10 Standout College Baseball Transfer Classes In 2020
Factors such as blanket eligibility relief, a much shorter draft and several programs across the country not bringing back seniors conspired to make it a very busy offseason in the transfer portal.
Earlier this week, we ranked the top 25 transfers in the country, and here, we’ll shine a light on entire programs that brought in classes of transfers high in talent and potential in hopes of providing the 2021 roster with a quick infusion of talent.
Key additions: RHP Jay Baggs (Boise State), 1B Conor Davis (Auburn), OF Allbry Major (Xavier), LHP/OF Kai Murphy (Oregon State)
Davis and Major should help Arizona State fill holes in the lineup left by the numerous players it had drafted in June. While Davis won’t put up Spencer Torkelson-type numbers, he’s been a productive hitter at Auburn. Major was inconsistent at Xavier, but he showed well in a summer on the Cape in 2019 and has one of the best tool sets in college baseball. Murphy, the son of former ASU coach Pat Murphy, and Baggs were freshmen in 2020, and therefore haven’t had a real chance to prove themselves at the college level.
Key additions: C Tanner Holen (Kentucky), RHP Beau Keathley (Oakland), LHP Dean McCarthy (Elon), OF Jake Murray (Northern Kentucky)
The additions of Keathley and McCarthy should help a Cincinnati pitching staff that struggled to a 6.84 ERA in 2020. Keathley was extremely tough to hit for Oakland in 2019, striking out 83 and holding opponents to a .189 average in 71.2 innings. McCarthy was a solid reliever for Elon in 2019 with a 3.70 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 41.1 innings, but he was just as good as a starter in a small sample in 2020, striking out 25 in 20.2 innings. Holen earned playing time for UK in 2020 but was slowed early on by mononucleosis, and Murray will look to keep up the momentum from finishing the 2020 season at NKU’s leading hitter.
Key additions: RHP Daniel Kreuzer (Wright State), RHP Reece Maniscalco (Wofford), RHP Seth Owens (Charleston Southern), RHP Hunter Sibley (Iona)
The Chanticleers went all in on adding depth to the pitching staff through the transfer market, bringing in four experienced arms from the mid- and low-major ranks. Maniscalco has been the most dominant of the bunch. In 2019, he had a 2.34 ERA, 60 strikeouts and a .192 opponent batting average in 42.1 innings of work. Owens has been a workhorse for Charleston Southern, appearing in 54 games combined in 2018 and 2019. Both Kreuzer and Sibley have pitched extensively both as a starter and reliever, providing some level of flexibility.
Key additions: OF/RHP Richard Brereton (Emory [Ga.]), OF Chris Davis (Princeton), OF Peter Matt (Pennsylvania)
Duke’s transfers fit into the mold of the types of transfers it typically takes on, with the addition of two grad transfers from Ivy League institutions and one from a highly-academic Division III school. Matt was one of the best Ivy grad transfers on the market as a dynamic outfielder who could make an impact at the plate and in the field. Davis was in his third season as a starter for Princeton in 2020, and Brereton is an intriguing two-way talent who could help the Blue Devils in a couple of different ways. At Emory, he hit .349/.420/.471 for his career and also had a 3.13 ERA in 152.1 innings. He doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he throws four pitches, including an excellent changeup.
Key additions: RHP Chance Huff (Vanderbilt), INF Justyn-Henry Malloy (Vanderbilt), RHP John Medich (Rhodes [Tenn.])
This group for Georgia Tech is short on results at the Division I level but long on talent. Huff and Malloy were both highly-regarded players coming out of high school that simply got lost in the shuffle a bit on extremely talented Vanderbilt teams. Huff has the stuff to be an impact arm for the Yellow Jackets right away and Malloy, even in a small sample, showed a knack for getting on base at Vanderbilt that should translate well in a new setting. Medich, a converted catcher, didn’t throw a ton of innings at Rhodes, in part due to injury, but his stuff is electric. His fastball reached 96 mph not long after returning from Tommy John surgery in 2020, with the expectation that he could get close to triple digits in the future.
