RICHMOND, Va. – National Signing Day has come and gone, and for the VCU Baseball Program it was a day of rejoice as the program nabbed a group of 12 future student-athletes that will compete for time the minute they step on campus in the fall of 2012.
The group consists of eight student-athletes coming from high schools in Virginia, Delaware, Maryland, Florida, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The remaining four athletes are transfers from Lackawanna College, a junior college in Pennsylvania.
"I think it is probably the deepest and best recruiting class we have had in quite a few years," said VCU Head Coach Paul Keyes. "It's pitching rich, but we have also added some speed, defense and offense. These 12 athletes are a group of total quality baseball players."
Here is an inside look at each recruit:
MICHAEL CARPENTER, PITCHER (Cosby High School – Chesterfield, Va.)
Carpenter is the program's all-time leader in appearances and games finished at Chesterfield High School. As a junior in 2011, he posted a 7-0 record with a 1.93 ERA while fanning 20 batters in 22 innings. Carpenter plays travel ball for RBA West Elite under VCU Baseball alums Donnie Phillips and Chris Garrity.
Coach Keyes on Carpenter - I think Michael has a chance to really contribute as a freshman in a relief role for us. He is a good, hard throwing right-hander with a quality slider and change-up. I think his situation will be based on how he matures and how he does his senior year at Cosby.
DAN BLACK, PITCHER (Cedar Crest High School – Lebanon, Pa.)
Black finished his junior season with a 7-3 record, including three shutouts, and a 1.85 ERA at Cedar Crest High School. The 6-2 right-handed pitcher recorded 54 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings. Black was named to the Second Team all county for his team that garnered league and sectional championship.
Coach Keyes on Black - Dan is a highly sought-after right hander that has three pitches that he can throw for strikes. He is a prototypical right-handed pitcher and reminds us a lot of current VCU pitcher Kyle Haynes. So if he can do what Kyle has done this past couple years, he will be a contributor right away.
CRAIG LOPEZ, INFIELDER/PITCHER (Mountain View High School – Fredericksburg, Va.)
Lopez is ranked the 180th best prospect in the nation and sixth best in the state of Virginia by Perfect Game. Lopez hit .502 and swiped 16 stolen bases for Mountain View in 2011. Lopez earned all-district honors for his performance in 2011.
Coach Keyes on Lopez - Craig is very interesting in that he has been registered as high as 93 mph on the gun and has a really high ceiling. I can see him pitching late in games for us, as he is very competitive and has a great slider. As a position player he is very scrappy and can play third, shortstop or second, so he give us some flexibility. Overall he is just a gamer and a very competitive player.
WALKER HAYMAKER , CATCHER (Dr. Phillips High School – Orlando, Fla.)
Haymaker is named a top 500 prospect by Perfect Game out of Dr. Phillips High School, where he was named an AP Scholar and is a member of the National English Honors Society. Haymaker has started all three seasons and was named to the 2011 All-County and All-Metro teams. Plays travel ball for the Orlando Scorpions under Head Coach Matt Gerber.
Coach Keyes on Haymaker - Walker is a guy that is coming from Florida out of Dr. Phillips High School, which has a very rich baseball tradition. He has caught a lot of real high round draft picks, so hands wise he is going to be outstanding as a receiver. He is well rounded as an offensive player, but his biggest intangible is that he is just a really smart player. He has had a wonderful opportunity to grow as a player and he is going to be a guy that is going to contribute as a freshman.
HUNTER ABSHER, PITCHER (Sussex Tech High School – Georgetown, Del.)
Absher garnered a 5-0 record for his travel team, the Mid-Atlantic Red Sox. Absher registered a 2.89 ERA and average 1.5 strike outs each inning for the Red Sox.
Coach Keyes on Absher - Hunter is a right-handed pitcher that can really sink the ball. He is a guy that popped up when we were looking at Craig Lopez, and caught the eye of Coach Stiffler. He is going to be very good, on the same page as Dan Black. Those two guys are very similar and can be pitchers that give us starting innings, which is where we see Hunter.
