Dec. 8, 2011
BERKELEY -The University of California baseball program, fresh off an appearance at the 2011 College World Series, has signed eight in-state athletes to national letters of intent - featuring four pitchers and four position players - it was announced by Cal head coach David Esquer.
The incoming class for fall 2012 includes Cal Becker, a 6-2, 210-pound right-hander from Larkspur (Redwood High School); Grant Diede, a 6-0, 180-pound outfielder from Lafayette (Acalanes High School); Max Dutto, a 6-0, 190-pound middle infielder from Danville (San Ramon Valley High School); and Nick Halamandaris, a 6-1, 220-pound left-handed first baseman/outfielder from Monterey (Robert Lewis Stevenson High School).
Becker is a hard-throwing right-hander whose fastball clocks in the low 90s with a slider, curveball and change-up. He was ranked as the No. 5 right-hander in Northern California by Rivals.com. As a junior, Becker allowed just three extra-base hits in 30.0 innings, sporting a 1.63 ERA and holding opposing batters to a .202 average.
Diede started all 23 games as a junior outfielder at Acalanes High School, batting .434 with seven doubles, two triples, three home runs and 26 RBI. He also scored 25 runs while producing a .532 on-base percentage and a .697 slugging percentage. Diede was a first-team All-DFAL selection as well.
A left-handed hitting middle infielder who participated in the team trials for the U19 Team USA squad this past summer as one of the top 40 high school players in the country, Dutto hit .422 last year for San Ramon High School. He also had a .506 on-base percentage with seven doubles and a home run.
Halamandaris, a left-handed power hitter who was also a tight end on his high school's football team, has been named to Monterey County Herald's All-County baseball team the last two years. He was also 2011 first-team Mission Trial Athletic League and finished last season with 38 hits, 11 multi-hit games, nine doubles, a triple, four home runs and 29 RBI.
Also signing national letters of intent with the Golden Bears were Mitchell Kranson, a 5-10, 190-pound left-handed hitting third baseman/catcher from Concord (De La Salle High School); Ryan Mason, a 6-6, 210-pound right-handed pitcher from Auburn (Placer High School); Jake Schulz, a 6-3, 185-pound left-handed pitcher from Carlsbad (La Costa Canyon High School) and Jordan Talbot, a 6-4, 190-pound right-handed pitcher from Aptos (Aptos High School).
Kranson is a versatile player who can play third base, catcher or the outfield. As a junior at De La Salle he drove in 30 runs and earned first-team All-EBAL as a third baseman.
A tall right-hander (6-6) with a sinking fastball, Mason threw a no-hitter and a one-hitter as a sophomore at Placer High School, finishing that year with a 2.26 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 59.0 innings. He earned 2010 all-league honors and was selected his school's Male Athlete of the Year. This past summer, Mason was a member of the Colorado Rockies Scout Team and was selected as a member of the All-Star Scout Team among Sacramento and Bay Area teams. He was invited to the Rawlings NorCal World Series team for Sacramento, the Area Code Games in Stockton and the Hard 90 Showcase in Granite Bay.
Schulz is a left-hander with an outstanding curveball who as a junior at La Costa Canyon High School had 46 strikeouts in 44.1 innings and limited his opponents to a .191 batting average. Talbot finished the 2011 season 7-3 with a 1.66 ERA, striking out 84 batters in 75.2 innings, and was named to the Santa Cruz Sentinel's 2011 All-County Baseball Team.
"This is definitely a recruiting class that will make an impact on our program," said Esquer. "Mike Neu and Tony Arnerich did an outstanding job of identifying and evaluating these prospects. We expect many of these players to be immediate contributors once they join us in the fall of 2012."
The Cal baseball program in 2011 enjoyed its best season in 31 years culminating in a fifth-place finish at the College World Series. The Bears, under the direction of 2011 National Coach of the Year David Esquer, return several key players from last spring's squad that made school history when it finished 38-23 overall and advanced to NCAA postseason for the third time in the last four years.
This past season sophomore first baseman Devon Rodriguez earned Most Outstanding Player of the Houston Regional honors with his game-winning hit versus Baylor, sophomore second baseman Tony Renda was named the 2011 Pac-10 Player of the Year and freshman left-hander Kyle Porter earned Freshman All-America honors. Junior catcher Chadd Krist joined Renda and junior right-hander Erik Johnson as first-team All-Pac-10 selections. Rodriguez, Renda, Porter and Krist all return to the Bears this spring, while Johnson signed after his junior season after being drafted in the second round by the Chicago White Sox.
