Photo By Steven Chapman

Texas Tech Baseball Replenishing the Ranks

Texas Tech inked its third straight top 25 recruiting class though a handful of players opted to sign pro contracts. The following is a look at the talent the Red Raiders are bringing in with the 2016 signing class.

Pitchers

LHP Tuck Tucker 

Texas Tech signee Tuck Tucker is a strike out machine. His junior season as he struck out 47 batters and averaged 11.3 strikeouts per game. That season he recorded a 1.69 ERA only allowing seven earned runs and 14 hits the whole season. During his senior season he pitched 18 innings and kept a 2.33 ERA with 25 strikeouts. That could be why he is ranked as the No. 4 lefty in the state by Perfect Game. 

RHP Caleb Freeman

After having offers from every Big 12 school, Texas A&M and Abiliene Christian, Abiliene Cooper right hand pitcher Caleb Freeman decided to choose the Red Raiders.  He already knew people at Texas Tech, which seems to have made his decision easier, fellow Cooper pitcher Jonathan Nicholson is at Tech along with pitcher Davis Martin. 

Freeman plays for Davis Martin’s dad Steve Martin during the summertime with the Air Hogs. The summer before his senior season he finished 6-1 overall with a 1.97 ERA and an impressive 69 strikeouts in 53 innings. 

RHP John Henry Gonzalez 

Many expected Edinburg right hand pitcher John Henry Gonzalez to be drafted in the MLB draft, but Gonzalez declined conversations teams that were interested. Now the power arm will be a Red Raider. Gonzalez topped out at a 94 fastball his senior season and averages around 90-92 miles per hour. 

He told RaiderPower.com he decided not to go pro because he wanted an education and play baseball at the same time and that he can only get better from here.

He ended the season with a 0.89 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 63 innings. For his career as a Bobcat, he went 21-3 with a 0.74 ERA and 261 strikeouts in 152.1 innings. He is in the top-100 players in the state and ranked the No. 24 right-hander by Perfect Game. 

RHP Caleb Kilian

Flower Mound right hand pitcher Caleb Kilian will also add depth to the Texas Tech pitching staff. During his senior season he went 2-2 with a 0.91 ERA and recorded 21 strikeouts in 15.1 innings pitcher.

 As a junior he threw 75 strike outs in 56 innings with a 1.50 ERA. That puts him at the No. 11 right-hander in the state and No. 100 in the country, according to Perfect Game. He is already familiar with his some of his future teammates as he played on D-Bat Elite with fellow signees Brian Klein and Josh Jung. 

RHP Jake McDonald 

A deep East Texas product will be joining Texas Tech. Maud right-hander Jake McDonald will travel nearly 500 miles to his new home. He ended his senior season 10-2 with a 0.81 ERA and 162 strikeouts in 78 innings pitched. 

As a junior he only allowed 14 hits in his 12 appearances on the mound and ended 8-2 with a 0.61 ERA and 108 strikeouts. Following that he received All State honors from Texas Sports Writers Association and Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association. 

RHP Josh Jung

Another versatile player is MacArthur shortstop and right hand pitcher Josh Jung. He is ranked the No. 8 short stop in the state, but can also throw 91-mile per hour fastball, according to Perfect Game.  His senior year he had a 0.65 ERA and recorded 53 strikeouts but also showed power at the plate. He hit .470 his that season with two homers, 18 RBI and nine doubles.

As a junior he hit .563 with four homers, 27 RBI and 10 doubles and finished with a 1.91 ERA with two saves. He played with his future teammates Brian Klein and Caleb Kilian on the D-Bat Elite team but also played with the Texas Drillers during the summer. 

Infielders

Michael Berglund

Corpus Christi infielder Michael Berglund could play catcher or third base for the Red Raiders. He played shortstop at Carroll high school his senior year and hit .365 with 15 RBIs and scored a team-best of 26 runs. That led him to be named on the All-South Texas Team by the Caller Times. 

He had a batting average over .400 both his sophomore and junior seasons. As a junior he hit three homers, three triples and stole four bases and had a slugging percentage of .964 and reached base at a .556 percentage.

Brian Klein

Fort Worth Timber Creek shortstop Brian Klein hit over .500 in district play, which helped his team advance to the playoff for the first time. His senior season he averaged .426 and .520 in district play. As a junior he hit .395 with a home run, 11 doubles and two triples. 

Klein is meant to be in the infield. He can play shortstop, which he played in high school, second base or third base where he played with his club team with D-Bats Bonesiou. 

Clay Koelzer

It has been a big past few months for Amarillo catcher Clay Koelzer, including a trip to the state tournament with the Sandies and talks about the draft with major league teams.  Unfortunately, Amarillo’s season ended with a loss in the state semi-finals to San Antonio Johnson. Koelzer was not drafted to the pros and will be a Red Raider. 

The switch hitter will give Texas Tech an advantage at the plate as he led his team with a .441 batting average his senior year with four home runs and 43 RBIs. 

Grant Little

Another West Texas product is shortstop and right hand pitcher Grant Little from Midland Christian. Little told the Midland Reporter-Telegram that Rice, Texas A&M, Baylor New Mexico and Air Force were recruiting him before he decided to sign with Texas Tech.

Little earned unanimous district MVP after hitting .552 with a homer run and 25 RBI his junior season. 

Trevor Paradoski

Tadlock will get another Lubbock local, shortstop Trevor Paradoski from Coronado.  That will add to Texas Tech’s offensive production. 

Following his junior year he was named Second Team All State by Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association and made the the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal Super Team after hitting .447 with 34 RBI, 12 doubles and three triples. 

He received the same honor from the Lubbock Avalanche Journal following his senior season with 23 RBI, two home runs and 28 runs scored. 

Outfielders

John McMillon

The MLB did not steal away this Texas Tech signee. Right hand pitcher and outfielder John McMillon decided to stay on board with Texas Tech despite being drafted in the 21st round by the Tampa Bay Rays and offered a $700,000 signing bonus. He told RaiderPower.com it was because he wanted to develop as a player and as a person, but is thankful he went through he process because it will help him in the future.

All the way in East Texas as Jasper high school, McMillon played catcher. After his senior season he received All American honors from USA Today. Texas Tech is getting a versatile player as the 6-foot-3 and 240 pounder can play outfield and throw a 96-mile per hour fastball from the mound. 

Texas Tech Signees Going Pro 

Dustin May

Fort Worth Justin Northwest right hand pitcher Dustin May signed with Texas Tech during the early signing period. When the MLB Draft rolled around he was picked in the third round as the 101 overall pick by the Dodgers. He was ranked the No. 5 overall player in the state by Perfect Game as he recorded 58 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched this season. 

Devin Smeltzer  

Texas Tech signee and left handed pitcher Devin Smeltzer went in the fifth round, 161 overall, to the Dodgers. This past season the sophomore led San Jacinto College North to the JUCO World Series. This was after he decided not to sign with the Padres who drafted him in the 33rd round out of high school. 

Ulysses Cantu

Saginaw Boswell third baseman Ulysses Cantu was drafted in the sixth round and will now be a Clevland Indian instead of a Red Raider. He was named District 5-5A Offensive Player of the Year by Time Record News after hitting .374 his senior year. 

JD Murders 

Bolivar short stop JD Murders decided to go the professional route as well after being drafted 946 overall in the 31st round by the St. Louis Cardinals. He told the Springfield News-Leader that being a Cardinals fan is whole life “made the whole decision more special.”


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