BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — After wrapping up his first official season at the helm of the Western Kentucky University baseball team, Hilltopper head coach Matt Myers announced on Tuesday that 16 new student-athletes will join the WKU baseball team in 2012-2013.
The class of incoming talent features 10 recent high school graduates and six players who will transfer from junior colleges. Two of the six junior college transfers were drafted out of high school, including Seminole State College's Regan Flaherty drafted in the 25th round by the Seattle Mariners, and Eastern Oklahoma State College's Mason Justice drafted in the 21st round by the Boston Red Sox out of high school.
"I am very excited about our 2012 signing class for the 2013 season," Myers said. "I feel like we have fulfilled all of our needs with impact guys that show tremendous character. They are talented players, but more importantly they are great human beings. Coach [Blake] Allen and Coach [Brendan] Dougherty have done a tremendous job of identifying each of these individuals and developing the necessary relationships to make them the newest Hilltoppers. I am very appreciative of their hard work.
"I feel like we met our needs both offensively and defensively, while also including a tremendous amount of athleticism and leadership, which is what we were looking for. I am excited about the depth on the mound that we are bringing in, along with what we will have returning for next season. Most of these signees have been involved with winning programs, which is a big factor to us. We want to continue to win and take this program to the next level."
The Hilltoppers bolstered their pitching staff, signing eight pitchers in the 2012 signing class, seven of which are right-handers. Three of the eight pitchers signed in the class are also listed as two-way players that could help WKU on the mound or as position players. Aside from pitching, WKU also added speed, athleticism and offensive power to what the Hilltoppers already have returning in 2013.
“We all sat down when Coach [Matt] Myers got the job and immediately started discussing the needs that we would have for this class" assistant coach Blake Allen said. "We knew that pitching was going to be a need with this class, and I think we did a good job of identifying some players that we think can fulfill that need right away. Our focus was also trying to get some athletes in here and some players that could potentially step up and replace our seniors. I think we did that for the most part – both in high school players and players at the junior college level.”
The class features talent from eight different states, including eight players from the state of Kentucky — three locally from Bowling Green and one from nearby Glasgow.
"It is always great to be able to recruit locally and to find local talent that we believe can come in here and help us," Myers said. "I think those guys have a chance to come in here and make an immediate impact on this program."
Below is information on all 16 WKU signees, including reaction from head coach Matt Myers on each signee.
2012 WKU Baseball Signing Class
1. Josh Bartley | IF/RHP | South Warren HS | Bowling Green, Ky. | 5’10 175
Myers on Bartley: "Josh is a local talent that is a true two-way player that has a chance to help us right away on the mound. He throws three pitches for strikes and is very athletic. He is a left-handed hitter that can play three positions on the infield. He possesses the leadership qualities that we are looking for and is a great student and a great fit in our program."
2. Parker Cash | OF | Glasgow HS | Glasgow, Ky. | 6’0 170
Myers on Cash: "Parker is another big-time athlete. He was the quarterback on the football team and was one the top players on the Glasgow basketball team. He is a three-sport athlete that is another guy of high-character and a good student. He is going to be someone that will really impact our program."
BIO: A three-sport athlete at Glasgow High School...Played quarterback on the football team, while also being a key contributor on the hardwood.
3. Leiff Clarkson | IF | Ryle HS | Ryle, Ky. | 5’10 175
Myers on Clarkson: "Leiff is very athletic. He can really run and has very good arm. He is a strong, physical kid that I can't wait to see develop in our program and have a chance to help our middle infield from day one."
BIO: Plays summer ball with the Ohio Force...Stole 17 bases with Ryle High School in 2011.
4. Andrew Edwards | RHP | Rend Lake College | Ida, Ill. | 6’5 250
Myers on Edwards: "Andrew is a very physical human being at 6-5, 250 pounds. He has a tremendous arm with a great fastball and counters that with a great slider and change-up. He has a chance to be a front of the rotation type of guy. I love his potential and definitely a guy that will make an impact in our program from day one."
BIO: Rated as one of the top 150 junior college prospects in the country...Was recently selected as an all-conference performer in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference.
2012 STATS: 4-5, 69 IP, 73 SO, 1.94 ERA
5. Regan Flaherty | OF/1B | Seminole State College | Sanford, Fla. | 6’1 195
Myers on Flaherty: "Regan was a draft pick out of high school and is a tremendous first baseman that can also play right field. He is a middle of the order type of guy that can make an impact from an offensive standpoint and from a character standpoint right away."
BIO: Drafted out of high school by the Seattle Mariners in the 25th round and attended Vanderbilt University immediately following high school...Transfered to Seminole State College after time at Vanderbilt...Rated as one of the top 150 junior college prospects in the country...His dad, Ed, is a legendary Hall of Fame coach at the University of Southern Maine and his brother, Ryan, currently plays for the Baltimore Orioles.
2012 Stats: .286, 17 RBI (*Missed part of season with an injury)
6. Fred Ford | IF | Jefferson College | Hillsboro, Mo. | 6’4 225
Myers on Ford: "Fred could very easily come in and be the team-leader right away with his makeup and his character. He is a great student. He has had a great career at Jefferson College and has a chance to have a major impact on the middle of our lineup. He has a great arm and a great frame and will have a chance to make a major impact right away."
BIO: Belted 16 home runs and drove in 65 runs in 2011...Followed that up with a stellar 2012 campaign, earning Region 16 Junior College Player of the Year...Hit 29 home runs and drove in 133 over his two years at Jefferson College.
