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NIACC baseball team signs 15 players


This news story was published on January 15, 2016.
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niacc_trojans_logoMASON CITY – The NIACC baseball team signed 15 student-athletes in the 2016 class on Friday.

The 15 players in the 2016 recruiting class consist of players from Iowa, Minnesota, Australia, and Canada. Five in-state recruits include three ranked in the top 25 rankings according to Perfect Game and three of the five from Minnesota are ranked in the top 25 players according to Prep Baseball Report. Perfect Game and Prep Baseball Report are the two most respected authority figures compiling high school rankings.

Also included based off Perfect Game rankings is Minnesota’s 11th ranked player, number 1 ranked left-handed pitcher, and the top player in the state of Minnesota to sign with a junior college inking with the Trojans (Tom Skoro).

This is the second consecutive year that the top player in Iowa or Minnesota according to Perfect Game and Prep Baseball Report rankings to commit to a junior college has signed with NIACC. Last year, the top player in Iowa to sign with a junior college was current Trojan Connor Enochs.

The remaining five players include four from Australia and one from Canada.

Signing with the Trojans are Bryce Ball (Mason City Newman Catholic), Blake Elsbecker (Algona), Ezequias Encarnacion (St. Paul Prep), Brody Gugat (Sioux City), Alan Kenny (Perth, Western Australia), Jarod Large (Perth, Western Australia), Fox Leum (Minnetonka, Minn.), Mitch Neunborn (Perth, Western Australia), Blake Preston (Ames), Billy Riach (Lakeville, Minn.), Cade Schares (Don Bosco), Tom Skoro (Wayzata, Minn.), Rhys Steedman (Perth, Western Australia), Chase Stewart (Abbotsford, British Columbia), and Joey Werner (Hastings, Minn).

The following is the list of NIACC’s recruits, their accomplishments, and comments from the NIACC coaches on each player:

Bryce Ball (first base, Mason City Newman Catholic) 6-5, 235 pounds, bats left, throws right
Bryce is the state of Iowa’s 14th ranked player according to Prep Baseball Report, 15th ranked player according to Perfect Game, and 42nd ranked first baseman in the nation; .515 on base percentage, .689 slugging percentage, 18 doubles, 7 home runs, and 47 RBI as a junior in 2015 for the Class 1A state champion Newman Knights; 2nd team all-state IHSBCA; 2nd team all-state Iowa Newspaper Association in both 2014 and 2015.
NIACC coaches comments: “Bryce over his junior summer really took a step where it was a no brainer that we wanted to get him into our program. His size and physicality fit into the way we want to train guys, type of player we want to work with. Hitting the ball hard is a skill and one that Bryce does as well as any high school player in Iowa.”

Blake Elsbecker (outfielder, Algona) 6-2, 190 pounds, bats left, throws right
Elsbecker is the 22nd ranked player in Iowa according to Perfect Game, states 4th ranked outfielder, and was 2015 underclass honorable mention All-American; Blake missed junior year with a torn ACL injury; as a sophomore in 2014 hit .414 with 41 runs scored helping Algona to a state tournament appearance.
NIACC coaches comments: “Watching Blake play this fall coming off his injury, you fall in love with his athleticism and way he moves on a baseball field. Getting to know him, we knew he was a good fit to come train in our program with how obsessed he is with getting better. He’s a phenomenal athlete.”

Ezequias Encarnacion (infielder, St. Paul Prep) 5-11, 190 pounds, bats right, throws right
Encarnacion is 25th ranked player in Minnesota according to Prep Baseball Report and 5th ranked shortstop; played exclusively with the Minnesota Blizzard travel team organization.
NIACC coaches comments: “Eze has skills that are rare for Iowa or Minnesota infield prospects. He is so light on his feet and skilled with his hands fielding a ball that when you combine that with his pure batspeed, he can be a really special player. ”

Brody Gugat (right-handed pitcher, Sioux City) 6-5, 220 pounds
Brody is the 25th ranked player in Iowa according to Perfect Game and 6th ranked right-handed pitcher; 26th ranked player according to Prep Baseball Report; Brody played exclusively with the St. Louis Pirates travel team organization.
NIACC coaches comments: “Brody’s size and strength immediately stand out watching him over the last couple years. We have seen him up to 87mph on the mound and is a perfect fit to continue to develop the way our pitchers train.”

Alan Kenny (left-handed pitcher, Warwick Senior/Perth, Western Australia) 6-2, 190 pounds
Alan possessed a 0.52 era for the Perth Heat national team; invited to highly acclaimed MLB Australian Academy Program; on 2014 Australia nation team
NIACC coaches comments: “Alan is one of the best left-handed arms we recruited in the 2016 class. His slider is already a wipeout pitch at the college level and seen his fastball up to 86mph. Alan knows how to pitch and we’re excited to see him get stronger and develop the next two years.”

Jarod Large (right-handed pitcher, St. Marks Anglican Community/Perth, Western Australia) 6-0 185 pounds
Jarod had a 2.54 era, 34 strikeouts, in 33 innings pitched for Perth Heat national team; invited to prestigious MLB Australian Academy Program.
NIACC coaches comments: “Jarod instantly reminded us of former Trojan pitcher Lucas Bakker with his fire and demeanor on the mound. He has a feel and idea how to pitch with four pitches. We have seen him up to 86mph but his present moment command of a breaking ball and change-up is better than your typical high school arm.”

