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Baseball Inks 13 Players to NLI

Courtesy:           Release: 11/29/2012

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Bethune-Cookman Head Baseball Coach Jason Beverlin announced the signing of his 2012-13 class to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, as the Wildcats welcome their 2013 class to Daytona Beach.

Beverlin, now in his second season at the helm of the Wildcats program, finished the 2012 slate leading the ‘Cats to their seventh consecutive Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) regular season and tournament title. The Wildcats advanced to the NCAA Gainesville [Fla.] Regional, making their ninth regional appearance in the last 10 years.

This year’s class is highlighted by nine pitchers, as well as six players from the state of Florida. B-CU welcomes four junior college players, two from the state of Arizona, as well as two high school players from Beverlin’s home state of Michigan.

“I think Coach [Barrett] Shaft did an unbelievable job of spearheading the recruiting efforts this year,” commented Beverlin. “He and Coach [Kenny] Smith put in tireless hours to come up with, I think, our best class yet in our short time here. We had huge needs on the mound for this class. Last year, we took care of position player needs that we had. We had to replenish some of the needs from guys moving on and graduating from last season. I think they did a good job of going out and finding the best talent possible.”

The class of pitchers begins with Alec Hayes, a 6-5, 200-pound right-hander (Anthony, Fla./North Marion HS) that has experienced great success in his high school career. He competes with a mid-to-upper-80s fastball with some late life, and he commands a change-up and curveball as well.

That is followed by Abel Del Valle (Kissimmee, Fla./St. Cloud HS), a 5-10, 150-pound right-hander with clean throwing mechanics and good arm speed. His fastball ranges in the 85-87 mph range with a solid mid-70s curveball. He shows very good command for a high school pitcher. According to Beverlin, he has considerable upside with room to fill build.

Logan Blum (Longwood, Fla./Lake Brantley HS) is an athletic-framed two-way player, at 6-1, 185, he has a strong arm and is a polished OF. As a pitcher he pulls down with some effort getting good extension out front, featuring a mid-80s fastball, a good slider and curveball with a developing splitter with good depth.

Michael Thomassan (Orlando, Fla./East River HS) is another right-hander, he produces great angle on his pitches. At 6-4, 215, he shows a plus fastball and breaking ball with a change-up. Consistency will be the key as his best years are yet to come.

Riley O’Brien (Parker, Colo./Chaparral HS) is the first of two southpaws donning the Maroon and Gold in this class, and is a player who possesses plus pitch ability. He has good short arm action in back to a 3/4 slot with good extension out front, creating arm side run and plus angle. He pounds the zone with a low- to mid-80s fastball, a change and a 12/6 curve. He also has good size at 6-4 and 210 pounds.

Zach Olszewski (Bay City, Mich./John Glenn HS) is a 6-1, 175-pound right-hander with an aggressive mentality both on the hill and behind the dish. He has very good movement on his fastball that compliments a sweeping slider. He utilizes good command of all three pitches he possesses.

Keith Zuniga (Nogales, Ariz./ Nogales HS/Pima CC) is a right-hander that transfers in from Pima CC in Arizona. He is a 6-0, 185-pound, strike-thrower with an effective upper-80s fastball with good sink and run. He also commands a mid-70s 11/5 curve with good break. According to the B-CU coaching staff, he will compete for a spot in the starting rotation, either as midweek or weekend guy, right off the bat.

Jack Charleston (Gainesville, Fla./ Buchholz HS/Florida State College at Jacksonville) is a tall righty, at 6-6 and 150 pounds, with a fastball ranging from 86-91 mph. He also has a good slider, and has lean room to fill frame. He has good sink and run on his fastball when keeping it down. Beverlin thinks he has the potential to make a big and immediate impact for the Wildcats.

Kevin Griffey (Smithfield, Va./ Smithfield HS/Florida State College at Jacksonville), is another transfer with a really good arm and solid frame. The 6-3, 210-pounder commands a mid- to upper-80s fastball while also utilizing a good 10/4 breaking ball and developing slider. The junior also has the ability to throw a change-up for strikes, and he’ll also compete for a job in the starting rotation.

“Every year, pitching is a priority,” stated Beverlin when asked about the class as a whole. “Having guys that have been in our program from a position player standpoint, putting that together with the pitching aspect of the game, I think is going to make us a well-rounded team. It’ll give us the ability to compete on the national level."

“We didn’t necessarily focus on taller pitchers in our recruiting efforts. We just went after the best guys we saw. A lot of times those guys are difficult because of the draft and a pro standpoint. Tall pitchers have the angle, and that’s one of their strengths. The ball coming out of their hand towards the plate makes it more difficult to square the ball up, even if they’re throwing the same speed as someone that’s a little shorter. At times, I think it can be easy to relate to those guys as I’m trying to coach them as well.”

Switching to position players, Edwin Bonilla (Kissimmee, Fla./Osceola HS) begins the group as a plus defender with athletic actions on the infield. At 5-7, 160 pounds, he has really good hands and a good first step defensively. A projected middle infielder, he has great baseball instincts, also he swings the bat well with good bat speed through the zone and with good barrel awareness.

Darren Seferina (Curacao/Trinity Christian Acad.) is a 5-10, 155-pound slick fielding shortstop with great actions and above-average arm strength. His speed has the ability to change the game at any point in time. He possesses great baseball instincts, plays effortlessly at short with gap-to-gap power at the plate.

Bryant Munoz (Tucson, Ariz./Tucson HS/Pima CC) is another transfer from the Southwest.  The 5-10, 150-pound, left-handed hitting outfielder hit .343 for Pima CC a season ago. He handles the bat very well and is an above-average runner. According to Beverlin, he’ll immediately compete for a job in the Wildcats’ outfield.

The final signee is Demetrius Sims (Ypsilanti, Mich./Huron HS), a 6-2, 175-pound right-handed hitting infielder.  He has a balanced swing that’s short to the ball. He has simple setup with not much wasted movement. He has good bat speed and strength at the point of contact. His smooth athletic actions on the infield, mixed with soft hands and clean versatile arm action, allowed him to rank as the top-rated shortstop in the state of Michigan by Perfect Game USA.

“I think one of our goals as a staff is to improve every player that enters into our program,” continued Beverlin. “We’re definitely not a program that just rolls out the balls and lets the cream rise to the top. We’re going to bring them in, and even if they’re good when they get here, we’re going to continue to help them get better and every guy that we recruit should have the goal of playing at the next level. When they go into pro ball, I want to shorten that learning curve for him as well.”

When asked about recruiting players from around the country Coach Beverlin responded, “I think it’s huge to be able to go out and get kids from areas that Bethune-Cookman hasn’t traditionally recruited in the past. We were very well-received by the players out there, and we received a lot of interest even before we went back this past year. The southwest is an area I think we can get players out of, and I don’t think we have the luxury of just sitting in one area and drawing all our talent from that area. I think our assistants do a good job of really getting out there and seeing as many guys as we can so that we can make well-informed, intelligent decisions about who we’re bringing in.”

For all the latest information on the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats, follow the official Twitter feed, @BCUathletics, or “Like Us” on Facebook at Bethune-Cookman Athletics.

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