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Breaking Down Baylor Baseball's 2024 Recruiting Class: Pitchers

November 20, 2023

On Nov. 9, second-year head coach Mitch Thompson and the Baylor baseball program announced the 2024 recruiting class, which included four right-handed pitchers, four outfielders, three left-handed pitchers, three infielders, a catcher and a two-way player.

The 2024 recruiting class is Thompson’s first class that was completely handpicked by him and assistant coaches Zach Dillon, James Leverton and Jim Blair. Thompson and the staff’s philosophy is to rebuild the Baylor program through high school recruiting with gritty, blue-collar players who want to win and embody what it means to be a Bear.

Today, I’ll break down the pitchers from the 2024 class and reveal some notes and observations from the staff, and sometime in the near future, I’ll focus on the position players.

Carson Bailey | LHP | Richardson, Texas | J.J. Pearce HS | R/L | 6-3 | 190

Carson Bailey missed his junior season of high school with Tommy John surgery and flew under the radar until this fall, where he was a late riser in the recruiting process. Baylor beat out multiple Big 12 schools to secure Bailey’s commitment.

The 6-foot-3 lefty sits in the low-to-mid 90s with his fastball, has a nasty breaking ball and is currently trying to add a changeup to his repertoire. He may warrant some draft buzz this spring but is expected to arrive on campus sometime next summer. Ability-wise, the staff believes Bailey has “an electric arm” and has the chance to be a really special player.

Jack Mackenzie - SicEm365
BU’s 2024 recruiting class included four right-handed pitchers, four outfielders, three left-handed pitchers, three infielders, a catcher and a two-way player.

Cayden Baker | RHP | Olive Branch, Miss. | Lewisburg HS | L/R | 6-1 | 190

Cayden Baker is the No. 1 ranked right-handed arm in the state of Mississippi, according to PBR. He logged 92 strikeouts and a 1.56 ERA across 72 innings as a junior in 2023 and was also on the mound for Lewisburg in the Mississippi 6A State Championship game.

Baker is a strike thrower with good secondary stuff – a slider and changeup that are both considered playable pitches at the Division I level. His fastball velocity has fluctuated between 88-91 miles per hour, with the potential for an increase under a college weight program, according to the coaching staff.

Brayden Bergman | RHP | Parker, Texas | Plano East HS | R/R | 6-1 | 200

Brayden Bergman, the hard-throwing right-hander that the staff has failed to see throw a fastball under 94 miles per hour, is the crown jewel of the ‘24 recruiting class. Brayden’s father, Brett, played baseball at Baylor (1995-1998) under Thompson; his brother, Caleb, is a rising sophomore outfielder for the Bears.

There’s an expectation that MLB scouts will heavily pursue Brayden leading up to the 2024 Draft next July. However, there’s optimism Brayden will still choose to come to Waco over going pro. With minor leaguers getting called up faster and faster in today’s age, there’s arguably more value in playing against Division I opponents for at least three seasons while enjoying everything that comes with college baseball.

Jack Garza | LHP | McKinney, Texas | McKinney North HS | L/L | 6-4 | 230

At 6-foot-4, 230 pounds, Jack Garza is an imposing figure on the left side of the mound. He’s collected 122 strikeouts over 89 innings across the last two seasons at McKinney North High School.

Garza moves well for his size and has the body to be a workhorse-type pitcher, but the coaching staff believes he could have an even higher ceiling under a collegiate weight program. He has a three-pitch mix with good pitch-ability and is considered very intelligent, coachable and has a burning desire to win.

Jack Hickerson | RHP | Corinth, Texas | Guyer HS | R/R | 6-5 | 180

Jack Mackenzie - SicEm365
The coaching staff intentionally looked for athletic arms who threw strikes consistently and had pitch ability in the ‘24 class.

Jack Hickerson is a 6-foot-5 righty strike thrower with an “outlier” changeup. The coaching staff first noticed him at the Area Code Tryouts in the summer of 2022, shortly after they took over the reins of the BU program. On that particular day, Hickerson was sitting 88-90 on his fastball and faced five batters, but not a single hitter made contact against him.

