From UT sports info:
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – For the fifth consecutive year, Head Coach Dave Serrano and the Tennessee Baseball staff have put together a Top 20-ranked class of commitments during the early signing period this week. Through Thursday, a total of 15 commits have announced their plans to join the Volunteer Baseball program for the 2016-17 academic school year.
By Perfect Game reports, Tennessee’s 2016 signing class ranks 15th in the nation, and is listed as one of 10 Southeastern Conference programs in the Top 25 for college recruitment class rankings. By the same outlet, the Vols’ 2015 signing class earned a No. 12 national ranking. The 2014 class was named No. 13 in the country by Perfect Game, while Baseball America put UT’s 2013 class as No. 15 overall and Serrano’s first recruitment class as No. 20 overall in 2012.
“This is an exciting time for everyone associated with our program,” Serrano said. “Recruiting coordinator Aric Thomas and the rest of my staff have secured a wonderful class. This group has a chance to be the best assembled in my time here at Tennessee. The 2016 class is filled with great athletes, good baseball players and good arms with pitch ability and competitiveness.
“Yet, the best part of this class is the makeup of these kids who all come from great families,” Serrano continued. “This class has already become very close and they are filled with passion and excitement to be part of the Big Orange.”
Of the 15 new Volunteers, seven are native to the state of Tennessee or the Knoxville area. Three are products of Georgia and the Greater Atlanta area, while the class also brings three players from Virginia and two from Florida.
Below is a breakdown of the newest additions to the Vol Baseball family, with comments from Recruiting Coordinator Aric Thomas.
A native of the Greater Memphis area, outfielder Justin Ammons is a four-year varsity letterman for Bartlett High School’s baseball program and an All-District, three-year letterwinner for the Panthers football team. After making three straight appearances with the Panthers baseball team in district tournaments, Ammons helped his 2015 squad to the state qualifiers, hitting .496 with two homers and 25 doubles, and was selected First Team All-State, District Player of the Year and All-Metro as an outfielder.
A two-time Underclass High Honorable Mention by Perfect Game, Ammons ranks as the No. 11 player in the state of Tennessee and a Top 100 outfielder in the country by Perfect Game. He played for the Dulins Dodgers travel ball organization, was a member of Team Tennessee and participated on Team USA’s 14U National Team.
Thomas on Ammons: “Justin is arguably the best hitter out of the Memphis area. He’s a left-handed hitter who hits at the top of the lineup and should bring a great offensive skillset to our lineup, as well. He’s a multi-sport athlete at Bartlett High School, plays football and is just a really talented athlete. He is going to be a tremendous asset to our program at Tennessee.”
A four-year letterman and three-sport athlete from Soddy Daisy High School, Tré Carter is labeled as the No. 16 outfielder in the nation and the third-best player in the state of Tennessee. As a junior in 2015, Carter helped his Trojans advance to the Class AAA state tournament as the team’s primary leadoff hitter and participated in numerous summer showcase events, including Perfect Game Nationals, Team USA tryouts and a Sunbelt Tournament appearance as a representative of Team Tennessee.
Carter played on the travel ball circuit for the Doubleday Rockies and was a member of the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets Scout Team. He received a 2015 Underclass Honorable Mention nod by Perfect Game and is also ranked as the No. 123 overall player in the nation by Perfect Game.
Thomas on Carter: “Tré is a highly skilled, multi-sport athlete who plays outfield and also plays basketball and football at a very high level. He has some of the best raw tools in the state and can be considered as one of the best athletes in the state of Tennessee this year. He can really run and has some raw power in his bat, as well. He will definitely add a lot to our offense and we’re excited to have him in our program.”
A talented, multi-sport athlete hailing from Lake Brantley High School in Longwood, Florida, Jay Charleston is listed as one of the Top 200 players in his class from the state of Florida according to Perfect Game. As a junior in 2015, Charleston helped Lake Brantley to a Seminole Athletic Conference Championship and hit .320 with 17 stolen bases and 20 runs scored as his team’s primary second baseman.
Charleston earned heavy travel ball experience playing for the Chet Lemon’s Juice, a premier travel ball organization in the state of Florida, and participated in numerous summer showcase events such as Perfect Game’s Elite Underclass Championship and the WWBA World Championship. Charleston and the Chet Lemon’s Juice also finished runner-up in the eight-team invitational Metropolitan Baseball Classic in Brooklyn, New York, hosted by the New York Mets organization.
Thomas on Charleston: “Jay Charleston is a game-changer type of guy at the top of the lineup. He possesses plus-speed. He was the leadoff hitter for Chet Lemon’s Juice, which is one of the top travel ball organizations in Florida. He causes all kinds of havoc on the base paths and again, is another great athlete coming into this program.”
