Nov. 26, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - After securing topflight recruiting classes in his first two seasons at Tennessee, head coach Dave Serrano and his staff have put together arguably their strongest to date this season, announcing on Tuesday that 11 total commits (9 signees) will join the program for the 2014-15 academic year.
In their first two seasons on Rocky Top, Serrano and his staff signed the 20th-ranked and 15th-ranked recruiting classes in college baseball according to Baseball America.
They are every bit as excited about this year's crop, which currently stands 18th nationally according to Perfect Game.
"In terms of numbers, this is the smallest class we have brought in to date. Yet in terms of player rankings, this may be the strongest yet," said Serrano. "Recruiting coordinator Aric Thomas hit the ground running since his arrival this summer, and with the help of associate head coach Greg Bergeron and volunteer assistant Tony Asaro, they put together a class of very good baseball talent. All our needs were met in a very high standard."
"We added two future catchers to our program, middle infield help, two polished center fielders and some advanced pitching, which includes left-handed arms. We strengthened with reinforcements right down the middle of the diamond.
"I'm very proud of all these young men that trusted our coaching staff and recognized our university as a great place to attend. Each young man will have a chance to be part of our future success."
The Vols' coaching staff honed in on the talent-rich Southeastern United States, signing two players from Florida, two that call Tennessee home and one out of Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina. The Vols also pulled a player out of California, Iowa, Maryland and Virginia.
|2014 Tennessee Baseball Signees|
|Dominick Cammarata||C||6-3||215||R/R||Asheville, N.C. (T.C. Roberson)|
|Richard Jackson||RHP||5-11||200||R/R||Atlanta, Ga. (Woodward Academy)|
|Steven Kane||RHP||6-4||205||R/R||Huntington Beach, Calif. (Cypress CC/Sunrise Mountain)|
|Brett Langhorne||SS||6-2||190||L/R||Mechanicsville, Va. (Lee Davis)|
|Brodie Leftridge||OF||6-1||165||R/R||Highland, Md. (Saint John's Catholic Prep)|
|Zach Reid||LHP||5-11||165||R/L||Montgomery, Ala. (Trinity Presbyterian School)|
|Benny Santiago||C||5-11||175||L/R||Pembroke Pines, Fla. (Coral Springs Academy)|
|Aaron Soto||LHP||5-10||180||L/L||Miami Lakes, Fla. (Archbishop McCarthy)|
|Kevin Steen||RHP||6-3||180||R/R||Oak Ridge, Tenn. (Oak Ridge)|
|Lane Thomas||OF||6-1||175||R/R||Knoxville, Tenn. (Bearden)|
|Jake Westphal||UTL||6-1||195||R/R||Sioux City, Iowa (East)|
An athlete with all-around tools, Cammarata is the No. 1 catcher and the No. 4 overall prospect in the state of North Carolina according to Perfect Game. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound Cammarata is listed as a top-300 overall prospect and the 31st-ranked player at his position in the nation by Perfect Game. He's also a two-time Perfect Game Underclass All-American. A three-year letterwinner and two-time captain entering his senior season at national powerhouse T.C. Roberson, Cammarata and the Rams have won three-straight conference championships and posted a combined 81-15 record over those seasons. As a junior he hit .371 with four home runs, 29 RBI and 11 stolen bases.
Cammarata plays travel ball for the EvoShield Canes, one of the nation's top showcase teams. The Canes recently won the World Wood Bat Association World Championship in Jupiter, Fla. The Canes posted a 7-0-1 record en route to the showcase title.
A product of the Woodward Academy in College Park, Ga., Jackson is a two-time Perfect Game Underclass All-American Honorable Mention. In three seasons with the War Eagles' varsity team, Jackson has a combined record of 19-2 on the mound. In his junior year, he finished the campaign with a 6-2 mark and a 1.36 ERA, leading Woodward Academy to a 19-10 record and the second round of the Class AAA state playoffs. The two-year captain helped the War Eagles to back to back regional championships in 2011 and 2012, and a combined 43-5 record over his first three seasons. Jackson throws three pitches - fastball, curveball and changeup - and his fastball has been clocked at 91 mph. Plays on the travel ball circuit with the Upstate Mavericks.
