2021 State Farm College Baseball Showdown

Top Pitchers & Hitters At The 2021 State Farm College Baseball Showdown

Top Pitchers & Hitters At The 2021 State Farm College Baseball Showdown

The top hitters and pitchers set to take the field at the 2021 State Farm College Baseball Showdown.

Feb 4, 2021 by PJ Potter
Top Pitchers & Hitters At The 2021 State Farm College Baseball Showdown

After a lot of anticipation, the horizon of the college baseball season is finally in sight. But as we all know, good things come to those who wait.

For NCAA baseball fans, that patience will pay off immediately. Six of D1baseball.com’s Preseason Top 10 programs will kick off their 2021 campaign at The State Farm College Baseball Showdown at Globe Life Field in Arlington, TX. 

Watch the 2021 State Farm College Baseball Showdown LIVE on FloBaseball

The three-day event, all available for streaming on FloBaseball, will feature No. 3 Texas Tech, No. 6 Ole Miss, No. 7 Mississippi State, No. 8 Arkansas, No. 9 Texas, and No. 10 TCU.

All six teams boast top-tier rosters, but here are the top five hitters and pitchers to look out for in this tournament. First up, the bats.

1. Christian Franklin | SO | Arkansas | Outfielder

2020 stats – 16 G, .381 AVG, 1.086 OPS, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 21 R, 3 SB

Despite a shortened season, Franklin exploded as one of the more dependent bats in the Razorback lineup in 2020. The starting centerfielder was able to log a hit in 14 of 16 games to go along with eight extra-base hits and 10 walks. His on-field performance was enough to be tabbed a Preseason First Team All-American by D1baseball.com. With the loss of Heston Kjerstad to the MLB draft, expect Franklin to be relied upon often for Arkansas’ offense.

2. Cal Conley | RFR | Texas Tech | Shortstop

2020 stats – 18 G, .371 AVG, 1.087 OPS, 3 HR, 24 RBI, 15 R, 5 SB

Amongst a loaded Red Raider offense, Conley saw much success in his first year of college baseball. Conley roped eight doubles, drew eight walks, and recorded seven multi-hit games. Collegiate Baseball Newspaper honored him as a Third Team All-American and First Team Freshman All-American. Collegiate Baseball kept him as a Third Team Preseason All-American heading into this year. 

3. Dylan Neuse | JR | Texas Tech | Outfielder

2020 stats – 19 G, .355 AVG, .925 OPS, 1 HR, 12 RBI, 22 R, 12 SB

Texas Tech’s merciless lineup is a huge reason why they were ranked so high last year, as well as jumping into 2021. Neuse is a menace at the plate and on the base paths, having led the Red Raiders in 2020 with 12 stolen bases, 22 runs, and tied for most hits with 27. He also opened the season with a 14-game hitting streak. Neuse’s projections are high, as he sits on D1baseball.com’s 2021 Preseason Second Team All-American list.

4. Gene Wood | RJR | TCU | UTIL

2020 stats – 15 G, .353 AVG, 1.220 OPS, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 16 R, 6 SB

Wood did it all at the plate for the Horned Frogs in 2020. He finished first in the Big 12 with a .706 slugging percentage and second in home runs. He also finds a ton of ways getting on base, finishing with 12 walks, six hit-by-pitches, and 18 hits in his impressive 2020 crusade. He would be higher on the list, but his streaky patterns dropped him a few spots. Fourteen of his 18 hits came across six games last year (.583), and he batted 4-for-27 (.148) in the other nine games. 

5. Nate Rombach | FR | Texas Tech | DH/C

2020 stats – 19 G, .308 AVG, 1.117 OPS, 6 HR, 27 RBI, 20 R, 0 SB

Rombach splashed onto the scene as a major producer in the Texas Tech lineup. He led the Big 12 in home runs and runs batted in, and trailed only Neuse in runs scored. The 6-foot-4 slugger rode a 14-game hitting streak, which accompanied 12 walks and five hit-by-pitches. Collegiate Baseball Newspaper named him to the Freshman All-American list.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Hayden Leatherwood, Ole Miss 
    • 2020 stats - 14 G, .361 AVG, 1.116 OPS, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 12 R, 0 SB
  • Gray Rodgers, TCU
    • 2020 stats - 15 G, .373 AVG, 1.023 OPS, 2 HR, 11 RBI, 14 R, 1 SB

Now let’s run through the arms.

1. Christian MacLeod | JR | Mississippi State

2020 stats – 21 IP, 4-0, 0.86 ERA, 35 K

MacLeod powered his way as one of the top pitchers in all of college baseball last season. Three of his four starts were scoreless, allowing just two runs across 21 innings. Collegiate Baseball Newspaper named him a 2021 Preseason Second Team All-American. Opponents hit a measly .127 against him last year, so if he manages to mirror his numbers from 2020, expect the 6-4 lefty to be mentioned in the conversation of top MLB pitching prospects by season’s end.

2. Ty Madden | RSO| Texas

2020 stats – 25 IP, 3-0, 1.80 ERA, 26 K

A 2021 Preseason First Team All-American by D1baseball.com, Madden’s season on the mound comes highly anticipated. He garnered a complete game last year against Ball State, surrendering just one run and no walks. His projections have skyrocketed after plummeting his ERA and walk rate from 2019 to 2020. Texas opens the season against Mississippi State at Globe Life Field, so fans will be in for a treat in what may be the pitching matchup of the year between MacLeod and Madden. 

3. Gunnar Hoglund | JR | Ole Miss

2020 stats – 23.1 IP, 3-0, 1.16 ERA, 37 K

Commanding the zone with a 37-4 K/BB ratio, Hoglund was one of the most fearsome pitchers in the SEC last year. Hoglund struggled a bit in his first 2020 outing against Louisville. He handed the Cardinals three runs, but those would be the only runs he allowed for the remainder of his season. In his final three appearances, he combined for 18 innings, 30 strikeouts, and no earned runs. His sparkling numbers earned him a spot on D1baseball.com’s Preseason Second Team All-American list heading into this year.

4. Haylen Green | SR | TCU

2020 stats – 17.2 IP, 1-0, 1 SV, 0.00 ERA, 19 K

Green is arguably the best relief pitcher in the NCAA. Collegiate Baseball Newspaper selected him to the First Team preseason list for 2021 after a dazzling 2020 season for TCU. He didn’t allow a single runner to cross home plate across eight appearances out of the bullpen, including an impressive outing against USC where he fanned seven batters.

5. Doug Nikhazy | JR | Ole Miss

2020 stats – 23 IP, 3-1, 2.35 ERA, 31 K

The Friday night starter for the Rebels in 2020, Nikhazy will be an anchor once more this season. Nikhazy’s WHIP finished at an eye-popping 0.78, but in much credit to his last start against Princeton. The 5-10 southpaw rattled off six hitless frames, including 12 strikeouts and no runs. Collegiate Baseball gave him the preseason nod on their Second Team All-American list.

Honorable Mentions

  • Micah Dallas, Texas Tech
    • 2020 stats – 15.2 IP, 3 SV, 0.57 ERA, 23 K, 1 BB
  • Pete Hansen, Texas
    • 2020 stats – 17 IP, 2-0, 1 SV, 0.00 ERA, 18 K, 2 BB

The 2021 State Farm College Baseball Showdown at Globe Life Field kicks off February 20. Be sure to catch all nine games live on FloBaseball.

PJ has played and worked in baseball for over 20 years as a pitcher, broadcaster, writer, and editor. A former Cape Cod League and Coastal Plain League broadcaster, his favorite time of the year is during the College World Series to see former players he worked alongside.