TERRE HAUTE, IND. – The Indiana State University baseball team has landed 10 recruits during the early signing period this month including two from West Vigo High School and one from Rockville High School.
“We are really excited about this recruiting class,” Lindsay Meggs, Sycamore head baseball coach said. “I’d like to congratulate my assistant coaches (Tyler Herbst and T.J. Merritt) for landing what I consider to be our best recruiting class to date. It’s exciting to be in the hunt for the best high school baseball players that the state of Indiana has to offer.”
Rockville High School’s Steven Ball and West Vigo High School’s Jeremy Lucas and Jordan Pearson are three of the seven high school seniors signed by the Sycamores this month. Also signing with Indiana State from Indiana were Franklin Central High School’s Jake Hartley, Castle High School’s Robby Ort and Evansville Mater Dei’s Jake Weinzapfel. Tyler Browning of Mt. Carmel, Ill., also signed with the Sycamores.
They are joined by three junior college transfers: Phil Liniger of Columbia Basin Community College; Justin Stenftenagel of Wabash Valley College; and, Jason Van Skyke of Treasure Valley Community College.
“While we did get a steal from Illinois, to be competitive we have to do well in Indiana,” Meggs said. “Six of our early signs are Indiana High Schools seniors who will help us compete immediately in the Valley. As for the junior college kids, all three are impact guys. They will step in and help us immediately.”
Steven Ball is a left-handed pitcher and outfielder from Rockville High School. The ability to handle the outfield and give the Sycamores depth on the mound has Meggs excited to have Ball on the team.
“Steven showed good power last year from the left side and has proved that he is capable of providing depth for us on the mound as well,” Meggs said. “A talented multi-sport athlete, Steven can run the bases, go get the ball in right field, then give you competitive left handed innings out of the bullpen. The best thing about Steven is that he is a baseball rat and loves to work.”
Tyler Browning is a right handed pitcher for Mt. Carmel High School in Mt. Carmel, Ill. Meggs said that during the recruiting process you always look for young arms that have consistent control of two pitches.
“I’ve seen Tyler throw three pitches for strikes and occasionally even four,” Meggs said. “He understands how to pitch, has good stuff, and he is a relentless competitor. The best thing about Tyler is that with his makeup, he can step in and help us right away.”
A first baseman out of Franklin Central High School, Jake Hartley is your proto-typical left handed power hitting first baseman.
“Jake not only has a chance to play every day as a freshman but he could very well end up in the middle of the batting order,” Meggs said. “Before it’s all over, this guy is capable of putting up some monster numbers. The best thing about Jake is that he is as smart as he is talented, thus I expect him to adjust quickly.”
Phil Liniger is a first baseman and left fielder who will transfer to Indiana State from Columbia Basin Community College where he batted over .400 as a freshman and drove in 50 runs in a conference that swings wooden bats.
“This was the experienced middle of the order offensive guy that we were holding out for to fill the void after Brady (Shoemaker) leaves,” Meggs said. “Phil will be able to step in immediately and make an impact. He will be ideal in the middle of the order. The best thing about Phil is that he keeps it simple, if he can reach, he’s going to be hacking.”
Jeremy Lucas is not only big and strong as a catcher for the West Vigo High School Vikings but he is also athletic.
“I believe that he has a chance to add his name to the impressive list of former Sycamore catchers who have had great college careers before moving on to professional baseball,” Meggs said. “I am impressed that for a guy his size, he can really catch and throw. Offensively, he is just beginning to scratch the surface. Once he figures it out at the plate, he is going to turn some heads.”
Robby Ort, an outfielder from Castle High School, is probably the most complete hitter that the Sycamore coaches watched over the summer with the potential to both hit for a high average and drive in runs.
“At this point in his career, Robbie would be described as a doubles hitter,” Meggs said. “However, as he gets older, I have no doubt that the power numbers will come. Robbie is your classic three hole guy - opponents are doing everything they can to avoid pitching to him while you are doing everything you can to get guys on in front of him. He can just flat out hit.”
Another West Vigo product that has signed with the Sycamores is second baseman Jordan Pearson, who may be the best runner in a baseball uniform that the ISU coaches over the summer.
“While he is a talented infielder who will hit for a high average and show occasional power, it is his speed that makes him special,” Meggs said. “While he can play either middle infield spot, you can also see him covering serious ground in center field. I see Jordan battling for the leadoff spot from day one with the potential to lead our team in stolen bases. He can really apply pressure to the defense.”
Another pitcher joining the Sycamores will be right handed pitcher Justin Stenftenagel, who will be transferring to ISU from a very good Wabash Valley College program that has post-season experience.
“Justin is a good fit for us because of his versatility,” Meggs said. “He is a strike thrower that can pitch for us on the weekends yet, because of his ability to pitch backwards, he would also be great out of the pen. Regardless of his role, Justin is going to give you innings. As a coach, you know exactly what you are going to get when he is on the mound that that is all you can ask for.”
Joining the infield for Indiana State will be switch hitting shortstop Jake Weinzapfel from Evansville Mater Dei whose approach to the defensive side of the game is what every coach looks for in his middle infielders.
“While Jake will contribute offensively from both sides of the plate, his feel for playing defense puts him well above the curve,” Meggs said. “Jake is tough enough, smart enough, and athletic enough to come in and play as a freshman. While we like his tools, we love his makeup. Jake is a throwback, Jake is a baseball player.”
Jason Van Skyke is the final signee and another right handed pitcher who will transfer to Indiana State from Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario, Ore.
“I believe that when you look back at this recruiting class next year, Jason will be the player that makes the greatest impact on our program,” Meggs said. “He is just coming into his own as a power pitcher and shows all the signs of developing into a Friday night guy in the Missouri Valley Conference. While his fastball is in the upper 80s that occasionally touches 90, it is his power slider plus change that makes him a potential Friday night starter. Jason is a late bloomer about to explode with the only real unknown being whether we can keep him out of professional baseball for another year.”