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College  | Story  | 2/7/2024

College: Preseason Staff Picks

Vincent Cervino      Jheremy Brown      John McAdams      Tyler Henninger      Tyler Kotila      Tyler Russo      Craig Cozart      Jered Goodwin      Jason Phillips      Cameron McElwaney     
Preseason Top 25 Rankings | Preseason All-Americans | College Content Preview Index

Cervino Brown McAdams Russo Cozart Goodwin Phillips Henninger Kotila McElwaney
Frosh Campbell Smithwick Liam Peterson Kyle Johnson Trent Caraway Chase Meyer Ryder Helfrick Cameron Johnson Roch Cholowsky Dylan Vigue Drew Burress
Transfer Luke Holman Chase Burns Cam Leiter Colby Shelton Peyton Chatagnier Drew Faurot Tate Ballestero Braden Montgomery Sebastian Gongora Seaver King
Senior Sam Kulasingam Tanner Witt Hayden Travinski Lebarron Johnson Shane Lewis Slade Wilks Sam Ruta Micah McDowell Terry Busse Kade Snell
Sleeping Giant Draft Jared Spencer Billy Amick Garrett Horn Gavin Kash Derek Vartanian Bobby Boser Andrew Dutkanych IV Duce Gourson Brock Tibbitts Camron Hill
Golden Spikes Tommy White Nick Kurtz Mike Sirota Jac Caglianone Gavin Turley Vance Honeycutt JJ Wetherholt Travis Bazzana Braden Montgomery Charlie Condon
Omaha Outside T25 Florida State Indiana Southern Miss Texas Tech DBU Alabama West Virginia Oregon Oklahoma Campbell
Super Cinderella UC Irvine USC Rutgers Troy Northeastern Oral Roberts UCF Washington Louisville Jacksonville
CWS Champ LSU Florida Wake Forest Florida TCU Florida Oregon State Arkansas Texas A&M Wake Forest




Impact Freshman
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. 

Campbell Smithwick, Ole Miss
Smithwick was among the top catchers in the class of 2023, and turned down pro ball to make it to campus. It looks like that decision will pay off for the Rebels as Smithwick looks to be the Opening Day backstop in Oxford. It’s a sweet and smooth left-handed swing and Smithwick also checks all the boxes from a defensive standpoint. It’s really hard to play right away in college let alone at the catcher position but Smithwick really impressed this fall. -VC

Liam Peterson, Florida
Peterson stepped foot on Florida's campus and immediately became one of the top freshmen in the country and that was before even winning a starting spot in the weekend rotation. Armed with a heater that'll approach the upper-90s and a put away type breaker, Peterson is a name you'll need to know if you don't already, though the former Perfect Game All-American made quite a name for himself as a prep.  -JB

Kyle Johnson, Duke
Johnson will be an immediate impact piece to a Duke roster that will be looking to push their way to Omaha. The strongly built OF/LHP will be part of both the regular lineup and the rotation for the Blue Devils. Whether it is within the weekend rotation or starting off as the midweek guy, Johnson pumps the heater into the mid-90s and employs his excellent changeup to both right-and-left handed hitters. He has an advanced approach beyond his years at the plate and has impacts the baseball with authority. Add-in stellar defense and you have a potential two-way star that makes an impact from Day 1. -JMC

Trent Caraway, Oregon State
Caraway was one of the best hitters on the West Coast coming out of high school last year, and very well could’ve seen his named called in the first few rounds of the draft but is now up at Oregon State and should contribute heavily to this offense. He’s got an exciting blend of power and consistency to his game, while steadily getting the ball in the air which could result in double digit home runs in his freshman campaign, alongside being an athletic defender as well. -TR

Chase Meyer, West Virginia
One of the most high-profile arms in the ’23 class to make it to campus for any program, Chase Meyer has a chance to work his way into the rotation for the Mountaineers. He has refined his delivery, is commanding the zone at a solid rate and his elite stuff continues to trend upward. During the fall, reports came out that his fastball was sitting comfortably in the mid-90s with 2,600+ rpms and he possesses arguably the best slider in the nation as he spins it 3,200+ reaching 86 mph. Meyer’s development could put his club in contention for back-to-back Big 12 regular season titles. -CC

Ryder Helfrick, Arkansas
Helfrick was a well-known commodity on the summer circuit in 2022. He had maybe the loudest contact at the Perfect Game All American Classic, with a booming tripe off the centerfield wall at Chase Field. He combines a very high-level combination hit and power potential, as well as,  the ability to play a premium position behind the dish. Given he plays with one of the best teams in the country (Arkansas), the production he is capable of will be magnified. -JG

Cameron Johnson, LSU
The No. 2 ranked left-handed pitcher coming out of High School via Perfect Game, Johnson heads into his first year in Baton Rouge with an upper-90s fastball and high-spin breaking ball for the Tigers. The defending National Champions will have a target on their backs after losing the top two picks in the 2023 Major League Baseball Draft. Johnson joins a retooled pitching staff which features transfers Luke Holman (Alabama) and Gage Jump (UCLA) along with returners Thatcher Hurd and Gavin Guidry. The Tigers and Head Coach Jay Johnson will need all hands-on deck for a return trip to Omaha and Cam Johnson will be a big part of that quest. -JP

