In the span of three seasons, Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin had a profound impact on NCAA baseball. As a sophomore, the former Trinity Christian Academy (Fla.) star batted .392 as the Commodores leadoff batter in 37 of the team’s contests. This came one year after the back-to-back All-SEC selection led the conference in stolen bases (22). The All-American third baseman started 52 games at the position in 2019, while also tallying 13 starts at shortstop.A probable Top 5 pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, Martin started at six different positions in 2018. Martin finished his career with a .368 batting average.
Henry -a 2019 Freshman All-SEC selection- finished the last two seasons as LSU’s unquestioned weekend No. 1 starter. The former 38th-round Detroit Tigers 2018 draft pick picked up six wins in just 15 career starts over that two-year period. Opponents posted just a .227 batting average vs. Henry the last two seasons. In 2019, he started the season on fire before being overcome with some wear-and-tear in his arm. Scouts lauded Henry’s ability to mix pitches and many expected him to be long gone before the Nationals grabbed him with the 55th overall pick of the second round in the 2020 MLB Draft.
Despite four victories, 2019 proved to be an inconsistent campaign for the former McLennan CC star at Auburn (5.97 ERA). Horn settled down considerably through his first four starts in 2020 (3-1, 2.08 ERA). In fact, the Texas native averaged 1.59 strikeouts per inning as a redshirt junior. In Horn’s final career start, he notched 11 strikeouts against Chicago State in early March. The White Sox took the 6-foot-2, 212-pound Tigers left-hander in the fifth round of the 2020 MLB Draft (142nd overall).
On the way to a 2019 College World Series title, perhaps no player had more of an impact on the Vanderbilt Commodores run than Hickman. In fact, the former Pope John Paul II (Tenn.) star produced a knack for striking out batters down the stretch in 2019 and led into the early portion of 2020. After striking out 10 Michigan Wolverines in the Commodores CWS game-clinching victory, he began 2020 with a perfect 2-0 slate (0.48 ERA) through three starts. In back-to-back weekend outings versus Illinois-Chicago and Hawaii, Hickman struck out a combined 23 batters.
While many scouts considered Martin capable of playing multiple positions at the next level, the back-to-back second-team All-SEC performer did not get taken until the third round of the 2020 MLB Draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. Martin’s productivity was satisfactory through 15 games in 2020, but his overall career numbers (.311 BA, .545 slugging pct., 30 HR, 112 RBI) reveal his true value. In addition, he set an Arkansas freshman single-season record with 87 hits while playing the hot corner for the Razorbacks. During the 2018 College World Series, the Freshman All-SEC performer finished with a .357 batting average. This came months after earning 2017 Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year honors at Lonoke HS (Ark.).
In just three seasons, Lacy compiled an outstanding resume’ in College Station. He started the 2020 NCAA campaign with three wins in four starts (0.75 ERA) and finished his career with an impressive 2.32 earned run average. A lock to go in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft, the former Kerrville Tivy HS star (Tex.) was a 31st round draft pick by the Cleveland Indians in the 2017 MLB Draft. It should come as no surprise. His father, Phillip, was a standout tennis player at Sam Houston State and his grandfather, Dan Davison, was a halfback for Texas A&M. The 6-foot-4, 215-pound left-handed flame thrower could very well keep his nickname, “The Ace,” for years to come in the major leagues. In the process, he could become the Aggies second consecutive player to go in the first round of the draft (Braden Shewmake, Atlanta Braves, 1st Round, 21st overall, 2019 MLB Draft).
Kjerstad -a 2020 Preseason All-American- got off to a resounding start for the Razorbacks this spring, batting .448 through 16 games. The All-SEC outfielder finished his career with a .967 fielding percentage. He also blasted 37 home runs, which ranks seventh all-time in school history. If Kjerstad goes in the first round of this year’s draft, he will become the school’s first since current Boston Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi was selected seventh overall in the 2015 MLB Draft.
Keenan may not have gotten the recognition he earned for his other-worldly start to the 2020 campaign. The Collegiate Baseball All-American was second nationally with 33 runs batted in during the first portion of the season. The former Rebel finished the season on an 11-game hitting streak. Keenan has always been known for his power and ability to make contact. In 2019, he led the Rebels in home runs (15) and RBI (66). The Cleveland HS (N.C.) product finished second in the 2019 Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans College HR Derby.
Smith -a former 2016 38th-round pick by the Detroit Tigers- lost most of his 2018 campaign due to a stress fracture. He came back in 2019 to lead LSU in stolen bases (20) and on-base percentage (.436%). Along the way, the Yankees 2019 second-round pick posted a .952 fielding percentage and .346 batting average (through 63 games). The team’s starting shortstop was a significant contributor at third base for the Tigers’ 2017 College World series squad.
The Miami Marlins selected the 2019 SEC Player of the Year JJ Bleday with the fourth overall pick of the 2019 MLB Draft. Bleday currently leads the nation with 26 home runs in 2019 and sports a .327 career batting average through three seasons. The former San Diego Padres 39th round pick in the 2016 MLB Draft was a three-sport athlete at the prep level in golf, swimming and baseball. He projects as a corner outfielder in the Marlins organization.