Juco : : Rankings
Wednesday, January 25, 2017

2017 Top 50 Junior College Teams

Brian Sakowski        
Photo: Chipola Athletics




2017 Perfect Game College Baseball Preview Index | @PGCollegeBall | @B_Sakowski_PG |  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 five capsules (teams ranked 1-5) 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
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Mere days away from the start of the 2017 season, the initial Perfect Game Top 50 Junior College Team Rankings have been released. After a 2016 season that saw Yavapai (Ariz.) defeat San Jac (Texas) in the National Championship, both will head into 2017 in the top three of our preseason rankings, as both schools are perennial powerhouses that look to compete for national titles year after year.

However, to start the season, both Yavapai and San Jac will be looking up at Chipola, who start the 2017 atop our rankings. Chipola features six prospects on our
Top 100 JuCo Draft Prospects, released this past December, to be updated later this week and expanded to 150 names. Evan Steele is the headliner here, as the highly projectable, athletic lefthanded pitcher has serious draft buzz in the top few rounds as we sit roughly five months from the draft. He’ll be joined in the rotation by Bowden Francis, another legitimate draft prospect ranked No. 28 overall.

After winning the NJCAA Divisio I National Championship a year ago, Yavapai heads into the season at the No. 2 spot with a very good squad and a very good chance of repeating their success of a year ago. Led by shortstop Dallas Tessar, a UNC commit who is ranked 47th in our Top 100 prospects, Yavapai should be a deep, talented team.

Always near the top in these rankings, San Jac boasts one of the more loaded rosters from a draft talent perspective, the Gators feature an impressive 11 prospects on the Top 100, led by righthanded pitcher Donny Diaz (No. 17), mid-year transfer outfielder Ryan Johnson (No. 20) and catcher Wyatt Cross (No. 26). Johnson and Cross were PG All-Americans the summer before their senior years in high school.

Iowa Western checks in at No. 4 to start the season, and, per usual, the Reivers have a stacked roster led by stud lefthanded Daniel Tillo, who enjoyed a tremendous fall and looks to be one of the top few pitching prospects in all of the Junior College ranks. Right on their heels at No. 5 is the State College of Florida-Manatee/Sarasota (SCF for short), who, similar to several other schools, looks to be supremely loaded with talent. They’ll be led on the mound by Brendon Little, a UNC transfer lefthander who has some evaluators thinking potential first round draft pick with his high-octane stuff.

This writer has covered every level of baseball at one point or another, and I’ve never seen a preseason rankings list that could so very quickly be deemed irrelevant as this one, simply due to the fact that so many of these ranked teams are going to play each other in the early going of the season with various opening weekend tournaments going on across the country. By the time we come out with the second edition of these rankings, they could very well look completely different from the one you see below.

We’ve all waited long enough—It’s baseball season!


2017 Perfect Game Top 50 Junior College Teams

Rk. Team ST '16 Record '16 Rk.*
1 Chipola FL 43-16 15
2 Yavapai AZ 49-20 1
3 San Jacinto TX 52-12 2
4 Iowa Western IA 52-15 4
5 State College of Florida-Manatee FL 31-22 NR
6 Chattahoochee Valley AL 52-12 5
7  Santa Rosa
CA
38-9
3
8 Santa Fe FL 42-10 10
9 Jones County MS 54-9 7
10 Connors State OK 48-11 21
11
Neosho County KS 51-11 16
12
LSU-Eunice LA 51-6 13
13
Cowley County KS 44-18 9
14
Spartanburg Methodist SC 42-20 NR
15
GateWay AZ 43-22 12
16  Cypress
CA  31-15  NR 
17
Wabash Valley IL 47-13 NR
18
College of Southern Nevada NV 40-15 NR
19
Grayson TX 42-15 NR
20 Delgado LA 37-16 11
21 Navarro TX 39-16 NR
22
McLennan TX 45-12 20
23
Mercer County NJ 51-10 17
24
Central Arizona AZ 45-14 NR
25
San Joaquin Delta  CA  31-13  NR 
26
Howard TX 36-22 NR
27
Harford MD 54-11 8
28 Walters State TN 47-16 25
29
Western Oklahoma State OK 48-18 NR
30 Dyersburg State TN 39-13 23
31
Mesa AZ 43-18 NR
32
McHenry County IL 50-12 NR
33
Parkland IL 45-16 NR
34  Saddleback
CA
30-9  NR 
35
Midland TX 41-19 NR
36
Patrick Henry VA 39-16 NR
37
East Central MS 38-17 NR
38
Tyler TX 42-16 24
39
Northern Oklahoma-Tonkawa OK 43-19 NR
40 Polk State FL 39-17 NR
41 North Iowa Area IA 47-16 NR
42  Fresno  CA  26-12  NR 
43
Northern Oklahoma-Enid OK 43-16 NR
44
Shelton State AL 34-19 NR
45
Sinclair OH 53-12 NR
46
Chattanooga State TN 34-15 NR
47
Wallace-Dothan AL 31-20 NR
48
Bellevue WA 54-12 NR
49
Pasco-Hernando State FL 32-12-1 NR
50 USC Sumter SC 39-19 NR

*Final Top 25 team ranking from 2016 season as found here.


