Revisiting 2013 Recruiting Classes
We unveiled last month our annual recruiting class rankings for the players that arrived on campus this fall. Those players will be college baseball’s stars over the next few seasons and will form the foundation for future championship programs.
Now, however, we take one last opportunity to reflect on the 2013 recruiting class. Many coaches say they have to wait to see how their recruits perform in college baseball to properly evaluate the class. Baseball America will always rank recruiting classes when they get to school in an attempt to predict which schools have the brightest futures, but it is also useful to see how these promising groups of newcomers actually performed on the field, where the results count the most.
Here is how the 2013 recruiting classes rank with the benefit of hindsight. On-field success weighs heavily in the ranking, but the role the players played in that success is also considered. Classes that produced stars and major building blocks are looked upon more favorably than those filled mostly with role players. Draft results help inform the rankings because they are a part of coaches’ recruiting pitches and elite prospects tend to perform well in college, but they are not paramount.
The best classes, of course, combine a lot of wins with a lot of professional prospects. But evaluating classes that were heavy in only one area was the most challenging part of the exercise. Ultimately, classes that produced pro prospects, but not wins, lost out in these rankings. That is why Oklahoma and Tennessee, both top-15 classes in 2013, did not make the cut. Those two classes had talent, evidenced by the three 2016 Preseason All-Americans who became top-60 picks that June they combined to produce. But because Tennessee didn’t make an NCAA Tournament and Oklahoma didn’t advance to regionals until 2017—when just one player from the 2013 class remained on its roster—neither makes the cut. In contrast, Coastal Carolina and UC Santa Barbara produced neither an All-American nor a top-three rounds draft pick, but their postseason success pushes both classes into the revised top 20.
Fifteen of our Top 25 classes from 2013 make our revised list and seven of the top 10 classes were ranked four years ago. The highest-ranked 2013 class to not make the revised rankings is No. 3 South Carolina, which, much like the program over the last four years, had some moments of brilliance, but ultimately fell short of its lofty expectations. For the most part, however, the highly ranked 2013 recruiting classes produced strong on-field results over the last four years.
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2013 rank: 1. Recruiting coordinator: Craig Bell. BA All-Americans: Peter Alonso (2016 third team), Logan Shore (2016 first team). Other key players: Shaun Anderson, Dane Dunning, Ryan Larson, A.J. Puk, Buddy Reed.
The bottom line: With the help of an elite class, the Gators won their first national championship in program history, made it to the College World Series three straight years (hosting a super regional each time) and hosted four straight regionals. Shore, a 2016 Golden Spikes Award finalist, took over as Florida’s ace as a freshman and formed a fearsome one-two punch in the rotation with Puk. Alonso’s power and Reed’s speed were key parts of the lineup, and Anderson and Dunning were elite weapons in the bullpen. This class was overflowing with talent and produced eight players drafted in the top 10 rounds in 2016. Only two members of the class remained by the time Florida won the 2017 national title, but Larson was one of that team’s most reliable hitters and Frank Rubio ranked third on the team in appearances.
2013 rank: 19. Recruiting coordinator: Chris Lemonis. BA All-Americans: Corey Ray (2015 and 2016 second team), Nick Solak (2016 third team). Other key players: Zack Burdi, Drew Harrington, Josh Rogers, Will Smith, Blake Tiberi.
The bottom line: Thanks in large part to this class, the Cardinals made a seamless transition to the Atlantic Coast Conference. In addition to winning a pair of ACC regular season titles, they hosted four regionals and made the CWS twice, although they also were twice upset at home in super regionals. The class had remarkable depth, especially on the mound, as it produced a pair of weekend starters (Harrington and Rogers) and an elite closer (Burdi). Ray became the class’ biggest star and was a Golden Spikes Award finalist. Smith, Solak and Tiberi didn’t generate much fanfare in high school, but wound up making a big impact for the Cardinals. Nine players in the class were drafted out of college after only one (Ray) was drafted in 2013.
2013 rank: 20. Recruiting coordinator: Travis Jewett. BA All-Americans: None.
