there would have to be some to wash away
Continuing to clean up in the Chicago area, Erik Bakich, recruiting coordinator Nick Schnabel, and the entire Michigan staff received more good news tonight, with word of the verbal commitment of Ako Thomas, a 5-8, 150-pound second baseman from Chicago's Mount Carmel High School, class of 2015. Prep Baseball Report had this to say about him in a July 2013 hotlist:
At 5-foot-7, 150 pounds, Thomas may be one of the smallest participants at the Midwest Future Games, but he plays big on the field. He served as Mount Carmel’s starting second baseman on the Caravan’s Class 4A state championship squad, teaming with shortstop Jerry Houston (Oregon recruit) to comprise arguably the best infield in Illinois. Thomas is a hard-nosed player who makes everything look routine. He also has a knack for barreling up baseballs and getting on base.
Here's more from PBR taken from an August rundown following the Midwest Future Games:
It’s not often that a high school second baseman, much less one that is 5-foot-8, stands out. But Thomas proved over the three days that he can flat hit. He seldom swings and misses, and always seems to find the barrel. He led Team Illinois with five hits, including a leadoff double.
PBR also published a feature on Thomas in September—Diminutive Ako Thomas Not Limited by Size—that mentions him planning to visit Michigan in November and also having been in contact with Missouri and Iowa. Perfect Game mentioned Thomas in an item on a September event:
Ako Thomas is also an intriguing prospect. Listed at just 5-feet-8, 150-pounds, he hits cleanup in Gravel’s batting order and has proven time and again he can handle himself well both at the plate and while patrolling second base. Thomas (2015, Chicago) was named the Most Valuable Player at the 15u PG World Series after hitting .455 (10-for-22) with 12 runs scored and five RBI.
“I was just feeling good; that was the best tournament I had that year,” he said Friday. “I knew there was a ring in it for us and I really wanted to win that ring.”
PBR has Thomas ranked #15 in Illinois and #69 overall in the 2015 class. I don't know his current Perfect Game ranking, but in late 2012 he was ranked #150 nationally.
Here are the PBR overall rankings (encompassing their ten-state coverage area) for Michigan's five 2015 commits:
- 8. Charlie Donovan (Hello post)
- 30. Nick Plummer (Hello post)
- 69. Ako Thomas
- 193. Nick Azar (Hello post)
- 217. Andrew David (Hello post*)
*Hello post is Ace's from the front page. David will be on a football scholarship, but he evidently also plans to play baseball at Michigan.
Just two days before the beginning of the early signing period, Michigan has added to its impressive 2014 class with the commitment tonight of Ryan Nutof, a 6-2, 185-pound right-handed pitcher who emerged during the summer as one of the top uncommitted 2014 prospects in the Midwest. PBR posted this eval in a July rundown of players creating buzz:
It’s not often that high-end prospects fly under our radar for this long, but that has been the case of the hard-throwing Nutof. In a 10-day span this June, Nutof lit it up in three short-pen outings. The first was at the Black and Silver, when he came out firing 89-91 mph fastballs. His arm is quick, loose and athletic. He showed feel for three pitches and the ability to pound the strike zone. He was 88-91 in his other two outings as well. South Elgin doesn’t have a track record of producing high-level prospects, but the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder has significant upside and a live arm.
In a PBR feature posted in September, Nutof said he had taken visits to Michigan State, Northwestern, and Ball State and had "also received considerable interest from Wichita State, Pepperdine and several other schools." PBR has Nutof ranked #15 in Illinois and #68 in their ten-state region. As the chart below of the Wolverines' ten-member class shows, Michigan has now gained commitments from six prospects in PBR's overall top 100 for 2014—and three of those six are from the Chicago metro area, which has turned into fertile recruiting ground for Erik Bakich and his staff. Michigan also landed two 2013 players from Chicagoland—Nick Kowalczuk and Keith Lehmann—and they have a commitment from the #1 player in Illinois for 2015, Charlie Donovan from Westmont H.S.
Today was awful, but maybe this cheers some people up.
Seeming to have been lost in the shuffle of a long sports day dominated by College Football (with a sprinkling of Michigan Soccer and Michigan hockey mixed in), World Series Game 3 was played Saturday night.
I admittedly paid very little attention to it, somewhat due to being burned out on baseball due to yet another disappointing end to the season for the Tigers. I only checked the score from time-to-time, finally tuning in during the 8th inning as the Red Sox tied it up with a 2-run rally 4-4, then paying close attention in the 9th.
What unfolded then is something I have never seen in any MLB game, let alone a Post Season game: a walk-off obstruction call:
(hoping it embeds properly)
In a nutshell, for those who haven't seen it: Cards, with one down in the bottom of the 9th, got a single by Molina. Boston went to their closer, Koji Uehara, who immediately gave up a 1st pitch double to the next hitter. Runners on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out, the Red Sox strangely chose to pitch to the next hitter rather than load up the bases via intentional walk to set up the force.
It looked, momentarily, like the move worked, as the next hitter, on a 1-strike pitch, grounded to 2nd to a pulled-in infield, Pedroia making a diving stop and springing to his feet, easily throwing out Molina at home. Boston's catcher Saltalamaccia then fired off-line to the right side of 3rd, the ball bouncing off 3rd baseman Middlebrooks glove to the wall behind 3rd base (where it juts out), the ball then bouncing directly to the Red Sox left fielder, who fires home for what appears to be the double play.
Problem is, Sox 3B Middlebrooks got tangled with the runner, who in his clumsiness, tripped over Middlebrooks legs before trying to score. Thrown out by a couple feet, but Jim Joyce (remember him?) immediately (and correctly, IMO) called "obstruction of the baserunner", which meant the runner advances, scoring the winning run.
What a weird finish...
Well I know we're still sad about the Tigers not being in this series, but, it's a slow day and it's still the first game of the world series. They're in the bottom of the 1st and now the umps got themselves in trouble by calling Pedroia out in second and now calling it back, as it was clear it was safe... discuss?
Baseball America today released their recruiting class rankings for 2013, and while Michigan's class didn't make the top 25, it was included among the "next ten," which were simply listed alphabetically. They said the class is probably the program's best in eight years:
Michigan: It did not take second-year head coach Erik Bakich and recruiting coordinator Nick Schnabel long to infuse talent into their roster; their first recruiting class looks like the Wolverines’ best since their banner 2005 haul. The centerpiece is RHP/IF Jackson Lamb (306), an athletic former all-state basketball player who can reach 93 off the mound and can run a 6.7-second 60-yard dash. OF Johnny Slater has a loose lefthanded swing with power potential and excellent range in the outfield. Ramsey Romano is versatile enough to play all over the infield and owns a short, repeatable righthanded swing. Two-way talent Hector Gutierrez can play shortstop or second and can reach 92 off the mound when he is at his best.
Nebraska, ranked #11, was the only Big Ten team to make the top 25. Minnesota was included among the "other notable classes."
Bakich and his staff are putting together another very good recruiting class for 2014, and they are off to a great start on 2015. Michigan baseball seems on track to return to its traditional place at the top of the conference.