Written By: Austin Farmer
Follow him on Twitter: @AustinF0421
Follow Prospects Worldwide on Twitter: @ProspectsWorldW
It’s that time of year again where college baseball is in full swing. This time last year, when the Shriner College Baseball Classic occurred, it was both a different level of competition, as well as a different type of atmosphere. This year, Minute Maid Park hosted LSU, Oklahoma, Baylor, UCLA, Tennessee and Texas. LSU and Texas fans occupied the seats each time their beloved schools played and 24,787 fans showed up when the two schools played each other. The atmosphere was incredible and it was so loud that I couldn’t even hear myself think. The competition was tough as Texas entered the Classic as the number one team in the nation and numerous potential draft picks competed against each other throughout the weekend.
Standout Potential Draft Picks
Dylan Crews (2023)
Crews could potentially be the number one overall pick for 2023 as he shows all five tools. He had three hits during the weekend, including two hits against Texas, and was timed at 4.2 seconds down first base. The biggest issue about Crews during the weekend was that it seemed as though he was trying to do too much during clutch situations falling short in a few at bats including a strikeout in a big situation.
Tre’ Morgan (2023)
Morgan was another big name I was looking forward to seeing as he also could be a first-rounder for 2023. Morgan has near elite defensive capabilities at first, and made an incredible double play catching a sharp liner at his feet and still managed to get back to the bag in time as the runner at first tried to get back to the bag. The sophomore also had an impressive weekend at the plate that saw him go 4-13 with three doubles, including two against Oklahoma. He was also hit by a pitch twice.
Cade Doughty (2022)
Cade Doughty was the most impressive bat throughout the weekend, as he not only had a lot of hits, but came up in big situations for the Tigers. He had five hits that included three doubles and a homerun. Three hits came against Oklahoma that included his homerun and two of his doubles for a massive eight total bases.
Jacob Berry (2022)
Another LSU bat that impressed was Arizona transfer Jacob Berry. Berry had four hits that included a homer against Baylor. The sophomore showed his pop throughout the weekend and against Texas, he hit two deep fly balls into the second deck but were pulled just foul. There’s easy power in his swing, and with proper development of his bat, Berry could be a dangerous bat in the pros. After the weekend, he is now hitting .340 with five homeruns on the season through just 12 games.
Thatcher Hurd (2024)
I did get to see Thatcher Hurd over the weekend, and Hurd could be a top 10 overall pick come 2024. He was hitting 92-94 with his fastball and had impressive secondaries while pounding the inside corner against Oklahoma batters that generated weak ground balls. Hurd went 1.2 innings in relief against the Sooners for his only appearance of the weekend, but retired everyone he faced and struck out three batters off just 19 pitches.
Jordan Beck (2022)
For Tennessee, Jordan Beck was the big name. He has a shot to be a day one draft pick this year. He only went 3-12 during the Classic, but hit the ball hard throughout the weekend. Against Oklahoma, he hit a mammoth shot to the Crawford Boxes, and the echo throughout the stadium was nuts. He also hit the ball three times to the warning track that came off the bat hard in that game. Beck’s issue was that his lofty swing caused him to just get under the ball each time. He has enough power in his bat that the athletic Vol will put up dangerous numbers.
Max Rajcic (2022)
Max Rajcic started for the Bruins and only lasted 3.1 innings, sitting 90-92 with his fastball. He showed an incredible slider, but began losing depth as his pitch count went up. It is Rajcic’s first season as a full-time starter for the Bruins and it is early on in the season, so as the season progresses, he should continue to get better and find himself drafted very high in 2022.
Ben Joyce (2022)
Joyce gets his own section due to the soul fact that he was popping 99-102 with ease from a sidearm delivery. He only recorded 2/3 of an inning, but with that kind of arm, it’s hard not to imagine where he could end up. It will be interesting to see the development of this electric arm. He’s 100% a reliever, but someone is going to take a chance on him.
Cody Schrier (2024)
As hyped as I was to see Crews and Morgan, I feel as though after the weekend, Schrier was the best hitter I saw, and he’s only a freshman. He had four hits in his three games that included a double and a no doubter against Oklahoma. But what impressed me the most was his pitch recognition and feel for the strike zone. He only struck out once all weekend and looked good at short. Schrier could end up a day one or two draft pick in 2024. He’s also got speed and stole his seventh base of the season against Baylor on Friday. I clocked him at 4.26 seconds on a ground ball for his home to first.
Trey Faltine (2022)
Faltine should be a late day one draft pick, or early day two pick. During his weekend at Minute Maid, he took one pitch deep for his second homerun of the season and stole his first base as well. He only went 2-9 with that homerun, but defensively, the Richmond, TX native impressed. He made smooth plays at short and had range. The redshirt sophomore’s bat isn’t great, but he’s athletic and a strong defender at short, that showed over the weekend.
Weekend Sleeper Potential Draft Prospects
Blake Money (2023)
Money had the best name all weekend, and showed some potential on the mound. He’s only a sophomore, but went 6.2 in his start against Oklahoma sitting 91-95 with his fastball. He is a predominantly fastball pitcher and only mixed in a curve occasionally during his outing.
Kyle Nevin (2022)
Kyle is the son of former first overall pick and big-leaguer Phil Nevin (who is also now the Angels first base coach). Kyle had a big homerun against UCLA and swings with intent to put the ball in the air.
Chase Dollander (2023)
Originally a transfer from Georgia Southern University, Dollander’s fastball sat 93-96 and showed a slider and changeup in his arsenal. The freshman All-American only pitched three innings during his start, giving up four runs off two hits, and struck out four batters.
