Penn State Nittany Lions Announce 2018 Early Signing Class

Greg Williams
Pennsylvania Director of Scouting

GOPSUSPORTSDOTCOM HOMEThe Penn State Nittany Lions and head coach Rob Cooper have announced the signing of eight players to National Letters of Intent, including four recruits from Pennsylvania, a transfer that played his high school baseball in Pennsylvania, two recruits from New Jersey and one from North Carolina. The Nittany Lions went 18-37 in 2017, including a 4-20 mark in the Big Ten Conference.



Image result for joey baran baseball paJoe Baran, LHP, Hazleton Area HS (PA), Lackawanna College
PBR Rank: #17 in PA Class of 2015 rankings 
PBR Notes:
Now 20 pounds heavier than when he was a high school senior, Baran brings a feel for three pitches including a low 90s fastball to State College. The lefty went 1-1 with a 3.74 ERA as a freshman in 2016 at Stony Brook prior to red shirting in 2017. Following a 2018 spring at Lackawanna, Baran will still have two years of eligibility remaining when he arrives at Penn State. The 5-foot-10, 190 pounder is one of three left-handed pitchers in this signing class that includes a total of four pitchers.

Cole ChesnetCole Chesnet, C, Archbishop Carroll HS
PBR Rank: #36 in PA Class of 2018 rankings 
PBR Notes:
2016 PBR Future Games (8/4/16) 5-foot-10, 175-pound backstop with advanced receiving skills. Soft glove hand, quick feet and solid arm strength. Threw out two base runners in game play and registered pop times of 1.95-2.01 on workout day. Right-handed hitter has simple approach at the plate with gap-to-gap approach. High energy player with definite leadership qualities. Committed to Penn State one day after the completion of the event.

Ryan FordRyan Ford, 3B, Freehold Township HS (NJ)
PBR Rank: #37 in NJ Class of 2018 rankings
PBR Notes:
 Garden State Games (6/14/17) Physical 6-foot-2, 200-pound left-handed hitter. Has showed well on the national travel circuit playing for the NJ Marlins and Tri-State Arsenal. Potential middle of the order bat with power potential from the left side of the plate. Projects as a corner infielder with the potential to also see time as a corner outfielder during his college career. Ford showed a glimpse of his offensive potential hitting .412 with three doubles, a triple and three home runs while driving in 22 runs as a sophomore in 2016. 

Hutch GagnonHutch Gagnon, LHP, Downingtown East HS 
PBR Rank: #22 in PA Class of 2018 rankings 
PBR Notes: (5/26/17) 
Our first look at the Penn State commit in nearly two years. Frame still gangly, but fastball velocity has spiked to 85-87. Velo dipped to 82 mph in the stretch as he was often late getting the ball out of his glove. Low-70s breaking ball has sweeping three-quarter action with some bite. Slight hesitation in rocker step with some hip coil over rubber. Generally pitched out of a three-quarter slot, although would sink lower at times, especially on breaking ball. Arm action remains loose and projectable. 

Click to edit entryBrendan Mullins, RHP, Toms River North HS
PBR Rank: #49 in NJ Class of 2018 rankings
PBR Notes: (4/1/17) 
Penn State recruit, currently ranked No. 30 in New Jersey's 2018 class and No. 13 for New Jersey's RHP. 6-foot-5 165-pounds tall, wiry frame with room for added muscle. Throws from 3/4 arm slot. FB 84-86 good arm side run with downward action. Change up 74-75 swing and miss downward run. Used change up primarily against lefty hitters as his out pitch. Curveball 68-69 11/5 break. Mullins got the win against Middletown North 4/8/17.

Image result for Isaiah Payton Episcopal AcademyIsaiah Payton, SS, Episcopal Academy 
PBR Rank: #68 in PA Class of 2018 rankings
PBR Notes: 
6-foot-1, 195-pound right-handed hitter with athletic frame and potential to play multiple positions at the next level. Above average foot speed and strong arm should give coaching staff options as to where Payton best fits defensively. Plays travel baseball with MSI Elite and follows Episcopal Academy teammate Kyle Virbitsky, a current Nittany Lion freshman, to State College.

Click to edit entryTyler Shingledecker, SS, Hough HS (NC) 
PBR Rank: #61 in NC Class of 2018 rankings
PBR Notes: 
6-foot-3, 165-pound left-hander with a long frame with plenty of room for strength gains over the coming years. Low 3/4 arm slot makes the lefty a very uncomfortable at bat for both hitters from both sides of the plate. Solid command of three-pitch mix with an advanced slider that shows the potential to be an out pitch at the next level. Sits mid-80s with additional velocity likely as he adds additional strength to his lanky frame.

Justin WilliamsJustin Williams, 3B, Cumberland Valley HS
PBR Rank: #20 in PA Class of 2018 rankings
PBR Notes: 2016 PBR Future Games
(2/12/17) 6-foot-2, 200-pound Penn State commit looks the part in a uniform. The right-handed hitter starts from a square stance and utilizes a controlled, leg-lift stride to initiate his swing. Long through the zone with an aggressive hip turn. Ball jumps off his bat with a bat exit velocity of 99 mph. Ran a 7.35 60-yard dash and showed above average glove skills around the bag at third base. Displayed active feet and the ability to make plays from multiple arm angles with 89 mph arm strength across the diamond.