Roch Cholowsky, UCLA
Cholowsky could very well be preparing for his first spring training right now, but the freshman decided to turn down a potential big time payday in order to go to UCLA. The best defensive shortstop in the prep class last year, Cholowsky features an advanced glove that can provide up the middle actions. Due to the depth of the Bruin infield, Cholowsky will likely play third base this year before taking over at shortstop long term. Offensively, there is intriguing power potential that continued to improve every year as a prep. If the bat can get going early, Cholowsky should make a massive impact in his freshman campaign. -TH

Dylan Vigue, Michigan
Heading into 2024, the Michigan Wolverines are riding with a true freshman in Big Ten competition on Friday nights. They will be trusting the Massachusetts native as their ace in 2024. He’s into the mid-90s, up to 96 mph, with heavy sink on the heater, which he pairs with an 85-87 mph slider and 88-90 mph cutter, and occasional changeup for a four-pitch mix. -TK

Drew Burress, Georgia Tech
Burress was one of the most heralded players in the 2023 class and steps onto campus with huge expectations. The 2023 PG All-American was a top-30 player in the class for a reason, possessing some of the biggest tools in the entire class. Coming off his freshman fall where he was incredible at the plate, he looks to be one of the best freshmen in the country this spring. -CM


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

Luke Holman, LSU
The Tigers have tons to replace both on the mound and at the dish, that’s the price for being on top, but they landed a very strong transfer class that includes former Alabama right-hander Luke Holman. He looks to be a key piece in the rotation and even has Friday night experience in the SEC. It’s a mid-90s heater with a full starter’s arsenal and with a strong year he could propel himself into the first round. -VC

Chase Burns, Wake Forest
This is the lowest hanging fruit out there so why not take it? Burns, a presumed first rounder prior to entering the portal, has continued to up the ante this fall and spring at Wake, consistently touching triple digits while putting his name in the 1:1 discussion. It's some of the biggest and loudest stuff in college baseball and both he and Braden Montgomery made a splash this past summer when they announced they'd be entering the portal. -JB

Cam Leiter, Florida State
Leiter brings electricity to the front of the Seminoles rotation and will have tons of opportunities to lead his squad back to the postseason in 2024. Armed with a power fastball that has been into the mid-90s and may even touch higher in big moments. The slider has serious power to it, he lands his curveball for strikes and has made significant strides to his changeup that has only expanded his arsenal. If he can reel in the command issues that have wavered in the past, Leiter has the arm talent to make his way near the top of next year’s draft crop and has already started the buzz. -JMC

Colby Shelton, Florida
Shelton is coming off a ridiculous freshman year at Alabama where hit .300 with 25 home runs playing in the SEC. Now he’s at Florida where he has a year under his belt to be able to improve on that already very strong average, plus has postseason experience that’ll be crucial as Florida is a team with a real shot to make a run at the title. It’ll be tough to replicate a year where you hit 25 long balls, but if he can come close and be consistent, he’ll be one of the Gators biggest pieces. -TR

Peyton Chatagnier, TCU
After a long and successful career at Ole Miss, Chatagnier returns to his home state and bolsters an already stout TCU lineup. He started 182 games at his previous institution, received Freshman All-American honors in 2020 and plays with an edge about him that will be infectious. While his batting average did trend downward throughout his career, his power numbers jumped in his last two seasons hitting 21 of his career 31 round trippers in that time. He is a solid defender and an instinctual player. Sometimes new scenery takes players to another level and Chatagnier is primed for his best season yet as the Frogs look for another trip to Omaha. -CC

Drew Faurot, FSU
Faurot was a tremendous two-way athlete in high school and the split between sports brought some questions with how quickly he would translate to the college game. He answered those questions by manning short stop at a high level and showing massive pull power. That power could be bump in a big way by the friendly right field wall in Tallahassee. As he develops and has some star power around him he could make a massive jump and a huge off season get for the Seminoles. -JG

Tate Ballestero, Wake Forest
A redshirt senior transfer from St. John’s, Ballestero will be tasked with catching one of the top pitching staffs in the country. He will battle for playing time after the departure of catcher Bennett Lee who was drafted in the 6th round by the Detroit Tigers. The Demon Deacons feature three potential 1st round picks in their starting rotation and will need a backstop to harness that type of firepower. Ballestero compiled a team-leading 45 RBI and finished with 10 homeruns for the Red Storm a year ago and his biggest contribution to the Deacs will be his ability to lead the staff as Wake Forest looks to make a second straight appearance back in Omaha. -JP

Braden Montgomery, Texas A&M
Montgomery posted an OPS over 1.000 and struckout nearly 30% of the hitters he faced during his two dominant years at Stanford. Now the two-way star will get to put his talents up against the SEC and will look to carry the Aggies to Omaha. The switch-hitter features an intriguing mix of power potential and a high-end hit tool at the plate. It is tough to find a stronger arm in the outfield, where Montgomery can create big time carry. The arm strength translates to the mound, where a mid-90’s fastball can overwhelm hitters. The ability to impact games in a multitude of ways gives Montgomery value that not many players can provide. It would not be out of the question if Montgomery ends up a Top-3 pick this summer. -TH
 
Sebastian Gongora, Louisville
As Louisville heads into 2024 with a bit of a chip on their shoulder after a tough 2023 campaign, they've got a new arm to lead them into battle. Former Horizon League '23 Pitcher of the Year & '22 All-Freshman Team honoree with Wright State, Sebastian Gongora, will start on Friday's for the Cardinals. Gongora works the low- to mid-90s with a feel for a slider and changeup for a comfy three-pitch mix. -TK

Seaver King, Wake Forest
King, a standout performer at the Division-II level for the past few years, was one of the biggest names to transfer this past off-season. The tools jump off the page with King and he will make an immediate impact in the middle of the diamond. He’s a potential early first round pick, making this an easy to choice to be one of the top impact transfers of 2024. -CM
 
Impact Senior
The senior tag for this category was expanded a bit to all four-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 2023, both from a talent standpoint as well as providing invaluable experience. 

