With the College Baseball World Series in full force in Omaha, it’s a great time to acknowledge the best players in the nation with the first ever selection of College Baseball Nation's Postseason All-America Prospect Teams. As the name suggests, selection to both squads is more contingent on a player’s long-term potential and how he projects as a pro prospect than on merely statistical performance in college baseball. However, there will certainly be a strong correlation between the latter and a player’s appearance in this article.
As the 2021 season progressed, MLB executives and scouts frequently lamented the lower talent level in this year’s draft class relative to prior ones. This shortfall is evident by the fact that 13 of the 30 players selected to both teams are draft eligible in 2022, a draft which is already forecast as one of the strongest in recent memory. And if the high percentage of 2022 draft eligible players on this list isn’t enough to make you salivate at the plethora of talent available next July, consider that most of the “near misses” for this list—Logan Tanner, Dylan Beavers, Hunter Barco, and Connor Prielipp—are draft eligible in 2022 as well.
Henry Davis (2021 draft eligible), RHH, Louisville—From the first pitch of the season until the last, Davis was easily the best college position player. He consistently barreled the best arms to the tune of a 1.145 OPS while posting a stellar 31/24 BB/K ratio. He also caught 46 percent of would-be base stealers and allowed just three passed balls—a stark improvement over the six passed balls Davis permitted in just 14 games in 2020. It should come as no surprise that Davis is on the Pirates’ shortlist to go 1-01 in next month’s MLB Draft.
JT Schwartz (2021), LHH, UCLA—Whether it was in the West Coast League, the Northwoods League, or the Pac-12, Schwartz has continuously exhibited his hitting prowess as a collegian. After missing the first several weeks of UCLA’s season with an injury, Schwartz proceeded to hit nearly .400 with an equally sparkling 37/28 BB/K ratio. Persistent questions about his power will likely prompt a fall out of Day 1.
Jace Jung (2022), LHH, Texas Tech—Patience is a virtue and many MLB teams are chomping at the bit for the opportunity to select Jung next July. Jung has a turbo-charged swing capable of hitting missiles to all fields, and his discerning eye will keep his OBP propped up as a pro. Jung shifted to 2B from the hot corner when he got to Lubbock, and he’s made steady progress there over the past two years. Jung’s brother Josh was the Rangers’ 1st round pick in the 2019 draft.
Matt McLain (2021), RHH, UCLA—McLain, an unsigned 1st rounder from the 2018 draft, had an uneven season, battling through a slow start then a thumb injury. However, he caught fire after his return and reaffirmed his status as the top college SS in the draft. McLain has garnered comps to Michael Young, David Fletcher, and Brian Dozier, and it’s certainly possible that he’ll eventually shift across the keystone to 2B.
Peyton Graham (2022), RHH, Oklahoma—Though Graham’s 2021 stats aren’t on a par with those from the abbreviated 2020 campaign, he’s still an uber-athletic third sacker with a high ceiling on both sides of the ball.
Colton Cowser (2021), LHH, Sam Houston—Cowser’s smooth left-handed stroke, burgeoning power, and ability to stick in CF will make him the first Bearkat to go off the board in the 1st round since Glenn Wilson went 18th overall in 1980.
Jud Fabian (2021), RHH, Florida—Fabian is easily the most divisive player in this draft class. Despite a paltry .249 average and 29.4 percent K-rate, Fabian’s easy power, relative youth, and excellent defense in CF will cause a team to bite in the back half of the 1st round.
Sal Frelick (2021), LHH, Boston College—In the age of gorilla ball and three true outcomes offense, Frelick is a refreshing throwback. While he did slug .559 for the Eagles, he struck out in just 12 percent of his PAs and consistently showed the ability to square up good pitching. A center fielder at BC, some teams are interested in Frelick as an offensive-minded second baseman in the upcoming draft.
Ethan Wilson (2021), LHH, South Alabama—Wilson had an unorthodox season. He was plagued by an ankle sprain in the early going, which robbed him of his well-chronicled power, yet came on down the stretch. The most impressive take-away from Wilson’s 2021 campaign was his ability to make contact, as evidenced by his outstanding 8.3 percent K-rate. His lower power output notwithstanding, Wilson will not make it out of the supplemental round.
Jack Leiter (2021), RHP, Vanderbilt—Although Leiter was second fiddle to Kumar Rocker at the start of the season, he quickly overtook his rotation mate and established himself as the best college righthander in years. In a season full of jaw-dropping moments, Leiter’s tour de force was clearly his 20-inning no-hit streak against SEC stalwarts South Carolina, Missouri, and LSU.
Kumar Rocker (2021), RHP, Vanderbilt—On scouts’ radar since he was a high school underclassman, Rocker did not disappoint during his time in Nashville. Whether it was his 19-K no-hitter vs Duke in the 2019 Super Regionals or his weekly greatness this year, Rocker, with the help of his atomic slider and mid-90’s cheddar, will join Leiter as the best 1-2 pitching tandem in Commodores history and a top-10 draft pick next month.
Ty Madden (2021), RHP, Texas—While Madden defies the current pitching convention of low release height and high spin rate/efficiency on his fastball to combat today’s launch angle-oriented offensive game, his size, command, velocity, and prime secondary offerings (including a wipeout slider) have made him into one of the nation’s most complete pitchers.
Sam Bachman (2021), RHP, Miami (OH)—The darling of analytical departments across MLB, Bachman’s elite heater/slider combo and promising changeup could enable him to sneak into the top-10 on July 11th. That said, some teams have reservations about Bachman’s long-term health.