JAMES BUNN, OUTFIELDER (The Pennington School – Princeton, N.J.)
Bunn earned first team all-state, all-area and all prep honors at the Pennington School in 2011. Bunn also set schools records for triples, hits and runs scored. Bunn was named an Under Armour Preseason All-American. He plays travel ball for Mike Manning at the All-Star Baseball Academy.
Coach Keyes on Bunn - James is a very exciting, very fast outfielder with a really high upside. He is very athletic, earned all-state honors in both baseball and soccer. He has a quick-twitch body, and is good both offensively and defensively.
MICHAEL THOMAS, OUTFIELDER/PITCHER (Lee Davis High School – Mechanicsville, Va.)
Thomas plays at Lee Davis High School as a pitcher and outfielder, where he garnered all-region and all-district honors for each position. Thomas hit .450 at the plate, while recording an 8-2 record and 2.1 ERA on the mound. Played on the central team at the 2011 Commonwealth Games.
Coach Keyes on Thomas - Michael is a guy that we got in late. He is probably the best player from the central Virginia area. He is a two-way guy that can play in the outfield or pitch for us. Early in his career he will probably be an outfielder for us, because he is currently one of the best hitters in the state. As a left-handed pitcher he throws around 85 mph. He is a guy that is going to be very interesting to watch, especially since we got him late in the class.
CODY ACKER, OUTFIELDER (Blake High School – Silver Spring, Md.)
Acker is a rising senior at Blake High School where he was named a second team Washington Post All-Met. Acker hit .510, drove in 18 RBI and scored 22 runs for Blake in 2011. Acker plays travel ball for the Mid-Atlantic Red Sox.
Coach Keyes on Acker - Cody is a guy that fits the VCU mode very well. He is not huge in stature, but is very fast and very good baseball player. He will be set up well playing at the Diamond. He is a great batter and can handle the bat really well. So we look forward to him having a big career at VCU.
CHRIS KIRSCH, PITCHER/DESIGNATED HITTER (Lackawanna College – Newton Square, Pa.)
Kirsch is a product of Lackawanna College, where he has drawn interest from the MLB draft, being picked in both 2010 and 2011. Kirsch is considered the 58th best junior college prospect in the nation by Perfect Game. In 2011 he posted a 4-2 record with a 2.14 ERA and 52 strikeouts. Was named first team All-Region for his efforts.
Coach Keyes on Kirsch - Chris is probably the most high profile guy of the class. He turned down some money to stay in junior college, so he will be sought after draft pick this year. He is throwing the ball as high as 94, but stays mostly in the 91-92 mph range. He has a dominate breaking ball and could very well be a frontline starter for us next year.
TYLER BUCKLEY, PITCHER (Lackawanna College – Scranton, Pa.)
Buckley is a product of Lackawanna College where he was named first team All-Region in 2011. Buckley recorded a 5-2 record with a 2.68 ERA and 41 strikeouts.
Coach Keyes on Buckley - Tyler is almost similar to Chris; he throws around 89-90 mph. Has a good slider and can pitch in a couple different roles for us. So once again we found ourselves another really hardnosed player.
LOGAN KANIUK, PITCHER (Lackawanna College – Scranton, Pa.)
Kaniuk finished the 2011 campaign at Lackawanna College with 24 strikeouts, a 2.31 ERA and 3-1 overall record.
Coach Keyes on Kaniuk - Logan is a typical left-handed pitcher that can reach around 85-86 mph. He has great movement on his pitches, including on his change-up and breaking ball. He can be a fourth starter for us or a middle reliever from the start. Depending on how his velocity develops he can move himself into the rotation.
TOM CRIMI, INFIELDER (Lackawanna College – Nazareth, Pa.)
Crimi hails from Lackawanna College where he was named second team All-Region in 2011. Crimi finished the season with a .317 batting average, eight doubles, four triples, 15 RBI and 20 runs scored.
Coach Keyes on Crimi - Tom is another infielder that can play a number of positions for us. He has played shortstop at Lackawanna and hits from the left side. He gives us a lot of depth and flexibility, as he is a really good baseball player with good speed and defensive abilities.