Coming off a 16-36 season, Utah head coach Bill Kinneberg has made some changes geared toward improving. Among those changes are the hiring of associate head coach Jason Hawkins, and signing a solid recruiting class to give the team an infusion of young talent. Several of Utah's incoming freshmen earned honors recently as they completed their high school seasons.
Andre Jackson (Cienega HS/Vail, Ariz.), who was a 32nd round pick in the Major League Baseball draft to the Texas Rangers, was a second-team all-state pick. He was named to the AzBCA Division II All-Star Team and also earned all-division and all-section honors. Jackson hit .444 over 26 games as a senior.
"Andre has a lot of tools that we want to continue to develop, and he has a very high ceiling," Utah head coach Bill Kinneberg said. "He has a plus arm, and could develop into a pitcher at the next level. He can play center field on a daily basis."
Jayson Rose (Granite Hills HS/Alpine, Calif.) was a first-team all-state pick by Cal-Hi Sports and was a first-team All-San Diego Section selection as well as being named first-team all-CIF. He helped lead Granite Hills to California San Diego Section Open Division Championship, throwing a four-hit shutout. Rose went 7-0 on the season with 98 strikeouts in 80 innings.
"Jayson reminds us of Mitch Watrous when he entered our program," Kinneberg said. "He is a strike-throwing pitcher with a plus sink and a very good change up."
"We met our needs for next year and put a very good class together." - Utah head coach Bill Kinneberg
Wade Gulden (Shasta HS/Redding, Calif.) was a third-team all-state pick by Cal-Hi Sports and was the Northern Section Most Valuable Player. He also earned all-Sac River League honors. Gulden hit .385 with a .523 on-base percentage. He picked up three wins as a pitcher, including a no-hitter against Foothill.
About Guiden, Kinneberg said, "Wade is a smart player who we want to see continue to get stronger. He has a good arm at shortstop. Wade has an extreme passion for the game."
Bowen Ogata (Bishop Kelly HS/Boise, Idaho) was the 4A Southern Idaho Conference Player of the Year for the third-straight year. He hit .578 during the season with a .892 slugging percentage and a 1.519 OPS (on-base plus slugging).
"Bowen is a versatile infielder who can play all three positions. He is ready to hit at the college level now. We are excited to see how he will develop once his focus is on baseball only," said Kinneberg.
Spring signee Tanner Thomas (Grandview HS/Aurora, Colo) was a first-team all-Centennial League selection and was named to the 2014 Colorado Rockies Futures Game. Trenton Stoltz (Paradise Valley HS/Phoenix, Ariz.) was named to the AzBCA Division II All-Star Game.
Spencer Johnson (Northgate HS/Walnut Creek, Calif.) was named second-team all-Diablo Valley League. Neil Sterling (Serra HS/Half Moon Bay, Calif.) earned second-team all-Bay Area honors, as well as second-team all-West Catholic Athletic League accolades.
"Spencer is a tall, physical pitcher who has a high ceiling and will throw extremely hard some day," Kinneberg said. "He reminds us of a Roy Halladay."
"We met our needs for next year and put a very good class together. The four pitchers that we've signed will be the foundation of our future. They are all quality arms and they will battle for a lot of innings next year. Offensively, we've added some punch as well as some speed."