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College  | Story  | 1/7/2020

College Preseason All-Americans

Patrick Ebert      Mike Rooney     
Photo: Emerson Hancock (Kristin Bradshaw)

Welcome to the beginning of Perfect Game's 2020 College Baseball preview content. This is the first of many features between now and the beginning of the season, Friday, February 14. From the Preseason All-Americans, top prospects by class, initial rankings of the Top 25 teams and detailed conference previews, Perfect Game will have you covered.

The Perfect Game/Rawlings Preseason All-American teams consist of 17 players each, with three full teams listed below, including detailed reports on all of the players listed on the first team. The players are selected based on a balance of past performance, 2020 expectations and their prospective talent relative to the MLB Draft.

First Team

Pos. Name School Class AVG OBP SLG R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
C Patrick Bailey NC State JR .288 .390 .513 50 68 17 3 10 46 1
1B Spencer Torkelson Arizona State JR .351 .446 .707 69 85 17 0 23 66 1
2B Nick Gonzales New Mexico State JR .432 .532 .773 80 95 19 4 16 80 7
3B Austin Martin Vanderbilt JR .392 .486 .604 87 105 19 4 10 46 18
SS Casey Martin Arkansas JR .286 .364 .548 67 81 21 4 15 57 10
OF Heston Kjerstad Arkansas JR .327 .400 .575 53 87 13 1 17 51 5
OF Garrett Mitchell UCLA JR .349 .418 .566 57 90 14 12 6 41 18
OF Chris Lanzilli Wake Forest JR .347 .409 .620 59 85 19 0 16 67 3
DH Aaron Sabato North Carolina SO .343 .453 .696 47 79 25 1 18 63 0
UT Alec Burleson East Carolina JR .370 .399 .573 38 91 23 0 9 61 3

Pos. Name School Class ERA W-L CG SV IP H SO BB OBA
SP Reid Detmers Louisville JR 2.78 13-4 0 0 113.1 71 167 33 .177
SP Emerson Hancock Georgia JR 2.38 7-3 1 0 90.1 58 97 18 .185
SP Tanner Burns Auburn JR 2.82 4-4 1 0 79.2 65 101 23 .218
SP Asa Lacy Texas A&M JR 2.13 8-4 2 0 88.2 49 130 43 .162
SP Kumar Rocker Vanderbilt SO 3.25 12-5 1 0 99.2 88 114 21 .233
RP Tyler Brown Vanderbilt JR 2.19 3-1 0 17 49.1 35 65 9 .193
RP Holden Powell UCLA JR 1.84 4-3 0 17 49 19 65 27 .121
UT Alec Burleson East Carolina JR 3.28 6-2 0 5 60.1 56 68 26 .246

Patrick Bailey, NC State

An athletic, switch-hitting catcher, Bailey was a Third Team Preseason All-American a year ago following his Freshman All-American season at NC State. He wasn’t quite as productive during his sophomore year, hitting .288 after batting .321 in 2018, but his game continued to evolve while hitting in the middle of the lethal Wolfpack batting order. Bailey has a short yet powerful stroke from both sides of the plate and the ability to pepper the gaps (17 doubles last year) as well as sending the ball over the fence (23 home runs in two seasons) and his 69-to-75 walk-to-strikeout ratio more than proves he knows what he’s doing in the batter’s box. He profiles well behind the plate, with sound lateral actions and a quick release, regularly making strong, accurate throws to help neutralize opposing teams’ running games. With shortstop Will Wilson and first baseman Evan Edwards now playing pro ball, Bailey will be looked upon to have an even bigger junior season, leading an offense that should continue to be one of the nation’s best.

First Base
Spencer Torkelson, Arizona State

Torkelson’s profile is similar to that of Andrew Vaughn, the third overall pick in the 2019 draft, as a compact and strong righthanded hitting first baseman with a knack for destroying baseballs while posting loud numbers over each of his first two years on campus at Arizona State. A First Team Preseason All-American last year, Torkelson followed up his Freshman All-American season – he was named PG’s Freshman of the Year in 2018 – with another big year at the plate, and has now hit .337 with 48 home runs, 119 RBI and nearly as many walks (79) as strikeouts (89) in his first two years for the Sun Devils. With a disciplined eye he has an advanced approach and looks to demolish baseballs with very good strength and bat speed leading to can’t-miss over-the-fence power to all fields. Torkelson has enough athleticism to handle a move to a corner outfield spot at the next level and is in the mix for the top 3-5 picks of the 2020 draft with continued development.

