BASEBALL ANNOUNCES 2017-18 RECRUITING CLASS

RICHMOND – VCU Baseball and Head Coach Shawn Stiffler have maintained a level of success over the past four seasons, remaining one of the top programs in the country with 35 wins in 2016. VCU has reached the 35-win mark in four straight seasons, one of just 14 teams in the country to do so. 

The Black and Gold has reloaded again, as they added nine freshman, three junior college transfers and one graduate transfer for a total recruiting haul of 13 new VCU Rams in 2017-18. Virginia is well represented in the class, with four guys having played in the state, as well as guys from Washington, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, California, and Texas. 

"It's another great job by our coaching staff targeting players who not only have the physical abilities to enhance our program, but also players who come from great families and have high character," said Head Coach Shawn Stiffler. "As always, our goals are to not only meet our needs but find players who are versatile enough to move around the field and play several positions. We feel we have the athletes in this class and the front line pitching for this class to really have an impact very quickly on our program."

With the addition of five pitchers, six position players, and a pair of two-way players, let's take a look at the 2017 recruiting class.

 

Curtis Bafus, Woodinville, WA/Inglemoor/Wash St/Everett,CC

Bafus comes to VCU from Everett Community College, where former VCU pitcher and member of the 2015 Super Regional team JoJo Howie played and now currently coaches. Bafus was a Second Team ABCA All-American, going 4-0 with a 1.43 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 44 innings. He was also First Team All-NWAC, as his team lost in the NWAC championship. 

Stiffler on Bafus

"Curtis is transferring to us from Everett Community College, where he pitched for former VCU great JoJo Howie. Curtis is a big, strong right hander pitcher who has a fastball in the low 90's with a hard, devastating slider. He possesses a feel for the strike zone, and the type of stuff that could see him at the front end of our rotation for the next two years."

Teddy Blumenauer, LHP, Bethesda, MD/Gonzaga 

Coming to VCU as the #5 left handed pitcher in Virginia/DC by PBR, Blumenauer was a USA Today All-DC Team and All-WCAC/All-Met Honorable Mention. His team reached the WCAC Semifinals his senior year, and he played for the Evoshield Canes and Marucci Stars Travel Programs.

Stiffler on Blumenauer 

"I can see Teddy being a key piece in our bullpen for a long time. Teddy understands and has a good feel for pitching out of the bullpen as a left hander. Not only can he come in and pitch and matchup against left handed hitting, he can also match up against left handers. Teddy is a fierce competitor, strike thrower, and we can see him making an impact very quickly."

Hogan Brown, Util, Virginia Beach, VA/Cox

Brown is a local product, as he also played for the Richmond Braves Travel Program. He is ranked as the #4 shortstop in Virginia by PBR, and was a two-time Second Team All-Tidewater. His high school team was state a state runner up in his senior year in 2017.

Stiffler on Brown

"Hogan is another guy that we could see play multiple positions for us. Hogan is a guy we targeted from a great summer program, the Richmond Braves. He can play all over the field, but his big thing is his athleticism. It allows him to stay in the middle of the field, as we can see him turn onto a middle infielder type player or center fielder. His speed and his raw power gives him an option to hit at the top or the middle of the lineup. We could see him make an impact in the lineup soon."

Devin Dunn, LHP, Pittsburgh, PA/Moutour 

Dunn is a Second Team All-5A/6A All-Section selection, as his team reached the Pennsylvania State Quarterfinals in high school. He played travel ball for Fred Albert and the Allegheny Pirates Travel Program.

Stiffler on Dunn

"We are excited about Devin and what he can become while he is here at VCU. Devin is a big strong left handed pitcher who already possesses a mid-80's fastball and a feel for three pitches. His ability to throw strikes as well as his ability to throw his breaking ball is going to make him an asset both in a bullpen or starting rotation role in his career."

Liam Hibbits, 1B, New York, NY/Xavier HS/Salisbury (CT)

Hibbits spent a year at prep school at Salisbury School in Connecticut. He was the NEPSAC Player of the Year and First Team All-New England. Hibbits played for Tri-state Arsenal and MSI Bubba Baseball Travel Programs.

Stiffler on Hibbits:

"We are really excited about adding Liam's bat to the middle of our lineup in the next couple years. He has an advanced feel in his approach at the plate and has great sense of the strike zone. He's a super athletic defender around the bag at first base. He's not only a guy who will drive in runs but can steal us outs with his defense."

Tyler Juhl, Util, Newark, DE/Caravel Academy

Juhl comes to VCU as a winner, having won two state championships at Caravel Academy. He was a Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American Northeast, and played travel baseball with Tri-State Arsenal. While with the Arsenal, he won three national titles as part of the program.