2017 Perfect Game Top 25 Junior College Team Capsules

1. Chipola
The preseason No. 1 team in our Top 50 JuCo Rankings, Chipola College heads into the 2017 season on top and looking to stay there. They are loaded with talent from top to bottom, and boast several legitimate draft prospects. As mentioned above, Evan Steele (No. 7) and Bowden Francis (No. 28) will lead the way on the mound, giving Chipola one heckuva 1-2 punch atop their rotation. Steele has generated a lot of draft buzz heading into the season as a big, still-projectable lefty with good stuff and the former Vanderbilt pitcher has definitely taken some steps forward in terms of stuff. Their everyday lineup is no slouch either, as former Perfect Game All-American Max Guzman should bolster their power production in a big way, as he had arguably the best righthanded raw power of his prep draft class. Both shortstop Trey Dawson and outfielder/first baseman Reynaldo Rivera are high-level, impact-type prospects committed to SEC schools (Kentucky and Mississippi State, respectively), and both are highly thought of in terms of draft stock as well, with Dawson being an impact athlete at a premium position and Rivera being considered one of the best hitters in all of the Junior College ranks. 

2. Yavapai
The reigning NJCAA D-I National Champions head into the 2017 season in the No. 2 spot, Yavapai has their sights set on a return to Grand Junction and a repeat of their success of a year ago. Led by shortstop Dallas Tessar, the No. 47 ranked prospect in our Top 100 and a future UNC Tar Heel, Tessar is a stalwart defender up the middle at a premium position and should hit towards the top of the lineup as well, providing valuable contact/on-base skills in addition to quality speed. Joining Tessar in the Yavapai offensive attack are a host of sophomores coming off of quality 2016 seasons. Dylan Enwiller has positional versatility and was an offensive force a year ago, hitting .314 with good extra-base power and 21 stolen bases. Outfielder Jaxxon Fagg returns after hitting .302 a year ago in roughly 125 plate appearances, while catcher Jonathan Villa also returns after a 2016 season that saw him hit .324. On the mound, sophomore lefthander Hayden Durkiewicz returns after a very good 2016, where, as a freshman, he earned the second most innings on the mound with 92 1/3, punching out 80 hitters in the process. Fellow sophomores Andrew Gross and Avery Weems also return after plenty of valuable innings in 2016 gaining experience, that should benefit both they and the team in 2017. 

3. San Jacinto
The San Jac Gators, who fell just shy of a national title a year ago, falling to Yavapai in the final game, enter 2017 boasting a roster loaded with talent, per usual for the perennial powerhouse in South Texas. With a seemingly unbelievable 11 players finding themselves on the Top 100 prospects list, San Jac's problem may be finding places to play all of these guys. Righthander Donny Diaz leads the charge on the list at No. 17, and the hard-throwing Diaz is committed to Texas. Toolsy athlete Ryan Johnson (No. 20) and catcher Wyatt Cross (No. 26) are both among the higher ceiling draft prospects in the JuCo ranks, and both are former Perfect Game All-Americans, as is Herbert Iser, a lefthanded bat with legitimate plus raw power. The Gators are deep both in the field as well as on the mound, where Diaz will be joined by Blake Goins, Devon Roedahl and Kaleb Roper, among others (all three find themselves in the Top 100 JuCo Prospects Rankings). 

4. Iowa Western
No stranger to success in recent years, the Reivers of Iowa Western once again made a deep run in 2016, making it among the final handful of teams in Grand Junction before ultimately falling to San Jac. They open the year ranked in the No. 4 spot where we expect to see much of the same success coming out of Council Bluffs. They definitely have a legitimate draft dude, to borrow from scout lingo, in lefthander Daniel Tillo. Ranked in the top 20 of the top 100 JuCo prospects list, Tillo is going to see himself rise quite a bit in the next iteration of the list, due later this week. Tillo is a highly-athletic, well-built pitcher who will show three average-or-better pitches with excellent projection overall and the ability to throw strikes consistently. He's committed to Arkansas, but with the draft buzz surrounding him as we begin the season, he may not make it to Fayetteville. Outfielder Zach Hanna, a sweet-swinging lefty who is committed to Alabama, certainly has the coaches in Tuscaloose excited about the potential he brings with his bat. He should anchor the lineup while Tillo anchors the pitching staff, in addition the high-quality depth across the roster that Iowa Western can boast. 

5. State College of Florida-Manatee/Sarasota (SCF)
This ranking may come as a surprise to some who follow Junior College baseball closely, but when examining rosters and talking to scouts, SCF just kept coming up too often to ignore the type of talent they have on their roster. Led by Brendon Little, a lefthanded pitcher who is ranked No. 2 overall in our Top 100 JuCo Prospects Rankings, the Manatees have legitimate high-end talent up and down their roster. Little, after a tremendous summer in the Cape Cod league and a dynamic fall, comes into the season with first-round draft hype, showing the potential for two plus-plus pitches from the left side in his fastball and curveball. Jackson Tetreault joins him in the rotation, and the lanky righthander has received some big time buzz from scouts in the area following his monumental climb from soft-tossing high school pitcher to legitimate draft prospect and should be a very good 1B to Little's 1A. They're joined by a talented everyday lineup, featuring shortstop Austin James and outfielder Jaren Shelby, with Shelby being a Perfect Game All-American in 2015. Former Virginia Cavalier Ryan Karstetter has the versatility to play all over the diamond, and brings elements of physicality and power to the Manatee offensive attack. 


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