Wildcats Ink Five During Early Signing Period

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Bethune-Cookman University baseball program has announced five signees in the early signing period. Each of the signees will be able to compete for the Wildcats in the 2017 season.

“Throughout the recruiting process, we are looking for players that have a combination of great skills, plus the right makeup,” expressed Head Coach Jason Beverlin. “Coach [Barrett] Shaft and Coach [Jason] Bell worked hard in order to target players that fit that mold. That is the reason we are so excited to announce our 2016 early signing class.”

The 2016 early signing class consists of three pitchers and two position players – both in the infield. One player can also play the outfield while using a fit for the mound as well.

The class begins with Ian Claudio, a 6-0, 160-pound shortstop from Port St. Lucie, Florida. As a junior in 2015, Claudio played in 24 games at Lincoln Park Academy. He batted .328, driving in 21 runs and scoring 18 times as well. He accumulated 22 hits, adding four doubles, a triple and a home run. Now playing at Port St. Lucie High School in his senior campaign, Claudio can also split time as a third baseman, showing his versatility along the infield.

“Ian is an athletic middle infielder who has a chance to really defend as a shortstop,” said Beverlin. “He has smooth actions with exceptional body control. He has good arm strength and plus range. His flat stroke will enable him to consistently hit line drives. Being a left-handed hitter could provide balance to the lineup, and he is a premium at the shortstop position.”

TJ Densmore, 5-11, 160 pounds, is the next early signee – a right-handed pitcher from Coral Gables, Florida. A senior at Coral Spring High School, Densmore was named a 2014 and 2015 Underclass Honorable Mention All-America performer by Perfect Game USA.

“TJ has a live arm with tremendous upside,” expressed Beverlin. “He is the caliber pitcher that could enter the program and compete at a high level early in his career. We are excited about TJ, as he continues his development over the next year and makes his impact on our 2016 class.”

The third early signee for the Wildcats is Joseph Maestu from Naples, Florida. The 6-2, 195-pound senior is listed as a catcher. As a junior, Maestu played in 22 games at Palmetto Ridge High School, batting .359 with 23 hits. He added 14 RBI and scored six runs, tallying six doubles and a triple. He ended the 2015 season with a slugging percentage of .484, adding an on-base percentage just under .475.

“Joseph has the tools to become an elite level catcher who, as he continues to grow as a hitter, could be productive in the middle of the lineup,” stated Beverlin. “His strength is his ability to defend behind the dish, accompanied by a plus arm. He has all the intangibles that we look for in a high level recruit.”

Another early signee is right-handed pitcher Anthony Maldonado of West Palm Beach, Florida. The Palm Beach Central senior has a taller frame with a 6-4 stature, and weighs in at 220 pounds. He was listed as a Perfect Game USA 2015 Underclass High Honorable Mention performer for All-America.

“Anthony is a big, physical right-handed pitcher with a good arm,” adds Beverlin. “He also shows command of his off-speed pitches. He will develop into a front line starter given his current skill set. Anthony met every expectation of having the type of makeup, and the skill set of someone that can come in and make a substantial contribution to the Bethune-Cookman program.”

The final early signee for the early period was left-handed pitcher and outfielder Robert “Bobby” Stewart.  The 5-11, 185-pound two-way player from Naples, Florida is enjoying his senior season at Naples High School. As a junior, Stewart played in 27 games for Naples High, earning a 1.34 ERA, using three wins against just a single loss. He made eight appearances on the mound, pitching in 15.2 innings and collecting 21 strikeouts against nine walks. At the plate, Stewart batted .313 with 19 runs scored and 22 RBI. He pounded out 26 hits, including four doubles, two triples and a home run.

“Bobby is an extremely talented two-way player,” commented Beverlin. “He has a chance to come in and fill two needs – both on the mound and in the outfield. Also, as a left-handed hitter and with his versatility, he helps in many aspects. On the mound, he is a fierce competitor with a good arm and plus off-speed pitches. He carries that competitive nature to the outfield where he is a plus defender who can handle the bat.”

More signees will be announced as they arrive.

“This class continues to strengthen our team up the middle at the catcher, pitcher and shortstop positions,” continued Beverlin. “We look forward to our 2016 class joining the B-CU family, and we are proud that they chose B-CU as the right fit for them.”

The #DiamondCats will begin their 2016 season on Feb. 19, welcoming Murray State to Radiology Associates Field at Jackie Robinson Ballpark for a 6 p.m. contest.

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