A Texas baseball program once criticized for being mundane has just hauled in perhaps the most exciting and diverse recruiting class in the country. On national signing day, the Longhorns signed seven freshman for 2018 and three JUCO transfers who can play immediately.
- A three-star dual-threat quarterback who held football offers from Indiana and Iowa.
- A right-handed pitcher from Parma, Italy known as the “Italian Stallion”.
- A top prospect from Ontario who is a member of Canada’s Junior National Team.
Are you kidding me, David Pierce? The new head coach has been just as creative on the recruiting trail as he has been hard working. Below is a player-by-player look at the talent who signed to play on the 40 acres today.
Kamron Fields - Outfielder/RHP
David Pierce’s first Texas commit meets all the qualities that Pierce has now become known for in his recruits. Fields is a diamond in the rough with great size who can both play in the field and pitch.
The Lakeview Centennial product is rated as the 46th dual-threat quarterback in the nation and held double digit football offers, but decided to concentrate on baseball instead. Fields boasts great power at the plate and was named “Offensive Most Valuable Player” in the 11-6A district last season. His hitting potential will be crucial in rebuilding a Texas offensive which grew anemic under Augie Garrido.
You can read more about Kam by clicking on our commitment post here.
Landon Leach - RHP
Landon Leach is the most recent of Pierce’s numerous commitments, as the Ontario native pledged to the Longhorns on November 6th. At 6’4 and over 200 pounds, the righty is already a force to be reckoned with on the mound, reaching a velocity of 93 miles per hour. He also has a slider and change up in his repertoire.
Leach was recently named to the Canadian Junior National team after participating in their spring training in April. He’s also a member of the prestigious Toronto Mets club team, which has turned out numerous MLB draft picks.
I recently wrote about how Leach could be an immediate contributor to the Longhorns without being a high draft risk out of high school. You can read about his commitment here.
Bennett Inoff - Infield/RHP
Bennett Inoff may not have the most recruiting hype of all the signees, but Pierce has been extremely complimentary towards the Espiscopal High Schooler’s game.
"Bennett may have as much as upside on the mound and as a position player as any player in the recruiting class. He is a student of the game and will compete for playing time as a freshman,” Pierce said.
Inoff possesses the trait that the Texas coaching staff loves — he is both great in the field and on the mound. The 6’2, 200 pounder can reach 88 miles on the radar gun, and can also reach base with his bat.
You can read more about Inoff on
Cole Quintanilla - RHP
David Pierce truly seems to be hoarding tall right-handed pitchers. Cole Quintanilla may look baby-faced, but the 17-year old is a deceivingly large 6’5, 200 pound prospect.
Quintanilla was originally committed to Missouri, but re-opened his recruitment and pledged to the Longhorns once David Pierce took the reigns. The Cedar Park native isn’t a huge draft risk, but his talent has been well-documented. Over the summer, he was selected to the prestigious Texas Rangers’ Area Code roster.
Quintanilla also plays first base, but his talents will be most utilized on the mound, where he already has a fastball pushing the 90s.
You can read more about Quintanilla in our commitment post here.
Tristen Lutz - Outfielder
Tristen Lutz is one of only two “Augie era” recruits to sign for Texas baseball today. Lutz fits the description of an Augie Garrido commit, as he is not a under-the-radar guy but the 67th ranked player in the nation for his class.
The Arlington Martin product has a quick, powerful swing at the plate and also has speed on the base paths. At 6-3, 205 pounds, Lutz is college ready and has been so for a while, as he is ranked as the fourth best player in the state of Texas for his class.
Lutz could be a draft risk, but there is definitely a decent chance he ends up in Austin.
Turner Gauntt - Catcher
Finding a catcher for the future will be key for Pierce after the Longhorns lost Tres Barrera to the MLB draft. Senior Michael Cantu, sophomore Michael McCann, and freshman Jaxx Groshans will all be solid options, but don’t count out Turner Gauntt vying for playing time when he gets to campus.
The Houston native has been described by both David Pierce and assistant Sean Allen as a “plus defensive catcher” who is also a solid hitter. He was named to the WWBA All-Tournament team this summer.
