Jay Johnson signs first AZ baseball class - Tucson News Now

Jay Johnson signs first AZ baseball class

TUCSON, Ariz.--University of Arizona head baseball coach Jay Johnson has announced the signing of 11 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent during the fall signing period on Thursday. The newest crop of players to sign with the four-time national championship program are scheduled to join the Wildcats for the 2016-2017 academic calendar to begin next August.

“I am very pleased to announce this class,” said head coach Jay Johnson. “I think this class represents our commitment to attack and recruit the very best student-athletes in the country that fit being an Arizona Wildcat baseball player. We have a lot of high level performers in this class that we are excited chose Arizona as their development path toward professional baseball. I want to thank Coach Brown, Coach Lawn, and our entire staff in their effort to put this group together.”

Below is a complete breakdown of the 2016 class:

JUAN AGUILERA
RHP | Cochise College (AZ)

Coach: Todd Inglehart

Aguilera is set to begin his final season at Cochise College and if it’s anything like his first, he’s sure to be a great get for the Wildcats. Last season he recorded a 1.99 ERA, while striking out 45 batters in just 40.2 innings pitched. He recorded a 3-1 record and recorded 9.96 punch outs per nine innings, while only walking 19. He guided Cochise College to a 27-9 record and a second place finish in the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference.

Coach Johnson’s take: “Juan is one of the top returning JC pitchers in the country with legitimate swing and miss stuff as evidenced by his low ERA and strike out numbers. He has great intangibles and will be ready to step into a key role at Arizona in 2017.”

CAMERON CANNON
INF | Mountain Ridge HS (AZ)

Coach: Lance Billingsley

Cannon makes his commitment to Arizona being regarded as one of the best prospects in the state. Placed as the No. 6 prospect in the state of Arizona, Cannon is set to begin his third season of varsity baseball at Mountain Ridge High School (Glendale, Ariz.) Through two seasons thus far, he’s posted a .372 average, collecting 45 hits in 121 at bats, while recording 30 RBI, five doubles, and 25 runs scored. The Chandler, Ariz. native was named to the 2015 Perfect Game Third Team Preseason High School Underclassmen All-American team and participated in the 2015 Area Code Games this past summer. He is the 331st ranked player in the United States and the No. 4 ranked player in Arizona.

Coach Johnson’s take: “Cameron is one of the elite players in the State of Arizona right now and we are thrilled that he will be a Wildcat. He will be a huge part of the foundation we are building right now and is another guy that Wildcat fans will become very familiar with over the next few years. I could not be happier about having Cameron becoming a Wildcat.”

Coach Johnson’s take: “Matt is a big, strong, physical, and athletic player with tremendous tools and a great future in front of him, I am very excited for our staff to get to help Matt develop and close the gap on his unlimited potential.”

RYAN GOWENS
RHP | Phoenix College (AZ)

Coach: Kevin Kimball

Ryan Gowens made 15 appearances for Phoenix College in 2015 and strung together a record of 7-5. He also recorded 67 punch outs in 79.2 innings pitched, including pitching a complete game five-hitter in a 2-1 victory over Gateway Community College on Feb. 27, 2015. He fanned eight batters in the contest.

Coach Johnson’s take: “Ryan was a last minute signee that we were very fortunate to get. He has an outstanding breaking ball, very good pitch ability, and high-end upside. He is another guy that I know will benefit greatly from being with Coach Lawn here at Arizona.

SHANE MARTINEZ
INF | JW North HS (CA)

Coach: Steve Madril

Shane Martinez will come to Arizona as a three-year letter winner for JW North High School (Calif.), as he enters his senior season. In three seasons he’s put together a .335 batting average to go along with a .425 on base percentage, collecting 58 hits, 16 doubles, six home runs, and 35 RBI, while scoring 33 runs. The Riverside, Calif. native was named a 2015 Perfect Game First Team Preseason High School Underclassman All-American, while he was named an honorable mention on the 2014 version of the squad. This past summer Shane was selected to play in USA baseball’s Tournament of the Stars as well as the 2015 Area Code Games. Shane is currently the 128th ranked player in the country by Perfect Game.

Coach Johnson’s take: “I am elated to have Shane joining our program. He has a great future in front of him and is one of the most consistent performers I have seen out recruiting over the past couple years. Shane is a player that really has a chance to develop into an elite player here at Arizona and a name that Wildcat fans will become very familiar with over the next few years.”

AUSTIN NICHOLS

RHP | Queen Creek (HS)

Coach: Mikel Moreno

Nichols will join the Wildcats as another top Arizona product out of Queen Creek High School. The Queen Creek, Ariz. native is set to enter his fourth year of varsity baseball and his coming off a junior campaign where he set career bests in RBI and triples. Overall through three seasons he’s batting .342 with an on base percentage of .409 to go along with 81 hits, 50 RBI, 16 doubles, and 65 runs scored. During his sophomore year, he helped lead Queen Creek to a 20-9 overall record and an 11-2 league mark.

Coach Johnson’s take: “Austin has emerged late as one of the top pitching prospects in the state of Arizona and we feel very fortunate to have him as a Wildcat. He has tremendous arm strength, very good athleticism and a great baseball background. I can’t wait for him to develop under Coach Lawn.”