Other key players: Ben Bowden, Jason Delay, John Kilichowski, Bryan Reynolds, Jordan Sheffield, Hayden Stone. The bottom line: The Commodores’ 2013 class came on the heels of back-to-back No. 1 classes, and while it didn’t match those banner classes, it was still an impressive group. Reynolds and Stone as freshmen made big instant impacts on Vanderbilt’s 2014 national championship team, as Reynolds led the team in hitting and Stone struck out 80 batters in 58 innings. Stone, however, later required Tommy John surgery and never was able to regain his form. Sheffield missed that season due to his own Tommy John surgery, but eventually became the Commodores’ Friday starter. Bowden and Kilichowski both pitched significant innings during their careers and Delay started 167 career games.
4. Oklahoma State
2013 rank: 4. Recruiting coordinator: Marty Lees. BA All-Americans: Michael Freeman (2015 first team), Thomas Hatch (2016 third team). Other key players: Tyler Buffett, Trey Cobb, Dustin Williams.
The bottom line: Josh Holliday’s first recruiting class since returning to his alma mater as head coach proved to be the foundation for his success. The class helped lead the Cowboys to the 2016 CWS, their first appearance in Omaha since 1999, and included back-to-back Big 12 Conference pitcher of the year award winners. Lefthander Garrett Williams came to Stillwater with the most fanfare but never truly harnessed his stuff. Oklahoma State nevertheless found two aces in Freeman and Hatch, while Buffett and Cobb took on key roles on the staff. Dustin Williams became a three-year starter and led the Big 12 in home runs in 2016.
5. Louisiana State
2013 rank: NR. Recruiting coordinator: Javi Sanchez. BA All-Americans: Kade Scivicque (2015 second team). Other key players: Jake Fraley, Jared Poche’, Kramer Robertson.
The bottom line: This class fell between the 2012 group that included Alex Bregman and the 2014 class that ranked No. 1 in the country. As a result, it flew under the radar at the time, but ended up being another top-tier class for the Tigers, especially after Poche’ and Robertson returned for their senior years to help lead LSU to an Southeastern Conference Tournament title and a runner-up finish in the CWS. Poche’ was a rotation stalwart and ended his career as the winningest pitcher in program history. Robertson ultimately succeeded Bregman at shortstop and became one of the team’s leaders. Scivicque, a junior college transfer, broke out at LSU and was a two-year starter behind the plate. Fraley extended the long tradition of premier center fielders to come through Baton Rouge.
2013 rank: 14. Recruiting coordinator: Kevin McMullan. BA All-Americans: Connor Jones (2016 second team), Matt Thaiss (2016 second team) Other key players: Alec Bettinger, Daniel Pinero.
The bottom line: The Cavilers’ class was a small one (nine players) and appeared to be top-heavy when it arrived on campus. That’s exactly how it played out, as the class helped Virginia win the 2015 national championship and produced a pair of All-Americans, a three-year starter at shortstop (Pinero) and a dependable reliever (Bettinger). Though they were just sophomores, the class played a key role in the national championship run. Thaiss and Pinero were the two leading hitters on that team, Jones became its ace and Bettinger ranked second in appearances.
7. Mississippi State
2013 rank: 9. Recruiting coordinator: Nick Mingione/Butch Thompson. BA All-Americans: Dakota Hudson (2016 second team), Brent Rooker (2017 first team). Other key players: Gavin Collins, Zac Houston, Reid Humphreys, Austin Sexton.
The bottom line: It’s been a wild four years in Starkville, but the members of this class had a strong finish to their careers. As juniors, they completed a worst-to-first turnaround to claim the program’s first SEC title since 1989. For those that stayed a fourth year, the encore was spectacular as well, as Rooker won the SEC triple crown and led the Bulldogs to a second straight super regionals appearance. Hudson was the ace of the SEC championship team with Houston and Sexton contributing significant innings. Humphreys made his biggest contribution as an outfielder but also worked out of the bullpen (and is pitching in pro ball), while Collins was one of the team’s leading power threats.
2013 rank: 6. Recruiting coordinator: Gino DiMare. BA All-Americans: Zack Collins (2016 first team). Other key players: Willie Abreu, Bryan Garcia, Cooper Hammond, Jacob Heyward.