Ryan Cusick (2021), RHP, Wake Forest—Cusick, a 6-06/235 man child, has a heater that regularly touches the century mark, a plus curveball, and improved changeup. He still needs to clean up his control; however, his toxic arsenal will almost certainly cause a team picking in the middle of the 1st round to pop him.
Landon Sims (2022), RHP, Mississippi State—Sims’ venomous fastball/slider combination resulted in an otherworldly 16.5 K/9 ratio. The Bulldogs’ closer in 2021 will probably try his hand at starting next year, and if the experiment works, he could very well follow the path of former Minnesota standout Max Meyer, the Marlins’ 1st round pick last June.
Hayden Dunhurst (2022), LHH, Ole Miss—Though Dunhurst slumped late, his thick, muscular frame and two-way ability has evoked numerous comparisons to former Red Sox great Jason Varitek. He boasted excellent exit velocities at the plate and elite pop times behind it. Health permitting, Dunhurst will be a surefire 1st rounder next year.
Branden Boissiere (2021), LHH, Arizona—Boissiere has a similar profile to his 1st Team counterpart, Schwartz—a smooth lefty bat with a .358 lifetime average who’s currently hit tool over power.
Robert Moore (2022), SH, Arkansas—Moore, the son of Royals’ GM Dayton Moore, has attained celebrity status in Little Rock for his clutch hitting and superb defense. A bit undersized at 5-09/165, Moore has plenty of power from both sides of the plate. Because he arrived at Arkansas a year early, Moore will barely be 20 by the time next year’s draft rolls around.
Brooks Lee (2022), SH, Cal Poly—Lee, a physical SS with mouth-watering talent on both sides of the ball, made a complete recovery from a leg injury incurred not long after his matriculation at Cal Poly. The switch hitter reminds some scouts of Carlos Guillen in his prime, and he’s a likely top-5 pick in 2022.
Cade Doughty (2022), RHH, LSU—Doughty may not be as dynamic as some of the other 2022 bats on either AA team, but both his hit tool and power project as above average. And should he move to 2B full time as a pro as many expect, his profile will play up even more.
Jared McKenzie (2022), LHH, Baylor—McKenzie slugged two homers against promising Auburn righty Richard Fitts in late February and never looked back. He hit .406 as a true freshman in the shortened 2020 campaign then slashed .383/.453/.626 this year for an encore. In addition to his offensive exploits, McKenzie is a plus defender in CF with a strong arm.
Brock Jones (2022), LHH, Stanford—A former gridiron star, Jones has athleticism oozing out of his pores. He slugged 16 home runs, stole 14 bases, and robbed hit after hit in CF. Moreover, Jones’ 19 percent BB rate portends a dynamic leadoff hitter at the next level.
Gavin Cross (2022), LHH, Virginia Tech—Before he tailed off towards the end of the spring, Cross gave a fun preview of what the future holds. He offers immense power to all fields with top-of-the-chart exit velocities and rarely chases out of the zone. He also showcased a cannon in RF.
Aaron Zavala (2021), LHH, Oregon—Zavala is the poster boy for why college is the right path for some players. At Oregon, Zavala added muscle, fine tuned his swing and mastered RF (he was an infielder in high school). Scouts fell in love with Zavala’s swing as the 2021 progressed and frequently complimented his ability to keep his bat head in the zone and lay off balls out of the strike zone.
Gunnar Hoglund (2021), RHP, Ole Miss—Hoglund was on his way to a banner season and a top-10 selection until he succumbed to Tommy John surgery in May. Still, his deluxe three-pitch mix, moxie, and track record in the ultra-competitive SEC, combined with the historical success of Tommy John surgery, should prevent him from falling out of the top 20 picks.
Jordan Wicks (2021), LHP, Kansas State—Wicks is a strong, durable lefty whose bread-and-butter is an excellent changeup. He also boasts an above average fastball, slider, and deuce. Although he’s not flashy, Wicks’ ability to throw strikes and expertly utilize his deep repertoire have elicited comparisons to 2020 1st rounder Reid Detmers.
Michael McGreevy (2021), RHP, UCSB—McGreevy’s UCSB affiliation, pinpoint control, and newfound velocity on his 92-95 MPH heater will spur inevitable comps to former Gaucho Shane Bieber. While we’re not ready to anoint McGreevy a future Cy Young Award winner, we do feel he has the talent and projectability to see the back end of the 1st round.
Gavin Williams (2021), RHP, East Carolina—After teasing the college baseball community for years with his electric stuff but inconsistent command, Williams finally put it all together in 2021. Williams’ high-90’s cheese is his flagship offering and his slider, curve, and changeup all grade out as at least average. Most importantly, Williams cut his BB/9 from 4.2 to 2.3 and posted an all-universe 14.4 K/9.
Andrew Abbott (2021), LHP, Virginia—The shortening of the 2020 draft to five rounds due to COVID-19 robbed Abbott of an opportunity to start his pro career, and he made use of the extra spring in Charlottesville to enhance his draft stock. Abbott generally sits in the low 90’s with his overhand fastball but can scrape 95 MPH when necessary. His 79-81 MPH curve and changeup are both highly effective outpitches, as his 13.6 K/9 would attest.
Kevin Kopps (2021), RHP, Arkansas—Kopps had one of the best ever seasons for a college closer and capped this off by delivering a Herculean effort as a starter in Arkansas’ sudden death loss against NC State in the Super Regionals. Kopps’ key weapon is a vicious slider and he usually sits around 90 MPH with the heat.