The second Wednesday in November is here, which means the Early Signing Period arrived for baseball players. They can officially put pen to paper and change their status from “commitment” to “signee.” Regardless of where a player is going, signing paperwork to become an official member of a recruiting class is reason for celebration. For players and their families and coaches, becoming a signee makes years of hard work and sacrifices worth it. College coaches and support staff have plenty to celebrate, too. But they’re also relieved. Countless hours of evaluating and recruiting a future signing class is a grind and while the final chapter for the 2024 recruiting class won’t be written until after the 2024 MLB Draft, an enormous part of the book is now complete.
Here are some of thoughts on signing classes, recruiting and more from Texas and the region:
The rise of mid-major programs continues…
Perhaps a separate column is needed to truly describe the impact of the NCAA Transfer Portal on high school baseball recruiting, but the caliber of player now signing with mid-major programs is one of the many results. Top tier, power-five programs recruiting the portal so heavily each offseason, along with high school players from all over the nation and junior college players, means fewer spots at those programs for high school players. And let’s be honest: head coaches want to keep their jobs and they do that by winning. What kind of prospect is the least risky to recruit? A transfer portal player because coaches have more video, more data and more ways to evaluate those players, who are sometimes so old they can apply for medical school. And let’s be honest about something else, too: the quality of coaching and development at mid-major and JUCO programs, especially in Texas, is improving each year. While the financial investment in these programs still isn’t at the level of football and basketball, it is improving, too.
Like usual, Dallas Baptist remains a recruiting force and a big reason why is its success rate with its early evaluations. Grapevine left-handed pitcher Dasan Hill is another example. Ranked No. 15 on the current 2024 Texas Five Tool 55, Hill is going to be one of the most heavily scouted prep arms in Texas this upcoming spring and DBU might have to sweat the MLB Draft status of Athan Kroll too. The Colorado (Valor Christian) right-handed pitcher is a good athlete with the type of frame and stuff scouts love. Unsurprisingly, DBU also identified some of the state’s best hitters early, too. Brooks Sartain, Will Yeary and Colton Roquemore have stood out with the bat for years; in particular, Yeary, a switch-hitting infielder, really stood out this summer and fall with added strength boosting his promising hitting outlook and he plays with good instincts defensively. Before anyone else really caught on, Dallas Baptist was able to gain a commitment from Round Rock shortstop Hudson Ellis, who is arguably the top defender at the premium position in Texas. Argyle two-way prospect and DBU commitment Park Prater is among the most purely talented players in Texas and could really take off on the mound this spring.
While DBU typically flexes the most mid-major recruiting muscle in DFW, Texas State long ago emerged as that type of force in the southern part of the state. The 2024 signing class is another outstanding one for the Bobcats, and they continue to mix in strong early evaluations with talented JUCO prospects (Blinn’s Coy DeFury was a huge get and is going to immediately slot into the middle of the lineup). Dawson Park (Magnolia West) and Braylon Mitchell (Cypress Creek) are both Five Tool 55 members who have been longtime commitments and have impressive all-around tools to complement athleticism and a track record of production. But Texas State also started to win some recruiting battles coming out of the final summer for senior prospects, too.
For example, gaining a signature from Smithson Valley’s Zachary Gingrich was a huge win. In high demand after a strong spring was followed by an outstanding summer when he showed one of the most powerful left-handed swings in the state to go along with an outstanding frame and impact athleticism, Gingrich chose the Bobcats after grabbing the attention of many power-five programs. Texas State wanted to add speed and a left-handed outfield bat to its class. So, it landed Caden Baker, one of the fastest hitters in the state with promising bat-to-ball ability. The Bobcats wanted to add another potential shortstop/skilled infielder to the mix and gained a commitment from Cinco Ranch’s Brock DeYoung, one of the best pure baseball players in the state who carried Cinco Ranch during its deep playoff run. Keep an eye on San Marcos left-handed hitter Kutter Gage Webb. While he might not be as famous as some other players, he has one of the best left-handed swings in the state with impressive athleticism.
