LEXINGTON, Va. - VMI baseball has announced 10 early signees for the class of 2015, according to information released Tuesday, Nov. 23. The class is heavy on Virginia players, as seven of the 10 hail from the Commonwealth, while two signees currently reside in Pennsylvania and one is from North Carolina.
“This is one of the best early signing classes that we’ve had, and is a great start to the class as a whole,” said VMI head coach Marlin Ikenberry. “We knew that this would be a big class, with as many seniors as we have, and the staff has done a great job in helping identify our needs for the future and evaluating these young men’s potential to be outstanding cadet-athletes.”
Capsules on each of the individual signees appear below.
Drew Bryan, IF, Philipsburg, Pa./Philipsburg-Osceola (Summer Team – Norcal East)
Bryan, the son of a former minor leaguer, hit .457 his junior season. He played for the Alleghany Pirates youth development team, the same squad that featured former Keydet Chad Rice and current VMI relief pitcher Michael Devine. Bryan’s summer team finished 20th in the U.S. last season.
Coach’s Quote: “Drew is an athletic infielder that has great instincts and plays the game the right way. Because of his positive make-up and great work ethic, we are looking forward to Drew having a great impact on the program. Drew played during the summer for the Alleghany Pirates for which former Keydet, Chad Rice, and current Keydet, Mike Devine played.”
Lucas Cash, RHP, Ruthorfordton, N.C./Polk County (Summer Team – Upstate Mavericks)
Cash enjoyed a strong junior season on the mound, striking out well over a batter per inning (47 innings/64 strikeouts), going 6-2 with three saves and posting an ERA of 1.33. He was named to the All-State team, as well as being recognized as the Player of the Year (POTY) in the Western Highlands (AA) Conference and the POTY on the All-Area team. For his career, he has been a two-year team captain and was the 2009 ERA leader for western North Carolina (0.98), when he had a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly 7 to 1 (77/13).
Coach’s Quote: “We are excited to add Lucas to the program because of the incredible upside we believe he possesses. Lucas is an extremely competitive player that posses an 85-88 MPH fastball while having the ability to throw his off-speed pitches for strikes.”
Ben Florence, RHP, Richmond, Va./Manchester (Summer Team – American Legion Post 137)
Florence has been a three-year letterwinner at Manchester HS, and earned Second Team All-District honors during his career. He also was tabbed Dominion District All-Academic and played in the Virginia Commonwealth Games, as well as the American Legion All-Star Game during the summer months.
Coach’s Quote: “We have been excited about Ben joining the VMI baseball family for a long time. He was a regular in our camps allowing us to watch him mature and grow into the player he is today. He has the ability to throw his fastball in the mid to upper 80’s, all the while throwing his breaking ball in the mid to upper 70’s. By continuing to develop his pitches, we feel like Ben can be a front of the rotation type arm for the future. Ben has had the opportunity to pitch in big games while in high school and in Legion ball.”
Reed Garrett, RHP/OF, Henrico, Va./Godwin (Summer Teams – Tidewater Orioles/American Legion Post 206)
Garrett is an athletic two-way player. He hit .370 last season, while going 10-1 on the mound with six saves, en route to earning Honorable Mention All-Colonial District honors. Garrett went 6-1 for the American Legion Post 206 Team, and was a participant in the Virginia Coventry Commonwealth Games. Finally, he is an honor roll member and a member of the Beta Club, as he has posted a 3.0 GPA or higher for three consecutive years. His father is a former baseball player, both at Lynchburg College and in the semi-pro ranks, while his older brother Robert currently pitches for Lynchburg College.
Coach’s Quote: “We are excited about adding Reed to our program. He is an athletic two-way player. On the mound Reed is 84-86 with a plus breaking ball. Reed’s ability to throw a plus breaking ball for strikes should translate into being a significant contributor on the mound early in his career.”
Gary LeClair, OF, Richmond, Va./Steward School (Summer Team – Virginia Cardinals)
LeClair was a First Team All-State selection in 2010, hitting .400 with 27 stolen bases, and showing power as well by hitting 10 home runs. He hit leadoff for Steward during the season, and earned not only All-State recognition, but All-Conference and All-Tournament honors as well for the state semifinalists. LeClair also pitched in 2010, going 6-1 with a 1.70 ERA, and is currently a member of the National Honor Society.