Gauntt has baseball in his blood, as his father Robert was a member of the 1983 Texas national championship team. Turner’s brother, Travis, was an outfielder at TCU. Even Gauntt’s grandfather was a college baseball player, as he played second base at Texas in the 50s.
Donny Diaz (JUCO) - RHP
Donny Diaz may not have gotten much recruiting attention during his time at King High School, but he quickly rose to prominence at San Jacinto Junior College. Hey, if Roger Clemens can play ball at San Jacinto and then become a Longhorn star, what’s stopping Diaz from doing the same?
Another big framed pitcher, Diaz stands at 6-1, 230 pounds. The college junior certainly learned how to win in his two years at community college, as San Jac reached the Junior College World Series championship in his freshman year.
In his sophomore season, Diaz notched a 3-0 record with a 1.85 ERA. The righty was a strikeout pitcher, as he fanned 36 batters in 24.1 innings pitched. Look for Diaz to play a set-up or reliever role for the Longhorns as early as this spring, as he is immediately eligible to suit up in burnt orange.
You can read our previous article about Diaz here.
Blake Pflughaupt (JUCO) - LHP
And the award for hardest recruit name to pronounce goes to...Blake Pflughaupt. However, what the pitcher lacks in vowels he more than makes up for in talent. In 71.1 innings pitched last season, the then freshman held a 2.65 ERA and struck out 66 batters, notching six wins and three losses.
The Galveston College product could be important to the Longhorns as he will be a rare lefty arm on the roster in the spring. Pflughaupt could also potentially receive playing time away from the mound, as he was a 4A All-State honorable mention outfielder as Columbus High School.
You can read our commitment post on Pflughaupt here.
Masen Hibbeler (JUCO) - Infield
Texas already has a solid foundation in the middle infield positions, but Masen Hibbeler should be able to find playing time at second base and short stop this season. Hibbeler has been lauded for his speed and defensive capabilities, and could become a “glue” sort of guy for the Longhorns in the future.
Hibbeler knows how to win, as his Cypress Ranch took the 6A baseball title his senior year. At Odessa, Hibbeler was declared a “top incoming freshman” and proved the designation by becoming an integral player for the Wranglers. He batted .312 on the year, and stole a team third-high 11 bases. He also showcased some power with four home runs.
The sophomore will be immediately eligible for the spring and his athleticism and speed should definitely put him in the mix to compete for playing time in the middle infield.
Matteo Bocchi (JUCO) - RHP
They play baseball in Italy? Matteo Bocchi is one of baseball’s top young European prospects, and will be a Longhorn after playing a year at Odessa College with Hibbeler. The 20-year old held a 3-1 record at Odessa and posted a solid 40 strikeouts in 33.2 innings. His 6.15 ERA is shaky, but Bocchi is an extremely intriguing prospect — and not just because he’s a rare international player.
At 6-4, 200 pounds, the Italian Stallion is yet another recruit with great size on the mound. His fastball can reach 93 miles per hour, and has the work ethic to succeed, putting in “4-5 hours” of practice every day.
Pierce thinks the former Italy Junior National team star can be an “immediate contributor” at Texas. Assistant coach Sean Allen said it best: “I think he is just beginning to tap into his talent."
More to come?
With only seven incoming freshmen for next year, and Tristen Lutz being declared a “legitimate draft prospect” by scouts, it is entirely possible that Texas will add a couple of players for the 2017 class even after today’s signing day. Last year, Trace Bucey committed to Texas days after signing day, and Zach Zubia de-committed from Tulane in the summer to follow Pierce to Texas.
One recruit who was once a Longhorn pledge but is now undecided is Ridge Point star Ronald Washington, Jr. The outfielder won the National High School Home Run Derby competition in 2015, and is currently ranked as the 106th prospect in the nation for his class.
However, I spoke to Washington today and he said he is no longer considering Texas.
“The coaches who recruited me all left,” Washington stated. He added that he will be looking for another division one school if he doesn’t enter the MLB draft, though he once considered attending San Jacinto Community College.
With Washington almost certainly off the table, it anyone’s guess as to who Pierce and company will bring to the 40 acres next. But with the recruiting success the new coach has had, I don’t think anyone is too worried.
It’s been a fruitful off-season for Texas baseball, and now there are only 100 days until the season begins. Here’s to hoping Pierce’s recruiting successes translate to the field.