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2021 Freshman Of The Year Watch

There has never before been a collectively more talented class of freshmen in college baseball.

MLB’s decision to cut the 2020 draft to five rounds due to the pandemic led to more premium prep players reaching college campuses. That alone would have created a banner group. But taken with the decision by college baseball’s governing bodies to extend an extra year of eligibility to all 2020 spring sports athletes – effectively granting them all a redshirt – only strengthened it further.


There is no uniformity across the NCAA about nomenclature regarding the returning players. But, at Baseball America, any player who began 2021 with four years of eligibility remaining is considered a freshman.

To track this historic freshman class, we will this season present a weekly watch list of the 10 most impressive freshmen to that point in the season. It is best to think of it as a watch list for the Freshman of the Year award.

Arizona slugger Jacob Berry rises to the top spot this week as he continues his sensational season at the plate, while Vanderbilt righthander Jack Leiter had his start skipped last week.

Arizona catcher Daniel Susac returns to the list this week and Wichita State righthander Jace Kaminska also joins.

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Expand Collapse All Updated on: 5/13/2021
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    Jacob Berry

    Arizona IF

    Key stats: .401/.493/.737, 11 HR
    Berry, a true freshman, rises to the top of this list after another solid week at the plate for the Wildcats. He’s been a driving force at the heart of the best offense in the nation and ranks in the top 20 nationally in both batting and slugging.

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    Jack Leiter

    Vanderbilt RHP

    Key stats: 7-2, 2.10, 64.1 IP, 29 BB, 106 K
    Leiter, a second-year freshman, falls out of the top spot this week after having his start against Alabama skipped to manage his innings. He’s still having an exceptional season and ranks third in the nation in strikeouts.

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    Parker Messick

    Florida State LHP

    Key stats: 6-2, 2.37, 68.1 IP, 21 BB, 99 K
    Messick, a second-year freshman, continues to thrive as Florida State’s Friday starter. Messick ranks second in the ACC in ERA and Leiter is the only freshman in the country with more strikeouts.

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    Justin Campbell

    Oklahoma State RHP/1B

    Key stats: 5-1, 2.39, 64 IP, 22 BB, 83 K; .236/.358/.345
    Campbell, a second-year freshman, last week threw a no-hitter against Kansas. He struck out 11 and an eighth-inning walk was his only blemish in the game. Campbell became the first Oklahoma State pitcher to throw a nine-inning no-hitter since 1968. He’s still hitting as well, giving the Cowboys one of the top two-way players in the country.

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    Central Michigan Logo

    Andrew Taylor

    Central Michigan RHP

    Key stats: 8-3, 1.58, 68.1 IP, 17 BB, 94 K
    Taylor, a second-year freshman, last week registered a quality start in CMU’s first-place showdown against Ball State. He ranks top-20 nationally in both ERA and strikeouts.

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    Ethan Long

    Arizona State 1B/RHP

    Key stats: .373/.423/.780, 13 HR; 0-0, 0.00, 6.2 IP, 4 SV
    Long, a true freshman, continued his power surge with three homers in four games last week. Twelve of his 13 home runs on the season have come in his last 13 games. After working more as a pitcher earlier in the year, he’s now more focused on hitting.

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    Jace Jung

    Texas Tech 2B

    Key stats: .365/.480/.731, 16 HR
    Jung, a second-year freshman, had the week off as Texas Tech’s series against Illinois-Chicago was canceled due to Covid-19 issues for the Flames. Jung ranks sixth nationally in home runs.

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    Paul Skenes

    Air Force C/RHP

    Key stats: .355/.421/.599, 8 HR; 1-0, 1.80, 20 IP, 9 BB, 23 K, 8 SV
    Skenes, a true freshman, is filling a challenging two-way role as Air Force’s catcher and closer. His role and size – a listed 6-foot-6 – invite comparisons to Matt Wieters and Skenes is doing his best to match that level of production. He’s riding a 10-game hitting streak and last week against New Mexico homered and saved a game to help Air Force to a sweep.

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    Jace Kaminska

    Wichita State RHP

    Key stats: 6-0, 1.23, 44 IP, 14 BB, 39 K
    Kaminska, a true freshman, last week made a quality start against Central Florida and now ranks fourth in the nation in ERA. Since joining the Wichita State rotation at the start of American Athletic Conference play, he is 5-0, 1.04 in six starts.

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    Daniel Susac

    Arizona C

    Key stats: .359/.411/.665, 12 HR
    Susac, a true freshman, returns to the list after getting knocked off a week ago. He went 8-for-15 with two doubles, a home run, three runs and six RBI last week at Stanford. Susac leads the Wildcats in home runs and his offensive production is all the more impressive in the context of a true freshman catcher who is providing good defense behind the plate.

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