COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Another season, another great recruiting class for the Tennessee Tech baseball team as head coach Matt Bragga, along with assistant and recruiting coordinator Brandon Turner, have put together one of the most promising groups of newcomers in the Bragga era.
The list of newcomers includes eight junior college transfers and seven freshmen, along with five transfers from the collegiate ranks. The players come from several different areas of both the country and world including: Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi, Texas, Pennsylvania, and even Japan.
Bragga on this recruiting class:
"We have added 15 new players to our roster for the upcoming school year. Numbers are not everything, that is certain, but it is nice to have lost only four seniors from last year's ball club and to be able to add 15 in this class. This class encompasses eight junior college transfers and seven high school signees and is loaded with talent. I believe this is the best and deepest recruiting class we have ever brought into our program. This group includes many impact players that will play and contribute immediately. The added depth, we will have because of these young men, is also something we addressed as we were recruiting this class."
JORDAN PARRIS – 6'3 185 C COLUMBIA STATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
A four-year letter winner out of Tullahoma, Tenn., Parris joins the Tech team following two solid years behind the plate at Columbia State Community College. Following a senior season that saw his average balloon to .383, Parris made a name for himself on the defensive side of the game, picking off 18 runners as a sophomore at Columbia State. A 2010 honors graduate of Tullahoma High School, Parris was named all-district while leading his team to sectionals level of the playoffs. He was high school teammates with fellow newcomer Jacob Honea.
Bragga on Jordan: "Jordan jumped off the board at us with his defensive ability behind the plate. He has a chance to be one of the best defensive catchers to come through our program. Offensively he is a worker that continues to improve daily and we expect big things from him. Jordan is also a winner. He won multiple championships at Columbia State under the direction of Coach Mike Corn. Jordan is exactly what we look for in a person and a player and we are excited to have him at TTU."
A two-sport athlete out of Tullahoma, Tenn., Honea excelled at several positions in both football and baseball for Tullahoma High School. In addition to pitching and playing shortstop, he also played quarterback and receiver on the football team. Honea garnered both all-conference and all-region honors before graduating with honors in 2010. A transfer out of Motlow State Community College, Honea will add significant depth to the Tech pitching staff in the 2013 season. He was high school teammates with fellow newcomer Jordan Parris.
ZACH ZARZOUR – 5'10 170 IF CHATTANOOGA STATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
An Ooltewah, Tenn. native, Zarzour earned seven letters over two sports at Ooltewah High School. Three of those letters came as a wide receiver in football and four from baseball as a shortstop. On top of being named team MVP as a freshman, Zarzour also earned Chattanooga Best of Preps first team honors. He also led his team to a 2009 district championship. Zarzour garnered TCCAA all-conference first team honors as a member of the Chattanooga State Community College baseball team. The Golden Eagles will rely on his speed to change games during the 2013 season.
ROSS SPURGEON – 6'2 210 RHP CLEVELAND STATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
A local product from Cookeville, Tenn., Spurgeon was a two-year letter winner for Cookeville High School until 2010. Voted the team MVP, he also earned Louisville Slugger honorable mention honors, won the Brian Wasik award, and was named Pitcher of the Year for the 6-AAA district. Following two quality years at Cleveland State Community College, Spurgeon will look to add depth and knowledge to the Tech pitching staff for 2013.
BRANDON THOMASSON – 6'2 210 IF/OF MARION MILITARY ACADEMY
A native of Royal Palm Beach, Fla., Thomasson lettered two years at Royal Palm Beach High School as a catcher. He made the transition to both the infield and outfield at Marion Military Academy, putting up stellar offensive numbers. Thomasson will look to add great defensive depth to the Golden Eagle team, bringing an ability to play several positions.
DANIEL MILES – 6'1 210 3B MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST COMMUNITY COLLEGE
A four-year letter winner from Pascagoula, Miss., Miles brings strong offensive potential to the third base position. Following four years as a third baseman at Pascagoula High School where he batted .436 with eight homers his senior season, Miles starred at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, batting .404 with six homeruns and 20 doubles as a sophomore at GCCC. His fantastic season led to first-team all-state honors as well as a first-team Region 23 nod. He was named to the all-state team and all-state all-star team as a senior at PHS and earned all-district first team honors as a sophomore and junior.
STANTON TAYLOR – 6'1 185 RHP WESTERN TEXAS COLLEGE
A native of Hawley, Texas, Taylor racked up eight varsity letters while at Hawley High School, including three as a point guard on the basketball team, two as a running back and cornerback on the football team, and three as a pitcher and second baseman. As a sophomore, he earned Newcomer of the Year honors and followed it up with back-to-back all-district pitcher nods as a junior and senior. He also garnered all-district honors as a point guard for the basketball team. In his three years on the baseball team, HHS won three district championships. Taylor joins the Golden Eagles after two years as a member of the Western Texas College baseball team.
Bragga on Taylor: "Stanton had a remarkable sophomore year at Western Texas. He not only possesses a plus fastball, but he has a split finger that is a true out pitch for him. He is a great competitor that has the ability to fill many roles for us. We have high aspirations for Stanton and really look forward to working with him. Stanton is another high quality young man and we are excited he chose our great university as his home for the next two years."
