Oklahoma State baseball is already welcoming more than a dozen new players to the team for 2014. Head coach Josh Holliday has announced the signing of 14 players to national letters of intent for the Cowboys' 2014 incoming class.
The class includes 11 players who will join the Cowboys from the high school ranks, while three junior college players inked with Holliday's club. The group includes student-athletes from Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Hawaii, California and Louisiana.
Among the prep signees are four players ranked among the 2013 ESPN Top 60 — LHP Thomas Hatch (No. 30), RHP Trey Cobb (No. 50), LHP Garrett Williams (No. 52) and shortstop Andrew Rosa (No. 59) — while Perfect Game ranks six of the signees as top 300 players nationally and each as national follows. Williams is Perfect Game's highest-ranked OSU signee, coming in at No. 31.
"We are very excited about these kids — this group will give us a strong foundation to build around as we work towards our goal of winning a championship," Holliday said. "It was important to our staff that we identify young men with strong character, a commitment to academics and a love for the game that will drive them to develop inside of our program. We look forward to these guys joining us as we continue to build a winning culture each day.
"We're very pleased with the combination of high school talent and junior college experience that we were able to bring to campus. We addressed our immediate needs and gave our roster some stability long term with a talented group of young kids with big upside. We believe very strongly in the importance of building a roster with continuity so that tradition and expectations can be developed inside of your program. We appreciate the trust of these players and their families, and we can't wait to be a part of their futures."
Holliday credited the work of numerous people, chief among them his assistant coaches, pitching coach Rob Walton and recruiting coordinator Marty Lees, as key to helping secure the talented class.
"Marty and Rob were on the road all summer and worked extremely hard to identify and build relationships with these players and their families, and they did an outstanding job," Holliday said. "Once we got them on campus our entire staff, including Roland Fanning (volunteer assistant), did a great job of showing these kids what makes OSU special. We had tremendous support from Marilyn Middlebrook and our academic team, as well as Coach (Rob) Glass and the strength staff, and it was very helpful to have so many people providing a positive environment on campus; it really makes kids feel at home."
• Tim Arakawa, OF/2B, 5-8, 170, L/R, Honolulu, Hawaii (Yavapai CC/Moanalua HS)
As a freshman at Yavapai hit .355 with three home runs and 35 RBIs in 54 games … was 31-for-37 on stolen base attempts … was named second team all-conference … played for legendary coach Sky Smeltzer at Yavapai and now coached by Ryan Cougill … also recruited by Tennessee, Coastal Carolina, Central Florida, Oral Roberts and Loyola Marymount … son of Lloyd and Marcia Arakawa.
OSU recruiting coordinator Marty Lees on Arakawa: "We needed a speedster on this team, and Tim is that guy. He's a flexible kid that can play second base or center field. He can be a leadoff hitter for us and have a chance to steal a lot of bases. We like his confidence and field presence. The game is very important to him, and he will be a grinder, gamer type of player."
• Blake Battenfield, RHP, 6-3, 180, R/R, Claremore, Okla. (Verdigris HS)
2012 ESPN Oklahoma All-State Team and Oakley All-American … 2011 New Balance All-American and All-Metro Tulsa Team Pitcher of the Year … in three prep seasons is 26-4 with a 1.45 ERA and 271 strikeouts in 181 innings pitched … has tossed 11 shutouts, two no-hitters and five one-hitters … went 8-1 with a 1.25 ERA as a junior … helped VHS to second-straight Class 3A state championship … pitched final two innings of state title game to earn save… as a sophomore was 10-2 with a 1.30 ERA … has also hit .341 with 25 doubles and 59 RBIs in three prep seasons … plays for coach Brian Keith at VHS and is a member of the D-BAT traveling team coached by Rick Wrona … also recruited by Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Coastal Carolina, Arkansas, Wichita State and Louisiana Tech … son of Darrell and Shelly Battenfield.
Lees on Battenfield: "He's a big right-handed pitcher that projects very, very well. He has a chance to throw hard one day. We see a guy who will be very skilled once he gets inside Coach Walton's development plan. He's a die-hard Cowboy, and he's gonna have a big spot in this program."
• Tyler Buffett, RHP, 6-1, 190, R/R, Albuquerque, N.M. (Albuquerque Academy)
2012 Perfect Game Underclassmen All-American third team … plays for coach Ryan Brewer … also recruited by LSU, Rice, Texas Tech and Pepperdine … all-state performer as a junior … led team to state runner-up finish in 2011… son of John and Donna Buffett.
Lees on Buffett: "Tyler is ranked as the best player in New Mexico. He's a kid we can project anywhere on our pitching staff, from a starter to relief to a closer. He throws three pitches for strikes and commands the zone very well."
• Trey Cobb, RHP, 6-2, 185, R/R, Broken Arrow, Okla. (Broken Arrow HS)
As a junior went 10-2 on the mound with 88 strikeouts … also hit .317 with 22 RBIs … led team to Class 6A state runner-up finish … 2012 Perfect Game Underclassmen All-American second team … 2012 Louisville Slugger All-American honorable mention … helped lead Tigers to state championship as a sophomore … plays for coach Shannon Dobson at BAHS and is a member of the Marucci Elite travel team led by Chad Raley … also recruited by LSU, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Arizona, Stanford, Alabama, Florida, Miami and Wichita State, among others … son of Jay and Jennifer Cobb.
