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College | Story | 2/10/2021

2021 College Season: Staff Picks

Brian Sakowski      Colton Olinger      Drew Wesolowski      Jered Goodwin      Jheremy Brown      John McAdams      Tyler Russo      Vincent Cervino      Blake Dowson      Cade Schares      Greg Gerard     
Photo: Jud Fabian (Mario Houben)
Preseason Top 25 Rankings | Preseason All-Americans | College Content Preview Index

To wrap up our preseason collegiate coverage, our staff all took their turns and made their picks in nine different categories, both with individual players who are expected to shine as well as teams who we think could exceed expectations throughout the spring. Brian Sakowski, Jheremy Brown, Vinnie Cervino, Jered Goodwin, Tyler Russo, Colt Olinger, Drew Wesolowski, Johnny McAdams, Blake Dowson and Greg Gerard not only made their picks, but also provided a brief write-up in each section to explain why each pick was made. 

Top Freshmen
They may be young, but these prospects have continued to shine since arriving on campus and look to make an impact immediately this spring while providing an early look at some of the top talent in each of the next two draft cycles. 
Player Position School Staff
Ryan Hagenow RHP Kentucky BS
Dylan Crews OF LSU JB
Enrique Bradfield OF Vanderbilt VC
Dante Girardi SS/2B FIU JG
Kevin Parada C Georgia Tech TR
Jack Moss 1B Arizona State CO
Carson Montgomery RHP Florida State DW
Grayson Hitt LHP/OF Alabama JM
Alex Freeland SS UCF GG
Tanner Witt 3B/RHP Texas BD

Ryan Hagenow, Kentucky
Being successful right away in the SEC is hard for any freshman, though Hagenow’s present ability to pound the strike zone with three solid-average or better pitches should give him some more margin for error than his fellow first-year players. The feel for pitching combined with the projection give him both good foundational ability for 2021 as well as tremendous draft upside for 2023. -BS

Dylan Crews, LSU
Freshmen of Crews’ caliber don’t typically make it to campus, though the 2020 draft cycle was anything but typical, and the Tigers were provided with some big news prior to the draft as the outfielder made his intentions known he’d be attending LSU. A pure hitter whose tools continued to progress throughout his prep days, Crews hasn’t stopped hitting since arriving in Baton Rouge and looks to be an immediate impact type player. -JB

Enrique Bradfield, Vanderbilt
Bradfield was a name all throughout the circuit in high school and had two of the best tools in his draft class in his speed and glove. He’s a true 80-grade runner with elite instincts and this will lead to Bradfield getting an opportunity to play right away. The pitching staff will grow to love Bradfield, who will cover a ton of ground in Nashville and set the table near the top of the lineup. -VC

Dante Girardi, Florida International
The young Girardi has a long track record form high school and the travel ball circuit for producing on winning teams. He reportedly had one of the top sixty times on the team this fall, has very good right-handed bat speed, a tough grind-it-out approach, and defensive versatility that could find him all over the dirt this spring. The win-at-al- cost personality will go a long way with the unique schedule that the 2021 spring will bring. -JG

Kevin Parada, Georgia Tech
Widely-regarded as one of the top prep players to make it to campus after the shortened draft, Parada is no stranger to performing at the highest level and he should get an immediate chance to make his impact felt. The former PG All-American put together one of the best performances the World Championship in Jupiter has seen in its history, and his ability to hit for both average and power against high-level arms should bode him well in a conference that is full of them. -TR

Jack Moss, Arizona State
Moss will be tasked with replacing last year’s No. 1 overall pick Spencer Torkelson at first base for the Sun Devils. He has shown huge potential from the left side with good bat speed and the ability to create leverage and power to the pull side. With some key pieces coming back, look for Moss to be able to settle into his role and contribute in a big way for Arizona State this year. -CO

Carson Montgomery, Florida State 
Montgomery steps on campus at Florida State with an impressive prep career, including an appearance at the 2019 All-American Classic. The big right-hander will be thrown directly into the mix and will rely on his power arsenal as he runs the fastball up into the mid-90s. Look for him to be one of the Noles’ biggest freshman impacts this spring. -DW

Grayson Hitt, Alabama
The 6-foot-3 left-hander will get plenty of opportunities to succeed for a Crimson Tide team that is expecting big things this season. Hitt works in the low-90s with his fastball and has shown the ability to land his breaking ball for strikes. Pitching on weekdays or Sundays for a team expected to compete for a Regional bid should bode well for tons of early wins for the freshman. -JM

Alex Freeland, UCF
Freeland was a PG All-American in 2019 and promising MLB Draft prospect going into 2020. He made his way to UCF and is sure to make an immediate impact to a Top 25 team. Freeland’s switch-hitting ability, glove in the infield and all-around high-level skillset make him a player who could improve a team like UCF who has very high hopes for the 2021 spring. -GG

Tanner Witt, Texas
Witt comes to Texas as one of the most highly-touted freshman in the Big 12. He will surely find his way into some major innings this year, as his fastball is into the mid-90s already with more in his 6-foot-6 frame. He could also make an impact at the plate, having spent his prep career playing shortstop and carrying a ton of potential in his bat as well. -BD

Impact Transfer
Given that players were granted an extra year of eligibility, several prospects were on the move whether it be from JUCO to 4-year schools or graduate transfers who look to make an instant impact on their new campus. 