Joining Texas State down south – I imagine these staffs have gone head-to-head numerous times for recruits - as an established mid-major recruiting presence is UTSA. Boerne Champion shortstop and quarterback Jordan Ballin hardly ever strikes out, thinks the game one step ahead of his peers, has a true chance to stick at shortstop and has the type of left-handed hitting ability and speed to set the table. If you haven’t seen his football film as QB1, go check it out and enjoy. Alvin infielder Ryan Partida is a skilled player who had some bright moments at Area Code and Ryley Chapman was a huge early get for UTSA. Before moving to Florida, Chapman was establishing himself as one of the premier hitters in Texas and is a good athlete who has a legit swing from both sides of the plate. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t make an early impact somewhere on the infield.
Before former Rice star and longtime assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Paul Janish left to become the Director of Player Development for the Chicago White Sox, he helped Rice land one of its top high school commitments in a while – Pearland two-way standout Isaiah Castaneda. With one of the best outfield arms I’ve seen at the Texas prep level, Castaneda has exciting talent that he’s yet to fully tap into. He performed well with the bat in the summer, in the playoffs for state runner-up Pearland and is also really interesting on the mound, too. High school teammate Jake Mader-Cooper is also heading to Rice and should give the Owls a boost from the right side on the mound, along with the likes of Ethan Atchley, who flashed one of the state’s top sliders in the summer and fall. Blaine Brown (Summer Creek) is also a very intriguing, projectable, two-way talent who turned heads early this summer when he smacked homers from the left side, glided around the outfield and also threw 91 MPH off the mound from the left side. Maddox Keo gives Rice one of the better left-handed pitchers in the state and Five Tool Academic Team standout Jackson Todd is a physical infielder who can impact the baseball.
Houston Christian is following a big high school class in 2023 with a smaller one, at least right now, in 2024. Caden Miller (Madisonville) is the headliner. MVP of the AABC Don Mattingly World Series, Miller impressed professional scouts this fall and stood out as the best hitter for the Dodgers Scout team during its games versus local junior college programs. Sam Houston State’s longtime recruiting coordinator Fuller Smith is now the head coach at Tarleton State and making some noise, unsurprisingly, on the recruiting trail. Rouse right-handed hitting infielder Rayner Heinrich has been a longtime Five Tool favorite and hit everywhere he played while also showing his plus, maybe plus-plus wheels. Right-handed hitter Alex Caddell was another strong addition from the high school ranks and was a consistently solid performer in the spring and summer.
As for the Bearkats, they keep doing what they’ve always done – sign good, athletic baseball players. Left-handed hitters Parker Blackman (Grand Oaks) and Braeden Scherzer (Tomball) were standouts for the Houston Heat for years because of their consistent performances with the bat. The former can fly around the outfield with plus speed while the latter has the skill to play infield and outfield. Blackman might end up sneaking his way onto some MLB scouts’ lists because of his bat speed and projection and because he plays for a high school team that has two pitchers who will be heavily scouted during the spring. Scherzer’s high school teammate Keegan Demmer was a sharp addition. He’s been an interesting right-handed hitter for a long while and has impressive power. But he’s also an underrated catcher, which he showed this summer when he wasn’t playing behind Cade Arrambide at Tomball for a change. Another left-handed hitter who can run around the outfield is Katy’s AJ Atkinson, who performed at a high level this summer.
Allen two-way star Brady Coe, a Five Tool 55 member, headlines ACU’s class and is yet another example the Wildcats can turn hard work and early looks at players into impact commitments. Coe could truly play, probably early, in the infield at ACU, but I think I like him best on the mound because of his strike-throwing, delivery, advanced feel for spin and changeup. The Dallas Tigers – Bergman duo of Louis Bussard and Brady Gray were both big gets. The latter is a left-handed hitting outfielder who ACU beat out other programs for coming out of the summer and the former was an early identification as one of the top defensive catchers in the state. Braden Regala, a local product from Wylie, can absolutely fly.
Speaking of the mid-majors and the portal…
I don’t think it’s a coincidence some of the top mid-major programs in the region are signing smaller classes this week. Let’s keep it real: the late summer and the final weeks leading up to the signing period is the prime season for “re-opening my recruitment,” which, speaking candidly, is almost always just another way of a player respectfully saying the program he was committed to told him he no longer had a spot. It sucks for the player, but until there is something binding about a verbal commitment, coaches are going to do what’s best for them, and those players who commit early still must continue performing and getting better. At least recently uncommitted players still have plenty of time to find a new future program while those who are hit with the news right before they’re supposed to move to campus – it still blows my mind how often this happens and how little the coaching staffs who put it into consistent practice are impacted – will find themselves in a much more problematic situation. The dream of many high school players is to start day one at a major college program, but the reality is there are very few players nationally who can do that, especially in the transfer portal era. Players landing at a better fit with a true opportunity to play earlier in their careers often benefit in the long run.
Don’t forget about the JUCOs, too…
Like mid-major programs, junior college programs are enjoying recruiting high school players in the portal era, too. In the past, players like Rockwall’s Jake Overstreet (Weatherford), Keller’s Mason Cook (McLennan), Frenship’s Landon Hutcheson (Blinn) and others would have likely ended up at division-one programs. With development, coaching and facilities continuing to get better at the JUCO level, the attraction of endless practice time and potential of way more playing time than the D1 level would provide is becoming a more attractive option. As it should.
The Power Five programs...
Among the big-name, power-five programs, Texas A&M’s class stands out in Texas. Headlined by No. 2 Cooper Williams, No. 5 Wyatt Sanford, No. 7 Sam Erickson, No. 10 Sawyer Farr and No. 12 Bryce Navarre, the Aggies again loaded up on premier Lone Star State talent. And you don’t have to go down the Five Tool 55 list far to find the Grand Oaks duo of right-handed pitchers Houston Tomlinson and Marc Barnhard – both could reach another level as seniors. Nathan Tobin has one of the best left-handed swings in the class with plus wheels and Flower Mound’s Adrian Rodriguez is one of the best pure hitters in the state from both sides of the plate. Hayden Crites, another switch-hitter, was outstanding at the Texas Scouts Association All-Star Game at Minute Maid Park and could become a future starting backstop in Aggieland. And don’t forget about Forney right-hander Aiden Sims. He had Tommy John surgery and might not pitch his senior season, but before the injury, he looked like he’d compete for the spot as the best pitching prospect in Texas.
Texas A&M isn’t afraid to use its brand to leave the state and land some elite talent, too. While this huge recruiting class is primarily made up of local talent, Texas A&M did go to Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota and… North Dakota. Yes, North Dakota. Drew Rerick is a big, imposing, 6-5 righty who fires heavy heaters into the mid 90s. And, of course, he plays hockey, too. Because if you live in North Dakota, you play hockey even if you’re 6-5 and can throw 95 MPH. Speaking of going out of state, A&M’s rival and soon-to-be in-conference foe Texas mixed a heavy out-of-state presence with some local talent. As it started doing a few years back, Texas continues to make its presence felt in California. Harvard-Westlake standout Bryce Rainer is arguably the top high school prospect in the country. Scouts are split on whether he’s a premier talent as a right-handed pitcher with an easy, athletic delivery and loud stuff coming from an arm with barely any miles on it, or if he’s the next tall shortstop with pop from the left side. Levi Sterling (Notre Dame) left Area Code as one of the most discussed right-handed pitchers in the nation and is firmly on the MLB Draft radar. Texas kept the Area Code theme going with right-handed pitcher Gavin Lyons (Connecticut) and Ka’imi Kahalekai (Hawaii). Lyons is more of an instant impact pitcher with a big heater and swing-and-miss slider from a sidearm slot while Kahalekai, a 6-8 pitcher who also plays basketball, is more of a long-term upside play who is still relatively new to pitching. Missouri prospect Sam Richardson has huge power and really exciting tools that could make him a special hitter if he can tap into them at the next level.