Hickerson is a hard worker and is believed to have “huge potential” if he can add more weight to his 6-foot-5 frame.

Caleb Jameson | LHP | Paris, Texas | Paris JC | L/L | 6-2 | 175

Caleb Jameson was regarded as one of the top three arms at the 2023 Junior College All-Star game and has an athletic and repeatable delivery. He sits at 88-91 miles per hour on his fastball with good secondary stuff, but the coaching staff believes there’s potential for a further uptick in his fastball velocity. Jameson has the makeup to be in Baylor’s weekend rotation next spring.

Landon Karrh | RHP | Frisco, Texas | Frisco HS | R/R | 6-3 | 165

Landon Karrh was a late addition to the 2024 recruiting class. He posted a 15-3 record with a 1.85 ERA across 93 combined innings for FHS and Dulins Dodgers in 2023. The coaching staff noted that Karrh is a pitch-to-contact guy with a playable breaking ball. The key for Karrh as he develops will be putting on weight.

My Thoughts…

First and foremost – since I know I’ll get questions about this – I wouldn’t consider Bergman ending up in Waco a “long shot,” but I wouldn’t classify it as a “slam dunk” either. Ultimately, if Bergman has an incredible spring and he’s getting offered millions of dollars by an MLB team, it’s going to be, understandably, tough to turn that down.

Jack Mackenzie - SicEm365
Brayden Bergman’s brother, Caleb, is a rising sophomore outfielder for the Bears.

However, the value of an education and the family ties to Baylor will obviously play a strong role in his decision. And I’m not just saying this to say this, but in recent years, the value of picking college baseball over the minors has increased value-wise. With the draft having fewer rounds, minor league organizations getting cut and college players getting called up quicker, you could argue that the college route is the better and safer play.

This 2024 recruiting class was bigger (16) than the 2023 class (13), and this year’s class included 15 freshmen compared to last year’s 11. This is Thompson’s first true class that he and his staff completely handpicked, and they wanted to add as many of their type of players as possible: athletic, strike-throwers, pitch-ability, gritty, etc. As mentioned previously, the coaching staff wants to reestablish the program by bringing in and developing high school players.

Also, the current roster has a lot of juniors who will be seniors next season, so it sets up nicely for the freshmen to get some experience next year before taking over the reins during the 2026 season.

Outside of Bergman, there aren’t many guys in this class who will “wow” you with velocity in the mid-to-upper 90s. However, the coaching staff intentionally looked for athletic arms who threw strikes consistently and had pitch ability. “If we can get the majority of guys on our staff to command the baseball, we have a chance to be in a lot of games,” Dillon said. There’s also the hope that as these players get into a collegiate training and weight program, you could potentially see an uptick in velocity as they develop.

Jack Mackenzie - SicEm365
This is Thompson’s first true class that he and his staff completely handpicked.

When talking with the staff, the overwhelming majority of the guys in the recruiting class were defined as “winners” who wanted to be at Baylor to build the program back up. This group has the ability to bring back that blue-collar identity to BU baseball that was so poignant on the early-to-mid 2000s teams.

It will take some time to get these guys on campus and developed properly, but as I noted earlier this fall, Thompson doesn’t have to sell to me that the program is headed in the right direction – I can see it for myself.

Discussion from...

Breaking Down Baylor Baseball's 2024 Recruiting Class: Pitchers

5,637 Views | 2 Replies | Last: 2 mo ago by martinunafter
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The detailed breakdown of each pitcher, especially highlighting their strengths and potential for development, is impressive. Carson Bailey's comeback story, his potential to be a standout player, and Brayden Bergman's family ties and the potential tug-of-war with the MLB add compelling narratives to follow. The coaching staff is not only looking for talent but also for players who embody the spirit of Baylor baseball. I used to want to play basketball, but I had to write an essay. I remember how I always order college essays at EduBirdie used this resource where I was quickly provided with professional help. Thompson's focus on pitchers who consistently throw strikes and have good pitch-ability, even if they don't have the highest velocity, shows a commitment to building a solid and reliable pitching staff. This approach, coupled with the hope of increased velocity through a college training program, seems like a balanced and forward-thinking plan.
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