Cohen's First Recruiting Class Rounding Into Shape

John Cohen has a message for all those wrapped up in the excitement created by the arriving classes of Mickie DeMoss, Rich Brooks, and Tubby Smith.

I can recruit too.

The fall signing period came and went without much talk of the first year coach's incoming class, but it was one of the finest in the Southeastern Conference. Even more impressive than the signees as individuals, was how far Cohen scoured the globe the find the talent for his 2004 recruiting class.

"We're very pleased to have all these guys on board with us here at Kentucky," Cohen said. "We feel like this is a great group to have as our first recruiting class and think that each one of them has the potential to have a great impact on the Kentucky baseball program."

Locally, Cohen picked up two of the finest Lexington area players in Collin Cowgill (Henry Clay HS) and Willie Mays (Bryan Station HS). Mays, who is considered to be one of the top hitters in the state, can play a variety of different positions in college. His bat will be a welcome addition to the BatCats next season.

State-wide, Cohen signed two more Kentucky natives in Scott Green (Male HS) and Steve Delabar (Central Harden HS/Volunteer State CC). The tall right handed, Green, was projected as the top high prospect in the country coming out of Male. If he arrives on campus he will be Kentucky's top pitcher, next season. Green is the 44th ranked right-handed pitching prospect in the country and overall the 107th ranked high school baseball prospect in the country.

Delabar has been drafted twice in the past two seasons, but has never entertained an offer to join the major leagues. He is expected to be drafted, yet again, in 2004 and his arrival is another question mark surrounding the recruiting class. Cohen thinks he has an opportunity at Kentucky;

"Steve Delabar has a chance to pitch immediately in the Southeastern Conference because he's very athletic and has a great arm," Cohen said.

Nationally, the Cats made some noise as well. The Cats stole the number one high school prospect in Michigan, one of the best infielders in Tennessee, and arguably the best position player in Ohio.

Bill Killian from Stanwood, Michigan is the fourth best high school catching prospect in the country and overall the 57th best high school prospect in the nation. Although a long shot to ever see the field at Kentucky, Killian was a very key signing for Coach Cohen in the fall.

The best position player in Ohio is arguably Antone DeJesus from Amherst, Ohio. DeJesus is ranked the 75th best outfielder coming out of high school and has the necessary speed and quickness to contribute immediately in the college ranks. A good student of the game, DeJesus has already set school records for hits and stolen bases in his short career at Amherst Steele High School.

One of the best infielders in the country is Ryan Wilkes from Central High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Wilkes brings the complete package to the table, in signing with Kentucky. An infielder/pitching prospect, Wilkes can play a variety of different positions on the field.

To round out the fall signing class, Cohen signed two solid prospects in Greg Dombrowski (RHP, Rome, N.Y./Rome Free Academy) and Brian Hastings (Kearney, Mo./Hutchinson (Kan.) C.C.). Two targets that should play college baseball, next fall.

Internationally, Cohen reached into British Columbia and managed to pull out the 1998 Saskatchewan Player of the Year and two-time Team Saskatchewan selection, in pitching prospect Andrew Albers. Albers has lost just one time in three years, compiling a 24-1 record.

So far in the spring, Cohen continues to work his magic, adding three junior college all-stars. Russ Smithson, Kevin Caldwell, and Boodle Clark have all experienced tremendous success at the junior college ranks and should get some major league looks this off-season.

Smithson has a career .420 average in the junior college ranks. The native of British Columbia was an All-WJAC selection last season.

Caldwell currently leads his team in hitting at .420. He helped lead Itawamba Community College to a 46-11 record last season and a berth in the National Junior College Division II World Series. He projects as a first baseball at Kentucky.

Clark is Kentucky's best signee, in many people's estimation. Clark was awarded the "Silver" stick award for his dominating hitting display for Walters State last season at the Junior College World Series. He can pitch and play a position for the Wildcats. He is projected to be a top prospect in this summer's amateur draft, however, and will be a tough get for Kentucky to keep.

If the Cats can keep two of the three, this year's recruiting class will be ranked nationally. Boodle Clark, in particular, is a prospect that will have Kentucky fans heading to the ballpark in 2005, if he arrives on campus. Overall, a fantastic class for Coach Cohen and yet another reason to be excited about the future of Kentucky Baseball.


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