Sam Kulasingam, Air Force
The two-time defending MWC Player of the Year will suit up for his final season at Air Force as there’s no reason to believe Sam Kulasingam isn’t the favorite to go for the three peat. He hit over .420 a season ago and looks to be a huge piece of what should be an impressive Falcons lineup. He’ll be looking to anchor the lineup and hopefully drive Air Force to a conference championship.

Tanner Witt, Texas
Witt has long been on the prospect circuit and was drafted by Baltimore last spring after missing all of 2022 and a chunk of 2023, though he did return late in the year. Back to full strength Witt should return to his old form as he was dominant in his freshman year thanks to his ability to pound the strike zone and stay off of barrels when he isn't missing them entirely. Technically a redshirt-junior, 2024 marks the fourth year on campus for Witt who looks to be a dominant force in the Big 12 this spring. -JB

Hayden Travinski, LSU
Travinski is a consummate leader for the Tigers that will likely split time behind the dish with Alex Milazzo and will DH when not catching. Despite being solid behind the dish, it is the bat that stands out. He brings an advanced approach with excellent barrel awareness and legitimate in-game power that can affect a game with one swing of the bat. If you were to project his 2023 numbers out to compare to others that were in the lineup consistently, Travinski could put make the case to be included with the premier run producers in college baseball. -JMC

Lebarron Johnson, Texas
Johnson was outstanding in his first year as a starter for the Longhorns in 2023, posting a 2.91 ERA in over 86 innings and earning first All Big-12 honors. Now he’s easily one of the most experienced arms in the Big 12, earning Preseason Big 12 Pitcher of the Year and All-American honors, and looks to lead Texas to another successful season if he continues to miss bats and throw as many strikes as he showed he could in 2023. He’ll be a staple piece for them this year. -TR

Shane Lewis, Troy
After spending two years at Chipola College, Lewis put together a massive D1 debut as he was not only the Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year but was also named the Sun Belt Player of the Year. He slashed .286/.705/.436 and shattered the Troy all-time single season home run record with 27 dingers. The switch-hitter is an athletic 6-2/190 and returns to campus with even more protection in the lineup, so don’t be surprised if he surpasses his output from a year ago. The Trojans won 40 games in ’23 and earned an at-large bid to the Tuscaloosa Regional and Lewis could deliver them to another trip in 2024. -CC

Slade Wilks, Southern Miss
Southern Miss loves baseball. They especially love the guys that put everything into the program the way Wilks has by returning for his senior season. Those guys typically produce in a big way and Wilks has real left-handed juice. If he gets going early he could put up power numbers that rival any prospect in the entire country, it’s that type of power potential. -JG

Sam Ruta, Army
The talented left-handed hitting infielder has been a huge part of the Black Knights offensive attack since being named Freshman of the Year and First Team All-Patriot League back in 2021. Ruta has seen his power production increase every year at West Point with 35 extra-base hits a year ago, including 13 homeruns. He looks to build off his 2023 campaign as he leads the Black Knights toward their 6th straight Patriot League title and his fourth appearance in NCAA Regional action. -JP

Micah McDowell, Oregon State
McDowell had big shoes to fill last year, as the Beaver outfield lost Wade Meckler, Jacob Melton, and Justin Boyd. After playing in just 13 games the previous year, McDowell took over a starting role and excelled. He hit .342/.428/.509 with 15 stolen bases and nearly as many walks as strikeouts. McDowell should have the opportunity to be a key contributor to a strong Beaver lineup again. The hit tool will always be the carrying tool, but if the power can take another step up McDowell could be a very scary bat to face. -TH

Terry Busse, Georgia Tech
Terry Busse returns as Georgia Tech’s stopper, being named a ‘23 PG Midseason All-American. He finished ‘23 with 22 appearances, nine saves, a 5.10 ERA, and 28 walks to 58 strikeouts over 42.1 innings of work. The senior features a low to mid-90s heater, with a wipeout slider, and has reportedly added a cutter to the mix as he hopes to live up to his “Scary Terry” nickname once again as the Yellow Jackets closer. -TK
 
Kade Snell, Alabama
Snell is coming off two monstrous seasons in the JUCO ranks at Wallace-Dothan and will make a huge impact on the Alabama team this spring. He’s a two way guy with middle of the order type impact in the left-handed bat to go along with low-90s on the hill. The ability to make an impact doing both made him a clear choice to be the top impact senior in 2024. -CM


Sleeping Giant: MLB Draft
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. 

