Times Staff Report
December 4, 2012
MOREHEAD – Morehead State University Head Coach Mike McGuire has announced the signing of nine student-athletes for the 2013-14 school year. Wesley Drain, Matt Ellenbest, Ryan Kent, Josh Mitchell, Bryan Nacke, John Reina, Robby Spencer, Ryan VanSaghi and Jimmy Wright have all signed National Letters of Intent during the early signing period and will be joining the Eagle baseball team in 2014.
“This first recruiting class is crucial in our development as a program,” said McGuire. “Once my staff was in place in July, we hit the ground running. My assistants Jeff Stanek, Adam Brown, and Graham Johnson deserve a lot of credit for their hard work on this group of early signees. We’ve added nine players from seven different states. A lot of time and energy goes into recruiting all over the country.”
“With 11 seniors on our current club, it was very important that we add some key building blocks in this early signing period,” McGuire continued. “We approached this recruiting class with a focus in a couple of key areas. First, we wanted to add some quality arms and improve our overall depth on the mound. We also knew that with two senior middle infielders it was important that we add some quality players that can play up the middle next year.”
A native of Powder Springs, Ga., Drain is the shortstop for Hillgrove High School, where he helped lead his team to back-to-back 5A Region Championships. In 2012, the Marietta Daily Journal named him to the 5A Region Honorable Mention Team.
“Wesley plays in a good high school and summer program in Marietta, Ga.,” said McGuire. “He is a very good athlete who can play both middle infield spots, and runs well enough to play in the outfield as well. He should compete for a job in our middle infield next season.”
Ellenbest, a right-handed pitcher, comes to Morehead State via Wabash Valley College in Mount Carmel, Ill. Originally from Medina, Ohio, Ellenbest was named one of the Top 100 Players in Ohio for 2010 by Buckeyescout.com following a high school career that saw him named High School Baseball MVP in both 2010 and 2011 by the Medina County Gazette.
“Matt comes from a very good junior college program at Wabash Valley,” said McGuire. “His pitches come in the mid-to-upper 80 miles per hour range, and he has a good three pitch mix. I like strike throwers, and Matt fits that mold while also adding experience to our pitching staff.”
Hailing from Winfield, Ill., Kent will add depth in the Eagle outfield next season. Last spring was a breakout season for Kent at Wheaton North High School, where he was named All-Area Outfielder, All-Dupage Valley Conference First Team, and to the 4A All-State Team. He also set the DuPage Valley Conference single-season hits record.
“Ryan is a good athlete who can do a lot of things for us,” said McGuire. “He runs very well, is a good hitter and can play in all three outfield spots. His bat and his speed should allow him to make an impact for us right away.”
A product of Channahon, Ill., Mitchell is a left-handed pitcher at Minooka Community High School, where he helped lead the Indians to a fourth-place finish in the Illinois High School 4A Baseball Playoffs. Following his 2012 campaign he was named Honorable Mention All-American by Perfect Game.
“Josh throws in the mid-to-upper 80s,” said McGuire. “He throws three pitches for strikes and has a very good curveball. His pitch ability should make him a factor on our pitching staff right away.”
Nacke, a left-handed pitcher from Terre Haute, Ind., finished 2012 in the Top 10 in the nation in both saves and strikeouts per inning in the NJCAA while playing for Vincennes University. During his high school career he was named to the Preseason 4A All-State team in Indiana.
“Bryan comes to us from Vincennes, where he had a great season as their closer last year,” said McGuire. “He throws 87-90 mph from the left side, and should have a big impact on our pitching staff next year.”
A native of Douglassville, Pa., Reina is currently a middle infielder at Daniel Boone High School. Following his 2012 campaign, Reina was named to All-County and All-Area teams, while also being selected to the Inaugural Pennsylvania Big 26 Baseball Team and the Philadelphia Phillies County Carpenter Cup Team.
“John is a switch-hitting middle infielder who handles the bat well,” said McGuire. “We expect John to compete for a job in our infield right away. He is a good athlete who can play anywhere on the field. “
Spencer will add further depth to the Eagles’ infield next spring. He comes to Morehead State via El Paso Community College, where he was the every day shortstop last season. During his high school career, Spencer was named to the Honorable Mention 4A All-State team in 2010.
“Robby comes to us from one of the best junior college conferences in the country,” said McGuire. “He had a solid freshman year and plays a steady shortstop which will add needed experience to our middle infield.”
A right-handed pitcher, VanSaghi is transferring in from Illinois Central College. A native of Pekin, Ill., VanSaghi was named First-Team Mid-Illini by Prep Baseball Report in 2011. He also was selected to the Illinois Coaches Association All-Star Game.
“Ryan is an upper 80’s to low 90’s pitcher,” said McGuire. “We feel he has not reached his ceiling yet, and as he continues to improve and gets to that next level he will be a major contributor for us.”
Rounding out the group of signees is Wright, a catcher for Madison Central High School in Richmond. Wright was named to the All-District Team, participated in the Kentucky Junior East-West All-Star Game, and was named to the Honorable Mention Perfect Game All-American Team.
“Jimmy plays for the Kentucky Baseball Club and is a good left-handed hitting catcher with some power,” said McGuire. “He is a good receiver and throws well, and should compete for playing time right away behind the plate and as a designated hitter.”
The Eagles will add four arms, three of which come with experience from the junior college ranks, and two of which are lefties. Morehead State also adds three middle infielders, an outfielder and a catcher who will all be expected to add some speed and athleticism to the roster.
“I believe this group of signees is a great start in fulfilling our needs for next year,” added McGuire. “I’m very excited about this group of young men. They will be great additions to our program.”
Morehead State will open its 2013 season Feb. 15 when it travels to Huntsville, Ala., for the Alabama A&M Invitational.