In the past when I've talked to Sam Piraro and asked him about his recruiting philosophy and where he thinks the program is headed. He's given the impression that he wants to build the program with freshmen, and use community college transfers sparingly. Why? If done correctly, most freshmen take a year or two to get their feet wet and learn what is expected of them at the D-1 level (or life for that matter). The transfers are used to fill urgent needs that look as if they wont be filled by returning players or incoming freshmen. I hope Im not putting words in Coachs mouth but transfers are expected to play fulltime and now.
I've looked at the incoming freshmen and transfers until I've been blue in the face and I have to say I'm pretty happy with who Sam Piraro and his assistants have been able to convince to play ball at San Jose State. The pitching looks to be in capable hands and both shortstop and catching have been restocked. I also suspect that Piraro is not through bringing in talent for next year.
With all of the above being said you're probably asking yourself why I'm doing this. I was just looking at an article I wrote about two years ago about the incoming crop of recruits that included David Berner, Anthony Aguilera, Jacob Bruns, and some others still on the team. Here's what I had to say about some of them:
- Jack Adams Few innings pitched but a lot of strikeouts so maybe hes a closer.
- Anthony Aguilera Second team All Orange Empire Conference while at Fullerton College. Can hit some and pretty good catcher.
- David Berner Led a good West Valley team in ERA so keep an eye on this one.
- Jacob Bruns Leading hitter on a sub-par Shasta College team. Some speed but little power.
- Trevor Gibson His stats were anything but outstanding so coaches must see something.
- Tyler Heil Can hit a little but hes a shortstop.
- Jason Martin no comment at all.
- Luke Mazzanti ditto
- Bryson Rahier ditto
- Ryan Vander Tuig ditto
- Anthony Vega Has a great strikeout to base on ball ratio of close to 10 to 1 on a team that was under .500.
- Ryan Shopshire Struck out 48 in 71 innings but led team in balks and HBP and was second in wild pitches.
- Daniel Stienstra - .439 in WCAL and 3.39 ERA.
- Alex Sofranac Team leading hitter. No power but hits.
As you can see I was right on for a few players but a bit off-base with others. David Berner turned out as advertised and Jason Martin has turned out to be a very good player. If he continues this way, he could be remembered as one of the best ever at SJSU. Why did I have no comment about him? I thought he would have a tough time of it coming from Harker School which is a fairly small program. It just goes to show you cant measure heart and desire and I am certainly only a fair judge of talent.
Overall, I think this years crop of recruits is better than this one and far better than last years. The high schoolers are better. Zach Jones is one of the best recruits to come to SJSU in a long time; well, actually, since Kyle Bellows. David Russo from Monterey looks like a stud and he's a leftie. Tim Quiery from Serra, and Richard Johnson from Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo will have time to develop their skills. The others I haven't mentioned could develop into starters, if not stars based on my track record as a judge. Again, the frosh look good.
The transfers should be remembered as the bunch that carried on the tradition of strong Spartan pitching. Blake McFarland, David Luna, and Sean Martin should be in the starting rotation. John Austin, a walk-on from San Mateo, will also get a good look at starting and is doing well this summer. I know of no other walk-ons but I know they are out there and some show up on their own. Those are three starting pitchers coming in, maybe one more from the frosh, and returning players should improve a lot also. Look at it this way; I think the starting pitching will take a little time to sort itself out, but not long, and depth has improved tremendously. I dont think the coaches will have to turn to some position players to fill gaps this year.
Position players are pretty much set - only Bellows will be hard to replace. I wonder if he had conversations with Zach Jones before he signed his contract? I see Jones at shortstop with that gun of his. He can also spot start. Catching is the other position that has been vacated. Rahier should get the nod but the freshman Chris Carillo will get a look. Hes not a big kid but hes good defensively, or so I hear. Alex Sofranac will hopefully be a fixture in right field. Left field and second base will create some interesting competition. The rest of the positions are fairly set.
Don Starks is the Baseball Editor of Inside Sparta. You may contact Don with any questions, comments, or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org
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