RICHMOND, Va.— There will be no shortage of fresh faces this upcoming baseball season at the Diamond, as VCU Baseball Head Coach Shawn Stiffler and staff have brought in 17 new recruits for the upcoming 2015 season.
The recruiting class, which includes 12 incoming freshman and five collegiate transfers, is one that inspires a lot of hope from the coaching staff.
"This class shows a great job by the coaching staff identifying student-athletes that not only fill our needs on the field, but who come from strong families and possess the characteristics and values that we look for in a VCU student-athlete," Stiffler said.
Here's a quick glance at the newest members of the VCU baseball program, along with comments from Coach Stiffler.
Daane Berezo: freshman infielder from Wexford, Pa.
Berezo was ranked as a top-35 player in the state of Pennsylvania coming out of high school, and he was named to three postseason all-star teams. As a senior he hit .452 and recorded a .603 OBP while driving in 23 runs.
"Daane is just a tough-nosed baseball player who can play anywhere in the infield. His ability to run, defend at a high level, and hit at the top of the lineup will help him see playing time very early in his career."
Ryan Coale: freshman catcher from Rockbridge, Va.
"Ryan is a very versatile player. He possesses plus athleticism and a powerful left-handed bat that will get him the opportunity to see time both behind the plate and in the field."
Jimmy Kerrigan: junior outfield transfer from Temple University
A transfer from Temple, Kerrigan comes in with plenty of collegiate experience already. He was a two-year starter for the Owls, hitting .310 last season while starting all 47 of his school's games.
"Jimmy was a guy who we competed against the last couple of years in the A-10 and I've always been in love with his game. He's a hard-nosed player who can play all three outfield positions and can hit anywhere in your lineup. He'll be a really nice addition to our outfield."
Lacey was a two-way player in high school, hitting .388 as a senior while also posting a 3.50 ERA on the mound. Named the George Bowen MVP Award for the Cumberland County American Legion League.
"Mitchel is the definition of a projectable bat. He has a ton of power from the right side and his bat has a chance to make an impact right away. He'll be a strong corner infielder for us."
Haiden Lamb: freshman outfielder from Mechanicsville, Va.
Lamb's success wasn't bound to the baseball diamond as a prep athlete. He was a state champion in the 100M as a senior in addition to being a top-40 baseball recruit according to Perfect Game.
"Haiden, plain and simple, is the fastest guy in the state, but on top of that he's a fabulous baseball player. His instincts on the base paths, his ability to put the ball in play and use his legs, and his defense in centerfield are going to put him in a position to impact our lineup in the future."
Cooper Mickelson: junior infield transfer from Lower Columbia CC
A state champion and a Player of the Year in hockey, Mickelson brings quite the athletic pedigree to VCU after spending time at Lower Columbia Community College. He also possesses strong plate discipline; in 176 AB last season, he only struck out 10 times.
"Cooper is coming from an outstanding program at Lower Columbia where he played for former Virginia assistant Ed Smith. He's one of those guys who is extremely versatile; he can hit up and down your lineup, drive in a run, make a diving play, and we look forward to his leadership on and off the field."
Garrett Pearson: freshman right-handed pitcher from Rockville, Md.
A highly-ranked righty out of Maryland, Pearson is the only incoming freshman to have been drafted in June's MLB Draft. The 34th round selection of the Baltimore Orioles was named to two all-area teams as a senior and was the 12th-best prospect in the state of Maryland.
"Garrett is a guy that we've been following for years and we feel very fortunate to have signed a guy like him so late in the process. He's worked extremely hard to make it here and, at 6'6", he's the definition of an imposing power arm. He has a fastball that reaches the mid-90s and a hard slider in the mid-80s and he should see innings right away for us."
Alex Preston: freshman right-handed pitcher from Manassas, Va.
A talented pitcher from Virginia, Preston was named to the 2014 Perfect Game Preseason Atlantic Region Honorable Mention team and was an Honorable Mention All-Cedar Run District pitcher the year before.
"Alex is extremely competitive when you get him on the mound. He comes at hitters with an upper-80s fastball and a very good slider. We see him impacting our team right away out of the bullpen."
