Nov. 19, 2010
BOCA RATON, FL - The Florida Atlantic University baseball team has announced the 2012 signing class. Ten players will be added to the 2012 roster.
"This is a good class and I'm excited about getting these young men on campus," said John McCormack, FAU's head baseball coach. "They are a talented group that will be good FAU players. In addition to their talent, each young man is a character guy which is important to us."
The class is headlined by Alex Santana, the No. 19 ranked player in the state of Florida and No. 99 in the country by Perfect Game USA. The freshman from Cape Coral, Mariner High School, hit .402 with four home runs and 33 RBI as a junior.
Santana was also an all-area selection as a junior and has appeared in the Florida Diamond Club and East Coast Pro showcases. Santana's father, Rafael, played seven seasons in baseball's major leagues and won a World Series ring with the New York Mets in 1986. Another highly-ranked freshman is Alex Viera, a right-handed pitcher from Naples.
Viera is the No. 35 ranked player in Florida and No. 252 nationally, according to Perfect Game USA. Viera played two seasons at Golden Gate High School with current FAU catcher Mike Spano and holds a trio of career pitching records at Golden Gate including ERA (1.97), fewest earned runs allowed (25) and fewest hits allowed (72) by a starting pitcher.
After transferring to Barron Collier High School for his junior season, Viera went 6-2 with 65 strikeouts and a 2.31 ERA. He also was a first team all-county selection and appeared in the Florida Diamond Club showcase.
The remainder of the freshman class is made up of top-1,000 ranked prospects nationally by Perfect Game USA including shortstop Mitchell Morales; right-handed pitcher/first baseman Julian Loret de Mola; infielder Ricky Santiago, left-handed pitcher Austin Gomber; left-handed pitcher Brett Nizamoff; and infielder Billy Golding.
Morales was the starting short stop on Wellington High School's 5A District Championship team a season ago. He hit .333 during his junior year with 24 RBI, 28 runs scored and 16 stolen bases. The Wellington native also comes from a strong baseball pedigree as his father, Alex, is the former head baseball coach at Palm Beach State College and currently works for the Washington Nationals in the scouting department.
Loret de Mola has been a standout at Westminster Christian High School and has been a key contributor on a team that has won back-to-back FHSAA Class 2A championships. The Miami native went 8-0 with a 2.33 ERA last season as a junior.
Gomber also had a stellar junior season on the mound, going 9-2 with a 1.89 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 44 innings pitched at Winter Garden's West Orange High School. Current Owls Mike Albaladejo and Joey Burkhalter played four seasons at West Orange.
Morales, Loret de Mola and Gomber all appeared in the Florida Diamond Club showcase.
Santiago hit .420 with six home runs and 34 RBI as a junior for Flanagan High School in Pembroke Pines. Last season, the right-handed hitting infielder also was named the MVP and won the batting title on the state championship Flanagan squad that was also named national champions by USA Today. Santiago was also a first-team all-county selection and played one season with current Owl Geoff Jimenez at Flanagan.
Nizamoff started nine games and recorded 34 strikeouts in 35 innings as a junior from Plant High School in Plant City.
Golding is a four-year varsity letter winner at Pembroke Pines Charter and hit .400 with six home runs and 23 RBI as a junior. Golding also was voted team MVP, was a second team all-county selection and was an honorable mention selection on the Rawlings High School All-American team, as a junior.
"This class is loaded with talented freshmen that we expect to come in and contribute right away," said Jason Jackson, FAU's pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. "We are fortunate to recruit in a state with top level high school and summer programs that do a great job preparing their players and making this transition easier."
FAU also added two community college players including infielder Kyle Newton. Newton is set to play his first season at South Florida Community College after playing at Florida Southern College in 2010. The Lakeland native played his high school baseball at George Jenkins High School where he was listed among the top-50 shortstops in the country by Sporting News Magazine.
The 2011 recruiting class is rounded out by right-handed pitcher Jeremy Strawn. Strawn is in his second season at the State College of Florida (SCOF) after going 3-1 with a 3.54 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 32 innings pitched as a freshman. The Bradenton native also was an all-star selection in the Florida Collegiate Summer League this past summer and helped lead SCOF to the JUCO WOlrd Series last season.
"One thing about this class that jumps out at me is the versatility of each player," McCormack said. "We continue to add young men with athletic ability and it allows more options going forward. In addition, the pitchers will make an immediate impact to our staff."
"Kyle Newton and Jeremy Strawn are two junior college standouts that bring experience to the table," Jackson added. "Both come from successful community college programs right here in the state of Florida."
The Owls will return eight seniors from the 2010 team that went 37-24 and advanced to the NCAA Regional in Gainesville. The Owls' coaching staff believes that this class will be the bridge to replacing those eight seniors following the 2011 season.
"Coach Jackson and Coach Ben Sanderson did a wonderful job putting this class together," said McCormack. "I thank them for putting in the long hours on the road and for a job well done."