A 28th round selection by the Cleveland Indians in the 2013 MLB Draft, Kane will spend his sophomore season at Cypress College in Cypress, Calif. The right-hander guided the Chargers to their fifth state title in 2013, posting a school record 13 wins. Kane was named the California Pitcher of the Year after posting an undefeated record (13-0) and an even 2.00 ERA. Kane's ERA stands second all-time in Cypress' single-season record books. He tossed three complete games, allowing just 24 earned runs and striking out a league-high 88 batters over 108 innings as a rookie. The 6-foot-4 ace on the Chargers' staff, Kane struck out 16 and allowed only five earned runs in the playoffs.
Kane graduated from Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria, Ariz., where he earned three letters for the Mustangs. He earned second team all-state honors as a senior and was a three-time all-region honoree. Kane posted a combined record of 23-6 in high school, including a 10-1 senior season where he struck out 65 and finished with a 2.00 ERA. Played travel ball with AZ Athletics.
A slick-fielding shortstop, Langhorne enters his senior season at Lee Davis High School in Mechanicsville, Va. A three-year letterwinner with the Confederates, Langhorne is the No. 3 ranked shortstop and 12th-best prospect in the Commonwealth of Virginia in the class of 2014 according to Perfect Game. The 6-foot-2 middle infielder is listed as the 50th-ranked shortstop in the nation in this class and the No. 340 overall prospect. Langhorne helped guide the Confederates to an 18-2 record as a sophomore with a .350 batting average. He also hit .300 as a junior last season. Langhorne plays travel ball with the Richmond Braves. His father, Meade, played professionally for the Kansas City Royals' organization in 1981.
An absolute speedster in center field, Leftridge has developed into one of the best players in the mid-Atlantic region. A three-year letterwinner at Saint John's Catholic Prep, Leftridge is considered a top-50 outfielder in the country in this year's class according to Perfect Game. He is ranked a top-200 overall prospect, the No. 4 overall prospect in Maryland and the No. 2 outfielder in the state by the same organization. Leftridge has posted a blazing 6.54-second 60-yard dash and is a two-time Perfect game Underclass All-American. He plays travel ball for Florida Travel Ball organization.
A left-handed pitcher with dynamic arm angles, Reid is a two-year letterwinner and two-time state champion at Trinity Presbyterian School in Montgomery, Ala. Reid helped guide the Wildcats to back to back titles in 2012 and 2013, as the squad posted a combined mark of 63-21. Listed as the No. 5 left-hander in the state of Alabama by Perfect Game, Reid owns a career record of 9-2 entering his senior campaign with the Wildcats. He is also listed as the 24th-best prospect in the state of Alabama. As a junior, he posted a 5-1 mark with 50 strikeouts and a 1.07 ERA in 39.1 innings pitched. In his sophomore campaign, Reid went 24.1 innings with 24 strikeouts and a 1.73 ERA. He is a member of the East Coast Grays travel ball team, where he threw five no-hit shutout innings at the WWBA Perfect Game National Championship.
The highest-ranked signee in the class, Santiago is listed as the 68th-best recruit and the No. 8 catcher in the nation by Perfect Game. A three-year letterwinner at Coral Springs Christian Academy in Coral Springs, Fla., Santiago is ranked 17th overall and the No. 2 catcher in his state. Perfect Game also tabbed the catcher a Second Team Underclass All-American as a junior in 2013 and a High Honorable Mention All-American following his sophomore season. He was invited to play in the Perfect Game All-American Classic alongside some of the nation's best players this past summer. A left-handed hitting catcher with speed and a great arm, Santiago posted a 60-yard dash time of 6.75 and an impressive pop time - the time taken from the instant a pitch hits the catcher's glove to the moment it strikes the glove of the middle infielder at second base - of 1.84 seconds.
