Illini Recruiting Class Ranked No. 22 by D1Baseball.com

Champaign, Ill. — The Illinois baseball team’s class of newcomers for this season is ranked No. 22 in the nation by D1Baseball.com, the website released Monday. Illinois was previously ranked No. 24 in the nation by Baseball America.

“This is probably one of the top classes that we’ve had in my tenure,” head coach Dan Hartleb said during his Signing Day press conference in November. “It’s pitching heavy, which is so important in the game of baseball. And we met a lot of needs as far as athletes and position players.”

Two student-athletes were picked in the 2018 MLB Draft before choosing to honor their commitments to Illinois. Catcher Jacob Campbell was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 36th round and pitcher Aidan Maldonado was picked two rounds later by the Milwaukee Brewers. Both were in Baseball America’s top 300 prospects and were considered top 5-10 round talents at the conclusion of their senior years of high school before falling in the draft due to signability. Maldonado was up to 96 MPH this fall during his first semester on campus.

Pitcher Garrett Acton was also drafted out of high school in 2016 to make it three of 10 newcomers that have been selected by MLB clubs. Acton is one of three junior college pitching signees that are set to help the staff.

“These are some of the higher rated kids that we’ve had,” said Hartleb. “A lot of these players had committed or were on our radar from back in 2015 year.”

Illinois had an unprecedented season in 2015, winning 50 games and the NCAA Champaign Regional on the way to hosting the program’s first ever Super Regional. The Illini also had back-to-back seasons with a first-round pick in 2015 (Tyler Jay) and 2016 (Cody Sedlock) and the 2018 Collegiate Baseball Newspaper National Player of the Year in Bren Spillane, who became Illinois’ highest-ever drafted position player in June.

“I’m really excited about this group,” said Hartleb. “It meets what we’ve always tried to do as far as good student-athletes and guys that will try to work hard and get better.”

Nebraska Recruiting Class Ranked 16th by D1 Baseball

Lincoln, Neb. –The Nebraska baseball team’s 2018 recruiting class is ranked 16th nationally by D1 Baseball, which announced its top 25 classes on Monday. The rankings are based on newcomers that arrived on campus this fall.

The Huskers achieved the best recruiting class ranking by a Big Ten team, six spots ahead of No. 22 Illinois. D1 Baseball compiled its rankings with help from Prep Baseball Report in addition to information from recruiting coordinators and scouts across the nation in an attempt to balance instant impact with long-term potential.

NU has 15 newcomers on the roster, including 11 freshmen, as the entire recruiting class made it to campus.

Two newcomers – Spencer Schwellenbach and Bo Blessie – were drafted in June 2018, but chose to come to Nebraska to play college baseball. Schwellenbach, an infielder/right-handed pitcher from Saginaw, Mich., was selected in the 34th round by the Cleveland Indians. Blessie, a right-handed pitcher from Midland, Texas, was drafted in the 36th round by the Washington Nationals.

Additional freshmen include Cam Chick (Rocheport, Mo.), Caleb Feekin (Papillion, Neb.), Drew Gilin (Omaha, Neb.), Colby Gomes (Omaha, Neb.), Brett Hammit (Nixa, Mo.), Tyler Martin (Webb City, Mo.), Kyle Perry (Omaha, Neb.), Blake Peterson (Loomis, Calif.) and Shay Schanaman (Grand Island, Neb.).

Four newcomers – Aaron Palenksy (Southeast Community College), Trey Kissack (UNC-Greensboro and Southeast Community College), Ty Roseberry (Nebraska-Kearney) and Gareth Stroh (Purdue and Coffeyville Community College) – bring previous college baseball experience to NU’s roster.

In addition to D1 Baseball, NU also earned a top-35 spot from Baseball America on Sept. 18 when the publication released its “Next 10” after the top-25 class rankings. NU earned the second-best recruiting class ranking by a Big Ten team from Baseball America, behind only No. 24 Illinois.

Illinois’ Recruiting Class Ranked No. 24 by Baseball America

Champaign, Ill. –The Illinois baseball program’s recruiting class, the class that arrived on campus in August, is the 24th-best in the nation according to Baseball America, the publication announced Wednesday. Illinois is the only Big Ten program ranked and it is the first time in program history an Illini recruiting class has been ranked in the top 25.

