Illinois State Baseball Signs Eight During Early Period
Nov. 13, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - Eight student-athletes have signed national letters of intent to play baseball at Illinois State, the Redbird baseball office announced Thursday.
"This class is very important in the process of building our program," Illinois State associate head coach Mark Kingston said. "They all have the type of talent that will elevate the perception of Illinois State baseball. They had plenty of college options, and we are proud that they want to be a part of the direction we are headed."
Kingston, who made recruiting top classes to Tulane commonplace as the Green Wave associate head coach and recruiting coordinator, focused much of his efforts on securing the top talent in the state once he was announced as associate head coach at Illinois State in early August.
"Coach (Jim) Brownlee and Coach (Mike) Current worked hard all summer to narrow down our list of possible recruits," Kingston said. "Once they visited campus, our academic, and strength and conditioning staff did a great job of sharing our vision for their success. Finally, the commitment of the administration to build our new stadium showed the student-athletes that we are serious about baseball.
"Our goal is that Illinois State baseball is a tremendous option for the top student-athletes in our region. This recruiting class, combined with our returning players, provides a solid foundation for our future."
All five of the Redbirds' Illinois high school recruits are ranked among the top-50 players in the state according to Prep Baseball Report, including Springfield, the No. 5 player in Illinois. In Wiesemeyer, Illinois State also landed the top junior college outfielder in the state, according to Perfect Game Crosschecker, another baseball recruiting analyst.
"Coach Kingston and his staff have landed an incredibly talented and diverse group of recruits in Illinois," Prep Baseball Report editor Sean Duncan said. "Blair Springfield from Decatur MacArthur High School is, in my opinion, the crown jewel of the recruiting class and is arguably the best hitter in the state. Cam Verbeke and Brad Sorkin are two excellent right-handed pitchers; Brett Kay is a top-level infielder with speed; and Angelo Burrage can flat out hit from the left side."
Notable: Ranked as high as the No. 16 prospect in the state by Prep Baseball Report ... ranked as one of the top 10 hitters in the state by Prep Baseball Report ... was named Porsche Player of the Week by Prep Baseball Report for the weeks of March 17-April 1 ... named to the all-area team as an outfielder by the Chicago Sun-Times as a junior ... ranked as the No. 2 first baseman in the state by PG Crosschecker .. ranked as the top prospect at the PBR 2009 Top Prospect Showcase ... as a junior, hit .465 with a 1.028 slugging percentage, 11 HR, 34 RBI, and 27 runs scores ... hit .402 with 29 RBI and 19 extra base hits as a sophomore.
Kingston on Burrage: "Angelo is already a top level hitter, but he is also just scratching the surface of his potential. He possesses an extremely quick bat and has tremendous left-handed power. He is athletic enough to play first base or the outfield and can also be a threat on the bases. With hard work, he should have a tremendous career."
Notable: Ranked as the No. 42 prospect in the state by Prep Baseball Report ... ranked as one of the top-five athletes and defensive infielders in the state by Prep Baseball Report ... ran a 6.58, 60-yard dash at the Stevenson Showcase ... hit .406 with 3 triples, 2 HR, 32 Runs and stole 23-of-23 bases ... earned All-East Suburban Catholic League honors as a junior ... named to the Daily Herald's Northwest All-Area Team as a junior ... helped Arlington Heights Post 208 to the 2008 American Legion 1st Division Championship and a runner-up finish in the Illinois State Finals.
Kingston on Kay: "Brett is one of the fastest and most athletic players in the Illinois class of 2009. He is a plus defender at shortstop, can steal a lot of bases and be a tough out offensively. He is another prospect who will continue to improve as he gets stronger. He is everything you look for in a high level shortstop."
Notable: Went 6-1 with a 2.65 ERA in nine appearances as a junior ... recorded 60 strikeouts and only 13 walks in 42.1 innings last spring ... threw a no-hitter on May 8, 2008 ... went 5-2 with a 3.39 ERA and 1 save as a sophomore ... recorded 29 strikeouts and only 2 walks in 20.2 innings as a sophomore.
Kingston on Maher: "Steve is another pitcher who has toughness as a result of also playing hockey. His fastball can reach 90, but his best pitch is a tremendous curve ball. He throws nothing but strikes and always wants the baseball. He should have a major impact on our staff as a freshman."
