Top College Baseball Outfielders To Watch In 2011

February 7, 2011

Our look at some of the top college baseball players in Division One baseball continues as head to the outfielders. Our previous lists have looked mainly at the top 11 at each position (plus a few others to watch), but sheer numbers dictate that we include more outfielders.

On any given Saturday during the college baseball season, 900 Division One outfielders will start in a game. Here are the top 30-plus heading into 2011.

1. Alex Dickerson – Indiana

It’s a long way from San Diego to Bloomington, IN, but Dickerson has blazed a trail from his California roots in his first two seasons at Indiana. He earned Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-American honors in 2009 after batting .370 with 57 RBIs and an IU freshman record 14 home runs as his team’s primary clean-up batter. His efforts helped the Hoosiers claim their first NCAA Regional bid since 1996. Dickerson then went on to win the Big Ten Triple Crown in 2010, batting .419 with 24 HR and 75 RBIs. He earned All-American accolades and was the unanimous pick for Big Ten Player of the Year, to become the first Big Ten player to receive Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year honors in back-to-back seasons. Dickerson played for the Wareham Gatemen in the Cape Cod League in the summer of 2009 and then starred for the USA Collegiate National Team in 2010.

2. George Springer – Connecticut

Springer’s name became nearly synonymous with UConn baseball in 2010. The sophomore centerfielder batted .337 with 18 home runs, 16 doubles, 62 RBIs, and a team-best 33 stolen bases. His efforts helped the Huskies to a program record 48 wins and their first NCAA Regional berth since 1994.  He scored a team-high 84 runs, thanks in part to team-highs of 60 BB and 14 HBP and .491 on-base percentage. Springer’s 1.149 OPS also led his team. In 2009,  the New Britain, CT native became the first UConn player ever to earn the Big East Rookie of the Year award after batting .358 and smacking 16 HR. Like Dickerson, Springer played for the Wareham Gatemen in the Cape Cod League after his freshman season and then played for the USA Collegiate National Team in the summer of 2010.

3. Jackie Bradley, Jr.- South Carolina

The 5’10, 180 pound centerfielder has the frame, tilt and glide that scouts love. It also doesn’t hurt that he was named the Most Outstanding Player at the College World Series after helping South Carolina win the national championship in 2010. Bradley took the Gamecock’s triple crown last year when he batted .368 with 13 HR and 60 RBIs (he shared the HR lead with Whit Merrifield). The Prince George, VA native struckout just 37 times with 41 walks in 242 at-bats and sported a 1.060 OPS. He earned Freshman All-American honors in 2009 after hitting .349 with 11 HR and 47 RBIs. Bradley played for the Hyannis Mets in the Cape Cod League in ’09 and then teamed with Dickerson and Springer last summer in the USA Collegiate National Team outfield.

4. Mikie Mahtook – LSU

Now a junior, Mahtook has been a key member of the LSU line-up in his first two years in Baton Rouge. Mahtook batted .316 with seven home runs, eight doubles, three triples, 38 RBIs, and 41 runs while starting 49 games to help the Tigers to the 2009 national championship. He batted .455 (10-for-22) to earn SEC Tournament MVP honors as a prelude to his 11th inning game-winning hit in game one of the College World Series Finals en-route to the national title. Mahtook moved to right field in 2010 and produced even more at the plate. He hit .335 with 14 HR, 19 doubles, 50 RBIs, 68 runs and 22 stolen bases. His 19 doubles ranked second in the SEC to help him to a 1.056 OPS. The Lafayette, LA native even hit for the cycle in an Apr. 6 game against Alcorn St. The 2008 39th round draft choice of the Florida Marlins was also a member of the 2010 USA Collegiate National Team. Talk about a crowded outfield!

5. Nick Martini – Kansas State

With the success of teams like Texas and Oklahoma last year, it may surprise some to hear that Martini in the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year. Martini has been a big straw that stirs the drink in K-State’s unprecedented success in his two years in Manhattan. He hit .336 with four home runs, a team-best 17 doubles, 19 stolen bases, and 50 RBIs to earn Freshman All-American honors in 2009. He also tied a school record by playing in all 62 KSU games that year. Martini took his game to another level last year, batting a Big 12 best .416 with four HR, 17 doubles, 19 stolen bases and 59 RBIs. He had a 1.086 OPS with 41 BB and just 21 K in 231 at-bats while earning Second Team All-American honors Martini has helped Kansas State to the only two NCAA Tournament appearances in program history in his two years in a Wildcat uniform.