Second Base
Nick Gonzales, New Mexico State

Gonzales followed up a big sophomore season at New Mexico State with a huge summer on the Cape. He led the nation in batting in 2019 with a .432 average, with 39 extra-base hits (16 of which were home runs) and 66 RBI for the Aggies before leading Cotuit to their 17th Cape Cod League championship on his way to being named PG’s Summer Collegiate Player of the Year. That performance cemented Gonzales as one of the nation’s top prospects for the 2020 MLB Draft, hitting for both average and power with a wood bat against the nation’s top hurlers. A righthanded hitter listed at 5-foot-10, 190-pounds, Gonzales isn’t overly physical and his tools don’t particularly jump out, but his baseball skills across the board are very polished. He has a disciplined approach regularly hitting balls to the gaps with the ability to muscle balls out of the park. He’s also a steady defensive presence at second base and a big junior campaign should allow him to go among the top 10 picks in the 2020 MLB Draft.

Third Base
Austin Martin, Vanderbilt

The offensive catalyst for the nation’s second-highest scoring offense of the College World Series champion Vanderbilt Commodores, Martin had a huge sophomore season as the team’s everyday third baseman and leadoff hitter. He can do a little bit of everything, hitting nearly .400 (.392) while getting on base at a high clip (.486 OBP) with more walks (40) than strikeouts (34) and 18 steals in 23 attempts. As he showed in Vandy’s first game in Omaha with a two-home run game against Louisville, he also has some home run pop, slugging .604 thanks to 19 doubles, four triples and 10 bombs. Defensively his athleticism gives him intriguing versatility, and while he currently plays third base some project him to either second base or center field at the next level. Vanderbilt’s offense is going to have a significantly new look in 2020, but Martin will be one of the familiar faces and could be poised for a huge junior year as one of the frontrunners for the Golden Spikes Award as well as the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.

Casey Martin, Arkansas

A Freshman All-American in 2018 and a Second Team Preseason All-American last year, Casey Martin is a dynamic overall player for Arkansas, a team looking to return to Omaha for a third consecutive year. He played third base as a freshman before sliding over to shortstop a year ago and overall is a versatile athlete that could eventually wind up at second base at the next level with impact hitting tools. Although his batting average dropped to .287 last year after hitting .345 as a freshman, he increased his power numbers, slugging the exact same .556 he posted in 2018 thanks to 19 doubles, three triples and 15 round-trippers. His power does come at the expense of an aggressive approach, striking out 71 times during his sophomore year, but it’s an acceptable trade-off for an athlete playing a premium position up the middle on defense. Another big year at the plate with an increase in contact could lead to a first-round selection in the draft come June.

Heston Kjerstad, Arkansas

Both Kjerstad and Casey Martin hit the ground running during their freshman seasons in 2018 as they helped propel Arkansas to the CWS Finals and nearly emerged as champions. Both were Freshman All-Americans and Kjerstad gets the nod to the Preseason First Team for the second consecutive year. His sophomore season was nearly identical to his freshman one and has now hit .331 with 29 home runs and 104 RBIs in two years with the Hogs. Similar to Martin, Kjerstad’s approach can be rather aggressive, striking out 116 times with 46 walks in two years, but the result in that approach is impressive raw power. A 6-foot-3, 200-pound corner outfielder, Kjerstad is a physical, lefthanded slugger that doesn’t get cheated in the batter’s box. He profiles as a prototypical middle-of-the-order run producer at the next level and is poised for a big junior year as he looks to power Arkansas back to Omaha for the third straight year.

Garrett Mitchell, UCLA

Mitchell, a PG All-American in 2016, enjoyed a breakout season as a sophomore, batting .349 and showing his five-tool talents by hitting 14 doubles, 12 triples and six home runs to go along with 18 stolen bases. He also played error-free defense in center field, adding to his overall value as a prospect. Mitchell’s speed tool helps him stand out the most, allowing him to stretch extra-bases, be a threat on the basepaths while also having great range in the outfield. His arm strength is another asset defensively, and those all-around attributes gives him the potential to go in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft. His accomplishments during the 2019 season were particularly notable as the Bruins spent the second half of the season as the No. 1-ranked team in the nation and entered the postseason as the No. 1 national seed, even if their season was cut short prior to the College World Series. He will return to the top of UCLA’s batting order to lead a new-look lineup.