Player Position School Staff
Chase Silseth RHP Arizona BS
Jalen Battles SS Arkansas JB
Justin Wrobleski LHP Oklahoma State  VC
Franco Aleman RHP Florida JG
Brandon Birdsell RHP Texas Tech TR
Bryson Ware   Auburn CO
Brett Centracchio 1B North Carolina DW
Taylor Smith C Texas A&M JM
Mike Antico OF Texas GG
Brett Minnich OF Texas A&M BD

Chase Silseth, Arizona
One of the premier JUCO arms in the country in 2020, Silseth had opportunities to be drafted in the five-round ’20 draft, but opted to head to Arizona where he’s the presumed ace right out of the gate. With a power arm into the upper-90s and a dynamic changeup, he’s in line for a huge spring and should see his name in top-three rounds consideration this July if he performs well. -BS

Jalen Battles, Arkansas
One of the top prospects from the JUCO ranks in 2020, Battles arrived in Fayetteville with plenty of hype, which he either met or exceeded this fall. Not only has Battles continued to show his athleticism and tools up the middle, but the physically-built shortstop showed an uptick in offensive prowess and will likely slot into the top of the Razorback's lineup this spring. -JB

Justin Wrobleski, Oklahoma State
Wrobleski was a part of the heralded 2018 Georgia prep class that included the likes of Kumar Rocker, Ethan Hankins, and Will Banfield. He transferred to State College of Florida last year and showed off some impressive velocity from the left side. He’ll get the opportunity to start in the Cowboys’ rotation this spring with reports of touching the upper-90s with a good slider. -VC

Franco Aleman, Florida
Aleman is an imposing right-handed pitcher that has already produced at the Division-I level as a freshman. He was on the way to a standout season in junior college in 2020 before the shutdown. He also had an incredible showing in the Cape Cod baseball league during the summer of 2019. With reports of a velocity spike to go along with his normal good command and competitiveness, all signs lead to a breakout year at a school known for developing right-handed arms. -JG

Brandon Birdsell, Texas Tech
After brief work in his freshman season at Texas A&M and a strong start as a sophomore at the powerhouse junior college of San Jacinto, Birdsell passed up the draft to become a Red Raider and is in line to make an immediate impact. The physical right-hander was into the mid-90s this fall, with flashes of better, and goes comfortably to a wipeout slider that should have him missing plenty of bats in a variety of innings roles. -TR

Bryson Ware, Auburn
Ware joins the Tigers after spending 2020 at Pearl River Community College as the No. 9-ranked junior college prospect in the country. He should find himself in the lineup early at Auburn as one of the Tigers top power bats. He displayed some of that power a year ago, hitting five home runs in 16 games while driving in 17 for the Wildcats. -CO

Brett Centracchio, North Carolina
The Tar Heels were in need of some offensive fire power as they will be returning a solid pitching staff. They will look to in-state transfer from Davidson, Brett Centracchio, to be that offensive spark. He hit .352 in 54 at-bats last spring while knocking in 15 runs. Look for him to be one of the biggest impact transfers in the country as UNC looks to contend for a national title. -DW

Taylor Smith, Texas A&M
Smith, an Incarnate Word bounce-back, will bring some firepower to an Aggies lineup that is filled with tons of athleticism throughout but lacks a real power threat, while adding an experienced backstop for the inexperienced pitching staff. The former Southland Freshman of the Year has a rocket for an arm and will control the running game extremely well, aiding the young pitchers throughout the season. -JM

Mike Antico, Texas
Antico was one of the top transfers after the 2020 season. He is moving to a Texas team that he will make an immediate and large impact in the outfield. A transfer from St. John's, Antico was able to post a career average of .332 from 2017-2020, including a Preseason Big East Player of the Year award in 2020 and a First Team All-Big East selection in 2019. The Longhorns could without a doubt use the type of offense that Antico is sure to bring to the lineup in 2021. -GG

Brett Minnich, Texas A&M
Minnich will make an immediate impact in the outfield and in the lineup for preseason No. 36 Texas A&M, as coaches have raved about his hit tool in College Station. A transfer from Blinn College, Minnich is big-bodied at 6-foot-5, 200 pounds and has plenty of power in the tank. -BD

Impact Senior

The senior tag for this category was expanded a bit to all 4-plus year players as they were awarded an extra year of eligibility after last year's shortened season. The names below will play pivotal roles for their respective teams in 2021, both from a talent standpoint as well as providing invaluable experience. 