Ranked as the No. 12 shortstop in the state of Florida and a Top 100 shortstop in the nation by Perfect Game, Brandon Chinea is a four-year letterman and two-year captain from Florida Christian School in Miami, Florida. A two-time, All-Miami -Dade County Third Team player and a 2015 Underclass Third Team selection by Perfect Game, Chinea hit .385 with six doubles, 14 RBI and eight stolen bases last spring. In 2014, he hit .348 over a team-leading 92 at-bats with five triples, helping his Patriots to a 20-8 record and a District Championship.
Chinea played travel ball for the Elite Squad and Easton Rockets out of Florida, earning five All-Tournament nods by Perfect Game over the course of his showcase appearances. As one of two Volunteer class representatives from the state of Florida, Chinea is also the younger brother of former Louisiana State University standout and St. Louis Cardinals prospect Chris Chinea.
Thomas on Chinea: “Brandon Chinea is another great, athletic addition to this class. He can run and can literally play anywhere on the field, with the exception of pitcher. He’s a great, true utility guy with a lot of versatility to his game. Again, he brings a great speed element to our program. He may be a little undersized but he has pro tools. His brother, Chris, was a middle-of-the-order type of guy but Brandon is a great base-stealer, so it’s fun to see how different they are and that Brandon has his own style of play.”
A product of North Gwinnett High School in Georgia, Connor Darling is a four-year letterwinner and right-handed pitcher for the Bulldogs. Ranked as the No. 10 righthander in the state of Georgia and No. 152 in the country byPerfect Game, Darling went 5-2 with a 1.32 ERA and 32 strikeouts during his junior season in 2015. He was voted a 2015 Underclass All-American by Perfect Game and received two Underclass Honorable Mention nods by PG in 2014.
As a member of Team Elite Prime, a premier travel ball organization out of the state of Georgia, Darling was named a Top Prospect in the 2014 PG Underclass All-American Game and was a participant in the 16U World Series, BCS Finals and Junior National Showcase. In 2015, he was named to the All-Tournament Team following Perfect Game’s Fort Myers Championship.
Thomas on Darling: “Connor is a powerful, right-handed arm. He played for Team Elite, one of the best travel ball organizations out of Georgia, and gets good downhill plain on this fastball. His fastball has been very affective and he has a great changeup, as well. Connor has already proven to be a tough competitor on the mound and we feel he will be nothing but a huge asset to our team and pitching staff in the future.”
Tabbed as an All-State player from Allatoona High School for three straight years (2013-15), catcher Pete Derkay ranks as the No. 13 catcher in the state of Georgia and is listed as the No. 131 catcher in the country by Perfect Game. As a junior, Derkay played as a representative on Team Georgia during the Sunbelt Classic in Oklahoma and received All-Tournament honors. As Allatoona High School’s primary catcher, the switch-hitter batted .305 with 14 RBI, while also seeing time at third base for the Bucs.
Derkay played on the travel ball circuit with Team Elite Prime and 6-4-3 DP Cougars, two of the top travel ball organizations in the state of Georgia.
Thomas on Derkay: “Pete is a gritty, switch-hitting catcher who can also play a corner infield spot and outfield. He’s a middle-of-the-order type of bat and has been selected as an All-State player in the state of Georgia for three years in a row. Pete provides the program with a lot of flexibility because of his ability to play multiple positions and we’re thrilled to have him.”
A multi-sport athlete with speed and power, Cal Gobbell ranks as the No. 15 overall player in the state of Tennessee and is among Perfect Game’s Top 200 outfielders in the nation. As a junior with Hardin County High School, Gobbell hit .440 with three home runs and 21 stolen bases, earning All-District and Under Armour Pre-Season All-American Tournament honors. As a sophomore in 2014, he received the Steve Smith Baseball Leadership Award and was voted Baseball Rookie of the Year as a freshman in 2013. Gobbell also took home numerous recognitions from the football field, including an All-District First Team nod and All-West Tennessee Junior Player of the Year.
Gobbell was selected as a member of Team Tennessee and was named to the Sunbelt Classic All-Tournament Team, where Team Tennessee took a second place finish. He also played summer travel ball with the Dulins Dodgers, one of the top travel ball organizations in the state of Tennessee.
Thomas on Gobbell: “Cal Gobbell is another one of the best athletes in the state of Tennessee. He was voted as an All-State football player at Hardin County High School and is a big-time competitor and a strong leader. He has a lot of speed and his power continues to develop, helping him become a complete offensive player. Again, Cal’s athleticism allows him to play multiple positions on the field and we look forward to having him on Rocky Top.”
