Baseball inks six during early signing period
The JU baseball team announced the signing of six student-athletes to National Letters of Intent during the 2010-11 signing period, including nationally ranked RHP Nolan Peterson (Milwaukee, Wis.), RHP/C/IF Alex McRae (New Berlin, Wis.) and LHP/OF Richard Williams (Jacksonville, Fla./University Christian).

Along with the ranked trio, local product C/IF Garrett Ruckel (Stanton College Prep) and junior college transfers Todd Hankins (IF/Georgia/Seminole JC) and Corben Madden (LHP/Florida State/Seminole JC) will make up the early portion of the 2010-11 signing class for the Dolphins.

A two-headed monster, associate head coach/recruiting coordinator Tim Montez and regional recruiter Tommy Murphy combined for their second collaborative effort in the recruiting process.

“We are extremely pleased to have inked six outstanding student-athletes during this early signing period” said JU head coach Terry Alexander. “We are bringing in two quality players from Seminole JC (where former JU assistant coach and player Chris Hayes is now head coach) along with four other high school players. Two of our high school players are local and the other two are from the state of Wisconsin, which has been very good to us over the years. Coach Montez and Coach Murphy did another superb job working together bringing in this outstanding class. I feel we addressed some of our needs and we will look to add a few more players in the spring.”

Peterson (6-1, 165), currently a senior RHP/Utility at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee, Wis., is rated No. 475 nationally and No. 2 in the state of Wisconsin by Perfect Game USA. As a junior, he earned second team all-conference honors after hitting .389 with six home runs, 51 RBI and 18 stolen bases while logging a 3.36 ERA, three complete games and 88 strikeouts. He was also a member of the USSA National Team which played in Japan over the summer of 2010 and played for the Racine Hitters for three seasons.

“Nolan has a strong wiry frame with a loose arm, throws from a low three-quarter slot and has tremendous two-seam run” said Montez. “He can run it up there in the 87-91 range and has a chance to have a plus slider and change-up. He is a very good athlete, who fields his position well, and really knows how to control the running game. Nolan played for the Racine Hitters, one of the top summer programs in the country, which is run by R.J. Fergus.”

McRae (6-3, 185) currently a senior RHP/Utility at New Berlin Eisenhower High School in New Berlin, Wis., is ranked in the Top 1000 by Perfect Game USA. As a junior, he was named to Team Wisconsin 2010, second team all-state and all-area, first team all-conference, all-division, all-district and all-suburban after batting .417 with six home runs and 34 RBI while notching a 10-1 record with a 2.25 ERA. He also played AAU ball with the Wisconsin Wildcats and the Racine Hitters.

“Alex brings us a lot of versatility,” Montez said. “He is a two-way player who will contribute right away on the mound, and work his way in as a position player. He has a chance to hit for power while also throwing 86-90 on the mound with a huge upside. Alex was also a teammate of McRae on the Racine Hitters over the summer.”

Williams is currently a senior LHP/OF for University Christian in Jacksonville, Fla. and is ranked in the Top 1000 by Perfect Game USA.

“Richard might be the top sleeper in the area,” said Montez. “He just started pitching and has a fresh arm. He can run it up there in the 85-89 range and has a chance to have a plus slider. We are extremely excited about his upside and look forward to him competing for a weekend spot down the road. He is also a plus student who plans on pursuing engineering as his major.” Ruckel (5-10, 190) is currently a senior C/IF at Stanton College Prep High School in Jacksonville, Fla. As a junior, he earned first team all-conference and honorable mention all-area honors after batting .410 with three home runs and 17 RBI. He has also been a three-time starter at WWBA World Championships in Jupiter, Fla.

“Garrett is a gamer who is a field general behind the plate and knows how to handle a pitching staff,” Montez said. “He reminds us a lot of Alex Swenson (our two year starting senior catcher) who is a tremendous defensive catcher and knows how to handle the bat. He is also a scholar student in the classroom.”

Hankins (5-11, 185), who will officially transfer from Seminole State College, played in 42 games with 33 starts as a freshman utility infielder at Georgia in 2010 where he batted .320 with one home run and 13 RBI. Prior to signing with the Bulldogs, he was a two-year starter at shortstop for Oviedo High School where he hit .380 as a senior and .453 as a junior en route to honorable mention all-state, second team all county and first team all-conference honors.

“Todd is a hard-nosed player who plays the game the right way,” Montez said. “He hit over .300 in the Southeastern Conference as a freshman and will come to us from Seminole State College with a lot of experience. He is a versatile player and will bring a lot of energy and passion to our program.”

Madden (6-0, 185), who also officially transfers from Seminole State College, made four appearances and logged two innings of relief for Florida State as a freshman in 2010. Prior to signing with the Seminoles, he was a four-year letterwinner at Boone High School in Oviedo, Fla. where he helped the squad to a district title in 2008.

“Corben is a crafty lefty that throws in the 84-87 range with a plus curveball,” said Montez. “He has great mound presence and has tremendous pitching ability. He should help us right away by competing for a starting job and give us some much needed experience being a junior college transfer.”