Player Position School Staff
Tommy Mace  RHP Florida BS
Kevin Abel RHP Oregon State JB
Parker Chavers OF Coastal Carolina VC
Lael Lockhart Jr. UTL/LHP Arkansas JG
Casey Opitz C Arkansas TR
Sam Praytor C Alabama CO
Austin Todd  OF Texas DW
Michael Rothenberg C Duke JM
TJ Collett 1B Kentucky GG
Seth Lonsway LHP Ohio State BD

Tommy Mace, Florida
Mace was in the firstst round on our board last spring and could be in that range again this year, which is certainly something that could come back to haunt 29 MLB teams who opted not to sign him. With newfound velocity in the mid- to upper-90s and continued off speed refinement, Mace is the ace of the best team in the country. -BS

Kevin Abel, Oregon State
Abel delivered one of the best performances in college baseball history in 2018 with his complete game victory in game three of the CWS, clinching the title for the Beavers. After missing 2019, Abel saw time on the bump in 2020 and looks primed for a big '21 season at the front of the rotation, showing a fastball in the mid-90s alongside his signature plus changeup. -JB

Parker Chavers, Coastal Carolina
In a normal year Chavers probably doesn’t return to Coastal, but after missing the season with an injury he’s back and should provide a major impact. He’s an exciting power-speed combination outfielder with potential for double-digit home runs and steals. Chavers is also a draft name to monitor as there’s upside if he proves he’s back and healthy. -VC

Lael Lockhart Jr., Arkansas
This could have gone in the impact transfer category as well. Lockhart has a ton of experience on both sides of the ball. On the mound, the left-hander should provide the type of veteran leadership that could put a very good team over the top. He combines strike-throwing ability with swing-and-miss secondary stuff and lots of grit. The sum of the parts would be welcomed in any clubhouse in the country. -JG

Casey Opitz, Arkansas
Opitz is a player that probably doesn’t make it back to campus in a normal draft cycle but will be a huge piece to have with his experience behind the dish. He’s one of the best defensive catchers in the country which helps a staff that will have a new look from years past, but the strides forward he showed offensively in the shortened spring should set him up to make a bigger impact on a side of the ball that is already loaded with weapons. -TR

Sam Praytor, Alabama
Praytor returns to Tuscaloosa for his fourth year with the Tide and will be counted on as a run-producing bat in the middle of the order. He is coming off a hot start to his 2020 campaign where he showcased his power, leading Alabama in home runs with six and drove in 18 while hitting .350. He will likely see time as the designated hitter on his days off from catching as he has proven throughout his career to be a consistent bat that the Tide can lean on as they look to get off to a hot start once again in 2021. -CO

Austin Todd, Texas
The Longhorns will enter ’21 as one of the top-10 teams in the country as they will be in title hunt mode. They will lean heavily on 4-plus year starter Austin Todd to lead the pack offensively. He is a career .274 hitter with 85 RBI during his storied career. Todd brings tons of experience to the team and that is why he will be one of the biggest impact seniors this season. -DW

Michael Rothenberg, Duke
The senior catcher for the Blue Devils had a breakthrough year in 2019, finishing as the team leader in home runs (11) and runs-batted-in (52) that went to a Super Regional. Rothenberg was off to a good start in 2020 before play was halted and will look to put an exclamation point on his Duke career in 2021. The switch-hitting backstop checks off every box when it comes to the hit tool by combining a high average with power to all fields and a knack for driving in runs. He could be a key factor in the Blue Devils finally breaking thorough to Omaha. -JM

TJ Collett, Kentucky
This is year five for TJ Collett as a graduate student at Kentucky and the team’s first baseman. A big bopper from the left side, Collett was off to a hot start in 17 games in 2020 that included five home runs, well on pace to beat his career season high. Collett will be in the center of the Wildcats lineup where he will use his veteran leadership to lead some young talent in Lexington. -GG

Seth Lonsway, Ohio State
Lonsway is a strikeout machine, it’s just a matter of commanding the ball. I’m making a bet on him being awesome this year, as Ohio State has a chance to win a highly competitive Big Ten. Lonsway is a first-round talent with a big fastball from the left side, and two distinct breaking balls, and led the country in strikeouts a year ago. -BD

Sleeping Giant
To qualify for this category, all prospects below rank outside of PG's most recent Top 50 draft list, though that doesn't mean we won't be hearing some of these names called early, especially with big spring seasons. 

Player Position School Staff
John Rhodes OF Kentucky BS
Grant Richardson OF Indiana JB
Austin Krob LHP TCU VC
JT Schwartz 1B UCLA JG
Kevin Abel RHP Oregon State TR
Isaiah Thomas OF Vanderbilt CO
Drew Swift SS Arizona State DW
Mike Vasil RHP Virginia JM
Connor Pavolony C Tennessee GG
Maxwell Costes 1B Maryland BD

John Rhodes, Kentucky
A sophomore who is only eligible for the draft this year as a result of the draft date being moved, Rhodes will have many eyes on him this spring for UK. With an excellent blend of athleticism, hitting tools, burgeoning power and defensive ability, Rhodes could climb into Day One consideration for the draft and could, in turn, carry Kentucky’s offense with him as well. -BS

Grant Richardson, Indiana
Richardson may be a "sleeping giant" in that he isn't ranked within Perfect Game's Top 50 but he's far from a secret as he enters the spring as a PG Preseason First Team All-American and one of the top prospects in the Midwest. A strongly built left-handed stick, Richardson handles the barrel well while showing intriguing juice and will be a pivotal piece to Indiana's success this spring. -JB

Austin Krob, TCU
Krob, an Iowa native, was a heralded recruit during his time at Kirkwood CC and he forms what could be one of the top rotations in the country. The sky is the limit for Krob, who has quality advanced metrics along with a fairly polished repertoire. He’s got a chance to join Nick Lodolo who was the last TCU left-hander to be selected on Day One. -VC

