GREENSBORO, N.C. – A total of 10 high school seniors have declared their commitment to play baseball and attend UNCG beginning in the fall of 2014, according to an announcement by head coach Link Jarrett. The student-athletes will take the field for the Spartans at the start of the 2015 season.
"This recruiting class brings a great deal of balance and skill to our program,” Jarrett said. “The overall athleticism and competitiveness of this class is exceptional. The fact that several of these players are adept at multiple positions provides our team with tremendous versatility. Our staff worked diligently to assemble this group and I am very proud of the hard work of our coaches, as well as what these players will represent at UNCG for years to come."
Zachery Almond – Catcher – R/R – 6-3 – 185 – Richfield, N.C. (North Stanly) Will enter his fourth season as the catcher for North Stanly’s varsity baseball squad in February … Earned both all-conference and all-county accolades at the conclusion of the 2012 and 2013 seasons after leading the Comets in hits and RBI … Hit .391 as a junior with 27 hits, 27 RBI, 13 doubles, three home runs and 12 walks … Batted .344 his sophomore year to go along with 22 hits, 18 RBI, five doubles, two home runs and eight stolen bases … Began his prep career impressively, boasting a .356 average as well as 26 hits, 20 RBI, eight doubles, three home runs and seven stolen bases … Participated in the 2013 PowerAde State Games and was part of the team which earned the Region 6 gold medal … Has competed for the America Legion Post 76 for four seasons as a catcher and outfielder under head coach Derrick Barringer and participated in the 2012 and 2013 All-Star Games … Personal: Zachery Douglas Almond … Born April 12, 1996 … Intended major is business administration … Son of Kevin and Stacy Almond.
Coach Jarrett on Almond: “Zach is going to be a very versatile piece to our program. His ability to catch and play outfield should give him a great chance to be successful. His athletic frame, quick feet and strong arm should allow him to really improve in his time at UNCG.”
Michael Bates – RHP – R/R – 6-3 – 185 – Winston-Salem, N.C. (West Forsyth) Listed as the 36th-best prospect in the state of North Carolina as well as 500th nationally by Perfect Game … Has played for West Forsyth’s varsity baseball team since 2012 … Racked up a 6-1 record as a junior with his only loss to eventual state champion South Mecklenburg … In 64 innings pitched, he compiled a .076 earned run average and WHIP as well as striking out 66 batters against just 15 walks … Tabbed to the Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-America list … Named the 2013 Central Piedmont Conference Pitcher of the Year while also earning recognition on the all-conference and all-county teams … Led the Titans to last season’s CPC regular season title, a berth in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs and a 24-7 overall record … Competed as a pitcher and outfielder under head coach Justin Smith for The Hitting Zone team based out of Winston-Salem … Personal: Michael Ryan Bates … Born June 30, 1995 … Intended major is business administration … Son of Warren and Jeri Bates.
Coach Jarrett on Bates: “Michael really came on the scene last year at West Forsyth. His competitiveness and ability led him to a breakout year earning him pitcher of the year honors in a great conference. His composure on the mound is what is really going to make him successful here as a Spartan.”
Daniel Dulaney – RHP – R/R – 6-2 – 185 – Raleigh, N.C. (Sanderson) Has spent the last two seasons on the varsity team under head coach Todd Laughlin … Tallied a 9-1 record as junior with a 0.65 ERA and 0.82 WHIP while striking out 65 batters in 53 innings pitched … Selected to the 2013 North Carolina State Games Region 3 team … Earned CAP 8 All-Conference and CAP 8 Co-Pitcher of the Year recognition this past season and was voted team MVP by his teammates … Helped the Spartans earn their first playoff appearance in four seasons last year and threw a complete game no-hitter in the first round of the North Carolina 4A state playoffs … Named to the 2013 Perfect Game 18u WWBA All-Tournament Team as a member of Carolina Ravens Blue and the team came in second at two large Impact Baseball tournaments … Has compiled a 0.66 ERA with 75 strikeouts in 74 innings pitched the past two seasons of summer ball … Personal: Daniel George Dulaney … Born April 12, 1996 … Son of Richard and Lori Dulaney.
Coach Jarrett on Dulaney: “Daniel is another hard throwing righty with a huge upside. His ability to rise up for big games was shown in the playoffs last season when he threw a no-hitter in the first round of the state 4A tournament. With another few years of lifting and conditioning, Daniel has a chance to be a true "power arm" on our staff.”
