The Lewis-Clark State College baseball team, ranked eighth in the NAIA preseason Coaches’ Top 25 Poll, welcomes a host of 22 newcomers to its roster for the 2013 season.
It is a unique recruiting class on many fronts, but chief among those is the fact that all 23 of the incoming players, not including redshirts, are transfers, most from two-year institutions.
The newcomers also account for 22 of the 38 spots, meaning 58 percent of the Warrior roster did not play in Lewiston a season ago.
“When you have as many new players as we do, team chemistry becomes something that’s very important, and it’s something we’re going to spend a lot of time with,” said LCSC head coach Jeremiah Robbins, himself a newcomer after spending the past seven seasons coaching Western Oregon.
By position, nine of the new Warriors are pitchers, three are catchers, five are infielders and five are outfielders.
The signees on the mound include: seniors Tyler Curtis and Cordell Greene; juniors Kasey Knigge, David Murillo, Brian Sweeney, Steve Thompson, and Garrett Wilson; and sophomores Quin Grogan and Colton Wright.
From that group, Robbins says Greene – a transfer from the University of Washington – has the potential to be one of the team’s frontline starters. At 6-foot-6 with a mid-90s velocity, Greene has all the tools to be a tremendous talent.
“The big thing I’ve seen with him is he’s getting confident with more innings,” Robbins said. “He’s shown very well this fall.”
Thompson, who comes to the Warriors from Mission (Calif.) College, went 5-4 in 17 games (12 starts) for the Saints, striking out 79 batters in 78 innings pitched, and should see considerable innings this year for LCSC.
“He’s got a big-time arm on him,” Robbins said of the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Thompson.
LCSC’s incoming catchers include: senior Kyle Blackwell, junior Donnie Santos and sophomore Jake Azevedo.
Robbins and Blackwell have an existing relationship, as Blackwell played for Robbins at Western Oregon in 2012.
Even though Blackwell missed the majority of fall workouts with an injury, Robbins hopes he will return in time to be a factor this spring for the Warriors.
“I know Kyle well, and I think he brings a lot to the table at the plate and in the field for us,” Robbins said.
The five infielders joining the Warriors for this season include: senior Sako Chapjian, and juniors Jacob Cano, Brian Corliss, Ryan Sells and Brady Steiger.
Of this highly-touted group of newcomers, all should be in contention for starting spots, and represent one of the greatest areas of depth on the Lewis-Clark State roster.
Sells, the reigning Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges Most Valuable Player, hit .416 with four homers and 26 RBI for Everett (Wash.) Community College last spring to go along with an 8-1 record and 1.67 ERA on the mound.
“You hear a lot about two-way guys, but Ryan can definitely hit and pitch for us,” Robbins said. “He’s improved a great deal since he’s been in our program, and he’s been a great teammate. He’s a special player who doesn’t come around very often.”
Like Sells, the other new infielders were very successful at their previous stops, and hope to continue that success with LCSC.
The five signees in the outfield include: juniors Stephan Adams, Kevin Knapp, Cody Lavalli, Jake Shirley and Tariq Staton.
In keeping with the theme throughout the LCSC roster, this quintet has already had its share of success before coming to the Warrior program, and should be ready to contribute in meaningful ways this spring.
Lavalli, who was a unanimous Western State Conference North Division first-team pick and second team All-SoCal selection at Cuesta College, hit .356 with four homers and 38 RBI last season. Lavalli was impressive in fall workouts until being sidelined with a broken hand.
“Once Cody gets healthy we think he will be a great threat in the middle of our order,” Robbins said.
The Warriors begin their 2013 season on Feb. 8 when they host the University of British Columbia at Harris Field at 3 p.m. as part of the NAIA West Tournament.
A full roster with in-depth information on each player as well as a complete schedule is available at www.lcsc.edu/athletics or via the links below.