Mavericks baseball team signs 21 players
Colorado Mesa baseball coach Chris Hanks is bringing in a large number of freshmen after the Mavericks’ best season since becoming an NCAA Division II program.
Of the 21 recruits coming for the 2014-15 school year, 16 will be freshmen. Four are junior college transfers, and one is transferring from a four-year school.
“As we looked at the age of the team, we wanted to bring in kids that would return for a couple years,” Hanks said. “We wanted kids that can grow up in the program like Austin Kaiser or Nate Robertson.
“I feel the skill and talent level is such that they can contribute next season.”
Hanks was confident recruiting freshmen, despite losing 13 players from the 2014 national runner-up squad that was one run away from winning the national title at the NCAA Division II World Series in Cary, N.C.
“We didn’t want to bring in junior college kids to be backups,” Hanks added. “We feel confident in the kids we have returning to continue what we’re doing.
“Junior college kids always have a place in a four-year program, but we wanted to build something to sustain over time.”
The recruits include eight pitchers, five infielders, four outfielders and one utility player. Two of the pitchers are left-handed.
Nick Cardinale was one of the top pitchers in the Las Vegas area. Hanks was concerned they would lose him in the Major League Baseball draft, but Cardinale wasn’t drafted. He could compete for a spot in the starting rotation next season, Hanks said.
Garrett Ball (Arroyo Grande, California), Martin Chagnovich, who played for former Mav Jason Crawford in West Valley City, Utah, and Zach McLeod (Trabuco Canyon, California), all played shortstop in high school and will compete to replace the All-American Robertson, who was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks. McLeod was the MVP in his conference.
Another shortstop, Cameron Johnson (Cheyenne, Wyoming), was his state’s player of the year.
Hanks added three players from the Western Slope in Cedaredge pitcher Trent Walker, Delta shortstop Tyler Sandoval and Grand Junction first baseman Tristan Lafferty. Sandoval could develop into a pitcher, Hanks said.
Outfielder Bligh Madris played with Cardinale at Foothill High School.
Three of the five college transfers are outfielders. They are James Young from the College of Southern Nevada, Alex Fife (Western Nevada Community College) and Mitch Robinson (Lamar Community College).
The only transfer from a four-year school is Michael Roberts. The right-handed pitcher connected with Mesa through former Central High School graduate and major league pitcher Jimmy Serrano.
Roberts made 11 appearances out of the bullpen last season for Coppin State. He was 2-2 with a 4.02 ERA, one save and 17 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. He will be a senior this year.
“There will be other kids who will step into some big roles,” Hanks said. “We didn’t expect Garrett Woodward or Derrick Garcia to have the impact they had. I thought Austin Kaiser would be solid, but I didn’t know he’d be the national player of the year.”