SAN JOSE, Calif. – The San José State University baseball team inked five high school seniors to National Letters of Intent in the early signing period, head coach Dave Nakama announced. The signees will join the Spartans in the fall of 2016.
Led by Nakama and assistant coach Nicholas Enriquez, the Spartans were able to add quality depth at a variety of positions. Three pitchers – two right-handers and a southpaw – will bring a mix of starting potential and bullpen difference-makers to the 2017 squad, while a versatile outfielder will push for immediate playing time at any of the three spots. The lone infielder in the five-man class will look to contribute early on in the middle of the diamond.
Jackson Cunningham (RHP, West Ranch HS-Valencia, Calif.), Jakob Gonzalez (RHP, La Mirada HS-La Mirada, Calif.) and Jeremy Polon (LHP, El Camino HS-West Hills, Calif.) will join the Spartans by way of Los Angeles County. Aiden Malm (OF, Whitney HS-Rocklin, Calif.) is the lone Northern California signee and Anders Davidson (Walla Walla HS-Walla Walla, Wash.) heads to San Jose from the Evergreen State.
“I think it’s a great class. I think we’ve touched upon some areas of need,” said head coach Dave Nakama. “You always need pitching, but I think we have an outfielder who is going to give us depth because of his versatility, and Anders is going to give us depth in the infield. Depth is one thing we’ve been lacking. It’s going to add a lot of competition, which will be great.
“When you build a program, you have to build it with young guys. If you look at all the good teams in the conference and in the country, they all have depth. I think it’s definitely going to help us because we’re going to have quality depth and competition at a variety of spots, which is the key to building a program.”
RHP Jackson Cunningham (Valencia, Calif. / West Ranch HS)
The 5-foot-11, 180-pound right-hander projects as a late reliever at the next level…Appeared in 9 games out of the bullpen as a junior at West Ranch High School…Tied for the team lead with three saves in 2015…Registered 16 strikeouts in 19.2 innings on the bump…Invited to the Area Code tryouts…Member of the SoCal Cubs scout team…Played for coach Casey Burrill at West Ranch HS.
Nakama on Cunningham
“Jackson Cunningham is a guy I saw over the summer. He’s definitely a back-end of the bullpen guy who can come in and close a game. He’s a starter this year for his high school but his low three-quarter release and good slider give him a pitch that people will miss, so I envision him starting as a reliever toward the end of the game. I think he can definitely fill a void in that sense.”
INF Anders Davidson (Walla Walla, Wash. / Walla Walla HS)
The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder will compete for shortstop duties in 2017…Led Walla Walla High School to a 4A District baseball title as a junior in 2015…Posted team highs in batting average (.338), doubles (8), walks (13) and runs (25) that season…Played summer baseball with the Spokane Dodgers under the direction of coach Jeff Simmelick…Member of the Baseball Northwest program all four years of high school…Ranked 35th out of 517 in his graduating class and carries a 3.75 GPA…Coached by Keith Gradwohl at Walla Walla HS.
Nakama on Davidson
“Anders Davidson is going to give us some depth at shortstop. He’s a good defender, he’s athletic, and I think he has a lot of upside. He’s only going to get better. That’s a position that’s been a revolving door for us, so he has a chance to play that position. Right now his defensive skills are a little ahead of his ability to hit, but we think he has great potential to do both at a high level.”
RHP Jakob Gonzalez (La Mirada, Calif. / La Mirada HS)
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound righty appeared in 7 games as a junior at La Mirada High School, including 5 as a starter…Tallied a 4-1 record with a 1.73 ERA…Fanned 21 and allowed only 18 hits in 28.1 innings pitched…Also sees time behind the dish for his high school team…Played summer baseball with the Garciaparra Baseball Group…Ranked No. 331 in the state of California by Perfect Game…Coached by Jimmy Zurn at La Mirada HS.
Nakama on Gonzalez
“Gonzalez is a right-handed pitcher who’s not a real physical kid, which puts him under the radar, in my opinion. He has a good fastball and a good breaking ball. He comes from a very disciplined household, which is great to see. I think he’s going to give us not only depth, but also depth in the back end of the bullpen and in the future definitely be a guy who could start for us. He’s going to surprise a lot of people and we think he’s going to be a good one.”
OF Aiden Malm (Rocklin, Calif. / Whitney HS)
The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder can play any of the three outfield spots…Batted .413 with a .560 on-base percentage as a junior at Whitney High School in 2015…Nine of his 26 hits were doubles…Played summer baseball for the EDH Vipers under the direction of coach Dan Sozzi…Member of the 2014 San Francisco Giants scout team and 2015 Blue Jays scout team…Coached by Rob Dorchak at Whitney HS.
Nakama on Malm
“Aiden Malm is a big kid who can run and has a strong arm. He’s a really good player. I like him a lot, and he’s going to push some of the outfielders that return next year. He primarily played center field when I saw him in the summer and he does a good job out there as far as range and being a polished defender. We needed a right-handed bat with some power, so he fills that role for us.”
LHP Jeremy Polon (West Hills, Calif. / El Camino HS)
The 6-foot-0, 180-pound left-hander could compete for midweek starts as a freshman…Posted an 11-1 record as a junior at El Camino High School in 2015…Named Pitcher of the Year and All-West Valley League…Also earned co-Section Player of the Year honors…Helped the Conquistadores reach the Division I championship…Ranked as the No. 165 best prospect in the state of California by Perfect Game…Invited to 2015 Area Code Games…Cal-Hi Sports 1st Team Underclass in 2015…Participant in the 2015 USA Baseball Tournament of Stars…Played for coach Josh Lienhard at El Camino HS.
Nakama on Polon
“He’s a left-handed pitcher and he’s from the L.A. area, so he pitches against good competition, and he wins. For me, he’s done it against good competition and he’s a good pitcher. I don’t think he’s going to overwhelm you with velocity but he has very good command of three pitches and he’s going to come here with some good experience, so I think that’s really going to help him. We needed to get some potential left-handed starting pitching, and he fit that mold for us.”