Prep Baseball Report

2023 NJCAA World Series, Div. I Preview

By Andy Sroka & PBR JUCO

On Saturday, May 27, the first round of the NJCAA Division I World Series will begin, starting with No. 4 seed Weatherford against No. 7 Delgado, held at Suplizio Field in Grand Junction, Colo. Today, we’re previewing the festivities by recapping the course each of these teams chartered to arrive in Grand Junction, touching on some of the top prospects you can expect to see and hear of at the event until a champ is crowned on Saturday, June 3.

No. 4 Weatherford vs. No. 7 Delgado 


The Journey: 18 straight wins headed into the World Series; defeated New Mexico Military, Midland, and New Mexico this postseason to earn this berth. This is their first-ever JUCO World Series berth. Weatherford is also rostering the Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference’s Hitter of the Year, Robin Villeneuve, and Pitcher of the Year, Ryne Rodriguez, as well as the Coach of the Year, Jeff Lightfoot.

Lightfoot has been Weatherford’s head coach since the 2002 season, and he earned his 800th career win during this historic season.

Additionally, SS Chase Pendley, RHP Robert Fortenberry, OF Jack Arthur, UTL Eddie Calzoncit and RHP Davin Ronquist were each named to the NTJCA All-Conference team, too.

Prospects: Ryne Rodriguez, LHP, Ole Miss commit; No. 1 starter, fastball sits in the 88-92 mph range. Robin Villeneuve, 1B; slugged 24 home runs this season, plus raw power. Jack Arthur, RF, TCU commit; physical frame, big time power and improving as a hitter.

DELGADO (45-11)

The Journey: Delgado earned its sixth overall JUCO World Series berth last week, first since 2016, and the fifth under head coach Joe Scheuermann. They entered the Region XXIII tourney coming off three straight losses to LSU Eunice, but rebounded to score six consecutive wins to earn this berth to Grand Junction.

Nine Delgado players were named to the All-Region XXIII team: RHP Carson Lore, RHP Kaile Levatino, C Jacob Singletary, INF Jhonnatan Ferrebus, INF Cade Pregeant, INF Logan O’Neill, OF Bryan Broussard, OF Josh Alexander, and DH Brock Slaton.

Prospects: Josh Alexander, RF, Louisiana commit; MLB bloodlines, can hit and run. Bryan Broussard, CF; his speed makes him a real asset. Logan O’Neill, 2B/RHP; swings it well and is No. 3 starter on the team. Jacob Singletary, C; strong defender with arm strength at the position. Brock Slaton, DH, Tulane commit; a middle-of-the-lineup producer. Chris Olivier, RHP; high-end arm talent, low-90s velocity, a follow prospect.

No. 1 Central Florida vs. No. 10 Andrew


The Journey: Dropped their final two games of the regular season to Santa Fe, but locked it back in during the South Atlantic District Championships, defeating Florida SouthWestern in back-to-back games, Northwest Florida State, Miami Dade, and Northwest Florida again to capture the South Atlantic District title and land the top seed in the JUCO World Series. This is their second straight state title, and fourth overall trip to the JUCO World Series as a program.

Six Patriots earned all-state honors, including first-team representatives: RHP Cam Schuelke, who was also named the ‘Fireman of the Year’, INF Edwin Toribio, INF Juan Correa, DH John Marant; second-team honors: Kareh Valentin, who was also the Defensive Player of the Year, as well as Brian Holiday.

Prospects: Brian Holiday, RHP, Oklahoma State commit; ace of the staff, features a low- to mid-90s fastball with an out-pitch breaking ball. Cam Schuelke, RHP, Mississippi State commit; arguably the best relief pitcher in the country, varies slot from low ¾ to submarine slots. John Marant, DH; 6-foot-6 left-handed-hitting slugger with plus power. Carson Bayne, OF, Charlotte recruit; key bat in the middle of lineup and projects to be that way at the next level.

ANDREW (34-23)

The Journey: For the first time ever, Andrew is headed to the DI JUCO World Series. Head coach Blake Williams is in his 11th season at the helm of the program, now preparing the Tigers for its first trip to Grand Junction in program history. They were guided offensively by redshirt freshman Carter Brady, who hit .352 with 14 home runs in 2023, driving in 61 runs and counting.

They have a team ERA over a 6.00, but James Trammell has the best stuff out of the ‘pen and Will Sims gives them the best chance to win on the mound.