6. Jeremy Baltz – St. John’s

Baltz had, arguably, the best overall year by a true freshman since the original bat restrictions went into place more than a decade ago. The Red Storm slugger took his team triple crown, batting .396 with 24 home runs and 85 RBIs in 2010. He also had 16 doubles and a triple for a 1.250 OPS to earn not only Freshman All-American but also National Freshman of the Year honors. His 24 HR tied for 7th in the nation, while his 85 RBIs tied for 6th. Baltz hit safely in all but 10 of his team’s 63 games in 2010. His regular season exclamation point was a 4-for-5, four home run & seven RBI performance against Louisville on May 18. After helping fourth seeded St. John’s win the Big East Tournament, it speaks volumes that Baltz was named the Charlottesville NCAA Regional MVP despite the fact that his team lost to Virginia in the Regional final. His two HR and four RBIs against the Cavs on June 6 forced a winner take all game won by UVA the next day.

7. Taylor Dugas – Alabama

Dugas earned Freshman All-American honors in 2009 after batting .352 with two home runs, 27 RBIs, 13 stolen bases, 61 runs, and a .423 on-base percentage. He also led the 37-win Crimson Tide with 83 hits. Alabama’s primary lead-off man scored the first run of the Mitch Gaspard era in the 2010 season opener. He went on to lead his team with a .393 average, .525 OBP, 70 runs, 19 stolen bases, and 59 walks. In fact, his 59 BB with just 21 K in 243 at-bats gave him a 2.8 strikeout to walk ratio. Dugas’ efforts earned him First Team All-SEC and All-American honors, while Alabama advanced to a Super Regional. He played for the Harwich Mariners in the Cape Cod League last summer.

8. Steve Selsky – Arizona

Selsky comes from an athletic family. His father (also Steve Selsky) was a Major Leaguer, his mother was an Olympic volleyball player, and he has two sisters (including his twin sister Sam) who are Division One volleyball players. Selsky was named a Freshman All-American in 2009 after batting .319 with seven home runs, eight doubles, 21 RBIs, and a .927 OPS. His playing time and production increased last year. Selsky led the Wildcats with a .370 average with nine HR, 17 doubles, 11 stolen bases, and team-highs of 52 RBIs and 57 runs. He also raised his OPS to 1.057. He had a good summer playing for Orleans in the Cape Cod League, batting.273 with four HR and 18 RBIs in 37 games.

9. Tyler Pill – Cal State Fullerton

Pill has thrived as a two-way player in his two seasons in Fullerton. He and teammate (and fellow two-way player) Noe Ramirez were named Co-Big West Freshmen of the Year in 2009. Pill earned Freshman All-American accolades after going 11-3 with 102 IP while batting .269 to help the Titans reach the College World Series. He was limited to nine starts on the mound in 2010 due to a tired arm, but he still finished 4-4 with a 3.36 ERA. Meanwhile, his offensive game took-off, batting .354 with seven home runs, 42 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. Pill also hit an amazing .524 (11-for-21) in the five games he hit for him self as the starting pitcher.

10. Preston Tucker – Florida

Tucker shared SEC Freshman of the Year honors with LSU pitcher Matty Ott in 2009, but he earned Freshman All-American honors and became the first Florida Player to be named the NCBWA National Freshman Hitter of the Year. He batted .364 with 15 home runs and 85 RBIs that season. His overall run production dropped in 2010, but Tucker still hit .331 with 11 HR, 17 doubles, 49 RBIs, and 50 runs to help the Gators reach the College World Series. He earned second team All-SEC accolades and was also named to the SEC’s All-Defensive Team. Tucker spent last summer with Orleans in the Cape Cod League. The 6’0 junior played a good deal at first base last year, but he’s expected to play mostly in right field in 2011.

11. Chad Oberacker – Tennessee Tech

Oberacker didn’t have gaudy home run numbers like his former Golden Eagle teammate, A.J. Kirby-Jones (26 HR), but he did have monster overall numbers in 2010. His .354 batting average led his team in his 2009 sophomore season, but his .452 average was third in the nation last year. Oberacker also finished among the DI national leaders in RBIs (70), doubles (29), slugging percentage (.690), and on-base percentage (.527). He had six home runs, five triples, 14 stolen bases, 67 runs, 108 hits, and a 1.217 OPS in ’10. He was also disciplined at the plate, with 34 walks and just 23 strikeouts in 239 at-bats. Oberacker is also a pitcher who has performed as both a starter and reliever over his first three seasons. He is back for his senior season after being drafted in the 19th round last year by the St. Louis Cardinals.

12. Dusty Robinson – Fresno State

Robinson was named a Freshman All-American in 2009 when he batted .319 with 15 home runs, 12 doubles, 52 runs, and 45 RBIs, while making 52 starts in the outfield for the defending national champions. He turned-in another top notch season last year, batting .308 with 16 HR, 11 doubles, and 60 RBIs to earn All-WAC honors for a second straight year. Robinson also sported a .588 slugging percentage and started all 63 Bulldog games in the outfield. His production was overshadowed a bit by the emergence of teammate Jordan Ribera and his 27 home runs in ’10, but Robinson brings 31 career HR and 105 RBIs back with him for his junior season.

13. Jeff Schaus – Clemson

Schaus was consistent in his first two years at Clemson. He sported a .317 average with 16 home runs and 81 RBIs over his first two seasons with the Tigers in 2008 & 2009. The bulk of his RBI total came when he drove-in 51 runs in an All-ACC sophomore campaign. His batting average stayed steady in 2010, but his run production jumped. Schaus batted .320 last year with 15 HR, 14 doubles and a team-leading 87 RBIs to help Clemson reach the College World Series. He had a .542 slugging percentage and was the only Tiger to start all 70 of his team’s games. The 6’1 son of parents who both played college basketball at Canisius has started 193 games in his first three years at Clemson. He’s back for his senior year after being drafted in the 27th round last year by the Cleveland Indians.

14. Jason Coats – TCU

Coats was one of his team’s top all-around players on TCU’s College World Series team last year, and some of his best play came in the postseason. Coats batted a team-best .361 with 13 home runs, 23 doubles, four triples, 68 runs, and 69 RBIs while starting 66 of TCU’s 68 games in left field. His 69 RBIs were also a team-high. Coats’ bat got hot when the stakes were high at the end of the season as well. He hit .433 (13-for-30) in a seven-game hitting streak that started with the Mountain West Conference Tournament opener and ended after the Horned Frogs’ game one Super Regional win over Texas. He also had a three homer game earlier in the season against Houston. The Plano, TX native has a .343 career batting average heading into his junior season.

15. Zach Cone – Georgia

Cone was one of the few bright spots for a Georgia team that finished with a disappointing 16-37 overall record, including 5-23 in the SEC in 2010. After making just 20 starts as a freshman in 2009, Cone was Georgia’s triple crown winner in 2010. The Bulldog’s primary centerfielder topped his team with a .363 average, 10 home runs and 53 RBIs. He was also tops with seven triples, 45 runs, 133 total bases, and a .627 slugging percentage. His 13 stolen bases were second on the Georgia roster, but he was perfect in all 13 attempts. He also led the SEC with nine outfield assists. Cone played for Cotuit in the Cape Cod League over the summer. His brother, Kevin Cone, plays football at Georgia Tech, while his father, Ronny Cone, played football there as well. Cone was a third round draft choice by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2008.

16. Drew Maggi – Arizona State

Maggi has already been drafted twice by Major League teams. He was a 47th round pick out of high school and a 15th round selection by the Pittsburgh Pirates last year. He looks for an even higher draft slot this year after batting .326 with five home runs, 10 doubles, three triples, 41 RBIs, and a team-high 36 stolen bases to earn All-Pac-10 honors in 2010. His game-winning Super Regional home run against Arkansas sent ASU to the College World Series for a second straight year, while he was the only Sun Devil to start all 62 of his team’s games last year. Maggi also broke Barry Bonds‘ ASU freshman record when he stole 21 bases in 2009. He is versatile enough to play shortstop, but a crowded infield will likely keep him in the outfield this year. He and his brother, Beau Maggi, are the sixth set of brothers to play at the same time at Arizona State.

17. Johnny Ruettiger – Arizona State

Reuttiger has emerged from the novelty of being “Rudy” Ruettiger’s nephew to being one of the top college baseball outfielders in the country. He hit .360, while making just 29 starts in his freshman season in 2009, but most of those starts came down the stretch and into the College World Series. Ruettiger then batted .351 with four home runs, seven doubles, seven triples, 49 runs, 35 RBIs, and 10 stolen bases in 2010. He sported a solid .452 on-base percentage that was helped by 30 BB, compared to just 26 strikeouts in 191 at-bats. The Joliet, IL native, whose father, John Ruettiger, once wrestled for Nebraska, also committed no errors while making 54 starts in another CWS appearance. Ruettiger’s stock rose even higher after leading the Cape Cod League with a .369 average over the summer. He stole 11 bases and struckout just nine times in 111 at-bats for Hyannis.