Nick Rabat: redshirt sophomore transfer catcher from Hagerstown CC
Rabat had a strong season at Hagerstown in 2014, hitting .396 with 65 RBI, which put him near the top of the national leader board. The performance earned him All Region and All Conference honors.
"We've been able to follow Nick throughout his year at Hagerstown and he had one of the most productive years of any catcher in the country at his level. His ability to drive in runs and play behind the plate will definitely get him some playing time early in his career."
Travis Reapsome: freshman left-handed pitcher from Lititz, Pa.
Reapsome comes to VCU after posting strong numbers in high school, including two consecutive years with an ERA below 2.00 and a .415 batting average as a senior.
"Travis is the epitome of a tall, left-handed pitcher. He has a strong body with a fastball in the upper-80s to go along with plus command and feel for all three of his pitches. That will help put him in our rotation very quickly.
Thomas Rogers: sophomore left-handed pitcher transfer from UNC
Rogers was the 13th-best player to come out of Virginia in 2013 when he chose to play collegiately at North Carolina. A very highly regarded left-hander coming out of high school, he won a state championship with his new teammate and current Ram Alex Gransback. He will sit out this season due to the NCAA's transfer rules.
"We feel very fortunate to be able to attract a player like Thomas. He was a very highly ranked recruit a few years back and, even though he'll have to sit out this year, he'll be able to pick up valuable information and learn our system. As soon as he's able to play he'll be a mainstay in our rotation."
Sean Sarbaugh: freshman right-handed pitcher from Chadds Ford, Pa.
Sarbaugh was named as an Honorable Mention to the All-Delco Team as a pitcher last year and he also made the Second Team All Central League his junior year as an outfielder.
"Sean is a guy who can come in and do anything from start right away to see some time at the end of games because of the stuff he brings to the mound. His fastball reaches the low-90s and a devastating slider to go along with a ton of movement on all of his pitches coming from a low 3/4 arm angle. We look for Sean to come in and get some big outs for us this year."
Ben Stine: junior right-handed pitcher transfer from Mercer Community College
Stine made First Team All Conference last year for Mercer and was also First Team All Region. He made nine appearances on the mound, eight of them starts, and pitched to the tune of a 3.00 ERA with 22 K's.
"Ben played on an outstanding team last year that made it to the Junior College World Series. He'll add depth and experience to our starting rotation along with three great pitches and the ability to thrown them in any situation. We look for his presence to be felt right away."
Sean Thompson: freshman right-handed pitcher from Indiana, Pa.
An honoree to multiple all-star teams and the 23rd-ranked prospect in Pennsylvania, Thompson was also named Section 2 MVP in 2013 and was runner-up for WPIAL Class AA Pitcher of the Year in 2014.
"Sean is a tall, long, projectable right-hander who fits the exact profile of what we're looking for with our pitchers. He has the ability to change speeds, throw his breaking ball when he's behind in the count, and a low-90s fastball."
Nick Ward: freshman infielder from Unionville, Pa.
Named Honorable Mention All-Ches-Mont League American Team as an Infielder in 2013 and 2014.
"Nick is another versatile infielder who really understands the game. He'll add a lot of depth to the infield this year and we look for him to compete at several different positions."
Jeff Welch: freshman infielder from Matthews, N.C.
A two-time state champion and a sought after high school quarterback, Welch put together an impressive resume. He was also named by Perfect Game to the Preseason Honorable Mention Atlantic Region Team.
"Jeff is one of those guys who's just a winner. He was a two-sport star who really knows how to compete. His athleticism and defensive ability will provide depth around the whole infield."
Tanner Winters: freshman right-handed pitcher from Southampton, Va.
Winters joins his new Ram teammate Welch as a Preseason Honorable Mention Atlantic Region honoree. He was also named to multiple all-area teams as both a pitcher and a first baseman during his high school career.
"Tanner is a guy who came off of an injury and we really feel like can be a sleeper in this class. His fastball reaches the upper-80s and he has a very good secondary breaking pitch. We look forward to getting him into our program and we feel like the sky is the limit for him."