As we close in on the college baseball season, Black College Nines looks at HBCU baseball’s top recruiting programs for 2020. Our analysis, in addition to head coaches’ input and national level scouting played an interesting part in nominating the teams we gave consideration to. JUCO transfers and freshmen recruits who came to school this fall were factored in.
Here is our breakdown of the top ten teams in our recruiting class rankings for both the large and small school divisions.
No.1 Bethune Cookman earned one of the top recruiting programs in the nation thanks to head coach Jonathan Hernandez and his staff heavy recruiting student-athletes from the Sunshine State, nationally and from Puerto Rico. The Cats were ranked 59th in the nation out of approximately 299 NCAA Division I baseball programs. This tends to lead to a championship caliber program, it is also the highest ranked signing class in the program’s history. Bethune’s class features nine players who ranked among the top JUCO talent and twelve top freshman prospects for the 2020 season according to Perfect Game, the world’s largest baseball scouting service.
No. 2 North Carolina A&T has landed a top 10 class and this year’s class has a chance to be their best under head coach Ben Hall. A talented pool of incoming freshmen and transfers are ready to help lead A&T back to another Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) championship. The critical pieces for the A&T were getting a pair of high-level pitchers and a replacement for center fielder. Highly talented group this year. What the recruited class lacks in depth, it more than makes up for in raw talent.
No. 3 Norfolk State closely follows and earns the No. 3 ranking. The addition of 10 new players have joined the program for the 2020 season. The newcomers include four high school prospects and six who are transferring from other institutions. With the Spartans already receiving some preseason recognition at the national level, the incoming class will provide the support the team needs to contend for a MEAC conference championship.
No. 4 Grambling State’s recruiting class has at least nine incoming freshmen from a top-five recruiting class in the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) for the forth straight year under head coach James Cooper. Cooper has recruited top position players who could step right into the Tiger’s lineup and a bevy of exciting arms to work with.
No. 5 Alabama State rounds out the top five by recruiting a strong group of JUCO talent, freshman pitchers who have the versatility to play anywhere and could play their way into the starting lineup in time for the start of the 2020 season, and a strong crop of infielders who will be able to immediately compete for playing time.
No.1 Kentucky State, coming off one of its most successful seasons in recent school history, signed 17 for the upcoming season. Coach Rob Henry follows up on last year’s success with its first top 10 recruiting class. He has freshman pitchers with plus fastballs (a couple reaching 92 mph), and ones that throw an arsenal of pitches for strikes. These incoming players will help offset the loss of some very talented and experienced players who graduated last spring.
No.2 Florida Memorial has freshmen and JUCO transfers who should impact lineup. This year’s group is pitching rich, and all of major league baseball is eyeing some as potential draft picks. The strength of the class is its depth of position players, particularly important in the heavy hitting and pitching SUN Conference. This year’s class is the Lions’ highest ranking headlined by coach Florentino Burgos who helped established himself as one of the top small school recruiters in Florida this past summer.
No. 3 Benedict’s baseball program has added pitching to this years recruiting class. Besides a program that is noted for stealing bases, Benedict has 20 pitching prospects prepared for the 2020 season. Three JUCO and three freshman recruits will see early action this season for head coach Selwyn Young’s team. Young largely has built the 2020 Tigers on a strong pitching staff and athletic, versatile position players. That is exactly what the coaching staff brought in with this year’s recruiting class.
No.4 Tuskegee needed to replenish its pitching staff. The Golden Tigers emphasized pitching in this year’s recruiting class, bringing in several pitchers who should be able to quickly take on key innings. The baseball program brought in some key transfers who produced right away in fall ball and some freshmen who will get playing time at the start of the season. This year’s class has really given the team some competition to watch this year in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC).
No.5 Paine College head coach Kerby Marshall had to recruit what the team was lacking last season. The biggest missing pieces to last season’s team was overall pitching. The coaching staff focused fall ball on developing the younger players. One of those positions was the pitching. Coach Marshall signed five pitchers who are true freshmen. All will see opportunity on the hill and the expectations for the spring season are already building. The group will likely be counted on to immediately take over the rotation in the Lions lineup. Marshall is determined to have a winning season in 2020 and winning its SIAC division.
The rankings have a heavy MEAC flavor at the top in the large school division and SIAC in the small school division. The recruiting rankings take into account all players that entered as freshman from high school and junior college ranks and were compiled following many conversations with coaches and fall ball reports. Four-year transfers were not considered for the ranking.