18. Stewart Ijames – Louisville

The man with the silent “j” in his name missed all of 2009 with a shoulder injury, but he came back with a big year in 2010. Ijames was a Freshman All-American in 2008 after batting .351 with eight home runs, 11 doubles and 39 RBIs. He bounced-back last year to hit .324 with 14 home runs, 11 doubles, 47 runs, and 63 RBIs to help the Cardinals win the Big East regular season title and eventual NCAA Regional berth. The 6’1 junior was a 46th round draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers out of high school in 2007. He was taken in the 29th round by the New York Yankees last year. Ijames played for Hyannis in the Cape Cod League last summer.

19. Mike McGee – Florida State

McGee has played at a high level for Mike Martin’s Seminoles since his Freshman All-American season in 2008. He batted .344 with six home runs and 34 RBIs, while going 7-1 on the mound that season. His offensive numbers jumped to .378/19/78 in 2009 to go with a 6-2 record. He batted .328/17/78 with a 4-1 record and 13 saves last year to help Florida State reach the College World Series. McGee was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 37th round in 2007 and was picked in the 41st round by the Arizona Diamondbacks last year. He opted to return for his senior season, in part because most pro scouts see him as a pitcher, while he would like to remain an everyday player.

20. Daniel Bowman – Coastal Carolina

Bowman earned Freshman All-American honors in 2009 after batting .333 with 13 home runs, 14 doubles, 53 runs, and 54 RBIs. His batting average dipped to .279 last year, but his other numbers were nearly identical with 15 HR, 13 doubles, 53 runs, and 53 RBIs. He was one of just two Chanticleers to start all 65 games for a team that reached the Super Regionals. The 6’1 Bridgewater, VA native was named Big South Tournament MVP after pounding three home runs with nine RBIs in the tourney. He led the Chants with 17 RBIs during the postseason. Bowman has also been stellar in the field, with no errors in 254 chances in his first two seasons. He played for Bourne in the Cape Cod League and reached the finals of the Cape All-Star home run derby at Fenway Park.

21. Andy Mee – Florida Atlantic

Mee might fly a little below the radar for the Owls at FAU, but he is not only a good outfielder, but also one of the top two-way players in the country. After spending two years at Santa Fe College, Mee led his team with a .378 batting average and also tied for the Sun Belt Conference lead with 11 saves in 2010. Mee added eight home runs, 17 doubles, five triples, 55 RBIs, and 55 runs at the plate as well as a 2.96 ERA in 21 relief appearances and 24 1/3 innings on the mound. Mee also had a very good summer for the Mat-Su Miners of the Alaska League, batting .353 with a league-high 37 RBIs.

22. Kyle Gaedele – Valparaiso

Gaedele plays for a small school in the Horizon League, but his 6’4, 220 pound frame is the build that scouts love. He batted .373 with seven home runs, eight triples, 19 doubles, 17 stolen bases, and 63 RBIs for the Crusaders in 2010. The Arlington Heights, IL native was drafted in the 32nd round by the Tampa Bay Rays out of high school, but he opted to play at Valpo for former Big Leaguer Tracy Woodson instead (Woodson was a member of the L.A. Dodgers‘ 1988 championship team). A junior, Gaedele looks to go higher in this year’s draft after the summer he had for the Madison Mallards in the Northwoods League. He broke four franchise records, including nine HR, and led the league in three offensive categories, including 56 runs scored. Baseball America ranked him as the #2 prospect in the league.

23. Jabari Henry – Florida International

The bulk of the spotlight at FIU was on Garrett Wittels and his pursuit of history in 2010, but Henry had a very good season as well. Henry was named Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year and a Freshman All-American after batting .315 with 12 home runs, 10 doubles, 51 RBIs, and 47 runs. He had a .606 slugging percentage and had solidplate discipline, with 32 BB and 36 Ks in 165 at-bats in ’10. An injury ended his season early in the Gainesville NCAA Regional, but he homered off Texas A&M’s Barret Loux (#6 overall MLB draft pick) in his only at-bat. Henry was drafted in the 39th round by the Texas Rangers in the 2009 draft.