Jared Spencer, Indiana State
Indiana State was one of the darlings of the 2023 season, winning their home Regional and advancing to a Super before being eliminated. Jared Spencer returns for the Sycamores and he’s got huge stuff from the left side, drawing Josh Hader comparisons thanks to the slot, handedness, and stuff. He’s got a chance to start on the mound and if successful he could potentially fly up draft boards. -VC

Billy Amick, Tennessee
Amick very well could've found himself in the impact transfer list as he slashed .414/.464/.772 last spring at Clemson with 13 home runs and another 17 doubles. The junior third baseman checked in as a PG Preseason All American prior to his first stint in Knoxville and should he continue to ride the momentum of last spring/summer into the spring, showing the easy plus raw power, improved bat-to-ball skills and solid defensive actions, don't be shocked if he continues to climb draft boards all spring. -JB

Garrett Horn, Liberty
Horn was outstanding as a freshman in 2022 for the Flames, as the athletic left-hander went 7-1 with a Sub-2.00 ERA. He battled some command issues in ’23 but has made significant strides in his delivery by adding some more fluidity and looseness to it. He has worked into the mid-90s with his fastball that elicits plenty of empty swings. He goes to his slider often, a depthy version of the pitch that he throws with conviction. He completes his mix with a serviceable changeup that he has not thrown often during his career. If the command goes to back to the 2022 version and the velocity continues to tick up due to the delivery refinements. Horn has all the makings of someone that could shoot up boards rather quickly. -JMC

Gavin Kash, Texas Tech
Any time you can lead a Power 5 conference in home runs in a single year, there’s a good shot you’ll have some hype around you going into your draft year and there may not be enough on Kash. He’s a big physical left-handed power bat who showed consistency in hitting .327 last year, but it’s obviously the power that is the draw. If he has another year where he hits 20+ home runs, it’s easy to see why he could go in the first few rounds after a two-year track record of it. -TR

Derek Vartanian, Campbell
Coming off two successful seasons at Gaston College, the 6-4/200 Vartanian is turning heads with his raw stuff and his ability to command the strike zone. With an efficient delivery, an over-the-top arm angle and three plus pitches, he could push himself into first day draft consideration. Reports have his fastball up to 98 mph in the fall and sustaining mid-90s heat as he backs this up with a power, upper-80s slider and low-80s vertical curveball. The Camels are moving to the Colonial Conference this spring, they have been a fixture in the NCAA Tournament and will undoubtedly be there again on the broad shoulders of Vartanian. -CC

Bobby Boser, University of South Florida
Boser had a breakout year for the Bulls in 2023, hitting .323 with 15 homers. He showed excellent tools in the Cape Cod Summer League as well notching 8 doubles and 4 home runs. The bat speed and run tool are not in question at all for the versatile middle of the field defender. If he cuts down on the strikeouts this spring he will run up draft boards in a hurry. Betting on the athleticism, he takes a huge step forward for a very good lineup in Tampa. -JG

Andrew Dutkanych IV, Vanderbilt
A highly touted right-handed pitching prospect out of Brebeuf Jesuit Prep High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, Dutkanych battled injuries last year in his freshman season at Vanderbilt. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound right-hander brings a big arsenal to the bump for the Commodores and should be a big part of the staff heading into 2024 with a clean bill of health. IF Dutkanych can return to his form prior to last season and remain healthy throughout the year, the Vandy Boys will have a starting pitcher who can match up against any team in the country as they look for their 3rd College World Series title since 2014. -JP

Duce Gourson, UCLA
The double-play combo of Cody Schrier and Duce Gourson is one of the better duos in the country. The former has garnered most of the attention over the last few years, while the latter has been just as good, if not better. Gourson currently ranks 184th overall on the 2024 Draft Board, but has a chance to skyrocket up boards this spring. An advanced approach allows for high on-base ability, while a smooth left-handed swing shows advanced feel for the barrel. The Bruin middle infielder saw improvement in a lot of offensive numbers last year. If he can continue to show development, there should be plenty of teams interested. -TH

Brock Tibbitts, Indiana
Brock Tibbitts was named to the 2nd Team All-Big Ten list after slashing .357/.585/.447 with 17 doubles, four triples, and ten homers for the Hoosiers. Sliding from first base to back behind the dish, he could vault up draft boards, bringing some serious thump to a scary Indiana lineup this year. Currently stationed at 115th, look for the returning junior to keep climbing with another loud spring performance in the Big Ten. -TK

Camron Hill, Georgia Tech
The 6-foot-6, 215-pound left-hander is coming off a monstrous summer that saw him named the Cape Cod League Outstanding Pitcher of the Year. The stuff has always been top of the line and now he’s seemed to have harnessed the command as well. It’s a mid-90s fastball with great quality and a wipeout slider, making this an arm that could skyrocket up boards if he continues momentum from the summer. -CM


Golden Spikes
Whoever takes home the 2024 Golden Spikes will be more than worthy of the award, especially when considering the sheer depth of talent in collegiate baseball this spring. 

