BLACKSBURG, Va. – Virginia Tech baseball, with just over a week away from its final practice of the fall, is set on the 14 newcomers that will join the team for the 2012 season.
In replacing the 11 Hokies from last year’s senior class, Head Coach Pete Hughes brought in a collection of players form across the country, which includes 11 freshmen and three upperclassmen, and he is certainly pleased with his results.
“This incoming class is – top to bottom – the most athletic class that I have ever brought into a program in the 15-plus years I have been a head coach,” he said. “Hands down, physically and athletically, they are ready to play.
“When you have depth and options in the pitching staff and in positional players, it’s going to make for a pretty competitive practice environment and in day-to-day operations of the program and that’s what we want.”
With a number of everyday starters – second baseman Michael Seaborn, shortstop Tim Smalling and centerfielder Tony Balisteri – key backups – catcher Chris Kay and first baseman/designated hitter Matt Blow – and pitchers – starter Joe Parsons and relievers Brandon Fisher and Sean McDermott – now departed, there are definitely holes that need filled by returners or newcomers.
“Whoever is going to make the jump mentally in this class is going to determine who is going to play, because physically, they are all ready to play,” Hughes said.
Below is some information on all of the newcomers (listed alphabetically, to see more click on their name) with some comments from Coach Hughes.
Andrew Aizenstadt is a redshirt-senior pitcher, who transferred to Tech from Babson College and is from Norwell, Mass. He compiled an overall 17-4 mark for the Beavers in 26 starts and earned two saves in three relief appearances. He posted a 2.73 ERA in 178 innings with 157 strikeouts, nine complete games and three shutouts. In just three full seasons, Aizenstadt finished second on the school’s all-time list for wins and third in strikeouts, while he was named first-team all-conference in 2008, 2009 and 2011, earned the NEWMAC rookie of the year (2008), and was a two-time All-New England honoree.
Hughes says: “Andrew is working on his MBA. He’s mature beyond his years and has had a heck of a lot of success up in until this point and for us to get a kid like him in our program as refined a pitcher as he is, it doesn’t happen very often, so we are very grateful to have him. He is going to have impact innings immediately and that’s why he came to Virginia Tech.”
Logan Bible is a freshman outfielder from Raleigh, N.C. He played for Coach Chad Smothers at Leesville Road High School and earned varsity letters his last three seasons. He was a two-time Cap 8 All-Conference outfielder and also earned three letters and all-conference honors as a wide receiver for the Pride.
Hughes says: “Logan is one of our best athletes in this class and he’s very advanced defensively for a freshman and he should give us some depth in our outfield.”
Ryan Burns is a freshman infielder from Miami, Fla. He was a member of the South Miami High School team and earned two varsity letters for Coach Alex Hernanders. Burns was the team captain and earned all-conference honors as a senior after hitting four home runs and leading the team in RBI.
Hughes says: “Ryan is a high energy player. We are grooming him into a utility player, he can play all infield positions, and we are converting him into a catcher. Athletically, he has made that adjustment seamlessly and that’s tough to do. We really like him and he can play a lot of positions.”
Brendon Hayden is a freshman infielder/pitcher from Twin Lakes, Wis. He was a 36th-round selection by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2011 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft in June after lettering all four years on varsity while playing for Coach Josh Pye at Wilmot Union High School. Hayden was ranked the No. 4 pro prospect in Wisconsin by Baseball America and earned first-team all-state, Southern Lakes Conference player of the year, all-conference and all-area honors as a senior.
Hughes says: “Brendon is one of the more refined freshman hitters that I’ve coached and have seen come in. There really isn’t too much wrong with his swing, it’s ready to hit at this level. We are really excited to see what kind of athlete he is – he’s 6-foot-6 and can play in the middle of the infield, so that tells you how special he is and his best years are ahead of him.”
Carson Helms is a freshman outfielder from Farmington, Conn. He played for Coach Mike McGuire at Farmington High School and earned three varsity letters. Helms accolades include Rawlings preseason All-American honorable mention and Northeast Region First Team … Batted .474 as a senior with 36 hits (11 doubles, three triples, two home runs) and had a .776 slugging percentage and scored 29.
Hughes says: “Carson is another piece to this class. He can really run. He’s got strength; he has a short, quick swing, and he has been impressive offensively. He’s got a chance to be a plus defender in the outfield and could compete for playing time.”
Sean Keselica is a freshman left-handed pitcher out of Glen Gardner, N.J. He earned three varsity letters playing for Coach Sparky Mattson at Voorhees High School. During his senior year, he posted a 10-1 record (set school record for wins in a single season) with a 1.16 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 60.1 innings. In 2011, Keselica was named first-team all-state, all-group 2, all-west Jersey, all-conference, all-county and all-area, and was the Express Times and Hunterdon Democrat player of the year.
