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2023 Frisco Classic: Everything You Need To Know

Analysis

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The Frisco Classic is one of college baseball’s premier early-season tournaments year-in and year-out, and this year’s field is strong as usual, headlined by 2021 national champion Mississippi State and 2022 national runner-up Oklahoma. The Bulldogs and Sooners are joined by California (which is off to a strong 6-1 start) and Ohio State (a program with renewed energy under first-year head coach Bill Mosiello).

Let’s take a closer look at the Frisco Classic field:

CALIFORNIA

California

Head coach: Mike Neu

The skinny: The Golden Bears have raced out to an eye-opening 6-1 start that includes a series win on the road at Houston, a midweek win at No. 2 Stanford, two wins against Cal Poly and one victory over UConn. Cal’s biggest strength thus far has been its pitching staff, which ranks 15th nationally with a 2.76 ERA and 18th in the country with a 1.11 WHIP. Starting pitchers Ian May (1-0, 0.00) and Tucker Bougie (1-0, 2.53) are each coming off strong outings last week against Cal Poly, anchoring the staff. Joe Williams and Christian Becerra have formed a dynamite one-two punch at the back of the bullpen.

Star power: Rodney Green Jr.

Green Jr. hit .293/.394/.536 with six homers as a freshman last year, finishing the season on a tear with a .362 average over his last 18 games. He has picked up this spring right where he left off, racing out to a .367/.406/.633 start with two homers, two doubles and six RBIs through seven games. A 6-foot-3, 190-pound lefthanded hitter with serious power to all fields, plus speed and a rifle arm in the outfield, Green Jr. is one of the most electric players in this Frisco field.

Who’s hot: In addition to Green Jr., catcher Caleb Lomavita (.333/.412/.567, 2 HR) and shortstop Carson Crawford (.292/.414/.667) have been pillars of the Cal offense in the early going. And on the mound, May and Bougie both look like the real deal. 

Prospect watch: 

Here’s a list of prospects ranked by D1Baseball in the 2023 and ’24 MLB draft classes. 

2024:

OF Rodney Green Jr. (20)

C Caleb Lomavita (43)

SS Carson Crawford (101)


MISSISSIPPI STATE

Mississippi State

Head coach: Chris Lemonis

The skinny: After winning the 2021 national title, Mississippi State crashed hard in 2022, finishing last in the SEC as injuries piled up. The Bulldogs reloaded in the offseason with a top-five freshman class and a top-five transfer class, and the early results have been up and down this spring. Mississippi State fans had to be talked off the ledge after the Bulldogs opened the year 3-3, allowing 14 runs in a loss to VMI, 11 runs in a midweek loss to UL Monroe, and 13 runs in a Friday night loss to Arizona State, but MSU still managed to win both of its first two weekend series, then out-slugged Southern Miss 10-9 this past Tuesday to carry a 6-3 record into the Frisco Classic. Offense was expected to be MSU’s greatest strength this year, and so far that is proving to be the case, as the Bulldogs rank 29th nationally in scoring, 37th in batting, 25th in OBP, and 36th in slugging. The pitching has been uneven, but so far Mississippi State ranks in the top half of the country in ERA at 123rd (5.33).

Star power: Colton Ledbetter

One of the most prominent transfer additions in the country, Ledbetter hit .316/.407/.640 with 16 homers, 16 doubles and 14 steals last year for Samford, then earned MVP honors in the New England Collegiate Baseball League last summer. And Ledbetter has continued to rake so far this spring for Mississippi State, hitting .400/.533/.800 with three homers, three doubles and seven steals in seven tries through nine games. Ledbetter is a true five-tool talent who hits for power and average, steals bases, plays stellar defense in center field and has a strong arm to boot.

Who’s hot: Along with Ledbetter, New Orleans transfer Amani Larry (.371/.489/.629, 2 HR, 3 2B, 13 RBI) has been a force in the early going, and emerging redshirt sophomore Bryce Chance (.357/.438/.607, 2 HR) has forced his way into the lineup by producing loads of quality at-bats along with surprising pop. On the mound, Memphis transfer Landon Gartman has helped solidify the rotation with a 15-4 K-BB mark in 10 innings, while freshman switch-pitcher Jurrangelo Cijntje has yet to allow a run in five innings, posting an 8-1 K-BB mark.

Prospect watch:

Here’s a list of prospects ranked by D1Baseball in the 2023 and ’24 MLB draft classes. 