Chris Lanzilli, Wake Forest

Lanzilli offers a big, physical and intimidating presence in the righthanded batter’s box as a prototypical slugger. He currently plays left field for Wake Forest and profiles either there or at first base at the next level. He was draft eligible as a sophomore, and the Giants took a flyer on him in the 39th round, but he has returned to campus for his junior year and should dramatically improve his draft stock with another big year in the power department. After a solid freshman year in which he hit .268-9-33, Lanzilli took his numbers to another level in 2019, batting .347 with 19 doubles, 16 homers and 67 RBI. He doesn’t get cheated at the plate taking big swings and showing the bat speed to catch up with quality stuff. His 6-foot-2, 215-pound frame and obvious physical strength help him hit majestic shots and his presence in the middle of Wake’s lineup makes it difficult to pitch around him, improving the opportunities for his teammates that bat ahead and behind him, particularly first baseman Bobby Seymour, a Second Team Preseason All-American.

Designated Hitter
Aaron Sabato, North Carolina

One of two sophomores (Kumar Rocker) to make the First Team, Aaron Sabato had a huge freshman year and seemed to gain momentum during the second half of the season. He played a crucial role in helping North Carolina advance to Super Regional play, falling one game short of advancing to Omaha for the second straight season. Sabato will take another shot at powering his club to the College World Series, and with a few key departures he’ll be more of the focal point in the offense. It’s hard to miss his hulking, 6-foot-2, 230-pound presence when he takes the field with the raw strength to power balls to any part of any ballpark. He’s far from a one-dimensional slugger, hitting the ball consistently hard while showing the ability to take a free pass when teams are pitching around him. Sabato slashed .343/.453/.696 during his freshman year for a program that values – and knows how to maximize that value – statistical productivity, and his hard-hit ball data and exit velocities match that production.

Alec Burleson, East Carolina

A true two-way talent, Burleson has made a big impact since the beginning of his college career, both during the springs for East Carolina and over the summers, hitting a dramatic walk-off home run against Japan while playing for Team USA last summer. During his freshman year his biggest impact came on the mound and he has gone 11-4 with a 3.31 ERA and nine saves being used in a swing role in two years for the Pirates. He really emerged offensively as a sophomore, batting .370 with 23 doubles, nine homers and 61 RBI and will serve as ECU’s No. 3 hitter as a junior. He hits and throws lefthanded, and his offensive potential may be greater from a pro perspective given his ability to hit for average and power while playing right field. On the mound he usually works in the upper-80s, but his best pitch is his upper-70s changeup that he tunnels extremely well to mimic his fastball arm speed and action out of the hand.

Starting Pitcher
Reid Detmers, Louisville

Finishing second in the nation in strikeouts with 167, in 113 1/3 innings, Detmers enjoyed a huge sophomore season helping to guide Louisville to the College World Series for the fourth time in seven years. The Cardinals will once again open the year with serious CWS aspirations and getting another big season out of their staff ace will be paramount for that to happen. The lefthanded Detmers’ bread-and-butter pitch is his curveball, a 1-to-7 breaker with a high spin rate that he does well to both drop in for strikes and bury in the dirt for swinging strikes; it’s the pitch he goes to early and often to record his gaudy strikeout totals. He sets up his breaker well using his fastball, a pitch that usually settles in to the 88-92 mph range but opens at 93-94 early in games. Detmers’ changeup gives him a legitimate third pitch, and he significantly improved his command from his freshman year to his sophomore campaign, walking only 33 and allowing opposing hitters to a .177 batting average.

Starting Pitcher
Emerson Hancock, Georgia

With another big season coaches, scouts and fans alike may be talking about Emerson Hancock similar to how Casey Mize was discussed during the 2018 season. At a still projectable 6-foot-4, 213-pounds, Hancock is a perfectly proportioned pitcher physically with long limbs and broad shoulders. He attacks hitters with his fastball early and often, flirting with triple digits early in games while maintaining mid-90s velocities deep into ballgames. The pitch also has some arm-side run to it with a loose and fast arm. Hancock has a well-rounded three-pitch mix that includes a sharp, bat-missing slider and a fading changeup that he pulls the string on well, particularly against lefthanded hitters. As his 97-to-18 strikeout-to-walk ratio spanning 90 1/3 innings attests to, he has very good control in addition to light’s out stuff, working all quadrants of the strike zone while changing eye levels, making him a legitimate staff ace both now and for the next level. With that overall profile Hancock is on the short list of players projected to go first overall in the 2020 MLB Draft.

