2019 Newcomer Breakdowns: Classes 1-5
December 23, 2019
Every fall, D1Baseball ranks the Top 25 recruiting classes in the country. This year, for the first time, we decided to wait until the end of the fall to rank the Top 25 classes, so that all the additional insights we gain by traveling the country watching scrimmages and writing fall reports can help inform our rankings. Then, in December, we got together with Nathan Rode and Shooter Hunt of our partners at Prep Baseball Report and hammered out which groups of newcomers stand out the most. Nobody knows high school baseball prospects like Rode and Hunt, so their perspective combined with our fall travels and conversations with coaches and scouts give us the most well-informed recruiting class rankings anywhere.
The analysis of each class was written by either Aaron Fitt, Nathan Rode or Shooter Hunt.
**Player rankings in parentheses refer to where current freshmen ranked in the 2019 Overall Rankings (which also includes players who signed pro contracts out of high school this past summer).
Recruiting Coordinator: Craig Bell.
Overview: Florida’s recruiting machine just keeps rolling along. The Gators reel in premium talent year after year under head coach Kevin O’Sullivan, but this is their first No. 1 class in the D1Baseball rankings, after landing No. 2 classes in 2015 and 2017, the No. 5 class in 2016, and the No. 10 class in 2018. This year’s crop features high-end star power and depth, and several of the freshmen showed this fall that they’re ready to become instant stars, helping the Gators vault to the No. 1 spot.
The Stars: The backbone of Florida’s class is a group of four marquee freshmen who all look poised to hit the ground running, and all offer legitimate first-round upside by the time their college careers are through. LHP Hunter Barco (14) flashed prodigious upside in high school, but he looked far more polished this fall than he did last spring. He pounded the strike zone at 93-94 along with a swing-and-miss, disappearing changeup at 82-83 and an 82-84 mph slider with good tilt, and he showed the ability to locate both secondary pitches against righties and lefties alike. Barco has a real chance to earn a weekend rotation spot as a freshman, and RHP Brandon Sproat (276) has a ceiling “as high as anybody we’ve ever had here,” as O’Sullivan put it. An unsigned seventh-round pick, Sproat worked at 94-98 this fall and showed the makings of a wipeout power slider at 85-86 as well as a useful curveball at 78-81. He’s less advanced than Barco, but the Gators are deep enough to bring him along at his own pace, and he could wind up as a Friday night All-American before his Florida career is over.