College | Story | 8/5/2020

Impact Players Headed to College Baseball

Mike Rooney         Vincent Cervino         Brian Sakowski         Jheremy Brown         David Rawnsley         Jered Goodwin        
Photo: Drew Bowser (Perfect Game)

As the calendar turns to August, it is time to look at the next infusion of talent into College Baseball. First of all, this was a high school class with tremendous depth. On top of that, the pandemic-shortened draft led many elite prep players to move forward with their college commitments. The net result should be an exciting next few years in College Baseball.

For the purposes of this exercise, we asked several of our outstanding PG scouts to pick one player whom they are particularly excited about. These players project to be impact talents at the collegiate level.

Drew Bowser, SS/3B (Stanford)

Bowser and Pete Crow-Armstrong were two dominant forces for the Harvard-Westlake School in Southern California. While “PCA” ended up going 19th overall to the Mets, Bowser will aim to make a big mark in the Pac-12. At 6-foot-3, 205 pounds, Bowser offers size and athleticism that is hard to get through the draft. He is agile enough to stay in the middle infield and the bat projects to do significant damage for the Cardinal's. Bowser excelled on big stages as well, winning MVP at the 2019 PG All-American Game. Another Los Angeles native, Ryan Braun, is a very interesting comp for Bowser. While Braun’s bat-to-ball skills will be tough to duplicate, Bowser may have the edge regarding an ability to stay on the dirt. Regardless, Pac-12 pitchers beware. -Mike Rooney

Slade Wilks, OF (Southern Miss)

One of my personal favorite prep bats to watch on the circuit last summer, Wilks had a chance to be drafted in the COVID-shortened 2020 MLB Draft, but will continue his career at Southern Miss. A lefthanded hitter with tremendous power, Wilks has a chance to be a middle-of-order power presence right away, and his solid athleticism and outfield tools should allow him to play a corner spot right from day one. If he continues along his present developmental trajectory, he could be a first rounder in a few years. -Brian Sakowski

Kemp Alderman, 1B/RHP (Ole Miss)

The 6-foot-4, 240 pound Alderman ended his high school career as the 47th ranked player in the PG class of 2020 rankings. He has always been a very high-level performer and hit close to .600 with 25 home runs and 80 walks in 63 games over the last three years of his career at Newton County Academy in Mississippi. He also hit an eye opening .440-5-25 with 17 walks in 21 games playing for BPA in three WWBA national championship tournaments in 2019. With his immense power and proven discipline at the plate, it’s very easy to see Alderman hitting in the middle of the Mississippi lineup sooner in his career rather than later.

But that’s only part of the equation. Alderman has also been up to 94 mph on the mound with an 80 mph breaking ball and seems to be a good bet to blossom as a pitcher as he concentrates just on baseball (he was a football standout in high school, not surprisingly) and gets more repetitions on the mound. Alderman’s ceiling as a collegian could be as a three-hole hitter with enormous power and on-base numbers to go with being a mid-90’s arm at the back of the Ole Miss bullpen. -David Rawnsley

Mason Miller, LHP (Florida Gulf Coast University)

It is hard for a freshman pitcher to come into any school and immediately make an impact but with the stuff and the command Mason Miller has at his disposal the case certainly can be made. Miller has one of the best curveballs in the 2020 class with posted spin rates north of the 3,000 RPM mark while commanding the pitch down in the zone. His fastball works in the upper-80's mostly but will get into the low-90's too at times. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Miller has the size that is going to hold up in college baseball but can also fill out more as well. This summer leading up to his freshman fall in Fort Myers, Miller had seen his fastball reportedly up to 94 mph which is of no surprise and gives a glimpse of what may be to come once he laces up the spikes for the Eagles. The size and projection combination offered by Miller compare to another FGCU lefthander with a nasty breaking ball. And the Eagles would certainly love a version 2.0 of Chris Sale. -Greg Gerard

Brock Wilken, 3B/OF (Wake Forest)

Wake Forest has a great park to play in when you are a budding power bat with a real hit tool. That is exactly what Wilken is. His combination of hit-power-patience gives him one of the best shots to find his way into a Power 5 lineup right away. He has a powerful righthanded stroke with minimal movement to create extreme impact at contact. He identifies well and seemingly invites velocity. The right-handed hitter uses an all fields approach and rarely expands the zone. It is an extremely advanced approach, especially for a kid who was just seventeen years old on draft day 2020. Given Wilken’s age combined with his current physical and mental gifts, he is nowhere close to hitting his future potential. His 6-foot-4, 217 pound frame has current strength, but also easy length that will still fill out. Additionally, his defensive versatility stands out. With the unexpected and always-changing events that Covid-19 has manifested on College Baseball, versatility will be crucial for incoming freshmen hoping to crack the lineup. Wilken can play either corner infield spot and his athleticism should easily translate to the outfield as well. Keep in mind that he transitioned to catcher during his senior year, though he still needs some seasoning behind the plate. With all of these boxes checked, it appears that Wilken is on a collision course to be a force in the Demon Deacons lineup from the first day he steps on campus. -Jered Godwin

Alex Freeland, SS (Central Florida)

Freeland has long been one of the more consistent hitters of the 2020 class and there’s no reason to expect anything different for him at the collegiate level. The 2019 PG All-American is an accomplished switch hitter who really began developing his bat from the right side of the plate towards the end of the draft process in 2020. Both sides of the plate offer significant bat speed, barrel control, and intriguing power potential. Freeland is coming off an incredibly strong summer for an incoming freshman where he hit a blistering .400+ to finish second in batting in the Florida Collegiate Baseball League. For perspective, that league was infused with all sorts of first-round caliber regional talent thanks to the pandemic such as Jud Fabian, Robby Martin, Tommy Mace, and others. While Freeland can certainly hit, an important part of that equation is a plate discipline and lack of swing-and-miss which put him at a different level. He brings the athleticism and arm to play all over the dirt and the bat is a true difference maker. -Vinnie Cervino

Ryan Hagenow, RHP (Kentucky)

It's rare, but not unprecedented by any means, to see a true freshman arm open the year in a weekend rotation spot in the highly revered league that is the SEC. But then again, Kentucky righthander Ryan Hagenow isn't your typical freshman arm as he comes to Lexington with polish and poise well beyond his years. Still exuding near endless projection on his long limbed, high waisted 6-foot-6 frame, you don't have to stretch the imagination too far to see what Hagenow will bring to Nick Mingione and the Wildcats. This is an advanced arsenal with near pinpoint control, making the Tennessee native one of the highest upside arms to step foot on campus this fall.

The fastball will work comfortably in the low-90's on any given start, though it's only a matter of time before the radar gun starts producing some mid-90's readings, if not higher. Hagenow's velocity is just the starting point as his overall command rivals that of any other arm in the 2020 prep class, sinking the ball to either side with intent and conviction. Both the slider and changeup will show above average life as he tunnels both extremely well with opposing hitters reading fastball out of the hand until it's too late as we've seen time and time again throughout his Perfect Game career. -Jheremy Brown

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