JT Schwartz, UCLA
Schwartz's hit tool was showing up in the early part of the 2020 season as he was starting to find his groove. The body and left-handed swing have always been a huge appeal to scouts and evaluators. This could very well be the year that the package comes together, and Schwartz puts up a monster year. All the pieces are in place with the hit tool he showed last year to take the next step forward with a new power element being added as well. -JG

Kevin Abel, Oregon State
After a heroic freshman season that ended in a College World Series victory and numerous individual accolades, Abel looks to finally be healthy again and ready to lead the staff. He’ll work into the mid-90s with the fastball, pairing a sound delivery with one the country’s best changeups. If he can get back to his freshman form, he’ll have a chance to climb draft boards and hopefully get the Beavers back into Omaha contention. -TR

Isaiah Thomas, Vanderbilt
Thomas looks poised to pick up where he left off in 2020. He is coming off a strong fall and will plug into the middle of the order once again for the Commodores. Thomas checks all the boxes as far as a prospect and will be looking to put it all together for what will be his first full season starting in the outfield. Keep a close eye on his numbers as he started to show an uptick in power through the fall season. -CO

Drew Swift, Arizona State
Swift is a key piece for the Sun Devil’s as he plays one of the most sure-handed shortstops in the country and will be a spark for them on offense in the leadoff spot. He led the team in hits during the short season a year ago and is on pace to get off to another hot start this year. Look for him to motivate and push some important freshman players coming in while having a monster year individually. -DW

Mike Vasil, Virginia
After mixed result as a freshman, Vasil seemed to be on the precipice of putting together a breakthrough 2020 season, seemingly fixing some command issues that had been a concern. The big right-hander has all the components necessary to be a front-line starter; a low- to mid-90s fastball, a hard-biting breaker and a usable third pitch to keep hitters off-balance are all part of his arsenal. 2021 could the year that the talent catches up to the results for Vasil. -JM

Connor Pavolony, Tennessee
Pavolony is a Top 100 Draft prospect currently at Tennessee coming in a No. 76 overall heading into the spring season. His stock could rise in a big way as it really started to in 2020. He was off to a strong start at the plate and has always been an elite defender behind the dish. Pavolony hit .342-4-8 and had over an 1.100 OPS stat line for the Vols in 11 games last season. With the continued offensive production that the UT catcher was producing last season, he could be a sleeping giant for 2021. -GG

Maxwell Costes, Maryland
I’ve been a big fan of Costes since he’s been on campus at Maryland, and I see a huge year from him in 2021. He was hitting a ridiculous .432 through 15 games in 2020, with four home runs and 15 RBI, along with 16 walks against only seven strikeouts. Put that all together, and it equals a .620 OBP and a .750 SLG. Expect big things this year. -BD

Golden Spikes
Whoever takes home the 2021 Golden Spikes will be more than worthy of the award, especially when considering the sheer depth of talent in collegiate baseball this spring. 

Player Position School Staff
Alex Binelas 3B Louisville BS
Adrian Del Castillo C Miami JB
Jud Fabian OF Florida VC
Kumar Rocker RHP Vanderbilt JG
Ethan Wilson OF South Alabama TR
Henry Davis C Louisville CO
Matt McLain  SS UCLA DW
Jack Leiter RHP Vanderbilt JM
Colton Cowser OF Sam Houston State GG
Levi Usher OF Louisville BD

Alex Binelas, Louisville
Binelas doesn’t play a flashy game but is one of the best hitters in college baseball, with an extremely advanced approach as well as quality power at his disposal, putting him in line for a monster season. He’s solid at third base and should he perform as we expect him to, he may force himself into very high draft consideration as college performers with his offensive toolset find their way higher and higher on draft boards as springs roll along. -BS

Adrian Del Castillo, Miami
If you're looking for the purest hit tool in all of college baseball, you may not have to look any further. A career .336 hitter who put 12 over the fence as a true freshman, Del Castillo did nothing but find the barrel this fall, once again earning rave reviews. And for as good as the left-handed swing is, it's certainly worth noting the improvements he's made behind the plate as well, rounding out a profile that will hear his name called very high during the 2021 draft. -JB

Jud Fabian, Florida
The top position player on our draft board, Fabian was en route to a breakout last spring before the season was canceled, but the power is for real and there’s potential for a monster season. It helps that Fabian suits up for the No. 1 team in the country but there’s real potential for an average above .300 along with double-digit bombs in the SEC; of course, there’s also the first overall pick that Fabian will be chasing all spring. -VC

Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt
As one of the best prospects to get to campus in recent memory, Rocker has done nothing but develop in seemingly every outing since he arrived on campus. After a postseason no-hitter as a freshman he was on a tear during the first three outings of 2020. His almost two strikeouts per inning to start his sophomore year should be a huge confidence boost heading into year three at Vanderbilt. This could be a historic type season if Rocker gets off to a quick start. -JG

Ethan Wilson, South Alabama
After a freshman campaign that saw him hit to the tune of a .344 average with 17 home runs, and a sophomore season that was on line for similar success, Wilson has firmly placed himself among the best hitters in the college ranks and has received consistent first-round discussion because of it. He comes into this spring looking to end his excellent career on a high note and he undoubtedly has the tools to be awarded the nation’s top player when all is said and done. -TR

