The recruiting class, assembled under the direction of assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Josh Holliday along with associate head coach Bobby Moranda, includes six pitchers, four infielders, two outfielders and one catcher. Five of Tech's 13 high school recruits are ranked among the top 85 high school players in the nation according to Perfect Game Crosschecker and Baseball America's Prospects Plus, the nation's leading experts on high school baseball recruiting.
The recruiting class also includes the No. 1 prep recruits from Virginia, Indiana, Ohio and Colorado, as well as two of the top-six players from the state of Georgia. It includes two AFLAC All-Americans, two members of the USA Junior National Team, two players from the East Cobb Youth Baseball Program, five members of the Junior Team Georgia 2006 Summer Team, and seven pitchers that throw in excess of 90 MPH, including three that throw 94 MPH or higher.
Georgia Tech's commitments include AFLAC All-America pitcher
Neil Ramirez (Virginia Beach, Va. / Kempsville HS), rated as the No. 2 prep player in the nation; AFLAC All-America shortstop / pitcher Derek Dietrich (Parma, Ohio / St. Ignatius HS), the top player in Ohio; pitcher Jarrod Parker (Bluffton, Ind. / Norwell HS), the top player in the state of Indiana; catcher Cole Leonida (Aurora, Colo. / Aurora HS), the top player in Colorado; pitcher Zach Brewster (Murryville, Ga. / North Hall HS), the No. 4 player in Georgia; pitcher Deck McGuire (Richmond, Va. / Deep Run HS), the No. 4 player in Virginia; pitcher Kevin Jacob (Parkville, Md. / Parkville HS), rated the No. 4 player in Maryland; infielder / pitcher Brandon Cumpton (Evans, Ga. / Greenbrier HS), rated the No. 6 player in Georgia; along with Team Georgia members outfielder Chase Burnette (Buford, Ga. / Buford HS), outfielder Jeffrey Rowland (Evans, Ga. / Greenbrier HS), and infielder Thomas Nichols (Leesburg, Ga. / Lee Co. HS), as well as East Cobb standouts infielders Matt Simonds (Atlanta, Ga. / Pace Academy), and pitcher Taylor Wood (Suwanee, Ga. / Greater Atlanta Christian).
"I think this is an outstanding group and that it's one of the best classes that we've signed in the last few years," said Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall. "It's very deep in pitching but we feel like the position players that we have signed will certainly fill needs for us. We will be leaning on a lot of these guys to come in here and certainly play right away, and play very well right away because of the number of players that we are going to be losing either to graduation or to the pro draft this coming year."
A detailed look at Georgia Tech's signees:
ZACH BREWSTER (LHP, L/L, 6-0, 175, Murryville, Ga./North Hall)
Brewster is rated the No. 46 high school prospect and the No. 74 draft prospect in the country by Perfect Game Crosschecker. He is also rated the No. 4 player in Georgia, according to the same recruiting firm, and the No. 66 prep player in the nation by Baseball America Prospects Plus. A three-year lettermen at North Hall HS under coach Trent Mongero, Brewster finished his junior season with a 5-1 record, holding a 3.47 ERA in over 38 IP. As a hitter, he holds the record for runs scored in a season (33 in 2005) and in a career (76). He has participated in the 2006 Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association World Championship, 2006 East Coast Professional Showcase, 2006 WWBA 18U/2006 Graduate National Championship, 2006 Barrett-Fletcher World Series and the 2006 Sunbelt Classic Baseball Series. Brewster was a member of the 2006 Junior Team Georgia as well as the Savannah Chain, a South Georgia summer powerhouse under the direction of former University of Georgia standout Kris Edge, and was selected to the Georgia Dugout Club's top-80 and top-20 teams. He has over a 4.0 GPA, is a member of the Beta and Spanish Clubs, and has attended the Congressional Youth Leadership Council's National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C.
Danny Hall on Brewster: "Zach is a great left-handed pitcher and a very smart guy, so he's definitely a great Tech 'student-athlete'. He has a very good fastball with great movement, and throws from a sidearm slot that, I believe, will make him very tough to hit. We first saw him at our pitcher-catcher camp last December, and then we watched him again this summer with Team Georgia. He also played with the Savannah Chain, and I think he's just a tremendous left-handed pitcher that we're excited about having in the program."
Danny Hall on Burnette: "Chase goes to an outstanding high school in Buford High School; they've been the state champs in football on multiple occasions, and he plays on that football team, but he also led their baseball team to the state tournament. We look at him as a great athlete who can really run. He's a left-handed hitter, and in our ballpark, left-hand hitters are a premium. I think he's one of those sleeping giants in that he's played two sports throughout high school, and I think that when he settles in and just plays baseball year-around, he's going to be a great baseball player. Josh (Holliday) went up and saw him last year at Buford High and then we saw him again with Team Georgia this summer and really liked him. We just think that he's a great athlete."
See stories from Gwinnett Daily Post and Gainesville Times.
Danny Hall on Cumpton: "We saw Brandon Cumpton for the first time in camp last winter, and he is an outstanding pitcher that could probably come in and pitch for us right now. He throws three pitches for strikes, and he's also a very good infielder. He played on the state championship team at Greenbrier High School last year, played for Team Georgia and also played for the Savannah Chain. We are very excited to have a guy that we think will be another player that could be another two-way guy in that he could pitch and also play in the infield and hit for us."
Danny Hall on Dietrich: "An interesting thing on Derek is that his grandfather, Steve Demeter, played in the major leagues, and Steve Demeter was the regional scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates when I coached at Kent State. So I knew his grandfather long before I knew Derek, and his grandfather called me and said that he felt that his grandson was a good player, so I started doing some research on him and found that not only is he a good player, but that he's a great player. He earned national recognition on several occasions throughout the summer, and first came to campus last fall during an unofficial visit and we really enjoyed meeting him and his parents. He's kind of a throwback player in that he's a guy that has tremendous passion for baseball. He is a great teammate, and on top of that he's a great infielder. He's another left-hand hitter with tremendous power that also has a great arm, and we see him as a guy that will pick up where Wieters leaves off in that he would probably be a closer for us."
Danny Hall on Jacob: "Coach Bobby Moranda brought Kevin Jacob to our attention, and he turned out to be a prime recruit that we began following this summer. We heard that he would be pitching in the Perfect Game National Tournament here in Atlanta, and it was indicated that he was a very bright student that possibly wanted to pursue engineering. Coach Moranda saw him throw three or four times during the week, and every time he threw, he looked great. He's a big, strong right-hander that has a great fastball over 90, but also has a great slider. While he may not be as well-known as some of our other signees, we feel like he could be a very good pitcher for us."
COLE LEONIDA (C/1B, R/R, 6-2, 205, Aurora, Colo./Grandview)
Danny Hall on Leonida: "Josh and Bobby saw Cole in the Area Code games in California this summer and we started recruiting him. He has very good athletic genes in his background; his dad played at Northern Colorado. Cole is a tremendous student and a great athlete. He's got great size, he can catch and throw, and he's really a strong, physical guy at the plate. We feel like he's a guy that can come in and catch and hit for us right away, and he's a great student, so he's a tremendous fit for our program."
DECK McGUIRE (RHP, R/R, 6-7, 225, Richmond, Va./Deep Run)
McGuire is rated the No. 4 high school player from Virginia and the No. 202 prep player in the country according to Baseball America Prospects Plus, while PG Crosschecker has him rated the No. 6 high school player from Virginia and the No. 218 prep prospect in the nation. McGuire is a two-sport star at Deep Run High School and is the quarterback on the football team, which was 10-0 on the 2006 season entering the state playoffs. Under head baseball coach Grant Odell, he posted a 5-4 record his junior year, striking out 100 in 59.1 innings pitched while posting a 2.48 ERA. McGuire also hit .441 with six home runs and 31 RBI, earning him first-team all-state accolades. McGuire has participated in the 2006 WWBA 17U/2007 Graduate National Championships, 2005 WWBA 17U National Championship, 2006 PG National Showcase, 2006 USA Baseball Tournament of the Stars, 2006 East Coast Professional Showcase and the 2005 Commonwealth Games.
Danny Hall on McGuire: "We saw Deck McGuire two summers ago in a Perfect Game tournament and again this past summer in a Perfect Game tournament here in Atlanta. He's a big guy, 6-7, and a high school quarterback that is very competitive. I think that he's another guy that, once he devotes himself to year-around baseball, the sky will be the limit for him. Deck is a very personable guy and knows Patrick Long, who is currently on our team from Virginia, and we are excited about getting him into our program."
THOMAS NICHOLS (IF, L/R, 6-2, 180, Leesburg, Ga./Lee Co.)
Rated the No. 277 high school recruit by Baseball America Prospects Plus, Nichols is one of seven players from the state of Georgia to sign letters of intent at Georgia Tech this week. Under head coach Rob Williams, Nichols has hit .416 with seven home runs and 56 RBI in his career at Lee County High School. As a junior, Nichols posted a .430 average with two HR and 26 RBI. He has participated in the 2006 WWBA World Championships, 2006 WWBA 18U/2006 Graduate National Championships, 2005 Atlantic Coast and 2004 National Underclass Showcase, and the 2005 WWBA 17U National Championship. A member of the Georgia Dugout Club's top-80 and top-20 teams, Nichols has also played for Team Georgia as well as the Savannah Chain where he played second base to form a double-play combination with current Yellow Jacket Jeff Ussery.
