How Jac Caglianone, other top unsigned Class of 2021 baseball prospects fared in college (2024)

Recruiting in college baseball is like no other sport, especially for the top programs. Securing a commitment from an elite prospect is only the first step. Getting him to campus, and keeping him away from the MLB Draft, is often the most stressful part of the process.

In the Class of 2021, 17 of the top 20 high school prospects, according to the Perfect Game rankings, never enrolled in school. After that, colleges had a decent amount of success — 16 of the next 30 prospects played college baseball. And with this crop of players having completed their third season — and eligible for the 2024 MLB Draft — we thought it would be a good time to check in on how things have gone for these former top recruits.

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Here are the top 20 prospects (according to Perfect Game) from the Class of 2021 who played college baseball and how their college careers unfolded.

Note: Player hometowns are listed in parentheses.

No. 12 Alex Mooney, SS, Duke (Rochester, Mich.): Mooney started 117 games at shortstop in his two seasons at Duke. He earned first-team All-ACC honors as a sophom*ore in 2023, hitting .315 with eight home runs and 38 RBIs. He was picked in the seventh round of the 2023 MLB Draft as a draft-eligible sophom*ore, signed with the Cleveland Guardians to an over-slot bonus ($1 million) and is currently playing at High-A Lake County.

No. 17 Chase Burns, RHP, Tennessee (Hendersonville, Tenn.): Burns made the leap from great to elite in his final college season, going 10-1 with a 2.70 ERA and a 0.920 WHIP for Wake Forest in 2024. He led the nation in strikeouts (191) and strikeout percentage (48.8) en route to earning first-team All-America honors. He started 14 games as a freshman for Tennessee in 2022 and dominated out of the bullpen late in the 2023 season to play a key role in the Vols’ run to the College World Series. Burns is expected to be one of the first college pitchers selected in this month’s draft.

GO DEEPERRanking the 2024 MLB Draft top-100 prospects: Condon on top, 3 Wake Forest players in Top 15

No. 18 Tommy White, 3B, NC State (St. Pete Beach, Fla.): Tommy Tanks emerged as one of the best power hitters in the nation as a true freshman, slashing .362/.425/.757 with 27 home runs (tied for third nationally) in his only season at NC State. He transferred to LSU in 2023 and hit .374 with 24 home runs and 105 RBIs for the national champions. White had shoulder surgery ahead of his junior season and his average dipped a bit (.330), but he still hit 24 home runs and improved significantly defensively.

“I think he’s a special hitter,” LSU head coach Jay Johnson said. “Very rarely nowadays, do you see someone that can hit for such a great average with power with the ability to be clutch and the consistency in which he did it for three years. And this year? He did it coming off of a major surgery and missing fall baseball. I think this year probably typified how good he actually is.”

WALK IT OFF, TOMMY WHITE 💪

The moment @LSUbaseball punched its ticket to the #MCWS Finals 🐯

(via @SportsCenter) pic.twitter.com/UGpGKXBV3A

— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) June 23, 2023

No. 22 Will Taylor, OF, Clemson (Columbia, S.C.): Taylor played two sports during his first two years on campus but gave up football after the 2022 season (he had seven career receptions for 22 yards). He enjoyed a breakout sophom*ore season in 2023 on the diamond, hitting .362 with five home runs and 46 RBIs as the Tigers’ starting left fielder. He struggled throughout the first two months of the 2024 season (.230, seven homers, 19 RBIs) before being sidelined with a broken bone in his left wrist while diving for a foul ball in mid-April. There was talk of a possible late-season return, but Taylor did not play in either the Regional or Super Regional.

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No. 23 Braden Montgomery, OF, Stanford (Madison, Miss.): Montgomery flirted with two-way duties during his two years at Stanford but focused on hitting almost exclusively this past season at Texas A&M. The switch-hitter tailed off a bit down the stretch but still put huge numbers for the Aggies — .322 with 27 home runs and 81 RBIs with a 1.187 OPS. His season ended in Game 1 of the Super Regional when he broke his right ankle on a play at the plate. He is expected to make a complete recovery.

