Chase Burns (Bill Mitchell)
The transfer period is the most fast-paced, chaotic time of the year for both coaches and players alike.
After 2022 saw star players like Tommy White and Paul Skenes enter the transfer portal, the 2023 window also saw numerous high-end prospects searching for a new home.
After guiding the Demon Deacons to their first College World Series appearance since 1955, Tom Walter and his staff this offseason put together one of the best transfer portal classes in the country. The headliner is former Tennessee righthander and potential top-10 overall draft pick Chase Burns (5-3, 4.25 ERA). Armed with a fastball that tops out at 102 mph and a plus slider, Burns has arguably the best stuff of any pitcher in all of college baseball. On the other side of the baseball, the Deacs added former Wingate (N.C.) superstar Seaver King. King is an uber-athletic infielder who hit .411 last spring with 36 extra-base hits, and he hit .424 across 59 at-bats in the Cape Cod League.
The coaching staff also brought in a couple of nice supplemental pieces in reliever David Falco (4-1, 3.88 ERA) and the ever-versatile Adam Tellier (.317/.394/.515) to round out the class. With a loaded transfer class and an abundance of returning talent, Wake Forest will once again be in the national championship conversation.
The Aggies made perhaps the biggest individual splash of any school this transfer cycle, as they landed two-way superstar Braden Montgomery. On top of a riding fastball that flirts with triple digits, Montgomery is coming off a stellar sophomore campaign at the plate in which he hit .336 with 14 doubles, 17 home runs and 61 RBIs. He has plus power from both the right and left side as well as a borderline 80-grade arm in right field. Montgomery figures to slot into the heart of the Texas A&M lineup and next July he has a chance to be selected within the first five picks. The Aggies also added Ali Camarillo, a former standout at Cal State Northridge. Camarillo is a silky smooth defender at shortstop with great feet, clean actions and an above-average arm. Last spring he hit .371 with 25 extra-base hits and profiles to be an impact bat for Jim Schlossnagle.
Finally, Eldridge Armstrong makes his way to College Station after a strong sophomore season at San Diego State in which he pitched his way to a 3.24 ERA with 46 strikeouts across 41.2 innings. He has an effective fastball-slider combination that generates plenty of swing-and-miss, and he projects to be one of the more effective relievers in college baseball. After making a regional last season, the Aggies are well-positioned to make their second College World Series in the last three years.
After making the College World Series for the second time in three seasons, Tennessee this offseason reloaded on both sides of the baseball. Offensively, Tony Vitello and his staff brought in three high-impact bats in Billy Amick, Dalton Bargo and Cannon Peebles. Amick is fresh off a monster sophomore season at Clemson in which he hit .413 with 17 doubles, 13 home runs and 63 RBIs in 46 games. He has above-average power to all fields and consistently hammers the baseball into either gap. Amick this spring will likely slot in at third base. Bargo had a strong freshman season for Missouri, hitting .279 with six doubles and five home runs, but this summer in the Appalachian League he hit an impressive .357 with 11 extra-base hits. He split time between catcher and first base this summer, but his bat alone will keep him in the lineup every day. Cannon Peebles had one of the best true freshmen seasons of anyone in college baseball as he hit .352 with 11 doubles, 12 home runs and 50 RBIs. The switch-hitting catcher has above-average power from both sides, and this spring he figures to be the Vols’ go-to backstop.
On the mound, Vitello brought in a potential weekend starter in sidewinder A.J. Causey (5-2, 5.07 ERA) and a lights-out reliever in Nate Snead (1-2, 3.16 ERA). Causey attacks from an incredibly difficult-to-pick-up sidearm slot with both his slider and changeup being potential plus pitches. Last spring, he notched 89 strikeouts across 76.1 innings pitched and is likely to be Tennessee’s Sunday starter. Snead is armed with a lethal fastball-slider combination and projects to hold down the back end of the bullpen. His fastball averages 94.2 mph, tops out at 99 and has plenty of life through the zone, while his slider last spring generated a miss rate of 57%. With an exciting blend of new and returning talent, Tennessee again is in great shape to make a run at the national championship.
Other winners: Arkansas, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Oklahoma
While the Crimson Tide brought in a number of players who should contribute immediately, it also lost a handful of key members from its 2023 team. Most notably, Friday starter Luke Holman (7-4, 3.67 ERA) and star infielder Colby Shelton (.301/.419/.729, 25 HR) transferred to LSU and Florida, respectively, while reliever Kade Woods (4-1, 5.52 ERA) will be joining Holman in Baton Rouge. Brock Blatter struck out 12 across eight innings of work last year and is headed west to Southern California, while outfielder Max Williams, who hit .316 with 26 extra-base hits this summer in the Northwoods League, is going to Florida State. However, between Rob Vaughn at the helm and the talent he was able to bring in via the transfer portal, Alabama is still in a good spot heading into 2024.
North Carolina State
After losing Tommy White to the transfer portal after the 2022 season, the Wolfpack enter the 2024 season with big shoes to fill positionally. After leading the team with a .352 average and 50 RBIs, freshman catcher Cannon Peebles entered his name into the transfer portal and ended up at Tennessee. Wiry shortstop Payton Green transferred to Georgia Tech after a strong sophomore campaign in which he hit .274 with 12 doubles, 10 home runs and 45 RBIs, while sophomore outfielder Will Marcy transferred to Memphis after hitting .302 with 12 doubles and five home runs. In what is a change of pace from previous years, NC State will head into 2024 with more depth on the mound than at the plate.
Although Wichita State is well-positioned for the future with Brian Green as its head coach, it lost nearly every major contributor from the 2023 team to the transfer portal. Star two-way player Payton Tolle (9-3, 4.62 ERA, .311/.361/.538) is now at TCU and its best reliever in Nate Snead (1-2, 3.16 ERA) is at Tennessee. Additionally, lefthander Jace Miner (2-0, 2.05 ERA) transferred to Oklahoma and a pair of sluggers in Chuck Ingram (.362/.437/.579) and Garrett Pennington (.307/.372/.560) took their talents to Kansas State and North Carolina State, respectively. The Shockers have gaping holes to fill on both sides of the baseball but even with all of the talent lost from last season, Green will have his group competing for all of 2024.