Baseball Inks Elite Class In Early Signing Period

Four players ranked among high school's Top 100 prospects, including two AFLAC All-Americans and a Junior Olympic Team member, highlight the Tulane University baseball team recruiting class during the early signing period, head coach Rick Jones announced Tuesday

Four players ranked among high school's Top 100 prospects, including two AFLAC All-Americans and a Junior Olympic Team member, highlight the Tulane University baseball team recruiting class during the early signing period, head coach Rick Jones announced Tuesday.

Infielder Brad Emaus (Senoia, Ga./East Coweta HS), outfielder Warren McFadden (Plantation, Fla./Nova HS), pitcher/first baseman Sean Morgan (Sugar Land, Texas/Clements HS) and pitcher Stephen Porlier (Sugar Land, Texas/Elkins HS) are all listed among the Top 100 High School recruits by Baseball America, and are joined by local products pitcher/outfielder Peter Connick (New Orleans, La./Jesuit HS) and pitcher Jonathan Garrett (Mandeville, La./St.Paul's HS), along with infielder Cat Everett (Houston, Texas/Lamar HS) and junior college outfielder Matt Riser (Picayune Miss./Pear River CC) to form the signing class of 2003-04.

Emaus and McFadden both were selected to play in the 2003 AFLAC All-America High School Baseball Classic back in August, Porlier was a member of the 2003 U.S. Junior National Team, and Riser earned first-team All-Region honors last season with Pearl River.

"When almost every coach is asked about their recruiting class, the standard answer is ‘we met our needs,'" Jones said. "That's obviously a key, but what separates the solid recruiting classes from the outstanding recruiting classes is signing and retaining of some of the nation's elite players.

"James Jurries and Jake Gautreau started that tradition and it has carried over to guys like Michael Aubrey, Tony Giarratano and the many players currently on our roster. We've been able to do that each and every year, and this class continues that tradition. As a small, private school, our focus has been quality of a recruiting class rather than on numbers. Along with the goal of winning, player development is very important to us. For a player to develop fully, he needs to have the opportunity to play early in his career. We expect many of these players to have an immediate impact on our program."

Emaus signed with Tulane after hitting .490 with a 1.100 slugging percentage, and his 14 home runs led all 5A players in the state of Georgia in 2003. A three-year starter at shortstop, he posted a .969 fielding percentage last season and was named Atlanta Journal Constitution and Newnan Times Herald Player of the Year. In addition to earning a spot on the AFLAC All-America team, Emaus helped the East Cobb squad go undefeated last month at the World Wooden Bat Association (WWBA) Championship. In the previous two seasons, East Cobb claimed a pair of gold medals with the AAU Junior Olympics and Emaus was named MVP of the CABA World Series. Emaus, who was recently features on the cover of Baseball America, chose Tulane over Georgia Tech, North Carolina and Clemson.

"Brad is one of the most distinguished infielders in the country," Jones said. "He is very polished both offensively and defensively, and he can make a major impact on a game in both facets. He has been a member of two national championship teams, and his hard-nosed attitude will be greatly appreciated by our fans. Plain and simple, he's a big-time winner."

Fellow AFLAC All-American McFadden signed with the Green Wave after a stellar junior campaign when he was named the Sun-Sentinel Class 6A-5A-4A Player of the Year after hitting .519 with 27 RBI, 28 stolen bases and 38 runs scored. Ranked as the No. 31 prospect in the nation by Prospects Plus – a division of Baseball America – McFadden was named one of the top prospects at the Area Code Games, East Coast Showcase and the WWBA Senior Championships. A member of Team Nike in the Area Code Games, he was ranked No. 5 in the country coming out of the prestigious event. McFadden signed with Tulane over Miami, Florida, North Carolina and LSU.

"Warren is a legitimate five-tool player," Jones said. "He has plus power, plus arm strength, will hit for a high average, plays outstanding defense and was timed at 6.52 in the 60-yard dash. He is as good an outfielder that will enter college next fall. He comes from the talent-rich area of South Florida, and we are very fortunate that he has decided to join us."