Hughes says: “Sean is really going to help us in a two-way capacity. He’s strong, the ball jumps off his bat, and he’s a very good left-handed hitter. He can play first base, he can play the outfield, and we really like him off the mound.”
Alex Mariscal is a freshman right-handed pitcher from Elcajon, Calif. He earned a pair of varsity letters playing for Coach Steven Vickery at El Capitan High School. As a reliever in 2011, was 1-1 with a 1.66 ERA in 25.1 innings and earned GVC honorable mention.
Hughes says: “Alex is a submariner who is trying to work on some strength and make a jump physically for his stuff to work at this level.”
Tanner McIntyre is a junior right-handed pitcher, who transferred to Tech from Butte Community College, and is from Corning, Calif. With the Roadrunners, he compiled an overall 12-6 mark in 26 starts and earned one save in two relief appearances. He posted a 4.02 ERA in 163.1 innings with 147 strikeouts, two complete games and one combined shutout and was once named Golden Valley All-Conference and All-Academic.
Hughes says: “Tanner is a junior-college guy that brings maturity to our pitching staff and he is a very good athlete. He has a feel for four pitches and he is a strike thrower. We like having him as an older presence in our pitching staff and he will add depth. He is ready to pitch now, a really good addition.”
Alex Perez is a freshman infield/pitcher out of Miami, Fla. He was a four-year letter winner for Coach Oscar Benitez at Immaculata-LaSalle High School. Perez was named the school’s athlete of the year as a senior and also garnered Miami Herald pitcher of the year, first-team all-county and first-team Miami-Dade recognition.
Hughes says: “Alex is a two-way player, he can play all infield positions and is a very accomplished pitcher, as well. He is a plus defender and he looks to compete for an infield spot as a freshman. But we really like him on the mound, too, and we are excited about that.”
Kyle Prats is a freshman outfield and is also another Miami, Fla. native. He played for two different schools – two years (2008-09) for Coach Tony Meilan at Belen Jesuit and two years (2010-11) for Coach Joe Weber at Christopher Columbus – earning four varsity letters. He was the team’s MVP as a sophomore and earned a pair of all-Miami-Dade honors.
Hughes says: “Kyle gives us a dimension that we haven’t had in our program in awhile, which is – offensively, he can have an impact with the short game and bunting. He’s as good as it gets with the short game and he can really run and he brings that athleticism to the outfield as well.”
Gary Schneider is another junior transfer, coming to Tech from Maryland, and is from Germantown, Md. A utility guy, Schneider played in 57 games with 17 starts for the Terrapins. He batted .388 with 31 hits (six doubles, a triple, a home run), 16 runs and 15 RBI. He also threw six innings with five strikeouts and three earned.
Hughes says: “Gary is another kid who adds some maturity to our program. He’s been around and played in the ACC, so he knows how a Division I program runs. He is one of the better athletes in our program, he’s explosive and he can do lots of things. He has raw power and he could factor into our bullpen. There is a multidimensional kid with maturity and ACC experience, so he was a really good offseason get.”
Matt Snyder is a freshman left-handed pitcher from Albany, N.Y. He pitched for Coach Kevin Halburian at Colonie Central High School, earning a pair of letters. As a senior, he compiled a 5-2 record in 11 games pitched, tossing 48.2 innings for the Garnet Raiders with a 2.16 ERA and 61 strikeouts. Snyder was named First-Team Suburban Council All-Star and Perfect Game First-Team North-East All-Region.
Hughes says: “Matt is a freshman left-hand pitcher with tremendous upside. Right now he is working on a lot of things athletically, if he can make that jump, he is going to be a really good pitcher here. He has good arm strength and a good feel for two secondary pitches.”
Isaac Sterman is a freshman left-handed pitcher out of Stamford, Conn. He earned three letters playing for Coach Matt Sawyer at Williston Northampton High School. He was named the Cleary Division pitcher of the year in 2011 and an all-conference member. Sterman also earned four letters for the Wildcats in diving and two in water polo, which helped him to be honored with the Williston’s Denman Award for excellence in athletics as a senior in 2011.
Hughes says: “Isaac is a left-handed pitcher with good arm strength, who we think is going to progress into a serviceable member of our pitching staff. He fits the mold for our league and what we needed in our pitching staff.”
Mark Zagunis is a freshman catcher from Cinnaminson, N.J. He earned varsity letters all four years while playing for Coach Steve Paolini at Holy Cross High School. Zagunis made 103 career starts for the Lancers and finished with a .538 average with 30 home runs, 156 runs scored and 153 RBI. He was named all-state, all-conference and all-county and was a 2011 Louisville Slugger High School All-American.
Hughes says: “Mark is a talented freshman catcher. He’s physical and he’s the fastest player on our team and he’s strong enough right now to play in the ACC. He can throw, he’s strong enough and fast enough to play in this league and we’re happy that we’ll have a solid No. 2 behind Morgan.”
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