Key additions: RHP Andrew Belcik (Notre Dame), OF Ryne Edmondson (Houston Baptist), LHP Ryne Huggins (Clemson), RHP MacGregor Hines (Dallas Baptist), LHP Matt Lazzaro (Furman)
Belcik and Hines, both veteran relievers, are the most accomplished players in this group. The former made 60 combined appearances in 2018 and 2019 for Notre Dame, while the latter had a 4.03 career ERA and 118 strikeouts at DBU in 87 innings of work. Huggins is a talented lefthander who never carved out a role at Clemson, and Lazzaro had perhaps turned a corner in 2020 at Furman. After putting up a 7.36 ERA in 2019 as a member of the weekend rotation, he had a 2.12 ERA and a .177 opponent batting average in 17 innings in 2020 at the time the season was canceled. Edmondson should, if nothing else, provide depth in the outfield after hitting .284 in a full season in 2019 and then .286 in 2020.
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Key additions: RHP Sean Harney (Massachusetts), RHP Zach Kammin (Coe [IA]), RHP Holt Jones (Clemson)
The most known entity here is Jones, who had a 3.93 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 36.2 innings for Clemson in 2019. Power stuff will not be an issue for 6-foot-7 California native, as his fastball can reach the mid 90s. Kammin is the most intriguing player in this group. He had a breakout year at the Division III level in 2019, but perhaps more promising was his 34 strikeouts in 24 innings in the Northwoods League this summer, which suggested that he’s ready for a higher level of competition. Not unlike Kammin, Harney will be looking to prove himself against better players after a solid career at UMass.
Key additions: 2B Matthew Frey (Davidson), C Christian Molfetta (Stanford), RHP Will Proctor (Georgia), SS Benjamin Sems (Kansas)
Michigan accomplishes a lot on paper with this group of transfers. In Sems, it adds a productive, steady shortstop to replace Jack Blomgren at the position. In Molfetta, it added a possible new starting catcher in place of Joe Donovan or some overall depth, as the Stanford transfer has some defensive versatility. Proctor is a high-end arm who never quite broke through at Georgia and Frey brings some pop and a solid glove to second base. This group should help the Wolverines reload quickly, even in the face of losing several key pieces in the draft and free agency.
Key additions: C Alex Brait (Florida Gulf Coast), LHP John Michael Bertrand (Furman), RHP Christian Scafidi (Pennsylvania), LHP Joe Sheridan (Central Florida)
The Fighting Irish essentially added an entire weekend rotation this offseason with the arrivals of Bertrand, Scafidi and Sheridan. All three are proven pitchers who should inspire confidence in their chances to hold important roles right away, whether on the weekend or otherwise. Bertrand and Scafidi were aces for their previous teams, while Sheridan proved to be healthy in 2020 after missing the 2019 season. With 149 games under his belt and a .314 career batting average, Brait is an experienced backstop who handles the bat well.
Key additions: RHP Mitchell Holcomb (Pennsylvania), SS Hal Hughes (Louisiana State), SS Will Karp (Haverford [Pa.]), SS Connor Walsh (Mississippi)
The Owls’ transfer class should help quite a bit defensively. Hughes proved to be an excellent defender in his years at LSU, earning playing time even while struggling at the plate. Karp also has an impressive track record in that regard at the Division III level, earning the Centennial Conference’s Gold Glove award in 2018 and 2019. Karp brings an interesting offensive package to the table as well, as his numbers improved each year at Haverford and he ended his career there with 82 stolen bases. Walsh is a high-end talent who didn’t get his shot at Mississippi, and Holcomb, a Texas native, was a steady arm for Penn all four years. His best season with the Quakers came in 2019, when he went 6-1 with a 3.76 ERA in 64.2 innings.