Nov. 12, 2010
HOUSTON - University of Houston head baseball coach Todd Whitting announced the signing of 14 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent on Thursday. Whitting's first signing class at Houston includes five pitchers, four infielders, four outfielders and a catcher.
Here is a look at each member of the 2011 signing class.
Brenner, a right-handed pitcher from Longview Pinetree High School, is a standout pitcher on his high school team. He was a member of the varsity squad as a freshman and earned Academic All-District honors.
In addition, Brenner also played summer baseball for the Texas Prospects.
"Keith is a big, strong athlete that has a chance to be a force in the future," Whitting said. "He splits his time with basketball and once he is able to focus on baseball full-time, he should really take off. Keith has a really good arm with the ability to spin the ball and create swings and misses."
He is the son of Robert and Sarah Brenner.
Collier, a right-handed pitcher from San Jacinto Junior College, was a member of the San Jac baseball team that earned a berth in the Junior College World Series. They finished tied for third in the nation and Collier was an All-Conference selection and an All-Region team member. He was also a NJCAA Baseball All-American in 2009.
Prior to his time at San Jacinto, Collier attended Cypress Fairbanks where we was a two-time All-State selection and was named the 2007 Texas Sports Writer's Association Player of the Year.
"Tommy has been a winner his whole career," Whitting said. "He led Coach Tom Arrington's San Jacinto Gators to the JUCO World Series as a freshman. Tommy missed last season following Tommy John surgery but his will to succeed has allowed him to be poised to make a strong return this season. He should be a key piece of our pitching rotation next year."
He is the son of Alan and Veronica Collier.
Fulmer, an outfielder from Cy-Ranch High School, played in the Area Code games and recorded one of the top 60-meter times at the games. He was also named to the USA Baseball Breakthrough Series Roster and his team won the TASO Championship in 2010.
"Ashford is an extremely gifted athlete that is still scratching the surface of how good he can be," Whitting said. "He has played for Coach John Pope at Cy-Ranch High school and has a good foundation of how to play the game correctly. Ashford can really defend, throw, and has some power in his bat. As Ashford continues to get stronger, the sky is the limit for him."
He is the son of Arnold and Tawana Fulmer.
Garza, a right-handed pitcher from Galveston Ball High School, was named a First Team All-District pitcher in 2009 and earned a spot on the First Team All-County squad in 2010.
"Aaron is a very exciting prospect," Whitting said. "He is a strike thrower with three pitches; he is tall and lean and has huge hands allowing him to really spin the baseball. Aaron will get stronger and has a chance moving forward to be a very high-level prospect."
He is the son of Israel and Laurie Garza.
Gibson, an infielder from Clear Creek High School, earned an Honorable Mention All-District selection in 2009 and was a Second Team member in 2008. Under the direction of head coach Jim Mallory, Gibson's team finished as the District Co-Champions in 2009.
He also plays for the Mizuno Scout Team for coach Shane Nanle and the Orioles Scout Team in Virginia for coach Lee Banks.
"Zack is another high energy guy that has strength to his game as well as the ability to play in the middle of the field.," Whitting said. "He played in the summer for former Major League pitcher and Cougar great Shane Nance. Zack comes from Clear Creek High school where he has been tutored by one of Houston's finest and longest tenured high school coaches, Jim Mallory."
He is the son of Sean and Sharon Gibson.
Grayson, an infielder who also is a left-handed pitcher and outfielder, comes to Houston from Navarro Junior College.
"Casey comes from the highly successful Navarro Junior College program led by coach Whoa Dill," Whitting said. "Casey is a middle of the order type bat that has always hit. He is a local kid that we are thrilled to bring back home and add some punch to our line-up. Casey can also give us some innings on the mound."
Hernandez, a left-handed pitcher from Blinn Junior College, was selected as a Texas-New Mexico Junior College All-Star.
Prior to attending Blinn, Hernandez played baseball at William B. Travis in Richmond, Texas. He was an Honorable Mention pitcher in 2007 and a First Team All-District selection in 2009. In addition he was named to the All-Fort Bend County team.
