing if we didn’t have those parameters in place it would be hard to make our selections (which would be hard enough).

We’ll name a few players past the 18 players we ultimately chose, and there are plenty more past that who were well on their way to big, big seasons. In particular, there were an incredible number of starting pitchers who were off to big starts as we had to get especially choosy with that group.

2020 Head of the Class

Impact Senior: Landon Knack, RHP, East Tennessee State
Impact Junior: Nick Gonzales, 2B, New Mexico State
Impact Sophomore: Grant Richardson, OF, Indiana
Impact Freshman: Connor Prielipp, LHP, Alabama

2020 Honor Roll

Pos. Name School Class AVG OBP SLG R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
C Hunter Goodman Memphis SO .357 .416 .743 14 25 3 0 8 31 2
1B Spencer Torkelson Arizona State JR .340 .598 .780 24 17 4 0 6 11 2
2B Nick Gonzales New Mexico State JR .448 .610 1.155 28 26 3 1 12 36 4
3B Tyler Keenan Mississippi JR .403 .488 .791 18 27 5 0 7 33 1
SS Ryan Bliss Auburn SO .377 .412 .597 21 29 7 2 2 17 5
OF Heston Kjerstad Arkansas JR .448 .513 .791 19 30 5 0 6 20 1
OF Grant Richardson Indiana SO .424 .453 .797 21 25 3 2 5 17 1
OF Tucker Bradley Georgia R-JR .397 .513 .730 17 25 3 0 6 23 8
DH Justin Dirden SE Missouri State R-SR .414 .471 .900 20 29 3 2 9 26 9

Hitters especially hard to leave off: Zach DeLoach (Texas A&M), Parker Bates (Louisiana Tech).

Torkelson, Gonzales and Kjerstad were off to very loud starts and all three are likely first round picks for this year’s draft. All three have enjoyed incredible college careers, as both Torkelson and Kjerstad hit the ground running as freshmen – Torkelson was named PG’s College Freshman of the Year in 2018 and Kjerstad was a close second. Gonzales led the nation in hitting as a sophomore, was named PG’s Summer Collegiate Player of the Year and was leading the nation in numerous offensive categories, including homers and RBI, when this year came to a sudden close.

The sophomore class is well represented in this group thanks to breakout seasons by Ryan Bliss and Grant Richardson. Bliss not only was off to a hot start defensively but he also had yet to commit an error at shortstop after playing second base as a freshman. Grant Richardson was making the most out of his five-tool upside and Hunter Goodman drove in a ridiculous 24 runners in one week for Memphis on his way to being named the PG/Rawlings Player of the Week.

Tyler Keenan, who has (relatively) quietly enjoyed a productive three-year career at Ole Miss, and a pair of college veterans in Tucker Bradley and Justin Dirden round out the Starting 9. Keenan was having his best season yet as part of a career that has seen him hit .306 with 31 homers and 137 RBI for the 16-1 Rebels. Bradley, who missed almost all of last year due to injury, was also enjoying a career campaign while Dirden got the nod over Louisiana Tech’s Parker Bates as both had posted very loud, and nearly identical, numbers.

Pos. Name School Class ERA W-L CG SV IP H SO BB OBA
SP Braden Olthoff Tulane JR 0.32 4-0 1 0 28 12 47 3 .128
SP Asa Lacy Texas A&M JR 0.75 3-0 0 0 24 9 46 8 .111
SP Bryce Jarvis Duke JR 0.67 3-1 1 0 27 11 40 2 .120
SP Landon Knack East Tennessee State SR 1.08 4-0 0 0 25 12 51 1 .136
SP Christian MacLeod Mississippi State R-FR 0.86 4-0 0 0 21 9 35 6 .127
SP Connor Prielipp Alabama FR 0.00 3-0 0 0 21 5 35 6 .077
SP Adam Seminaris Long Beach State JR 1.23 1-0 0 0 22 9 36 3 .118
RP Jeffrey Hakanson UCF JR 0.00 0-0 0 6 8.1 1 20 1 .038
RP Holden Powell UCLA JR 0.00 0-0 0 3 9.1 3 20 2 .100

Pitchers especially hard to leave off: Sam Weatherly (Clemson), Zach Torra (UCSB), Levi Thomas (Troy), Nick Swiney (NC State), Max Meyer (Minnesota), Reid Detmers (Louisville), Christian Chamberlain (Oregon State), Trent Palmer (Jacksonville), Stevie Emanuels (Washington).

If we were to name an overall Pitcher of the Year for the 2020 season that honor would go to Tulane’s Braden Olthoff for his dominance, a big part of the reason Tulane got off to such a hot start. He won each of his four starts serving as the team’s Friday ace, striking out nearly two batters an inning and allowing just three walks and 12 hits in 28 innings of work.

The numbers are pretty similar for the other members on this squad. Asa Lacy was flat-out dominant and was making a case to be in the running for the top overall pick in this year’s draft thanks to upper-90s heat and a wicked breaking ball. Bryce Jarvis was sensational over each of his four starts, one of which was a 15-strikeout perfect game. Landon Knack had a ridiculous 51-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 25 innings of work. Adam Seminaris was set to start opposite Olthoff in what could have been the biggest pitching matchup of the 2020 season had it not come to an abrupt and unfair close.

Two freshman make this list, which is particularly notable. Mississippi State’s Christian MacLeod is of the redshirt variety and he was doing an excellent job on Saturdays making up for the loss of the Bulldogs ace, JT Ginn. Alabama’s Connor Prielipp is a true freshman and he had yet to allow a run to score. In fact, he had yet to allow just about anything to happen, with only five walks issued and six hits allowed in the first 21 innings of his college career.

It’s important not to forget about the reliever, and the two that stood out the most to use were Jeffrey Hakanson and Holden Powell. Hakanson has already saved six games in seven relief appearances for a UCF pitching staff that was among the best in the nation. In 8 1/3 innings he had allowed only one hit and one walk with 20 punchouts. Powell’s numbers were similar for a UCLA team that was making a strong case to be the nation’s top-ranked squad.

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