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Juco | Rankings | 1/26/2016

2016 Top 50 Junior College Teams

Chris King        
Photo: Northwest Florida State

2016 Perfect Game College Baseball Preview Index | @PGCollegeBall | @StatsKing (Chris King) |  PG College Facebook Page

Listed below are the Preseason Top 50 teams at the Junior College level followed by detailed capsules of the top 25 programs. The rankings and the first four capsules (teams ranked 1-4) are available for free, the rest is available with a College Baseball Ticket (CBT) subscription. To learn more about the College Baseball Ticket and to sign up today please visit this link

The 2016 season is finally here with most teams dusting off their equipment and heading to the fields for game action this weekend. The talent in the junior college ranks this season is strong from top to bottom, and it easily spreads from coast to coast with plenty of premium players and programs in between.

Getting the nod as our opening day No. 1 team will be the defending National Champions Northwest Florida State. Coach Doug Martin and the Raiders went 5-1 during the 2015 World Series including a 10-0 win over Iowa Western, who will start the season as our No. 2 ranked team. Northwest Florida State’s only loss in the tournament came at the hands of McLennan (Texas), but the Raiders got redemption just two days later by crushing the Highlanders 15-1 in the national title game.

With solid cores returning to both teams, and with the help of some significant D-I transfers, both Northwest Florida State and Iowa Western will be in the hunt all year long.

Right in the mix with the top two teams will be perennial national power San Jacinto (Texas) who comes in at No. 3 and on paper may have the most talented roster top to bottom in the country. The Gators made it to the World Series once again in 2015, but could not get past the national runner-up McLennan squad, who defeated San Jac 3-1 in the opening round and again 14-6 to eliminate the Gators’ national title hopes.

Fourth on our list is Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.). The Pioneers will run out a lineup that will keep them in the conversation as one of the premier teams in America. Kep Brown, Tyler Lancaster, Dominique Jackson, Nolan Cheneau and Bakari Gayle all rank in the top 75 of our
top 100 junior college prospect rankings and are sure to cause plenty of fits for opposing pitchers.

Cowley County (Kan.) rounds out the Top 5 thanks in part to a solid core of returning players along with the help of two transfers from Oklahoma State in Carson LaRue and Caleb Eldridge.

Every team looks good on paper right now, but once the cleats hit the dirt we will start to find out what each of these clubs are truly made of. Will talent by itself win out? Can pitching and defense alone carry teams to the promised land? Or is a balanced, accountable team the way to go?

These questions will be answered in the next few months as Perfect Game will be there following the action every step of the way.

The rankings will be updated on a bi-weekly basis throughout the 2016 season, so please continue to follow along. When it’s all said and done we will see who has what it takes to make it to Grand Junction, Colo. in May and prove once and for all who is the best in the world of junior college baseball.

2016 Perfect Game Top 50 Junior College Teams

RK Team ST '15 Record '15 Rank*
1 Northwest Florida State FL 42-13 1
2 Iowa Western IA 54-7 5
3 San Jacinto TX 41-19 16
4 Spartanburg Methodist SC 29-23 NR
5 Cowley County KS 54-5 6
6 Chipola FL 40-12 15
7 Walters State TN 57-12 4
8 Orange Coast CA 30-17 11
9 Chattahoochee Valley AL 43-17 17
10 Palomar CA 37-8 9
11 Yavapai AZ 45-18 13
12 Crowder MO 28-20 NR
13 Central Arizona AZ 37-19 NR
14 Heartland IL 46-13 NR
15 Grayson TX 38-17 NR
16 San Joaquin Delta CA 41-7 3
17 McLennan TX 36-19 8
18 Polk State FL 35-16 NR
19 Cypress  CA 25-13 NR
20 Howard TX 42-13 24
21 St. Johns River FL 47-10 7
22 John A. Logan IL 27-17 NR
23 LSU-Eunice LA 49-10 2
24 Miami-Dade  FL 25-22 NR
25 Western Nevada NV 33-26 NR
26 Palm Beach State FL 41-17 12
27 Seminole State OK 39-17 NR
28 Cisco TX 39-15 NR
29 Dodge City KS 42-20 20
30 Western Oklahoma State OK 53-13 18
31 Midland TX 33-23 NR
32 Navarro TX 31-18 NR
33 Hinds  MS 43-7 NR
34 Delgado LA 33-16 23
35 State College of Florida-Manatee FL 39-18 NR
36 Weatherford TX 39-13 NR
37 Arizona Western AZ 32-23 NR
38 Southern Nevada NV 46-18 14
39 Darton State GA 40-19 NR
40 Wabash Valley IL 31-19 NR
41 Florida SouthWestern State FL NA# NR
42 Gulf Coast State FL 34-20 NR
43 Lower Columbia WA 41-10 10
44 Mt. Hood OR 35-14 NR
45 Cochise AZ 44-17 NR
46 USC Sumter SC 43-21 25
47 El Camino CA 24-12 NR
48 Salt Lake  UT 37-25 NR
49 Riverside CA 22-17 NR
50 Pitt NC 34-13 NR

*Notes final Top 25 team ranking from 2015 season as found here.
#Program hasn't fielded a baseball team since 1997.