2023:

OF Colton Ledbetter (26)

RHP Cade Smith (53)

2024: 

OF Dakota Jordan (16)

1B Hunter Hines (39)

3B Slate Alford (42)

RHP Colby Holcombe (77)

RHP Nate Dohm (115)


OHIO STATE

Ohio State

Head coach: Bill Mosiello

The skinny: A new era is underway in Columbus, as Ohio State landed former longtime TCU assistant Bill Mosiello to lead the program last summer. Mosiello built a star-studded coaching staff that includes former Texas assistant Sean Allen (the 2021 D1Baseball Assistant Coach of the Year), former Clemson pitching coach Andrew See, former Kansas State pitching coach Buck Taylor and former Charleston Southern and Cal assistant Damon Lessler. The future looks very bright for this program, but the Buckeyes have gotten off to an uneven 3-5 start against a strong schedule, splitting a four-game set against UConn and then going 1-3 in a tournament against Grand Canyon and Gonzaga. Pitching has been Ohio State’s strength so far, as the Buckeyes rank 81st in the nation with a 4.56 ERA, but the offense has been lackluster, ranking 163rd nationally in scoring.

Star power: Isaiah Coupet

Coupet, the staff ace, was the biggest name on this roster heading into the season, and he has gotten off to a sterling start, posting a 0.69 ERA along with a sparkling 18-1 K-BB mark in 13 innings over two starts. As our Patrick Ebert wrote in last week’s Midwest Connection, Coupet “throws one of the best breaking balls in all of college baseball along with a low-90s fastball and he was in prime form on opening day, tossing six shutout innings with nine strikeouts in a 3-0 win over UConn.”

Who’s hot: Lefthander Gavin Bruni is emerging as another rock in the rotation as a sophomore, coming off six innings of three-hit shutout ball last week against Grand Canyon. Bruni is 0-0, 1.93 on the young season. Offensively, third baseman Nick Erwin has taken a big step forward as a senior, leading the team with a .345/.389/.517 line along with one homer, two doubles and eight RBIs in eight games. Fifth-year senior first baseman Marcus Ernst has been the biggest power threat, hitting .290/.421/.484 with two homers and five RBIs.

Prospect watch:

Here’s a list of prospects ranked by D1Baseball in the 2023 and ’24 MLB draft classes. 

2024: 

OF Trey Lipsey (57)

LHP Gavin Bruni (130)


OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma

Head coach: Skip Johnson

The skinny: Oklahoma lost a boatload of key players from last year’s CWS Finalist club, including superstar shortstop Peyton Graham, mainstays Tanner Tredaway, Jimmy Crooks, Blake Robertson and Brett Squires, plus weekend starters Jake Bennett, David Sandlin and first-rounder Cade Horton as well as closer Trevin Michael. Given all that attrition, some regression was inevitable, but Oklahoma reloaded very effectively through the four-year and junior-college transfer markets as well as the high school class, and this club figures to get better as the season progresses and all the new faces find their footing. But the first two weeks have been trying, as OU dropped a home series to California Baptist, a midweek game at Abilene Christian, and the series opener against Rider, though they rebounded to take the series against the Broncs to carry a 4-4 record into Frisco. More than anything, Oklahoma stands out for its speed and aggressiveness on the basepaths, as Reggie Willits’ high-octane offense ranks eighth in the nation with 24 steals through eight games. As a result, OU ranks 36th nationally in scoring despite ranking 225th in home runs per game. And the pitching staff has also been solid, ranking 56th in ERA (3.97).

Star power: John Spikerman

Spikerman’s early-season numbers are not indicative of his talent, as the Oklahoma center fielder has gotten off to a slow start, hitting .147/.237/.206. But make no mistake: Spikerman is a dynamic player with game-changing, top-of-the-scales speed that makes him a perfect fit for Willits’ offense. After hitting .317/.434/.450 with 12 steals as a freshman last year, Spikerman added strength in the offseason and should drive the ball with more authority this spring once he finds his stride — but his speed is his biggest weapon. Don’t be surprised if he busts out in a big way this weekend.

Who’s hot: First baseman Anthony MacKenzie has been hotter than an August day in Norman, hitting .548/.579/.677 while stealing nine bases in 10 tries. A transfer from Sam Houston, MacKenzie is an athletic, switch-hitting slasher who can play anywhere on the field, but the Sooners like utilizing his athleticism at first base. Juco transfer Dakota Harris has settled in nicely as Graham’s replacement at shortstop, hitting .313/.361/.500 with a team-best 11 RBIs. Oklahoma State transfer Kale Davis (1-0, 3.48) and Lamar transfer Braxton Douthit (1-0, 3.60) have both stepped into starting rotation jobs and provided important stability.

Prospect watch:

Here’s a list of prospects ranked by D1Baseball in the 2023 and ’24 MLB draft classes. 

2023:

RHP Kale Davis (93)

2024:

OF John Spikerman (24)

2B Jackson Nicklaus (122) 

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