College : : Recruiting
Friday, November 12, 2010

Florida Tops in Early Recruiting Returns

David Rawnsley        

NCAA Early-Signing Period / Top Recruiting Classes

Florida Tops in Early Recruiting Returns

Trying to rank the top baseball recruiting classes in the country in the early-signing period is very much like ranking draft classes the week after the draft, before prospects sign and get out and play.

It has to be put very much in perspective because of the inherent uncertainty that many of the top recruits will never make it to campus due to professional baseball. A portion of those who don’t sign professionally will also decide to attend junior college instead of a four-year school.

College coaches are well aware of this double whammy, and usually have realistic expectations about who they will get to campus and who they won’t, although any comments they make on the subject are strictly “background” and off the record.

It’s not uncommon to talk to a particular high-level college coach and hear comments like, “There’s five guys in our class that we could lose (to pro ball); if we keep three of them it will be a great year,” or “I think we stand a really good chance of keeping Player X; I know the scouts love him but he’s a very good student and his parents are alumni . . . etc.,” or “Yeah, Player Z really doesn’t want to go to school, he’ll probably end up at a JC if he doesn’t sign.”

History shows that about 50 percent of Perfect Game’s Top 100 Prep Prospects each year sign professionally out of high school. It would be impossible to guess which of those 50 will go to college, so one has to assume that just about everyone will when evaluating top recruiting classes.

* Perfect Game Top 100


Top Recruits (14 total HS recruits): RHP *Hudson Boyd (FL), OF *Jeff Driskel (FL), RHP *Michael Kelly (FL), RHP *John Magliozzi (MA), C *Brandon Sedell (FL), RHP/3B Justin Shafer (FL), RHP *Kyle Smith (FL), LHP *Corey Stump (FL); 2B/OF *Josh Tobias (NC), 3B *Sean Trent (FL), 1B *Daniel Vogelbach (FL), RHP/OF *Ryan Harris (FL).

With five Aflac All-Americans (Kelly, Magliozzi, Sedell, Tobias, Trent) and a number of talents at essentially the same level, the Gators are sure to lose some players to pro ball. Notable in the pitching from this group is that Boyd, Magliozzi and Smith are as polished and accomplished a trio of pitchers as exists in the 2011 class. They should be able to step up immediately as freshmen and compete at a very high level, if needed. Vogelbach could have the same immediate impact with his bat, as could Sedell. Don’t count on Driskel to contribute much on the baseball field as he is the top-ranked high school quarterback in the country and is being billed as the next Tim Tebow by Gator faithful. On top of the Gators’ standout 2010 class (Zunino, Maddox, Fontana, Randall, Johnson, Heller, Washington, etc.), this class could give Florida the base to become the dominant power in college baseball over the next few years.


Top Recruits (10): OF *Josh Bell (TX), RHP *Dylan Bundy (OK), RHP *John Curtiss (TX), 3B Matthew Dean (TX), RHP Parker French (TX), SS/RHP *Ricardo Jacquez (TX), C *Blake Swihart (NM), LHP *Dillon Peters (IN).

Although the numbers (10) are relatively small, the Longhorns are not short on top prospects as four of their recruits were Aflac All-Americans (Bundy, Dean, Jacquez, Swihart), and a fifth, Bell, might have been without injury concerns. This is probably a situation (see above) where the UT staff is saying, “If we could get 3 of those 5 players to school, we’d have a great, great class.” Remember, Texas got RHP Taylor Jungmann to campus three years ago as an Aflac righthanded pitcher and Jungmann could easily go in the top five picks in the 2011 draft. On the other hand, Bell, Jacquez and Swihart represent a level of middle-of-the-field athletic ability that Texas has not been successful getting on campus in recent years.


Top Recruits (12): RHP Carson Baranik (LA), LHP/OF *Jake Cave (VA), SS *Johnny Eierman (MO), LHP Cody Glenn (TX), C Tyler Moore (LA), RHP Aaron Nola (LA), SS *Trevor Story (TX).

