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Juco  | Story  | 5/9/2024

Road to Grand Junction: Staff Picks

Blaine Peterson      Troy Sutherland      Joey Cohen     
South Bid (Region 22 & 23) 
Northwest Shoals, Southern Union, Shelton State, Nunez, Wallace State, Delgado, Coastal Alabama-South, Snead State 

Southern Union 

 The one thing that really drew my attention to this Southern Union team as my selection is their non-conference schedule in 2024, they've played 4 nation’s best teams and held their own. I would label Delgado the favorite to represent the South but watch out for Southern Union’s big bats, Landon Baeder, Ace Williamson, and Jaden Anderson. The trio combines for 44 home runs and 162 RBI. -Troy Sutherland


Generally, this is the time of year when Shelton State starts to look unbeatable in this region and makes yet another appearance in Grand Junction. One thing that can really counteract that though is pitching and that’s certainly something that Delgado has done well this season. While nothing in the lineup really jumps out, Delgado does have a group of very patient hitters that can create scoring opportunities and runs. I think they’ll do that enough and rely on a strong group of arms to carry them to Grand Junction this year. -Blaine Peterson

Prediction: Shelton

I think Shelton has a great chance to get out of this region. Their regular season included strong wins over Wabash and Chipola and series wins over Southern Union and Northwest Shoals. It’s a high-powered offense that slashed .334/.447/.493 as a team. At the plate, they are highlighted by INF Kyle Morrison who had an absurd spring .450/.575/.775 along with two other Sophomores in Wesley Helms and Jordan Evans. They don’t have the same type of production on the pitching side but if they can get strong outings from Bodie Vail, Caleb Pittman, and Mason Steele I think they’ll be just fine. -Joey Cohen

South Atlantic Bid (Region 8) 
Chipola, Florida Southwestern, Northwest Florida, Indian River State 

Prediction: Northwest Florida 

The Raiders have a top 3 overall roster in Junior College baseball, and it is no surprise seeing them put together a solid year. Offensively, Kendrey Maduro, Cayden Gaskin, and Chase Williams can hurt you in a variety of ways. Cade Sadler is an interesting right-handed power bat; would love to see what that power could do in the light Grand Junction air. On the mound, they trot out two arms that are both inside our top 10, Florida State commit, Mack Estrada and Arizona State commit, Colin Linder. Both will be exceptionally tough to scratch on. These double elimination formats set up well for the Raiders and I expect them to be making that cross-country trip for a chance to win it all. -TS

Prediction: Northwest Florida

Always one of the toughest bids to get to Grand Junction with multiple teams more than capable of representing the region in the JUCO WS every year. Northwest Florida would be a fun one for there, particularly from a scouting perspective. There may not be a more prospect filled team on both sides of the baseball in the country than this seasons Raiders team. They haven’t lost back to back games since February either, so this is a team that will be tough to beat in postseason play. And they’ll bring a lot of exciting players with them to Grand Junction if they can get there. -BP

Prediction: Northwest Florida

Northwest Florida appears to be the team to beat out of this region. Offense looks deep where they slashed .322/.448/.497 as a team. They have four guys in their lineup who slugged over .600 in Kendrey Maduro, Cayden Gaskin, Cade Sadler, and Jaquae Stewart. On the mound, they had several arms that had good springs with their top five inning’s guys having below a 3.82 ERA and have struck out at least a guy per inning. Brock Tapper and Sam Strek standout with their sub 2.20 ERAs. -JC 

West Bid (Region 1, 9, 18) 
Pima, South Mountain, Northeastern, Southern Nevada, Southern Idaho, Salt Lake 
Prediction: South Mountain 

This South Mountain squad has been a tough one to figure out, dating back to preseason we thought they would be very good with their 3 impact bats in Sam Christiansen, Dominic Chacon, and Marcus Romero but after stumbling out of the gate they have seemed to have righted the ship and are playing their best baseball of the year down the stretch. Every year a team catches fire, running through regionals and makes noise in the World Series, it very well seems like the 2024 version could be South Mountain. -TS 

Southern Nevada

There may not be a team in the country that is playing better right now than the Coyotes, finishing the regular season winning 21 of their final 22 games. They’ve developed into the top team from the west over the last couple months. And they do it with a balanced offensive attack and pitching that gives them a chance to win each game. Things are clicking for this team at the right time, so expect to see the Coyotes back in Grand Junction in 2024. -BP