Lees on Cobb: "Trey was the first commitment we got when we came together as a staff. He's one of the best players in the state of Oklahoma and a die-hard Cowboy. His desire to be a Cowboy attracted a lot of other very good players, and we appreciate him believing in our staff right from the start. He's another guy we can project to do anything for us from a starter to a closer."
• Hayden Cronenbold, INF, 6-2, 200, R/R, Newbury Park, Calif. (Ventura CC/Thousand Oaks HS)
Hit .385 as a freshman at Ventura College for coach Don Adams… was injured in 2012 and did not play … also recruited by Pepperdine, UC Irvine and Virginia Tech … son of Jose and Laurie Cronenbold.
Lees on Cronenbold: "His coach (at Ventura CC) believes he has a chance to be the MVP of that league. He's going to play shortstop for them, and we feel he's a big, strong kid that can play all four infield positions and be able to hit in the middle of our lineup."
• Hunter Hagler, INF, 6-1, 200, R/R, Carthage, Texas (Panola JC/Vidor HS)
Hit .281 with 12 doubles and 23 RBIs in 50 games as a freshman at Panola … earned all-conference honors … plays for former OSU catcher Todd Shelton … 2011 Rawlings All-Texas Region honorable mention … 2010 Perfect Game Underclassmen All-American honorable mention … hit .350 during his high school career and was a four-time all-district performer … also recruited by Houston, Lamar and McNeese State … son of Tim and Janet Hagler.
Lees on Hagler: "I really like the way he plays. He's a tough kid. I watched him a lot, and every tournament I went to I kept drawing towards him because of how hard he played, the plays he made at third base and the way he hit."
• Thomas Hatch, RHP, 6-2, 200, R/R, Tulsa, Okla. (Jenks HS)
Ranked No. 1 prospect in Oklahoma and 30th-best prospect nationally by ESPN … listed by Baseball America as the 95th-best high school prospect in the country for the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft … 2012 Perfect Game Underclassmen All-American … Under Armour All-American … White Sox Area Code Team … was 7-2 with a 1.60 ERA as a junior … plays for coach Dennis Keeley at JHS and is a member of the D-BAT traveling team led by Sam Carpenter … also recruited by North Carolina, Texas, Stanford, Arkansas, TCU, Oklahoma and LSU, among others … son of Dean and Mary Hatch.
Lees on Hatch: "He's a power arm who has a chance to really throw the ball exceptionally well one day. He's a strong kid, a power-type pitcher with consistent off-speed stuff. He's an outstanding student as well, and we are very pleased to keep Thomas at home as he had numerous out-of-state options at tremendous programs."
• Blake Hennessey, INF, 6-2, 185, R/R, Jacksonville, Fla. (Arlington Country Day HS)
2012 Perfect Game Underclassmen All-American second team … has played varsity baseball since seventh grade and played in 135 career games for coach Ron Dickerson … owns a career .449 batting average with 16 homers, 84 RBIs, 48 doubles and 49 stolen bases … also a member of the Marucci Elite travel team led by Chad Raley … father, Scott Hennessey, played in the Kansas City Royals organization from 1990-93 … also recruited by Florida State, Georgia Tech, Louisville, LSU and Miami … son of Scott and Tracey Hennessey.
Lees on Hennessey: "He could be a very, very good ballplayer for us. He has a unique tool package for an infielder and could be a very complete player. He could play short or second. He has the chance in our ballpark to hit a lot of home runs. He's a very polished infielder who has a chance to play for us a lot right away."
• Carter Hope, UTL, 6-4, 200, L/R, The Woodlands, Texas (The Woodlands HS)
2012 Perfect Game Underclassmen Honorable Mention All-American … plays for coach Ron Eastman at TWHS … won 17U Perfect Game national championship with Houston Banditos led by coach Ray DaLeon … son of former Cowboy standout pitcher Pat Hope, who played at OSU from 1986-88, and Mike and Barb Rea.
Lees on Hope: "Carter wanted to be a Cowboy and stayed true to that through a strong late recruitment by several big-time programs. I think he has a chance to be a two-way player for us – he can play in the infield and pitch. He has a good left-handed bat and skills to play the infield, but he's really come on as a pitcher of late. He's somebody you can develop and foresee being a power arm someday."
• Robie Rojas, C, 5-8, 180, R/R, Houston, Texas (Jersey Village HS)
2011 and 2012 Perfect Game Underclassmen Honorable Mention All-American … led team to WWBA Perfect Game championship in 2012 and was named to the all-tournament team … plays for Robb Jensen at JVHS … won 17U Perfect Game national championship with Houston Banditos led by coach Ray DaLeon … also recruited by Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Dallas Baptist and Arizona State … son of Ruperto and Linda Rojas.
