Nov. 16, 2001
TUCSON, Ariz.- Arizona's first-year head coach Andy Lopez announced today that the baseball program has received nine National Letters-of-Intent in the early signing period. The class, which consists of three outfielders, three infielders, a catcher and two pitchers, encompasses recruits from all over the West Coast.
"The coaching staff is excited about this first recruiting class," said Lopez. "In the tightrope of recruiting, we think we're on the safe side and most of these players are going to come to school. The coaches believe that we've done a good job in recruiting both the local kids and branching out and touching other parts of the country."
Headlining the class is junior college transfer Richie Gardner (Santa Rosa, Calif./Santa Rosa J.C.) from Northern California. Considered the top junior college pitcher in the state, he was recently drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 24th round in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. The 6-2 right-hander was named the 2001 Bay Conference Pitcher-of-the-Year and also garnered first-team all-state honors last season as well. He pitched Santa Rosa to the Bay Conference championship in 2001 and was a participant in the California J.C. All-Star Game this past fall. Garnder's coach at Santa Rosa is a former Andy Lopez player, Damon Neidlinger.
Joining Gardner from California in the recruiting class is Brad Boyer (Camarillo, Calif./Camarillo H.S.) and Jordan Brown (Vacaville, Calif./Vacaville H.S.).
Boyer, also an outstanding high school wide receiver, is the 31st ranked player in California by Baseball America and ranks 178th nationally. He participated in the 2001 Area Code Games and is expected to compete for a starting job right away on the infield. Boyer plays high school baseball for coach Scott Cline.
Brown will be a two-way player for the Wildcats as a left-handed pitcher with a live arm and as an outfielder/first baseman. An all-league selection as both a sophomore and junior, he has explosive power from the left side of the plate. He has the potential to to be one of the top power hitters in the batting order for Arizona. Brown's high school coach is Jeff Boele.
The new coaching staff also signed the local talent in Tucson, getting commitments from Kris Sanchez (Tucson, Ariz./Canyon Del Oro H.S.) and Alex Ortega (Tucson, Ariz./Cholla H.S.). Sanchez, a power hitting outfielder, will be a two way player for the Wildcats in the field an on the mound as a left-handed pitcher.
A 2001 Area Code Games participant, he is considered one of the top three power hitting prospects in Arizona and will add tremendous pop to the Wildcat lineup. Sanchez's power rivals that of fellow CDO alums Shelley Duncan, a three-year starter and all-time home run leader at Arizona, and current Wildcat Brian Anderson. Sanchez plays for coach Keith Francis at CDO.
Ortega, a right-handed hitting third/first baseman, will bring a strong defensive glove to the Wildcats and is arguably the top high school hitter in the city. He has been named all-city for three consecutive seasons and was a member of the under-18 USA Baseball team. He has the potential to be a big run producer in the middle of the order for Arizona. Ortega plays under coach Frank Trujillo at Cholla.
Also from Arizona is Patrick Lawler (Cottonwood, Ariz./Mingus Union H.S.). A tall right-handed pitcher with a live arm and a power curveball, he recently participated in the Team One National Tournament and was named to the Class 4A first-team after leading Mingus to the 2001 state championship. Brad Grauberger is Lawler's high school coach. With a plus curveball he has a chance to be a dominating pitcher for the Wildcats right from the start.
Coach Lopez and his staff reached out to the Pacific Northwest for their first class as well, signing two players from Washington and one from Oregon. Derek Decatur (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline H.S.) and Nick Hundley (Kirkland, Wash./Lake Washington H.S.) both signed out of Washington.
Decater, a left-handed outfielder, will bring speed and a dynamic bat to Arizona. A first-team all-county selection his sophomore and junior seasons, he was also named second team all-state as well. Last season he led King County in RBIs and triples and was a member of the CABA World Series championship team. At the Caba World Series he established tournament records in batting average and hits en route to being named the tournament MVP. He also played in the Area Code Games this past summer. Decater plays for coach Terry Krause at Skyline.
Hundley, the son of Washington Huskies' football defensive coordinator Tim Hundley, is a 6-2 right-handed hitting catcher. A 2001 Area Code Games participant, he was a second-team All-King County honoree last season and was also named honorable mention All-Metro. An honor roll student he also plays for the Chaffey Baseball Club in the Connie Mack League. The Arizona coaching staff believes that with his desire and level of maturity he will provide a stable presence behind the plate as one of the top catchers in the nation. Dave Chambers is Hundley's high school coach.
From Oregon comes highly regarded Trevor Crowe (Portland, Ore./Westview H.S.). A two-time world and national champion in racquetball, Crowe is the top rated baseball prospect in the state by Baseball America and is ranked 102nd nationally by the publication. A middle infielder, he was a unanimous first-team all-league selection his sophomore and junior seasons and was a unanimous selection last season for all-state honors. He was named the MVP of the Star Spangled Banner Tournament and has played a part in three state championships for his high school. Crowe is coached by Jeff Shull in high school.