Prospects: Thomas Murcia, INF; compact/strong infielder, hit .308 this spring with 17 XBH (3 HR). Trevor Gruska, OF/1B; left-handed-hitting prospect with some athleticism, hit six homers this spring, tied for the team lead in steals (13). JT Whatley, 1B; slugged eight home runs in 141 at-bats.

No. 2 Johnson County vs. No. 9 Shelton State


The Journey: For the third time in program history, Johnson County is headed to the JUCO World Series. Five JCCC players earned All-Conference honors: LHP Luc Fladda, RHP Gabe Nutter, RHP John Chambers, 1B Ryan Callahan, and DH Dagen Brewer. This group, led by head coach Eric Horner, earned a record 55 wins in 2023. Horner’s maintained – and even expanded upon – Johnson County’s winning atmosphere since he took over as head coach in 2021, scoring three straight 40-win seasons now. This record-breaking ‘23 campaign vaulted them all the way to the No. 2 seed at the World Series.

They downed Seward County, Butler, and took two of three from fellow Kansas heavyweights Cowley County to win the Plains District Tournament, and ultimately earn them this spot at the World Series.

Prospects: Luc Fladda, LHP; 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, uptempo mover, athletic delivery, longer arm action, mid- to upper-80s velocity, deceptive changeup, 80-82 mph, hard arm-side action, two different breaking balls both with advanced spin traits, curveball, 72-74, is more vertical with sharp action, slider, 78-79, has tighter horizontal break. Ryan Callahan, 1B; 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, athletic, proportional build, simple left-handed swing geared for contact, gap-to-gap type hitter who uses the whole field effectively, bat-to-ball skills helped him generate a .433 batting average this season, 22 XBH (16 2B). Gabe Nutter, RHP, SIU-Edwardsville commit; quick arm, deceptive fastball, 86-90 mph, hides it, late arm-side life, short and tight breaking ball, 75-77, that he has feel for. OF Cooper Combs, OF, Kansas commit; all-around prospect, above-average speed that plays on defense and the bases, power potential (9 HR), simple right-handed swing, strength through contact.


The Journey: For the second time in three years, Shelton State is headed to the JUCO World Series. A dependable pitching staff is what primarily helped lift them to Grand Junction, led by LHP Tate Robertson and OF/RHP Bodie Vail. The two combined to throw the most innings for the Bucs in 2023, and they own ERAs of 2.84 and 3.01, respectively. Robertson went on to claim the ACCC tournament’s MVP honor, as he punched out 16 batters in his 16 innings of work which ultimately helped Shelton State catapult past Wallace-Dothan in the South District Championship series. He went six strong innings in the winner-take-all game on May 15, setting the stage for their next matchup in Colorado, opposite Johnson County.

Prospects: Tate Robertson, LHP, Alabama commit; athletic left-handed delivery, fluid, quick arm, mid- to upper-80s fastball velo with a fading change he has confidence in. Bodie Vail, RHP/OF; true freshman was named the ACCC Pitcher of the Year, carry mid-80s fastball with a 12/6 breaking ball that plays off it effectively, also hit .294 in 85 at-bats. 

No. 3 Wabash Valley vs. No. 8 Salt Lake


The Journey: The Illinois program has become a national powerhouse and they’re headed to the JUCO World Series for the fourth time in program history – and this is the first time they’re headed to Grand Junction in consecutive years.

This comes after a wobbly start way back in February where they opened their season in Panama City, Fla., and subsequently dropped three of their first four games of the season. Obviously, at 53-11 overall, Wabash Valley rallied since and lost just once in April. After opening the Region 24 Tournament with a win, they dropped a narrow 4-3 ballgame to Lake Land that required them to rally all the way back and win three straight games, one over Lincoln Trail and then Lake Land twice. As Region 24 champs, they downed Midwest rivals John A. Logan, 5-2, in the Midwest District Tournament, and then eventually South Suburban in the championship to earn their place in Colorado.

Prospects: Jacob Frost, LHP, Kansas State commit; staff ace, will sit 91-94 mph with his fastball, plus changeup, and an improved curveball, and he struck out 99 batters in 81 innings this season. L.P. Langevin, RHP, Louisiana commit; high-spin heater (92-94 mph, T95) paired with a swing-and-miss slider (2,500-plus rpm), and he struck out 75 batters in 48.2 innings this spring. Jackson Soucie, LHP; has battled injury much of the season, pitching a total of 17 innings the last third of the season, over that span has allowed only seven hits with 25 strikeouts; when fully healthy, the big lefty has a smooth delivery and an advanced feel for a low-90s fastball (T95), a slider that he could land in the zone or bury for strikes, and a late-running changeup that flashes above-average with out-pitch potential.