Westlake’s Theo Gillen has one of the best left-handed swings in the nation. Finally healthy after knee injury on a home plate collision late last season, Gillen is poised for a huge senior season that will be watched closely by pro scouts. On the right-handed side, Carson Luna has one of the top swings in the state and turned improved strength into an outstanding summer with the bat. Matt Scott II (Klein Oak), Cooper Powell (Colleyville Heritage), Jackson Jordan (Plano), Tyler Walton (Claudia Taylor Johnson – San Antonio) and Donovan Jordan (Summer Creek) were all late additions. Scott is one of the best right-handed power hitters in Texas and Powell is among the state’s top left-handed pitchers. Jordan finished his fall strong with the bat while Jackson Jordan profiles as an early impact reliever. Walton was throwing the ball as well as he ever has to end the summer with improving velocity and stuff.
Led by Sawyer Strosnider (Brock) and Nolan Traeger (Concordia Lutheran), TCU continued to gain elite-level commitments from the Lone Star State. Clark catcher Jacob Silva, the younger brother of star shortstop Anthony Silva, was among the fall’s most impressive catchers in Texas thanks to his improved strength and skill. And TCU also kept doing that out of state, too. Perhaps nothing reinforced TCU’s status as a true recruiting presence and brand in college baseball than landing IMG Academy’s Noah Franco. Franco, 6-3 with a frame he’ll continue growing into, was among the best left-handed hitters and pitchers at Area Code. He could sit in the low 90s in the future with a slider that will flash plus, or he could hit in the middle of the lineup with developing power, good plate skills and a plus arm in the outfield. Regardless, he’s one of the best prospects in the nation who everyone wanted.
For a long while, TCU has done an excellent job of recruiting the best of the best from Arizona and California. The 2024 class is no different. Mason Brassfield is a two-way standout from California and stood out on the mound as a left-handed pitcher at Area Code. Fellow Californian Nate Stern (Loyola) is a classic example of the type of right-handed pitcher to bet on – 6-3, 190 pounds with a lightning-quick arm and present feel for spinning a swing-and-miss slider. Another Area Code standout was Thomas Bridges, who looked the part of a future impact starter at the collegiate level with the type of delivery and stuff you bet on. Blake Larson, who committed to TCU over three years ago, might be one the Horned Frogs have to worry about come MLB Draft time. The skinny, 6-3 lefty showed a future plus slider at Area Code and there have been fall reports of his fastball reaching 96 MPH.
Since we’re discussing velocity, good luck finding a high school pitcher in Texas who is throwing harder than Baylor commitment Brayden Bergman. It seemed like each time he toed the rubber this fall, he threw one MPH harder, which concluded with the right-hander touching 98 MPH during a late September game for the Rangers North Texas Scout Team. A talented two-way prospect, Bergman seems destined for an impact role on the mound at Baylor if he makes it there. While Bergman dominated this fall, scouts will want to see him throw true starter’s innings to see if the big-time velocity sticks. If it does… Baylor routinely does a good job of getting a lot of in-person looks at players and trusting its eyes. Davenport left-handed hitting outfielder Brayden Mulkey, JJ Pearce left-handed pitcher Carson Bailey and Laredo Alexander right-handed hitting infielder Brytton Clements are good examples of that. Mulkey carries himself like he’s a 6-4 pro and his outstanding baseball confidence helps his good left-handed swing and athleticism play up. Bailey recovered from Tommy John to emerge as one of the most talked about pitchers in the state during the fall and Clements is a good athlete with plus speed who has the potential to be an all-conference player at the next level.
