CORPUS CHRISTI - Islanders baseball head coach Scott Malone has announced 10 players are set to join Texas A&M – Corpus Christi for the 2014-2015 school year. The class consists of three current high school seniors and seven transfers.
This year's spring class will feature of four pitchers (Brian Allec, Ryan Buss, Wade Harris, Ryan Skoruppa), three infielders (Cody Clarke, Justin Perales, Casey Thomas) and two catchers (Scott Balfantz, Zach Metzger).
"We're really excited about this group of Islanders," said Malone. "These young men will be a great extension of our program in the community, in the classroom, and on the field. I think this is a great finishing touch to our roster heading into the fall.
Malone said credit must go to everyone involved in the program that helped bring this group together. "Recruiting is a collective effort and it starts with the guys doing all the road work," Malone said. "Brett Gips (Recruiting Coordinator) has done a great job of not only adding great players on the field, but great young men off of it."
The Islanders lost five seniors from the 2014 team that finished 31-27 and 19-11 in Southland Conference play.
Brian Allec (6-2, 200, RHP, Concord, Calif., Cal State East Bay)
Allec comes to the Island University as a transfer sophomore. He spent two years at Cal State East Bay where he was redshirted his first year and played sparingly during his second year. He was a member of De La Salle High School baseball team that won the EBAL Championship and NCS Division 1 Championship in 2012.
Gips on Allec: "He's a big, physical kid that should come in and compete for time right away. He has a lot of potential coming in this year."
Scott Balfantz (5-8, 165, C/RHP, Irving, Texas, Irving Nimitz HS)
Balfantz hit at a .344 clip with two home runs, 37 RBIs and 16 doubles for Irving Nimitz High School this past spring. He was named All-Area First Team Catcher and the District 5-6A MVP in 2014 while helping his team to a school-record 18 wins during both his junior and senior seasons.
Gips on Balfantz: "He's a really versatile athlete. He moves around very well behind the plate and also has the chance to compete for some innings for us."
Ryan Buss (6-3, 190, LHP, Dallas, Texas, Highland Park HS)
Buss tossed 52.1 innings to go with 61 strikeouts during his senior year. He had an ERA of 1.61 while leading the Fighting Scots to a 23-13 record. Buss was named to the Second Team All-District in 2014 after his team advanced to the Regional Quarter-Final.
Gips on Buss: "We expect him to come in right away and compete for a spot on the front end of the pitching staff as a starter. He has three pitches that he throws for strikes, a really good frame and unlimited upside."
Cody Clarke (6-0, 205, 3B, Royersford, Pa., Cisco JC)
Clarke comes to the Island University after two years at Cisco JC. He brings with him one year of starting experience at third base. Last season, Clarke hit .324 and drove in 34 runs. He also had 12 doubles and two triples as the Wranglers finished out the year 32-22.
Gips on Clarke: "We expect him to come in and plug the void left at third base by Brandon Tierney. He's a great defensive player that has the chance to hit for power for us."
Wade Harris (6-0, 180, RHP, Georgetown, Texas, Georgetown HS)
Harris led his team to a 47-24 record during his junior and senior years at Georgetown High School. During his senior season he won six games and struck out 51 batters to go with a 2.56 ERA. He was named Second Team All-Centex and Honorable Mention All-State.
Gips on Harris: "We expect him to come in and eat up a lot of innings early in his career. He can do a few different things for us on the mound. He is good enough to start and good enough to come out of the bullpen for us."
Zach Metzger (5-8, 199, C, Sunnyvale, Texas, Cisco JC)
Metzger hit for a .623 clip during his senior season at Sunnyvale High School. He showed the ability to hit for power as he drove in 35 runs and 12 homeruns. He brings two years of starting experience to the Island University from Cisco College. He was named First Team All-Conference behind the plate while at Cisco.
Gips on Metzger: "We brought Zach in because he is a very good defensive catcher, he really excels in blocking, throwing and receiving. He has the chance to hit for some power and be a great RBI guy in the middle of the lineup."
Justin Perales (6-4, 230, 1B, Corpus Christi, Texas, McLennan JC)
Perales will make his way to the Island University from McLennan Community College. The Corpus Christi native hit at a .280 mark and drove in 25 runs during his time with the Highlanders. His brother, Jacob Perales won four letters for the Islanders from 2008-11.
Gips on Perales: "He's a really big, strong, right-handed hitter that has a lot of baseball knowledge and a ton of upside. He should fit right in the lineup at the 3-4-5-6 spots."
Ryan Skoruppa (6-0, 190, LHP, Corpus Christi, Texas, Blinn JC)
Skoruppa is coming off a NJCAA World Series appearance with Blinn College. Last season he had a 3.46 ERA in 13 innings of work to go along with 14 strikeouts for the Buccaneers.
Gips on Skoruppa: "I think he can be a great one-inning guy, setting it up for our eighth or ninth-inning guys, or coming in and being a lefty-on-lefty specialist. He has the ability to throw multiple days in a row which is what will make him really valuable to our team."
Casey Thomas (5-10, 160, SS, Phoenix, Ariz., Gateway JC)
Thomas joins the Islanders from Gateway Community College where he was a two-year starter. During his two years at Gateway he was the team MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. Thomas hit at a .340 average for the Geckos and holds the school record for doubles and triples.
Gips on Thomas: "He won the Gold Glove at the shortstop position this last year in JUCO. He was drafted out of high school by the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has a great arm from short and one of his biggest qualities is the ability to move laterally and cover both the 4-and-5 holes."
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