2012 Stats: .432, 17 2B, 13 HR, 68 RBI, 33 SB.
7. Tyler Hogan | C | Naperville North HS | Lisle, Ill. | 6’2 180
Myers on Hogan: "I love Ty's passion for the game of baseball. He loves to play. He is very athletic and a tremendous kid that is another great student and a kid that will bring a lot of energy to our program. There is no question that he is the type of person that can make an impact from day one. We believe Ty has a lot of similarities to former Hilltopper catcher, Matt Rice. "
BIO: Plays summer ball for the Illinois Redbirds.
8. Tyler Jackson | C/IF | Lexington Catholic H.S | Lexington, Ky. | 5’10 175
Myers on Jackson: "Tyler is another student-athlete of high character and is a tremendous student. He loves the game and can play anywhere that you put him. He is a left-handed hitter that is very athletic and can hit. He will make our program better immediately."
BIO: Is a summer teammate of fellow WKU signee Anderson Miller on the nationally-ranked Kentucky Baseball Club...Ranked as the sixth-best prospect in the state and is ranked as one of the Top 500 players in the country according to Perfect Game.
9. Mason Justice | RHP | Eastern Oklahoma State College | Wilburton, Okla. | 6’4 220
Myers on Justice: "Mason is a kid with a great frame at 6-4, 220 pounds. He was a closer at Eastern Oklahoma State and a guy that will be used a lot at the end of games on our pitching staff. He is a tremendous worker that tosses his fastball in the mid-to-upper 90's with a good slider and change-up. He has that mentality to be a finisher at the end of the game and someone that we really need."
BIO: Drafted out of high school in the 21st round by the Boston Red Sox, but opted to attend Eastern Oklahoma State...Rated as the 63rd-best junior college prospect in the country.
2012 STATS: 29 IP, 21 H, 23 SO, 2 SV
10. Trevor Lowe | RHP/OF | Warren Central HS | Bowling Green, Ky. | 5’10 180
Myers on Lowe: "Trevor is a homegrown product that is athletic and a two-way guy that can pitch and play the outfield. He is strong, with a good arm, and is going to be someone of high-character. We believe that his best days are ahead of him and we are looking for him to do big things very early in his career at WKU."
BIO: Played summer baseball for the Louisville Baseball Club...Is coached at Warren Central by Shane Humphries.
11. Alex Mercer | RHP | St. Xavier HS | Louisville, Ky. | 6’4 190
Myers on Mercer: "Alex is a kid that throws a lot of strikes with a very easy arm action. He throws three pitches for strikes. He has tremendous potential and is one of the guys that I can see pitching as a freshman in our program."
BIO: Was a high school teammate of current Hilltopper pitcher, Ian Tompkins. Plays for coach Andy Porta at St. Xavier in Louisville, Ky.
12. Anderson Miller | OF/LHP | Lafayette H.S. | Lexington, Ky. | 6’2 ,185
Myers on Miller: "Anderson is first and foremost a first-class human being. He is one of the best kids that I have ever recruited. He is a two-way player that is very athletic and someone that I think is one of the best players in this state and the region. He has a chance to have a tremendous career as a Hilltopper."
BIO: Plays summer baseball with the Kentucky Baseball Club — one of the premier summer programs in the country...Played both outfield and pitched for Lafayette High School.
2012 Stats: .417, 4 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR – 5-1, 47 IP, 82 K, 1.71 ERA.
13. Thomas Peter | 3B | California HS | San Ramon, Calif. | 6’2 195
Myers on Peter: "Thomas is a very good student and a great worker. He is passionate and energetic about the game. He lives it every day. He is someone that is going to be a hitter from day one in our program and a guy that can play on the left side of the infield. Thomas will make a major impact in all facets of our program on and off the field."
BIO: Recently named First Team All-League in California and was named the Male Athlete of the Year.
2012 Stats: .471, 10 2B, 2 HR, 10 SB
14. Griffith Roark | MIF | Cowley College | Arkansas City, Kan. | 5’10 180
Myers on Roark: "Griffith is a high-character guy and a great student. He is a leader and the type of guy that can come in at the top of our lineup and be a table-setter. He played two positions in the infield and I look for him to be the type of guy that will make an immediate impact from a leadership standpoint and from a production standpoint."
BIO: Started his collegiate career by attending Oklahoma State University before making the move to Cowley College...Was selected as an all-conference performer in the Kansas Jayhawk Conference following the 2012 season.
2012 Stats: .356, 9 2B, 5 3B, 32 Runs, 34 RBI’s, 1 HR, 19 SB
15. Jackson Sowell | RHP | Bowling Green HS | Bowling Green, Ky. | 5’10 175
Myers on Sowell: "Jackson could have very easily been the best pitcher in all of Warren County this year. He is a winner that won a state championship in football and is tough and athletic. I love the way his arm works. He throws three pitches for strikes and will have a chance to make a major impact on this program."
BIO: Has helped lead Bowling Green High School to a 27-7 record following district play...Played a role in leading the Bowling Green football team to a state championship in 2011.
2012 Stats: 8-1, 54 IP, 9 ER, 19 BB, 75 K’s, 1.15 ERA
16. Jake Thompson | RHP | Iowa Western College | Council Bluffs, Iowa | 6’2 190
Myers on Thompson: "Jake played for the No. 1 team in the country at the junior college level. He knows how to win and was Iowa Western's top pitcher. He is another guy that will have a chance to be in the front of our rotation. He throws three pitches for strikes and really competes. Jake is a great student with high character that loves to work and loves to play the game."
BIO: Played a large role in helping Iowa Western to back-to-back Junior College World Series appearances...Went 18-3 as a starter over his last two years.
2012 Stats: 9-1, 49 IP, 62 SO, 15 BB, 4.78 ERA