Starting Pitcher
Tanner Burns, Auburn

Although fatigue got the best of Burns down the stretch and limited his availability in Omaha with Auburn advancing to the CWS for the first time since 1997, he had a great season in 2019 and really established himself as one of the top aces in the nation, something the SEC has no shortage of. A PG All-American and promising two-way player coming out of high school, Burns hit the ground running as a freshman, going 7-4 with a 3.01 ERA while serving as the team’s Saturday starter behind eventual No. 1 pick Casey Mize. Down the stretch his freshman year it was Burns, and not Mize, who was consistently more effective, and so far through 166 1/3 college innings he has an 11-8 record and a 2.92 ERA with 178 strikeouts. Built compact yet strong at 6-foot, 205-pounds, Burns attacks the strike zone with a 91-93 mph fastball that frequently peaks at 95. He uses the pitch well to establish himself while mixing in a slider that has swing-and-miss potential while occasionally showing a changeup to make sure opposing hitters know he has it in his back pocket.

Starting Pitcher
Asa Lacy, Texas A&M

Asa Lacy and fellow lefthander John Doxakis formed quite the pair in Texas A&M’s weekend rotation last year, and with Doxakis beginning his professional career Lacy has the opportunity to really shine in 2020 as the Aggies’ Friday ace. He has an electric arm, reflected by 130 strikeouts in over 88 innings of work. He also proved to be stingy in the base hit department, allowing just 49 in that time. At 6-foot-4, 214-pounds, Lacy has good size with a tall, angular stature. He throws from a crossfire delivery from the left side, which creates some added deception, delivering low- to mid-90s fastballs that he maintains well deep into starts, usually touching 96 early in games while settling into the 92-95 mph range. His upper-70s curveball gives him another power pitch and he also throws a promising low- to mid-80s changeup. With his size, three-pitch mix and ability to miss bats, Lacy is expected to be taken in the first round of this year’s draft.

Starting Pitcher
Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt

Rocker arrived on campus in Nashville with a significant amount of fanfare and he closed out his freshman season as the 2019 College World Series’ Most Outstanding Player. It’s hard to understate his significance down the stretch, starting with his 19-strikeout no-hitter against Duke in the Super Regional round prior to his dominance in Omaha with a pair of wins in a combined 12 1/3 innings against Mississippi State and Michigan, allowing just eight hits and three walks with 17 strikeouts under the bright lights. All of that was part of a 12-5 season for the hulking 6-foot-4, 255-pound righthanded pitcher. Rocker’s stuff matches his stature, not to mention his productivity, consistently firing 93-97 mph fastballs into the zone to set up his big breaking curveball that hitters have nearly zero chance against when he’s sequencing well between the two offerings. He also throws a promising changeup just to keep hitters honest. Vanderbilt fans, and college fans in general, are in for a treat in that Rocker isn’t draft eligible again until 2021.

Relief Pitcher
Tyler Brown, Vanderbilt

Brown played a crucial role in Vanderbilt’s national championship last year and saved his best for last, recording three of his 17 saves in four Omaha appearances. Overall during the season he was dominant, allowing just 35 hits and nine walks over 49 innings, striking out 65 during that time, showing the ability to go more than just one frame late in games to close things out. He offers a big, intimidating presence on the mound as a 6-foot-4, 242-pound righthander with the stuff to match. His stuff usually peaks in the mid-90s but he’s usually at his best spotting his hard, boring fastball in on the hands of opposing hitters in the 90-92 range, which makes him that much harder to make contact off of. Brown has the ability to manipulate his breaking ball between a mid-70s curveball he drops in well for strikes and a power breaker in the low-80s that has more slider shape. He and Jake Eder helped form one of the more dominant bullpen tandems in 2019 and both return to help the Commodores defend their title.

Relief Pitcher
Holden Powell, UCLA

Closing out games for the Bruins is live-armed righthander Holden Powell, who played a big part in UCLA’s No. 1 postseason seeding entering the NCAA Tournament last season. Although he’s not overly physical with a listed 6-foot, 180-pound frame, Powell has a very fast arm and the athleticism necessary to repeat his high-energy delivery. There’s some downward plane to that delivery in generating low- to mid-90s heat, making his fastball that much more difficult to catch up with. He mixes in a nasty curveball that can sit anywhere from the upper-70s to right around 80 mph, and he mixes in a shorter-breaking slider in the low-80s to give hitters a different look. Powell does throw a changeup but doesn’t use it much in games given the effectiveness of his fastball-curveball combo. In 2019 Powell recorded 17 saves and allowed just 19 base hits in 49 innings of work, good for a .121 opponent’s batting average. The walks were a little elevated (27), but he also struck out 65 with opposing team’s rarely making enough contact.

