Baseball adds signees

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- University of Alabama head coach Jim Wells announced the signing of 11 student-athletes that will join the Crimson Tide baseball program for the 2003-04 academic year.

The list includes seven high school players and four junior college transfers that signed with Alabama during the Nov. 14-22 signing period.

"I think we have put together and excellent signing class," Wells said. "We have filled many of our needs with some very talented pitchers and hitters. I think this is a very good signing class."

The list of Alabama baseball signees includes:

LHP/OF Brandon Belcher (6-0, 175, Ruston High School Ruston, Louisiana)
*Named 2002 Louisiana Player of the Year by the Monroe News Star
*2002 All-State Selection by Monroe News Star
*2002 All-State Selection by the Louisiana Sportswriters Association
*Named to Baseball America's Top 50 high school prospects
*As a junior (2002), Belcher posted an 11-1 record and 1.10 ERA, including two no-hitters
*Also batted .478 with 27 RBI as a junior
*Member of the 2001 USSSA Shreveport Mariners national championship team
*Member of the 2002 Bill Hood Broncos, that finished runner-up in the Connie Mack World Series

1B/3B Matt Bentley (6-3, 205, Hazel Green HS, Hazel Green, Alabama)
*Two-year letterman at Hazel Green High School for coach Jeff Bell
*Bentley led Hazel Green with a .506 batting average as a junior (2002)
*Also on of the state's top power hitters as a junior
*Played on back-to-back Class 5A State Playoff teams as a sophomore and junior
*As a junior, Bentley led his team to a 27-6 overall record and a No. 2 ranking in Class 5A
*Also led Hazel Green to back-to-back Area and County Championships (2001, 2002)
*First-Team All-State selection by The Birmingham News (2002)
*First-Team All-Metro by The Huntsville Times
*Participated in the 2002 North-South High School All-Star game in Montgomery, Ala.

C C.J. Bressoud (6-1, 185, North Cobb HS, Kennesaw, Georgia)
*Two-year starter at North Cobb HS for coach Harvey Cochran
*First-Team All-State selection following his junior season
*Rated as one of the nation's Top 25 players by Perfect Game/Baseball America
*Rated as the No. 2 catching prospect in the nation by Perfect Game/Baseball America
*Played with fellow UA signee Michael McCallister in the 2002 C.A.B. A. World Series
*Named to the C.A.B.A. World Series All-Tournament Team

RHP Doug Denson (6-2, 185, Vestavia Hills HS, Vestavia, Alabama)
*Two-year lettermen for Sammy Dunn at Vestavia Hills HS
*Honorable mention All-State selection by The Birmingham News (2002)
*Member of the 2002 Academic All-State team
*Participated in the 2002 Perfect Game Showcase at Tropicana Field in Tampa, Fla.
*His brother, Joe, plays baseball at Samford University
*His grandfather, Charlie Bradshaw, played for Coach Paul Bryant at the University of Kentucky and was an assistant coach under Bryant at Alabama

OF Matt Grooms (6-0, 205, Chipola, JC, Montgomery, Alabama)
*Grooms will play the 2003 season at Chipola Junior College in Marianna, Florida
*Spent the 2002 season at Auburn University under coach Steve Renfroe
*Appeared in 28 games for Auburn, compiling a .243 batting average (18-for-74) with one HR and 11 RBI
*Collected two hits and two RBI in the NCAA Regionals against Alabama. Grooms did not play in the regular-season series against the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa
*Collected five multiple hit games for the Tigers
*A three-year letterman at Montgomery's St. James HS for coach Joe Justice
*Grooms ranked as one of the state's top hitters in the class of 2001
*As a prep senior, Grooms batted.439 with six HRs and 28 RBI. Also batted .474 with eight HRs as a junior.
*All Metro and All-Capital City Player of the Year as senior
*Named First-Team All-State by the The Birmingham News and Montgomery Advertiser as junior and senior
*Posted a career-best .539 batting average as a sophomore

