This second part of a rundown of Michigan baseball’s 2013 recruiting class focuses on those hailing from outside Michigan. The first part covered the seven in-state players reported to have signed LOIs during the early signing period. While some of the in-state signees had been recruited to Michigan by the previous coaching staff, all seven of the 2013 recruits from outside the state committed to the Maize and Blue since Erik Bakich’s hiring. Most are from nearby states, including two from Illinois and one each from Indiana and Kentucky, but two are Californians and the final one was originally from South Dakota before spending three years at a junior college in Illinois.
While it’s difficult to assess baseball recruiting classes given the limited, non-paywalled information available, it appears that Bakich and company have done quite well given the limited amount of time they had to pull this class together. Two of the recruits from outside Michigan have been highly ranked/rated by the scouting service Perfect Game:
Ethan Cohen, an outfielder from California, is ranked #448 in the nation and given a grade of 9.5, out of a 10-point scale.
Trey Miller, a middle infielder out of Kentucky, garnered a grade of 9.
Prep Baseball Report, a scouting service covering eight mainly Midwestern states, has Keith Lehmann, a pitcher/third baseman from Illinois, ranked #5 in that state and #34 in their eight-state region. Along with in-stater Jackson Lamb, that’s at least four highly rated prospects in this class.
Mac Lozer and Kendall Patrick were late commitments to the class and haven’t been noted on this site before. Patrick’s signing was reported about a week or so ago over at the B1G Baseball blog.
For a few of the prospects, it wasn’t possible to confirm that they had actually signed an LOI during the early signing period. This is especially the case with Ramsey Romano, who was reported to have been seeking out a football scholarship but who now is apparently sticking with his Michigan commitment. Presumably, he and perhaps one or two of the others will be signing during the regular signing period, which begins on April 17. And there's always the possibility that others will join the class at that time.
Ethan Cohen — OF, Keystone Academy (Thousand Oaks, CA) — 5-11, 180 lbs.
Ranking/Rating: Perfect Game: #80 in California; #448 nationally; #86 at his position nationally (rankings are as of the date of his commitment—they may have since been updated). Perfect Game also gives Cohen a grade of 9.5 (on a 10-point scale); a 9 is a "potential top 10 round pick and/or highest level college prospect,." while a 10 is a "potential very high draft pick and/or elite level college prospect."
Committed: August 2012.
Offers: Not known.
LOI: Unable to confirm.
Latest Scouting Report: His Perfect Game profile includes the following from June 2012:
Ethan Cohen is a 2013 OF with a 5-11 180 lb. frame from Thousand Oaks, CA who attends Keystone Academy. Long lean athletic build, room to get stronger. 6.65 runner, aggressive in the outfield, shows his athleticism, long loose arm action, very good arm strength. Left handed hitter, smooth easy swing, has present bat speed with more to come with added strength, shows gap power, stays inside and drives the ball to left centerfield. Toolsy player with lots of projection, should continue to improve. Good student.
Nick Kowalczuk — 1B, Oak Park-River Forest HS (IL) — 6-3, 210 lbs.
Ranking: PBR: #87 in eight-state coverage area.
Committed: August 5, 2012.
Offers: Reportedly had "his choice of several Big Ten schools, as well as colleges from the Missouri Valley Conference." Michigan State was one of the Big Ten schools to offer him.
LOI: Signed November 14, 2012.
Latest Scouting Report: From PBR profile:
6/14/12 — Kowalczuk is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound first baseman who looks to be one of the premier right-handed bats in the Class of 2013. Kowalczuk starts from an open stance and generates impressive whip through the zone. Kowalczuk showed plus power from the right side, consistently barreling up the baseball to both power alleys. Defensively, Kowalczuk exhibited soft hands and good feet around the bag. He displayed an accurate arm (79 mph) across the diamond as well. Additionally, Kowalczuk ran a 7.42 60.
Kowalczuk, a hard hitting slugger now heading into his senior year, made the announcement last week. As a junior last season, he batted .352 with a team-leading 36 RBIs. The first baseman scattered 32 singles, seven doubles and three triples in 39 games.
"My wife and I are very proud of Nick because of all the hard work that he has put into the game since he was 8 years old," said Peter Kowalczuk, Nick's father. "He could have taken a few other offers that were very tempting, but he decided that he would use the talent he had to maximize the scholastic opportunity that may be available. His choice of Michigan was a direct result of his desire for a great education."
“I like their [Michigan's] whole philosophy,” said Kowalczuk, who hopes to study economics or finance. “It feels good for what I want. I know they want to win, but they are all good guys. The facilities were awesome.”
