Athlon Sports is taking a look at the Top 25 college baseball teams in the NCAA. These rankings were originally published in the Athlon Sports 2022 Baseball Annual, which is available in our online store and will be on newsstands everywhere shoon.
1. Texas (50-17, 17-7 Big 12)
After finishing third in Omaha, the Longhorns will be back again with stout pitching and reliable defense. The top six returning pitchers all had ERAs below 3.30, including RHPs Tanner Witt (5-0, 3.16) and Aaron Nixon (9 saves), who both threw for Team USA last summer. SS Trey Faltine (.249-5-37) and C Silas Ardoin (.239, 0 errors) are world-class defenders. Power-hitting Ivan Melendez (.319-13-51) and 2B Mitchell Daly (.316) are among six returning starters.
2. Arkansas (50-13, 22-8 SEC)
Last year, the Razorbacks held the No. 1 ranking for 14 weeks before being shocked in the Super Regionals. The 2022 redemption tour features Team USA members 2B Robert Moore (.283-16-53) and RHP Jaxon Wiggins (3-1, 5.09), plus power bats like 3B Cayden Wallace (.279-14-44), 1B Brady Slavens (.284-14-63), and SS Jalen Battles (.269-6-43). A stellar recruiting class features OFs Jace Bohrofen (Oklahoma) and Chris Lanzilli (Wake Forest), two of the top transfers in the country.
3. Vanderbilt (49-18, 19-10 SEC)
Replacing top-flight talent is nothing new to coach Tim Corbin, but losing Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter is tough. Still, no panic buttons here because power-armed sophomores Patrick Reilly (4-2, 4.98) and Christian Little (3-2, 5.48) and juniors Nick Maldonado (1-2, 2.31, 9 saves) and Thomas Schultz (4-2, 4.09) lead a talent-laden arms corps. Top hitters Dominic Keegan (.345-15-57), Enrique Bradfield Jr. (.336, 47 SBs), and Carter Young (.252-16-52) are among six returning starters in the order.
4. NC State (37-19, 19-14 ACC)
Was anyone better in May/June than the Wolfpack? Shoot, if not for the COVID outbreak in Omaha, they probably would’ve won the national title. Lots of holes to fill, but OF Devonte Brown (.252-13-40) and 2B JT Jarrett (.251) are good rebuilding blocks and are joined by Charlotte transfers Gino Groover (.351) and Dominic Pilolli (.274). Pitching will be the strength, as Sam Highfill (9-2, 3.66) and Chris Villaman (5-2, 4.35) threw for Team USA last summer.
5. Notre Dame (34-13, 25-10 ACC)
Link Jarrett was D1Baseball’s 2021 Coach of the Year, and he’ll have a stacked roster to torment the ACC. All three weekend mound starters are back in Tyrell Aidan (5-1, 2.70), John Bertrand (8-2, 3.21), and Will Mercer (4-3, 4.92). Power bat Niko Kavadas (22 HRs) is gone, but eight starters return, led by Ryan Cole (.336-9-34) and Carter Putz (.305-6-45). In addition, Jack Brannigan (.295), Zack Prajzner (.280), and Brooks Coetzee (.274) all have fence-busting power.
6. Stanford (39-17, 17-10 Pac-12)
The Cardinal are Pac-12 favorites with a strong core that features All-America OF Brock Jones (.311-18-62), 3B Drew Bowser (.302-7-41), 2B Tommy Troy (.247-10-28), DH Vincent Martinez (.312-7-22), and SS Adam Crampton (.287). Returning starting pitchers Alex Williams (5-2, 3.42) and Quinn Mathews (5-2, 6.08) will have bullpenners Joey Dixon (2-1, 3.28) and Brandt Pancer (5-2, 3.83) to back them. OF/ RHP Braden Montgomery is the best dual-threat freshman in the country.