Prediction: Pima

I saw Pima a couple times this spring and I’d say they were probably the second-best AZ squad I saw behind Central where the played them tough. Their offense isn’t super loud, but they have solid performers at the top in Collin Senior (.365/.479/.557), Nick Arias (.327/.413/.491), Brant Kragel (.328/.456/.483) and David Shackelford (.317/.442/.491). I saw two of their top arms in person in their ace JT Drake (1.87 ERA) and McLain Roberts (3.51 ERA) who bring really solid stuff to the table and they have a ton of depth as well besides that with Diego Alvarez, Garret Hicks, Nate Gray, Auggie Ritchie, Seth Lee, and Taylin Oana who all pitched to under a 4.0 ERA. -JC 

South Central Bid (Region 2 & 16) 
Seminole State, Connors State, Jefferson, Mineral Area, Crowder
Prediction: Seminole State 

You can’t talk about Seminole State without mentioning that Cade Powell is having just a flat-out incredible year. The Oklahoma State commit is batting .526 with 30 pumps and 101 runs batted in. Call this a narrative pick but I would love to see what he could do in the light Rocky Mountain air. In addition to Powell, they have a solid and well-rounded lineup, Freshman Tarris Murray is a name to watch.  On the mound, Gio DeGraauw boasts a 7-1 record while striking out well over a batter per inning. I think they’ll be able to fend off some tough Midwest opponents and open some eyes at the World Series. -TS


There’s some big time competition for this bid this year. Missouri had some of the more talented teams they’ve ever had as a whole. Connors State in Oklahoma has been a ranked program for us for the majority of the past two seasons. And Seminole State has statistically the best hitter in all of junior college baseball. But the team with the most depth, star power and experience is Crowder. On the strength of another 40+ win season, the Roughriders have what it takes to make another run to the JUCO World Series. -BP

Prediction: Connors

Connors (49-7) is the best performing regular season team in this region and I’m comfortable going with them. Their team offense is absurd (.385/.500/.603) and they come into the playoffs winning eight straight. They top half of their lineup is filled with hitters that had absurd seasons whether its David Stanley (.440/.531/.663), Elijah Alexander (.417/.541/.673), Daurys Manzanillo (.417/.485/.604), Blake Simpson (.432/.509/.636) or Wally Diaz (.389/.462/.832). On the mound, it looks like there are several arms that could dominate whether it's Twine Palmer (2.53 ERA), Gabriel Baldera (2.95 ERA) or Brannon Westmoreland (2.25 ERA). -JC 

Midwest Bid (Region 4, 11, 24) 
John A Logan, Indian Hills, Southeastern Illinois, Olney 

Prediction: John A. Logan 

This is a Vol’s squad that has had steadfast support from me, and my colleagues start to finish this season. The depth on the mound is noteworthy with no shortage of frontline ace type stuff from both Drew Pestka and Trevor Jackson. In addition to the big arms they have a pair of impact bats that we labeled as top 100 players in corner bat, Jake Munroe and Outfielder, Trey Swiderski. The Vol’s have been an elite blend between a prospect and athlete laden roster and legit on field production. If they advance as expected, they will have a serious shot to bring home a title. -TS

John A. Logan

This is another one that from a scouting perspective would be fun to see in Grand Junction. The Vols have legitimate pro prospects on the mound and a dynamic offense that hits home runs, steals bases and can put up runs in a hurry. We’ve had them as a top 10 team all season long so the ability to consistently play at a high level has certainly been there. I’ll bet on the consistency and maybe some of that star power to show up and get the Vols to Grand Junction in 2024. -BP

Prediction: John A. Logan

John A. Logan seems like the obvious choice here considering their 42-10 record and where they finished in our T25 rankings. A bit worried about an Olney series loss late in the season but they finished off with a strong finale series win over Wabash. They have a deep lineup where it’s hard to find a guy that isn’t hitting at least .280 and they have five players with at least 10 home runs. They don’t have the same dominant pitching but if Drew Pestka, Colin Tarr and Trevor Jackson can get them some strong innings, I think they have a chance to go quite deep. -JC 

Southwest Bid (Region 5) 
Weatherford, New Mexico, McLennan, Midland, Howard, Cisco, NMMI 

Prediction: Weatherford 

Not going to get too cute here, its Weatherford. They were the preseason #1 and hung there for quite some time. They are the best roster in Juco baseball. They have the starting staff to make a deep run with Robert Fortenberry, Cade Crossland, and Evan Brandt but they also have the top-notch high leverage arms to close out the close games led by flame thrower, Tanner Wiggins. Offensively, they can bash it around or play the manufacturing type style. Do not forget that they came close to a ring last season with quite a few holdovers from that same group. Name to watch throughout the remainder of the season, Dayton Tockey, a two-year middle of the order producer that can really drive runs in should already be committed but remains uncommitted. If the Yotes can squeeze by a tough McLennan squad and earn the bid, they will be my pick to take home the hardware. -TS