PRESTON PRICE
RHP | Cathedral Catholic High School (CA)

Coach: Gary Remiker

Price is set to enter his second season as a varsity letter winner for Cathedral Catholic High School. He’s been nothing short of dominant so far, as he a recorded a 1.38 ERA and 21 punch outs in 20.1 innings pitched last year. The Vista, Calif. native was named a Perfect Game Underclassman All-American Honorable Mention in both 2015 and 2014. Price is the 500th ranked player in the United States and No. 68 in California.

Coach Johnson’s take: “Preston is another very athletic pitcher with a great arm and high level secondary stuff, he will have a chance to make an immediate impact on our pitching staff and has a good future in front of him.”

NICK QUINTANA
INF | Arbor View High School (NV)

Coach: Thomas Guest

Quintana comes to Arizona ready to make an immediate impact, as he was named to the Perfect Game All American game this past summer and was a member of Team USA’s Gold Medel winning 18 and Under National Team. The Las Vegas, NV native is currently the 17th ranked player in the country and the top ranked player in the state of Nevada. He helped guide Arbor View High School to the Nevada State Finals in 2015.

Coach Johnson’s take: “Nick is one of the top players in the country for the 2016 High School Class and has a tremendous future at Arizona. He plays extremely hard and is one of those rare players that has elite tools offensively and defensively. Arizona is the perfect place for him to take the next step in his development and we could not be happier to have a player of his caliber joining our program.”

JOJO ROMERO 
LHP | Yavapai College (AZ)

Coach: Ryan Cougill
Romero made the most of his 22 appearances, posting a 2.43 ERA while logging 37 innings at the University of Nevada. The Oxnard, Calif. native allowed just 15 walks compared to 40 strikeouts, limiting opponents to a miniscule .228 batting average. He surrendered just 10 earned runs in 37.0 innings during regular season action, while he sported a 2.18 ERA in 12 appearances in conference play. He along with future Arizona teammate Cal Stevenson helped guide Nevada to its first Mountain West title in program history. He will play for Yavapai College in Prescott, Ariz. in 2016.

Coach Johnson’s take: “JoJo will be one of the top Junior College pitchers in the country in 2016. He has great pitch ability and commands three pitches for strikes at a very high level. He is mature beyond his years in terms of mound presence, work ethic, we look forward to him being a fixture in the pitching rotation here at Arizona.”

CAL STEVENSON
OF/LHP | Chabot College (CA)

Coach: Steve Friend
Stevenson posted one of the best freshman seasons in the country in 2015, eventually earning him the title of Co-Mountain West Freshman of the Year along with future Wildcat teammate Cory Voss. He’s listed as a two-way player, but was used primarily as a leadoff hitter and outfielder during his freshman campaign at Nevada. The Freemont, Calif. native made 49 starts and was one of three players on the team to play in all 54 games in the regular season for the Wolf Pack. He ranked second on the team and sixth in the Mountain West with a .356 batting average, while tallying 74 hits, 54 runs and 25 RBI during the regular season. He ranked first in the conference and fifth in the nation among all freshmen in batting average and posted a .457 slugging percentage to go along with a .433 on base percentage. He went .350 at the plate in conference games and led the squad with 26 multi-hit performances, while helping lead Nevada to its first Mountain West title in program history. He will play for Chabot College in Hayward, Calif. in 2016.

Coach Johnson’s take: “Cal is an electric player that plays a brand of baseball that Wildcat fans will come to appreciate quickly. He is a catalyst at the top of the order that always finds himself in the middle of good offensive rallies and is an outstanding defensive player as well that will help us significantly. He plays for one of the best coaches in the country in Steve Friend at Chabot College. I am very excited to have Cal at Arizona next year.”

NATE SWEENEY
RHP | Cherry Creek High School (CO)

Coach: Marc Johnson

Sweeney will be a four-time varsity letter winner by the time he gets to Arizona. The Centennial, Colo. native stands at 6-foot-4 and throws a low to mid 90s fastball. He was named a 2015 Perfect Game Underclass High Honorable Mention and was named to the 2015 Area Code Games. Nate is the 269th ranked player in the United States and the No. 3 ranked player in Colorado.

Coach Johnson’s take: “Nate emerged early in the summer and has a big arm with a ton of potential as he continues to mature.”

CORY VOSS
C | McLennan College (TX)

Voss is yet another future Wildcat who has already proved he can succeed at the collegiate level, as he claimed the title of 2015 Co-Mountain West Freshman of the Year along with future Arizona teammate Cal Stevenson last season as a member of the New Mexico Lobos. In addition to being named the conference’s Freshman of the Year, he also earned Freshman All-America accolades by both Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and the NCWBA. He hit .345 with 14 doubles, five triples, five homers, 35 RBIs and 34 runs, while leading the Lobos in slugging with a .546 percentage and was second on the team with 21 multi-hit performances. He finished his freshman campaign with a six-game hitting streak and boasted a season-best seven-game hitting streak from April 14-24. During the season-long streak he batted .464 (13-for-28), while collecting nine RBI and nine runs. He ranked second in batting and third in both slugging and on-base percentage among all NCAA catchers last year, while he led all Division I catchers with five triples. The Pueblo, Colo. native was drafted by his hometown team, the Colorado Rockies in the 34th round of the 2014 MLB Draft. Voss will play at McLennan College in Waco, Texas in 2016.

Coach Johnson’s take: “Cory is a very mature hitter and is a huge get for us at Arizona. I believe he has a high level of maturity to his game and takes professional at-bats. Cory will add a great presence to our offense, he has great strike-zone discipline, power to all fields and great hitting ability. I could not be happier to have Cory at Arizona.”

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