The bottom line: This class led Miami to back-to-back CWS appearances as sophomores and juniors, as well as winning the ACC regular-season title in 2014 and 2016. Collins lived up to his billing, winning Freshman of the Year honors and developing into one of the most feared hitters in the country. Abreu and Heyward added two more impactful bats to the middle of the Miami lineup. Garcia closed for three seasons and set the Hurricanes’ all-time saves record (43). Hammond was a key piece of the bullpen for two seasons before he had Tommy John surgery during his junior year. Members of the class that stayed for four years were a part of the team that saw the Hurricanes’ 44-year regionals streak snapped, but the class’ legacy lies more with back-to-back CWS appearances than the streak’s end.
9. Coastal Carolina
2013 rank: NR. Recruiting coordinator: Joe Hastings. BA All-Americans: None. Other key players: Andrew Beckwith, Michael Paez, G.K. Young.
The bottom line: Members of Coastal’s 2012 recruiting class made up the bulk of its national championship team. But the 2013 class produced three starters on that team, including Beckwith, the CWS’ Most Outstanding Player. No one shone brighter for the Chanticleers down the stretch and in Omaha than the sidewinding righthander, who won all three of his starts in the CWS, including the decisive third game of the finals. Beckwith finished his career as one of the greatest players in program history and holds the program’s single-season wins record (15). Paez was a three-year starter at shortstop and was the first player drafted from the national championship team. Young was one of the Coastal’s leading power threats as a sophomore and junior, finishing his career with 30 home runs.
2013 rank: NR. Recruiting coordinator: Tony Vitello. BA All-Americans: Andrew Benintendi (2015 first team). Other key players: Michael Bernal, Zach Jackson, Carson Shaddy, Dominic Taccolini.
The bottom line: Benintendi is the class’ superstar. He broke out in 2015 in a big way, winning College Player of the Year honors and leading the Razorbacks to the CWS. Jackson also emerged that season as an electric closer and spent the following summer playing for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team. Taccolini was two-year member of the rotation and Bernal, a junior college transfer, was a three-year starter at shortstop. It took Shaddy longer to make his mark, but he led the 2016 team in hitting and has been a two-year starter going into his redshirt senior season this spring.
11. Wake Forest
2013 rank: NR. Recruiting coordinator: Dennis Healy. BA All-Americans: Will Craig (2015 second team, 2016 first team). Other key players: Ben Breazeale, Parker Dunshee, Connor Johnstone, Nate Mondou, Jonathan Pryor.
The bottom line: This turned out to be a banner class for the Demon Deacons and it played a leading role in Wake’s return to prominence under coach Tom Walter. This class as a juniors led Wake to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007. The following year, the Deacs hosted a regional for the first time since 2002 and reached super regionals for the first time since 1999. Craig played a vital role as a two-way player and had one of the most storied careers in program history, winning the 2015 ACC player of the year award and becoming Wake’s first first-round pick in a decade. Dunshee twice led the team in ERA, and he and Johnstone played key roles on the staff for four years. Breazeale, Mondou and Pryor were productive members of the lineup throughout their careers.
12. Texas A&M
2013 rank: NR. Recruiting coordinator: Justin Seely. BA All-Americans: Ryne Birk (2016 first team), Mark Ecker (2016 second team) Other key players: Nick Banks, Nick Choruby, Ryan Hendrix.
The bottom line: This class as juniors helped the Aggies to their first SEC Tournament title in program history and went into the NCAA Tournament ranked No. 1. Only Choruby returned for his senior year, and he was one of the top hitters on the team that got Texas A&M back to Omaha for the first time since 2011. Birk and Ecker had excellent junior years helping to anchor the lineup and bullpen, respectively. Banks played for the Collegiate National Team in back-to-back summers, joined the second time by Hendrix.
2013 rank: NR. Recruiting coordinator: Brent Shade. BA All-Americans: Kyle Lewis (2016 first team). Other key players: Ryan Askew, Danny Edgeworth, Charlie Madden, Matt Meeder.
The bottom line: The class is headlined by Lewis, who was named the 2016 College Player of the Year and won back-to-back Southern Conference player of the year awards. He was the Bears’ first-ever first-round pick and finished his career as the most decorated athlete in school history. While Lewis gives the class a bona fide superstar, it is much deeper than one player. Over four years, the Bears won 150 games and three straight Southern Conference regular-season titles. The contributions of Askew, Edgeworth, Madden and Meeder, who all stayed for four years, helped make Mercer one of the top small-conference programs of the last four years and can’t be overlooked.
