Sunday, August 22, 2010

Pitching potential packs a punch in incoming recruiting class

2009-2010 proved to be a recruiting class filled with offensive/defensive potential for Mizzou. Eric Garcia, Dane Opel, Blake Brown and Brannon Champagne came on strong in developing as reliable everyday players for the Tigers.

But it was pitching that proved to be a struggle for the team, especially when another freshman, Eric Anderson, went down due to injury.

Fortunately, the incoming 2010-2011 recruiting class looks to be one that will be known as a great class of pitchers for Missouri. The awards and accolades just keep coming for the incoming moundsmen.

RHP Jason Adam (Blue Valley Northwest HS, KC) has gotten the most press, since he was drafted by the Kansas City Royals in the 5th round of the MLB Amateur Draft. His decision at the deadline to sign with the Royals removes him from the picture for the Missouri Tigers.

RHP Matt Stites (Festus HS/Jefferson College) was the other Tiger recruit named in the Draft. Stites was picked by the Chicago Cubs as the 1000th pick. Wisely [editorial comment coming], Mr. Stites chose not to indenture himself to the evil empire of Wrigley Field, and will be in a Tiger uniform this season.

In 2010 Stites 9-2 with a 1.69 ERA with Jefferson College and was the team's Most Valuable Player and Region XVI Player of the Year and was a 3rd Team JuCo All-American.

Most impressively, Stites is pitching with the Falmouth Commodores in the elite Cape Cod League this summer as is having a very good summer against the best competition summer college ball has to offer.

Stites has been mentioned on Baseball America as a favorite prospect of theirs:

Righthander Stites stands just 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds, but he has a big arsenal. Before he tired toward the end of the season, Stites showed an 88-92 mph fastball that touched 94, a slider that served as an out pitch and a solid curveball. He's a quick-twitch athlete rather than a max-effort thrower, and he commands his fastball to both sides of the plate.
LHP Rob Zastryzny (Calallen HS) comes from the Corpus Christi area and has been the most dominating pitcher in that part of Texas in 2010. Zastryzny was named a 2nd Team All-American by MaxPreps. He has received MVP of the year, Pitcher of the Year, several All-Region, All-Conference, All-everything team honors, and led his team to great success during the season and deep into the postseason.

RHP Michael Franco (Moody HS), the other most dominant pitcher in the Corpus Christi area, had signed a letter of intent to play at Missouri, but has reportedly opted out to enroll in a Junior College program.

RHP Myles Smith (Divine Child HS, Dearborn, MI) led his team to a state title in 2010. He was a 2nd team MaxPreps All-American. He went 8-1 in 2010 with a 1.58 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 68 innings pitched.

Read this profile of Smith on ESPN Rise and you'll be excited about seeing this young man in a Mizzou uniform.

LHP Ian Ekery (Franklin HS, TX) was named first team All-City and first team All-District 5A for the second straight year. Ian's 2010 numbers: 7-2 with a 2.60 ERA and 47 K's in 51 innings. Ekery also appears to be a real team-leader type, according to this article: 10 Most Influential Seniors.

RHP James Hudelson (Hickman HS, Columbia/Jefferson College, StL) began his pitching career in the shadow of Mizzou and now on course to return as a Tiger after a couple of impressive years in the Junior College ranks. this summer he is having great success as a closer for the Hannibal Cavemen of the Prospects League, and was named to the Prospects League All-Star game.

RHP Matt Linderer (Bishop Debourg HS, StL) was the Pitcher of the Year in the AAA_Conference and was named to the All-State team. According to a Profile on, "the 6-foot-2, 178-pound Linderer was outstanding as he went 8-1 with an earned run average of 1.83. He struck out 85 batters in 69 innings."

RHP Dusty Ross (Vernon College, TX) is a late addition to the recruiting class. He caught the attention of Tony Vitello with his play in the Texas Collegiate League, where he was selected as the league's top reliever of the summer. See our profile for details on Ross.

RHP Ryan Yuengel (Festus HS, MO) is another late addition to the recruiting class. Originally slated for the Junior College route, Yuengel is at Mizzou and fighting for a slot on the pitching staff. He has some impressive stats (1.38 ERA, 59 K in 45-1/3 innings pitched) and a record of performing big when the stakes are high.

That's quite a lineup of pitching potential for new Pitching Coach Matt Hobbs to mold into a dominant pitching staff. The recruiting classes of 2009 and 2010 combined could be the key to making the down year of 2010 an anomaly as the Tigers return to their post-season ways they enjoyed for several years.

Oh . . . We haven't forgotten about a couple of other recruits on our cobbled-together list of incoming recruits, and a new face on the field that sat out a year on the bench -- all three of them non-pitchers. We'll take a look at them tomorrow.

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