7. Ole Miss (45-22, 18-12 SEC)
The best offense in the SEC returns its entires starting lineup, headed up by SS Jacob Gonzalez (.355-12-55), OF Kevin Graham (.342-14-56), and 3B Tim Elko (.325-16-55). Also, C Hayden Dunhurst (.280-7-43) could be a first-round draft pick this summer. The pitching staff had a 4.79 ERA (11th in the SEC) but has RHPs Derek Diamond (3-5, 5.26) and Drew McDaniel (5-2, 6.08) as Friday/Saturday arms. Oregon State transfer RHP Jack Washburn will be a formidable addition.
8. Mississippi State (50-18, 20-10 SEC)
The defending national champions have some roster losses from last year, but don’t expect much drop-off for 2022. A trio of sophomores will pace the power game in C Logan Tanner (15 HRs), 3B Kamren James (12 HRs), and 1B Luke Hancock (10 HRs). Nine of the 12 pitchers the Bulldogs used in Omaha are back, led by righties Landon Sims (13 saves) and Jackson Fristoe (3-3, 5.69), who both pitched for Team USA last summer.
9. Florida State (31-24, 20-16 ACC)
The 2021 season was a roller coaster, but FSU had the eighth-ranked pitching staff in the country (3.45 ERA) and has LHPs Parker Messick (8-2, 3.10) and Bryce Hubbart (6-5, 3.60) plus five relievers with ERAs under 3.86 returning. Corner infielders Logan Lacey (.295-10-39) and Tyler Martin (.280) are joined by transfers 1B Alex Toral (from Miami), INF Jordan Carrion (Florida) and OF Brett Roberts (Tennessee Tech). Freshman RHP Jackson Baumeister is a future MLB talent.
10. LSU (38-25, 13-17 SEC)
Wholesale changes came to TigerTown this offseason with Paul Mainieri retiring and Jay Johnson taking over. There is a ton of energy with talents like Dylan Crews (.362-18-42), Tre’ Morgan (.357-6-42), Cade Doughty (13 HRs), Gavin Dugas (19 HRs) and Jordan Thompson (.250-8-26) joined by topflight transfers like OF Jacob Berry (Arizona) and RHP Eric Reyzelman (San Francisco). If the pitching steps up — and the talent is there — this ranking could be far too low.
11. UC Irvine (43-18, 32-8 Big West)
One of the best-kept secrets in the country, the Anteaters return their top five pitchers in ERA, including starters Michael Frias (9-2, 3.36) and Nick Pinto (7-4, 3.43) and hard-throwing bullpenners Jacob King (3-1, 1.98, 8 saves) and Gordon Ingebritson (6-1, 3.40). Head coach Ben Orloff calls OF Nathan Church (.369, 24 doubles) “highly underrated” and has fellow sophomores Luke Spillane (.306) and Connor McGuire (.297) along with senior Jacob Castro (.314) to wreak havoc.
12. Florida (38-22, 17-13 SEC)
That 0–2 Regional showing last June should motivate these Gators in 2022. Some losses to replace, but LHP Hunter Barco (10-3, 4.01), RHP Brandon Sproat (2-1, 6.65), OF Jud Fabian (.249-20-46), SS Josh Rivera (253-5-26), and 2B Colby Halter (.302) are going to be draft darlings this summer, although they need to post better numbers. The incoming freshman class is highly lauded, led by LHPs Jac Caglianone, Pierce Coppola, and Philip Abner, plus catcher Rene Lastres.
13. Arizona (45-18, 21-9 Pac-12)
Chip Hale takes the reins of a hot program that is coming off a Pac-12 title and trip to Omaha. All-America C Daniel Susac (.335-12-65), SS Nik McClaughry (.316), OF Mac Bingham (.305), and 3B Tony Bullard (.298-7-30) lead a hyper-dangerous order. If the Wildcats stay injury-free, they’ve got a dynamite mound corps, led by the trio of 99-mph fireballing RHP TJ Nichols (6-3, 4.77), LHP Garrett Irvin (6-4, 4.58), and RHP Chandler Murphy (7-0, 4.29).
