alternate headline: man does job
McCabe in the Freep has a nice, lengthy article on 2013 Michigan baseball signee Hector Gutierrez: Detroit Western's Hector Gutierrez hopes to encourage more kids to pursue college baseball dreams. There are a lot of firsts in the article:
Gutierrez is the first PSL athlete to receive a baseball scholarship to U-M since Detroit Northwestern’s Kourtney Thompson signed a letter of intent in 1985.
The biggest factor is that PSL baseball is the polar opposite of PSL basketball. College basketball coaches flock to Detroit to ogle the talent. College baseball coaches? Not so much.
“I know how it is in basketball, but in baseball they say a lot of inner-city kids don’t have it anymore,” Gutierrez said. “But it’s starting to come around now.”
That’s thanks to coach Juan Sanchez and his cousin, Mike, who have turned Western into a program that can compete with the top teams in the state.
Nice reaction from his parents:
Making Gutierrez’s commitment and eventual signing of a letter of intent so spectacular was the reaction of his parents.
“You just committed!” his parents screamed. “You’re going to college!”
Gutierrez, an honor student with a 3.5 grade-point average, was always headed to college, even if he had never played baseball.
Baseball just made college more affordable for the family.
“I started thinking about college when I was a freshman,” he said. “I thought baseball would help me get into college. I’m going to be the first to go to college, so I want to make them proud.”
Gutierrez will be the first member on either side of his family to go to college. He also will be the first male in his immediate family to finish high school.
And great quotes from both Hector Sr. and Jr.:
“For me, this has always been my dream — my kid going to college and Division I and it’s Michigan!” Hector Sr. said as tears welled in his eyes. “I don’t want him to follow in my footsteps. I want him to be bigger than what I am. I tell him not to be a laborer, own a company.”
Right now Hector Jr. is happy to be living his father’s dream, one he hopes others from Detroit will be able to experience.
“I know there haven’t been many Detroit guys going to college to play baseball,” he said. “Nobody was prepared to go to college. I don’t think it was in their heads to go to college.
“Maybe it will be now.”
It's worth noting that Gutierrez has generated some draft buzz, which isn't mentioned in the article. Prep Baseball Report's Draft Blog has included posts on him, along with two other Michigan signees, Jackson Lamb and Johnny Slater. St. Louis Sports Scouting also posted an item on Gutierrez in March that says this:
I do like Gutierrez as a possible late round draft pick, but will that be enough to lure him from his full ride….I will check back on this after June’s draft!
It sure seems like from the Freep article that Gutierrez would have to go much higher than a late round to consider forgoing college, so hopefully he does make it to Ann Arbor. He sounds like the epitome of a Wolverine student-athlete.
The early signing period came and went without Michigan issuing a press release on the signees; they perhaps will do so following the regular signing period in the spring. In any event, it appears that the new staff signed about a dozen prospects and did a great job of hanging onto several players who had committed under Rich Maloney, as well as getting LOIs from several others in the short time they had to work with. The focus here is on 2013, but Erik Bakich and company have already also secured several 2014 commits and one from 2015. Their success on the recruiting trail has led to talk about a faster-than-expected turnaround for the program. In a Q&A posted in November, B1G Baseball blogger Chris Webb got this response from Jordan Banfield, a Texas Rangers scout and coach of an Ann Arbor travel team:
CW: Under Bakich, Michigan has been extremely aggressive and in those early classes [meaning 2014 and 2015] they surged to the front of the conference. Being in that region, what have you noticed first-hand with the approach Michigan has led by recruiting coordinator Sean Kenny?
JB: Aggressive is certainly the right term. They locked up the top 2013 in Michigan within a couple weeks of being hired and haven’t stopped getting commits since. Having only been on campus for a few months now and with the sheer number of guys they’re getting it’s obvious those guys are really hitting the road.
I think the biggest difference I see with this staff is that they have three coaches who are always out seeing guys. When your entire staff recruits it makes an incredible difference in terms of how much ground you can cover. With the number of kids they’re bringing in from across the country and some 2012 guys who look like early contributors I think there’s the potential for a quick turnaround in Ann Arbor.
This post covers just the seven in-state signees as it proved unwieldy to include the entire class. The signees from outside Michigan will be covered in a separate post. Following the intro below are additional (mostly recent) links and quotes relating to the signees.
The In-State Signees and Their Rankings
Last month, Prep Baseball Report posted a nice summary of Michigan's in-state signees that includes a brief scouting report on each player and links to their PBR profile pages where further information is often available. Below is their list of the seven recruits with their PBR rankings. Michigan signed four of PBR's top 10 in-state prospects, including Jackson Lamb, who is ranked #9 overall by PBR (overall meaning the eight-state region that the site covers).
Brett Adcock LHP-6-1-190 (Bay City Western HS)
PBR State Rank: 3
Overall Rank: 31
Carmen Benedetti 1B/LHP- (Grosse Point South HS)
PBR State Rank: 20
Overall Rank: 150
Hector Gutierrez SS/RHP-6-0-165 (Detroit Western International HS)
PBR State Rank: 9
Overall Rank: 93
Jackson Lamb RHP/OF-6-6-196 (Temperance-Bedford, Mich. / Bedford HS)
PBR State Rank: 1
Overall Rank: 9
TJ Shook RHP-6-3-190 (University of Detroit Jesuit HS)
PBR State Rank: 5
Overall Rank: 38
Johnny Slater OF-6-1-170 (Southfield Lathrup HS)
PBR State Rank: 33
Harrison Wenson C-6-3-225 (University of Detroit Jesuit HS)
PBR State Rank: 17
Overall Rank: 192
Three of Michigan's signees figure in the top 10 of Michigan Baseball Prospects' 2013 rankings:
From MLive: Bay City Western's Brett Adcock signs with Michigan—includes a brief video; here's a quote from his coach:
Coach Tim McDonald: “It doesn’t take a baseball genius to figure out he’s very talented and very gifted in terms of natural ability. He’s dominating when things are right, and I’m sure that’s why Michigan is taking a chance on him. He has a huge upside.”