“This is probably one of the top classes that we’ve had in my tenure,” head coach Dan Hartleb said during his Signing Day press conference in November. “It’s pitching heavy, which is so important in the game of baseball. And we met a lot of needs as far as athletes and position players.”

Two student-athletes were picked in the 2018 MLB Draft before choosing to honor their commitments to Illinois. Catcher Jacob Campbell was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 36th round and pitcher Aidan Maldonado was picked two rounds later by the Milwaukee Brewers. Both were in Baseball America’s top 300 prospects and were considered top 5-10 round talents at the conclusion of their senior years’ of high school before falling in the draft due to sign ability.

Pitcher Garrett Acton was also drafted out of high school in 2016 to make it three of 10 newcomers that have been selected by MLB clubs. Acton is one of three junior college pitching signees that are set to help the staff.

“These are some of the higher rated kids that we’ve had,” said Hartleb. “A lot of these players had committed or were on our radar from back in 2015 year.”

Illinois had an unprecedented season in 2015, winning 50 games and the NCAA Champaign Regional on the way to hosting the program’s first ever Super Regional. The Illini also had back-to-back seasons with a first-round pick in 2015 (Tyler Jay) and 2016 (Cody Sedlock) and the 2018 Collegiate Baseball Newspaper National Player of the Year in Bren Spillane, who became Illinois’ highest-ever drafted position player in June.

Illinois narrowly missed the NCAA Tournament last year after finishing fourth in the Big Ten and advancing to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals. The recruiting class combined with a solid core of returners has Illinois poised for an exciting season in 2019.

“I’m really excited about this group,” said Hartleb. “It meets what we’ve always tried to do as far as good student-athletes and guys that will try to work hard and get better.”

Michigan Baseball Welcomes Top-10 Recruiting Class

Ann Arbor, Mich. — — After an appearance in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, a successful draft, and active summer ball, the University of Michigan baseball team is back and starting practice in preparation for the 2018 season with 15 new players.

The 2017 MLB draft, in which 11 Michigan players were selected in the biggest draft class of the year and in Wolverine history, left the program with gaps on the field, in the lineup and on the mound. With five starting position players and six pitchers selected in the draft, the incoming 2018 class will likely make an immediate impact on the field. This incoming group of 15 is ranked No. 10 in the nation by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper, which marks the highest ranking a Big Ten class has ever earned. With eight of Perfect Game’s Top 400 Incoming Freshman, this crew promises to bring a lot of excitement to Ray Fisher Stadium.

The well-rounded group of 13 freshmen and two junior transfers includes five new pitchers, four outfielders, five infielders and a catcher. The Wolverines return 21 players, including one redshirt freshman, eight sophomores, seven juniors and five seniors.

Coach Erik Bakich, who is entering his sixth season with the Wolverines, has the program moving in a positive direction and his experience recruiting quality players is evident by the team’s recent success, as well as this incoming class. In the 2017 season, Bakich guided the team to its first 40-win season since 2008 and saw a program-record eight players named to All-Big Ten teams. After missing the NCAA Tournament in 2016, the 2017 team made its 23rd NCAA appearance, receiving its first at-large berth since 2008.

The complete list of newcomers:
Blake Beers | Fr. | RHP | California
Jack Blomgren | Fr. | IF | Wisconsin
Jeff Criswell | Fr. | RHP | Michigan
Joe Donovan | Fr. | C | Illinois
Ben Dragani | Fr. | LHP | Wisconsin
Jesse Franklin | Fr. | OF | Washington
Jordan George-Nwogu | Fr. | OF | Michigan
Blake Nelson | Jr. | IF | Washington
Isaiah Paige | Fr. | RHP | California
Logan Pollack | Fr. | IF | California
Zack Semler | Fr. | IF | New York
Matthew Schmidt | Jr. | IF | Colorado
Angelo Smith | Fr. | LHP | Illinois
Cameron Tomaiko | Fr. | OF | New York
Danny Zimmerman | Fr. | OF | California