Notes: Kowalczuk will be participating in PBR's Super 60 Pro Showcase, a professional scouting event being held on February 3, 2013, in McCook, Illinois.
Keith Lehmann — RHP/3B, Lyons Township HS (IL) — 6-1, 170 lbs.
Ranking: PBR: #5 in Illinois; #34 in eight-state coverage area. Perfect Game: one of the top 1,000 prospects to watch.
Committed: August 14, 2012.
Offers: Reportedly had "a lot of offers," including from other Big Ten schools.
LOI: Unable to confirm.
Latest Scouting Report: From PBR profile:
7.7.12 — The only question surrounding Keith Lehmann is what will the multi-talented junior do for an encore? Already, the two-way standout helped lead Lyons Township to a Class 4A state championship as a sophomore, and nearly propelled the Lions to a repeat this spring, falling in the championship game, 4-3, to Oak Park. Lehmann certainly did everything within his power to get the Lions back to the title game. The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder was equally as dominant on the mound as he was at the plate. The right-hander used his 87-90 mph fastball and sharp breaking ball to go 10-2 with a 0.86 ERA. In 80 innings, he struck out 83 and walked 16. Also a standout third baseman, Lehmann led Lyons Township in nearly every offensive category. He finished with 7 home runs, 13 doubles, 37 RBI and a .343 batting average. As a sophomore, Lehmann also hit 7 home runs during the Lions’ championship run.
Lehmann can play multiple positions, though he has developed into an ace starter with a high-80s fastball. He was a catcher and third baseman for Lyons’ Class 4A state championship team in 2011, but played third base and pitcher for the 2012 state runner-up team, which lost to Oak Park-River Forest on a walk-off RBI single.
Choosing Michigan might have been tougher on Lehmann’s father, Art, a Michigan State graduate.
“I think he’s proud of me,” said Lehmann, a Western Springs resident. “It does not bother him.”
Lehmann visited Michigan with his father two weeks before making a commitment to coach Erik Bakich, who was hired by Wolverines June 27 after coaching at Maryland.
“We checked the campus out. I knew they wanted me,” said Lehmann. “I fell in love with it. With a whole new coaching staff, I liked it. It felt comfortable.”
Notes: Like Kowalczuk, Lehmann will be participating in PBR's Super 60 Pro Showcase on February 3, 2013.
In a PBR report on "what makes a great breaking ball, and who has the best," Lehmann was among those singled out:
Whatever breaking ball a pitcher throws, it needs to be respected by opposing hitters. So how do you get a hitter to respect your breaking ball? Simple, throw it for strikes. A breaking ball that cannot be thrown for strikes is not a pitch that a polished hitter is going to have to worry about during an at-bat, therefore giving him a better opportunity to sit on one pitch.
However, if you are a guy like Michigan recruit Keith Lehmann (Lyons Township HS, IL, RHP, 2013) then you will always be able to keep hitters off balance. Lehmann has an uncanny knack for throwing his breaking ball for strikes and in any count. Lehmann’s ability to command his breaking ball makes him extremely hard to hit. Command of the breaking ball is something that will always transfer to the next level and will certainly make Lehman a factor next year at the University of Michigan.
Mac Lozer — RHP/SS, North Central HS (Indianapolis, IN) — 6-1, 185 lbs.
Committed: November 11, 2012.
Offers: Lozer (from Q&A linked below): "Other schools I considered were Virginia Tech, Wright State, Miami of Ohio, and Navy."
LOI: November 14, 2012.
Latest Scouting Report: None in his PBR profile. His Perfect Game profile (from which his height and weight are taken) has his fastball topping out at 85 mph.
PBR: Why did you choose Michigan?
Lozer: I chose the University of Michigan for many reasons. Most importantly is their renowned academic program. The second greatest factor was the baseball program. Coach Erik Bakich and his coaching staff are new to Michigan this year and I am very excited for what they bring to the Michigan baseball program. Other factors, such as distance from home, campus feeling, and becoming an immediate impact player also played a role in my decision.
. . .
PBR: Have you decided on a major, or narrowed it down?
Lozer: I would like to pursue the Ross School of Business at U of M.
Trey Miller — SS/2B, Lexington Catholic HS (Lexington, KY) — 6-0, 170 lbs.
Ranking/Rating: PBR: Unknown. Perfect Game: #14 in Kentucky; top 1,000 nationally. Perfect Game also gives Miller a grade of 9 (on a 10-point scale), meaning they believe he is a "potential top 10 round pick and/or highest level college prospect."