Tommy White, LSU
It feels like Tommy White is lurking in the shadows when it comes to Golden Spikes talk but he’s absolutely on the short list of players who could win the award. It’s prodigious raw power and White is coming off a season where he slugged 24 homers, hit over 100 RBI, and lowered his strikeout rate from his freshman season by 5% even though it was his first year in the SEC. The pure hitting tools are loud and White could add a Golden Spikes trophy to put next to his national title one. -VC

Nick Kurtz, Wake Forest
Another low hanging fruit here, Kurtz enters the spring as a very real potential 1:1 pick and is similar to last year's Golden Spikes winner Dylan Crews in the sense that you don't over think this pick. After hitting 15 home runs as a freshman, Kurtz upped the ante with 24 long balls last spring though the hit tool is just as impressive as the power, meaning he'll once again be one of the most feared hitters in the country. We're used to seeing Wake hitters put up big offensive numbers and there's no reason to think Kurtz won't build off an already highly impressive resume. -JB

Mike Sirota, Northeastern
Yes, I am picking Mike Sirota to win the Golden Spikes and why not; all he does is find barrels. The Broad Channel, New York native is an exceptional athlete, a plus defender in centerfield and absolutely rakes. He has continued to add more power as he matures physically, while still producing above average run times. He is a hard-nosed player with advanced barrel skills and elite level swing decisions. I fully expect him to take his game up another level in 2024, as Sirota simply just loves prove skeptics wrong. -JMC

Jac Caglianone, Florida
At this point, everyone in college baseball knows who “Cags” is as he’s a monster left-handed hitting/left-handed throwing two-way guy who can throw 100 and had 33 home runs in 2023. Now he’s in his junior campaign with a desire to show a high level of consistency that could get him into the Top 5 picks of the draft; if he’s throwing consistent strikes with his level of stuff, and comes close to replicating his offensive season from last year, there’s no reason he isn’t right at the top of the list when it comes to being labeled as the best player in college baseball for 2024. -TR

Gavin Turley, Oregon State
You could make a case that Turley possesses the most comprehensive 5-tool skillset of any player in the college game today. He is an explosive 6-2/190, runs a legitimate 6.30 in the 60-yard dash, throws the ball up to 100 mph from the outfield and has electric bat speed with ease light tower power. He was a Freshman All-American in 2023, batting .301 with 14 home runs and 46 RBIs in the competitive Pac-12 and had a massive last month of the season. He has improved his plate discipline, cut down the swing and miss and with the protection he has in the high-octane Beavers lineup, don’t be surprised if he doubles his output from a year ago. -CC

Vance Honeycutt, UNC
Honeycutt already has 37 homers and 48 stolen bases in his two years at UNC. He is an explosive athlete that is now turning into a baseball player. Last season he answered some questions. After a freshman year that saw over a 2-to-1 K/BB rate, he turned in close to a 1-to-1 K/BB rate as a sophomore. If he continues this huge developmental trend he could very well be collecting massive hardware next summer. -JG

JJ Wetherholt, West Virginia
The nation’s leading hitter in 2023 with a .449 batting average, Wetherholt is eager to build on that after leading the Mountaineers to an NCAA Regional appearance. The primary second baseman will get reps at shortstop this year to add value to his already consensus Top 5 pick status in Major League Baseball 2024 mock drafts. If the Mountaineers can make a run deep into the NCAA tournament, Wetherholt will have to play a huge part and that will be the deciding factor in him being named the Golden Spikes winner as the nation’s top player. -JP

Travis Bazzana, 2B, Oregon State
Bazzana has everything you look for in a baseball player. The Australian native features one of the best bats in the country and can make an impact with his speed and athleticism, while also being a fierce competitor and outstanding leader.  Since stepping on campus, Bazzana has been an instant contributor. He has posted a .340/.463/.549 slashline with 50 stolen bases, 60 extra-base hits, and just five less walks than strikeouts during his first two years at Corvallis. There is no reason Bazzana shouldn’t put together another strong season, one which could end with a trip to Omaha, the Golden Spikes Award, and being selected first overall in the draft. -TH

Braden Montgomery, Texas A&M
Two-way standout Braden Montgomery is primed for a huge 2024 season with the Aggies after being named to the Golden Spikes watch list as a sophomore last year with Stanford, along with a lengthy list of accolades. Montgomery’s expected to hit clean-up for the Aggies & play RF and could get on the mound as needed, bumping an upper-90s fastball. -TKTwo-way standout Braden Montgomery is primed for a huge 2024 season with the Aggies after being named to the Golden Spikes watch list as a sophomore last year with Stanford, along with a lengthy list of accolades. Montgomery’s expected to hit clean-up for the Aggies & play RF and could get on the mound as needed, bumping an upper-90s fastball. -TK

Charlie Condon, Georgia
Condon is coming off a year in which he won nearly every major award for a freshman, including freshman All-American honors and SEC Freshman of the Year. He’s regarded as one of the top hitters throughout college baseball and is coming off a year in which he hit 25 homers. I’m expecting him to put up similar numbers in 2024, making him an easy choice to win the Golden Spikes. -CM
 
 
Outside T25 Omaha
Every team opens the year with renewed hope, but this is a group of teams entering 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.

Florida State Seminoles
Last year was a bit of a rock bottom for the Noles, ending their 40+ year streak of making a Regional and failing to qualify for the ACC tournament. The roster, and pitching staff specifically, looks much improved with UCF transfer Cam Leiter looking like a 2025 first rounder this fall. The offense is impressive and were so a year ago but big improvements to the pitching staff have the Noles looking like a team to jump in the Top 25 early and potentially make an underdog Omaha run.