This is a recruiting class that Tigers coaches probably think they can make a clean sweep, and see all 12 current members on campus next fall. Cave is the big question, of course, but he doesn’t project as a top-half of the first round this year, something he could very well accomplish after three years in college. With Nola (whose brother Austin is the LSU shortstop) and Story, the question is more just how good they will get by next June, as both are rapidly-improving prospects who could exceed current draft expectations. Eierman is raw with his baseball skills but there are few better athletes in the class, and the Tigers likely look at him as a Mikie Mahtook-type player. Louisiana State has had great success mining the junior-college ranks the past few years and while that doesn’t factor into these rankings, it’s no small consideration for the overall standing of the LSU program.


Top Recruits (17): OF *Shon Carson (SC), SS *T.J. Costen (VA), C *Grayson Greiner (SC), RHP Taylor Guerrieri (SC), SS Mikal Hill (NC), RHP/SS Joey Pankake (SC), RHP/SS Joel Seddon (MI).

The defending NCAA champions have a very full recruiting class of 17 high-school recruits and, as usual, have stayed very regional, with 10 of those players from South Carolina and only two (Michigan, Massachusetts) from outside the Georgia/Virginia corridor. There is no mistaking that middle-infield talent was high on the Gamecocks wish list, as Hill and Costen are two of the top high-school shortstops in the country, and Pankake and Seddon are two-way prospects with high D-I tools as position players. Greiner gives the class another outstanding prospect at a premium defensive position. Carson will be an interesting wild card. He will also be playing running back on the USC football team, which could erode his potential first-round type baseball tools.


Top Recruits (9): RHP *Tyler Beede (MA), IF Connor Castellano (LA), RHP *Kevin Comer (NJ), MIF Vicente Conde (FL), LHP *Phillip Pfeifer (TN), RHP *Adam Ravenelle (MA).

Vanderbilt is among top programs in the country that keep their signees, along with other top dual baseball/academic schools such as Stanford and Rice. As a result, you can look at four quality pitching prospects like Beede, Comer, Pfeifer and Ravenelle, and speculate that at least three of them will end up in Nashville next fall. That would give the Commodores the same type of high-level pitching staff that they currently have (Gray, Armstrong, Garvin, Clinard, Moore, Selman, etc.) going into the future. Pfeifer is so advanced that he would be a definite Freshman All-America candidate, and Beede and Comer wouldn’t be far behind. The Commodores also landed one of the top junior-college players in the draft, Navarro (Texas) JC RHP Drew Verhagen.


Top Recruits (16): 3B *Dante Bichette (FL), 3B *Hunter Cole (SC), RHP Luke Crumley (GA), C *Nick Delmonico (TN), SS *Tyler Greene (FL), 3B *Patrick Leonard (TX), RHP Mike Mancuso (OH), RHP Reggie McClain (GA), 1B Jared Walsh (GA).

The Bulldogs huge recruiting class seems determined to corner the market on hard-hitting third basemen (Bichette, Cole, Leonard), and an argument could be made that this is potentially the top hitting group in the country, when you also factor in Delmonico, Walsh and Greene. There will always be other corner positions available should all three hot-corner sluggers end up on campus. The irony is that Georgia just suffered through one of the worst seasons imaginable in 2010 (16-37) due to a pitching staff that simply imploded (8.51 ERA). Only six pitchers are currently committed to Georgia, pointing to the double-edged recruiting sword of opportunity vs. chance of success.


Top Recruits (17): 3B Grayson Atwood (NC), RHP *Bryan Brickhouse (TX), RHP *Adam Griffin (NC), SS Zac LaNeve (PA), RHP *Dillon Maples (NC), RHP Chris McCue (NC), RHP Mason McCullough (NC), RHP *Benton Moss (NC).