Committed: August 2012.
Offers: Miler (from Q&A linked below): "The other schools I was interested in were Ohio University, University of Louisville, Xavier, Western Kentucky, Ball St., Flagler College (St. Augustine, Fl), and Bellarmine."
LOI: Unable to confirm.
Latest Scouting Report: His PBR profile does not have a scouting report, but this PBR item from July 2012 includes this bit on Miller:
True shortstops seem to get more scarce by the week, but the 6-foot, 170-pound Miller showed that he has the feet and arm strength to do it. Aside from all the actiony things he does with his hands, Miller showcases an unquantifiable energy in his legs and feet as he played through the ball.
His Perfect Game profile offers this:
Medium athletic frame. Solid runner 6.64 in the 60. As an infielder, short arm action, smooth fielding actions, good transfer and release, ball comes out clean, can throw from all angles. Right handed hitter, slightly open stance, high hand set, pull approach, patient at the plate, short compact swing with good bat speed, line drive swing plane. Good Student.
PBR: Why did you choose the University of Michigan?
Miller: I chose the University of Michigan because I felt great chemistry with the coaching staff there and I believe they can provide me the best future possible as a young student - athlete and a community leader.
. . .
PBR: What role do the coaches expect you to play throughout your first year?
Miller: The coaches expect me to come in as a freshman and compete for a middle infield spot, where I believe I can come in early and fit great.
PBR: What would you consider your biggest strength as a player?
Miller: I believe my biggest strength is my foot-work and the range I have at shortstop or second base. Also, I believe I'm a great team motivator, while making my teammates better everyday.
Kendall Patrick — C/1B, Black Hawk College (Moline, IL) / Mitchell HS (Mitchell, SD) — 6-3, 208 lbs.
Ranking/Rating: N/A—junior college signee.
Committed: November 2012.
Offers: The article linked below from May 2012 included this: "Both player and coach said there are roughly 10 DI schools interested. His home-state South Dakota is showing the most interest, but so are Virginia Tech, Missouri, Illinois State and a number of Big Ten schools." These were possible offers for the fall of 2012, but Patrick elected to stay at Black Hawk for a third season, having received a medical redshirt for his sophomore year.
LOI: Apparently signed during the early signing period, according to this paywalled article, published on January 8, 2013, in the Mitchell Daily Republic.
Notes: The Black Hawk baseball team announced in October that Patrick would to play for the Ozark Generals of the MINK summer collegiate league in 2013.
Ramsey Romano — SS, Valhalla HS (El Cajon, CA) — 6-3, 185 lbs.
Ranking/Rating: Perfect Game: given a grade of 7.5 (on a 10-point scale) in June 2011; a 7 is a "college prospect, possible future draft pick with development," while an 8 is a "potential draft pick and/or excellent college prospect."
Committed: mid-August 2012.
Offers: Not known.
LOI: Unable to confirm. It seems unlikely that Romano signed during the early signing period as he was reportedly seeking a scholarship to play football, as was noted in this article from mid-December on his winning a local football award called the Heisboy. But the latest word, found in this article, indicates he's sticking with his commitment to Michigan:
Valhalla High QB Ramsey Romano played in an all-star football game last weekend in San Antonio and after the game tweeted, “Probably the last time I ever dress for a football game :( feels like a part of my life just ended.”
Romano threw for 3,415 yards and 30 TDs last season, but in part because he only started one year, has not drawn scholarship offers from Division I schools. He has accepted a baseball scholarship from Michigan.
Latest Scouting Report: His Perfect Game profile includes the following, although it's from June 2011:
Ramsey Romano is a 2013 SS/OF, RHP, C with a 6-1 165 lb. frame from El Cajon, CA who attends Valhalla. Medium sized frame, slender build, good hands defensively, some arm strength, quick arm, carry, good actions, square stance at plate, rotational swing, good extension, line drive path, simple swing, some bat speed, 3/4 arm slot, arm works, 11/5 CB, nice spin, very good student.
Prospect Videos: One Two
“They recruited me as a shortstop,” Romano said. “This is going to be a great experience. There is no University of Michigan on the West Coast. That’s what makes me proud to be a kid from Southern California getting a chance like this.”
Bottom line is few athletes from SoCal get a crack at Big 12 competition in any sport.
“ Ann Arbor is a college town for a big school which is what I’ve always been looking for,” Romano said. “I want to play in the big time... where sports is of major importance.”
And so he will.