Fox Leum (outfielder/right-handed pitcher Minnetonka, Minn.) 6-3, 215 pounds, bats left, throws right
Fox is the 15th ranked player in Minnesota according to Prep Baseball Report and 2nd ranked outfielder; .506 on base percentage, .635 slugging percentage, .365 batting average junior year in 2015; 3-0 on the mound earning 2015 all-district honors.
NIACC coaches comments: “Fox was identified as one of better offensive threats in Iowa or Minnesota pretty early in the recruiting process watching him at showcases. The rhythm he creates hitting is a natural fit for our program. We will also put him through our throwing program and let him develop as a two way player. It came down to him deciding between us and a division one school where he would continue as a student-athlete. We were excited Fox was our first commit in the 2016 class really early at the end of the summer.”

Mitch Neunborn (infielder/RHP Wesley College/Perth, Western Australia) 6-0, 180 pounds, bats right, throws right
Mitch hit .353 with 18 RBI and 22 runs scored in 21 games played with the Perth Heat national team; represented 2015 Australia national team; invited to MLB Australian Academy Program.
NIACC coaches comments: “Mitch is a dynamic infielder with a big arm. It is really hard not to draw comparisons to current Trojan shortstop Robbie Glendinning when you look at his overall skillset and makeup, really scary similar. The skill that sets Mitch apart is being 87-89 on the mound and said to have some of the best stuff on the Australia national team pitching staff. He is a legit two way player that will thrive in our program.”

Blake Preston (right-handed pitcher, Ames) 6-2, 200 pounds
Blake had a 5.44 era in 18 innings his junior year in 2015; held opponents to .169 batting average against, the best on the Ames pitching staff.
NIACC coaches comments: “We saw Blake pumping 87mph at a showcase in August and while that had us intrigued, we really knew he was a guy we wanted after his visit. He soaked up the presentation given to him showing him how we would develop him the next two years and believed in him. You have to really become obsessed with getting better to survive in our program and Blake showed us just that. We can’t wait to work with Blake and the untapped potential he has in that right arm.”

Billy Riach (right-handed pitcher, Lakeville, Minn.) 6-2, 175 pounds
Billy is the highest ranked right-handed pitcher to commit to a junior college according to Prep Baseball Report rankings in a loaded 2016 Minnesota class; 59 innings pitched, 1.55 era, 36 strikeouts, 7 walks leading Lakeville North to the 2015 state tournament; 32 consecutive innings pitched without allowing a walk is second al-time in MSHSL history; 2015 all-section 3 pitcher.
NIACC coaches comments: “We saw Billy at several showcases leading into his junior year but fell in love watching him compete in the state tournament. This kid is a winner, had one of the best seasons in the state of Minnesota on the mound. We wanted the opportunity to help him develop the next two years as a Trojan.”

Cade Schares (utility, Don Bosco) 6-0 180 pounds
Cade hit .527, 15th best batting average in the state of Iowa in 2015 with 48 RBI, .612 on base percentage, .727 slugging percentage, 18 doubles, 57 runs scored, and 17 stolen bases;2015 1st team all-state catcher by every publication.
NIACC coaches comments: “Cade any time you watch him play or watch his videos just barrels up balls and has a true skillset of flat out squaring balls up. You talk to opposing coaches that play against him and there isn’t enough positive things you will hear about Cade. We are excited to watch Cade work the next two years.”

Tom Skoro (left-handed pitcher, Wayzata, Minn.) 6-4, 190 pounds
11th ranked player in Minnesota, 1st ranked left-handed pitcher, and 155th ranked player in the nation; 7-3 with 2.13 era, 86 strikeouts in 59 innings pitched as a junior in 2015; Also double signed with Kansas State.
NIACC coaches comments: “Tom could be a major presence on the mound with the combination of his size and competitiveness. Not many high school arms can spin the ball the way Tom does plus he’s left handed. We have seen him up to 88mph with a ton of sink to it. The way he spins the ball and has two really good pitches at this point gives him a legitimate shot to become a draft pick in his future. He is an immediate big time arm in our league.”

Rhys Steedman (right-handed pitcher, Darling Range Sports/Perth, Western Australia) 6-3, 200 pounds
Rhys had a 1.85 era, 41 strikeouts in 34 innings pitched for the Perth Heat national team; represented 2015 Australia national team; invited to MLB Australian Academy Program.
NIACC coaches comments: “Rhys is a power arm seeing him flash 90mph and consistently in the upper 80’s. He has pitched on the big stage at the 2015 World Cup knocking off teams from Mexico and Czech Republic. Compete with velocity is a rallying cry in our pitchers training sessions. Rhys is going to fit in perfectly here being one of the top power arms that we saw in the states or internationally.”

Chase Stewart (right-handed pitcher, Abbotsford, British Columbia) 6-0, 180 pounds
Chase pitched for Team British Columbia who won gold at the 2015 Canada Cup.
NIACC coaches comments: “Chase is trained and brought to our attention by one of the most respected coaches in the country, Derek Floro. Chase also trains at the Driveline facility in Seattle, WA and we have partnered with Driveline to train our pitching staff making this whole thing a perfect fit. Chase was recently up to 89 on the mound and we want to give him the same type of training environment in his experience at NIACC. All reports are he is a relentless worker and going back to one of our favorite words, obsessed, Chase is obsessed with getting better.”

Joey Werner (outfielder, Hastings, Minn.) 5-8, 160 pounds, bats left, throws right
Joey is the 40th ranked player in Minnesota according to Prep Baseball Report and 7th ranked outfielder; .405 on base percentage, .522 slugging percentage as a junior in 2015.
NIACC coaches comments: “Joey is feisty, a kid you want on your side when things get a little tough and uncomfortable. Everyone that we have asked info from on Joey raves about how hard he plays, he is relentless. Next two years developing his skillset with the combination of those competitive characteristics is going to be a real pleasure.”

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