Elite Local, National Talent Sign With Baseball During Early Period

TULANEGREENWAVE.COM One of two Archbishop Rummel standouts to sign with Tulane, Robby Broach went 11-1 with 91 strikeouts and a 1.42 ERA last season for the Raiders.
One of two Archbishop Rummel standouts to sign with Tulane, Robby Broach went 11-1 with 91 strikeouts and a 1.42 ERA last season for the Raiders.

Nov. 10, 2006

NEW ORLEANS, La. - The Tulane University baseball team added some local flavor for the 2008 season as Green Wave head coach Rick Jones announced the signing of high school seniors Blake Bennett, Robby Broach, Kirk Cunningham, Mike Lehman and Robert Segedin along with junior college sophomores Drew Allain, Mason Griffin, Sam Honeck and Cody Railsback Friday during the 2006 Early Singing Period.

Among the incoming freshman to sign National Letters of Intent during the early signing period, Broach (RHP, 6-0, 195) and Cunningham (OF/RHP, 6-0, 205) come to Tulane from nearby Archbishop Rummel High School, Bennett (INF, 6-0, 170) is from Mandeville (La.) High on the Northshore, and Lehman (RHP, 6-0, 185)signs from Pearl River Central (Miss.) High after spending his first two prep seasons at Archbishop Hannan High in Meraux, La.

Delgado Community College and former Holy Cross High standout Allain (OF, 6-2, 190) is the lone JuCo transfer with local ties and is joined on the transfer list by Grayson County College teammates Griffin (RHP, 6-1, 220) and Honeck (1B, 6-3, 220), and McLennan Community College standout Railsback (RHP, 6-4, 185). Segedin (3B, 6-3, 215), meanwhile, signed with the Green Wave after three seasons at Old Tappan High School in Bergen County, N.J.

"Our staff worked extremely hard all summer and fall to sign a group of young men who would be able to make an immediate impact on our program," Jones said. "The fruits of that hard work are evident in what I believe may be our finest class in my tenure at Tulane.

"It is a good balance of the best local prospects and top players from other parts of the country. It is a good mix of high school talent and proven junior college players. This class ensures that our program's momentum will not be compromised. This class, along with the new stadium and clubhouse, are proof that we will continue to remain one of the few schools in the country that combine world-class academics and a baseball program of consistent national prominence."

Outfielder/right-handed pitcher Kirk Cunningham was named to the American Legion World Series All-Tournament Team after helping Nationwide Realty win the national championship.

Broach and Cunningham highlight the list of local talent to join the Tulane baseball team after serving as teammates both at Rummel and at the American Legion level. The duo helped Nationwide Realty win back-to-back American Legion state championships, and win the national title in 2006. At the prep level, Broach and Cunningham, helped the Raiders earn consecutive trips to the state playoff semifinals, and the squad won the district title last season.

A standout kicker and punter on the Raiders' football team, Broach enters his senior season at Rummel as the 23rd rated prospect in the nation by Baseball America's Prospect Plus. A three-year starter at third base and on the mound, Broach is a two-time all-district nominee and claimed All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball as a junior. In 2006, the utility athlete was named to the all-state team and claimed MVP honors for the Metro Area and district after going 11-1 with 91 strikeouts and a 1.42 ERA in 59.0 innings on the mound and hitting .325 with eight doubles, four triples and two home runs at the plate.

Broach participated in the Tournament of Stars and earned a tryout with the U.S. Junior National team. With Nationwide Realty, he won the Bob Fellar Pitching Award at the 2006 American Legion World Series after posting a 2-1 record with one save, 30 strikeouts, 2.57 ERA and a .207 opponent batting average during the teams march to the title.

"Robby signing with us is a major statement about the state of our program," associate head coach and recruiting coordinator Mark Kingston said. "He is one of the best pitching prospects to come out of Louisiana in a long time. He comes to us from one of the best high school teams in the state and was the ace on the National Championship Legion team.

"His stuff is way beyond his years. He has a fastball that consistently reaches into the mid-90s and a hard breaking curveball. Look for Robby to make an immediate impact on our pitching staff."

Cunningham, meanwhile, is a two-year starter at Rummel and is expected to be named Preseason Prep All-American by Collegiate Baseball. As a position player, he saw time in the outfield and at third base, and hit .376 with 11 doubles, four triples and seven home runs. Although he is expected to move into a starter's role in 2007, Cunningham was the team's closer last season and posted 24 strikeouts in as many innings and picked up a pair of wins in relief.

Right-handed pitcher Mike Lehman earned first-team All-Mississippi honors in 2006 after posting an 11-1 record, a 0.95 ERA and 111 strikeouts at Pearl River Central High School.

He was named to the American Legion World Series All-Tournament Team after hitting eight doubles and driving in nine runs from the plate while posting a five strikeouts and a save out of the bullpen.

