College Baseball Countdown: 18 Days to Go - UCLA’s Freshman Class

There are standout recruiting classes every year in college baseball, to be sure, but for one reason or another, it seems like we’ll get to enjoy a bumper crop of loaded classes full of players ready to contribute in 2016.

UCLA, perennially one of the programs that seems to lure class after class of blue-chip recruits, is at it again this year, as they’ve got a number of guys who very well could play a huge role in their success.

At the top of that list has to be right-handed pitcher Kyle Molnar, a 25th-round selection of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2015. He’ll be in the mix to lock down a spot in the starting rotation from day one. Even before stepping on campus, Molnar had already made headlines in college baseball circles, as he threw a no-hitter this past summer as a member of the Walla Walla Sweets of the West Coast League. That would be impressive for anyone to do in summer ball, but it’s incredible for a freshman to pull it off in a league full of guys who already have college experience under their belt.

Coming from the left side, Justin Hooper is another pitcher to watch. He was a guy that was thought to be a high-round talent heading into the 2015 draft, but he held a firm commitment to the UCLA program and honored that commitment after the Brewers took a flier on him in the 25th round. At 6’5″ and 230 pounds, Hooper has a prototype body and he’s got a big arm conducive to being able to step in right away. He could find his way into the rotation competition, but if that doesn’t pan out, he’ll certainly be a formidable weapon in the midweek or out of the bullpen.

Those two are the front-runners to nail down headline roles for the team, but there is plenty more where that came from. Three other UCLA recruits who are freshmen on the team now, Jordan Myrow (134), Jonathan Olsen (143), and Dayton Provost (245) were included in Perfect Game’s list of the top 350 incoming freshmen.

Olsen is a 6’2″ right-handed pitcher, while Myrow and Provost are position players. UCLA has a wealth of experience returning on offense, so the chances for the latter two to see extended playing time are slimmer, but it’s true in college baseball that if you show you can play, they’ll find playing time for you, and that will be the case with them as well.

The Bruins are going to be good again in 2016, but they do have some holes to fill. Many of the freshman new to campus, most notably Molnar and Hooper, look like just the guys for the job.

About the Author

Joseph Healy
Growing up in Houston, Joe Healy was introduced to college baseball at a young age, and it was love at first sight. Like most good love stories, that love has only grown throughout the years. When he's not at the ballpark, he enjoys tacos, college football during the fall, and the spectacle that is American politics. He holds a B.A. in political science from Sam Houston State University and a Master's in Public Administration from Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville.