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Baseball Inks 11 In Early Signing Period



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.

For more information about Tennessee baseball, follow @Vol_Baseball on Twitter or visit UTSports.com/baseball. You can also `like' the Vols on Facebook at www.facebook.com/volbaseball.

2014 Tennessee Baseball Signees
PlayerPos.Ht.Wt.B/THometown (School)
Dominick CammarataC6-3215R/RAsheville, N.C. (T.C. Roberson)
Richard JacksonRHP5-11200R/RAtlanta, Ga. (Woodward Academy)
Steven KaneRHP6-4205R/RHuntington Beach, Calif. (Cypress CC/Sunrise Mountain)
Brett LanghorneSS6-2190L/RMechanicsville, Va. (Lee Davis)
Brodie LeftridgeOF6-1165R/RHighland, Md. (Saint John's Catholic Prep)
Zach ReidLHP5-11165R/LMontgomery, Ala. (Trinity Presbyterian School)
Benny SantiagoC5-11175L/RPembroke Pines, Fla. (Coral Springs Academy)
Aaron SotoLHP5-10180L/LMiami Lakes, Fla. (Archbishop McCarthy)
Kevin SteenRHP6-3180R/ROak Ridge, Tenn. (Oak Ridge)
Lane ThomasOF6-1175R/RKnoxville, Tenn. (Bearden)
Jake WestphalUTL6-1195R/RSioux City, Iowa (East)

Player Headshot Dominick Cammarata, C (Asheville, N.C.)

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.

Thomas on Cammarata: "Dom is a very solid baseball player - he does everything really well. He's got good receiving skills; he throws well and has some power with the bat. What separates Dom from other players is that he has plus make up and is a leader on the field. He plays for one of the best high schools in the country, TC Roberson, and he also played in the East Coast Pro Showcase and the South Atlantic Border Battle. His travel ball team is the EvoShied Canes, who just recently won the World Wood Bat Association World Championship. He's another solid player in this class."

Player Headshot Richard Jackson, RHP (Atlanta, Ga.)

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.

Thomas on Jackson: "Richard is a strong-armed right-handed pitcher that's been clocked in the low 90s. He also possesses a wipe-out breaking ball that is definitely a swing-and-miss pitch. He attacks the zone with both pitches and is a strikeout pitcher that doesn't walk many hitters. He played for two highly regarded teams, Team Elite and the Upstate Mavericks, on the travel ball circuit. Richard also attended one of our camps, in which he really impressed our coaching staff. He's got a chance to help our pitching staff when he arrives on campus."

Player Headshot Steven Kane, RHP (Huntington Beach, Calif.)

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.

Thomas on Kane: "Steven adds winning pitching experience and toughness to our staff. In his freshman season at Cypress College he helped lead the Chargers to a State Championship. Steven's record on the mound was 13-0 and he was named the Junior College Pitcher of the Year in the state of California. He really knows how to pitch and competes every time he toes the rubber. He throws three pitches for strikes and is another guy that can run his fastball in the low 90s. Steven was also drafted last year by the Cleveland Indians. His numbers speak for themselves and we believe he will be an impact guy on our pitching staff."

Player Headshot Brett Langhorne, SS (Mechanicsville, Va.)

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.

Thomas on Langhorne: "Brett is a really good looking athlete that has an incredible glove and can really pick it at shortstop. He's a slick-fielding defender that is really fun to watch play defense. Offensively, he is a left-handed batter that has the ability to drive the ball in the gaps. He has a very projectable body and as Brett gets stronger he will continue to get better and better. He comes from a strong baseball background and has great knowledge of the game. He also plays for a top travel ball team, the Richmond Braves. Brett was selected and participated in the East Coast Pro Showcase and the South Atlantic Border Battle."

Player Headshot Brodie Leftridge, OF (Highland, Md.)

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.

Thomas on Leftridge: "Brodie is a big time student of the game and an outfielder with incredible speed. He plays with a lot of energy and will put a lot of pressure on opposing teams' defenses with his speed. He's been clocked at 6.54 in the 60-yard dash, and to go with that he has a great feel on how to steal bases. Defensively, he can really go get the ball in center field. He also played for one of the best teams on the travel ball circuit, Florida Travel Ball, as well as playing in the East Coast Pro Showcase and the South Atlantic Border Battle. Brodie is a prototypical top of the lineup player that has an extremely high ceiling."

Player Headshot Zach Reid, LHP (Montgomery, Ala.)

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.

Thomas on Reid: "Zach is another really good student-athlete. He's experienced a lot of success in his baseball career and we are looking forward to him adding that to our pitching staff. At Trinity Presbyterian High School, he has pitched on two state championship teams. He also pitched for the East Coast Grays and the Alabama Rays in travel ball. He's a left-handed pitcher that has the ability to pitch from a low arm slot. This allows Zach to create matchup problems for opposing team's left-handed hitters, but he has enough stuff to get right handers out as well. We're looking for big things from Zach in the back end of our bullpen when games are tight. He has a really good breaking ball that he can throw from a sidearm angle or from a high three-quarter arm angle."

Player Headshot Benny Santiago, C (Pembroke Pines, Fla.)

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.

Thomas on Santiago: "Benny is one of the best catchers in the country and really brings a lot of experience to the table. Not only does he play at one of the premier high schools in the country, Coral Springs Christian Academy, he also plays on one of the best travel ball teams, the Atlanta Blue Jays. Benny also played in the Perfect Game All-American Classic and the East Coast Pro Showcase. He's always playing alongside some of the top players in the country and he's really stood out with the success he's had along with his leadership skills. He's is a potential five-tool athlete that is fun to watch with the energy he brings to the field every day."

Player Headshot Aaron Soto, LHP (Miami Lakes, Fla.)

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.

Thomas on Soto: "Aaron is the definition of a crafty lefty. He's a little bit undersized left-handed pitcher that can really pitch. Aaron is very advanced on the mound and knows how to add and subtract with his fastball, turn the changeup over and then compliment that with a good breaking ball. He keeps hitters off balance and competes as hard as anybody I've seen. He will add great experience and toughness to our pitching staff at Tennessee. He plays for the South Florida Elite Squad - one of the best travel ball teams in the country and is always pitching in their key games. Aaron also plays for one of the best high school baseball programs in the country, Archbishop McCarthy."

Player Headshot Kevin Steen, RHP (Oak Ridge, Tenn.)

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.

Thomas on Steen: "Kevin made a really big jump this summer. He's a very athletic right-handed pitcher that pounds the zone with a fastball that tops out around 91 or 92 mph right now. He also has a feel for a good breaking ball and changeup. Kevin is a bulldog on the mound and the great thing about him is that he is still a little raw and is just starting to reach his potential. Kevin also earned great experience by playing for the Atlanta Blue Jays on the travel ball circuit and playing in two of the summer's top events, the East Coast Pro Showcase and Area Code Games. He's a dual-sport athlete, also playing basketball and a local product out of Oak Ridge."

Player Headshot Lane Thomas, OF (Knoxville, Tenn.)

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.

Thomas on Thomas: "Lane is an extremely talented baseball player. He possesses the unique combination of speed and power that gives him a chance to be a very special offensive player. Lane also brings a lot of really good experience to Tennessee. This past summer, he had the honor of being selected and playing on the USA Baseball's 18-under National Team, which won the World Cup Title. He also participated in the East Coast Pro Showcase. Lane also has shown to be very versatile. Although we have recruited him to play outfield, he has also pitched and played infield. He's a local product of Knoxville out of Bearden High School and we are very excited to get him to campus."

Player Headshot Jake Westphal, UTL (Sioux City, Iowa)

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.

Thomas on Westphal: "Jake is an interesting athlete for us because he has the potential to be a two-way guy. As a position player, he can swing the bat and was named to the Iowa Class 4A All-State Team during his junior year. On the mound, Jake's fastball has been clocked in the low 90s and he throws a late-breaking curveball. He plays hard and brings a lot of energy to the field every day. He impressed our coaching staff with his attitude and work ethic at one of our camps. Jake played for a top travel ball team, Chandler Baseball, in the WWBA World Championship. We're looking for really good things from Jake as a utility player, whether it's on the mound or at the plate."


 

 

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