Indiana Hoosiers
Head Coach Jeff Mercer's team opens the year as the No. 27th ranked club and it's a mark they could very easily move off of given their returning talent. Sophomore Devin Taylor has real star potential after he hit the ground running last year to the tune of a .316-16-36 line with 16 doubles and returns as one of the best sophomores in the country. Brock Tibbitts, Carter Mathison and Tyler Cerny all connected for double digit home runs last spring though a chunk of their offense returns, similarly to their pitching staff with the likes of Seti Manase and Ryan Kraft back on the bump alongside flamethrowers Connor Foley and Brayden Risedorph. -JB

Southern Miss Golden Eagles
The Golden Eagles will usher in the Christian Ostrander era in 2024 and have the makings of a squad that has Omaha on their minds. The pitching staff has the chance to be downright dominant led by Niko Mazza and his mid-90s fastball. Billy Oldham, JB and Kros Shively have experience to navigate the rigors of a college season, while bringing their own exciting repertoires to the pitching corps. JB Middleton is a power armed right-hander that has worked into the upper-90s with his fastball at-times and could be an X-factor. They have a strong returning core offensively with Nick Monistere and Slade Wilks in the lineup. BYU transfer Ozzie Pratt should have an immediate impact in the top half of the lineup. The pitching gives them a chance against anyone and I could see them making their way to Omaha. -JMC

Texas Tech Red Raiders
Given the steady success of this program, it’s kind of tough to think of them as a “sleeper” for Omaha, but as they start the year outside the Top 25, it’s a bit of an uphill battle to get there. They’ve lost some key pieces over the last 12 months, but this team is chalked full of talent, especially on the offensive end. Gavin Kash could lead the country in home runs with a good 2024, while the experience of others around him makes this lineup potent, while guys with legit stuff will factor in heavily on the mound. This program knows what it takes to get to Omaha. -TR

Dallas Baptist Patriots
During head coach Dan Heefner’s 17 seasons at the helm of the Patriots program he has led his club to the NCAA Tournament 12 times, including 11 of the past 12 years. They are consistent winners at a national level, have been to the Super Regionals twice and this year’s roster has the talent to deliver them to the promised land. Pre-Season All-American, Ryan Johnson is one of the most dominant arms in the country and Nathan Humphreys, Ethan Mann, and Grant Jay return 55 combined home runs to the lineup. They won the C-USA regular season title in ’23, their first year in the league and they look like the favorites once again this season. -CC

University of Alabama Crimson Tide
This comes down to the plethora of power arms and the potential for the lineups maturity to be balanced from top to bottom. When it gets to SEC play it many times comes down to which team has fresh power arms during rubber matches on Sunday. Alabama has that type of potential if the staff can own and execute individual roles. -JG

West Virginia Mountaineers
The Mountaineers return preseason player of the year favorite JJ Wetherholt as well as Grant Hussey who finished second on the club with 14 homeruns. The roster will be young with 27 underclassmen including 14 incoming freshmen led by right-handed pitcher Chase Meyer and infielder Armani Guzman. If the new recruits can grow up quick and along with consistent playing time for returning outfielders Skylar King and Tyler Cox, the Mountaineers have an opportunity to send Head Coach Randy Mazey on his first trip to Omaha in his final season before handing the reigns over to Steve Sabins after 12 seasons at the helm. -JP

Oregon Ducks
After an up and down year, Oregon made an unbelievable run late in the spring and finished just one win short of Omaha. Coming in at No. 30 on preseason rankings, the Ducks are in a spot to make another deep postseason run. The majority of the lineup and pitching staff will return this spring. Jacob Walsh and Drew Smith should be productive bats out of the middle of the order. Matthew Grabmann and Grayson Grinsell will have key roles yet again, while freshman Cole Stokes has Friday night upside. This year could be the year the Ducks make the push into Omaha. -TH

Oklahoma Soooners
Oklahoma may not be on our Preseason College Top 25 but do not count them out. After all, they were in the CWS Finals just two years ago. Depth and experience could pilot a big season in 2024, providing that their big fall performers translate success into the spring. They snuck into a regional last year and could very much so use their experience on both sides of the ball to help drive them back to a Regional and continue on the road back to Omaha. -TK

Campbell Camels
For anyone following college baseball in recent years, Campbell has turned into the mid-major powerhouse. They’ve rattled off back-to-back 40-win campaigns and come into 2024 with yet another extremely talented group. The mix of a potent lineup to go along with some high octane arms could give them their first Omaha appearance in program history. -CM



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.

UC Irvine Anteaters
The ‘Eaters are coming off a strong season where they won 38 games but were left out of the Field of 64, likely due to the Big West’s low RPI. That doesn’t mean they’re not talented however as a depth of arms and veteran bats, likely led by sophomore Anthony Martinez look poised to compete for the conference once again. They definitely have the look of a team you wouldn’t be happy about welcoming to a Regional.

