Latest MLB Draft rankings underrate South Carolina baseball star

South Carolina baseball catcher Cole Messina was ranked by Perfect Game as the 6th-best catcher in the 2024 MLB Draft and the 5th-best from the college ranks.
South Carolina baseball catcher Cole Messina
South Carolina baseball catcher Cole Messina / Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina baseball catcher Cole Messina was one of the two best players at his position in all of college baseball this season. Along with Sam Houston State Bearkat star Walker Janek, Messina was head and shoulders above the rest of the competition, and the duo of Messina Janek split the Johnny Bench Award (Messina) and the Buster Posey Award (Janek) as the top catchers in the nation.

Somehow, though, Messina is being underrated heading into the 2024 MLB Draft.

The Gamecock backstop was named the 6th-best catching prospect in the draft by Perfect Game this week (and 5th-best college catcher in the draft). Janek, Caleb Lamavita (California Golden Bears), Jacob Cozart (NC State Wolfpack), Malcolm Moore (Stanford Cardinal), and Hunter Carns (First Coast High School in Florida) are all ranked ahead of Messina. Perfect Game also ranks Messina as the 85th-best overall prospect in the draft.

Perhaps Messina's lower-than-expected draft projection has to do with poor scouting evaluations, especially regarding his defense and athleticism. According to's scouting page, which somehow has Messina rated even lower at #100, he is both an average defender and a well below-average runner. Frankly, neither of those assessments is true.

For most of the 2024 college baseball season, Cole Messina was rated as the top defensive catcher in the sport, and, based on 643charts' data, he finished the year just behind San Diego's Ari Armas for the top spot in the country at the end of the year. He had a really nice season blocking pitches in the dirt and throwing out base runners.

Messina also is one of the best athletes and runners among college catchers. Over the past two seasons, Messina tallied 16 stolen bases and 2 triples, and he erased several routine double plays with his good footspeed down the line. He moves well behind the plate, too, smothering bounced breaking pitches and popping up quickly on stolen base attempts and snap throws behind runners.

Messina's bat, typically, is viewed as a positive heading to the professional ranks, and he has earned that evaluation. As a sophomore and junior, #19 hit for a .316 batting average, got on base at a .447 clip, and posted a collective OPS over 1.100. He smacked 38 home runs, 37 doubles, and 2 triples while scoring 128 runs and driving in 137 more.

If not picked high enough, Messina could return to school for his senior season, but the Summerville High School product has not given any public indication of what his family's thoughts are regarding money/draft position/situation. He will have a decision to make later this month.

Current South Carolina baseball players Eli Jerzembeck (281st), Roman Kimball (284th), and Kennedy Jones (467th) are also ranked as draft prospects by Perfect Game, and current commitments PJ Morlando (31st) and Carson Messina (392nd) are, as well. All could be part of the 2025 Gamecocks but could elect to go pro, as well. A handful of other current and fuu Gamecocks, headlined by pitcher Eli Jones, also could be selected in the draft.

The MLB Draft will take place from July 14th through July 16th.

Next. South Carolina Baseball: Elite crop of junior college players set to join Gamecocks. South Carolina Baseball: Elite crop of junior college players set to join Gamecocks. dark