Breaking Down The SEC's 2019 Recruiting Classes
Recruiting is the lifeblood of every program in college baseball. After presenting the Top 25 recruiting classes and the 10 classes that just missed the cut, Baseball America is breaking down every class in several of the biggest conferences in the country.
Presented here are team-by-team analysis for every team in the SEC. Nine teams from the conference ranked in the Top 25 and two more made the next 10 classes. Links to full breakdowns for those teams can be found below, as well as a snapshot view of the class. Full breakdowns for the three teams not to make the rankings can be found here.
The Crimson Tide continue to recruit at a high level under head coach Brad Bohannon, Jackson and Zulli. This class is loaded with upside, starting with Austin. He’s athletic and toolsy but will need to refine his hittability. Outfielder Owen Diodati (363) is a little more advanced and brings a powerful bat to Tuscaloosa. On the mound, Alabama’s newcomers are led by projectable lefthanders Antoine Jean and Connor Prielipp. Prielipp has bigger stuff and significant upside, while Jean was a late bloomer but comes armed with advanced pitchability and competitiveness.
The Razorbacks added strength and physicality to the team with this class, especially among position players. Hodges is representative of that, as he ahs plus-plus raw power and could hit the ball as far as almost anyone in the 2019 draft class. Braydon Webb, a junior college all-American, will get into the lineup somewhere and can also make an impact. Righthander Blake Adams was the Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year and lefthander Zack Morris gives the class another high-upside arm.
The Tigers again landed a high-end class anchored by a premium pitcher in Mullins, and there’s plenty of depth on the mound behind the lefthander as well. Righthanders Mason Barnett (250), Trace Bright (353) and Ramsey David (301) all have plenty of upside. Nathan LaRue (210) leads the position players and adds impressive versatility, as he can help the Tigers on the mound, behind the plate or in the outfield.
The Gators had the top-ranked class last fall on signing day and still have an elite one now. Barco, the second-highest ranked player to make it to school, and righthander Brandon Sproat (233), the only high school player drafted in the top 10 rounds not to sign, give it some star power on the mound. Third baseman Josh Rivera (333) highlights the position player newcomers thanks to an exciting toolset and feel for hitting. Catcher Nathan Hickey (364) and shortstop Isaac Nunez (453) give the class a pair of up-the-middle standouts.
The Bulldogs held on to their class through the draft and ended up with a solid group of newcomers. Childers, the son of former big leaguer Matt Childers, is big and projectable and adds another premium arm to Georgia’s talented staff. Infielder Spencer Keefe is the class’ standout position player and brings a powerful bat to Athens. Infielders Buddy Floyd and Garrett Blaylock, a junior college transfer, should quickly be able to work their way into the lineup.
Recruiting coordinator: Will Coggin
Top recruit: Zack Lee, RHP (No. 339)
Kentucky underwent staff change this summer with Coggin coming aboard as recruiting coordinator and Dan Roszel taking over as pitching coach. They, along with head coach Nick Mingione, will have a solid recruiting class to work with, including the high-end talent of Lee, infielder Jaden Brown and outfielder Oraj Anu, a junior college transfer.
Lee is a very projectable righthander with a fastball that can touch 95 mph. Listed at 6-foot-4, 180 pounds, he has plenty of room to fill out and get stronger. If he can put it all together, he has significant upside as a starter. Righthander Sam Wibbels, however, has a strong build at 6-foot-2, 212 pounds. And a powerful arsenal to match. His fastball gets up to 93 mph and his curveball and changeup both show promise.
Anu is coming off a solid summer in the Cape Cod League, where he hit six home runs and helped Cotuit win the championship. The switch-hitter has big raw tools, including above-average power and speed, but is still pretty raw overall and will need to refine his pitch recognition to reach his ceiling. Brown has good athleticism and plus speed, which plays well in the middle of the diamond. He has an explosive swing that portends more power, but like Anu will need to smooth out some of the rough edges of his game.
A year after landing the top-ranked class, LSU was hit harder in the draft but ended up with another top-10 class. It’s loaded up with athletic position players, starting with Hampton who is a dynamic athlete and is also playing football for the Tigers. Infielder Cade Doughty (79) is an advanced, well-rounded player who can make an immediate impact. Lefthander Jacob Hasty headlines the newcomers on the mound thanks to his fastball-curveball combination.
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Ole Miss kept its class together through the draft and was rewarded with one of the best recruiting classes in program history. Ealy and outfielder John Rhys Plumlee (341) are also playing football for the Rebels, but they (and especially Ealy) are also big-time talents on the diamond. Catcher Hayden Dunhurst (103) and shortstop Connor Walsh (144) are premium talents that can step right into the lineup. Righthanders Andrew McDaniel (147) and Derek Diamond (270) were limited by injury during the spring but should be able to bounce back and have high-end stuff.
