It's been a few years since the baseball program has put out a release announcing its signed recruiting class. In that absence, UVA Baseball fans are left to scour the far reaches of the internet for some info. HOOS Place is going to attempt to fill that void this year with this primer. Fair warning in that I'm using the list of committed players provided by PerfectGame.org and don't have any sort of official release. PerfectGame is likely highly accurate with the exception of including Christian Hlinka on the list for the 2018 class. Hlinka elected to reclassify into the 2017 class and is now a freshman outfielder on the team.
As it stands today, including Hlinka on the list, PerfectGame ranks the 2018 class 15th overall in the country with 15 players. The class includes three of their Top 100 players.
So who is the next crop of Wahoo baseball players? Let's meet them now.
The MLB Draft Risks
Mike Vasil (RHP - Wellesley, MA): On April 19, Keith Law of ESPN released his Top 50 draft prospects for June's 2018 MLB Draft. Law ranked Mike Vasil as the 8th best prospect in the entire draft. Law notes that Vasil's fast ball has been clocked as high as 96 MPH this season and that he has a good changeup. He lacks an average breaking ball according to Law.
Pitching in front of MLB scouts in his first start of the season on April 11, Vasil came within one out of pitching a perfect game. There's no way this guy actually enrolls at UVA, right? Hold that thought.
Vasil left his April 23 start with an apparent elbow strain. Vasil updated his status on April 28, saying that there was no ligament damage or tears in his elbow. He chalked the injury up to muscle fatigue and tightness. He has no timetable to return but hopes to be back soon.
Keith Law released his first 2018 MLB Mock Draft on May 3. And he did not have Vasil in the first round despite his earlier lofty ranking as a draft prospect. BaseballFactory.com has Vasil ranked 29th in the 2018 class.
Wahoo fans should keep an eye on this one but not get their hopes up.
Mike Siani (OF - Glenside, PA): Circling back to Keith Law's Top 50 draft prospect list, Siani checked in as the 23rd best prospect in the 2018 MLB Draft. Law noted that Siani, a UVA commit since his freshman year of high school, has one of the better sets of tools among prep outfielders in this draft class.
Interestingly enough, Law did not include Siani in his MLB Mock Draft on May 3. The mock only covered the first round, so even if Siani isn't drafted in the first, the signing bonus money is still quite lucrative in the draft's first few rounds.
Siani validated his lofty rankings when he helped lead USA Baseball to a gold medal at the 18U World Cup in September 2017. The undisputed top position player in the Wahoos' class, Baseball America notes that Siani proved himself a top of the order hitter during the competition.
This is another recruit that Wahoo fans should not expect to be on the team next season. But if he does enroll at UVA, then it's a huge bonus for the program going forward.
BaseballFactory.com ranks Siani as the 18th best recruit in the 2018 class.
One To Watch
Brandon Neeck (LHP - Chappaqua, NY): The 40th ranked recruit in his class by BaseballFactory.com, Neeck has been quoted as being open to heading straight to professional baseball depending on his draft status. At the same time, he's been quoted as open to heading to college in the fall too. He's a left handed pitcher already capable of throwing in the mid-90s. That's sure to capture the attention of professional scouts. The size of the signing bonus offered will go a long way in determining where Neeck ends up.
More Likely Than Not To Enroll
Ben Harris (LHP - Alpharetta, GA): When reading the PerfectGame.org description of Harris, it's not hard to come away with the impression that Harris is Neeck-lite. He's a left handed pitcher that's nearly identical in size. Harris is listed one inch taller and ten pounds heavier than Neeck, however. PG says that Harris has a fastball that tops out in the lower 90s and that's where Neeck begins to distinguish himself on the mound. Harris is credited with a nice curve and nice arm action on his changeup.
What makes Harris a really intriguing recruit is that he's a two-way player. He can play the outfield in addition to pitching. Harris is reported to have a good arm in the outfield which isn't surprising given his ability on the mound. He also appears capable of handling the bat well too.
Harris committed to UVA in July 2016. BaseballFactory ranks Harris as the 48th recruit in the 2018 class. Baseball America thinks that Harris is still a bit raw and in need of some polish.
Cristian Sanchez (RHP - Centreville, VA): Sanchez was originally an Alabama commitment but switched to UVA in June 2017. It was an excellent flip for the Hoos as Prep Baseball Report ranks Sanchez as the top player in Virginia & DC in the 2018 class. PerfectGame ranked him as the number 235 recruit in the class at the time of his commitment to Virginia.
Sanchez probably needs to fill out a bit but he already possesses a lively arm. His fastball is routinely in the lower 90s and he topped out at 94 MPH in October 2017.
Drew Hamrock (C - Roswell, GA): Hamrock is a high school teammate of Ben Harris. He profiles as a catcher even though he seems a little on the small size at 5-11, 175 pounds. Reports indicate that Hamrock is a solid defender behind the plate with an accurate arm. He's also reported to be athletic enough to play in the middle of the infield in college.