A native of Talbott, Tennessee, Will Heflin is listed as the No. 16 pitcher out of the state of Tennessee and is the No. 93 lefty in the nation by Perfect Game rankings. As a junior with Morristown West High School in 2015, Heflin took home All-State, All-Region Pitcher of the Year and IMAC Player of the Year honors after going 10-1 with a 0.43 ERA and a .439 batting average with two home runs. He was also voted All-Region in each of his previous high school seasons and was selected to represent Team Tennessee during his junior campaign.
Heflin played travel ball with Diamond Baseball of the Simcox Academy, Marucci Elite and was a member of the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets Scout Team. In 2014, Heflin threw a complete-game, seven-inning shutout for his Marucci Elite against the Tri-State Arsenal in the WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Florida.
Thomas on Heflin: “Will Heflin is a great, pitch-ability lefthander. He really competes on the mound and has the ability to throw any of his pitches, in any count, for strikes. Will is the type of guy who you hand the ball to and you don’t worry about it until the end of the game. He’s a very solid addition to this class and to our pitching staff.”
Ranked as the No. 1 right-handed pitcher in the state of Tennessee, Sevierville native Zach Linginfelter is a three-year varsity letterman from Sevier County High School and was named an Under Armour All-American and Perfect Game Underclass First Team selection in 2015. Standing at 6-4, 230 lbs., Linginfelter ranks as the No. 12 right-handed pitcher and No. 39 overall pitcher in the country by Perfect Game. He finished his junior year 2-0 with a 0.88 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 24 innings. As a sophomore, he also helped his Smoky Bears to their second district title in three years, posting a 5-2, 3.06 ERA effort and 67 strikeouts in 50.1 innings pitched in 2014.
Linginfelter played travel ball for Team Elite Prime, and was a participant on the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets Scout Team. As a freshman and sophomore with Sevier County, he also helped his school’s football team to two consecutive district titles.
Thomas on Linginfelter: “Zach is a big, right-handed arm with absolutely explosive stuff. He was an Under Armour All-American and is by far one of the best high school pitchers in the country. He has a heavy fastball with a plus breaking pitch and we are excited to welcome Zach to the Tennessee pitching staff.”
A four-year letterman and team captain from Lafayette High School in Williamsburg, Virginia, middle infielder André Lipcius is ranked as the No. 3 shortstop and No. 19 overall player in the state of Virginia by Perfect Game. In 2015, he earned Underclass High Honorable Mentions accolades after helping his school to a 3A State Championship title, hitting .390 on the year and pitching a complete game to seal the state championship win for his Rams.
Ranked as a Top 100 shortstop in the nation by Perfect Game, Lipcius played on the travel ball circuit with the Richmond Braves, a premier travel ball organization out of Virginia, and competed in numerous summer and fall showcase tournaments. In 2014, he was also selected as Most Valuable Player of the WWBA Underclass World Championship after scoring the winning run to give his Richmond Braves a walk-off victory over the Virginia Cardinals.
Thomas on André Lipcius: “One of the most notable things about André is his bat. He has a big bat and has potential to be in the middle of the order. For a power bat, he also has very minimal strikeouts. He’s a plus-contact guy with a solid dose of power. He has an exceptional eye at the plate and a lot of hand-eye coordination and we look forward to having him within our infield group.”
A versatile player with the ability to contribute on both sides of the ball, Luc Lipcius joins the Volunteers program from Lafayette High School in Williamsburg, Virginia. Joining his twin brother, Andre, as a four-year letterwinner and captain of his Rams baseball team, Lipcius helped lead his school to a 3A State Championship title in 2015 and hit the game-winning home run to clinch the state title. Over the course of his high school career with Lafayette, he earned All-Conference, All-Region, All-State and All-Gazette honors.
Lipcius played travel ball with the Richmond Braves out of the state of Virginia, and has appeared in the Perfect Game WWBA Underclass World Championships over the past three years.
Thomas on Luc Lipcius: “Luc is a very versatile player and has a potential power bat from the left side of the plate. He can play outfield, first base and pitch. He has a chance to be a big run producer offensively. It’s really fun and interesting having twins who are complete opposites. One is right/right, the other is left/left and they have a lot of great chemistry. We’re thrilled to have both joining us at Tennessee.”
