HBCU baseball is well underway for both large and small schools this season and Black College Nines (BCN) continues to access talented collegiate baseball players at this early juncture of the season.
Recently, Black College Nines assembled a brief preview of most all of the large school baseball programs (found here) and small school programs (found here). We then followed up with our 2020 Pre-Season Elites list of All-Americans in both divisions (found here). Our first HBCU Baseball Top 10 poll for the 2020 season will be revealed March 10th.
Now, Black College Nines has put together a short list of unfamiliar impact names to look out for during the season. These are players who could be big pieces to their team’s puzzle.
Here are ten names you may not know, but could be HBCU top baseball players in the making for the 2020 season.
Paine College – Emanuel Wilson has been part of a strong starting pitching group for Paine. He’s currently 2-0 with a 1.65 earned run average in three games started this season with 13 strikeouts. Wilson was recruited as a projectable talent, but he has blossomed into one of HBCU baseball’s most electric and effective starts this early part of the seasons.
Alcorn State – Travaris Cole is in his senior year at Alcorn and in that time he’s established himself as one of HBCU baseball’s most consistent hitters. Cole, an outfielder, simply does a lot of things well at the plate. It’s still early this season, but he is tapping into another skillset. In nine games, he is hitting .351 with 3 homeruns and 12 runs batted in. In a recent SWAC conference matchup against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, his mammoth ninth inning grand slam lifted the Braves to a 13-7 victory.
Texas College – Carlos Collazo the senior infielder came out this season and did what he did so often last season, battling at the plate and he was outstanding from the first game this 2020 season. Current stats in 21 games for the Steers, batting .493 including 10 doubles, 2 home runs and 15 runs driven in. His story is one of patience and taking advantage of opportunities when they’re presented.
Tougaloo – Antonio Shelton even after his arrival, his waiting for a chance continued. It’s been one of those situations where he’s been patient and in that moment seemed to come out of nowhere, but that’s not the case. It alludes to the work that he has put in during fall ball to earn a starting job. Shelton has been impressive this season. He’s 3-0 in 21.0 innings on the hill as a starter with a 1.29 earned run average and 16 strikeouts.
Maryland Eastern Shore – Matt Smith. The junior utility player has the coaching staff optimistic that there will be marked improvement in 2020. Certainly the team’s best power bat in the line up hitting .304, 2 homeruns and a team leading 12 runs driven home in the 9 games he’s played in. Smith is a reason for them to feel good about what they have, heading into MEAC conference play. Sounds like a recipe for the Hawks to compete for a postseason berth.
Bluefield State – Tanner Brandon has a big fastball, but he’s almost apologetic about it. The junior infielder/right-hander pitcher topped out at 94 mph in a recent game against Notre Dame College. The 6-foot-4 is constantly looking to improve his understanding of his own arsenal of pitches in general. Has the combination of that physical ability as a two-way player, .346 batting average, 1 double, 3 triples and 9 runs batted in. Plus, on the mound this season, 2 saves.
Coppin State – Tim Ruffino. Few saw coming what head coach Sherman Reed did in the freshman. Reed took things a step further and I can see why. Currently 2-1 with a 3.46 earned run average, only 5 earned runs allowed with 13 strikeouts in 3 appearances two as a starter. Look for Ruffino down the stretch to headline the pitching staff.
Stillman – Colt Dozier is already leading the pitching staff and on offense. In 4 games started, Dozier is 3-1 in 27.0 innings pitched and has 28 Ks under his belt, plus his live bat accounts for a.467 batting average at the plate with17 runs, 6 doubles, 1 homerun and 20 runs batted in, in 13 games played. Should be enough to bring the Tigers back to the forefront this season.
Benedict – Bradon O’Connor. The baseball program may not always be the most talented team in the SIAC conference and may not often finish the season at the top of the standings, but the Tigers are the most consistent in going station to station. In 2020 they are one of the projected teams to win the conference. O’Connor provides a high-ceiling. Already with 20 stolen bases in 8 games a .452 batting average and 10 RBIs. At the current pace, O’Connor could swipe more than 70 bases this season.
Arkansas Pine Bluff – Korey Wasson has pitched really well and has given the Golden Lions some good quality starts which has allowed head coach Carlos James to avoid going to the bullpen much. He’s battled his way to a record 11 strikeouts in a recent game against SWAC foe Texas Southern. Early stats have home with a 2-1 record, 3.06 ERA, one complete game in 17.2 innings on the mound and 21 strikeouts to backup the reputation he earned coming out of fall ball.