The early signing period for winter and spring programs proved beneficial for the Alabama baseball team. The Crimson Tide signed six top-recruits from the state. Additionally, the Tide will add a player from Texas, Florida and one from New Jersey. The class includes one outfielder, two catchers, an infielder, and five pitchers.
Alabama Coach Mitch Gaspard announced the signing of the nine players who will arrive for the 2014-15 academic year. Included in this year’s class of signees are;
Logan Ashworth (Port Neches, Texas), Chandler Avant (Troy), Andrew DiPiazza (Bayville, N.J.), Cody Henry (Cantonment, Fla.), Jamal Howard (Phenix City), Matt Morgan (Thorsby), Zac Rogers (Alexander City), Jake Walters (Maylene), and Alex Watkins (Albertville).
“This is another class that will meet a number of needs for us,” Gaspard said. “We really addressed a lot of different area with a number of pitchers, a catcher, an outfielder and a middle infielder. I thought our coaches did a really good job of identifying the players that fit our system and our program. We addressed a number of needs as we look towards the future.”
It was no accident that the majority of the newcomers are from within the state. Gaspard said, “First on our agenda is reaching out to the state of Alabama, and we fell that we have done that with this class. With the structure of our scholarships, that has to be a priority for us and we have been able to accomplish that over the last few years, and did that again this year. We’ve had back-to-back quality recruiting classes, and this is the third class in a row with players that can come in and make an immediate impact for us.”
In this class of nine signees, Alabama inked five pitchers. “The first thing you want to address with a recruiting class is on the mound,” Gaspard said. “This will be a challenging year for us as we have a lot of junior pitchers, so this class is important because we can’t predict what will happen with the upcoming draft.”
Here are the five pitchers that Alabama signed for 2014-15.
Logan Ashworth is a 6-2 right handed pitcher from Port Neches-Groves High School. Ashworth is ranked as the 43rd best player in Texas and the 18th best right handed pitcher in the state. He is a two-time high honorable mention preseason high school Underclass All-America and was the only player from his area to make the final cut of the Texas Rangers Area Code Tryouts, resulting in a selection to the 2013 New Balance Games in Long Beach, Calif.
Listed at 6-7, 225 pounds, right-handed pitcher Andrew DiPiazza is rated 371 nationally by Perfect Game USA and rated as the 128th best righty in the nation. DiPiazza attended Central Regional High School where he posted a 9-0 record with a 0.85 ERA as a junior. Following that 2013 season, he was an honorable mention MSG Varsity’s 2013 All-New Jersey Team selection.
Zac Rogers is a 5-10, 175-pound right-handed pitcher from Albertville High School. Rogers ranks as the seventh best right-handed pitcher in Alabama and the 20th best player in the state. He was selected to play in Alabama Baseball Coaches Association All-Star game in 2012.
Jake Walters signs with the Crimson Tide as a senior at Thompson High School in Maylene, the same school where current Alabama pitcher Jon Keller played his high school ball. A 2013 honorable mention preseason All-America by Perfect Game USA, Walters garnered ASWA First Team Class 6A All-State honors following his junior season. Walters is rated as the 14th best player and the fifth best right-handed pitcher in the state by Perfect Game USA.
Alex Watkins is the only left-hander pitcher in this year’s signing class, and will come to Alabama from Albertville High School. The 6-5, 160-pound pitcher was an Alabama 6A honorable mention all-state selection in 2013, and is rated as the fourth best high school pitcher in the state.
In addition to the five pitchers, the Tide inked four position players -- two catchers, an outfielder, and a middle infielder.
“We’re trying to get more athletic by recruiting players that can do multiple things,” Gaspard said. “We feel that the last couple years we’ve done that. We have some guys in this class that are pretty versatile and can play two or three positions. It’s much easier to move athletes around, and we feel like we have an athletic class.”
Here is a look at the four signed position players for 2014-15.
Chandler Avant comes to the Tide from Pike Liberal Arts High School. The 6-0, 175-pounder is rated as the top middle infielder in Alabama, and is ranked 201st in the country by Perfect Game USA. Avant was named the 2013 Alabama Independent Schools Association Hitter of the Year and earned 2013 Alabama Sports Writers Association AISA all-state. As a junior, he hit .480 with 12 home runs, 38 RBI, and 56 runs scored.
One of two catchers in the class is Cody Henry, who is a 6-2, 200-pounder from Pensacola Catholic High School. As a junior, Henry hit .400 with four home runs and 43 RBI, helping the team post a 30-0 record in 2013 en route to the school’s second straight a Class 4A state title.
Jamal Howard will join the Tide from Central High School where the 6-3, 205-pounder is rated as the top outfielder in the state, while garnering a 159 nationally ranking by Perfect Game USA. In 2013, Howard hit .355 with six home runs and 27 RBI and stole 17 bases as a junior.
The second catcher in this year’s signing class is 6-1, 190-pounder Matt Morgan. Morgan currently attends Thorsby High School and is rated as the top catcher in the state by Perfect Game USA. Nationally, he is rated as the 24th best catcher and the 185th best player overall by PG USA.
“This group also fits well with the classes we’ve brought in the last two years and we’re always trying to make a complete team and not come up short in any areas,” Gaspard said.