Mesa baseball signees will create competition to be in starting lineup
It’s nice to have a senior-dominated outfield ... until you look around after the season and see gaping holes in left, center and right.
That’s what Mesa State College baseball coach Chris Hanks faced during the recruiting process, so he acted accordingly. Hanks signed four junior college outfielders in a 15-man recruiting class.
“We wanted to create competition,” Hanks said Monday during a break from working on the Bus Bergman practice field at the college, which will officially become Colorado Mesa University next week.
Mitch Corwin is a 5-foot-11, 190-pound NJCAA Division II All-American from Dodge City (Kan.) Community College who brings something to the Mavs’ lineup that was lacking in 2011 — a left-handed bat.
Mesa had no left-handed hitters on the active roster, but signed three lefties and has a handful who redshirted last season.
Hanks also signed Roman Chavez, a 5-11, 175-pound left-handed hitting outfielder from Colorado Northwestern, Erik Kozel, a 6-3, 190-pound outfielder out of San Joaquin Delta (Calif.) College and Ryan Mayfield, a 5-10, 175-pound outfielder/infielder from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College.
Mayfield played in the 2010 Alpine Bank Junior College World Series for the Blue Dragons.
“Chavez was Colorado Northwestern’s best player. He has the tools to hit,” Hanks said. “He and Corwin give us two dynamic guys with pop in their bats.”
Another player on Hutchinson’s 2010 JUCO World Series team, right-handed pitcher Matt Williams, is transferring from the University of Tampa.
“Mayfield was their two-hole hitter (in 2010) and hit third this year and was one of their leading hitters,” Hanks said. “Williams was their No. 2 starter and their starting shortstop.”
Nate Robertson, the Southwestern League player of the year from Montrose, gives the Mavericks a big shortstop (6-3, 190), much like All-American Matt Bodenchuk.
“Nate is a kid we project playing somewhere in the infield,” Hanks said. “He’s had a nice summer, he’s at the (National Baseball Congress) World Series with PlayBall out of Denver. He’s playing at a high level on that team.”
Hanks signed five infielders, two catchers and four pitchers.
The Mavericks have virtually the entire pitching staff returning, plus have Garrett Carpenter returning from Tommy John surgery and Jeremy Ortiz from grade problems.
Both would have challenged for the No. 1 spot in the rotation last spring.
Hanks wants plenty of competition to be in the lineup next season.
“We recruited over the top of some spots. We covered some needs because of injuries and grade issues,” he said.
“We’re not going to wait around to see if guys can get it done in the classroom. We’re going to recruit over the top and if they get it done in the classroom, then the best guy will play.”