ASU Baseball signs 8 players during early signing period

JONESBORO, Ark. (11/30/10) – Arkansas State head coach Tommy Raffo announced Monday the signing of eight student-athletes during the early signing period who will join the Red Wolves baseball team for the 2012 season.

"I would like to commend the efforts of assistant coaches Chris Cook and Justin Meccage for a quality early signing period for ASU Baseball," said Raffo. "They have spent a lot of time on the road identifying and evaluating the right student-athletes for ASU Baseball."

"We had three goals in mind going into the early signing recruiting process.  First, we wanted to find young men that show a passion, toughness and a "want" to play for ASU Baseball.  Second, we wanted to continue to create a balance for future Red Wolf teams by recruiting pitching and filling in our need at catching and outfield.  Third, each young man we recruit must be able to compete and win in the Sun Belt quickly. We feel that these young men give us a great recruiting base for the 2012 team."

Drew Burks joins the Red Wolves after playing at Coffeyville Junior College. He is a Cabot, Ark. native and the son of former ASU football player Steve Burks, who played three seasons in the NFL for the New England Patriots. The 6-6, 220 lb. outfielder is a switch hitter. At Coffeyville, he batted .340 and broke the school RBI record with 58 as a sophomore, earning honorable mention All-Region, tied the doubles record (15) and broke the hitting record as a freshman. Burks played high school baseball at Cabot High School, earning All-Conference honors all four years

"Drew is a switch-hitting corner outfielder that brings middle of the order capability with his bat.  He is athletic, strong-armed and a run producer who has shown that in his first year at Coffeyville CC. His current coach is Andy Morgan at Coffeyville.  Drew also played his high school ball at Cabot H.S for Jay Fitch. His father is an ASU football alumnus who has played professionally."

Stuart Levy comes to ASU from Benton High School in Little Rock, Ark. The 6-3 right-handed catcher earned 7A All-Conference honors all three years in high school and was a member of Team USA Midwest Region in 2009.

"Stuart is very good defender at the catching position with a plus arm behind the plate.  He has the opportunity to step in and help us behind the plate right away. His current coach is Mark Ballesteri at Benton High School.  It is the same high school that current pitcher Andy Ferguson attended."

Calvin Kniffin is a 5-9 right handed pitcher out of Georgetown High School in Georgetown, Texas. During 2010 Kniffin had a 2.63 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 16 innings of relief work. He gave up just 12 hits against 69 batters faced.

"Calvin is a highly rated right-handed pitcher from Georgetown high school in Georgetown, Texas.  We feel that Calvin can compete right away in the Sun Belt Conference.  He throws three pitches for strikes, has good velocity and a plus breaking ball.  He is coached by Danny Wallace at Georgetown High School."

Jake Bax is the first of a trio of pitchers the Red Wolves have signed out of Jefferson County Community College. Bax is a 6-2, 225 lb. left-handed pitcher from Freeburg, Mo. During his first year at Jefferson County, Bax held opponents to a .154 batting average. During his four years at Fatima High School, Bax was named All-State, All-Conference and All-District for three years. He was named All-Conference MVP two years and was All-District MVP one year.

"Jake is the first of three pitchers signed from Jefferson County Community College under coach Sam Carel at Jefferson College.  Jake is a left-handed pitcher that can fill up the strike zone with a quality fastball and good off-speed pitches.  He has the ability to step right in and compete in the Sun Belt Conference."

Morgan Croft is a 6-4 right handed pitcher from Eastern Oklahoma State Community College. He played his high school baseball at Broken Arrow High School in his hometown of Broken Arrow, Okla. During high school he earned All-Conference and All-Metro honors and played in the East/West All-Star Game in Oklahoma.

"Morgan is from Eastern Oklahoma State CC in Wilburton, Okla.  Morgan is a big, strong right-handed pitcher that has a feel for pitching and has potential to help our pitching staff in many different roles. He is coached by Aric Thomas."

Tyler Thompson is a 5-9 right-handed pitcher from Jefferson Community College. He played his high school baseball at South Pemiscot High School in Steele, Mo. While at South Pemiscot he was an All-State selection as a senior in 2010.

"Tyler is also from Jefferson College in Hillsboro, Mo.  Tyler is a very talented right-handed pitcher who will have the ability to come in and compete for a spot at the top of our rotation"

Seth McWilliams is a 5-10 right-handed pitcher out of Three Rivers Community College. McWilliams is a Rolla, Mo. native and played high school baseball at Rolla High School, where he earned All-District as a third baseman and second-team All-Conference as a pitcher.

"Seth is from Rolla, Mo. and attends Three Rivers Community College.  Seth throws from an arm angle that can be very difficult for hitters to pick up.  He throws with movement and does a great job of competing on the mound.  Seth is coached by Stacey Burkey."

Rounding out the recruiting class is Justin Sprenger the third player signed out of Jefferson Community College. Sprenger played his high school baseball at Washington High School in Washington, Mo. Sprenger was named a six-time Ninth District American Legion All-Star and was a first team GAC North All-Conference performer while setting the Washington High School strikeout record. During his first year at Jefferson, Sprenger pitched 27.1 innings with a 2.96 ERA and 27 strikeouts.

"Justin is the final signee from Jefferson Community College. Justin is a right-handed pitcher with a lot of upside that has a tremendous future ahead of him. Justin comes from a great program that has had a lot of success."