Henry Davis, Louisville
Davis would be the fifth catcher to win the award since 2008, joining a list of three big leaguers and 2019 No. 1 overall pick Adley Rutschmann. Davis has widely been known for his defensive tools and plus arm behind the plate, but it was a noticeable uptick in offensive numbers a year ago that makes him a legit candidate for the award heading into 2021. He was hitting .372 and slugging .698 before the shutdown in 2020. His production on what will certainly be a closely-watched Louisville team expecting to make yet another deep run will be fun to watch. -CO

Matt McLain, UCLA
McLain has long been known in the baseball world for his tools and outstanding performances as he was drafted in the first round out of high school. Look for him to be in the running for the Golden Spikes Award this spring as he led the Bruins, one of the top teams in the country, in average and in RBI with 19. He is also one of the top shortstops in the country as he further makes his case for the top individual achievement in the college baseball world. -DW

Jack Leiter, Vanderbilt
After a strong start to 2020, Leiter has continued to make strides that have put him in the conversation for the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft. A full starter's arsenal coupled with additional velocity (94-97 mph) has only made the argument stronger, as he looks to come out of the gates hot for a loaded Vanderbilt team in 2021. The athletic right-hander’s high spin data and low release point bodes well in continuing his upward draft stock as team’s value those points more than ever. -JM

Colton Cowser, Sam Houston State
A 6-foot-3, 195-pound left-handed hitting outfielder is a good foundation for a big-time player and when that player is one of the top MLB Draft prospects in all of amateur baseball, that helps too. Cowser is a player who could have a monster season at Sam Houston State similar to the type of production Nick Gonzales did a year ago at a non-Power 5 school. Cowser comes in at No. 16 on our MLB Draft Board and with his hit/power combination the numbers he has the potential to put up in 2021 could be to the moon. -GG

Levi Usher, Louisville
The talent in the Louisville lineup (you’ll notice two of Usher’s teammates were also PG staff picks for this award) is incredible. Usher was fantastic last year and will be an invaluable member of a Louisville team that has hopes of being the last one standing in Omaha later this spring. Usher hit .411 in 16 games in 2020, with a pair of home runs and 10 RBI, along with 11 stolen bases, and seemingly took a step forward in the fall as well. -BD

CWS Sleeper
Every team opens the year with renewed hope, but this is a group of teams enters the season outside of the Top 25 but with legitimate reasons to believe they could be playing for it all at the end of the season.

School Conference Staff
Dallas Baptist MVC BS
Boston College ACC JB
Tennessee SEC VC
Wake Forest ACC JG
TCU Big 12 TR
Texas A&M SEC CO
Clemson ACC DW
Alabama SEC GG
Oklahoma State Big 12 BD

Dallas Baptist
With two potential aces in Dom Hamel and Ray Gaither leading the way and big stuff in the backend of their bullpen, DBU looks poised to have a very big spring in the MVC. Ryan Wrobleski should have a huge year in the middle of the order while also shutting down running games, and the rest of the offense offers depth and quality AB’s 1-9. -BS

Boston College
The recruiting class Head Coach Mike Gambino had arrive on campus the fall of 2018 will go down as one of the best in the club's history, forming the core of this year's squad with outfielder Sal Frelick, third baseman Cody Morissette, and right-hander Mason Pelio ranking as some of the best in the entire ACC. The depth continues down the roster as the staff has continued to recruit and develop extremely well, setting up the potential for a big 2021 season in Brighton. -JB

The Vols have been one of the bigger programs nationwide on the upswing from making a Regional in 2019 to churning out talent. Coach Tony Vitello and staff have done an excellent job recruiting and they have a roster that’s very deep. They’ll have to replace first-rounder Garrett Crochet on the mound but the trio of Max Ferguson, Jake Rucker, and Connor Pavolony give them an extremely balanced roster. -VC

Wake Forest
There are a number of potential power bats in the lineup and power arms that will toe the rubber on the Wake Forest roster this spring. The offense is capable of putting up crooked numbers in a hurry and the bet is that will happen in 2021. Ryan Cusick has legitimate No. 1 stuff and will make opposing offenses earn every inch. There is real excitement heading into the season, and for good reason. -JG

Coming in just outside our Preseason Top 25, the Horned Frogs bring a great level of experience to the diamond with long-tenured Gene Wood and Hunter Wolfe returning to the lineup, while a pair of high-upside draft prospects in Johnny Ray and Austin Krob headline a reliable pitching staff that has the depth to carry this team back to Omaha for the first time since 2017. -TR

Texas A&M
The Aggies head into 2021 with a reloaded pitching staff and an order that returns seven guys who started on opening day a year ago. On the bump a mixture of proven veterans and electric stuff will lead the Marron and White. Bryce Miller will assume the top spot in rotation with an upper-90s fastball and be joined by Dustin Saenz and Jon Childress. At the plate, returning so much experience from an offense that averaged over nine runs a game in 2020 brings plenty of promise to this year’s club. Look for Will Frizzell and Logan Britt to be big factors in this year’s lineup as the Aggies look to maintain steady offensive production throughout what has the makings of a deep postseason run. -CO

The Tigers will enter ’21 with reassurance as they got off to a hot 14-3 start just a season ago. They will bring back one of the most premier two-way prospects in the country in Davis Sharpe. The pitching staff will also return Carter Raffield and an impressive young arm in Caden Grice. Offensively they will be returning what seems like everyone as they had six bats that hit over .285 just a season ago with Kier Meredith leading the way. Look for Clemson to come alive when it counts late in the season during the tournament. -DW

