Nov. 19, 2008
IRVINE, Calif. --- The UC Irvine Baseball program has inked 10 student-athletes to national letters of intent in the early signing period as announced by head coach Mike Gillespie. The group is comprised of eight prep players and two junior college position players.
"Our recruiting class for '09 is outstanding and we're particularly pleased that we successfully addressed our priority needs with exceptional players," said Gillespie.
"With a great emphasis on pitching we hit the jackpot with two premier left-handers in Beau Wright and Paul Strong, along with accomplished right-handers Kyle Hooper, Evan Brock, and Thomas Emanule. Each of these five pitchers is advanced and prepared to pitch in key roles at UCI as early as their freshman year," said Gillespie.
Beau Wright (Los Alamitos/HS) was named the 2008 Sunset League Pitcher of the Year and a first-team honoree. The 6-2 southpaw also was named a 2008 AFLAC All-American, All-Area Code Team member. A member of the Milwaukee Brewers 2008 Area Code Team, Wright was ranked the 30th-best High School Prospect by Baseball America. He hurled two no-hitters in 2008 and one in 2007 while posting a 10-1record on the mound with a 1.06 ERA I 2008. Wright fanned 114 strikeouts in 79 innings
Paul Strong (Huntington Beach/Marina HS), a 6-2 left-hander, was named a 2008 Marina High School Most Valuable Player and also picked up first-team All-Sunset League honors. The 2008 Scholar-Athlete Award recipient was on the 2008 Area Code and Orange Country Braves Scout Ball teams. Strong, a member of the Milwaukee Brewers 2008 Area Code Team, was 7-2 on the mound with 83 strikeouts in 59 innings of work.
Kyle Hooper (Santa Clarita/Saugus HS) posted a 2-1 record on the hill with a 4.44 ERA. The 6-4 right-hander competed on the 2008 LA Braves Scout Ball team and was named to the Scout Ball All-Star team.
"Two outstanding Community College hitters highlight our position players," said Gillespie. "Third baseman Drew Hillman and left-fielder/catcher Jon Hurst are among the state's best hitters and will provide immediate punch to an already-strong line-up. Pierce Bily is a skilled middle infielder and will compete to start as a freshman, as will catcher Drew Sandler. While we think Sandler's future is as a catcher, it is interesting to note that he pitched successfully for his CIF Division I Championship team," continued Gillespie. "Chris Carlson is among the best centerfielders in the country who both runs and throws at a professional level, and gives us balance as a left-handed hitter."
Drew Hillman (Lake Forest/Orange Coast College) was named an All-American and a first-team Orange Empire Conference choice in 2008. He posted a .350 batting average, registering 57 hits, 16 doubles, a triple and three home runs. Hillman also registered a .515 slugging percentage, a .391 on-base percentage and a .932 fielding percentage.
Jon Hurst (Orange/Cypress College) hit .366 last season at Cypress College. Hurst earned All-Orange Empire Conference recognition as a utility after hitting .366 with 68 hits, 19 doubles, a triple and a home run. Hurst slugged at a .505 clip and posted .422 and .934 on-base and fielding percentages, respectively.
Pierce Bily (Anaheim Hills/Orange Lutheran HS), a third baseman at Orange Lutheran High School, earned All-Trinity League first-team honors as a junior. Bily was also voted the team MVP last season after hitting .304 with 28 hits, including four doubles, three triples and three home runs.
Catcher Drew Sandler (Simi Valley/HS) guided Simi Valley High School to the 2008 CIF Division I Championship. He was an All-Marmonte League honorable mention and collected All-Ventura County honors. Sandler, a 2008 second team All-CIF choice, batted .343 last season with 35 hits, including 13 doubles and four home runs. He amassed 25 RBI while slugging .608.
Evan Brock (Chino Hills/Ayala HS) is a three-year varsity player at Ayala High School. The 6-0 right-hander was named to the 2008 All-Sierra League second team after pitching 60 innings and striking out 65. Brock, a 2008 Area Code Team honoree, was also a member of the 2008 Red Sox Scout Ball Team and played on the Milwaukee Brewers 2008 Area Code Team.
Chris Carlson (Chino Hills/HS) helped his team to the Sierra League championship in 2008. The outfielder earned All-CIF first-team honors last season and was also tabbed All-Inland Valley, all-league and all-state after hitting .340 with 57 hits. Carlson belted 14 doubles, four triples and nine home runs as a junior.
Thomas Emanuele (Orange/Santa Margarita HS) rounds out the list of signees for UC Irvine. Emanuele, a 6-0 right-hander played for the 2008 Trombly Braves of the Connie Mack league and the Brewers Scout Ball Team. He was 4-4 on the mound with a 3.70 ERA as a junior.
"With the possibility that we will return a nucleus of fine players who are juniors in our program this year, and on the heels of what's proving to be very good '08 recruiting class, this group of players in the 2009 class gives us reason to believe that our program will continue to compete among the nation's best into 2010 and beyond," said Gillespie.
Drew Hillman...3B...So...R-R...6-1...190...Lake Forest, Calif./Orange Coast College
Jon Hurst...OF-C...So....R-R...6-0...195...Orange, Calif./Cypress College
Evan Brock...RHP...Sr...R-R...6-0...170...Chino Hills, Calif./Ayala HS
Thomas Emanuele...RHP...Sr...R-R...6-0...200...Orange, Calif./Santa Margarita HS
Kyle Hooper...RHP...Sr...R-R...6-4...180...Santa Clarita, Calif./Saugus HS
Paul Strong...LHP...Sr...L-L...6-2...190...Huntington Beach, Calif./Marina HS
Beau Wright...LHP...Sr...L-L...6-2...200...Los Alamitos, Calif./Los Alamitos HS
Pierce Bily...3B...Sr...R-R...6-0...185...Anaheim Hills, Calif./Orange Lutheran HS
Chris Carlson...OF...Sr...L-L...5-10...165...Chino Hills, Calif./Chino Hills HS
Drew Sandler...C...Sr...R-R...5-11...190...Simi Valley, Calif./Simi Valley HS