Nov. 25, 2013
NEW ORLEANS - Tulane baseball's coaching staff has announced an eight-man signing class that will take the field for the 2015, right on the heels of a nationally-recognized signing class that will wear a Tulane baseball uniform for the first time this upcoming season.
The Green Wave have secured commitments from high schoolers Zach Warren (LHP - St. Augustine Prep H.S., Vineland, N.J.), Jackson Johnson (LHP - Ponte Vedra Beach H.S., Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.), Brandon Issa (RHP - Old Tappan H.S., Old Tappan, N.J.) Samuel Martin (1B/OF - Tampa Preparatory H.S., Tampa, Fla.), Nicolas Symington (UTL - Ridgewood H.S., Ridgewood, N.J.) and Brandon Sequeira (RHP - Jesuit H.S., New Orleans, La.) as well as two junior college right-handed pitchers in Patrick Duester and Eric Steel - both from St. John's River State College in Florida.
"This is a class that we needed to have to balance out the class we just brought in with so many young position players," said Tulane baseball head coach Rick Jones. "This class is pitching-heavy. I've never heard a coach say he wasn't excited about a recruiting class, and certainly, I'm no different."
The Green Wave coaching staff secured a nationally-ranked recruiting class that will take the field for the first time in Feb. 2014. They hope that the class they bring in for the 2015 season will combine with their most recent class to form a foundation that will get the Green Wave back to Omaha.
"With bringing in such a large class this year, there wasn't as much of a need for the 2014 class," said Tulane assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Jake Gautreau. "We identified the need on the mound, so we went out and tried to get as many arms as we could that could step in and pitch right away. We kind of built this class around arms, as well as utility players that can play at a variety of positions while helping us at the plate, as well."
"Zach is a very athletic left-hander who has an impressive three-pitch mix," stated Gautreau. "He is guy who is already a very talented pro-prospect. He has been compared to a young (Philadelphia Phillies pitcher) Cole Hamels."
Duester (6-5, 210 lbs.) is currently playing at St. John's River State College, a junior college in Palatka, Fla. During his freshman campaign, the right-handed pitcher helped his squad go 38-18 while starting on the mound. Duester played his high school ball at Astronaut High School in Titusville, Fla. The righty is equipped with a fastball in the low-90s while also owning a plus-slider and a changeup.
"Patrick is a strike-thrower with three plus pitches," stated Gautreau. "He is a guy we know will be able to come in and immediately pitch for us on the weekends."
Issa (6-4, 185 lbs.) is one of three New Jersey products the Green Wave have inked this fall. Issa has played first base and pitched for Old Tappan High School, but will be asked to focus his attentions on pitching for the Green Wave. Issa helped the Golden Knights go 17-11 during the 2013 season, including a perfect league record of 3-0. He is ranked as the 23rd best right-handed pitcher in New Jersey according to Perfect Game, thanks in large part to a fastball that is in the low-90s.
"Brandon Issa is big and physical, and he has a fastball in the low-90s," mentioned Gautreau. "From what I have seen, he has a really good curveball, and he throws a changeup as well."
Johnson (5-9, 155 lbs.) hails from Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., in the northwest part of the state. Johnson helped lead his town's namesake to the District 4-5A baseball title in April. Johnson has a fastball in the upper-80s, and he is also equipped with a curveball, slider and changeup. Perfect Game has him ranked as the 152nd best left-handed pitcher in the entire nation.
"Jackson reminds me a lot of one of our recent standout pitchers in David Napoli," said Gautreau. "He has a good arm, and he is a very hard worker who I know will have a great career here."
Martin (6-0, 185 lbs.), like Issa, starred as a first baseman and a pitcher at Tampa Preparatory. Martin will see most of his time in the field for the Green Wave, even though the lefty went 6-2 with a 2.22 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 53.2 innings during his junior season. At the dish, Martin hit .310 with four home runs and 24 RBI. Perfect Game has him ranked as one of the top ten first basemen in the state of Florida, and he ranks as the 68th best first base product in the nation.
"Sam Martin is an athletic, physical left-handed bat that we need in our lineup," stated Gautreau. "He is very valuable because he will be able to play several positions for us."
Sequeira (6-1, 185 lbs.) is a local product, playing his high school ball at Jesuit. While he played shortstop in high school, Sequeira will most likely see a majority of his time in a Green Wave uniform on the mound, as he has a fastball that reaches 92mph. Sequeira is ranked as the 20th best player in the state of Louisiana, according to Perfect Game.
"Brandon has a very quick arm, and is obviously very athletic as he played shortstop in high school," said Gautreau. "For us, he will be a guy we are counting on to pitch. I think the sky is the limit for him because he has a fresh arm."
Joining Duester from St. John's River State College at Tulane will be his teammate, Steel (5-10, 165 lbs.). Used primarily in relief at St. John's River State College last year, Steel notched a save in 17 appearances, totaling 24.1 innings. The sidearm-righty can change arm angles, and owns a slider that is deemed `filthy' by Gautreau.
"Eric is interesting in the fact that he can throw strikes from all different angles, whether it's from over the top, sidearm or submarine," said Gautreau. "He has a very good slider from the sidearm slot, and he is a guy who can either start for us or lockdown the backend of the bullpen."
Symington (6-0, 175 lbs.) is a touted as the third best shortstop in New Jersey, according to Perfect Game. Symington is a solid defensive infielder, and has speed to do damage on the base paths. He also starred on Ridgewood High School's soccer team, proving he has the footwork necessary to hold down the fort in the middle of the infield. During his sophomore year, Symington batted .363 with nine doubles, three triples and 18 RBI while swiping 15 bags while leading Ridgewood to their first state sectional championship since 1970. The third best shortstop in New Jersey, according to Perfect Game, Symington runs a 6.5 60-yard dash.
"Nico is very athletic, and can play in the middle of the infield, third base or even the outfield if he had to," said Gautreau. "He has a lot of ability athletically, and having played soccer growing up, he is just now starting to play baseball year-round. He's going to be a really good player for us, and has the ability to steal a lot of bases."
Even after 20 years at the helm of the Green Wave baseball program, Jones is still impressed by certain things he sees, one of which is his recruiting coordinator.
"Having been a recruiting coordinator and having had to recruit and coach during my time as a coach at the small college level while seeing what some former recruiting coordinators have done in the past, what Jake Gautreau is doing right now for Tulane baseball is going to bear a lot of fruit," said Jones.
The Green Wave will open the season against Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Feb. 14.
Season tickets for the 2014 Tulane baseball season are now on sale. For additional information, contact the Tulane Team Shop ticket office in person on the first floor of the James W. Wilson, Jr. Center Monday thru Friday 8:30 am to 5 pm. Information is also available over the phone at 504-861-WAVE (9283) or via the Internet at www.TulaneGreenWave.com.
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