RHP T.J. Large (6-4, 185, St. Pete JC, Largo, Florida)
*Begins his sophomore season at St. Pete Junior College for coach
*Drafted in the 32nd round by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2002 MLB Draft
*Attended Seminole High School in Tallahassee, Florida
*Posted a 19-0 career record at SHS
*Led Seminole HS to the 2001 state championship and national championship
*Drafted in the 9th round by San Francisco Giants in the 2001 MLB Draft

OF Jake Manning (6-1, 210, Mineral Area College, Arnold, Missouri)
*Begins his second season at Mineral Area College
*Named 2002 First-Team Junior College All-American
*Named to the All-Region 16 Team
*Manning was tabbed the Region 16 Most Valuable Player as a rookie
*As a freshmen last year, Manning batted .410 with 21 HRs and 81 RBI
*Played 46 games as starting centerfielder
*A 2001 graduate of Fox High School in Arnold, Missouri
*A three-year letterman for coach Mike Sears
*Played three years (1999-2001) for the St. Louis Blazers summer team under Aaron Kutilek
*In 2001, Manning set team records for highest batting average (.481), most home runs (14) and RBI (66)

OF/1B Michael McCallister (6-4, 210, Clay High School, Green Cove Springs, Florida)
*Entering his senior season at Clay High School
*A two-year starter and three-year letterman for coach Robbie Thompson
*An outstanding power hitter, McCallister is on pace to break the career home run record at Clay HS. The record is currently held by former South Carolina standout Garris Gonce
*He already holds the single-season home run record for freshman (2000) and junior (2002)
*Three-time Clay HS Most Valuable Player and Conference All-Star player
*Named First-Team All-State as sophomore and junior (2001, 2002)
*Played summer ball for the Jacksonville Warriors, who placed second in the 2001 American Legion World Series in Binghamton, NY
*Played with current UA infielder Billy Hogan (freshman) in the 2001 C.A.B. A. World Series
*Played with fellow UA signee C.J. Bressoud in the 2002 C.A.B. A. World Series

INF Brad Paiml (6-0, 175, Hoover HS, Hoover, Alabama)
*Currently a senior at Hoover High School
*A two-year letterman for coach Rick Davis
*Led Hoover HS to Class 6A state semifinals in 2001 and quarterfinals in 2002
*Named to the Super All-Over the Mountain Team (2002)
*Played this summer for the Bama Bombers in the Perfect Game Tournament in Jupiter, Fla.
*Greg's brother, Brad, is currently a student-manager on the Alabama baseball team

OF Emeel Salem (6-0, 165, Mountain Brook HS, Birmingham, Alabama)
*Set single-season record for highest batting average (.521) at Mountain Brook HS
*Also set MBHS record with 28 stolen bases (28 attempts) as a junior (2001)
*Two-Time All-State selection by The Birmingham News (2001, 2002)
*Two-Time All-Metro selection by The Birmingham News (2001, 2002)
*Participated in the East Coast Professional Showcase
*Participated in the 2002 North-South High School All-Star game in Montgomery, Ala.
*His father, Emeel, Sr., played baseball at South Alabama
*Also related to Ed, George and Jimbo Salem, all of whom played football for the Crimson Tide
*Off the field, Emeel plays the piano and guitar and is a member of the National Honor Society, Math Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society

RHP Andrew Walker (6-1, 175, Cowley County CC, Prague, Oklahoma)
*Spent the 2002 season as a freshmen at Cowley County Community College under coach Dave Burroughs
*Posted an 8-0 record on the mound and a .410 batting average as a rookie last year
*Drafted in the 20th round of the 2002 MLB Draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers
*A 2001 graduate of Prague High School, where he was a four-year letterman for coach Dave Rolette
*Holds school records for at-bats (136) and hits (60) in a season following his senior year
*Named Prague HS Most Valuable Player in 2001
*Named First-Team All-Conference at four different positions during his prep career, including shortstop (1998), third base (1999), pitcher/catcher (2000) and pitcher (2001)
*Named Most Valuable Player of the 2000 Junior Sun Belt Classic and the 2001 Ozark Classic Tournaments
*Also ran cross county in high school and placed 36th in the state as a junior


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