If you want to talk about competition for a region bid to Grand Junction, this one has it. Some of the most talented teams in the country are found in this region almost every year. Weatherford has been a highly rated team for us all season, they won 43 regular season games and finished the season strong winning 11 of their final 12. They represented the region in Grand Junction a year ago and while it certainly won’t be easy to get back there, they’re also not a team anyone wants to have to play this time of year. The Coyotes return to Grand Junction in 2024. -BP

Prediction: New Mexico

New Mexico was my only in-person look in this region and I liked that look so I’m gonna ride with the Thunderbirds. A strong 38-16 record that was carried by a great offense that slashed .365/.466/.649. The absolute monster in Brent Iredale leads the lineup where he went crazy this season slashing .448/.579/1.011 with 24 HRs. Other notable hitters to be on the lookup for include Jonatan Clough (.351/.447/.718), Erick Ballenilla (.343/.453/.617), Travis Vlasek (.389/.462/.637) and Lane Arroyos (.366/.511/.634). If they are going to make a deep run they are going to have to pitch a bit better than they did this spring where their top 4 arms all had an ERA over 4.2 but they have a couple relief arms in Alejandro Garcia (1.93 ERA) and Landen Yorel (3.51 ERA) that could be big for them. -JC 

Plains Bid (Region 6) 
Johnson County, Cloud County, Kansas City Kansas, Cowley, Hutchinson, Dodge City, Fort Scott, Barton 

Prediction: Johnson County 

I can’t even describe to you all how often I have received Johnson County, and more specifically Dagen Brewer, propaganda from Midwest homer and fellow Juco contributor, Blaine Peterson. I feel like I know the 2024 Cav’s like the back of my hand at this point. Well... it worked. I’ll ride with the nation’s current number 1 squad to earn a hotly contested Plains bid. They have a well-balanced team with athletes through the middle and big arms that should keep them in every game. Jack Mosh, Cal Kilgore, Maddux Fleck, and of course Dagen Brewer will provide the offensive upside it takes to win the high scoring affairs in the World Series while Brandon Stone and Ryan Borberg have announced themselves as two of the best arms in country and can go the distance any time they have the ball. -TS

Johnson County

I don’t think I’m supposed to say this but this is my favorite region in JUCO baseball. And as someone that once played in the region I feel like that’s justified. For far too long I was told by multiple area scouts/recruiting coordinators that the Jayhawk Conference wasn’t as talented and didn’t really compare to some of the other regions in junior college baseball. But after being around JUCO baseball all over the country the past few years I’ve learned one thing … they’re wrong. This is one of the very best regions with some of the best players in the country. Realistically there are 3-4 team in this region that could make it to Grand Junction. But Johnson County is the team to beat here. They enter the postseason as our top ranked team in the country. They have a balanced blend of offense, defense, pitching and a lot of depth. So while there’s several teams from this region that could make it to Grand Junction, this is the main one they’ll have to make it through to get there. Oh and this region is a lot better than it has been given credit for and it’s been that way for years too. -BP

Johnson County

Johnson County has arguably been the best JUCO team in the country. Their offensive is high powered (.354/.461/.561) and I’m betting it’ll be too much for opposing pitching staffs these playoffs. Dagen Brewer is their offensive leader with his 17 HRs and 1.371 OPS. Other bats that are going to be big time contributors include Jack Mosh (.384/.516/.570), Cal Kilgore (.405/.530/.712), Jordan Black (.347/.448/.605), and Ryker Edwards (.372/.464/.667). On the mound, Brandon Stone and Ryan Boberg headline the staff but Josiah Golden and John Chambers also had strong years and should prove to be important arms. -JC 
Appalachian Bid (Region 7, 17) 
Chattanooga State, Dyersburg State, Motlow State, Georgia Highlands, Abraham Baldwin, Andrew 

Prediction: Dyersburg State 

The D-Burg boys currently sit in the driver’s seat for region and assuming they can close it out, will have their hands full with the winner of a strong Georgia group this year but the Tyler Brown coached Eagles have vastly improved over the course of the 2024 campaign. Watching this group early in the season I honestly thought there is no way they can fend off the likes of Walters and Georgia Highlands. But here we sit. The Eagles are playing their best baseball of the year and truly peaking at the right time. There’s still concern for me if the arms can hold up, but it’s Juco, and if you’re going to win the big one in Grand Junction, you must be able to play bully ball and bash it around some. Hats off to coach Tyler Brown for his work with this group. Dyersburg State would be lucky if he will drop the interim and lead this program into the future. 