The Tar Heels recruiting class stands out for two reasons. First is the size of it; 17 players is one of the largest groups of high-school recruits in the country. Second, it is obvious what the perceived needs of the team are, as eight of the signees are primarily pitchers (with two others having definite D-I arms) and seven are infielders. There are only two outfielders and no catchers. Strong-armed righthanders Dillon Maples and Bryan Brickhouse are the best bets to attract serious attention (and investment) from professional baseball, but the depth of arms in this class, to go with a strong group of pitchers already at UNC, should guarantee the Tar Heels a deep pitching staff for years to come.


Top Recruits (8): 3B *Tyler Goeddel (CA), C *Austin Hedges (CA), SS *Kevin Kramer (CA), RHP *Joe Ross (CA), OF *Eric Snyder (CA).

The Bruins were one of the surprise teams of the 2010 college season, with a young roster built around outstanding pitching talent and fundamentally-sound position players. Their 2011 recruiting class isn’t as deep as many around the country, at least as of the early-signing date, but keeping three or four of the above players would make it a banner group for this program. Kramer and Snyder are two of the best present “performance” players in the class, while Hedges is a defensive standout and Aflac All-American. Goeddel, whose injury-plagued brother Erik unexpectedly signed this summer (with the New York for $500,000 in the 23rd round), could be the highest-ceiling talent in the group. The numbers do show a need for more pitching in this class, though.


Top Recruits (10): LHP *Porter Clayton (ID), OF *Billy Flamion (CA), RHP Sam Johnson (OR), OF Spencer O’Neil (WA), RHP Jake Reed (CA), RHP Cole Wiper (WA).

The Ducks are already assured of at least one recruit reaching campus as Clayton will reportedly graduate early and enroll at Oregon for the spring semester. The downside of that is that he will also leave at some point in college career for his two-year Mormon Mission. Flamion is a dynamic talent who could become the face of the young Oregon program should he pass on what will likely be significant pro interest. Oregon has already shown that developing pitching is a major strength of the program and Clayton, Johnson, Reed and Wiper are all high-ceiling talents.


Top Recruits (15): C *Greg Bird (CO), RHP Michael Fulmer (OK), 1B *Michael Gunn (AR), RHP *Dillon Howard (AR), OF *Brandon Nimmo (WY), C Jean Ramirez (TX), C John Clay Reeves (LA), SS *Drake Roberts (TX).

The Razorbacks are forced out of necessity to be a regional, if not national, recruiting presence because of the lack of Division I talent in the Arkansas prep ranks, and their deep 15-member class, including players from seven different states, reflects that. Their big catch, though, is Howard, an Arkansas native and one of the top prospects ever from the state. This class stands out for having three quality catchers, although Bird and Reeves both have the type of power bats that can play and contribute at any corner position. The very talented Nimmo, possibly the best talent ever to come out of Wyoming, will be the wild card, as he hasn’t been seen often by pro scouts, especially against top-level competition, and won’t be before next June.



These three schools aren’t traditional Top 25 type programs, but each has a recruiting class that could impact the program for years to come.



Top Recruits: C *Tyler Marlette (FL), RHP Russ Meyer (FL), RHP Garrett Nuss (FL), SS Tommy Williams (FL).

UCF has a very strong sophomore class (CF Ronnie Richardson, SS Darnell Sweeney, LHP Joe Rogers, C Chris Taladay) and this group of players could transition in nicely in 2012 for what some consider a potential sleeping giant of college baseball.


Top Recruits: C *Cam Gallagher (PA), RHP/1B *Rookie Davis (NC), SS Nick Thompson (VA), LHP Shawn Morimando (VA).

Gallagher, an Aflac All-American catcher, is an obvious huge potential catch for East Carolina, but Davis’ two-way skills and Thompson’s offensive ability in the middle of the field are both impact factors as well. The Pirates have also secured commitments from three prominent JC players from Florida, notably Chipola C Geno Escalante, a transfer from Cal State Fullerton.



Top Recruits: OF *Dakota Smith (KS), LHP *Cody Kukuk (KS), OF *Connor McKay (CO).

The Jayhawks are one of the best-coached teams in the country but have to physically overachieve to succeed in the tough Big 12. Smith, Kukuk and McKay are the type of talents who could compete and excel at any school in the country.




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