Five years have passed since Mike Neu helped bring in future Cal stars and MLB draft picks Andrew Vaughn, Korey Lee and Jared Horn. Though the days of Vaughn’s dominance have progressed from Evans Diamond to the Big Show, Cal baseball eagerly eyes its fresh crop of recruits, who inked in their commitment to the program on National Signing Day.
Cal’s class of 2021 includes nine recruits, more than double what the team had the previous year.
Leading the recruiting class is infielder/pitcher Carson Williams. Williams, a 6-2 righty ranked 47th in his class by Perfect Game, is the highest ranked Cal recruit since Horn in 2016. In his shortened 2020 junior season, Williams hit .320 with two dingers in seven games. On the mound, he commanded a 1.50 career high school ERA with 75 strikeouts in 74.2 innings, while boasting a mid-90s fastball.
Carson Crawford, Tucker Bougie and Jack Johnston will also slot in elsewhere in the infield diamond, while having a chance to provide meaningful innings on the rubber.
Ian May, Andres Galan and Christian Becerra will provide even more depth for Neu’s pitching staff. Catcher Caleb Lomavita, who may prove to be the future battery mate for all these fresh arms, will provide more depth behind the backstop.
Rounding out the class is Rodney Green, who enters as the only outfielder of Cal’s recruits. The Bears lack depth at this position, especially after the departure of current Met Brandon McIlwain.
Of Cal’s nine recruits, eight of them hail from the Golden State, while the remaining one crosses the Pacific from his home state of Hawaii. This follows Cal’s normal player distribution, which tends to be heavily skewed toward California-raised athletes.
Overall, Cal slots in as the 59th best recruiting class in the nation and the ninth best in the Pac-12, according to Perfect Game.
Head coach Neu, who also serves as the pitching coach, once again brought an emphasis on pitching to recruiting. Cal’s 2021 class features six pitchers, many of whom can top 90 plus on their fastballs.
The Bears hope this only adds to a talented and maturing pitching staff that projects to be a real force in the Pac-12 in the years to come. While the top two spots of the rotation will be locked down by juniors Sam Stoutenborough and Grant Holman, who had a fantastic summer in the San Diego League, the Bears are still looking for a Sunday starter. Joseph King, who was awarded Freshman All-American last season, and stud reliever Nick Proctor look to be the favorites for the job, but the new crop of freshmen will have the chance to prove themselves in fall camp next year.
Though the news of fresh faces is exciting for the future of the program, the Bears still face a lot of concerning questions about the upcoming season. No decisions have been made for the college baseball season yet, though some conferences, such as the Big Ten, have already announced that they will only play in-conference games.
Like many other college programs, it remains a waiting game for Cal baseball.
Noah Parker covers baseball. Contact him at [email protected].