Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
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.
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.
With recruiting news beginning to pick up as prospects make official and unofficial visits during football season and as the early signing period for the 2014 class (Nov. 13–20) nears, this seemed like a good time for a baseball recruiting update, especially one focusing on 2014. Since I first posted the chart showing the 2014 commits in April, there have been two changes:
Michael Hendrickson: committed to the Wolverines in July (see Hello post).
Brandon Hughes: decommitted from Michigan and then committed to Michigan State in August. Hughes was the last of the Michigan commits who had originally pledged to former coach Rich Maloney, so this wasn't that surprising a development.
In the revised 2014 chart (posted in a reply for technical reasons), Hendrickson takes the place of Hughes, and the class remains nine-strong. I've updated the rankings as much as possible (lacking access to the pay-walled Perfect Game rankings, the only ones listed for that site are a couple that were reported at the time of the player's commitment). Michigan has three commits in PBR's overall top 50, covering a ten-state region:
- #18 Grant Reuss (#1 in Michigan)
- #46 Jayce Vancena (#7 in Ohio)
- #48 Rahman Williams (#11 in Illinois)
The chart includes a few new scouting reports (viewable by cursoring over the underlined text in the rightmost column), including this one for Williams, posted by Perfect Game in July:
Medium build with good strength in his lower half. Switch hitter, natural right hander, short rotational swing right handed, pull line drive contact, has some strength and bat speed. Open stance left handed, stays on his back side, short swing, contact approach. Sound infield actions, feet work well through the ball, light on his feet, shows good body control and range to the ball, good arm strength.
At least two of Michigan's commits appear to be in the conversation as potential 2014 MLB draft picks. Reuss is one, as PBR indicated in a June article on ten 2014 players "creating buzz on summer circuit":
Reuss continues to climb on Major league boards. . . . Really high ceiling. Arm works well. Up to 89mph for us. Command needs to improve to really be considered elite. Still feeling out his mechanics. Breaking ball spins well (71mph). Potential to be swing and miss pitch. Should be a high follow for major league scouts this coming spring.
Another is Drew Lugbauer. At the Nine Baseball site, Jeff Sullivan placed Lugbauer at #38 in his top 100 high school prospects for the 2014 MLB draft. Kiley McDaniel, a national baseball analyst for Scout, ranked Lugbauer #13 in his list of high school MLB draft prospects from the Northeast, projecting him as a potential 5th-rounder. Lugbauer was also included in Jonathan Mayo's rundown of top performers at a recent showcase hosted by the Mets at Citi Field:
Left-handed hitting catcher with power. Big and strong, good arm strength, other parts of his defense are developing.
Finalist for Ockimey
Michigan apparently still has scholarship money left for the 2014 class as they are in the final three for a top uncommitted prospect from Philadelphia, Josh Ockimey. A 6-4, 220-pound first baseman out of Neumann-Goretti H.S., Ockimey had originally committed to Arkansas but decommitted in August when the Razorbacks' associate head coach, Todd Butler, left to become the head coach at Wichita State. Not coincidentally, Wichita State is one of Ockimey's finalists, and he'll take an official visit there this coming weekend. He officially visited Michigan this past weekend and Indiana the weekend before. According to what he told Chris Webb in this blog post, Ockimey will choose from those three by October 5.
PBR has Ockimey ranked #6 in Pennsylvania and #53 overall, and they offered this assessment in a hot list posted earlier this month:
Ockimey is a physical beast in the box, standing at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. He has some holes in his swing, but shows raw power and is athletic. He has capable actions at first base with the potential to put it all together and be a run producing, middle-of-the-order hitter at next level.
He's also slotted at #98 in that Nine Baseball list of top high school prospects for the 2014 MLB draft.
That post from Webb mentions some 2016 prospects who have visited Michigan recently, including Dion Henderson (see PBR profile), a left-hand pitcher out of Dearborn Divine Child ranked #4 in the state by PBR. He's planning to make his college choice by the end of 2013. He holds a Michigan offer, with other possible destinations including Kentucky, LSU, and Vanderbilt. Another prospect recently offered by Michigan is Henderson's high school teammate Collin Goslin (PBR profile), also a lefty but in the class of 2015. PBR has Goslin ranked #3 in the state and #41 overall.
Note on title: The usual "Baseball Recruiting Update" for the main title seemed boring, so I tried to come up with something different. Also considered "Fishin'"—any thoughts, other ideas?
Daily has an article out on the 2013 Michigan baseball recruiting class. They claim the class is 16-strong, with two signees not previously mentioned on mgoblog—both junior college transfers from California:
- Jason Deitrich: 6-7 right-handed pitcher. Junior college transfer from Golden West College. His profile page there says he went 5-4 with a 4.57 ERA in 2013. He started out at Long Beach State, before his one year at Golden West.
- Jackson Glines: 6-0, 185-pound outfielder. Junior college transfer from Fresno City College. In 2013 Glines batted .373 with 4 HR and 29 RBI. This article on his commitment to Michigan has more details on his two years at Fresno City.
The Daily article also says Michigan has 30 players returning from last season, plus the 16 newcomers, which would put them well above the 35-man roster limit (which needs to be reached by the day before the first scheduled game). Anyone know if this is unusual? It's possible that several of the returning players are walk-ons, so it may be that the number of players on some type of scholarship is well below 46.
6-2, 175-lb. left-handed pitcher Michael Hendrickson announced on Twitter last night his commitment to Michigan. He's a rising senior at Saline High and is (to my knowledge) the 10th commit for Michigan baseball in the 2014 class (this thread has a chart listing the other nine).
Hendrickson is a good looking 2014 prospect. Standing at 6-foot-2 already he seems like he may have more to grow. From the mound Hendrickson was up to 83 MPH with his fastball and his breaking ball had some late tilt. He threw that pitch between 68-69 MPH. He threw his changeup for strikes as well, a pitch that he kept down nicely. Hendrickson also plays for Saline a perennial state title contender so he is sure to know the game.
In a May 2013 rundown, they had this to say:
Hendrickson struck out 13 hitters last night against Dexter. He sat between 82-84 mph early on with three pitches for strikes. Hendrickson, a Midwest Futures Games participant last summer, has been rounding into form recently.
I don't know where PBR has him ranked, but Michigan Baseball Prospects has Hendrickson at #21 in the 2014 class.