14. Dallas Baptist (41-18, 18-6 MVC)
The Patriots fell just 27 outs short of Omaha and return a number of key pieces. There is punch and power in Jace Grady (.337), Cole Moore (.329-11-46), Andrew Benefield (.280-9-41), and Blayne Jones (.223-11-34). On the mound, 17 pitchers can hit 90-plus mph led by LHP Peyton Sherlin (0-1, 2.93, 24 appearances) and RHP Luke Eldred (returns from injury). Also look for transfer pitchers Jacob Meador (TCU) and Elijah Pleasants (Tennessee) to play significant roles.
15. Oklahoma State (36-19-1, 12-12 Big 12)
If the veterans and the incoming class live up to their billing, this will be a dangerous team. OF Jake Thompson (.342), SS Hueston Morrill (.218), OF Caeden Trenkle (.268), RHP Justin Campbell (7-2, 2.57), RHP Bryce Osmond (2-5, 7.42), and LHP Mitchell Stone (2-1, 4.62) are all battle-tested. But transfers like 1B Griffin Doersching (Northern Kentucky), OF Lyle Miller-Green (JC transfer), and RHPs Victor Mederos (Miami) and Jimmy Ramsey (Kentucky) could elevate the program exponentially.
16. Duke (33-22, 16-17 ACC)
There is youth in the infield, but Duke also has the best pitching staff in the Chris Pollard era. RHPs Henry Williams (3-3, 3.65), Cooper Stinson (3-4, 6.12), and Marcus Johnson (5-3, 3.05) all hit the mid-90s, and LHP Luke Fox (2-2, 3.05) is a prime confusion-causer. First baseman Chris Crabtree (.279-13-38) and 2B Wil Hoyle (.227) are team leaders, and the outstanding incoming class is led by Alex Mooney, the top-rated freshman shortstop in the country.
17. East Carolina (44-17, 20-8 AAC)
This senior class is the most accomplished in ECU history, including playing in the last two Super Regionals (2019 and 2021). Carson Whisenhunt (6-2, 3.77) and Jake Kuchmaner (2-4, 5.97) will lead the rotation, and C.J. Mayhue (3-1, 3.06, 8 saves) heads up a deep bullpen. ECU loses its top two hitters, but sophomores Josh Moylan (.310, 6 HRs), Alec Makarewicz (.295, 6 HRs) and Zach Agnos (.268, 6 HRs) are among six returning fielders.
18. TCU (41-19, 17-7 Big 12)
Longtime assistant Kirk Saarloos takes over the Frog program and ensures a smooth transition. LHP Austin Krob (8-1, 3.81), RHP Marcelo Perez (1-0, 4.15), and junior college transfer LHP Connor Oliver are all top-100 draft prospects, and Oregon transfer Brett Walker (6-3, 3.66) will also factor into the rotation. Some losses to the batting order, but a trio of sophomores is back to lead the way in Brayden Taylor (.324-12-53), Luke Boyers (.307, 10 steals), and Porter Brown (.342-3-30).
19. Nebraska (34-14, 31-12 Big Ten)
The reigning Big Ten champs nearly eliminated No. 1 Arkansas in the Regionals but have some holes to fill for 2022. Shay Schanaman (5-2, 5.08), Jake Bunz (3-1, 2.20) and Colby Gomes (Freshman All-American, missed 2021) will be joined by a pair of top-100 recruits in RHPs Drew Christo and CJ Hood. Third baseman Max Anderson (.332-7-32), C Griffin Everitt (.287) and INF/OF Cam Chick (.260-8-39) will be building blocks for the re-worked batting order.
20. Tennessee (50-18, 20-10 SEC)
Tony Vitello has elevated the Volunteers to lofty heights in his four years. Some rebuilding for 2022, but power-stocked bats like Drew Gilbert (.274, 10 HRs), Jordan Beck (.271, 15 HRs), Luc Lipcius (.240, 15 HRs), and Evan Russell (.238, 14 HRs) will provide bash and pop. Seven pitchers with ERAs below 3.74 return, led by RHPs Blade Tidwell (10-3) and Camden Sewell (4-1, 2.82), and LHP Redmond Walsh (5-1, 2.52). A top-10 recruiting class will provide quality reinforcements.