I couldn't find anything recent for Gutierrez, so instead here's a video of him pitching, from the Detroit Arsenal RBI site.
Mick McCabe wrote a nice feature on Lamb for the Free Press, focusing in part on his choosing baseball over basketball. Also, as the article mentions, Lamb is likely to be selected in the 2013 draft, so there's a possibility he won't end up playing for Michigan—maybe a good possibility given his choice of words when asked about it:
His shot at baseball is so good, he will likely be chosen in the baseball draft, but he might not be a high pick since signing to attend U-M.
"You can't really tell until it actually happens," Lamb said. "You don't want to get your hopes up too much and then you're disappointed. Worse case scenario, I go to Michigan, which is a great opportunity."
MLB Prospect Guide has Lamb ranked #223 on its list of the top 300 prospects for the 2013 draft. (Side note: Michigan junior outfielder Michael O'Neill is listed at #56.)
One last item on Lamb: In the B1G Baseball Q&A mentioned above, Banfield selected Lamb as one of the top Big Ten commits in the 2013 class:
CW: Not every standout participates in fall ball, Michigan commit Jackson Lamb, for example, was not in Jupiter. With all prospects on the table, as the fall concludes how would you rank the top five or so Big Ten commits out of the Great Lake states that you’ve seen?
JB: Assuming we’re talking strictly about the 2013 class, Farmer and Lamb to me are in a league of their own as prospects.
I talked quite a bit about Farmer earlier, Jackson Lamb is a guy that isn’t all that well known nationally because so much of his time has been spent playing basketball and not traveling the country attending showcases/tournaments. We’re talking about a talent that doesn’t come through the state of Michigan very often.
First off, he’s 6’7 and extremely athletic, a legitimate 2-way player in college, people don’t think guys that tall can hit, well I’m here to tell you he can. His swing is incredibly short for being as big as he is and he’ll be an above average defender in right. As a pro prospect he’s obviously a pitcher who is extremely raw right now but throws strikes and I have no problem projecting him to throw 95-98 with low effort. Everyone knows about Trey Ball who’s way more polished than Jackson but the tools really aren’t that far off. Presently Farmer is way closer to being a B1G contributor on the mound, but in the long run I can’t pass on Lamb.
Here's a quote from a U of D Jesuit signing day press release:
Shook did not disappoint in 2012 either. The number 5 ranked player in the state of Michigan according to Prep Baseball Report, Shook was named to the All League and All District teams in 2012.“I am blessed to have the opportunity to be a student-athlete at the University of Michigan. It has always been a dream of mine to play at a high level Division I university. I am really looking forward to playing under Coach Bakich and the rest of his staff.” Shook adds, “Go Blue!”
A MIPrepZone signing day article features a brief video and this:
“I’m very excited to become a Michigan Wolverine,” said Slater after penning his letter of intent. “I focused on improving my skills every year since I was a freshman and that focus paid off. I’ve made a big jump in my play and I intend to keep making further jumps over the next year, prior to getting up to Ann Arbor.”
Slaters’ versatility might be his most appealing attribute. A smooth and savvy lefty, Slater is a specimen, terrorizing opponents whether pitching, hitting, running the base paths or on defense in centerfield.
Last season, he sported a whopping .576 batting average.
Darren Mosley, the Chargers’ skipper, can’t say enough about his star player.
“Johnny is a great kid, a great baseball player and a great student, what more can you ask for?,” he said. “He’s incredibly humble and he leads by example. We’ve put a lot of pressure on him these past couple of seasons and he’s always delivered.”
Wenson, a teammate of Shook at U of D Jesuit, also figured in the press release linked above:
Wenson is coming off an All-State season, as well as being named to the Dream Team in 2012, after hitting over .400 during the spring.“I chose the University of Michigan because I have grown up in a Michigan house. My father played baseball there and I am proud to carry on that tradition,” Wenson said. “I feel honored to play at such an elite university and am excited to learn under Coach Bakich and his staff.”
Wenson's father, Paul Wenson, played baseball at Michigan in 1985–86 before spending three years in the Detroit Tigers minor-league system, including playing for the Mud Hens for part of the 1989 season (see his Baseball-Reference.com page).
Hector Gutierrez has committed to play baseball at Michigan, according to Prep Baseball Report:
MI: No. 9 Hector Gutierrez, RHP/SS, Detroit Western International, 2013 commits to play at the University of Michigan.— Prep Baseball Report (@prepbaseball) August 17, 2012
Google led me to little information about Gutierrez. But in addition to being PBR's #9 player in the state of Michigan for 2013, Michigan Baseball Prospects has Gutierrez ranked #7 in their 2013 rankings. So along with Jackson Lamb, this is the second top-10 in-state player that Erik Bakich has landed in the short time since his hiring.
Original caption: Detroit Western Cowboys sophomore pitcher Hector Gutierrez tries to close out the 5th inning during the quarterfinal MHSAA baseball championship game in Ann Arbor on Tuesday, June 14, 2011. Photo source.