University of Southern California Trojans
Coming off a 34 win season a year ago, the Trojans and Head Coach Andy Stankiewicz have their eyes set on bigger goals for 2024. While they may have missed the postseason in 2023, the club returns a variety of talent on both sides of the ball with the offense being led by Austin Overn who was fantastic last season as a freshman and looks to take his performance to the next level as a draft eligible sophomore. While he'll serve as a catalyst to the offense, Caden Aoki will pace the pitching staff after leading the PAC 12 in ERA while rotation mates Eric Hammond and Tyler Stromsborg return to the mix as well. -JB

Rutgers Scarlet Knights
The Scarlet Knights has continued to make strides since Steve Owens took over the reins. 2022 was an impressive season but they took a slight step back in 2023 after overhauling their roster a bit. They’ve added numerous newcomers via both transfer and their recent recruiting classes. This year could be there year they break through and make a deep postseason run. An experienced lineup led by Joshua Kuroda-Grauer and a healthy Tony Santamaria should score plenty of runs. Trevor Cohen had a stellar freshman campaign and transfer RJ Johnson brings a bevy of tools to the everyday lineup. The pitching staff will be led by Freshman All-American Christian Coppola. He will be followed by an emerging Justin Sinabaldi, who has seen his velocity tick up as of late and freshman Zachary Konstantinovsky. Sprinkle in some experienced transfer arms, the pitching staff could be a huge strength that could have them make a run to a Super Regional. -JMC

Troy Trojans
This team was in a regional in 2023, winning their first game there before falling to Alabama and then Boston College. Now, they’re back with a lot of key contributors from that group on both sides of the ball, including Shane Lewis who hit 27 home runs and Friday night guy Grayson Stewart who threw over 90 innings. It’s a deep group with a lot of guys who have had a taste of success; you certainly wouldn’t want to be a host and see Troy slated to your regional in 2024. -TR

Northeastern Huskies
No one does a better job with challenging situations than head coach Mike Glavine and staff as they put a quality club on the field year after year despite cold weather conditions and sharing field space with other sports. They won a program record 44 games in ’23 and broke into the Top-25 playing a difficult schedule and most of it on the road. This program has serious helium and at the heart of the team is Pre-Season All-American and potential Day-1 draft pick Mike Sirota who hit .346 with 18 home runs. Tyler MacGregor and Alex Lane return a combined 34 dingers, giving the Huskies one of the most dangerous lineups around. Their pitching staff is full of elite strike throwers where they will get length out of their starters. Glavine’s clubs don’t backdown to anyone and this team could take the next step in 2024. -CC

Oral Roberts Golden Eagles
This is kind of a trendy pick as Oral Roberts is coming off a magical season that saw them make a run to Omaha. But there is something to say with program buy in from a system standpoint. That type of buy in leads to toughness and consistent success from year to year. If there is no Omaha hangover, this group knows how to slay power 5 opponents in big games, late in the year. -JG

UCF Knights
The Knights feature a new head coach and new conference in 2024 and are looking to make an immediate splash as they join the tough Big 12 Conference. Head Coach Rich Wallace in his first year at the helm after coaching at Florida State in 2023, inherits an experienced roster with 29 upperclassmen led by junior backstop Andrew Sundean and his 16 homeruns and team-leading 54 RBI a year ago. The addition of left-handed pitcher Carsten Finnvold, a University of Florida transfer, gives the Knights a frontline starting pitcher after losing Cam Leiter in the transfer portal to Florida State. The Knights feature an experienced coaching staff that have assembled an experienced roster on both sides of the ball that are primed to surprise some people in a conference where they are picked to finish in the middle of the pack. -JP

Washington Huskies
The Huskies put together a strong season in year one under Coach Kelly and look to be in line to repeat that success and more. The offense will return a majority of their contributors, including Cam Clayton. The Huskies shortstop posted a .325/.393/.545 slash line with 11 home runs and strong defense up the middle. He will need to repeat his success from a year ago, but players like AJ Guerrero and Avita Arquette should help keep the lineup moving as well. There will be key innings to replace on the mound, but a handle of intriguing arms have the potential to do just that. If the pitching staff can have success, the Huskies are a sneaky contender that can make some noise out west. -TH

Kent State Golden Flashes
It seems like it's Kent State's conference to lose in the Mid-American Conference. With both returning upperclassmen and some impactful youngsters, they're primed for a run into the postseason. If a mid-major is going to go on a run, I like the Golden Flashes to turn things on late in the year, like they always seem to do, which only bodes well for a postseason run in 2024. Plus, who doesn't love some MACtion? -TK

Jacksonville Dolphins
The Jacksonville Dolphins come into the 2024 season with high expectations as they return one of the top pitching staffs in the country. Leading the staff is 2023 Freshman All-American Evan Chrest who’s one of the top arms in the entire nation. It’s simple picking JU as the team to make a run at a super regional simply because they’ll be able to match anyone they play on the mound. -CM


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 current transfer rules and players retaining eligibility, this spring will be nothing short of fascinating as the action continues to unfold all the way to Omaha.

