WNC baseball coach D.J. Whittemore looked locally to find three strong student athletes to join his 2015 recruiting class for Western Nevada College. Reno High School netted power hitting third baseman Jeremy Peterson and crafty southpaw pitcher Matt Young, and Galena High School added catcher Tim Lichty, who has been a perpetual tough out for pitchers.
They join eight other prep players have signed letters of intent to play for the Wildcats in 2015. They include:
Gabe Farrer, a utility player from Alta High School in Sandy, Utah
Jon Guzman, a left-handed pitcher and first baseman from Henley High School in Klamath Falls, Ore.; Gehrig Teahon, a shortstop from Cottonwood High School in Salt Lake City;
Bridger Nielson, a southpaw from Skyline High School in Salt Lake City;
Blake Morin, a catcher and second baseman from Park City High School in Park City, Utah;
Parker Woodley, an outfielder from Canby High School in Aurora, Ore.;
Jordan Atkinson, a left-handed pitcher from British Columbia, Canada; and
Izac Bauer, an outfielder from Chief Sealth High School in Seattle.
“This is a great start to our recruiting class. All of these players have the character and work ethic to be hugely successful in our program,â€ Whittemore said. â€œWe are particularly pleased that we were able to recruit players from winning high school programs and (coached by) some outstanding prep coaches.â€
Peterson earned first-team all-High Desert League honors as a sophomore and junior. Last season, he belted 10 home runs and knocked in 45 runs in 103 at-bats.
His power numbers didnâ€™t decline while playing American Legion ball for the Reno team last summer. He added 11 homers and 52 RBI, giving him 21 long balls and 97 RBI between the two teams. When Peterson isnâ€™t hitting homers, heâ€™s hitting for average as well, batting .398 in 2013.
â€œJeremy is the type of player that we have been lucky enough to recruit in the past that can compete for a starting position on the first day of practice,â€ Whittemore said.
Reno High School coach Pete Savage has seen Peterson develop into one of the most feared hitters in the state.
â€œJeremy is an extremely good power hitter and a very good offensive weapon in the middle of our lineup,â€ Savage said. Peterson also is a starting forward on the Huskiesâ€™ basketball team.
Savage said Young will bring a Barry Zito-like breaking ball to WNCâ€™s pitching staff, along with a intense desire to succeed.
As a junior, the 5-11 Young posted a 7-4 record and 2.81 earned run average for the Huskies. He fanned 65 hitters and walked 11 in 62 innings.
“Matt is a great competitor and a gifted athlete with drive and toughness to win every time on the field,â€ Whittemore said.
â€œMentally, he is capable of leading a team and can change the game with his physical tools.”
Young earned four wins for the Knights and served as the starting quarterback on Renoâ€™s playoff-qualifying football team last fall.
The 6-1, 200-pound Lichty hit better than .500 as a junior at Galena and was a first-team all-state selection.
â€œWe are excited about his proven ability to hit,â€ Whittemore said. â€œTim is a left-handed hitter that can hit the ball to all fields and stays balanced during his swing. We are also excited because he comes from one of the top programs in the North, coached by Carson legend Ron McNutt.â€
Other Wildcats signees include:
â€¢ Gabe Farrer: The 5-11 infielder and catcher hit .354 with an on-base average of .476 for Alta last season.
â€œGabe is an excellent hitter and really proved it this past fall with the Mountain West Baseball Academy vs. good junior college programs,â€ Whittemore said. â€œHe is equally capable of playing second base or catcher and possesses a great passion for the game and working.â€
â€¢ Jon Guzman: The all-conference and three-year varsity starter at Henley is â€œequal parts outstanding hitter and pitcher,â€ according to Whittemore.
â€œJon is an all-around excellent player that we think is going to get outs in college by the truck full. He has good command of a low 80s fastball and complementary secondary stuff.â€
â€¢ Gehrig Teahon: The infielder hits at the top of the order for Cottonwood coach Jason Crawford.
â€œCottonwood has an outstanding program and legacy of sending great players into college baseball,â€ Whittemore said. â€œGehrig is going to continue that legacy. He is fast and has good power for a middle infielder. Physically, he is already ready to play in college.â€
â€¢ Bridger Nielson: The 6-1 left-hander pitcher also is a product of the Mountain West Baseball Academy and coaches Bob Keyes and Kent Norris.
â€œBridger is a deceptive left-handed pitcher with a good breaking ball and a sneaky fastball,â€ Whittemore said. â€œHe is a proven winner and the type of student and person that we recruit heavily.â€
â€¢ Blake Morin: The 5-11 infielder hits from the left side and is â€œequally skilled in the batterâ€™s box and playing defense in the infield or behind the dish,â€ Whittemore said.
â€œBlake has an outstanding work ethic and a short swing,” two things that translate to success in college. Blake is talented enough to compete for the starting catcher position and as an infielder.â€
â€¢ Parker Woodley: The 6-2, 200-pounder brings a college-ready physique to WNC.
â€œParker is physically ready to play college baseball, (and) he runs well for a power bat,â€ Whittemore said. â€œParker will fit in nicely with our offensive philosophy of get a good pitch to hit and take a big rip.â€
â€¢ Jordan Atkinson: One of four lefties in the early recruiting class. â€œJordan is a command lefty that has pitched for the best amateur team in Canada for the past two seasons,â€ Whittemore said. â€œHe has been well-schooled and is the younger brother of a professional baseball player.
â€œJordan is a proven winner and a strike thrower, and has already logged innings against top college hitters.â€
â€¢ Izac Bauer: The 5-11 contact hitter batted .351 and had an on-base average of .455 for Chief Sealth last season.
â€œIzac is an on-base machine,â€ Whittemore said. â€œHe has enough speed to play right field and has good arm strength as well.
â€œHe knows how to handle the bat and is another player out of Steve Avilaâ€™s En Fuego program that has developed more than a few former and current Wildcats.â€
Whittemore said the coaching staff plans to continue recruiting into the spring, focusing on two specific areas.
â€œWe have addressed our needs behind the plate and from the left side of the mound. We will continue to recruit outfielders and right-handed pitchers this spring,â€ he said.