Plays travel ball with fellow signee Kevin Steen for the powerhouse Atlanta Blue Jays. Benny's father is former Major League Baseball catcher Benito Santiago, who played 20 seasons and was a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger Award winner, a three-time Gold Glover and the 1987 National League Rookie of the Year.
A one-year letterwinner and captain at powerhouse Archbishop McCarthy in Southwest Ranches, Fla., Soto won a state championship with the Mavericks last season - the team's fourth in a row. Soto hit .398 with seven home runs during his junior campaign as the team posted a 26-5 record. For his efforts, he earned first team All-Broward County honors. As a rookie at Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens, Soto garnered Max Preps first team all-freshman team accolades. Perfect Game ranks him as the 16th-best lefty in the state and he's a two-time Perfect Game Underclass All-American Honorable Mention.
Soto has played travel ball with the South Florida Elite Squad for one season. During that campaign he pitched a complete game two-hitter in the Perfect Game World Series Championship, in which Elite Squad eventually took home the crown.
A three-year letterwinner at Oak Ridge High School, Steen has developed into the top-ranked right arm and the No. 3 overall prospect in the state of Tennessee according to Perfect Game. A two-year captain for the Wildcats, Steen fanned 56 batters in 36 innings, posted a 1.56 ERA, a 2-1 record and four saves as a junior. He went 5-1 on the mound as a sophomore, finishing with 37 strikeouts and a 1.80 ERA. He also hit .365 with 22 RBI in his second season. An athletic player, Steen plays shortstop, first base and in the outfield in addition to pitching for Oak Ridge. He was named a Perfect Game Underclass All-American High Honorable Mention in 2013 and ranks as the No. 46 right-hander in the nation in the 2014 class.
Standing 6-foot-3, Steen also lettered three seasons for the Wildcats' basketball team and two in football. He played travel ball with fellow signee Benny Santiago for the Atlanta Blue Jays.
A Knoxville native and Bearden Bulldog, Thomas is the No. 1 ranked outfielder and No. 2 overall prospect in the state of Tennessee according to Perfect Game. A potential five-tool player, Thomas is also listed as the nation's No. 74 overall prospect and No. 19 outfielder in the class. The Underclass All-American has starred at Bearden for the past three seasons, hitting .400 as a junior, .404 as a sophomore and .305 as a freshman. He's posted a blazing 60-yard dash time of 6.63, which has led the center fielder to 27 stolen bases heading into his senior season. Thomas also has 110 RBI, 34 doubles and 19 homers in his Bulldog career.
He represented his country at the national level this summer, playing for USA Baseball's 18U National Team in the IBAF `AAA'/18U World Cup in Taichung, Taiwan. Thomas and Team USA brought back the gold medal for the second season in a row. The Red, White and Blue went 10-2-1 over the summer. Thomas appeared in eight games - starting seven - and hit .217 for Team USA. Thomas has played travel ball for multiple teams, including the Midland Redskins, Ohio Warhawks and Diamond Simcox.
A player with the potential to appear on the mound, in the infield and at the plate, Westphal is listed as the No. 3 right-handed pitcher and the No. 4 overall prospect in this class in the state of Iowa by Perfect Game. A three-year letterwinner at East High School in Sioux City, Iowa, Westphal earned Underclass All-American and first team all-district honors after his junior season. He led the Black Raiders through the state playoffs, finishing as the state runner-up in 2013. The shortstop hit .388 with 34 RBI, 39 strikeouts, four stolen bases and three home runs. As a sophomore, Westphal was also named first team all-district after hitting .295 with 32 RBI, seven stolen bases and one homer. On the mound he's 7-4 heading into his senior season and his fastball has been clocked at 91 mph.
Westphal was just one of three Iowans invited to the Perfect Game National Showcase - the most prestigious showcase event in all of amateur baseball - this summer. He played travel ball with multiple teams, including Chandler Baseball at this year's WWBA World Championships.