What if I told you Texas Tech’s class is led by a big, hard-throwing righty? The Red Raiders love physical, power bats and power arms. And Jackson Burns definitely fits the description. With one of the easiest, best heaters in Texas, Burns can overpower hitters with a fastball that plays up and seemingly generates some carry. He can also really spin his curveball and his changeup is a true third offering, too. Expect him to get scouting looks this spring. Caden Richardson and Will Jordan also fit that mold on the mound of big, strong righties. Connor Mohan doesn’t because he’s on the skinnier side, but he would be one of my favorite “picks to click” this spring. He projects to fill out physically and the delivery, arm action and arm speed and arsenal are both very promising. After getting an in-person look during the 2022 Pudge Rodriguez World Classic, Texas Tech was able to secure a commitment from Hawaii left-handed hitting center fielder Jace Souza. And after seeing Souza again this summer, there’s no doubt he’s among the best in the nation. Back closer to home, I’m a big fan of athletic, speedy, athletic, left-handed hitting center fielder Kendyl Johnson (Little Elm). Although he’s probably around 5-8, 165 pounds, Johnson creates some surprisingly loud impact off the bat thanks to his heavy barrel and strong hands.
Near the Gulf of Mexico, Houston will again sign another impressive class as it moves into the Big 12. The Cougars can claim one of the best early commitments of recently memory because Elkins outfielder Braylon Payne developed into one of the nation’s premier outfielder prospects and will be a popular target for scouts to get looks at during his senior season. If Payne’s swing continues to improve and become more consistent, the Cougars might spend a few extra days at church ahead of the MLB Draft. Houston landed two of my favorite left-handed pitchers in the state early in the process – Kade Irons (Ponder) and Christopher Perez (Taylor). Irons has a deceptive arm path, helping his fastball play up, and should be able to throw strikes with three pitches. Perez really impressed during the Texas Scouts Association Games this fall and looked like a stronger, better pitcher who could more consistently spin a quality curveball and hold his velocity.
Gaining an early commitment from Southlake Carroll catcher Cody Cashon meant Houston was able to grab one of the state’s top backstops before they were all gone because the many good ones were off the board in a hurry. Westlake left-handed hitter Sage Sanders has been a longtime commitment and has some of the best plate skills in the class along with raw power he should continue tapping into. When he’s not sacking quarterbacks as one of the state’s top defensive players, Brock’s Cam Harris can mash baseballs from the left side with an impressive swing that really, really stood out during the AABC Mattingly World Series. His football athleticism translates to the diamond, and he has the arm strength on the mound to run his fastball into the low 90s. But he probably best fits long-term as a corner outfielder with intriguing long-term tools across the board. Houston did a good job of loading up on left-handed hitters in its class and Jax Marshall gives Houston impact bat speed from the right side. I think Jerry Medina likely fits into the bullpen at the next level, but there’s a chance he could contribute immediately with his low to mid-90s velocity from a lower slot with a slider that can record whiffs. Don’t sleep on Rouse’s Landon Miller. He missed the entire summer season after an injury sustained in a car accident but was getting back to full strength this fall. An imposing athlete whose physicality immediately stands out, Miller was up to 94 MPH last spring in a relief role.
Just outside the Texas border…
Oklahoma will sign one of the biggest, most talented classes in the country. As usual, the Sooners did some damage inside Texas, led by Rockwall’s do-it-all star Pearson Riebock, Lovejoy’s Kyle Branch and Pearland left-handed pitcher Jaden Barfield. Riebock has turned into one of the best right-handed pitchers in the state with an above-average changeup, breaking ball he can spin and command of his fastball to both sides. But I imagine him hitting at Oklahoma and hitting well. Speaking of hitting, that’s what Branch does and while he might not quite have the right-handed impact with the bat his older brother does, who is now at Georgia after being a freshman All-American at Baylor, he’s probably faster. After the fastball Berkeley Roddy showed this fall, he’ll likely be moving into the Five Tool 55 the next update. It’s an outlier pitch with up to 24 inches of inverted vertical break at 94 MPH. New assistant coach Todd Butler spearheaded a quick move to lock Roddy in and Oklahoma also moved quick to add Ryley Leininger, who has some of the most impressive raw pop from the left side in Texas. Frisco’s Michael Catalano is a true two-way prospect, but he has one of the best deliveries in the class and the right-hander took a step forward on the mound this fall to establish himself as one of the top arms in the state.
