ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. – St. Bonaventure University baseball head coach Larry Sudbrook has announced the addition of six student-athletes who will join the program next fall after signing National Letters of Intent – Elijah Baez, Jake Cavana, Evan Nugent, Daniel Manion, Darren McKeown and Cody Shimp.
"We try to balance every recruiting class with incoming freshmen who we think are a year or two away from being good players for us and also fill some immediate holes with junior college transfers," Sudbrook said. "With this year's class we brought in two junior college kids who we think can help immediately, then we brought in some athletic freshmen who can develop into Atlantic 10 players. We will probably bring in a few more junior college guys as well as more freshmen in the spring."
Baez is a junior college transfer from Lackawanna College. The 6-foot-4 right-hander went 5-1 last season with a 3.42 ERA while striking out 32 batters in 47.1 innings of work as a freshman. He was an important part of a pitching staff that helped Lackawanna to a 35-17 record last spring, working both as a starter and out of the bullpen. The native of Essex, Vt. Intends to major in sports management.
SUDBROOK ON BAEZ: "Elijah comes from one of the nation's top junior programs. He throws upper-80s, has good arm action and secondary pitches. We look for him to come in next year and be one of our conference rotation guys."
Another junior college product is Cavana, an Olean native who is playing at Niagara County Community College. Cavana had a big freshman season for NCCC, hitting .395 with 29 RBIs and seven stolen bases in his first collegiate season. He also registered a .481 on-base percentage and had a .941 fielding percentage playing second base and shortstop while helping NCCC to a 47-10 record. A former Big 30 Player of the Year selection while playing at Olean High School, Cavana was also selected First Team All-Western New York at OHS. An accounting major, he was a National Honor Society member as well.
SUDBROOK ON CAVANA: "He is another player from a highly successful program. He has played middle infield for them, and we are going to have him plug some outfield holes as well. He's a top of the order guy, he will take a walk, put the ball in play, not strikeout much. He's the type of guy we love to have at the top of the order. He projects to compete as a middle infielder or possibly immediately as an outfielder."
Manion is another local product, hailing from Bradford, Pa. The 6-foot-3, 215-pound prospect figures to give the Bonnies power in the middle of their lineup in the future after hitting .375 with an on-base percentage of .527 at Bradford Area High School. A Northern Allegheny Large School Division All-Star who can play first and third base, he is also an Honor Roll student who intends to major in business.
SUDBROOK ON MANION: "He's a big kid we project to be a power hitter; we saw him hit the ball out of the ballpark at our showcase. We have recruited a lot of athletic guys and cover ground, but don't hit home runs. We think Daniel is one of those guys who breaks that mold a little; he's a guy who will come in and bring power potential to us in the middle of the lineup for us. He's going to be a corner infielder who hopefully will bring pop to the lineup.
Nugent will stay close to home as well after playing for nearby Fillmore (N.Y.) Central School. The right-hander went 8-2 as a junior, striking out 111 while walking only 16 in 62 innings of work while compiling a 0.98 ERA. He plans to major in business at St. Bonaventure.
SUDBROOK ON NUGENT: "He is a tall, lanky, loose-armed kid and the type of player that we have had a lot of success with. Our guys have been able to come in and work with (strength and conditioning coach) Coach Fiske and get bigger and stronger and by the time they're juniors and seniors, they're upper-80s guys who can succeed in the conference. His secondary stuff is also sharp, his breaking ball is good. We look for him to be one of those guys who battles for innings as a freshman, but as a sophomore, junior and senior should be able to really help us – like guys like Brandon Schlimm and Aaron Phillips who really grew during their time here."
McKeown joins St. Bonaventure from West Deptford, N.J. where he has both caught and played middle infield for West Deptford High School. An all-conference selection who also has been a standout in basketball and football during his high school career, McKeown hit .323 his junior season. His older brother Matt currently plays at the University of Delaware.
SUDBROOK ON MCKEOWN: "He's an amazing athlete. He has a great arm; he throws a sub-2 to second base consistently. For a catcher he runs 6.7's. He's a little undersized as a catcher, but he can throw and run. We think he can compete behind the plate and has the ability to move to an infield or outfield spot."
A product of Williamsport, Pa., Shimp is a right-handed pitcher who has the ability to throw hard and could make an impact right away. He plans to major in either International Studies or Secondary Education at SBU after graduating from Williamsport Area High School.
SUDBROOK ON SHIMP: "We're very happy to have him. He's already an upper-80s guy. He was throwing 87-89 when we watched him. We think he is a guy who can come in and compete for innings right away just based on his raw stuff and can probably be a conference guy pretty quickly."
The Bonnies are coming off back-to-back 26-win seasons, going 15-8 last year in Atlantic 10 play while finishing third in the conference regular season standings. Following the season, juniors Aaron Phillips and Cole Peterson were drafted in the ninth and 13th rounds by the San Francisco Giants and Detroit Tigers respectively. Following the season, junior Bubba Hollins signed a professional contract with the Miami Marlins. Bona also graduated seven seniors off last year's roster.
St. Bonaventure opens the 2018 season Feb. 23 in Port Charlotte, Fla.
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