Alex Durham – RHP – R/R – 6-4 – 188 – Burlington, N.C. (Southern Alamance) Named the ninth-best prospect out of North Carolina and the 140th-best pitcher nationally by Perfect Game … Has spent the last two seasons as a pitcher on the Southern Alamance varsity squad … Named to the Metro 4A All-Conference Team as a junior … Went 7-1 on the bump overall and 5-1 in league play while posting a 0.59 ERA and 0.85 WHIP … Tabbed a 2013 Honorable Mention All-America selection by Perfect Game … Helped lead the Patriots to a 23-5 overall record, an 11-1 ledger in conference play and a No. 25 state ranking last season … Joined the Carolina Stars last fall and has continued to play for the showcase team based out of Raleigh this summer … Earned a spot in the North Carolina State Games and helped pace his squad to a second-place state finish … Personal: Alexander Craig Durham … Born Sept. 16, 1996 … Son of Craig and Sherry Durham … Father Craig is a graduate of UNCG.
Coach Jarrett on Durham: “Alex is one of the top and most projectable pitchers in the state. He has a big arm and a very high ceiling on the mound. He has an athletic body that should allow him to keep getting stronger and better as he moves further along in his baseball career. He has a chance to be a true "power arm" for the Spartans.”
Austin Embler – INF – L/R – 5-10 – 165 – Southern Pines, N.C. (Pinecrest) A four-year starter and letterwinner for the Pinecrest High School varsity squad … Started as a freshman for a Pinecrest team ranked second in the stat and 50th nationally … A 2013 underclass honorable mention All-America selection by Perfect Game … Batted .415 as a junior with an on base percentage of .550 … Named to the all-conference squad last season … Selected to represent North Carolina in the South Atlantic Border Battle in 2012 and 2013 … Has hit over .400 in each of his three seasons playing for Evoshield Canes – South … Received all-tournament accolades at the Perfect Game Wooden Bat World Series in East Cobb, Ga. – finishing in the top 10 out of 268 teams in batting with a .667 average … Personal: Austin Dean Embler … Born Sept. 21, 1995 … Intended major is kinesiology: sports medicine (BS) pre-physical therapy … Son of Barry and Tricia Embler.
Coach Jarrett on Embler: “Austin is the spark plug that every good team needs. Swinging from the left side, he will bring a high on base percentage to our lineup. His aggressiveness on the bases will be able to create runs for our team in some non-traditional ways. Also, if you ever see him play, you can rest assured that you will see him wearing a dirty uniform by the end of the game.”
Cody Fitch – RHP – R/R – 5-11 – 165 – Shelby, N.C. (Shelby) Has been the starting second baseman, as well as a relief pitcher, since his sophomore year of high school … During his sophomore campaign at Burns High School, Fitch hit .328 and posted a fielding percentage of .934 – making just five errors in 71 chances … Also pitched seven innings that year giving up no runs while striking out seven batters and allowing just one hit … Transferred to Shelby High School for his junior campaign and batted .272 … Also threw 39 innings with 48 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.05 … Earned all-conference honors both his sophomore and junior seasons as both Burns and Shelby won conference championships … Played American Legion baseball for Shelby Post 82 under head coach Mike Grayson … Pitched 35 and one-thirds innings with 28 strikeouts the summer before his junior year while also batting .266 as the starting second baseman … Produced a fielding percentage of .949 – making just seven errors in 130 chances … This past summer, hit .370 while also hurling 18 and one-thirds innings with 19 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.45 … Personal: Cody Dylan Fitch … Born Jan. 7, 1996 … Intended major is psychology … Son of Rodney and Pam Fitch.
Coach Jarrett on Fitch: Cody is not just another right-handed pitcher we have added to this staff. Cody throws from a lower arm slot, sidearm, which will give our staff a completely new look. As a guy who can get ground balls at will, he will be the first lower-arm slot guy our staff has had in three years. Some slight adjustments he made this fall really helped him come on the scene. He had a couple dominant outings in Jupiter, Fla., which is the biggest tournament of the year.
Devin Ruiz – OF – R/R – 6-2 – 220 – Pennsauken, N.J. (Paul VI) Will enter his fourth year of varsity baseball in February for Paul VI High School under head coach Pat Fisher … Helped lead the Eagles to Olympic Conference championships in 2011 and 2012 … Paul VI reached the 2011 Parochial A finals and 2013 Parochial A semifinals … Selected to the prestigious Diamond Classic high school tournament in 2011 … Hit .333 with five doubles two triples, eight RBI and 11 stolen bases as a junior … Batted .433 to go along with five doubles, three home runs, 17 RBI and 16 stolen bases his sophomore season … Turned in a .286 batting average as a freshman while also tallying six doubles and six RBI … Competed for the All Star Baseball Academy since the fall of 2012 … Selected to the 2013 Perfect Game WWBA 17u All-Tournament Team … Hit .526 with the All Star Baseball Academy Summer Showcase Team before batting .549 in the fall … Personal: Devin Ruiz … Born May 2, 1996 … Intended major is psychology … Son of Julio and Norma Ruiz.