A Knoxville native and product of Farragut High School, Duncan Pence is the No. 6 shortstop in the state of Tennessee and the No. 38 shortstop in the nation by Perfect Game rankings. Named a Louisville Slugger All-American and Perfect Game Second Team All-American in 2015, Pence helped his Farragut Admirals to their third straight state championship tournament, hitting .387 with nine homers, 60 RBI and 15 stolen bases on the season. As a sophomore in 2014, the shortstop led Farragut to a state championship title, the ninth in school history and first since 2011.
Pence was selected as a representative for Team Tennessee and played travel ball for Diamond Baseball of the Simcox Academy. He also participated on the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets Scout Team, making appearances at the 2015 PG World Championship, East Coast Professional Showcase and the PG WWBA National Championships.
Thomas on Pence: “Duncan Pence is another great athlete in this class. He helped lead his high school to the state championship title in 2014 and competed for another state championship the following year. He’s an impressive and balanced offensive player with power and speed, which will allow him an opportunity to make an immediate impact and we’re happy to have him with us.”
Tabbed as the No. 4 righthander in the state of Georgia and No. 100 pitcher in the nation by Perfect Game, Andrew Schultz comes to Tennessee from Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross, Georgia. A three-year varsity letterman and multi-sport athlete for the Spartans, Schultz went 2-2 with a 3.37 ERA and 52 strikeouts in his junior season, while also hitting at a .307 clip with 21 RBI and 10 stolen bases. As a sophomore in 2014, the righty went 4-1 with a 2.30 ERA en route to helping GACS to the state championship tournament, where they finished runner-up.
On the travel ball scene, Schultz played Team Elite Prime alongside fellow Tennessee Volunteer signing classmates Connor Darling, Pete Derkay and Zach Linginfelter. He participated in 15 summer and fall showcase events throughout his travel ball career, including the WWBA World Championships and the East Coast Professional Showcase.
Thomas on Schultz: “Andrew Schultz is a tremendous competitor, a multi-sport athlete and a power arm. He just moved into the Top 100 players in the country byPerfect Game and the sky is truly the limit for him. He’s another impressive arm and right-handed pitcher in this class. I don’t know if he even understands his potential yet. We feel he’s just now scratching the surface of what he’ll be capable of doing and that’s exciting to see.”
Named the No. 5 right-handed pitcher and No. 8 overall player out of the state of Virginia, Garrett Stallings joins the Vol Baseball family as a four-year varsity letterman from Grassfield High School in Chesapeake, Virginia. In his junior campaign with the Grizzlies, he went 4-2 with a 1.25 ERA and 35 strikeouts following a breakout sophomore season, where he went 8-2 with a 0.85 ERA and 55 strikeouts. Throughout his high school career, Stallings has helped Grassfield Baseball to two conference championship titles and one district title. A multi-sport athlete for the Grizzlies, he is also a three-year varsity letterwinner in volleyball and helped his club to a conference championship in 2013.
As a member of the EvoShield Canes, one of the top travel ball organizations in the country, Stallings earned a No. 79 national ranking by Perfect Game following numerous summer and fall ball event showcases. While competing in the 2015 WWBA Championship game, the righthander led the charge on a complete-game shutout, tossing 5.0 scoreless innings and recording seven strikeouts for the title win. In the tournament, Stallings threw 7.0 innings and allowed just three hits with 10 strikeouts over two appearances.
Thomas on Stallings: “Garrett possesses plus-pitch ability for a right-handed arm and can effectively throw four different pitches for strikes. He is very, very smart on the mound and is a tough competitor. It was a big accomplishment to earn the complete-game shutout win in Jupiter with the EvoShield Canes and he showed he can really pitch. He will be a solid pitching addition for us in this class.”
A native of Louisville, Tennessee, left-handed pitcher Redmond Walsh is listed as the No. 28 lefty in the state by Perfect Game entering his senior season with Alcoa High School. A four-year letterman with the Tornadoes, he posted a 3-2 record with a 1.64 ERA and 57 strikeouts as a junior in 2015 while also hitting .373 with 21 RBI and 22 stolen bases. Over his three seasons at Alcoa High School, Walsh has earned three First Team All-County and All-District accolades and was named an All-State Two Way player and Super Sophomore by Tennessee Baseball Report in 2014.
Walsh played travel ball for Diamond Baseball of the Simcox Academy, participating in the 2015 and 2014 PG WWBA National Championships while garnering a No. 145 national ranking among left-handed pitchers by Perfect Game.
Thomas on Walsh: “Redmond is very competitive on the mound. He has a lot of pitch ability with great command of his breaking ball and changeup. He’s the type of pitcher that no moment is too big for. You could put him on the mound against any opponent and he would still go out there and do this thing. He will bring a lot to our team.”