14. Oregon State
2013 rank: 5. Recruiting coordinator: Pat Bailey/Nate Yeskie. BA All-Americans: Jake Thompson (2017 first team). Other key players: Jack Anderson, Logan Ice, Trever Morrison.
The bottom line: This was the highest-ranked class in program history and, while it didn’t quite live up to those lofty expectations, it proved to be a strong group. Anderson and Thompson were the only two members of the class left in the program for the Beavers’ remarkable 56-win season in 2017. But both made significant contributions to that team as redshirt juniors, with Thompson leading the nation in victories (14) and Anderson claiming all-Pac-12 Conference honors. Ice and Morrison were both three-year starters, and Ice was named the conference’s defensive player of the year in 2016.
2013 rank: 8. Recruiting coordinator: Carl Lafferty. BA All-Americans: J.B. Woodman (2016 second team). Other key players: Colby Bortles, Henri Lartigue, Errol Robinson, Christian Trent, Wyatt Short.
The bottom line: It was a large class for the Rebels (18 players) and it provided instant returns as they reached Omaha in 2014 for the first time since 1972. Trent, a junior college transfer, slotted into the rotation and led that team in ERA. Short as a freshman tied for the team lead in appearances and went on to become Ole Miss’ closer later in his career. Robinson and Woodman were both three-year starters for the Rebels, and Woodman transformed into Superman for the Rebels by his stellar junior season. It took longer for Lartigue to break through, but he led the Rebels in hitting as a junior. Bortles was the lone member of the class to stay four years and was a three-year starter.
2013 rank: 16. Recruiting coordinator: Bradley LeCroy. BA All-Americans: Chris Okey (2015 third team and 2016 second team). Other key players: Reed Rohlman, Eli White, Weston Wilson.
The bottom line: The Tigers brought in a compact class of nine players, but they delivered big results during their time on campus. As juniors, they helped lead Clemson to the ACC Tournament title and a national seed, its first in a decade. Okey was the heart of this class and started every game during his time at Clemson, including 143 straight games behind the plate to finish his college career. He also twice played for the Collegiate National Team. Rohlman redshirted in 2014, but broke out the next spring and was twice the Tigers' leading hitter. White and Wilson were regulars throughout their careers and formed the double-play combination on the 2016 team.
2013 rank: 11. Recruiting coordinator: Ted Silva. BA All-Americans: None. Other key players: Ryan Boldt, Derek Burkamper, Jake Hohensee, Steven Reveles, Josh Roeder, Chance Sinclair.
The bottom line: Boldt was the highest ranked position player to make it to campus in 2013, but the Huskers’ class went much deeper than one player. They would help Nebraska to the NCAA Tournament three times in four years and win in 2017 its first ever Big Ten Conference title. Boldt stepped right into the outfield for Nebraska and started all but four games during his career. Sinclair, a junior college transfer, was Nebraska’s ace for two years. Roeder, another transfer, set the program’s career saves record with 33 in three seasons. Reveles was a two-year starter at shortstop, while Burkamper and Hohensee were members of the rotation on the conference championship team.
18. Texas Christian
2013 rank: 17. Recruiting coordinator: Kirk Saarloos. BA All-Americans: None. Other key players: Tyler Alexander, Garrett Crain, Brian Howard, Jordan Kipper.
The bottom line: The Horned Frogs have had an incredible run of success, making four straight appearances in the CWS. Members of this class played key roles in all four Omaha trips, though the Frogs’ biggest stars from the era were in other classes. Howard is the class’ lone member to play on all four CWS teams, and he earned the nickname “Big Game Howie” for his postseason performances. Alexander, the highest drafted member of the class, was a part of the rotation for two seasons. Crain, a junior college transfer, was the leading hitter on the 2014 team, while Kipper, also a transfer, was a part of that team’s rotation.
19. UC Santa Barbara
2013 rank: NR. Recruiting coordinator: Eddie Cornejo. BA All-Americans: None. Other key players: Shane Bieber, Dempsey Grover, J.J. Muno, Joe Record.
The bottom line: UCSB’s class played key roles in its historic 2015 and 2016 seasons, when it hosted its first ever regional and made its first CWS appearance. Bieber was the star of the group, serving as ace of the CWS team and finishing his career as one of the best pitchers in program history. Record missed the 2015 season due to injury but pitched behind Bieber in the rotation the next year. Grover and Muno were starters the last two years, and Grover has a chance to add his legacy this year as a redshirt senior.