"Matt has the ability to come in and compete for a spot at the top of our rotation," Whitting said. "He has pitched for coach Harvey McIntyre at Blinn Junior College and should anchor their staff this season. Matt comes from a baseball background as his father Rodney is the head baseball coach at Travis High School."
He is the son of Rodney and Bernadette Hernadez.
Jacobs, an outfielder from Goose Creek Memorial High School, was a Second Team All-District selection in the outfield last season and was the District 19-4A MVP. He is also a member of the football team where he was an All-District selection at kicker and was an Academic All-District selection in 2008 and 2009.
"Price plays for coach Chris Rupp at Goose Creek Memorial," Whitting said. "He is an extremely athletic outfielder that can run, throw, has power and can make things happen on the field. He has the tools to play this game for a long time at a high level. Price is an extremely good student and that coupled with his baseball tools make him a great fit for our program."
He is the son of Andy and Nancy Jacobs.
Kay, a catcher from St. Viator High School (Ill.), was an All-Area Special Mention in 2009 and was named to the All-Area and All-Conference teams in 2010. He was also named the team MVP in 2010.
"Cory is a baseball rat," Whitting said. "He is primarily a catcher, but his athleticism allows him the option of playing other spots as well. As Cory continues to get stronger, he really has a chance to hit and be an integral part of our future moving forward."
He is the son of Brad and Sara Kay.
Lueneburg, an infielder and outfielder from Kishwaukee Junior College, was an All-Conference and an All-District selection as well as being named an All-American.
Prior to his time at Kishwaukee, Lueneburg was named an All-Conference selection and an All-State team member at Shoreland Lutheran in Somers, Wisc.
"Jake was a freshman All-American at Kishwaukee last year and brings an advanced approach to hitting to the table," Whitting said. "He is another guy that should have an immediate impact and be an anchor in the middle of our lineup. Jake is a proven leader both on and off the field."
He is the son of Jerome and Gloria Lueneburg.
Pyeatt, an outfielder from Brazoswood High School, was a member of the Buccaneers baseball team that finished 33-8 in 2010 and reached the state semifinals. He was a District 24-5A Honorable Mention and was named to the All-Greater Houston Area team as an Honorable Mention. Pyeatt was also named to the All-Brazoria County Second Team.
"Michael is a guy that has always hit," Whitting said. "He is more of a gap to gap type guy that will get after you. Michael loves to play and has an advanced understanding of what to do with the bat."
He is the son of Tom and Lori Pyeatt.
Sanford is an outfielder from Westbury Christian High School.
"Keegan is a strong, athletic high energy guy that will raise our energy level the moment he arrives," Whitting said. "He also plays fullback in high school which speaks to his toughness. Keegan is a good student and high character guy that coupled with his baseball ability make us better."
Stacks, an infielder form Seven Lakes High School, was a member of the Spartans baseball team that finished as the Co-District Champions in 2010. He was named the District 19-5A MVP as a junior and was a sophomore First Team All-District selection in 2009. Stacks is also a 2010 Academic All-District team member and earned the Incoming Freshman of the Year award in 2008.
"Kendall is a high energy guy that brings athleticism and toughness to our team," Whitting said. "As a football player as well, Kendall will bring that get after you type approach with him. He is a guy that can play in the middle of the field as well as handle the bat."
He is the son of Ken and Kim Stacks.
Vruggink, a right-handed pitcher and infielder from Clear Brook High School, earned First Team All-District honors as a utility player. He was also a First Team All-District first baseman as a junior and participated in the 2010 Houston Coach's Association Futures Game. Vruggink was a 2009 Team Texas Sun Belt Classic player.
He is also a member of the National Honor Society.
"Ryan plays for another Cougar great Gene Flores at Clear Brook High School," Whitting said. "He is a big, strong kid that has a feel for pitching. He has pitched on some big stages without fear and has the stuff to be a key contributor from the outset. Ryan can also swing the bat with some authority and that provides us an added bonus with his addition."
He is the son of Bill and Leigh Ann Vruggink.