Coach Pollard’s squad has been on the brink of Omaha as of late and this year’s veteran presence will bode well in helping them hopefully breakthrough. The Blue Devils should have plenty of offense with the returns of proven bats in Ethan Murray and Michael Rothenberg, while senior Joey Loperfido looks to return to his Freshman All-American form. How the pitching staff holds up could be the defining factor on if the Blue Devils finally breakthrough. -JM

The Crimson Tide were off to a torrid start before the season was cut short a year ago. With a frontline starter like Connor Prielipp, who has turned himself into a high-end prospect looking ahead to 2022, to go along with Tyler Ras in the rotation and a potent offense, Alabama has the ingredients to make a deep run this upcoming postseason. -GG

Oklahoma State
It takes a lot of arms to make it to Omaha, and Oklahoma State has plenty. Parker Scott will lead the way, with a number of second-year hurlers ready to make big contributions. JUCO transfer Justin Wrobleski is a lefty with an upper-90s fastball, he’ll be in the rotation. The key will be getting contributions in the lineup from a number of newcomers. If the Cowboys hit enough, they could be in Omaha. -BD

Giant Amongst Giants
Each of the teams listed in this category open the 2021 season ranked in the Top 25 but outside of the Top 10, a fact that could change once the teams hit the field this spring. 

School Conference Staff
Indiana Big 10 BS
Arizona State PAC 12 JB
Georgia Tech ACC VC
East Carolina AAC JG
Mississippi State SEC TR
North Carolina State ACC CO
Florida State ACC DW
Auburn SEC JM
Georgia SEC GG
Arkansas SEC BD

Our pick to win the Big Ten and a very trendy Super Regional pick, Indiana’s starting rotation, depth of the bullpen, and power/athleticism in their everyday lineup gives them a chance to be dynamic game-in and game-out. McCade Brown and Gabe Bierman lead the way on the mound with Golden Spikes candidate Grant Richardson leading the offense for a loaded, loaded club. -BS

Arizona State
The Sun Devils may not have top pick Spencer Torkelson back in the middle of the order, but shortstop Drew Swift will serve as the catalyst of the club alongside some talented underclassmen and a few impact transfers who'll play big roles immediately. It's the pitching staff that'll make the difference in Tempe as the entirety of their rotation returns from 2020 in Boyd Vander Kooi, Cooper Benson and Tyler Thornton while the bullpen is loaded with big time arm talent as well. -JB

Georgia Tech
The depth really jumps off the page when you look at the Yellow Jackets roster as they have one of the more well-balanced lineups with a pitching staff full of veterans. Brant Hurter and Cort Roedig are back to lead the rotation while there’s a number of talented sophomores in the lineup along with senior Luke Waddell who never strikes out. Add in a talented recruiting class that features the core of Kevin Parada, Jake DeLeo, and Marquis Grissom Jr. and you have a very good team. -VC

East Carolina
East Carolina has a roster littered with top-end talent with a lot of experience that should help tap into the big potential the Pirates possess. Cliff Godwin and staff seem to get the very best out of the clubhouse each year and the 2021 group has the makings to be a juggernaut in the American Conference. As the talent and culture build a strong bridge, Godwin seems to always have the trust of his team and will push the right buttons along the way. This should be an exciting spring in Greenville, NC. -JG

Mississippi State
It’s hard to put the Bulldogs on a list of sleepers given their extensive track record and array of talent, but for the sake of them being ranked outside the Top 10 to start the year, they have ended up here. They have one of the country’s top weekend rotations with Eric Cerantola, Christian MacLeod and Will Bednar all coming in as top two-round draft prospects while the core of lineup has the ever-so invaluable experience of having been to Omaha already. -TR

North Carolina State
The Wolfpack will start the season at 16th in the rankings which would project as a Regional host when the postseason rolls around, but don’t be surprised if this club makes a run at a national seed. The depth of this club both at the plate and on the mound will be crucial as they take on a strong ACC schedule. At the plate, look for veterans Luca Tresh, Austin Murr, and Tyler McDonough to set the pace as they all three will factor into the top of the Wolfpack lineup. On the mound, returning three of last year’s four starters will be key and freshman Sam Highfill will step into the vacated spot with command of a three-pitch arsenal. -CO

Florida State 
Although hardly an underdog, Florida State finds themselves ranked behind four other ACC schools to start the ’21 season. The pitching staff has huge upside with a seasoned starter in Conor Grady and a handful of experienced arms out of the bullpen. Look for Preseason All-American Robby Martin to generate opportunities offensively for the Noles as he had 26 RBI just a year ago. On paper, Florida State is one of the top teams in the country and they look forward to emerging as the victor out of a stacked ACC. -DW

The War Eagles return a veteran-led roster with numerous players that participated on their 2019 College World Series team. They have star power in Ryan Bliss and Richard Fitts, while continuing to rely on stalwarts like Rankin Woley and Cody Greenhill for leadership. Staying healthy and bounce-back years from the likes of Steven Williams will be the key for Auburn to stay competitive in a loaded Southeastern Conference. -JM

With Jonathan Cannon and Ryan Webb headlining the pitching staff that has seemingly reloaded after a year in which it saw two arms go in the top-three rounds, Georgia will have the pitching to make a deep run late in the season. The offense will be the big question mark to see if they can put up enough runs game-in and game-out to win a lot of ball games in 2021. -GG

The Razorbacks will certainly hit, with Christian Franklin, Casey Opitz, and Matt Goodheart leading the charge. Robert Moore will join that trio as a big contributor at the plate, as will transfer Jalen Battles. The pitching staff has questions, but plenty of talent to find its way to Omaha. Head Coach Dave Van Horn knows how to get to the College World Series, having done it six times in 18 years at Arkansas. -BD

Super Regional Cinderella
All of the teams listed here were not among PG's Preseason Top 40 teams, most having just missed, but our team of experts has reason to believe they could rise to the occasion and quickly break into the PG rankings. 

