|Pitching & Defense Highlight Baseball Signings|
SAN JOSE, Calif. –Three all-league pitchers, an all-league infielder and an experienced junior college catcher became the first members of the San Jose State baseball team’s 2013 recruiting class, signing a National Letter-of-Intent during the 2011 early signing period.
“I feel good about the group,” said San Jose State head coach Sam Piraro. “We all were under the same feeling that these guys will contribute to San Jose State baseball. It’s a good balance, three high school players and three JC players.”
Right-hander Ross Slaney of Homestead High School in Cupertino, right-hander Daniel Chavez from the College of San Mateo and left-hander Gary Acuna from Alhambra (Calif.) High School are three starting pitchers. Infielders Matthew Cole from Grants Pass (Ore.) High School and Willy Reel, who played his freshman season at the University of Washington, and catcher Dane Lund from Mt. Hood (Ore.) Community College round out the early signees for San Jose State.
“I think the assistant coaches, Jeff Pritchard, and Mark O’Brien, invested a lot of time and energy pursuing players that would make an immediate impact (in 2013),” said Piraro.
Acuna is a senior at Alhambra (Calif.) High School. In 2011 he went 7-2 with a 1.47 ERA. The first team All-Almont League southpaw had 49 strikeouts in 47 2/3 innings. He played a key role in two Almont League championships at the school, which is currently on a streak of seven straight titles.
Last summer he was a part of the San Gabriel Valley Babe Ruth All Star team that made it to the league’s World Series in Ephrata, Wash.
“(Acuna) is a left-handed pitcher with a big upside,” said Piraro, who is entering his 25th season as head coach of the Spartans. “He is a very goal-oriented individual and competitively a person we would want to have in our program.”
Slaney, a senior at Homestead High School in Cupertino, had 58 strikeouts in 58 1/3 innings as a junior in 2011 and led his team with 11 games started. He earned second team All-De Anza League distinction last year.
Slaney was a member of the Northern California team that competed at the U.S. National Team Identification Series in Cary, N.C. The series featured 756 athletes trying out for spots on one of the three age-group teams that will compete internationally next summer.
“Ross had a really good summer,” Piraro said. “He distinguished himself quite a bit. He has a really good arm, a live arm, and he’s not fully developed yet. His ceiling is very high.”
Chavez is another right-handed pitcher who will be joining the Spartans in 2013. He comes from the College of San Mateo and before that, Serra High School. At the College of San Mateo, Chavez was a 2011 first team all-conference player after going 6-2 with a 2.35 ERA. He had 47 strikeouts to 21 walks in 53 2/3 innings and held opponents to a .167 batting average.
At Serra High School, he was a first team All-West Catholic Athletic League and Central Coast Section pitcher and was named the CCS Pitcher of the Year. He was also named the San Mateo County Pitcher of the Year.
“Daniel is a strike thrower. He can throw four pitches for strikes,” said Piraro. “He’s got a good arm. He commands the baseball. He’ll probably be a guy who can step in for us and be a (starting) rotation guy.”
Reel is an infielder who played both second and third base for Washington in 2011. He drove in seven runs in 48 at-bats playing in 21 games and making 13 starts for the Huskies. Reel will spend his sophomore season next spring at Bellevue (Wash.) College.
Born in Seattle, Reel attended Mercer Island High School and played four years on the varsity team. He led his team to a league title his senior year batting .438 with 29 RBIs and eight homeruns. He was a first team all-state infielder in 2010. Reel was tabbed the King County MVP and an All-King County first team selection as a pitcher and a shortstop.
“What really got our attention was (Reel’s) offensive ability,” said Piraro. “He is a very developed offensive player (and) is really comfortable in the batter’s box.”
Lund will transfer to San Jose State from Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Ore. Last season Lund batted .287 with five doubles and 20 RBIs in 41 games. He struck out just 14 times in 136 at-bats and had a .355 on-base percentage. Last summer, Lund played for the Corvallis (Ore.) Knights, where he batted .264 in 24 games.
“(Lund) is a really good defensive catcher,” said Piraro. “I’m from the ilk that the catcher is like a quarterback. That’s a very demanding position. Dane is a guy that really enjoys that position.
“Dane will be a guy who will come to SJSU and compete for the starting position his first year (in 2013).”
Cole will play his senior season this spring at Grants Pass (Ore.) High School. Cole and Grants Pass have been regulars in the Oregon 6A high school state playoffs, making it to the second round in 2010 and last season playing in the first round. Last summer he played American Legion ball with the Grant Pass Diggers.
“Matthew is a very sound defensive shortstop,” said Piraro. “He’s a really scrappy-type player. When he’s out there you notice him. We think he’s a kid who can come in and, at least from a defensive point, be competitive.”