The No. 50 player in the nation according to Prospects Plus, Porlier pitched for the 2003 U.S. Junior National Team during their Domestic Tour, including a combined shutout against the Southwest Missouri All-Stars when he tossed four shutout innings and struck out three in a start. He also helped Elkins High to the state championship last year when he went 8-1 with a 1.46 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 38 innings of work. Porlier chose Tulane over Rice, Texas and Arizona.

"Stephen has had great success, but his best days are definitely ahead of him," Jones said. "he has the perfect pitcher's body and has already touched 93 miles per hour. He's got an above-average curve ball and a change-up, and just needs to continue to mature. He comes from the defending Texas state champs, and with continued development, should be as good as anybody."

Rounding out the ranked Prospect Plus players is Morgan, who is the 55th recruit according to the publication. He was named Outstanding Pitcher at the WWBA World Showcase, which was comprised of over 1,500 high school prospects, in October. As a junior, he went 11-1 with a 1.88 ERA and 94 strikeouts from the mount, and hit .430 with nine home runs and 46 RBI at the plate. He was also one of only two juniors to be named to the All-Houston Team by the Houston Chronicle. He chose Tulane over Rice, Baylor, Texas and Arizona.

"Sean has established himself as one of the premier prospects in American," Jones said. "He combines a low 90s fastball with a slider that is an absolutely devastating pitch. His dominance has been well chronicled, and he should only get better. He is the type of difference-maker that all successful teams must have. The bonus is that Sean is also an advanced left-handed hitter who should give us help offensively as well. We have a great tradition of two-way talents thriving here, and Sean will continue that."

Tulane's local signees, Garrett and Connick, are almost right and left-handed versions of the same player. Both broke through with great summers playing for Bill Hood, and will continue that development going into their senior seasons at St. Paul's and Jesuit, respectively.

Garret was named St. Paul's Student-Athlete of the Year as a junior, and played in 10 games this summer. He posted a 1.35 ERA and a pair of saves, including a complete-game three-hitter against the Austin Baseball Club.

"Jonathan really made a big jump this summer," Jones said. "Twelve months ago, he was full-time catcher, and he has turned into a top pitching prospect. His fastball has touched 91 miles per hour, and his breaking ball has a chance to be a true out pitch. We are excited about continuing his development because the sky is the limit for Jonathan.

"Peter is another local kid who also made big strides this summer with Bill Hood. He is just starting to become the pitcher he can be. He is a lefty with good movement who has touched 87 and shown a quality breaking ball. With continued strength and development, he can really help this program, and we are excited to have another member of the Jesuit program."

The team's lone junior college transfer, Riser enjoyed a successful 2003 season at Pearl River Community College where he hit .359 with 16 doubles, two triples and two home runs. He also scored 53 runs and posted a .442 on-base percentage, and used his speed to swipe 10 bases. He earned first-team all-region and all-state honors, and was named Most Valuable Defensive Player. A freshman in 2003, Riser will have two years of eligibility once he joins the Green Wave for the 2005 season. He chose Tulane over Southern Miss and UNLV.

"Matt is the kind of player our fans love – hard-nosed with lots of hustle," Jones said. "He is a polished left-handed hitter who can use his 6.7 speed very well offensively and defensively. He is the prototype table-setter who had a great freshman year. We love to put pressure on opposing defenses and Matt will really help us do that."

Tulane's final signee, Everett, hit .340 last season at Lamar with 12 stolen bases. A switch hitter with defensive versatility, Everett is also listed among the top infield prospects in the state of Texas by Prospects Plus.

"Cat will be able to help us in a number of different ways," Jones said. "He has great athleticism which lends to him being very versatile. He is a polished defender who can play any position on the field. That, and being a switch hitter will make him a valuable member of our team."

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