South Florida picks up Eleven players for 2009 season

FROM PRESS RELEASE
TAMPA, Fla. – Second-year head coach Lelo Prado announced Friday that the University of South Florida baseball staff has signed 11 recruits to National Letters of Intent for the 2008-09 academic year.

Prado’s second recruiting class at USF is made up of five pitchers, four infielders and two outfielders.

The class of 2008-09 includes: Adrian Nieto, (C), American Heritage High School, Hialeah, Fla.; Anthony Ferrara, (LHP), Riverview High School, Riverview, Fla.; Kyle Parker, (LHP), Newsome High School, Lithia, Fla.; Sam Mende (SS), Clearwater Central Catholic High School, Clearwater, Fla.; Alex Mendez (LHP/OF), Bishop Moore High School, Orlando, Fla.; Jay Taylor (OF), Seminole High School, Seminole, Fla.; Sean Buckley (RHP/1B), King High School, Tampa, Fla.; Corey Thomas (RHP/SS), Middleton High School, Tampa, Fla.; Peter Brotons (2B), Christopher Columbus High School/Daytona Beach Community College, Miami, Fla.; Adrian Puig (RHP), Miami Gulliver Prep, Homestead, Fla.; Matt Reed (LHP), West Stanley High School, Albemarle, N.C.

“I’m very happy with our first two recruiting classes here at USF,” said Prado. “I would have never thought I would be able to get these types of players right off the bat. We’re making great strides and Bryant (Ward) and Lazer (Collazo) have done a great job recruiting these guys.”

USF’s 2007-08 recruiting class, which includes 25 players, including five freshman and 10 transfers, was ranked No. 43 in the country by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.

“I’ve never had this much talent in only two recruiting classes,” said Prado. “If these guys come to USF, they all have the talent to go to the College World Series in Omaha. It’s just a matter of them maturing. The one thing I’m most proud of is that these guys are great students. I don’t have to worry about them in the classroom.”

The following is a list of the 2008-09 USF baseball signees:

Adrian Nieto, C, American Heritage HS (Hialeah, Fla.)

While limited to 15 games because of an injury his junior year, the switch-hitting catcher batted .361 with four homeruns and 17 RBI as designated hitter. His powerful swing and ability to drive the ball to both alleys earned him an invite to Perfect Game’s National Showcase as well as USA Baseball’s Tournament of the Stars in Cary, N.C. Nieto was named to the 2007 AFLAC All-American Team and is the No. 14 ranked high school prospect in the county by Baseball America. Perfect Game ranks him the No. 26 high school prospect and No. 2 catcher in the country.

“I think Adrian Nieto is the best high school catcher in America right now,” Prado said. “He’s highly rated by everybody in the country. I hope this young man steps foot on this campus, because if he does, in three years you might see the No. 1 player in the whole (MLB) draft. He’s a super kid, worked his tail off to be great and I’m praying every day that he steps foot on this campus. He’s one of the finest young men I’ve had the pleasure of recruiting.”

Anthony Ferrara, LHP, Riverview HS (Riverview Fla.)

One of the top pitching prospects in the state of Florida, Ferrara’s fastball can reach 95 mph and he pitches comfortably at 90-93 mph. During his junior year at Riverview High, he allowed two runs and eight hits in 33 innings. He had 57 strikeouts and a 0.59 ERA. In three seasons at Riverview, he owns a 15-2 record, including a shutout of eventual Class 6-A state champion Sarasota High. An exceptional athlete, he also plays first base and outfield, batting .315 with three homeruns in the 2007 season. Ferrara was named to the 2007 AFLAC All-American team and ranked the No. 106 high school prospect in the country by Baseball America. He is also ranked as the No. 35 prospect and No. 7 LHP in the country by Perfect Game. He currently holds a 3.1 GPA.

“Anthony is a local kid whose dad played at my high school (Tampa Catholic),” Prado said. “He is another off-the-charts young man who’s a quality individual and has worked so hard to make himself a great student in the classroom and on the field. If he steps foot on this campus he will become a great talent on and off the diamond.”

Kyle Parker, LHP, Newsome HS (Lithia, Fla.)

In 2007 Parker compiled an 11-2 record with six complete games and four shutouts as a junior. He helped Newsome High to a berth in the 5A state finals. Parker is ranked as the No. 133 high school prospect in the country by Baseball America.

“His stock is going up every day,” Prado said. “He’s going to be another great college baseball player that after three years will be a high draft pick. We think he can be something special in our rotation.”

Sam Mende, SS, Clearwater Central Catholic (Clearwater, Fla.)

Mende, a shortstop from Clearwater, Fla., batted .465 with eight homeruns, 16 doubles, five triples and 16 stolen bases for Clearwater Central Catholic his junior year. He is the No. 220 ranked high school prospect in the country by Baseball America. Mende is ranked the No. 244 high school prospect and the No. 40 middle infielder in the country by Perfect Game. His many honors include selections to the 2006 Youth National Trial Team, 2007 First Team All-Pinellas County, 2007 First Team All-Sun Coast, 2007 first team all-state and he was a member of the CCC Marauders 2007 class 3A state championship team.