LSU Tigers
There’s no way to sugar coat that LSU had a dream season in 2023, but they lose the first two picks in the draft and a boatload of other contributors. That being said this could be the best rotation in the SEC with Thatcher Hurd, Luke Holman, and Gage Jump so long as they stay healthy and they return a superstar in Tommy White supplemented by various other key contributors. Winning Omaha definitely involves some luck but the pieces are here for a repeat run for Jay Johnson and company. -VC
 
Florida Gators
The Gators open the year as the No. 4 team in the country, No. 3 in the SEC, which speaks to the depth of the league and the talent it'll require week in and week out, a task this Kevin O'Sullivan club is built for. They have a superstar in Jac Caglianone who can go 110 EV/400+ bomb in the top half of an inning and flirt with triple digits on the bump the next half. Arms like Cade Fisher, Liam Peterson and Brandon Neely help make up one of the best rotations in the country while Cags will be joined by the likes of transfers Colby Shelton and Brody Donay, Cade Kurland, Luke Heyman and Michael Robertson for a balanced offensive attack.  -JB

Wake Forest Demon Deacons
‘Rake” Forest will come into 2024 with a target on their back, as they found themselves in Omaha last year but this year’s rendition has a chance to be absolutely special. The three-headed monster of a starting rotation will be rivaled by few across the country. Chase Burns seems to have taken his “Stuff” to another level, while left-hander Josh Hartle continues to add more velocity and let’s not forget Michael Massey who is the owner of perhaps the “Best” fastball in the country metrically speaking. The bullpen returns stalwart Cole Roland and has added Maryland transfer David Falco to the mix to lock down the later innings if needed. Offensively, they will be led by potential 1:1 Nick Kurtz, who looks to cap off his massive career by leading his squad to the CWS title. Wingate (D2) transfer Seaver King has potential star-power and brings another element to an already exciting lineup. The everyday lineup will more than likely feature numerous transfers and how well they perform may very well be the key to the Demon Deacs hoisting the trophy come June. There is simply too much firepower within the starting rotation and loaded lineup to not pick them in 2024. -JMC

Florida Gators
You’ll see this pick by a few different people and for good reason as the Gators fell just short of another title in 2023, losing in Game 3 of the championship series to LSU, and although they lost a bit, they’ve reloaded and look primed for another deep run. Cags is the star name here as a legitimate pick to win this year’s Golden Spikes, while he’s surrounded by a plenty long list of talented offensive contributors. They’ll have to see some guys step up on the mound in 2024, but this team checks a lot of boxes and O’Sullivan knows how to get the most out of his guys. -TR

TCU Horned Frogs
It’s hard to overstate the importance of experience and expectation when it comes to a program’s postseason outlook. Head coach Kirk Saarloos has taken the Horned Frogs to an unforeseen level in his first two seasons as the skipper. In year one, he led his club to the Big 12 regular season title and last year took them back to Omaha. There has never been more electricity surrounding the program in Fort Worth, they have massive backing from the university and boosters. They have proven they are real players in the world of NIL and made a big splash in the transfer portal in the offseason. This roster got a taste of life in the College World Series, it is as deep and talented as ever and with the new additions they have the depth and mentality to bring home the National Title. -CC

Florida Gators
There are big holes to fill in terms of the front end of the weekend rotation that saw names called early in the 2023 draft. If there is one program that can replace front end arms, it’s the Gators. They have the pieces in place there and a nice balance with different looks out of the pen. The lineup, however, is as star-studded and experienced as there is in college baseball. It’s the type of depth and power that can literally bully opponents if they get rolling. Seemingly every player in the lineup can change the game with one swing of the bat. -JG

Oregon State Beavers
Head Coach Mitch Canham looks for his first trip to Omaha as a coach after three appearances and two national titles as a player for the Beavers in 2006 and 2007. His 2024 club is loaded on the offensive side with potential Top-5 pick in the Major League Baseball Draft Travis Bazzana leading the way. The Beavers lineup is strong from top to bottom and has a chance to be the best offensive lineup in school history. The pitching staff gets a boost with the additions of Arizona transfer Aiden May and Cal Poly transfer Kyle Scott. If the pitching staff can remain healthy all year the Beavers have the talent and pedigree to win it all and hoist the trophy once again in their final year in the Pac-12. -JP

Arkansas Razorbacks
Arkansas is primed for a deep run in Omaha with a talented roster from top to bottom. The pitching staff has a chance to overpower opposing lineups every time out. Hagen Smith is a potential first rounder with an upper-90’s fastball and ridiculous slider. Peyton Stovall will lead the way offensively, where a strong group of transfers should provide an instant jolt. The freshman class is the strongest in the country. Former PG All-American MVP Ryder Helfrick has a chance to be an impact bat, while right-hander Gabe Gaekle and Hunter Dietz could be top of the rotation guys. The Razorbacks have the piece necessary to be the last one standing in Omaha. -TH

Texas A&M Aggies
In our Preseason College Top 25, the Aggies come in at no.7, and they have all the makings of a team prepped for a run to Omaha. With the star-studded lineup and potential on the mound headlined by names like Braden Montgomery and Jace LaViolette, there’s real potential here if the pitching can live up to the expectations in 2024. Coach Jim Schlossnagle has been building something special down in College Station, and it feels like 2024 could be the year they make a run at it all. -TK

Wake Forest Demon Deacons
The Demon Deacons come into the year as the preseason No. 1 team with arguably the most talented roster in the country. They lost a few huge parts of their 2023 team but hit the portal hard adding Chase Burns and Seaver King to an already loaded roster. Nick Kurtz is one of the most intimidating bats in the country and they’ll be able to roll out mid-90s arms each time out. It’s almost impossible to go wire-to-wire as the best team in the country but with this amount of talent it’s easy to see Wake Forest winning the national championship in 2024. -CM