Head coach Jonathan Hernandez is changing the landscape of the Bethune-Cookman baseball program. He has recruited the highest ranked signing class in the program’s history along with some top notch JUCO transfers that are already providing excitement for Wildcats fall ball. Hernandez, who enters his second year at the helm, and his staff were able to get players that will continue to build the tradition of Bethune Cookman baseball and they are very excited about what the future holds for the program preparing for the 2020 season.
According to college baseball website Perfect Game, the BCU baseball team ranks 59th in the country in recruiting which is the highest ranked signing class in program’s history. It features 10 Wildcats from Florida, five from Arizona, four from Puerto Rico, and one each from New Mexico and Virginia.
The Wildcats also signed 9 highly skilled transfers with plenty of experience playing in big games. According to Hernandez, the transfers will “compliment the incoming high school class.”
Hernandez and his staff went out and recruited heavy across the nation and have brought in stout student athletes. “We are excited about this class and what mark they can leave on our program. As a staff, we have identified the roster’s needs and think this class can not only meet those, but exceed them and help develop the culture we are establishing. This class reaches across not only the continental United States, but to Puerto Rico. I commend my staff for tirelessly working to identify who we think can be the championship caliber player our program needs, no matter their location or background.”
Right Handed Pitcher – Knicko Billings Miramar, Fla. Somerset Academy Charter Went 4-0 with 59 strikeouts and a 1.21 ERS as a senior. Named 5A-14 All-District in 2019. His fastball is in the upper-80s to low-90s and has a power slider. He is the type of competitor that BCU is looking for on the mound.
Outfielder – Fabian Escalante Sanford, Fla. Bishop Moore High School Top 500 prospect nationally … 13th ranked OF in Fla. according to Perfect Game Perfect Game Florida Region HS All-America Second Team. As a senior, hit for a .333 average, three homeruns, and 19 RBI. Hit a walkoff Home run in the Class 5A Regional Championship. Chossen 2019 5A-18 All District Team.
Infielder – Frankie Febles Miami, Fla. Mater Academy owns a strong arm and can handle the bat. Smart hitter who knows how to work pitchers and find the pitch that he’s looking for. He has a contact approach and can hit the ball across all parts of the field.
Infielder – Matthew Garcia Orlando, Fla. Avant Garde Academy Hit .364 as a senior with 39 hits and 26 runs batted in, stole 14 bases in 16 attempts, a career .930 fielder with 20 double plays. He is a switch-hitting middle infielder that displays a large range in the infield. He is an athletic, physical, up-the-middle type of player that will see time in the lineup.
Right Handed Pitcher – Guillermo Gelpi Puerto Rico Avant Garde Academy. Represented World Team at 2018 Program 15/ New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series in Glendale, Arizona. As a senior, had 16 appearances and a 3-1 record with a save over 37.1 innings with 47 strikeouts. Has a live arm and can compliment his fastball with a slider and changeup.
Outfielder – Andrew O’Dea Kissimmee, Fla. Avant Garde Academy Played for Team Ireland at 18U European Baseball Championships, hit .352 with 30 runs batted in in 36 games according to MaxPreps.com. Showed speed in going 9-11 in stolen bases. Has a big arm and is another power bat to add to the Cats lineup.
Infielder – Colton Olasin Springhill, Fla. Northside Christian High School Top 500 prospect nationally, 28th ranked 2B in Florida according to Perfect Game. Three-time Team USA alumnus. High IQ who plays the game hard.
Right Handed Pitcher – Colten Patterson Daytona Beach, Fla. Seabreeze High School Had 10 strikeouts in 10.1 innings for the Sand Crabs, tallied 12 hits and 8 runs batted in in 20 games, according to MaxPreps.com. Fastball in the mid-80s and touching 90s. He has the potential to be a starter.
Catcher – Boras Peña Hialeah, Fla. Mater Academy 2019 8A-16 All-District Team. Hit .419 with a .537 on-base % and .628 slugging mark as a senior. Athletic catcher has a strong arm. He is also a utility player can also play in the outfield if needed. His versatility and strength are behind the plate.
Outfielder – Jan Reyes Orlando, Fla. Avant Garde Academy As a senior, hit .283 with a .497 on-base percentage in 18 games, according to MaxPreps.com, career .974 fielder. Helped lead his high school team to a 28-6-2 record. He is very athletic in the outfield and can cover lots of ground, while displaying a strong, accurate arm.”
Right Handed Pitcher – Nolan Santos North Miami, Fla. Miami Beach Sr. High School Went 4-3 over 57.1 innings with 95 strikeouts and a 0.49 earned run average as a senior. Threw a no-hitter with 18 strikeouts. Has three-pitches in the upper-80s arm, potential to be a starter.
First Base – Eli Young Scottsdale, Ariz. Gilbert High School Participated in 2017 MLB Prospect Development Pipeline with USA Baseball. Father a former “eight-year MLB veteran.” He has the potential to be a dangerous bat in the middle of the lineup.
TOP JUCO RECRUITS
Right Handed Pitcher – Rafael Perez Guzman Valencia, Venezuela NMMI. Had 16 strikeouts in 14 innings, made 10 appearances with a 3.21 earned run average. His fast ball in the low 90’s and he has a hard slider.
Right Handed Pitcher – Matt Henson Fredericksburg, Va. Patrick Henry CC. Made 19 appearances went 4-4 with three saves recorded 31 strikeouts. Has a submarine arm who lives in the mid 80’s with his fast ball FB and a very good slider.
Right Handed Pitcher – Bryan Marrero Corozal, P.R. Frank Phillips CC. Pitched in 12 games registered 58 strikeouts with a 6-4 record and had a 4.97 earned run average. A competitor with three pitches that he can throw for strikes. Wildcats are looking at Bryan as a weekend starter.
Catcher – Shamir Morales San Lorenzo, P.R. Florida Southwestern Suncoast Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Second Team All-Conference, hit .309 with six doubles and 21 runs batted in. Threw out 16 runners and fielded at a .997 clip, had just one error in 336 chances. High school team finished #18 nationally. From behind the plate, can control the run game and be a general on the field.
Right Handed Pitcher – Steven Ortiz Bronx, N.Y. Cochise College. In 19 appearances and 38.2 innings earned a 3-0 record, had three saves and a 3.26 earned run average struck out 46 batters.
Outfielder – Rafael Padilla Patagonia, Ariz. Pima CC. Tallied 54 hits in 54 games, .344 average with 31 runs, 10 doubles, and two triples, two home runs and 39 runs batted in and walked 30 times. Has power.
Infielder – Enrique Porchas Yuma, Ariz. Pima CC. Played in 52 games with a .335 average, hit four homers and drove in 23 runs. A Two-time All-ACCAC Player of the Year, NJCAA All-Academic Second Team. Left-handed hitter who can provide some power and has plenty of collegiate at bats as he graduated from Pima CC.
Right Handed Pitcher – Nick Rogers Peoria, Ariz. Glendale CC. Earned a 2.92 ERA over 61.2 innings, went 7-3 in 14 appearances, truck out 43 batters, Glendale Community College 2018-19 Scholar Athlete of the Year. He can be either a spot starter or in relief.
Infielder – Elian Roman Orlando, Fla. TNXL Academy. Played in 26 games with a .286 average, held a .438 on base percentage, was 11-13 in stolen bases. A switch-hitting infielder with some speed and who can also play multiple infield positions. He shows range in the infield and compliments his range with a good arm. Offensively, Roman can get things going at the top of the lineup and will be counted on in a variety of roles for the 2020 season.