School Conference Staff
South Carolina SEC BS
Kansas State Big 12 JB
Cincinnati AAC VC
Notre Dame ACC JG
Notre Dame ACC TR
Sam Houston State Southland CO
West Virginia Big 12 DW
UNCW Colonial JM
Houston AAC GG
Iowa Big 10 BD

South Carolina
The pieces finally look to be in place for the Gamecocks to return to the postseason this spring, with good veteran leadership throughout the staff and the lineup as well as some established dudes. Brennan Milone should really swing the bat and the staff is anchored by several established guys in Brannon Jordan, Thomas Farr, and draft pop-up arm Julian Bosnic. -BS

Kansas State
The Big 12, as per the usual, won't be an easy gauntlet for any team to get through given the sheer depth and competitiveness, but the Wildcats do boast perhaps the best rotation in the conference and that certainly helps. Left-handed ace Jordan Wicks is primed for a big year as he looks to ascend draft boards, while rotation mates and hard-throwing right-handers Carson Seymour and Connor McCullough are just as much prospects in their own rights. Factor in some of their impact bats who return and their overall athleticism, and this is a club who could make some noise late in the year. -JB

The Bearcats will compete in what should be a very good American Conference and they’ll have one of the better pitching staffs with their duo of lefties at the top. Evan Shawver and Drake Batcho have electric stuff and will both start as both had pretty productive falls as well. There’s returnee Garrett Schoenle on the pitching staff as well, as the pitching is the strength and if the offense backs up those arms, Cincinnati can absolutely make some noise late in the season. -VC

Notre Dame
There looked to be a really good balance in the lineup and strong defense up the middle as the Fighting Irish got off to a hot start in 2020 that included a sweep of North Carolina. That lineup returns and Notre Dame added a few notable veteran graduate transfer arms. Getting off to a hot start to build momentum and chemistry will be important for the Irish to return to super regional for the first time since 2002. -JG

Notre Dame
The Irish were off to a strong start a year ago and they return much of that talent to both sides of the ball, while also adding key graduate-transfers to the rotation. Their table-setter atop the lineup, Spencer Myers, and power-hitting cleanup hitter Niko Kavadas are back to set the pace on the offensive end, but the biggest difference-maker may be the additions to the pitching staff that give them just enough depth to make some noise in the conference and postseason. -TR

Sam Houston State
The Bearkats are three years removed from a Super Regional appearance after making back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances in ’16 and ’17. This is a club that is always competing for a conference title in the Southland Conference and this year appears to be no different. To make a deep run, Colton Cowser and Jack Rodgers will be counted on for big years in the middle of the lineup as run producers. On the mound, the experience of three starters from last year’s club will set the pace with the return of Tyler Davis, Matthew Dillard, and Dominic Robinson who combined for a 2.14 ERA in 63 innings. -CO

West Virginia
The Mountaineers enter the ’21 season with high hopes as they hosted a Regional in 2019 and they look to be on a fast track back into the same situation. They will be bringing back a dynamic one-two punch in left-hander Jackson Wolf and right-handed power arm Ryan Bergert. They have found a new weapon at the dish in Matt McCormick, as he received Preseason All-Conference honors. Familiar faces in Tyler Doanes and Paul McIntosh bring back that ever-so-needed experience. Don’t be surprised to see West Virginia in a Super Regional come the end of this season. -DW

A deep, veteran roster coupled with a true ace in Landen Roupp make the Seahawks an intriguing Super Regional Cinderella in 2021. Matt Suggs and Cole Weiss are back to provide stability to the lineup, while Noah Bridges brings a speed element at the top. Pitching depth is always key in a regional setting and this year’s team has tons of experience on their staff. Closer Adam Smith is now into the mid-90s and has the ability to work multiple days in a row. Coach Hood’s squad very well might be the darling of the NCAA tournament this season. -JM

The Cougars are made up of a lot of new faces and seem to be in the mix every single year in the AAC. Ryan Hernandez at first base is one of the best hitters in the conference and combining him with a big trio of arms in Ben Sears, Jaycob Deese and Cameron Prayer has a nice ring to it. With the depth of the pitching staff and the camaraderie that this team has according to Head Coach Todd Whitting, Houston is my choice for a Super Regional Cinderella run. -GG

Head Coach Rick Heller continues to build a consistent winner at Iowa, and has possibly his most talented team this year. Most of the talent from last year returns, highlighted by Preseason All-Big Ten hitter Izaya Fullard. Peyton Williams will be a big bat in the lineup, and Ben Norman is as steady as it gets in the Big Ten. If Trenton Wallace turns into an ace like the staff expects, Iowa could sneak up on teams and win a Regional. -BD

CWS Champion
Who's going to win it all!? With college baseball rosters as deep and talented as they've ever been thanks to the shortened 2020 MLB Draft, current transfer rules and players retaining eligibility after the shortened '20 season, this spring will be nothing short of fascinating as the action continues to unfold all the way to Omaha.

