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Preseason All-Americans: Just Missed the Cut

On January 19th, College Baseball Nation introduced its inaugural All-America teams for 2021. As we stated then, the talent pool in college baseball is unquestionably deep, especially within the pitching ranks. In this column, we’ll take a quick look at the guys who just missed the cut. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that seven of the players are pitchers, while three are members of the 2022 draft class, which has a chance to be one of the strongest ever.

Gunnar Hoglund (2021 draft eligible), RHP, Ole Miss—Hoglund boasts excellent command of his entire repertoire, which includes a fastball, slider, and changeup, all with favorable spin rates. His slider is his best offering because of outstanding movement, and his heater sits comfortably in the 89-92 MPH range. At 6-05/210, Hoglund has an ideal pitcher’s build with room to fill out.

Eric Cerantola (2021), RHP, Mississippi State—Cerantola is a Canadian whose bread-and-butter pitch is a hard, low-80’s curveball with fantastic spin rates. He can also pump high 90’s gas, though he has had trouble harnessing the high-octane pitch. Some big league clubs view Cerantola as a future shutdown closer.

Steven Hajjar (2021), LHP, Michigan—Hajjar, who missed his entire true freshman season with a knee injury, gained notoriety last year when he blanked a loaded Arizona State team the first weekend of the season. Though Hajjar doesn’t have electric stuff, he uses uncanny command to work both sides of the plate and changes speeds like a seasoned veteran.

Richard Fitts (2021), RHP, Auburn—Fitts showed up to campus this fall with a fastball that sits in the mid-90’s and much-improved slider. His changeup was already solid with late fading action. If the former reliever shows he can maintain his effectiveness while shouldering a starter’s workload, he’ll likely be off the board in the 15-20 range.

Hayden Dunhurst (2022), C, Ole Miss—Dunhurst is the rare amateur catcher with a dynamic offensive game that rivals his defensive polish. One scout likened him to a more compact Jason Varitek.

Brandon Sproat (2022), RHP, Florida—Did you really think we’d compose this list without a hurler from Florida? The Gators’ pitching depth has relegated Sproat to the bullpen, but he’s a surefire bet to start in 2022. Sproat’s heater touches the high 90’s with plenty of spin, and his slider is equally as toxic.

Robby Martin (2021), OF, Florida State—Martin has always had an advanced hit tool from the left side, above average power potential, and a strong arm; however, after dropping 15 pounds in the offseason, his range in RF is much improved. Players with his profile usually don’t make it out of Day 1.

Bryce Osmond (2022), RHP, Oklahoma State—Though his control can be erratic at times, Osmond has three plus pitches at his disposal, including some wicked cheese that’s parked in the mid 90’s. And at 6-03/180, he still has room to fill out.

Jordan Wicks (2021), LHP, Kansas State—Small sample size notwithstanding, Wicks dominated in 2020, yielding just two earned runs in 46 IP (for an otherworldly 0.39 ERA!) with a 55/9 K/BB ratio between the abbreviated spring season and a cameo in the Northwoods League. Wicks’ fastball lives in the 90-91 MPH range, but it’s aided by one of the college game’s best changeups.

Jace Jung (2022), IF, Texas Tech—Between Jung’s left-handed bat that sprays line drives to all fields and his discerning eye, the young Texan should develop into an OBP machine. Jung has handled both 2B and 3B with aplomb.

With the talent pool in college baseball as deep as it is, it seems unfair to conclude the list at this juncture without at least mentioning some other intriguing names. Tommy Mace and Jack Leftwich are Florida’s Friday and Saturday starters, respectively, back for their fourth year in Gainesville to show off their power arsenals. Louisville’s Jack Perkins is this year’s Clayton Beeter, an injury-plagued dart thrower whose pitch metrics are off the charts. And don’t forget about UCLA CF Michael Curialle. He slashed .299/.377/.438 in the Northwoods league after slugging .525 during his abbreviated freshman season. Curialle will not be draft eligible until 2022.


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