SALT LAKE (31-18)

The Journey: For the first time in school history, Salt Lake CC is headed to the NJCAA World Series. Somewhat like their counterparts, Wabash Valley, the Bruins started their season disappointingly, dropping five of their first six games back in February. Ultimately, come May, they were prepared for familiar foes Southern Idaho and Southern Nevada inside the Region 18 Tournament. They opened with a win over Southern Idaho, 6-2, but dropped their next contest against Nevada before ripping off three straight wins, including two straight over Southern Nevada to claim their first trip to Grand Junction.

Five Bruins were named to the All-Region 18 First Team list: 1B Daniel Gonzalez, SS Chip Beck, OF Preston Winger, DH Jaxon Weatherly, and RHP Jordan Pace. Beck led the team with a 1.034 OPS in 2023, tallying a team-high 20 XBH (6 HR) in 183 at-bats. Pace led the team with 59 strikeouts over 58.1 innings with a 3.24 ERA.

Prospects: Traton Stahel, RHP; 6-foot-6, 200 pounds, winning pitcher that sent Salt Lake to Grand Junction, fastball lives in the 88-93 mph range, mixing in a 76-78 breaking ball.

No. 5 Blinn vs. No. 6 Gaston

BLINN (44-13)

The Journey: For the first time since 2001, Blinn won its conference championship, and they followed that up by earning a two-game sweep of Paris to punch their seventh all-time trip to the JUCO World Series, and first time since 2014. Blinn’s led by head coach Dusty Hart, who’s in just his first season at the helm of the program, had previously enjoyed tremendous success at Grayson JC for 16 seasons as its head coach.

Blinn’s been playing some of its best baseball down the stretch this spring, currently in the middle of a 10-game win streak, which includes the postseason. In the Region XIV Tournament, they knocked off Bossier Parish, Wharton, and the aforementioned Paris in order to claim their spot at Grand Junction. They scored 11 or more runs as an offense in four of their five playoff games, and they outscored Paris 19-3 in their Super Regional sweep.

Prospects: Marshall Lipsey, OF; twitchy left/left leadoff hitter, has some bat speed and pop. Brandon Bishop, CF, Texas A&M commit; bats in the two-hole, five-hit game in his team’s World Series clincher. Tanner Reaves, 2B, LSU commit; left-handed hitter with strong bat-to-ball skills. Sam Crain, LHP, Baylor; Blinn’s ace, strike-thrower with 86-88 mph fastball.

GASTON (49-11)

The Journey: At the beginning of the 2021-22 school year, Gaston officially restarted their baseball program but were ineligible for the postseason, per NJCAA rules. They enjoyed a very successful season despite it being their first one since 1972 – they won 41 games and a conference title. Gaston returned the majority of their roster in 2023 and, as a result, topped last year’s win total by eight, heading into Grand Junction with a 49-11 record overall.

They were surely tested in the programs first taste of the playoffs in decades. They cruised into the Region 10 Tournament title game, pushing USC Lancaster to the brink, but dropped that ballgame to create a winner-take-all rematch the next day against the Lancers, which they won, 5-3. The now-Region 10 champs won their first game of the Eastern District tourney, but dropped their next to powerhouse Flo-Dar Tech. However, they rallied to back-to-back one-run victories against Harford and Flo-Dar, staging another winner-take-all against the Stingers, which they won, 12-2.

They’ve been a fun story to follow since refounding their program, becoming competitive almost instantly along the way, which earned them national headlines, so it’ll be exciting to see them compete at the JUCO World Series as a tight-knit group.

Prospects: Nolan Straniero, RHP, Elon commit; 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, quick arm, high-spin fastball that ranges around 86-91 mph, sharp breaking ball with spin feel, 78-81 mph. Trey Truitt, OF; physical 6-foot-2, 207 pounds, powerful left-handed hitter, fast hands with inherent strength that he gets to efficiently, slugged .645 this season with 15 homers, 56:30 BB:K, also stole 18 bases. Kyle McKernan, RHP; 6-foot-5, crossfire from a high slot, feel for three, fastball has been 88-91 mph, sweep-type breaking ball, 78-79, fading changeup, 83-84, K’d 76 over 58.1 IP this season, walked only 17, 3.24 ERA.


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