School Conference Staff
Ole Miss SEC BS
Louisville ACC VC
Louisville ACC JG
Florida SEC TR
Texas Tech Big 12 CO
Virginia  ACC DW
Vanderbilt SEC JM
Vanderbilt SEC GG
Louisville ACC BD

Ole Miss
With a loaded rotation, loaded bullpen, and a top-to-bottom lineup replete with power, Ole Miss is my pick to hoist the trophy in Omaha at the end of the season. Doug Nikhazy and Gunnar Hoglund form one of the better 1-2 punches in college baseball atop the Ole Miss rotation while there is plenty of thunder in the bats of Cael Baker, Ben Van Cleve, and Tim Elko, along with top 2022 draft prospect Hayden Dunhurst behind the plate. -BS

One can't help but be impressed by the talent assembled on HC John Savage's roster, from star shortstop Matt McLain to ace right-hander Zach Pettway, both sides of the ball are equally potent for the Bruins. Depth on the mound is crucial in making a deep run and Pettway is joined by fellow draft-caliber arms in the rotation with Nick Nastrini and Jesse Bergin, while the bullpen is as deep as it is talented. Catcher Noah Cardenas is another instrumental piece as he's one of the more refined backstops in the country and will know how to handle such a premium staff. 

This might be the deepest roster that Dan McDonnell has assembled since he arrived at Louisville as they look poised to return to Omaha, following in the steps of the 2019 team. The offense is extremely deep with returnees like Alex Binelas, Henry Davis, and Levi Usher. Add in fellow returnees like Lucas Dunn along with a pitching staff featuring monster falls from Glenn Albanese and Michael Kirian. The roster is so deep that it feels like the Cardinals will be standing atop the country come June. -VC

On the mound, Louisville has as good of a right/left blend as anyone in the country with both pitchability arms and hard-throwers who can collect tough strikeouts late in games. It’s the type of balance, experience, and different looks that seem to be the last team standing at the end of the year. The outfield speed will go a long way to help the staff take away hits and that speed should disrupt on the basepaths as well. Henry Davis is one of the top backstops in the country and given his defensive ability and leadership he could be the X-factor that tips the scale for the Cardinals in 2021. -JG

After finishing the shortened spring as the nation’s top team, the Gators lost only one starter from that Omaha-destined roster a year ago and brought in a very strong recruiting class. Now possessing one of the deepest, and most talented, rosters that we have seen at the collegiate level in some time, led by one of the country’s most talented position players in outfielder Jud Fabian, this team is undoubtedly on a crash course with playing in that final three-game series under the lights in Omaha and dog-piling under the fireworks like they did four short years ago. -TR

Texas Tech
The Red Raiders have made four World Series appearances under Head Coach Tim Tadlock in his eight years as the head man in Lubbock. This year’s club’s offense looks like one of the stronger ones in the country featuring Dylan Neuse, Dru Baker, and Cal Conley as guys who continue to put up big numbers for the Red Raiders. Micah Dallas returns to the rotation after being a part of the 2019 rotation that made a World Series appearance and will be joined by Mason Montgomery and Hunter Dobbins as well as the electric right arm of Brandon Birdsell. Look for this year’s club to put up runs in bunches as they try to get over the hump and bring Tech its first College World Series championship. -CO

Virginia looks to have learned from some mistakes in ’19 as they had a less-than-stellar conference tournament. They will bring back one of the top shortstops in the country in Nic Kent and also a couple of possible first round picks in Zack Gelof and Chris Newell. The pitching staff will also be one of the best on paper in the country with Griff McGarry, Nate Savino, and the high-octane arm on closer Andrew Abbott. The Hoos also have a rock in Head Coach Brian O’Connor as he enters his 17th season as the skipper and looks to repeat his National Championship run from the 2015 season. -DW

The Vandy Boys check all the boxes when it comes to predicting a CWS Champion. Front-line starters in Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter, hard-throwing relievers like Hugh Fisher and a loaded lineup that brings speed, power and experience to the table. Throw in Coach Corbin and this year’s rendition of Vanderbilt Baseball has the peripherals to hoist the trophy in Omaha. -JM

Hard to pick against the team with two very high-end pitching prospects, a loud offense, and still the defending champions from 2019. Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter is one of the best pitching duos college baseball has ever seen. The only question, if there is one here, is if Vanderbilt has the offense to put up a lot of runs. They may not need a whole lot of insurance given the pitching they have at their disposal, but the Commodores seem to be a strong choice especially if the offense produces this spring. -GG

The talent in the lineup is absurd with the likes of Alex Binelas, Henry Davis, and Levi Usher, all of whom were PG staff picks to win the Golden Spikes in 2021. The arm talent is the constant at Louisville, with guys stepping into the rotation at the beginning of the year and leaving as first-rounders seemingly every year. The Cardinals once again have plenty of those candidates on staff this year. -BD

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