Danny Hall on Nichols: "Thomas Nichols is one of the best hitters in the state of Georgia. He is a left-handed hitter from Lee County that plays in the infield, but I think could play several positions. He impressed us this summer when we saw him with Team Georgia after Josh drove down to Leesburg to see him play in the spring. He is also another member of the Savannah Chain. Every time I saw the guy play this summer, I thought that he swung that bat really well. He's another left-handed hitter that I think will be an outstanding hitter for us."
JARROD PARKER (RHP, R/R, 6-2, 175, Bluffton, Ind./Norwell)
Danny Hall on Parker: "Jarrod Parker is a right-handed pitcher from the Fort Wayne, Ind. area and is one of the best pitchers in the country, period. He is a guy that we had seen this summer here at the Perfect Game tournament and as we followed him for most of the summer, he just kept getting better and better. He was on Team USA that played in Cuba and is a guy that would come right in here and pitch in our rotation as a freshman."
NEIL RAMIREZ (RHP, R/R, 6-3, 190, Virginia Beach, Va./Kempsville)
Danny Hall on Ramirez: "Neil Ramirez is another in a long line of Virginia prospects. We began following and recruiting him two summers ago when he was at the Team One Showcase here in Atlanta. He knew (Georgia Tech freshman) Patrick Long because they played together in the fall last year, and he also knew Deck McGuire. He was a member of Team USA that played in Cuba, and one of the best pitching prospects in the country, just like Jarrod Parker. We're just extremely excited about having him in our program."
JEFF ROWLAND (OF, L/L, 5-11, 175, Evans, Ga./Greenbrier)
Danny Hall on Rowland: "Jeff Rowland is a teammate of Brandon Cumpton at Greenbrier High School. He is a tremendous center fielder that has great instincts as a baseball player. He is your gutty, determined, gritty guy that is a leadoff-type hitter that can really play center field. He can swing the bat, steal bases and can really create a lot of havoc for opposing teams. He also played on the Greenbriar state championship team and is another member of the Savannah Chain, so he knows how to win. We're really excited to get him because we see him as a guy that can certainly replace Danny Payne. He probably doesn't have the power that Danny Payne has, but there are a lot of similarities in everything else that they both do."
Danny Hall on Simonds: "Matt Simonds is from Pace Academy and has been in the East Cobb Baseball program for several years. He is a great student, and obviously goes to a great high school in Pace Academy. I see him as a corner guy that can really swing the bat. We first saw him in our winter camp last year and he swung the bat extremely well. He's got a great body and is going to be a very strong hitter for us and a guy that can play multiple corner positions."
TAYLOR WOOD (LHP, R/L, 6-6, 190, Suwannee, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian)
Danny Hall on Wood: "Coach Moranda and Coach Holliday first saw Taylor Wood as a 16-year old on the East Cobb Astros team, pitching for Guerry Baldwin's team. He's a big left-hander that was one of the best pitchers, if not the best pitcher, in the East Cobb Baseball Program when he was playing for that East Cobb Astros program at the age of 16. He was hurt most of last summer but is coming on strong again. He pitched in the Perfect Game Wood Bat tournament just about a month ago and threw extremely well, and we feel like he is on the way back. He's the cousin of Blake Wood, and if he turns out to be as good as Blake, we will be extremely happy. The only difference is that he's left-handed."
Name POS B/T HT WT Hometown (High School/JC) Zach Brewster LHP L/L 6-0 175 Murryville, Ga. (North Hall) Chase Burnette OF L/L 6-2 190 Buford, Ga. (Buford) Brandon Cumpton P/IF R/R 6-2 198 Augusta, Ga. (Greenbrier) Derek Dietrich SS/P L/R 6-1 190 Parma, Ohio (St. Ignatius) Kevin Jacob RHP R/R 6-5 195 Parkville, Md. (Parkville) Cole Leonida C/1B R/R 6-2 205 Aurora, CO (Grandview) Deck McGuire RHP R/R 6-7 225 Glen Allen, VA (Deep Run) Thomas Nichols IF L/R 6-2 180 Leesburg, Ga. (Lee Co.)
Jarrod Parker RHP R/R 6-2 175 Bluffton, Ind. (Norwell) Neil Ramirez RHP R/R 6-3 190 Virginia Beach, Va. (Kempsville)Jeff Rowland OF L/L 5-11 175 Evans, Ga. (Greenbrier) Matt Simonds IF R/R 6-2 205 Atlanta, Ga. (Pace Academy) Taylor Wood LHP L/L 6-6 190 Suwanee, Ga. (Greater Atlanta Christian)