2016 Perfect Game Top 25 Junior College Team Capsules

1. Northwest Florida State
The defending national champs are out to prove that last year’s success was way more than a good team getting hot at the right time. Head Coach Doug Martin got an early Christmas present this year in the form of a big, hard throwing righthander named Jake Godfrey. Godfrey, who comes over from LSU, has ideal size and a powerful arsenal that should have no problem slowing down his opposition while also adding more talent, experience and depth to this already solid team. Adding a talent like Godfrey should mesh very well with returning players like lefthander Corderias Dorsey and center fielder Mack Hatchcock. Dorsey was named Most Outstanding Pitcher at last year’s NJCAA College World Series while Hatchcock brought home the Most Outstanding Defensive Player award. While Hatchcock’s defensive prowess is noted, he also swung the bat very well last year to a tune of .343 average out of the leadoff spot. This team also returns righthanded pitcher and South Alabama commit Will Luft to the rotation as well as two-way player Shawn Felter, who hit .340 last year while also serving as the team’s closer. Scouts are also high on freshman infielder Michael Salvatore who boasts a strong arm and can handle the bat as well.

2. Iowa Western
The Reivers enter 2016 hungry for their fourth JUCO World Series ring since 2010, and with the pitching they have that hunger could be just a few months away from being satisfied. Oklahoma commit Devon Perez (9-0) returns to the mound and should lead the way with three D-I transfers that will also be relied upon to slow down opposing hitters; Jackson Douglas (Kansas State), Jacob Niggemeyer (Ohio State), and Taylor Goshen (Wichita State). Offensively the Reivers will benefit from having versatile infielder Matt Lloyd healthy again and hitting in the middle of the lineup along with infielder and righthanded pitcher Ty Buck and his power packed bat. Arkansas commit Jared Gates is back and will be huge for this team. Gates, who will man second base, hit .400 as a freshman last season and has a smooth line drive swing from the left side and is touted as one of the best pure hitters to ever set foot on the Iowa Western campus.

Devon Perez (Iowa Western)
3. San Jacinto (Texas)
This Gators roster has talent for days with eight players ranked among the top 100 junior college prospects. The pitching staff is extremely deep and with the likes of sophomore lefthanders Devin Smeltzer (Texas Tech) and Coleten Schmidt (Louisiana), as well as righthander Montana Parsons (Baylor), locked into the rotation, finding valuable innings shouldn’t be a problem. The bullpen returns two powerful righthanded arms that will split the closer role with Jorge Fernandez and Donny Diaz. Sophomore infielder Brandon Montgomery, who is committed to Miami, will make plays defensively and can handle the bat. The freshman class on this team will also make an immediate impact, starting with catcher/outfielder Ryan January, who is solid behind the plate provides a power prsence. Shortstop Nick Shumpert has one of the best gloves in the nation and was a seventh round pick in last year’s draft. Righthander Zachary Kapihe sits in the low-90s and has a reputation of being a bulldog on the mound. Shortstop/outfielder Donivan Lopez has elite speed and can play just about anywhere while Liam Scafariello will be a threat to go to deep at any moment.

4. Spartanburg Methodist (S.C.)
The Pioneers didn’t have the season they were hoping for in 2015 but this year’s team is well built and has a lineup that can match up with any other team in the country. Dominique Jackson returns after being selected in the 11th round by the Padres and will man center field and hit near the top of the order. Getting Tyler Lancaster back healthy is huge and he is a big, strong-bodied catcher who can catch and throw while adding some power to the middle of the lineup. Middle infielder Noel Cheneau brings top end speed to the table, while outfielders Kep Brown – who’s coming off an achilles injury – and late transfer Bakari Gayle are about as good as you’ll find. Both are athletic, play solid defense and can flat out rake. On the mound the Pioneers will have Michael Bruhin, the very projectable Davis Agle and former Clemson commit Graham Lawson leading the charge.

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