Oklahoma always does a good job recruiting catchers and it locked in a couple good ones. California product Cole Hansen is more offensive-minded than defensive-minded, but is among the most talented backstops in the country. Max Bushyhead, an Oklahoma product, is one of the top catch-and-throw players we saw during the summer. In the middle of the diamond, Drew Dickerson is a classic example of athleticism and projection. His flashes at shortstop are very, very bright. And want to know what home field advantage is like? Slidell (Louisiana) prospect Corey Cousin won five Five Tool Player of the Game honors during games at OU during the AABC Mickey Mantle World Series. Yes, he won five Player of the Game awards during a single event. A few days after the event, the right-handed hitting outfielder with exciting athleticism and tools flipped his commitment to Oklahoma.
I really like what Oklahoma State did as well. Recently, it landed a commitment from California right-hander Braylon Doughty, who had maybe the best breaking ball at Area Code to go along with a big fastball. He was one of the top uncommitted prospects in the nation. Among the best performers this summer, including at Area Code in front of Five Tool, was Enid High School (Oklahoma) star Garrett Shull. A physical, strong switch-hitter with major bat speed, Shull showed he could impact the baseball as well or better than anyone at Area Code and was the subject of many scout discussions in the seats. As it usually does, Oklahoma State recruited its home base well by landing the likes of Kash Ferris, Braylon Brooks, Cale Sudderth and others. All three are among the best players in Oklahoma. And it also recruited Texas, although it typically doesn’t recruit it as hard as the rival Sooners. Caleb Hoover was a star at Rockwall-Heath, the AABC Don Mattingly World Series and won MVP at the AABC Connie Mack World Series. Good luck finding a pure baseball player in Texas with bigger… uhh… guts than Hoover, who can win games on the mound or with his powerful left-handed bat.
Right now, if you’re the top catcher in Texas, chances are high you’re going to LSU. Blake Mitchell signed with LSU before the Royals selected him No. 8 overall and in 2024 Cade Arrambide, No. 1 on the Five Tool 55, is also committed to LSU. Arrambide again performed very impressively with the bat at Area Code, likely putting himself in the running to become very rich next July if he continues to hit as a senior. Casan Evans gives LSU the top-ranked right-handed pitcher in Texas currently. Evans is a plus athlete with true feel for pitching and a strong, deep arsenal. As usual, LSU’s class is loaded with a lot of famous names from all over the nation, many of whom could be high draft picks next July. After reclassifying from the 2025 class, Saguaro’s (Arizona) Cam Caminiti became one of the top prospects in the 2024 class. A two-way prospect, Caminiti has a higher ceiling on the mound thanks in part to his impressive athleticism and loud, easy fastball from the left side that beats hitters in the zone. Recently, the Tigers gained a commitment from California lefty Boston Bateman, an imposing 6-8 lefty who moves surprisingly well for a young player his size and steals the souls of hitters with his overpowering fastball-curveball combination. Seriously. He’s made it look easy against some of the best hitters in the nation, which makes him one of the top left-handed pitching prospects in the nation and another guy firmly on the MLB Draft radar. I guess you could say LSU has the tallest pitchers in the country signed because Mavrick Rizy is a righty who stands 6-9. There’s a possibility Rizy ends up a backend reliever with loud stuff, but he’s certainly one of the most interesting, talented arms in the country.
On the hitting side, left-handed hitting outfielder Derek Curiel has been a household name at the prep level for years. The Orange Lutheran (California) prospect has one of the best left-handed swings in the nation and one of the best future hit tools, too. LSU needs to root for Curiel to produce average run times and save the growth in power for college or else he’s going to be watched by a lot of important decision-makers this spring, especially after an uncharacteristically quiet performance at Area Code. Power this spring won’t be an issue for Kale Fountain. At 6-5 with some of the best bat speed I saw all summer, Fountain looks like a future masher in the middle of a SEC lineup; the power might come with an elevated strikeout rate, but he’s likely going to overcome that by hitting the baseball harder than most of his peers. Ryan Costello, an imposing, left-handed first baseman, could join Fountain in the middle and has big power with very promising plate skills.