Drew Beam (2024)
Beam is another Tennessee pitcher who makes this list. His fastball climbed to 94 mph, and the righty went five strong innings, giving up two hits, walked one, and struck out six off 68 pitches.
Kenny Oyama (2022)
Kenny Oyama stands at just 5’4 150 pounds, but he had a slap approach at the plate and got on base. He was both a fast, and smart base runner. Oyama probably won’t get drafted, unless a team wants to take a chance, but he was impressive to watch during the Classic. He’s a grad student at UCLA, so this will probably his last season as a baseball player.
Eric Kennedy (2022)
Kennedy has been a bit of a surprise in Texas’ lineup this season. He’s the number two hitter behind Douglas Hodo III, and has been on a tear. He’s got an unusual stance, standing at the back of the batter’s box, with his feet and legs close together and while the bat doesn’t have much power, Kennedy finds a way to make contact. He’s also one of the fastest men in all of college baseball, and stole his third bag of the season against UCLA. EK could sneak his way into the latter rounds of the 2022 draft if he continues to hit.
Ivan Melendez (2022)
The redshirt junior’s power was on display at Minute Maid. Melendez had four hits, all for extra bases that included two doubles, a triple, and an absolute missile to the Crawford Boxes. Melendez should provide plenty of power to whatever team takes him in the upcoming draft.
Douglas Hodo III (2022)
Hodo comes from a blood line of Longhorns, and he’s really come into his own in 2022. He had three hits over the weekend, including a huge homerun that got Texas fans on their feet. The Crawford Boxes were the home of many deep homers, and Hodo’s was no exception. If Hodo continues to hit, he could end up a back of the draft type pick.
Jimmy Crooks (2022)
Crooks is the lone Oklahoma hitter that makes this list. While he only had one hit over the weekend, he had a handful of professional ABs, making pitchers work to get him out. He’s a defensive first catcher, but there’s some hope to be had with his bat after this weekend.
Malakai Knight (2024)
If there’s one thing that stood out during Shriners, it wasn’t the mammoth homeruns that were hit, it was actually defense. Knight provided a lot of nice plays for UCLA, tracking multiple balls at warning track and had great reads on them. He’s got enough speed and range that he’s presently showing as a freshman, that it makes me think he could stick at center in the pros.
Baylor defeated UCLA in game one in a hard-fought pitching matchup. Tyler Thomas was just an out away from a complete game victory but was taken out for Mason Marriott who got the save in the Bears 2-1 win.
Game two featured LSU and Oklahoma. It was a roller coaster of a game that ended with a walk off homerun by Jordan Thompson to give the Tigers a 5-4 win over 12 innings.
I was not in attendance for game three, but true freshman Chase Burns pitched for Tennessee (the reason he is not on my lists is because I did not watch his outing) and reportedly touched 100 on the radar gun. Number one Texas earned the victory with a 7-2 final, as Trey Faltine and Ivan Melendez had two hits apiece.
UCLA faced Oklahoma to start the day, and numerous scouts were in attendance to see Max Rajcic. UCLA ended up run ruling the Sooners 15-3 after seven so game two could start on time. Schrier homered, and Carson Yates had two hits.
Game two of the day was between Tennessee and Baylor. Jared Dickey had three hits for the Vols, while Jorel Ortega, Drew Gilbert, and Luc Lipcius had two hits apiece. Christian Scott homered as well for Tennessee, while Antonio Valdez had the best offensive performance for Baylor with two hits as Tennessee topped Baylor 10-5.
The third game of the day was an electric one that had a faceoff of Texas and LSU. Ty Floyd started for the Tigers and hit 93-94, lasting four innings, giving up four runs off five hits and struck out four while walking four. The crowd got so loud and so intense the entire game that I couldn’t hear myself think. Douglas Hodo III had two hits and a homer while Stehly Murphy added another two hits including a homerun as well.
Oklahoma vs Tennessee opened Sunday, and Tennessee ran away with an 8-0 shutout. Jordan Beck hit his homerun, and Christian Moore had three hits that included a homerun as well. Blake Burke had a pinch-hit bomb in the eighth.
Game two saw UCLA hand Texas their first loss of the season with a 5-1 Bruins victory. Luke Jewett came in for 2/3 an inning and hit 94 with his fastball after Kelly Austin was taken out with eight strikeouts through 5.1 innings. Skye Messinger made a phenomenal grab at third that came off a rocket line drive from the bat of Cody Schrier, and Malakhai Knight made some outstanding reads in center to back up UCLA’s pitching. Ivan Melendez provided the only run for the Longhorns with a no doubter to the Crawford Boxes.
I was not in attendance for the Baylor vs LSU matchup that saw Baylor upset LSU 9-6. Jacob Berry hit a bomb for the Tigers but Jack Pineda, Tre Richardson, Courtland Castle, and Esteban Cardoza-Oquendo had two hits apiece for the Bears. Pineda hit a missile, and Castle’s two hits were a double and a triple.
It was an exciting weekend in Houston, and the competition this year was outstanding. There were potentially 10 very high draft picks over the next few drafts that were competing against each other all three days. LSU fans really showed how passionate they were no matter what the situation was. Texas fans were no different. Defense was strong as well as the power bats. Next year’s Shriners College Baseball Classic should be fun as well as Michigan, Rice, Texas A&M, TCU, Texas Tech, and Louisiville will compete.