21. Oregon State (37-24, 16-14 Pac-12)
OSU got two big gifts when starters Jake Pfennigs (5-0, 3.24) and Cooper Hjerpe (3-6, 4.21) didn’t turn pro last summer. Quality relievers abound in Joey Mundt (2-2, 4.70), Mitchell Verburg (2-0, 2.92), and Will Frisch (3-0, 2.38). At the plate, Wade Meckler (.303), Jake Dukart (.268), and Garret Forrester (.299-7-32) are bolstered by an incoming class that features seven recruits ranked among the top 300 freshmen, including OF Tyree Reed and infielders Jabin Trosky and Mason Guerra.
22. Virginia (36-27, 18-18 ACC)
The Cavaliers will stay in contention for Omaha again thanks to the trio of LHP Nate Savino (3-3, 3.79), RHP Matt Wyatt (4-2, 3.86), and C/UTIL Kyle Teel (.335-9-41), who all had Team USA assignments last summer. The bullpen is the biggest question, but RHP/OF Devin Ortiz (.270-8-34) and LHP Brandon Neeck (2-0, 1.93) will be key parts. Pitchers Casey Saucke and Jay Woolfolk and catcher Ethan Anderson are part of a top-10 recruiting class.
23. Louisiana Tech (42-20, 22-8 Conference USA)
The epic 2021 season included Tech beating three SEC teams and hosting a Regional for the first time. LHP Jonathan Fincher (8-3, 3.05) and RHP Jarret Whorff (9-2, 4.00) lead a mound corps that returns nearly every arm of note. Six starters in the field return, led by Freshman All-American Cole McConnell (.347) and fellow OFs Philip Matulia (.311-8-37) and Steele Netterville (.283-12-57). SS Taylor Young (.331-7-36) and C Jorge Corona (.269-5-29) are top-flight defenders.
24. UCLA (37-20, 18-12 Pac-12)
Despite a lot of losses from last year’s squad, don’t shed a ton of tears for John Savage’s charges. Pitchers like Max Rajcic (2-1, 1.65) and Jake Saum (2-2, 3.15) and fielders like Michael Curialle (.285) and Kyle Karros (.243) will be bolstered by the top-ranked recruiting class. Of the 18 top-rated freshmen for 2022, four of them are new Bruins, including OF Malakhi Knight, RHP Thatcher Hurd, SS Cody Schrier, and LHP Gage Jump.
25. Long Beach State (28-15, 26-14 Big West)
Despite their 2021 season not starting until March 19, the Dirtbags went 16-3 in the month of May. Cape Cod All-Star Luis Ramirez (4-4, 4.27) and Team USA closer Devereaux Harrison (10 saves) lead a deep arms corps. Also watch for emerging mid-90s fireballers Juaron Watts-Brown and Marques Johnson. The defense will be stellar as usual with 3B Jonathon Long (.341-5-16), 1B Chase Luttrell (.316-8-30) and Connor Burns, who could be the nation’s best defensive backstop this season.
2022 All-America Team
C: Daniel Susac, Arizona
1B: Caden Grice, Clemson
2B: Jace Jung, Texas Tech
SS: Brooks Lee, Cal Poly
3B: Austin Knight, Charlotte
OF: Enrique Bradfield Jr., Vanderbilt
OF: Jacob Berry, LSU
OF: Brock Jones, Stanford
OF: Gavin Cross, Virginia Tech
DH: Dylan Crews, LSU
UTIL: Paul Skenes, Air Force
SP: Parker Messick, Florida State
SP: Peyton Pallette, Arkansas
SP: Sam Highfill, NC State
SP: Andrew Taylor, Central Michigan
RP: Landon Sims, Mississippi State
RP: Devereaux Harrison, Long Beach State
RP: Patrick Reilly, Vanderbilt
— Rankings and All-America team by Eric Sorenson for the Athlon Sports 2022 Baseball Annual magazine. At 224 pages, it's the largest and most complete preview available today. Click here to get your copy.