24. Willie Argo – Illinois

How versatile is Argo? As a freshman in 2009 (when he hit three homers in his first college game at LSU), Argo hit .355 with 47 RBIS, 46 runs, a 1.072 OPS, 11 doubles, and a team-high 12 home runs as a middle of the order batter for the Illini. He also stole 10 bases that year while earning Freshman All-American honors. Argo’s power numbers went down last year, but he hit .318 with 33 RBIs, 46 runs, six triples, four homers, and a school-record 41 stolen bases (7th in the nation) as Illinois’ leadoff man. Many consider Argo an “athlete” who is still developing as a baseball player. The Davenport, IA native earned 13 total varsity letters in four sports (football, baseball, wrestling, and track) in high school. Argo was drafted in the 49th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2008. He figures to go much higher this year. He also once hit a home run off the famed Lamade Statue in centerfield at the 2001 Little League World Series.

25. Logan Vick – Baylor

Vick earned Freshman All-American status after batting .329 with 10 home runs, 17 doubles, 27 RBIs, and a team-high 59 runs in 2010. His 29 extra base hits and .473 on-base percentage are the best ever by a Baylor freshman, while his 59 walks (which were 12 more than his next two teammates combined) are a single-season program record. Vick thrived in the postseason as well. He reached base in all six plate appearances in Baylor’s Big 12 Tournament opener and wound-up on the All-Tournament Team. Vick also homered twice in the Ft. Worth NCAA Regional to help the Bears reach the championship round before falling to host TCU.

26. Brian Barnett – Nevada

Barnett made an immediate impact in his first season as a Division One player after spending his first two seasons in the juco ranks at Western Nevada College. He batted .348 last year, while leading the Wolfpack in HR (18), RBIs (71), and slugging percentage (.701). He also had 21 doubles, nine stolen bases, scored 52 runs, and had an 1.103 OPS. Barnett totaled 21 home runs and 96 RBIs in his two junior college seasons. He helped Western Nevada to a third-place finish at the 2009 Junior College World Series.

27. Brandon Meredith – San Diego State

It’s hard enough for a Major Leaguer to homer at San Diego’s Petco Park, let alone a high school player. That didn’t stop Meredith from becoming the first prep player to go yard at Petco when it did it in 2008. He kept it going when he got to SDSU, batting .309 with seven home runs, 17 doubles, and 44 RBIs. His 63 starts in his 2009 freshman season were the most of any player on an Aztec team that advanced to the Irvine NCAA Regional. A 15th round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, Meredith led San Diego State with his .383 average last year. He also hit seven HR with 11 doubles, 54 RBIs and a 1.026 OPS.

28. Cohl Walla – Texas

Walla didn’t have to go far when it came time to go to college. The 6’3 outfielder went to Lake Travis High School just outside Austin, where he won a 2007 state championship. He was even on the receiving end of 12 touchdown passes from current Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert when the two were high school teammates in 2007. Walla made a name for himself on the Disch-Falk diamond in 2010. His .316 average was the third-best for the Super Regional Longhorns. He had eight home runs with 12 doubles, 41 runs, 40 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases during his freshman campaign. Walla was a 49th round draft choice of the Washington Nationals in 2009.

29. Bobby Crocker – Cal Poly

Crocker has earned All-Big West recognition in each of his first two seasons at Cal Poly. He batted .323 with 24 RBIs and 10 stolen bases as a freshman in 2009. He hit .447 (17-for-48) over the Mustang’s last 12 games to help them reach the Tempe NCAA Regional for the program’s first-ever NCAA bid. The 6’3 Aromas, CA native then led the Mustangs with his .353 average and 49 RBIs last year, to go along with 15 doubles, 42 runs and a team-best 18 stolen bases. Crocker was drafted in the 38th round by the Oakland A’s in 2008.

30. Chris Benson – Utah Valley

Benson batted .408 last year, but he didn’t even lead his team in that category. Jace Brinkerhoff’s .456 average led the Wolverines, but Benson led his team in most other categories, including slugging percentage (.744), triples (11), total bases (195), and a nation-leading 89 RBIs. His 107 hits were the second-most in school history behind Brinkerhoff’s 118. Benson also had a school record 24-game hitting streak during the season. His freshman season was in 2006, but his sophomore year didn’t come until 2009 after he completed his LDS mission. He hit for the cycle in a game in that first year back. Utah Valley won 42 games last year, but stayed home in June because the Great West Conference does not receive an automatic NCAA bid.

Others To Watch…

Beau Amaral – UCLA

Patrick Biondi – Michigan

Kevin Brown – Bryant

Garrett Custons – Air Force

Josh Elander – TCU

Tyler Gaffney – Stanford

Brett Krill – UCLA

Drew Martinez – Memphis

Mark Micowski – Georgia State

Stephen Piscotty – Stanford

Brance Rivera – TCU

Matt Smith – Mississippi

Max White – Oklahoma


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