Something that caught my attention with the 2024 class: how well Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Monroe are recruiting Texas. Pulling Five Tool 55 member Brooks Roberson from powerhouse Frenship was a major get for La Tech and his pitchability should immediately contribute in college. During our most recent look, Roberson showed a much-improved slider with added velocity and bite to accompany an already impressive changeup. La Tech also secured a commitment from Flower Mound’s Garrett Wallace, a toolsy outfielder with impact athleticism who was a star in the playoffs during a state title run. Louisiana-Monroe may have landed a diamond in the rough when it committed Magnolia West’s Trenton Buckley. A longtime infielder, Buckley has been turning heads on the mound with a raw operation and stuff that sometimes flash as special. Zeke Seoane is one of the top catchers in Texas who showed better control of his barrel and swing this fall, which elevated his hit tool. He’s been a longtime standout in the summer and spring. Louisiana also made its presence felt in Texas with a commitment long ago from Tomball infielder and left-handed hitter Blaine Lucas and made a wise move to grab catcher Parker Smith, who showed impressive skill behind the dish and looked like an underrated gem this summer.
Speaking of catchers and Flower Mound, Arkansas is making a habit of getting one from Texas and gained a good one from last year’s state championship roster. Zane Becker joins Pleasant Grove outfielder Brenton Clark as Five Tool 55 members from Texas heading to Arkansas. Vanderbilt has been doing the same and is set to sign Prestonwood Christian Academy star catcher AJ Depaolo in addition to Harlan right-handed pitcher Tristan Bristow. Depaolo is a good athlete who has one of the most impressive and consistent motors in the class along with promising all-around skill. The Hogs and Commodores, like LSU, make a habit of grabbing a few top players from Texas each year while building some of the most talented recruiting classes in the country. Arkansas also recruited the state of Oklahoma heavily and was able to land a commitment from right-handed pitcher Carson Wiggins, among the best draft prospects in the nation. Vanderbilt also grabbed one of the nation’s top right-handed pitching prospects from Oklahoma – flame-thrower Owen Hall. He fired the hardest heater at Area Code and also showed a slider up to 85 MPH with bite and some sweep at a lower velocity. Considering Hall’s lean, loose frame with length and his arm speed, it wouldn’t shock me if we hear he’s touched 99 MPH this spring.
With the commitment of Clark right-hander Jake Neely, Arizona State again locked in at least one of the premier prospects in Texas. Kansas State has also made a habit of doing the same and this year’s version is St. Thomas two-way prospect Donte Lewis, who has a ton of untapped potential on the mound but is also a really talented right-handed hitting infielder. Considering the ties Rob Childress has in the state and how much new assistant coach Mike Sirianni recruited Texas while he was at Wichita State, we’ll probably see Nebraska continue to end up landing some promising players from Texas. Navasota left-handed hitting infielder Devin Nunez is going to arrive in Lincoln able to push for immediate playing time. Cooper Markle showed this fall he’s one of the best left-handed hitters in Texas and Aiden White and Blake Encarnacion were both shrewd adds on the pitching side.
A few more of my favorite recruiting wins for programs…
East Texas Baptist University does a phenomenal job in Texas and getting Chance Crawford from Bryan was a major win. This summer, Crawford, a left-handed hitting center fielder, ran a 6.34 60-yard dash, had a 36.9-inch vertical jump and a 116-inch broad jump. Good luck finding a better athlete in Texas. I watched him time smack line drives against low 90s velocity this summer. Our Lady of the Lake University gained a commitment from Brandeis’ Drew Saucedo, another really impressive athlete from the Texas Twelve program who can fly and hit. All Allen infielder Tate Greene did during the spring and summer is hit homers. Central Arkansas likely landed a key contributor sooner than later for its program.
It's not an accident…
Now in my third fall with Five Tool, the more I cover high school baseball the more one thing becomes obvious: the coaching staffs who truly work, get on the road to see players and use their relationships around the region to find players are the coaching staffs who benefit the most this time of the year. And that applies to all levels – major D1, mid-major D1, D2, JUCO and D3.