"Kirk is an old fashioned banger," Kingston said. "He hits the ball as hard as anyone you'll see and has the ability to give us big-time power. He's athletic enough to play the corners on the infield or outfield and runs well for a kid his size. He has championship experience and also throws 90 miles per hour off the mound. Kirk can easily be another quality two-way guy for us. He is as good a hitter as there is in this state."

Another player with local ties to sign with Tulane is Lehman. A native of Chalmette, La., Lehman played two seasons at nearby Hannan High School - which also produced former Green Wave Athletic and Academic All-American Tommy Manzella. He moved to Mississippi prior to the start of his junior season where he attended Pearl River Central.

As a junior with the Blue Devils, Lehman earned first-team all-state honors from the Mississippi Association of Coaches after posting an 11-1 record and a sparkling 0.95 ERA while striking out 111 and allowing just 32 hits in 66.0 innings. He helped lead PRC to its first division championship in school history.

Lehman also played summer ball for the Bill Hood Broncos and participated in the exclusive East Coast Professional Showcase where he was given a 9.5 ranking by PGCrossChecker.com.

A prep standout at Holy Cross, outfielder Drew Allain hit .310 with seven doubles, three triples, two homers and 29 RBI last season at Delgado Community College.

"Mike started out as one of the best pitchers in Louisiana, but comes to us as the best pitching prospect out of Mississippi," Kingston said. "He has a sinking fastball that reaches into the 90s and a hard, late-breaking slider. Mike showed all summer that he wants the ball in big games. His impact on our club will be felt immediately."

Allain, meanwhile, is a former Holy Cross High standout and current Delgado Community College sophomore. As a freshman with the Dolphins last season, Allain earned first-team All-Region 23 honors after hitting .310 (48-for-155) with a .432 slugging percentage on the strength of seven doubles, three triples and a pair of home runs. He paced Delgado with 11 steals and 48 runs scored while posting 29 RBI, and was named the top junior college pro prospect in the state by PGCrossChecker.com

At Holy Cross, Allain recorded a career .449 batting average while tallying 20 doubles, five triples, three home runs and 54 RBI. He scored 60 runs in 62 career games with the Tigers and showed a good eye at the plate with 36 walks and just 20 strikeouts in 185 at-bats.

A smooth-fielding middle infielder from Mandeville, Blake Bennet signed with the Green Wave after hitting .315 for the Skippers in 2006.

"Drew has been on our radar for a while," Kingston said. "We always looked at him as a tremendous athlete. Now, he has turned himself into a big-time baseball player. He took a big jump this summer and has carried it over to the fall. He is fast, strong and has a great approach to hitting. Drew gets better every time we see him, and his best days are definitely ahead of him."

Tulane's final local signee, Bennett, comes to Tulane from Mandeville High where he earned honorable-mention All-District 4-5A honors in 2006 after hitting .315. A smooth-fielding middle infielder with good speed, he also played in the Blue-Grey Showcase at Wake Forest University.

"Blake is an athletic middle infielder who has 6.8 speed," Kingston said. "As he gets stronger, he could turn into a very good player for us. He is very good defensively, and uses a very simple swing at the plate. With continued development, he can be a very valuable shortstop or second baseman for us."

A native of Old Tappan, N.J., third baseman Robert Segedin brings impressive credentials to the Green Wave. The 2006 North Jersey Player of the Year, Segedin is hitting .487 with 31 doubles, 10 triples and 11 home runs for his career.

Segedin comes to Tulane from Old Tappan High where he has earned all-league honors all three years to date. As a junior, he claimed first-team all-league, all-county and all-state honors and was named North Jersey Player of the Year after hitting .559 with eight home runs and 39 RBI. His batting average last year set a school record, as did his 57 hits and 17 doubles.

For his career, Segedin is hitting .487 (129-for-265) with a .804 slugging percentage courtesy of 31 doubles, 10 triples and 11 home runs. He has driven in 88 runs, scored 81 and stole 27 bases. A part-time pitcher as well, Segedin has appeared in 10 games on the hill where he has posted an 8-0 record, a 1.16 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 48.1 innings of work.

Segedin also played for the Bayside Yankees where he claimed MVP honors from the 2006 Senior Americans and the Premier Championship World Series. He also participated in both the East Coast Professional Showcase and the West Coast Area Code Games, and was given a 9.5 rating by PGCrossChecker.com.

"Rob hit the ball consistently hard as much as any hitter we saw all summer," Kingston said. "He played top competition all the time with the Bayside Yankees and always rose to the occasion. We feel he can be one of the top third basemen to enter college in the fall of '07. He has great size , arm strength, bat speed and also runs very well. He should have an outstanding career here at Tulane."

Right-hander Mason Griffin went 4-0 with 10 saves and a 1.23 ERA in 2006 for Grayson County College.

Honeck and Griffin are the other two teammates to join the Green Wave's early signing class as the duo teamed up last season at Grayson County College in Denison, Texas. The pair helped lead the Vikings to a 32-21 regular season and finish fourth in the North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference standings with a 20-12 league record.