No. 24 Carter Holton, LHP, Vanderbilt (Guyton, Ga): At his best, Holton was one of the top pitchers in college baseball — he didn’t allow a run in the final three SEC starts of his freshman season — but he struggled with injuries and was inconsistent throughout his three years at Vanderbilt. Still, he ended his career with very solid peripherals, most notably 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings and 7.2 hits allowed per nine.

No. 25 Josh Hartle, LHP, Wake Forest (King, N.C.): Wake Forest coach Tom Walter, who recently completed his 15th season, called Hartle “definitely the most high-profile recruit we’ve ever gotten.” Hartle delivered on that hype as a sophom*ore when he went 11-2 with a 2.81 ERA and 1.124 WHIP with 140 strikeouts in 102 1/3 innings as a weekend starter on a College World Series team. The left-hander was not nearly as sharp in 2024 — his ERA (5.79) and WHIP (1.554) increased significantly and he struck out 81 in 74 2/3 innings.

No. 26 Malakhi Knight, OF, UCLA (Marysville, Wash.): Knight was a consistent starter when healthy, but wasn’t much of a threat during his time with the Bruins. In 91 games over three seasons, he has slashed .260/.344/.341 with only three home runs and 40 RBIs. He entered the transfer portal after the 2024 season.

No. 30 Brody Brecht, RHP, Iowa (Ankeny, Iowa): Brecht, like Taylor at Clemson, was a three-star wide receiver recruit who played two sports for his first two collegiate seasons. The hard-throwing right-hander often struggled with his command (135 walks in 178 career innings), but opposing batters hit only .155 against him in his three years — including just .143 when he led the nation as a sophom*ore in 2023 (by 22 percentage points over Paul Skenes).

GO DEEPERTwo-sport athlete Brody Brecht traded football for a shot at MLB stardom

His final numbers at Iowa: 10-9 with a 3.49 ERA in 49 appearances (32 starts).

RHP Brody Brecht (@UIBaseball) blowing absolute smoke at 97-100. Ridiculous SL (clip) at 87-90, flashed a nice low-90s CH too. One of the top arms in the class. #PGDraft @PG_Draft

Jr./‘24 elig. pic.twitter.com/0zRyW7Hqkq

— PG College Baseball (@PGCollegeBall) February 24, 2024

No. 31 Rene Lastres, C, Florida (Hialeah Gardens, Fla.): Lastres played in only 18 games (with 33 plate appearances) in two years at Florida before transferring to Charlotte after the 2023 season. He started 25 games for the 49ers this past season and hit .207 with three home runs and 15 RBIs. He transferred to FIU following the 2024 season.

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No. 32 Max Debiec, RHP/1B, Washington (Seattle, Wash.): Debiec did not pitch and was limited to three at-bats during his first two seasons in college — one at Washington and one at Texas A&M —while recovering from Tommy John surgery. He played the 2024 season at Folsom Lake (Calif.) College, where he hit .449 with 12 home runs and 77 RBIs while going 4-2 with a 4.82 ERA on the mound. He committed to play next season at Michigan.

No. 33 Jac Caglianone, LHP/1B, Florida (Tampa, Fla.): Caglianone will go down as one of the best two-way players in college baseball history. He missed the first two-thirds of his freshman season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and was limited to DH duties when he did join the lineup. He hit 75 home runs over his final two seasons, with an OPS of 1.126 in 2023 and 1.419 in 2024. He was erratic on the mound but had moments when he looked like a true ace. Opponents hit .190 against him in 2023 and .225 in 2024.

Jac Caglianone punishes this hanging breaking ball 464-feet out to RCF. Make it 6-straight games with a HR for Caglianone. Double-plus raw power on full display here. pic.twitter.com/kpduXfuvCf

— Peter Flaherty III (@PeterGFlaherty) April 14, 2024

No. 36 Thatcher Hurd, RHP, UCLA (Manhattan Beach, Calif): Hurd posted incredible numbers in a small sample size at UCLA in 2022, allowing only 16 hits and four earned runs while striking out 48 in 34 innings. He transferred to LSU after his freshman season and was expected to be a fixture in the weekend rotation for the next two years. Didn’t happen. He had some outstanding moments but was never able to recapture the form he showed as a freshman. His numbers in two seasons at LSU: 11-7, 6.04 ERA, 1.649 WHIP. He entered the portal in early July but is expected to be picked in the top five rounds of the MLB Draft.

