Wave Baseball Adds 7 Prep, 1 JUCO Prospect

"I'm very excited about the potential of this class," Jones said. "Having a veteran group of positioin players necessitated that we replace them with a talented group of freshmen. I'm confident that we have many young men in this class who can contribute early in their careers. Once again, we are a top option for the nation's elite players who are also outstanding students. I feel we will continue our momentum with this class

NEW ORLEANS, La.–Five first-team all-state high school standouts – including an AFLAC All-American and a pair of players invited to Team USA tryouts – and a junior college standout highlight the Tulane University baseball team recruiting class during the early signing period, head coach Rick Jones and associate head coach/recruiting coordinator Mark Kingston announced Thursday.

Outfielder Jay Bruce (Beaumont, Texas/Westbrook HS), utility athlete Aja Barto (Houston, Texas/Stratford HS), catcher Max Kwan (Bellevue, Wash./Seattle Prep), infielder Seth Henry (Berwick, La./Berwick HS) and southpaw Scooter Hicks (Houston, Texas/Houston Christian HS) all earned all-state honors as juniors in 2004, and are joined by catcher Ty Wallace (Carrolton, Texas/Navarro College), infielder Nate Simon (Duvall, Wash./Redmonds HS) and outfielder Casey Keen (Abita Springs, La./Fountainbleau HS) to form the signing class of 2004-05.

Henry was selected to play in the AFLAC All-American Classic, Kwan and Simon got Team USA invites, and Wallace earned first-team all-conference honors last season at Navarro. The signing class comes on the heels of the highest rated class in Tulane history as the current incoming recruits ranked fourth in the nation by Baseball America and No. 5 by Collegiate Baseball. "I'm very excited about the potential of this class," Jones said. "Having a veteran group of positioin players necessitated that we replace them with a talented group of freshmen. I'm confident that we have many young men in this class who can contribute early in their careers. Once again, we are a top option for the nation's elite players who are also outstanding students. I feel we will continue our momentum with this class."

Bruce (6-2, 196) signed with the Green Wave after hitting .483 with five home runs and 25 RBI last season for Westbrook, where he earned first-team all-state honors. He was also chosen to play in the Area Code Games and was ranked the fifth-best outfielder in the nation by TeamOneBaseball.com. "Jay is one of the most talented outfield prospects in the country," Kingston said. "He has all five tools and really loves to play. We expect him to have a tremendous career at Tulane."

Barto (6-4, 221) joins the Tulane family after hitting .462 with seven homers and 27 RBI as a junior at Stratford, and was ranked No. 5 among first basemen by TeamOneBaseball.com. In addition to earning first-team all-state recognition, Barto was selected to play in the Area Code Games as well as the Texas Scout Association Showcase. "Aja will be one of the strongest physical hitters to enter college next fall," Kingston said. "he can really put a charge in the ball, and also runs a 6.9 in the 60-yard dash. He has tremendous potential."

Kwan (6-2, 219), meanwhile, ranks among the Top 100 prospects in the nation and the best position player in the state of Washington by Prospects Plus, and as the No. 11 catcher in the nation by TeamOneBaseball.com. A all-state selection by The Seattle Times, Kwan also participated in the USA Baseball trials in Joplin, Mo., and started in the Area Code All-Star Game. "Max is among the most talented backstops in the country," Kingston said. "He is a physical player with a plus arm, soft hands and very good power."

Joining Kwan at the Team USA tryouts last summer was Simon (6-0, 160), who hit .469 with eight home runs, 29 RBI and 15 steals as a junior at Redmonds High. He ranks No. 23 among infielders by TeamOneBaseball.com, and played in the Area Code Games. "Nate is one of the smoothest fielding infielders you will see," Kingston said. "He is very athletic, with quick feet and soft hands. He also has a chance to be a very good left-handed hitter."

A second infielder, Henry (5-10, 175), inked with the Green Wave after hitting .425 with six bombs, 35 RBI and 18 stolen bases at Berwick High where he earned all-state honors. He was selected to play in the AFLAC All-American Baseball Showcase, ranked fourth among position players in the state by Prospects Plus and as the No. 35 infielder in the nation by TeamOneBaseball.com. "Seth is the premier infielder in the state of Louisiana," Kingston said. "He is rock solid in every facet of the game, and really plays to win."

Hicks (5-10, 170) is the lone pitcher among the early signees, and joins the Tulane program after going 9-0 with a 1.36 ERA in 79 innings of work last season at Houston Christian. His 119 strikeouts set the school's single-season record, and helped him earn first-team all-state honors. He also started the title game of the Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association for eventual champion Houston Heat, and is ranked as the No. 35 lefty in the nation. "Scooter is the prototype left-handed pitcher," Kingston said. "he combines a mid-80s fastball with a very good curveball and changeup. He is a big-time competitor and really knows how to win."

Keen (5-11, 180) rounds out the incoming freshmen, and comes to Tulane from Fountainbleau High after spending the previous three years at Covington. He had a solid summer with the Bill Hood Broncos, and has gotten better each year as a high school athlete. "Casey is a throwback player," Kingston said. "he plays extremely hard and can really hit. He also is a plus defender with a very good arm from the outfield."

Wallace (6-4, 230), the team's lone junior college signee, comes to Tulane from Navarro College where he hit .394 with seven home runs, 11 doubles and 27 RBI as a freshman en route to earning first-team all-conference honors. He also started the Texas Junior College All-Star Game this fall. A standout high school player at Newman Smith High, Wallace was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 2002 MLB First-Year Players Draft. "Ty is an accomplished JUCO receiver who is a big, physical presence," Kingston said. "He has good power and a very good arm."


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