In his first collegiate season, Griffin was a perfect 10-for-10 in save opportunities and also posted a 4-0 record, a 1.23 ERA and 24 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .241 batting average in 32.1 innings out the bullpen. He followed that up with an outstanding summer in the Clark Griffith Collegiate Baseball League where he led the summer wooden bat league with a 0.67 ERA.

With the Vienna Senators, Griffin appeared in 21 - including a pair of starts - posting a 6-0 record and four saves. He led the league with a 0.67 ERA, his 51 strikeouts ranked fifth in the CGCBL and he posted a 4.64 strikeout-to-walk ratio after issuing just 11 bases on balls in 54.1 innings of work. Following his summer performance in Vienna, Va., Griffin was named among the Top 10 pro prospects in the Clark Griffith League by PGCrossChecker.com.

Griffin teamed with current Tulane players Tim Guidry, Anthony Scelfo and Nate Simon, to help the Senators win the Clark Griffith championship, advance to the NBC World Series and finish the summer ranked 16th in the country.

"Our fans are going to love Mason," Kingston said. "He is the epitome of a closer. He always wants the ball and he always delivers. He throws from a variety of arm angles and pounds the strike zone. His fastball will be up to 90 with incredible movement and his slider is a knockout pitch at 82 miles per hour. His stats speak for themselves, but are more impressive when you see him go about his business. We can't wait for him to get here."

First baseman Sam Honeck earned first-team All-North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference honors in 2006 after hitting .352 with 15 doubles, two triples and a team-best eight home runs at Grayson County College.

Fellow first-team All-NTJCAC honoree, Honeck, hit .352 (63-for-179) with 15 doubles, two triples and a team-leading eight home runs. He also led the Vikings with 49 runs scored and a .446 on-base percentage while finishing second on the club with 44 RBI and 30 walks. Honeck was drafted by the New York Yankees following his performance last season at Grayson.

"We like Sam for the same reasons the Yankees did," Kingston said. "He is the prototypical left/left first baseman. He has great size and can hit for average and power. He is smooth around the bag and will be a real asset in our lineup. His left-handed swing will be a perfect complement to the power right-handers that will be around him. Sam has a chance to leave here a tremendous player."

A 20th round pick of the New York Mets in 2005, Cody Railsback posted a 7-2 record and a 3.98 ERA last season while striking out 42 batters and walking just 19 in 55.1 innings last season at McLennan Community College.

The final JuCo player to sign with Tulane during the early signing period is Railsback. A native of Denton, Texas, Railsback helped McLennan Community College post a 44-16 overall record en route to winning the North Texas Junior College Athletic Conference title and advance to the regional finals. As a true freshman with the Highlanders, Railsback posted a 7-2 record and a 3.98 ERA while striking out 42 and walking just 19 in 55.1 innings of work.

Railsback was a three-year letterman as a prepster at Denton Ryan High, which was ranked No. 1 nationally during his senior season, and was drafted in the 20th round by the New York Mets in 2005. He was a three-time all-district honoree and helped the team advance to the state championship game all three years. Railsback was selected to play in the AFLAC All-American Showcase, and claimed "Top Prospect" honors from PerfectGame.com in all six showcases he attended as a prep junior.

"Cody is the classic late bloomer," Kingston said. "He is tall and thin, and he continues to get better every year. His fastball will sit in the 91 range, touching 93. His breaking ball is also an out pitch. He competes very hard and should have a major impact on next year's staff. With his talent and work ethic, the sky is the limit for Cody."

The nine-member Early Singing Class stands as the most signed by the Green Wave in 14 years under the direction of Jones and the four junior college players are the most signed by Tulane since the 1999-2000 season when four transfers joined the team to help the squad earn its first trip to the College World Series.

2006 Tulane Baseball Early-Period Signees*

Name Pos. B/T Ht. Wt. Cl. Hometown (High School/Previous School)
Drew Allain OF R/R 6-2 190 Jr. New Orleans, La. (Holy Cross HS/Delgado CC)
Blake Bennett INF R/R 6-0 170 Fr. Mandeville, La. (Mandeville HS)
Robby Broach RHP R/R 6-0 195 Fr. Metairie, La. (Archbishop Rummel HS)
Kirk Cunningham OF/RHP R/R 6-0 205 Fr. Metairie, La. (Archbishop Rummel HS)
Mason Griffin RHP R/R 6-1 220 Jr. Euless, Texas (Trinity HS/Grayson County College)
Sam Honeck 1B L/L 6-3 220 Jr. Austin, Texas (Westlake HS/Grayson County College)
Mike Lehman RHP R/R 6-0 185 Fr. Pearl River, Miss. (Pearl River Central HS)
Cody Railsback RHP R/R 6-4 185 Jr. Denton, Texas (Ryan HS/McLennan CC)
Robert Segedin 3B R/R 6-3 215 Fr. Old Tappan, N.J (Old Tappan HS)
*based on their classification for the 2008 baseball season