Notable: Ranked as the No. 22 prospect in the state by Prep Baseball Report ... ranked as the No. 19 prospect in the state by PG Crosschecker ... ranked as the No. 6 RHP in the state by PG Crosschecker ... ranked as having one of the top-10 fast balls in the state by Prep Baseball Report ... went 2-2 with a 1.63 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 34 innings as a junior ... went 3-0 with a 2.80 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 20 innings last summer.
Kingston on Sorkin: "Brad is one of the most projectable pitchers in our state. He is long, lean, and athletic. His fastball has good movement, and currently sits in the 88-89 mph neighborhood. With his body type, arm speed and normal maturation, he could be 92-93 in the near future. He is just beginning to tap into his potential, and we look forward to helping him become a premier pitcher."
Notable: Ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the state by Prep Baseball Report ... ranked as the top hitter in the state of Illinois by Prep Baseball Report ... ranked as one of the top-10 defensive outfielders in the state by Prep Baseball Report ... ranked as the No. 2 outfielder in the state by PerfectGame Crosschecker ... First Team All-Big 12 as a junior and sophomore ... co-MVP of the Double Duty Classic played at US Cellular Field ... named Macon County Player of the Year by Decatur Herald-Review as a sophomore ... hit .444 with 5 HR and 54 RBI as a sophomore ... captured 2008 Triple Crown National Championship with Georgia Roadrunners ... cousin of Chicago White Sox outfielder Jermaine Dye.
Kingston on Springfield: "Blair is ranked as the top hitter in the state, and we think he deserves it. He can do a lot of things well on the baseball field. He is athletic, has power, arm strength and speed. He works hard and loves the game. He is a major sign for our program, and shows the type of player we want to attract here. We cannot wait to work with Blair and help him refine all of his tools."
Notable: Helped lead Rosemount to a sixth place finish at the Minnesota 3A State Tournament as junior ... hit .432 with 24 doubles, three home runs, and a .730 Slugging Pct. in 25 games last summer ... 2009 team captain.
Kingston on Thaden: "Brett is a very projectable left-handed hitter. He hit clean-up on Team Minnesota this summer, a state that has produced many great hitters recently. He possesses very quick hands at the plate, which will allow him to hit for average and power. As he continues to get stronger, he has a chance to be a very special player for us."
Notable: Ranked as high as the No. 12 prospect in the state by Prep Baseball Report ... ranked as the top pitching prospect at the PBR 2009 Top Prospect Showcase ... Appeared in 13 games with a 7-4 record ... pitched 63.2 innings with 53 strikeouts and 25 walks while posting a 3.41 ERA.
Kingston on Verbeke: "Cam possesses one of the best arms in the entire state. His fastball can already reach 90 mph and will continue to rise as he gains weight. He has a good breaking ball and developing change-up. The thing we like most about Cam is his competitiveness. He also plays hockey, and he brings that toughness to the mound with him. Cam will make an immediate impact on our pitching staff."
Notable: Ranked as the top junior college outfielder in the state by PG Crosschecker ... Helped the Hawks (37-15) reach No. 17 in the NJCAA D-II national poll in their inaugural season of baseball ... named to the NJCAA D-II Region 24 All-District Gold Glove Team and to the Rawlings Gold Glove team ... earned All-Midwest Athletic Conference Honorable Mention honors ... hit .401 in 49 games ... tied for second on the team with four triples and added 13 doubles and a home run ... second on the team with 48 runs scored ... drew 24 walks while striking out 18 times and was tops among regular players with a .490 on-base percentage ... second on the team with 12 steals in 15 attempts ... didn't commit an error in 96 chances to post a perfect fielding percentage for the season.
Kingston on Wiesemeyer: "Ty is the prototypical college centerfielder. He has good tools across the board and would run through a wall to win a ballgame. His left-handed swing should fit in well at the top of our order, and his ability in center field will solidify the middle of our defense. He has been well-schooled at Heartland and is prepared for this next step in his career."
The Illinois State Athletics Media Relations Office would like to thank Illinois State head coach Jim Brownlee, Illinois State associate head coach Mark Kingston and Illinois State assistant coach Mike Current, the head coaches and families of each signee, PrepBaseballReport.com, IllinoisHighSchoolBaseballReport.com, Heartland Community College, and the Chicago Sun Times for their assistance in compiling the information and pictures used in this release.