Cal captured the Houston Regional with a thrilling, 9-8, victory over Baylor with four runs in the bottom of the ninth, and swept through a best-of-three series with Dallas Baptist in the Super Regional, to advance to the College World Series. In the CWS, the Bears dropped a close 4-1 decision to top-seeded Virginia before defeating Texas A&M, 7-3, for its first win in Omaha since 1980. The memorable season came to an end with an 8-1 loss to the Cavaliers June 23.
The success in 2011 came despite an initial decision last September to discontinue the Cal baseball program due to pressure on the University's budget. Following a fundraising effort that has generated approximately $10 million in commitment, Golden Bear baseball was reinstated April 8.
Esquer has now coached 10 All-Americans in his 12-year tenure at Cal and has seen 59 of his players drafted by the Major Leagues, featuring four first-round draft picks. Seven Bears were drafted from the 2011 squad, including Johnson, a second round pick who signed with the White Sox.
This fall, Cal welcomed in nine newcomers, including four talented freshmen - infielders Brenden Farney and Chris Paul, and hurlers Michael Jordan (RHP) and Robb Woodcock (LHP) - who should bolster the Bears' prospects for this spring.
Farney is a 5-10, 190-pound left-handed hitter from Fairfield, who was drafted in the 36th round by the Oakland A's in the June, 2011 Major League Amateur draft. As a senior at Vacaville High School he batted .487 with 29 runs and 22 RBI, a .859 slugging percentage and a .543 on-base percentage.
A 6-2, 185-pounder from Aliso Viejo, Paul batted .495 as a senior at Laguna Beach High School with 38 runs and 49 RBI, a .851 slugging percentage and a .562 on-base percentage. He was the Orange Coast League MVP as a sophomore and a member of the 2011 California All-Region second team.
Jordan is a 6-1, 210-pound right-hander from Murrieta, who was a two-time Southwestern League first team honoree at Murrieta Valley High School. As a senior he had 55 strikeouts in 55.1 innings with a 3.47 ERA and two complete games. During Jordan's junior year he went 5-1 with a 3.65 ERA and had 71 strikeouts.
The 2011 ESPN RISE Cal-Hi Sports Player of the Year for small schools, Woodcock hails from Greenbrae and attended Marin Catholic High School where the 6-4, 195-pound left-hander was 12-0 with a 0.60 ERA and 110 strikeouts (only 26 walks) in 81.1 innings as a senior.
Also joining the Cal baseball program this fall is freshman outfielder Brian Celsi, freshman right-hander Keaton Siomkin, freshman left-hander Chris Muse-Fisher, sophomore catcher Mike Reuvekamp and junior right-hander Ryan Wertenberger.
"We are extremely happy we were able to bring in some talented and versatile players who can add depth to our program," said Esquer. "Offensively, we are looking for Chris (Paul) and Brenden (Farney) to contribute immediately. And, with the exit of some of our top pitchers from last season (Johnson, Dixon Anderson and Kevin Miller), we are also looking for Michael (Jordan) and Robb (Woodcock) to help us on the mound."
The Bears begin the 2012 campaign with a three-game series versus Pacific, Feb. 17-19, hosting the Tigers Feb. 17 (1:30 p.m.) and Feb. 19 (1 p.m.) at Evans Diamond, while traveling to Stockton Feb. 18 for a 1 p.m. game at Klein Family Field.
CALIFORNIA'S 2011 BASEBALL RECRUITING CLASS
Name Pos B/T Last School (Hometown)
Cal Becker RHP R/R Redwood HS (Larkspur, Calif.)
Grant Diede OF R/L Acalanes HS (Lafayette, Calif.)
Max Dutto SS/2B L/R San Ramon Valley HS (Danville, Calif.)
Nick Halamandaris 1B/OF L/L Robert Lewis Stevenson HS (Monterey, Calif.)
Mitchell Kranson 3B/C/OF L/R De La Salle HS (Concord, Calif.)
Ryan Mason RHP R/R Placer HS (Auburn, Calif.)
Jake Schulz LHP L/L La Costa Canyon HS (Carlsbad, Calif.)
Jordan Talbot RHP R/R Aptos HS (Aptos, Calif.)