Lees on Rojas: "Every time we saw him, he just grew on us and grew on us. We feel like we've got one of the best catchers in the country that's maybe a little underrated. He has a chance to come in here and play right away. He has the arm strength, he has the presence, he has an ‘it' factor that will allow our pitchers to succeed."
• Andrew Rosa, INF, 6-1, 185, R/R, Owasso, Okla. (Owasso HS)
2012 Perfect Game Underclassmen All-American third team … 2012 Louisville Slugger All-American honorable mention … hit .412 with seven home runs, 28 RBIs and 20 stolen bases as a junior to help OHS to state tournament berth … plays for coach Larry Turner at OHS and is a member of the D-BAT traveling team coached by Rick Wrona … also recruited by Arkansas, Oklahoma, TCU, Wichita State, Texas Tech, Oregon, Alabama and Miami … son of Mike and MaryAnn Rosa.
Lees on Rosa: "Andrew is probably one of the better athletes in this class. He has an opportunity to play anywhere in the infield or move to the outfield. He can hit and showed very strong at the Area Codes. We had several people come up and say, ‘Wow, you got a good one.' We're very excited about how hard he plays, and he's exactly what we're trying to get when we start looking at players and their personalities and how they fit into our program."
• Ryan Sluder, OF, 6-3, 195, R/R, Amarillo, Texas (Amarillo HS)
In two prep seasons owns a .405 batting average and has recorded 67 RBIs and 31 stolen bases … as a junior hit .381 and was a first-team all-district selection … was the 2010 Globe News Super Team Newcomer of the Year and was a 2011 Globe News Super Team First Team Outfielder … plays for coach Jeff Timmons … was also an all-district performer in football as a receiver and defensive back … son of Randy and Tanya Sluder.
Lees on Sluder: "Ryan has a physical tool package that is hard to find, and he's also a fantastic student. He is a great athlete, a very good runner and center fielder, and we feel like with his athleticism he's only going to get better and better."
• Garrett Williams, LHP, 6-2, 195, L/L, Shreveport, La. (Calvary Baptist)
Listed by Baseball America as the 15th-best high school prospect in the country for the 2013 Major League Baseball Draft … 2011 Perfect Game Underclassmen All-American first team and 2012 Perfect Game Underclassmen All-American second team … 2012 Area Code Games All-Area Code Team … 2012 Under Armour All-American … gold medalist on 2012 USA Baseball 18-and-under team that won IBAF 18U World Championships in Seoul, South Korea … was one of 20 players selected to USA team … first-team all-state performer three times … 2011 district co-MVP … plays for coach Todd Walker … also recruited by Vanderbilt, Stanford, Ole Miss, Texas Tech, Oregon, Arkansas, Arizona and Alabama … son of Chad and Sharon Williams.
Lees on Williams: "Garrett is the cream of the crop when it comes to pitching throughout the country. He could have gone anywhere, but I think he could see himself really getting better on the mound with Coach Walton and in our system. He's also a tremendous hitter and will be a two-way player for us. He's a winner, and we're fortunate and excited for him to be a Cowboy."
• Matt Wilson, LHP, 6-5, 200, L/L, Dallas, Texas (Highland Park HS)
2012 Perfect Game Underclassmen All-American honorable mention … was Class 10-4A Pitcher of the Year as a junior … went 8-1 with a 1.34 ERA and recorded 90 strikeouts … was named to the Dallas Morning News All-Area HS Baseball second team … plays for coach Fred Oliver at HPHS and is a member of the Dallas Tigers Select Baseball Club coached by Tommy Hernandez … son of David and Jane Wilson.
Lees on Wilson: "Matt can really pitch. His ceiling is very high. He's a big kid, he's strong, he can throw enough good pitches to make him a candidate to pitch right away. He's also got a great personality and is a mature, outgoing presence who is an elite student – he brings a lot to the program."
2014 Oklahoma State Baseball Signees
Tim Arakawa OF/2B Honolulu, Hawaii (Yavapai CC/Moanalua HS)
Blake Battenfield RHP Claremore, Okla. (Verdigris HS)
Tyler Buffett RHP Albuquerque, N.M. Albuquerque Academy)
Trey Cobb RHP Broken Arrow, Okla. (Broken Arrow HS)
Hayden Cronenbold INF Newbury Park, Calif. (Ventura CC/Thousand Oaks HS)
Hunter Hagler INF Carthage, Texas (Panola JC/Vidor HS)
Thomas Hatch RHP Tulsa, Okla. (Jenks HS)
Blake Hennessey INF Jacksonville, Fla. (Arlington Country Day HS)
Carter Hope UTL The Woodlands, Texas (The Woodlands HS)
Robie Rojas C Houston, Texas (Jersey Village HS)
Andrew Rosa INF Owasso, Okla. (Owasso HS)
Ryan Sluder OF Amarillo, Texas (Amarillo HS)
Garrett Williams LHP Shreveport, La. (Calvary Baptist)
Matt Wilson LHP Dallas, Texas (Highland Park HS)