JAKE ROWLAND – 6'1 185 OF UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE
A 2011 graduate of Meigs County High School and native of Decatur, Tenn., Rowland will sit out the 2013 season after transferring from the University of Tennessee. Rowland was a four-time all-disrict honoree and also added three all-region honors and one all-state nod. He was named to the Perfect Game Top 1000 list as well as garnering Perfect Game All-American honorable mention honors. Rowland showed off his speed and hitting skills as a senior at MCHS, batting .438 with 32 runs scored, 26 RBI, and 29 stolen bases. He is also the cousin of Golden Eagle football defensive back Austin Tallant.
CHARLES MATSUNAMI – 5'9 155 IF MEITOKUGIJUKU H.S. SAKURA, CHIBA JAPAN
A native of Japan, Matsunami comes to Cookeville after leading Meitokugijuku High School to both fall and spring state championships. Primarily a shortstop in high school, he also possesses the ability to play second base, showing off great defensive skills.
DREW TOTH – 6'0 180 OF OOLTEWAH HIGH SCHOOL, CHATTANOOGA, TN
An Ooltewah, Tenn. native, Toth joins the Golden Eagles after earning six varsity letters at Ooltewah High School. On top of two letters in golf, he earned four as an outfielder while batting .405 his senior season. He also led the team with 30 stolen bases and scored 50 runs while racking up 20 RBI. Toth earned all-district honors while leading OHS to the District 5-AAA championship. He finished his high school career with a .400 batting average, 80 stolen bases, 90 runs scored, and 60 RBI.
JOHN BILBREY – 6'1 185 LHP/OF CUMBERLAND COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL, CROSSVILLE, TN
A four-year letter winner out of Cumberland County High School, the Crossville, Tenn. native Bilbrey joins Tech as an accomplished pitcher and outfielder. While also playing basketball, he all-district honors in 2009, 2010, and 2011. He also won the team's pitching award those three years on top of being named All-Region 3AAA in 2010 and 2011. Bilbrey set eight school records in just his first three years of play as both a pitcher and hitter.
Bragga on Bilbrey: "John Bilbrey is a baseball player. He has the ability to not only make a major impact on the mound, but he is a great athlete that can cover some ground in the outfield and swings a great bat. He has the chance to be another one of our great dual position players that we have had here at Tennessee Tech. John is a fantastic young man and we are proud to have him join our TTU family."
TYLER BRAZELTON – 5'9 185 OF SPARKMAN HIGH SCHOOL, ALABAMA
A native of Huntsville, Ala., Brazelton earned three letters as a left fielder for Sparkman High School. He wrapped up his career with a .395 batting average, mashing 14 home runs in three seasons. Brazelton batted .390 in his senior season while adding 14 doubles, two homeruns, and 20 runs scored.
Bragga on Brazelton: "Tyler is worker with a charismatic personality that brings out the best in people! His ability to light up a room when he enters it is a super trait and one that could eventually lead him to become our next great team leader. As a baseball player, this guy is always on base. He covers big-time ground in the outfield as well. Needless to say, we are thrilled to have Tyler here with us at TTU."
LUKE NIENTIMP – 6'4 185 RHP ERIE MCDOWELL HIGH SCHOOL, ERIE, PA
A four-year scholar athlete at McDowell High School in Erie, Pa., Nientimp racked up five varsity letters between baseball and basketball. While earning two letters as a forward for the basketball team he also earned three on the baseball team as a pitcher and third baseman. He helped lead MHS to back-to-back-to-back District 10 championships and also helped his American Legion team to two Region 8 championships. Nientimp finished his junior season with a career average of .320 with 35 RBI as a third baseman and finished his high school career with 15-5 record and a 2.00 ERA as a pitcher.
Bragga on Nientimp: "Luke has a ceiling as a pitcher that is incredibly high. He is a mature young man that has set high goals for himself and knowing Luke, as I do, he will stop at nothing to reach those goals. He is next in line as another great power pitcher that has come through our Tech program. Luke is a high character young man and a tremendous student. We are excited to have Luke make Cookeville his home away from home."
HUNTER HUDSON – 6'1 185 IF/RHP SEQUATCHIE HIGH SCHOOL, DUNLAP, TN
A native of Dunlap, Tenn., Hudson excelled as a three-sport athlete at Sequatchie High School. In football he earned all-district honors as well as being name defensive back of the year. Hudson garnered all-state honors in baseball on top of being named player of the year and earning the Aaron Simmons award. He wrapped up his senior season with an incredible .520 batting average, 55 stolen bases, and seven homeruns.
Bragga on Hudson: "Hunter can flat fly and his speed correlates into baseball speed. He has the ability to play multiple positions, including pitcher. Hunter's baseball ability is untapped, and it amazing to think how good he can be in time, if he works at his skills, like I know he will. Hunter is another fantastic young man that we really look forward to coaching and having as a part of our baseball program."
JOE GANGER – 6'0 175 UTL DAVID CROCKETT HIGH SCHOOL, JONESBOROUGH, TN
A two-sport athlete out of Jonesborough, Tenn., Ganger lettered four years in basketball as a point guard and three years as an infielder and pitcher in baseball at David Crockett High School. He was named all-conference in both sports. In basketball, Ganger joined the 1,000-point club in his senior season.
Bragga on Ganger: "'Old school' comes to mind when I think of Joe as a ball player. He is a gritty, hard nosed guy that will do whatever we ask of him. If we need him to work behind the plate as a catcher, he will do it and do it well. If we need him to play second base, he will do it, and do it well. Joe is the kind of guy that you just love to coach and have on your team. We are thrilled he chose TTU as his school."