Second Team

Pos. Name School Class AVG OBP SLG R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
C Austin Wells Arizona SO .353 .462 .552 73 78 15 7 5 60 6
1B Bobby Seymour Wake Forest JR .377 .439 .576 51 89 20 0 9 92 3
2B Justin Foscue Mississippi State JR .331 .395 .564 66 91 22 0 14 60 2
3B Alex Binelas Louisville SO .291 .383 .612 54 60 14 5 14 59 3
SS Alika Williams Arizona State JR .333 .429 .474 54 71 12 3 4 53 9
OF Ethan Wilson South Alabama SO .345 .453 .686 59 76 16 4 17 51 6
OF Parker Chavers Coastal Carolina JR .316 .435 .612 54 66 9 4 15 54 10
OF Hudson Haskin Tulane SO .372 .459 .647 54 77 19 4 10 52 4
DH Tristan Peterson New Mexico State SR .400 .510 .769 69 78 10 1 20 90 0
UT Casey Schmitt San Diego State JR .315 .415 .450 42 63 8 2 5 36 4

Pos. Name School Class ERA W-L CG SV IP H SO BB OBA
SP Max Meyer Minnesota JR 2.11 5-3 0 2 76.2 58 87 20 .202
SP Mason Hickman Vanderbilt JR 2.05 9-0 0 3 96.2 64 129 28 .183
SP JT Ginn Mississippi State SO 3.13 8-4 1 0 86.1 72 105 19 .220
SP Logan Allen Florida International JR 3.11 4-6 0 0 84 71 120 25 .231
SP Trenton Denholm UC Irvine JR 1.81 9-4 4 0 99.2 61 93 20 .178
RP Garrett Acton Illinois SR 2.18 2-3 0 19 33 13 34 18 .127
RP Nick Frasso Loyola Marymount JR 2.22 2-2 0 10 56.2 30 73 17 .154
UT Casey Schmitt San Diego State JR 3.77 3-3 0 8 43 40 44 16 .252

Third Team

Pos. Name School Class AVG OBP SLG R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
C Adrian Del Castillo Miami SO .331 .418 .576 58 78 22 0 12 72 3
1B Alex Toral Miami JR .293 .400 .656 47 63 6 0 24 67 1
MIF Jordan Westburg Mississippi State JR .294 .402 .457 68 78 21 2 6 61 7
MIF Hayden Cantrelle Louisiana JR .309 .426 .504 56 73 15 2 9 31 28
3B Zavier Warren Central Michigan JR .363 .498 .571 73 87 22 2 8 68 14
OF Tanner Allen Mississippi State JR .349 .426 .516 56 96 23 1 7 66 1
OF Jordan Nwogu Michigan JR .321 .435 .557 58 79 14 4 12 46 16
OF Alerick Soularie Tennessee JR .357 .466 .602 52 70 13 1 11 46 8
DH Trevin Esquerra Loyola Marymount SR .322 .379 .522 40 75 20 1 16 60 1
UT Davis Sharpe Clemson SO .264 .377 .364 22 34 4 0 3 18 3

Pos. Name School Class ERA W-L CG SV IP H SO BB OBA
SP Jeff Criswell Michigan JR 2.72 7-1 0 3 106 88 116 50 .232
SP CJ Van Eyk Florida State JR 3.81 10-4 0 0 99.1 89 129 41 .234
SP John Stankiewicz Fordham JR 1.47 8-4 1 0 92 62 102 20 .190
SP Ian Bedell Missouri JR 3-1 1.56 0 5 40.1 28 36 12 .193
SP Garrett Crochet Tennessee JR 5-3 4.02 0 3 65 67 81 22 .268
RP Alek Jacob Gonzaga JR 2.17 7-3 0 12 78.2 56 87 31 .200
RP Burl Carraway Dallas Baptist JR 2.81 4-2 0 6 41.2 29 72 22 .195
UT Davis Sharpe Clemson SO 3.20 7-4 0 0 84.1 61 84 33 .205