Stiffler on Juhl

"Tyler is a player I can see playing all over the field during his career here. A very athletic infielder who runs well enough to move to the outfield. One of his best attributes is his ability to compete and has a great baseball mind. He has an advanced feel for the game, and loves to play and compete at a high level. That approach at the plate could get him into the lineup early in his career."

Mac McCarty, RHP/3B, Port Orchard, WA/Home School/Wash St./Pierce CC

McCarty has been successful at multiple levels, winning a high school state championship his senior year, and was named Western Washington Player of the Year as well. Earning him those honors were some solid numbers, as he hit .333 with four home runs and 29 RBI. Not only did he get the job done at the plate, he was solid on the mound with a 1.44 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 31.1 innings. 

Stiffler on McCarty

"Mac is another one of those versatile two way players we were able to get for our program, as he comes from Pierce? Community College. Mac's ability to change arm angles and throw strikes could lead him to seeing several different roles on our pitching staff this year. He also possesses a very good right handed bat with gap power which will give us depth on offense."

Andrew Schatz, C, Lafayette, CA/De La Salle/Delaware/Santa Barbara

Schatz is coming off a senior high school season where he .283 with three home runs and 18 RBI. Prior to that, he was a First Team All-League his sophomore season, and won a NC Championship his Junior Year. After entering college, he won a Western State North League Championship.

Stiffler on Schatz 

"We are fortunate to run into a player like Andrew late in the recruiting process. Andrew has tremendous ability behind the plate from a catch and throw standpoint, but also is a tremendous leader and someone with high character that is going to be able to not only handle our staff but be a leader on the field for everyone."

Jack Schroder, RHP/OF, Baltimore, MD/Mt.Hebron 

Schroder is a Maryland product that comes to Richmond as the #4 outfielder in Maryland by both PBR and Perfect Game. He was Howard County Player of the Year, as well as First Team All-Metro. He was a state runner up his junior year, and played travel baseball for the Evoshield Canes Travel Program.

Stiffler on Schroder 

"Jack is a very versatile two-way guy from Maryland that we targeted very early in the recruiting process. Jack has the stuff on the mound to be a front line starter with a fastball that reaches over the 90 MPH plateau with a very hard slider. He is also a versatile outfielder who can play all three outfield positions and has gap power at the plate."

Dawson Sims, RHP, Stafford, VA/North Stafford

From Stafford, Sims is a local product who has found success on the mound. He helped North Stafford reach a regional semifinal game, and earned Conference Pitcher of the Year his junior year. He also played for the Richmond Braves travel program.

Stiffler on Sims 

"Dawson is a guy who has been in our camps over the last several years. We have had the ability to watch him grow during that time. He's a big strong right handed pitcher who has a projectable arm and a fastball that's already in the upper 80's. Dawson's ability to fill into his body and command a secondary pitch will give him the opportunity to earn innings on the mound throughout the season."

Tannor Sullivan, 3B, Fredericksburg, VA/Stafford 

Another product just north of Richmond from Fredericksburg, Sullivan is the #3 ranked third baseman in Virginia from PBR, and #4 from Perfect Game. He was Conference Player of the Year as a senior at Stafford High School, and was named to the PBR All-Virginia Team. He was also named Free Lance Star All-Area Player of the Year, and played travel for Tailor Made Mizuno.

Stiffler on Sullivan

""Every time we went out to see Tanner Sullivan he had two or three hits. That's what I think about every time I think about Tanner Sullivan: hit, hit, hit. Tanner is going to be a guy who will be in the middle of our lineup for several years here at VCU. He has the ability to drive the ball to all fields, as well as play both corner infield positions."

Hunter Vay, C, Chester, VA/Thomas Dale

Another Virginia product, he was ranked as the #6 catcher in Virginia by PBR. He was Conference Player of the Year as a senior and was named Second Team All-State. He played for the RISE Baseball Travel Program.

Stiffler on Vay

"We really felt Hunter was one of the best defensive catchers in the whole Mid-Atlantic region when we recruited him. He's a big, strong, athletic catcher with a plus plus arm. His physical tools and his mental game to help manage a pitching staff will help him see a starting role early in his career. He is a guy who is also athletic enough to move from out behind the plate and play a couple different positions in the field. His left-handed bat also gives us some versatility in the lineup."

Braxton Wilks, LHP, Sugar Land, TX/Episcopal HS/Kansas ST/McLennan/Abeline Christian 

Wilks is a three-time state champion in high school, and was a 2013 Under Armour Pre-Season All-American. While at McLennan, he was a NJCAA National Runner Up as a sophomore. He is a graduate transfer, coming in from Abeline Christian.

Stiffler on Wilks 

"We are excited to bring Braxton to VCU as he is transferring in from Abeline Christian where he sat out last year. He brings a wealth of experience at the Division I level, as he is a left-handed strike thrower that will bring depth not only to our rotation, but the rotation. His experience is going to pay dividends for our young guys on staff."