At the plate, Hamrock profiles as line drive hitter that can work the entire field.
Zach Messinger (RHP - Chandler, IN): At 6-6, 195 pounds, Messinger is another in the line of lean, lanky pitchers that UVA seems to be attracting of late (Daniel Lynch, Noah Murdock, Blake Rohm). Messinger will need to add strength like most college freshmen. His fastball currently sits in the upper reaches of the mid-80s and he topped out at 89 during his junior season.
Messinger is also a basketball player for his high school. His athleticism shows on the court and the UVA coaching staff has made a note of his basketball ability to demonstrate the type of athlete they signed in Messinger. But what really stands out about him is his competitiveness. That really shines through in this article from his local paper.
It's easy to see why he's a good fit for the UVA baseball program. Messinger committed to the Hoos in July 2016.
Billy Price (LHP - Morristown, NJ): Price has ten pounds on Messinger, but is also listed at 6-6. If anything, Price appears to be a clone of current Hoo Daniel Lynch. Price has topped out at 88 MPH and consistently delivers his fastball in the 86-87 MPH range. He's reported to have excellent offspeed pitches and an effective slow curve that will drop in for a strike against batters. Price is also reported to have excellent control of his pitches and already has the ability to work both sides of the plate.
BaseballFactory ranks Price 98th in their 2018 Top 100. I should note that I suspect BaseballFactory gives a ton of weight to players that participate in their combines and development program.
Sen Kenneally (RHP - Morehead City, NC): Kenneally is listed as 6-8 and 215 pounds by PerfectGame. So, he continues the pattern of tall, lean pitching prospects lately at UVA. And should a basketball game break out among college baseball teams, Brian O'Connor's squad will control the boards.
Kenneally is a former Yale commit but flipped to the Hoos in June 2017. His fastball is currently in the mid-80s with a reported max of 88. Scouts report that his frame has room to add more weight and strength. That should allow Kenneally to increase his speed numbers.
What should excite UVA fans is that he's reported to already possess a hard slider that he has excellent command over. It's noted that Kenneally can work his slider on both sides of the plate. Given UVA's slider heavy approach to pitching, that should allow for some early success for Kenneally if he can adjust quickly to the mental side of the sport.
Zack Gelof (SS - Rehoboth Beach, DE): Gelof, who like most top high school baseball talents also pitches, is listed as a shortstop. Listed at 6-3 and 195 pounds, I do wonder if his future at UVA may be at third base. Gelof is one of the top prospects in the Mid Atlantic in this class. He's been committed to UVA since 2015. He's been getting looks from MLB scouts, but an article from his local paper with quotes from his father makes it sound like Gelof is looking forward to the college experience.
Baseball America notes that Gelof has a high offensive ceiling while PerfectGame indicates that his bat is his calling card.
Jack Dragum (RHP - Mechanicsville, VA): Jack is the son of Hanover HS coach Charlie Dragum. Current Hoos Derek Casey and Cayman Richardson played for the elder Dragum in high school. The younger Dragum committed to the Hoos in 2014. He plays both shortstop and pitches for his high school team.
It will be interesting to see if Dragum elects to focus solely on pitching in college or if he'll attempt to be a two-way player. Scouting reports note that he has a solid, balanced all fields approach at the plate with projectable power. But he appears to really excel as a pitcher.
Those same scouting reports note the Dragum routinely pitches in the upper 80s to lower 90s. He has good command of a plus slider as well.
Bryce Greenly (OF - Milford, DE): Like many of his classmates, Greenly is a long-time commitment to UVA Baseball. Greenly picked the Hoos in 2015 after a visit to Grounds. He'll be an outfielder at UVA and plans to study engineering.
Before his sophomore season of high school baseball, Greenly tore his PCL. He ended up missing the entire season and played much of his junior season on one leg. He could have used more rehab time on his knee but elected to tough things out in order to help his team reach their goals. They ended up reaching the state tournament before losing in the first round. For his efforts, Greenly earned Second Team All-State honors.
Jimmy Sullivan (OF - Wethersfield, CT): Sullivan picked the Hoos in August 2016. He'll play outfield in Charlottesville. Prep Baseball Reports describes him as a classic right fielder whose best asset is his speed. Sullivan is a lefty who is listed at 6-4 and 195 pounds by PerfectGame so he'll have the ability to fill out once he enters the UVA weight program. Prep Baseball Report also notes that he's at his best at the plate when hitting back up the middle or to the opposite field.
Nic Kent (SS - Gordonsville, VA): Kent is a local product who plays his prep baseball at STAB. He pledged to the Hoos back in August 2015. Kent is listed at 6-2 and 175 pounds by PerfectGame. Prep Baseball Report notes that he is a very good defender. He'll likely find himself a home in the UVA infield, possibly in the middle at short or second base. They note that his bat is still developing.
Kent joins fellow 2018 classmates Cristian Sanchez and Jack Dragum on Prep Baseball Report's 2018 Virginia/DC Preseason All-PRB First Team.