For the last three seasons, the focus of recruiting for the Texas Tech baseball program has been about building overall depth, especially on the pitching staff, and increasing speed on offense and defense. That effort has begun to pay off the past two seasons.
Now, the Red Raiders have shifted their recruiting focus to addressing specific needs, and the 2011-12 class reflects that. With the only senior for the 2011 season being an infielder, graduation won’t take much of a toll on the program in the future.
Tech released its fall signing class Tuesday, which comprised just six players — two right-handed pitchers, one-left-handed pitcher and three infielders. Five of the six players will be entering their high school senior seasons in the spring.
“Our signing class was very specific to what our needs were,” head coach Dan Spencer said in a statement from the school. “We really like the six guys that we signed. With only one senior, we will have to wait and see how the draft plays out to see whether or not we will add a guy in the spring or not.”
Included in the signing class are two Lubbock products — first baseman Blake Bass from Coronado and pitcher David Gates from Monterey.
Bass was the District 2-5A Player of the Year in 2010 after leading the Mustangs to the league title under current Tech director of operations Jimmy Webster. Bass hit .409 for the year with 10 home runs, 53 RBIs, 21 doubles and 20 walks to earn second-team all-state honors from the Texas Sportswriters Association. He was also named to the Louisville Slugger High School all-America team.
Gates served as Monterey’s closer in 2010, helping lead the Plainsmen to the regional finals. The No. 29 Texas high school prospect by Perfect Game, Gates was 1-0 on the mound with nine saves, and at the plate hit .400 with two home runs, 24 runs scored, eight doubles and five triples to earn first-team all-district honors.
Also in the class is infielder Bryant Burleson from Midland Christian. The brother of Nebraska catcher Cory Burleson, Bryant Burleson is a three-year letterwinner at Midland Christian, earning all-district honors three straight years, including MVP and all-state honors as a junior. He hit .626 last year with five home runs, 49 RBIs, 44 runs, 17 doubles, seen triples, 16 walks, 22 stolen bases and an .802 on-base percentage.
The final two high school signees are both pitchers. Left-hander Ryan Bielitz from The Woodlands is the No. 79 Texas prospect by Perfect Game and the site’s No. 65 left-handed pitcher in the state. As a junior he was 3-2 with one save and a 1.87 ERA, striking out 23 and walking just five in 15 innings. Right-hander Jayden O’Dell from Tuscola Jim Ned was a first-team all-district and TSWA all-state honorable mention selection last season, leading the Indians to the regional quarterfinals.
Rounding out the class is the lone junior college signee, infielder Trey Ford at South Mountain (Ariz.) Community College. Ranked as Perfect Game’s No. 25 junior college prospect from Arizona, Ford was drafted in the 42nd round out of high school and in the 50th round this past June. As a freshman at South Mountain, he hit .284 with four home runs, 30 RBIs and stole 10 bases in a conference that uses wooden bats.
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