Coach’s Quote: “Gary is an extremely athletic and talented outfielder out of the Steward School in Richmond. He brings to the table, above average speed, bat speed, and the ability to play an excellent center field. We are looking forward to Gary being a catalyst in the top of our lineup early in his career.”
T.J. Lighton, RHP, Chesapeake, Va./Hickory (Summer Teams – Richmond Braves/Hitters Warehouse)
Lighton struck out better than a batter per inning in 2010, when he was named honorable mention All-Southeastern District. He went 2-4, but posted a solid 2.80 ERA with two saves on the mound, and also hit .330 while playing first base. That earned him Second Team All-District honors at that position. Lighton also went 3-1 on the mound playing for Hitters Warehouse during the summer, had the Hickory HS baseball team’s highest GPA in 2010 and earned the team’s sportsmanship award each of the last two seasons.
Coach’s Quote: “T.J. is the epitome of a competitor. He is a strong, physical pitcher that consistently pounds the strike zone with three good pitches. He consistently pitched in the mid-80’s with his fastball and his slider has the potential to be a plus pitch. We are excited about TJ’s future with VMI and his contributions to our baseball program.”
Garrett Sanders, SS, Fayetteville, Pa./Chambersburg (Summer Team – Mid-Atlantic Red Sox)
Sanders hit .378 last season, as he was named a First Team All-Star in the Mid-Penn Conference. He also earned similar honors as a Public Opinion First Team All-Star, as he stole fifteen bases and had six doubles. He is on pace to break his school’s records for hits, stolen bases and runs during his senior year.
Quote on Garrett: “Garrett is an exceptionally athletic infielder that we are extremely excited about. He is an above average defender that has the ability to play any of the infield positions. Through added strength and continued development we are looking forward to see the impact that Garret will have on the program.”
Sheldon Shifflett, CF, Charlottesville, Va./Saint Anne’s Belfield (Summer Team – Richmond Braves)
Shiflett hit .370 last season and earned honorable mention All-State honors in the process. He posted an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of 1.232, including an on-base percentage of nearly .500. Shiflett is a three-year letterwinner in both baseball and football, and has earned academic honors each of those seasons as well. He also played for the AAU National Champions in 2007 and won the MVP honors.
Coach’s Quote: “Sheldon brings to the table extreme competitiveness and an edge that we love in our guys. He is an outfielder that we believe has the ability to play any of the three positions. We were impressed with his offensive approach early on which should help him become a mainstay in our lineup for four years.”
Thomas Stallings, IF, Charlottesville, Va./Miller School (Summer Team – Richmond Braves)
Stallings has been a three-year starting shortstop for the Miller School, including on a team that advanced to the state semifinals as a freshman in 2008. He was a First Team All-Conference selection last season, as well as a Second Team All-State honoree. Stallings participated in a pair of 2010 Perfect Game National Showcases and also played for American Legion Post 74 for three seasons, hitting .418 last year. He earned the Outstanding Citizenship Award from the Sons of the American Revolution.
Coach’s Quote: “Thomas is a very good athlete that has all of the physical attributes to excel at VMI. He can already hit for power and his defensive ability will give him a chance to play in the infield early in his career. Thomas is a great addition to VMI and we cannot wait to get him on campus.”
Andrew Woods, RHP/IF, Richmond, Va./Benedictine (Summer Team – Richmond Baseball Academy)
Woods went 4-2 on the mound last season, posting an ERA of 2.10 in the process. He also hit .385 and drove in 30 runs, en route to First Team All-State honors. Woods has received the Barry Gibrall Academic Award from his school, and is a former participant in the Virginia Commonwealth Games. He comes from a highly athletic family, as his father, Robert, is a former member of the University of Richmond baseball team, while his mother, Elizabeth, was in the crew program at Marietta College.
Coach’s Quote: “Andrew is a player that we have had the privilege to watch develop over the past year. He will throw his fastball, change-up, and curveball for strikes at any time. As he continues to develop, we believe his upside will be extremely high.”