The publication Collegiate Baseball Newspaper recently announced its Top 40 college baseball recruiting classes, and 2014 CWS runner-up UVA was ranked 9th. LSU, Wichita State, Florida, San Diego and Oklahoma State comprise the surprising top 5, though the rest of the top 10 contains some of the expected collegiate powerhouse programs. In late October, Baseball America ranked UVA’s class even higher, at #2 in the country behind only LSU.
UVA published their own press release, which detailed the names in their recruiting class. A good friend (UVA alumni who has taken a big interest in the squad with their recent success) asked me to react to the class with what I knew. Here’s what I wrote:
- Derek Casey: he’s the player I’d be most happy about coming to school, were I a UVA fan. He was a 3rd round talent, undefeated in his HS pitching career, 93-94 on the gun. He should go far towards replacing the arms UVA stands to lose after next season to the draft (basically, all three of their projected weekend starters are Juniors in 2015).
- Pavin Smith probably replaces Mike Papi like-for-like in the lineup; big lefty 1B/OF type. Well regarded nationally.
- Charlie Cody was more highly ranked on prospect boards before his Senior year; he’s a good bat addition. At one point early in 2014 he was ranked as high as #34 for all HS prospects nation-wide by one ranking service.
- Bennett Sousa is another guy who got a lot of national recognition even if he wasn’t drafted. 93mph from the left hand side, another future starter.
- Tommy Doyle: its hard to say just how good he is: yes he got drafted (by the Nats in the 34th round) but his drafting seemed to be one of those “draft a local kid to appease a part-owner’s buddy” kind of things. He pitched at a small high school (Flint Hill Prep in Oakton) with almost no competition, making it really tough to gauge how good he is. He also played for a no-name travel team instead of someone like the Evoshield Canes. What he does have going for him is his size: he’s 6’6″ and hitting 91, which probably comes out of his hand about a foot closer to the plate than a guy who is 6′ even, making it look that much faster. If he can add a few mph, he’ll be a beast.
- Jack Gerstenmaier, like Cody, had his stock drop in 2014 for whatever reason. He was a 1st team PerfectGame All-American for the region at one point. But Gerstenmaier-Cody could be UVA’s double play combo for years.
Of the rest of UVA’s announced class, I don’t know anything about them, even the local guys. I’d guess that a couple of them are good talents … but most of them might be on minimal-to-no scholarship.
UVA lost a big-time recruit last minute in Devon Fisher (no relation to 2014 supp-1st round pick Derek Fisher); he was a catcher from Portsmouth who got drafted and then signed with Boston. 20th rounder so probably not for a lot of cash, which makes it that much more of a surprise. He would have pushed this class up the rankings for sure.
With the new draft rules in place, its likely that guys like Cody, Casey and Gerstenmaier let it be known they had strong college commitments and thus that hampered their draft status. Same thing happened to Conner Jones last year. Good for UVA that they draw so well.
It seems UVA is quite setup for the future in terms of arms:
- 2015 rotation: Kirby, Waddel, Sborz on weekends, one of the freshman/sophomores (Jones?) mid-week.
- 2016 rotation: Choosing from Jones, Bettinger, Sousa, Doyle and Casey. not bad.