Bethune-Cookman Coach Hernandez Announces Highest Rated Signing Class in Program’s Baseball History


Courtesy of Bethune-Cookman Sports Information Department

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Bethune-Cookman University baseball Head coach Jonathan Hernandez is excited to welcome the highest ranked signing class in the program’s history. He begins with an announcement of incoming high school signees, and will announce the junior college transfer signees Tuesday, July 23.

“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,” said Hernandez, who just completed his first season leading the Wildcats. “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.”

The class ranks 59th according to Perfect Game, the highest in program history. It features 10 Wildcats from Florida, five from Arizona, four from Puerto Rico, and one from each New Mexico and Virginia.

The newest additions to #LaFamilia are the following:

RHP    Knicko Billings          Miramar, Fla.            Somerset Academy Charter

  • Pronounced like “Nico” … Went 4-0 with 59 strikeouts and a 1.21 ERS as a senior … named 5A-14 All-District … 2019 Senior All-Star member representing Broward County at Marlins Park … currently pitches for the Florida Legends who will play in the Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, New Mexico … has thrown 13 innings with two saves and has 23 strikeouts to just two walks.
  • Hernandez on Billings “Knicko will anchor the back-end of our bullpen. His fastball is in the upper-80s to low-90s and has a power slider. He is the type of competitor that we are looking for on the mound.”

OF       Fabian Escalante       Sanford, Fla.       Bishop Moore High School

  • Top 500 prospect nationally … 13thranked 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 HR in the Class 5A Regional Championship to beat Villages Charter … 2019 5A-18 All District Team
  • Hernandez on Escalante “Fabian is a left-handed hitter who brings a strong bat and big arm from the outfield. He’s shown clutch hitting in his high school’s postseason play and we think he can provide those same type of clutch at-bats for us for the next four years.”

INF      Frankie Febles           Miami, Fla.                  Mater Academy

  • Hernandez on Febles “Frankie owns a strong arm and can handle the bat. He’s a very 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.”

2B/SS    Matthew Garcia         Orlando, Fla.      Avant Garde Academy

  • Hit .364 as a senior with 39 hits and 26 RBI … stole 14 bases in 16 attempts … a career .930 fielder with 20 double plays.
  • Hernandez on Garcia “Matthew 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 than can maintain a spot at the top of our lineup.”

RHP    Guillermo Gelpi         Puerto Rico                  Avant Garde Academy

  • Represented World Team at 2018 Program 15/ New Balance Baseball Future Stars Series in Glendale, Ariz. … as a senior, had 16 appearances and a 3-1 record with a save over 37.1 innings … totaled 47 strikeouts.
  • Hernandez on Gelpi “Guillermo has a lively arm and can compliment his fastball with a slider and changeup. We are looking for him to make an immediate impact on the mound who could hold a variety of roles next spring.”

OF       Andrew O’Dea           Kissimmee, Fla.          Avant Garde Academy

  • Starred for Team Ireland at 18U European Baseball Championships … hit .352 with 30 RBI in 36 games according to … also showed speed in going 9-11 in stolen bases.
  • Hernandez on O’Dea “Andrew owns a huge arm and is another power bat to add to our lineup. We think he can give us an impact quickly in the 2020 season and we are excited about what all he can accomplish in a Wildcat uniform.”

INF      Colton Olasin            Springhill, Fla.            Northside Christian High School

  • Top 500 prospect nationally … 28thranked 2B in Fla. according to Perfect Game … three-time Team USA alum.
  • Hernandez on Olasin “Colton holds an extremely high baseball IQ, and combined with a motor rarely seen on the diamond, has the tools to make an immediate impact for us. He plays the game hard and brings a high-level of international experience to the program.”

RHP    Colten Patterson        Daytona Beach, Fla.   Seabreeze High School

  • Had 10 strikeouts in 10.1 innings for the Sand Crabs … Tallied 12 hits and eight RBI in 20 games, according to …
  • Hernandez on Patterson “Colton has a fastball in the mid-80s and can see action in a variety of roles in our bullpen next spring. He has the potential to be a starter for us.”

C          Boras Peña     Hialeah, Fla.               Mater Academy

  • 2019 8A-16 All-District Team … 2019 Senior All-Star member representing Miami-Dade County at Marlins Park … Hit .419 with a .537 on-base % and .628 slugging mark as a senior.
  • Hernandez on Peña “Boras is an athletic catcher that moves well and has a strong arm. He can also play in the outfield if needed. His versatility and strength behind the plate are valued assets.”

OF       Jan Reyes        Orlando, Fla.               Avant Garde Academy

  • As a senior, hit .283 with a .497 on-base percentage in 18 games, according to … career .974 fielder … helped the Wolves to a 28-6-2 record.
  • Hernandez on Reyes “Jan has sneaky pop in his bat as a left-handed hitter. He is very athletic in the outfield and can cover lots of ground, while displaying a strong, accurate arm.”

RHP    Nolan Santos              North Miami, Fla.       Miami Beach Sr. High School

  • Went 4-3 over 57.1 innings with 95 strikeouts and a 0.49 ERA as a senior … threw a no-hitter with 18 strikeouts against Coral Gables on Mar. 4 … 2091 (a-14 Pitcher of the Year … 2019 Senior All-Star member representing Miami-Dade County at Marlins Park … 2019 Miami Herald First Team All-County … currently pitches for the Florida Legends who will play in the Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, New Mexico … threw a complete game to advance the Legends to the CMWS … has thrown 24 innings, has one save, 23 strikeouts, five walks, and a 0.75 ERA and a perfect 6-0 record over the summer.
  • Hernandez on Santos “Nolan has a three-pitch mix with an upper-80s arm. He will make an impact to our starting rotation and we are excited about the potential success he can have on our program. His drive and competitiveness reminds us of past Wildcat pitching greats.”

1B       Eli Young        Scottsdale, Ariz.                     Gilbert High School

  • Participated in 2017 MLB Prospect Development Pipeline with USA Baseball …
  • Hernandez on Young “Eli owns the physical tools we are looking for in a first baseman. He comes from good bloodlines with his father, Earnest, an eight-year MLB veteran. He has the potential to be a dangerous middle-of-the-order type of at-bat.”

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