“I think the best quality he has is his immense talent. And he was excellent when it mattered the most,” Johnson said of Hurd’s time at LSU. “He developed a couple of things here at the end. He’s throwing a good cutter to go along with the fastball, curveball, slider and change. So I think he mixes his strength, the stuff’s explosive. I think he’s going to be a great pro. And I think he’ll get drafted in a good spot.

“And whoever drafts him is going to look very smart here in a few years because he cares about it. He works at it, and the stuff is outstanding. So I’m proud of him. He was a great contributor to us, in winning 97 games the last two years and obviously the championship, but I think his best days are ahead of him as a pitcher.”

No. 38 Camden Hayslip, OF, Alabama (Lebanon, Tenn.): Hayslip played in only 24 games with 34 at-bats during his first two seasons at Alabama. He had a strong fall and was expected to play a big role in 2024 but went down with an injury during the first week of the season and was never able to play his way into the lineup. He played in only seven games as a junior and went 0-for-11 at the plate. He entered the transfer portal after the season.

No. 40 Casey Saucke, SS, Virginia (Rochester, N.Y.): Saucke was a consistent run producer during his three years as a starting outfielder for the Cavaliers. He was a first-team Freshman All-American in 2021 when he led the Cavs in batting average (.360) and OPS (1.029). After a bit of a sophom*ore slump (.299 average, .810 OPS), he hit .344 with 14 home runs and 65 RBIs to help Virginia reach the College World Series for the second time in three seasons.

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No. 43 Cody Schrier, SS, UCLA (San Clemente, Calif.): Schrier made an immediate splash, hitting .298 with nine home runs and 42 RBIs en route to earning Freshman All-America honors in 2022. His numbers dipped over the next two seasons, and he hit just .242 with five home runs and 23 RBIs in 44 games in 2024. He entered the transfer portal in early July.

No. 45. Gage Jump, LHP, UCLA (Aliso, Calif.): Jump made seven appearances and pitched 16 1/3 innings as a freshman at UCLA but missed the second half of the 2022 season and the entire 2023 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He transferred to LSU and teamed with Luke Holman this season to form one of the top starting duos in the nation. He went 6-2 with a 3.47 ERA and 1.060 WHIP while striking out 101 and walking only 22 in 83 innings.

“Gage is just supremely talented, and he just needs more experience under his belt,” Johnson said. “Probably really the first pitching adversity he ever had in his life was the first few weeks of SEC play. And once he kind of figured out how to navigate through that, he was outstanding. … He has a great future.”

No. 47 Peyton Stovall, SS, Arkansas (Haughton, La.): Stovall was a three-year starter for the Razorbacks, playing primarily at first base as a freshman in 2022 before moving over to second for the past two seasons. He bounced back from a disappointing sophom*ore season — he hit .253 and missed the final few weeks of the season with a torn labrum — to slash .340/.409/.535 in 2024 and emerge as a second- or third-round pick.

No. 50 Pierce Coppola, LHP, Florida (Verona, N.J.): Coppola cracked the weekend rotation as a true freshman but started only one game before being sidelined with a season-ending back injury. He then missed the entire 2023 season with a shoulder injury. He returned in mid-April of the 2024 season and went 1-4 with an 8.75 ERA in eight games.

No. 55 Roman Kimball, RHP, Notre Dame (New Hartford, N.Y.): Kimball was a key reliever on the Notre Dame team that reached the College World Series in 2022. He transferred to South Carolina following the coaching change at Notre Dame but missed the 2023 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He returned to action in 2024 and went 2-2 with a 6.32 ERA in 15 appearances. He allowed only 24 hits and had 42 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings — but he walked 32 batters and hit four others.

— Melissa Lockard contributed to this report.

(Photos of Jac Caglianone, Chase Burns: Dylan Widger, Scott Kinser / USA Today)

How Jac Caglianone, other top unsigned Class of 2021 baseball prospects fared in college (2024)
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