Georgia Highlands

If there’s one team that didn’t get enough attention to begin the year, it’s these guys. They made it onto one of our weekly Top 25 polls in late February and then just kept on going. They already have a 50+ win season so far in 2024 and if they’ve made one thing very clear, it’s that they can hit and score runs. Through 57 games they are hitting .377 with 96 home runs as a team, oh and they’ve stolen 172 bases too. You have to score and score a lot to beat this group. And none of their primary starting pitchers has an ERA over 3.80. This is a team that seems like they’re about to make a run to Grand Junction and will also really challenge some bigger name programs when they get there too. -BP

Prediction: Georgia Highlands

I’m going with Georgia Highlands here as they have been one of the hottest JUCO teams in the country the last three weeks winning their last twelve games and finished the regular season with a 50-7 record. Their best wins included a series split against Walters State and a two-game sweep of Wabash Valley. Their offense can compete with any in the country (.377/.478/.635) where they have five guys with 10+ home runs. They are led by Luke Orfi, Ryan Wideman, Barret Eldridge, Ryan Martin, and Davis Newman. On the mound, they have three solid arms in Michael Sharman (3.78 ERA), Trip Dovale (2.71 ERA), and Chandler Anderson (3.51). -JC 
East Bid (Region 10, 15, 20) 
Florence-Darlington Tech, Monroe College 

Prediction: Florence-Darlington 

Barring anything earth shattering, this is by far the pick I feel most confident making. The Stingers have been playing exceptional ball down the stretch and beat a legit Gaston squad to a pulp. It does not hurt that Region 15-20 favorite Harford was knocked off by Monroe. Catcher, Rom Kellis, is one of the more refined players in this entire class and provides the steady production that it will take to go on this late season run to glory. Between Ethan Plyler, Josh Campos, and Devin Mitchell they have the fire power to surround Kellis and craft one of the better offenses in the nation. They have reliable pieces to get it done on the mound as well, not to mention a solid high leverage piece in the two-way standout Michael Gibson. -TS


The Stingers are an experienced and talented group that just plays a winning brand of baseball. They’re on their way to a 50+ win season in 2024 and they bring some of the more polished hitters in the country to the field each game they play. As a team their lineup had more walks than strikeouts during the regular season. And they have some arms that can carry them for a game if needed as well. This is one of the toughest teams to beat in the country and easily the most talented team remaining in the East region. -BP

Prediction: Florence-Darlington 

I have Florence Darlington over Monroe this weekend. They simply have the stronger team in a lot of different areas. First, they had an awesome regular season where they were 21-3 in conference and are currently 49-9. They had several strong wins during the regular season and beat a great Gaston team to get here. It’s a deep offense that slashed .340/.462/.535 as a team that were led by monster seasons from Rom Kellis (.421/.518/.780), Devin Mitchell (.386/.488/.689), Josh Campos (.380/.502/.633) and Ethan Plyer (.337/.437/.577). On the mound, it looks like they have several options they could go to. Aydin Palmer (4.32 ERA), Riley Cruce (5.04 ERA), and Michael Gibson (3.02) were their innings leaders but look for Trenton Burnett (2.70 ERA), Marcus Locklear (2.70 ERA) and Matthew Driver (2.73 ERA) to make an impact as well. -JC 

Mid-South Bid (Region 14) 
Northeast, Wharton, San Jacinto, Tyler, Navarro, Blinn 

Prediction: Tyler 

The Apache’s may not possess the kind of fire power that we see from regional competitors, Blinn and San Jan, but they have been a squad that has the grit and blue-collar style to produce consistent wins in strong Texas Juco landscape. After a hot start to the season, they fell off the wagon towards the end.  This a tough “anything can happen” type regional, we have seen up and down baseball from all the listed contenders, but I'll ride with Tyler as the team that can right the ship and win ugly to earn themselves a trip to Grand Junction. Grayson Murry has been staff’s ace in 2024, look for him to secure the Apache's a victory every time he is penciled to start. -TS


After a somewhat slow start to the season the Buccaneers have more than corrected that by going 20-2 over their last 22 regular season games. There’s something to be said for talented teams that are playing well at the right time, add in the experience they have with several players that were on last seasons team in Grand Junction and you have a team more than capable of making another run at a JUCO World Series appearance. This is typically one of the more competitive regions for a bid with San Jac, Navarro, and Tyler all more than capable of making their way to Grand Junction in 2024. -BP

Prediction: Blinn

I’m going with Blinn here as they seem to be playing the best baseball coming into today. They have not lost a series since the first weekend of March and come in winning seven straight. Their offense is strong as it’s a big three headed monster at the top with Connor McGinnis (.392/.511/.707), Cade Climie (.370/.490/.753) and Caden Ferraro (.367/.486/.721) who all have 13+ HRs. On the mound, there are some questions but Lucas Davenport (3.59 ERA) and Brendan Sweeney (4.33 ERA) are solid first options and they have some other arms in Jake Kolkhorst (2.08 ERA), Bryson Dudley (3.60 ERA) and Cody Pfeffer (3.68 ERA) who put together solid seasons with 30+ innings. -JC