“Every day I watch this kid play I fall in love with him more and more,” Prado said. “He’s a hard nosed kid who knows how to play the game and plays it hard. We think he’s going to do some special things here. This is the type of kid that can get us to Omaha.”

Alex Mendez, LHP/OF, Bishop Moore HS (Orlando, Fla.)

Mendez, a pitcher and outfielder from Orlando, Fla., was named the No. 274 high school outfield prospect in the country by Baseball America. Perfect Game ranks Mendez as the No. 390 high school pitching prospect and No. 50 left-handed pitcher in the country. He played a pivotal role in helping Bishop Moore win their first 4A state championship in 40 years. His efforts during his junior year landed him on the class 4A all-state first team.

“Our fans are going to fall in love with this two-way guy,” Prado said. “He plays the game hard everyday. For a little guy he’s going to hit for power. As a pitcher he’s going to go out there and throw the ball hard. He’s made himself into a great high school player and he’s going to be a great two-way guy at the college level.”

Jay Taylor, OF, Seminole HS (Seminole Fla.)

Taylor, an outfielder out of Seminole, Fla., had a breakout season as a sophomore hitting .407 with 22 RBI and three homeruns. During the summer he played with the World Wood Bat Associations Orlando Scorpions where he hit .410 with two homeruns. He was named the No. 474 high school prospect and No. 84 outfielder in the country by Perfect Game.

“His stock is going up every day he plays in a showcase,” Prado said. “He’s a big strong kid whose better days are ahead of him in college. He wants to be here and wants to be Bull. He can eventually be a power guy in the middle of our line-up.”

Sean Buckley, 1B, King HS (Tampa, Fla.)

Buckley, who Perfect Game touts as the No. 21 ranked 1B prospect in the country, is a 2007 All-Hillsborough County honorable mention player. He is also ranked as the No. 562 pitching prospect by Perfect Game. During his junior year, he hit .349 with three doubles and 15 RBI at King High.

“He can not only play first but he can catch and play third,” Prado said. “He’s a big strong kid who’s dedicated himself the last year and a half to make himself faster and stronger. He’s going to be a kind of guy who turns out to be a great college player because he works hard and plays the game the right way.”

Corey Thomas, RHP/UTL, Middleton HS (Tampa, Fla.)

Thomas’s 93 mph fastball boasts him as the No. 123 high school prospect in the country by Baseball America and No. 36 prospect in the country by Perfect Game. Thomas was named an honorable mention to the Tampa Tribune All-Hillsborough County Baseball team his junior year.

“If he steps foot on this campus we have a chance to get to Omaha real fast,” Prado said. “He’s a two-way guy; he can play shortstop and pitch. In college baseball you have to have two-way guys and Corey is going to do both for us. He has potential to be a first rounder if he keeps making progress.”

Peter Brotons, 2B, Columbus HS/Dayton Beach CC (Miami, Fla.)

A 2006 graduate of Christopher Columbus High, Brotons was named First Team All-Dade City. In 2007 playing for Daytona Beach Community College, he hit .320 with 10 doubles, five triples and 50 hits in 40 games played. He also played in the Florida Junior College All-Star Game and was a member of the Greeley Grey’s Summer Baseball Club in 2007. He will graduate from DBCC in 2008 with his AA degree in communications.

“Peter is a great kid who I recruited to go to Louisville a few years ago,” Prado said. “This young man, as far as a middle infielder, is going to bring us a guy who knows how to play the game and be a great No. 2 hitter. There aren’t many guys who can turn double plays better than him. He’s a great addition for our defense, especially in the middle of the field.”

Adrian Puig, RHP, Gulliver Prep (Homestead, Fla.)

Puig is the No. 114 ranked high school pitching prospect in the country by Baseball America. Perfect Game ranks him the No. 67 pitching prospect in the country. Puig was honored as part of the second team all-district team.

“He’s another guy who will get even better in college than he was in high school,” Prado said. “He’s big and strong and I think he’ll help this pitching staff. He’s the kind of kid who we fell in love with. He comes from a great family and him knowing Lazer is a big plus. Lazer thinks he will contribute right away as a freshman.”

Matt Reed, LHP, West Stanley HS (Albemarle, N.C.)

Reed, a crafty left-hander, pitched a scoreless seventh inning for the West Stanly Colts in the Beach Diamond Classic, beating North Brunswick, 12-1. Reed was unscored upon through games as of April 12, 2007.

“He comes from a great baseball family,” Prado said. “His dad (Marty Reed) was my pitching coach when I was at Tampa. Matt Reed is one of these guys who is only going to get better and better. He will pitch a lot in college baseball. He knows how to throw breaking pitches and will be a valuable left-handed pitcher for USF.”