Recruiting Notebook: Signing Period Recap

By Sean McCann
Prep Baseball Report - Kansas

Now that the NCAA early signing period has concluded we take a look at some of the more notable story lines from the week:

Price's Double Hail Mary

Kansas Coach Ritch Price and his staff made a strong push in the final two days of the early period with the signing of 7th-ranked C Tanner Gragg and 3rd-ranked RHP/3B Ryan Ralston (both of Blue Valley West HS).  Gragg gives the Jayhawks a durable, defensive-minded catcher whose arm strength is a game-changing tool.  College baseball coaches have adjusted their recruiting and style of play in response to the less effective BBCOR bats causing the game to be more “small ball” and speed oriented making a catcher with an arm like Gragg’s even more valuable.  With the addition of Ralston, Kansas has a potential early contributor in their weekend pitching rotation that also profiles out as a right-hand hitting power bat.

Kansas catchers stay home 

As we have mentioned in previous features the state of Kansas class of 2014 is loaded at the catching position and the four highest ranked backstops will play college baseball in the Sunflower state.  Kansas signed both Gragg and 6th-ranked TJ Martin (Blue Valley Southwest HS) last week.  Martin gives the Jayhawks an offensive catcher who could split time with Gragg behind the plate and also be in the line-up everyday as a DH when not catching.  Meanwhile the Shockers added both 5th-ranked Gunnar Troutwine (Shawnee Mission East HS) and Wichita-area product 8th-ranked Taylor Sanagorski (Bishop Carroll HS) to their catching corps.  Both are physical catchers with solid across the board tools with Sanagorski adding the additional element of being a switch-hitter, a rarity at the catching position.

Backyard-first recruiting

New Wichita State head coach Todd Butler and staff made Kansas high school baseball players a big part of their first fall recruiting class with six class of 2014 commitments: in addition to the aforementioned Troutwine and Sanagorski, the Shockers also picked up 11th-ranked RHP Tyler Jones (Andale HS), 12th-ranked IF Adam Thies (Olathe East HS), 20th-ranked OF Brett Fehr (Manhattan HS) and LHP/1B Alex Van Pelt (St. Thomas Aquinas HS). 

Big bat goes south

Halfway through the signing period, Arkansas State snuck into Kansas City and grabbed one of the more prolific right-handed hitters in the area by signing infielder Brett Andersen (Olathe East HS).  Andersen hit .434 with 18 doubles and a .531 on-base percentage as a junior.  The Red Wolves play in the Sun Belt Conference, a league with a long-standing reputation as one of the best college baseball conferences in the nation.  In fact, the Sun Belt is the 5th ranked conference by the NCAA Conference Rating Percentage Index (RPI) right behind the Big 12 Conference and ahead of the likes of the Big 10, Big West, Big East and Conference USA. 

Gorilla ball

Following up a breakout first season as head coach, Pittsburg State skipper Matt Murray was able to reel in two of the top 30 players in the 2014 Kansas high school class in 17th-ranked LHP/1B Christian Cedeno (Pittsburg HS) and #29-ranked RHP Drake Herrman (Blue Valley Southwest HS) in the early signing period.  Moves like this bode well for a program that looks to climb the ladder in the NCAA Division II MIAA Conference. 

Diamond in the rough

Fort Hays State signed 39th-ranked RHP Connor Boyer (SE Saline HS) one of the top players in Western Kansas.  Boyer, a relative unknown prior to the signing period, has been recommended to PBR Kansas by numerous sources as a prospect to follow.

Talent has no timetable

It’s interesting to note that in an era when high school juniors (and to some degree sophomores) are being pressured to make their college choice for fear of scholarship money drying up that three out of the top ten players in the state (Ralston, Gragg and Andersen) were able to juggle offers and pick their schools in mid-November of their senior year.   This shows that although timetables have always been a big part of college sports recruiting, talent has no timetable. 

For a complete list of Kansas high school baseball college commitments, click here.

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