2021 was stacked across the board with standout pitchers and talent on the mound. No, we won't have the likes of Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter for Vandy this season, but we should still still an abundance of first-round type talent in college baseball this season.
This list hardly covers it all, considering we tried to limit it to just 15 pitchers, but quite the lot of arms are included. Here are some of the top pitchers to keep your eye out for in the 2022 season:
Landon Sims — Mississippi State
Let's start off with a no-doubter — Landon Sims at Mississippi State. Sims posted a 5-0 record with a 1.44 ERA and 13 saves in 56.1 innings last season and was a huge part of the national championship run. Anyone who watched the 2021 Men's College World Series would know this name. He was so big at the CWS behind Will Bednar en route to the title. Sims punched out 100 batters in those 56.1 innings last season, a huge workload for a relief pitcher, but will move to the rotation this season. Get ready for strikeouts early and often.
RELIVE 2021: Mississippi State wins first College World Series
Parker Messick — Florida State
Next we’ve got lefty Parker Messick at Florida State, the 2021 ACC Pitcher of the Year and Freshman of the Year. Messick was 8-2 last season with 126 strikeouts and a 3.10 ERA in 90 innings. He could have a massive 2022 campaign for the Seminoles. He is joined by Bryce Hubbart, who spent the summer as a Cape Cod all-star after earning third-team all-ACC honors in 2021.
Justin Campbell — Oklahoma State
Justin Campbell at Oklahoma State is next, a two-way guy with a big role this season. Campbell stands tall on the mound at 6-foot-7 and has got a full pitch mix. He was one of five finalists for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award last season after finishing with 102 strikeouts with a 2.57 ERA in 84 innings.
Andrew Taylor — Central Michigan
Andrew Taylor at Central Michigan makes the list, easily. The hard-throwing right hander burst onto the scene last season, winning MAC Pitcher of the Year. He ranked No. 8 nationally with a 1.81 ERA, posted 125 strikeouts, was second in the nation with 11 victories and finished out five complete games.
Carson Whisenhunt — ECU
Next, Carson Whisenhunt at ECU. Whisenhunt is likely the best lefty across the board in 2022 with one of the best change-ups nationally in his arsenal. He enters the season a preseason first-team All American in four different publications after he struck out 79 hitters in 62 innings a year ago. He played for the USA Collegiate national team in the offseason and can only get better this season.
Pete Hansen — Texas
The preseason No. 1 Texas Longhorns lost Ty Madden, but many still consider this to be one of the strongest pitching staffs in the nation this season. For one, they have Pete Hansen leading their rotation who closed out 2021 with two appearances in the College World Series. Hansen has strong command on his fastball and a great 2021 resume with a 9-1 record, 1.88 ERA and an 80 to 23 strikeout to walk ratio. He will be joined by Tristan Stevens and Tanner Witt. Stevens returns after a great 2021 as well where he was rock solid behind Ty Madden with a 3.31 ERA.
Hunter Barco — Florida
Hunter Barco is up next at Florida. In the shortened 2020 season he had a 1.40 ERA and .162 opponent batting average before finishing 2021 with 94 strikeouts. He had a big 7-0 stretch last season where he secured wins over No. 3 Ole Miss, No. 2 Vanderbilt and No. 8 Mississippi State. Should be big on the rock this season and the ace of a team in the preseason top 10.
Sam Highfill — NC State
Highfill made quite the name for himself in the postseason last year, the type of guy that loves the big moments and shows up big for them. He got a win over No. 1 Arkansas in super regionals, then allowed just two hits in a career-high 7.1 shutout innings and then went 3-for-4 at the plate in back-to-back games against Vanderbilt in Omaha. No big deal, Sam. I’m ready to see Highfill and the Wolfpack this season.
Carson Palmquist — Miami (Fla.)
Carson Palmquist at Miami has been phenomenal out of the bullpen for the Canes the past two seasons. He posted a 2.22 ERA over 44.2 innings with 75 strikeouts and just eight walks. He is expected to make the jump to the starting rotation this season and has some big time potential. As just a freshman in 2021 he was named a first-team All American in two publications and second-team in another two. He led ACC and ranked third nationally with 14 saves.
Jonathan Cannon — Georgia
Over at Georgia you have Jonathan Cannon, who has refined his pitches for this season, according to D1baseball. He had an impressive outing in the Cape Cod league this offseason and has the potential to be a first-rounder next draft. The 6-foot-6, physical right-hander is 7-2 with a 3.38 ERA through his career so far, but should be looking up this season.
Cam Schlittler — Northeastern
Northeastern has Cam Schlittler as an interesting arm to watch this season. The 6-foot-6 righty posted a 8-1 record with a minuscule 1.88 ERA last season and was recently named 2022 CAA Preseason Co-Player of the Year. He tallied 85 strikeouts in 76.2 innings pitched and ranked in the top 50 in the country with a 0.99 WHIP last season.
Drew Thorpe — Cal Poly
At Cal Poly, Drew Thorpe makes the list. The Friday night ace punched out 104 hitters a year ago and earned time on the Collegiate national team in the offseason. According to D1baseball, Thorpe pairs a double-plus changeup with a fastball at 92-94.
Blade Tidwell — Tennessee
Over in the SEC, Blade Tidwell is an arm you will want to keep an eye out for this season for Tennessee. He will miss the beginning of the season with shoulder soreness, but I still wanted to keep him on the list to watch this season. Tidwell has reached 98 mph and has a wipeout slider. The 6-foot-4 righty will be the ace for a Volunteer team coming off of a CWS run, when healthy.
Nick Maldonado — Vanderbilt
Aaron Nixon — Texas
Lastly, I have two relievers I can't not add to the list with Nick Maldonado at Vandy and Aaron Nixon at Texas. The Dores have question marks in the starting rotation but Maldonado was one of the best bullpen arms in the nation last season with a 59-7 strikeout to walk mark, and nine saves. He could start or he could close for Tim Corbin this year. Then, Nixon will likely stay in the closer role for Texas. He closed out 2021 with a 2.21 ERA and nine saves.
Other pitchers to watch this season:
- Marcus Johnson — Duke
- Paul Skenes — Air Force
- Josh White — California
- Jonathan Fincher — Louisiana Tech