Coach Jarrett on Ruiz: “In an era of less potent bats, Devin fills a hard-to-find role as a power bat. His physical stature can be an imposing figure for opposing pitchers when he stands in the batter's box. One of his most impressive feats is that he tested out as the highest exit velocity from a ball coming off a bat in a Louisville Slugger test in Jupiter, Fla.”
Tripp Shelton – INF – R/R – 5-11 – 160 – Winston-Salem, N.C. (West Forsyth) Teammate of fellow Spartan signee Michael Bates who has played shortstop the past three years for the Titans’ varsity squad under head coaches Randy Pope and Brad Bullard … Named the 2013 team defensive MVP … Earned all-conference honors last season as West Forsyth won the Central Piedmont Conference regular season championship … Hit .271 as a junior with 23 hits, 10 doubles, three home runs and 15 RBI while posting a .388 on base percentage and .906 OPS … Selected to play in Perfect Game tournaments on seven occasions in Georgia and Florida for the Dirtbags showcase team under head coaches Andy Partin and Lee Land … Also participated in the 2013 Powerade State Games for District 5 and his team won the silver medal … Personal: Paul Thomas Shelton III … Born May 29, 1996 … Son of Tommy and Renee Shelton.
Coach Jarrett on Shelton: “The more you watch Tripp the more you want him on your team. Tripp is one of the most consistent infielders in the state. He will be a favorite of our pitching staff. There is a lot of comfort in knowing that we have such a consistent and sure handed middle infielder in our program for a long time to come.”
Chad Sykes – RHP/INF – R/R – 5-11 – 165 – Creedmoor, N.C. (Voyager Academy) Has enjoyed a honor-filled prep career at Voyager Academy under head coach Pete Shankle … Named 2014 preseason Honorable Mention All-America by Perfect Game … Earned first-team all-state, first-team all-conference, conference player of the year and team MVP accolades the last two seasons … Added team defensive MVP honors as a sophomore … In 2012, helped lead the Vikings to a conference title, sectional championship, regional crown and a state runner-up finish … Voyager repeated as conference and sectional champion in 2013 and came in second in the region … On the bump last season, Sykes was 6-1, threw 49.3 innings and struck out 72 batters against just 14 walks and did not give up a home run … Also hit .410 with an on base percentage of .535 and posted 21 RBI and 17 stolen bases … Competed the last two seasons for the Dirtbags showcase team under head coach Andy Partin … Personal: Chad Mark Sykes … Born Feb. 11, 1996 … Intended major is business … Son of Mark and Joan Sykes.
Coach Jarrett on Sykes: “Chad is a two-way player that can do a lot of things for our program. He is a great defensive second baseman and one of the best pitchers in the Triangle area. He goes along with what we want out of our pitching staff in terms of pounding the zone with his fastball and being very athletic on the mound. However, what stands out the most about Chad's game is his ability to spin and command a plus breaking ball at any time.”
Andrew Wantz – RHP/INF – L/R – 6-4 – 200 – Holly Springs, N.C. (Holly Springs) A three-year starter for the varsity squad at Holly Springs High School under head coach Rod Whitesell … Named to the all-conference team his junior year after compiling a 9-1 record, 1.70 ERA and fanning 76 batters – the second most in a single season in school history … Also batted .333 at the dish with 15 RBI … Participated in the Powerade State Games following his junior season … Put together a 2.00 ERA his sophomore season with 69 strikeouts … Led the Golden Hawks to the second round of the state playoffs as a sophomore and the third round his junior campaign … Played with fellow Spartan signee Daniel Dulaney for the Carolina Ravens Blue showcase team under head coach Jason Landy and was named to the 2013 East Cobb All-Tournament Hitting Team … Personal: Andrew Hunter Wantz … Born Oct. 13, 1995 … Intended major is undecided … Son of Edward and Sherry Wantz.
Coach Jarrett on Wantz: “I really like Andy's drive to be successful. As one of the top arms in Wake County last season he also has talent at the plate as a big left-handed hitter. We look for him to be a two-way guy for us as he really came along with the bat this past summer. He will bring a strong work ethic and a sense of leadership to our team.”
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