This is a deep, talented class for the Bulldogs with some power arms at the top in Bednar and righthander Landon Sims (198), both of whom run their fastballs into the upper 90s. Outfielder Kyte McDonald (415) profiles well in center field and is a plus-plus runner. Logan Tanner (312) and K.C. Hunt (313) headline a large group of players with two-way potential, a strategy coach Chris Lemonis employed at Indiana and has brought to Starkville.
Recruiting coordinator: Todd Butler
Top recruit: Ben Pedersen, RHP
The strength of the Tigers’ recruiting class is on the mound where Pedersen and lefthander Jonathan Machamer both have high-upside, projectable skillsets. Pedersen, listed at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, is a Minnesota native who is just starting to put everything together. He has big arm strength and some feel for his changeup and curveball. Machamer, the younger brother of Red Sox farmhand Chris Machamer, also has a large frame at a listed 6-foot-5, 220 pounds. He was bothered by injuries during high school but has a fastball that gets into the low 90s and a promising breaking ball. Lefthander Andrew Vail transferred from Maryland after making 21 appearances as a freshman and should slide right into the Missouri bullpen.
Outfielder Jackson Lancaster, a junior college transfer, leads Missouri’s position player newcomers. The speedy lefthanded hitter was a reliable hitter over the last two years and has good bat-to-ball skills. He also pitched some in junior college, but his focus will be as an outfielder for the Tigers. Ty Wilmsmeyer also offers two-way potential as an outfielder and righthander. He has some projection on the mound and does a good job of putting the bat on the ball. Catcher Eric Rinzel has good athleticism behind the plate and projects to hit for power as he physically matures. Infielder Brandt Belk transferred from Pepperdine, where he missed time last spring due to a hamstring injury but had a strong 2018 season and should bolster the Tigers’ lineup.
Following a disappointing 2019 season, the Gamecocks are looking to rebuild quickly and brought in a big class that’s heavy on junior college players. Righthanders Thomas Farr (213) and Andrew Peters (459), both transfers, have high-end stuff but made it to Columbia in part because they missed the spring due to injury. Thomas, the top prep player in the class, came on strong this spring and has a powerful arm. Infielder Brennan Milone (134) is the standout among position players and could end up being a similar player to Paul DeJong.
Recruiting coordinator: Josh Elander
Top recruit: Jordan Beck, OF
The Volunteers brought in a solid all-around class that has toolsy players both on the mound and as hitters, including some junior college transfers that should be able to make an immediate impact.
Listed at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Beck has a strong, athletic frame (he was a standout basketball player in high school as well). The righthanded hitter put together a strong track record of performance in high school and has solid power potential. Infielder Liam Spence, an Australian native, comes to Tennessee after helping Central Arizona JC win the Junior College World Series. He can play up the middle and his bat should fit well in the Volunteers’ lineup. Infielder Jorel Ortega is big and physical and has power potential to go with a strong arm.
Righthander Connor Housley headlines the newcomers on the mound. He has a projectable 6-foot-3, 175-pound frame and can run his fastball up to 90 mph. He offers significant upside as he physically matures. Lefthander Drew Gilbert isn’t quite as projectable, but the Minnesota native’s fastball gets into the low 90s and he has advanced pitchability. He also has two-way potential as an outfielder thanks to his athleticism and lefthanded swing. Righthander Jackson Leath, a junior college transfer, has good feel on the mound and should quickly be able to take on important innings for the Volunteers.
The Aggies were hit hard in the draft and lost their top four commits. They were still able to put together a solid class, which is a mix of players who are raw but have big upside with steady, experienced junior college transfers. Mayfield and righthander Evan Vanek (356) are projectable but can run their fastballs into the low 90s and having the tools to become impact arms. Outfielder Logan Britt is tooled up, but the former prep quarterback needs to refine his hittability. Rody Barker and Logan Sartori, junior college transfers, should both work their way into the lineup this spring.
The Commodores landed their record sixth No. 1 recruiting class (2005, ’11, ’12, ’15, ’17) and for the second year in a row landed the top-ranked player to make it to a four-year campus. Leiter, the son of former All-Star Al Leiter, has advanced stuff and figures to make an immediate impact this spring. Fellow righthanders Michael Doolin (410), Sam Hliboki (482) and Chris McElvain (329) add more talented arms to Vanderbilt’s deep staff. Spencer Jones (78) was the best two-way player in the prep class and can help as a lefthander or first baseman. Shortstop Carter Young (178) and catcher Maxwell Romero (275) are high-end defenders up the middle.