2013 rank: 2. Recruiting coordinator: Tommy Nicholson. BA All-Americans: None. Other key players: Tres Barrera, Bret Boswell, Kacy Clemens, Morgan Cooper, Zane Gurwitz.
The bottom line: What was expected to be a banner class for the Longhorns got off to a good start, as Texas made a run to the 2014 CWS with Barrera, Clemens and Gurwitz as regulars and Cooper tying for the team lead in appearances. The Longhorns were unable to recapture that magic over the next two seasons, and they missed regionals in 2016. They bounced back as seniors, however, returning to the NCAA Tournament under first-year coach David Pierce, with Clemens leading the team in hitting and home runs, and Cooper fronting the pitching staff. Ultimately, Texas ended up with more of a solid, not spectacular, class.
21. East Carolina
2013 rank: NR. Recruiting coordinator: Ben Sanderson. BA All-Americans: Reid Love (2015 third team). Other key players: Hunter Allen, Bryce Harman, Evan Kruczynski, Eric Tyler.
The bottom line: This class was not laden with pro potential—only two players were drafted, both in the ninth round—but it led the Pirates to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and within 90 feet of their first ever trip to Omaha. Love, a junior college transfer, was a two-way star and ECU’s Friday night starter for most of his two years in Greenville. Kruczynski was a member of the rotation for three years and succeeded Love as the Pirates’ ace. Allen led the 2015 team in hitting and Tyler did so in 2017. Harman was a regular in the lineup throughout his career.
22. Cal State Fullerton
2013 rank: 12. Recruiting coordinator: Mike Kirby. BA All-Americans: None. Other key players: Taylor Bryant, Miles Chambers, Chad Hockin, Timmy Richards.
The bottom line: The Titans’ class at the time was headlined by righthander Phil Bickford, who only stayed one year before transferring to junior college. But this class helped lead Fullerton to two CWS appearances and Big West Conference titles. Richards was a three-year starter at shortstop and played a key leadership role on the team, and finished his career with two homers this June in Omaha. Bryant was an everyday player on both the CWS teams, sandwiched around an injury that cost him nearly all of the 2016 season. Chambers and Hockin played key roles out of the bullpen during their three seasons.
2013 rank: NR. Recruiting coordinator: Dean Stotz. BA All-Americans: None. Other key players: Chris Castellanos, Tommy Edman, Brett Hanewich, Cal Quantrill.
The bottom line: The class’ headliner was supposed to be Quantrill and he lived up to the hype as a freshman, helping the Cardinal reach super regionals. But his college career was brief, as he didn’t pitch again for Stanford after having Tommy John surgery. Hanewich joined Quantrill in the rotation as a freshman and spent most of three seasons in that role. Edman also made an instant impact and was a three-year regular in the middle of the infield, earning all-conference honors in 2016. Castellanos led Stanford in wins and innings as a junior and senior, helping the class bookend its careers with NCAA Tournament appearances.
2013 rank: 23. Recruiting coordinator: Jake Gautreau. BA All-Americans: None. Other key players: Stephen Alemais, J.P. France, Hunter Hope, Corey Merrill, Jake Rogers.
The bottom line: As juniors, this class led the Green Wave to its first conference title in a decade and its second straight NCAA Tournament appearance. Alemais led both regionals teams in hitting, in addition to playing every day at shortstop throughout his career. Hope was a four-year starter and led the Green Wave in hitting as a freshman. Rogers stood out for his defense and was a three-year starter behind the plate. Merrill was a stalwart on the pitching staff and led the team in ERA in 2015, while France was a two-year rotation member.
25. Dallas Baptist
2013 rank: NR. Recruiting coordinator: Dan Fitzgerald. BA All-Americans: None. Other key players: Tagg Duce, Camden Duzenack, David Martinelli, Daniel Salters, Drew Turbin.
The bottom line: The Patriots won at least 40 games and advanced to regionals in each of the last four years, making it the most successful four-year period for the program since it joined Division I. The class didn’t include the kind of power pitchers DBU has become known for producing, but it did provide five regulars in the lineup of the 2015 team that hosted a regional for the first time in program history. Turbin and Duce were the top two hitters on that team and Martinelli was one of the top power threats. Duzenack and Salters were everyday players up the middle throughout their careers.