Truman Baseball Coach has signed nine players during the fall signing period for the 2014 Bulldog squad.
They are Wyatt Fones, Ryan Franklin, J.J. Guenther, Ben Hachten, Joe Landers, Samuel Reuter, Kyle Smith, Austin Tinsley and Michael Venturella.
The new class has five of the nine players from the St. Louis metro area, two from Louisville, Ky. and one each from north Kansas City, Mo. and north of Peoria, Ill.
Primary positions for the class are four pitchers, two middle infielders, two catchers and one corner infielder.
Wyatt Fones (6-1, 175lbs, R/R, C/3B)
Wentsville, Mo. (Wentzville Holt HS)
Fones is a catcher and third basemen for Wentzville Holt and earned Gateway Athletic Conference all-Academic honors the past two years. Fones has been a volunteer at the Cardinals Kid Clinic the past three years and is a member of the National Honor Society.
Wentzville Holt HS Coach Joel Adam on Fones: â??Wyatt Fones is a fine student/athlete at Holt High School and is a leader on and off the baseball field.
His commitment to baseball and academics will help him accomplish his goals at the collegiate level.
The coaching staff at Holt wishes Wyatt the best of luck at Truman.â??
Fones on why he chose Truman: â??I chose to attend Truman because it will be a great fit for me both academically and athletically.
Truman is a prestigious academic school, which I believe can further my academics.
Also, I think that the baseball team is headed in the right direction and I hope that I can help the team become even better.â??
Davis on Fones: â??We canâ??t be more excited for Wyatt to join the Bulldog Baseball program.
He impressed us as a catcher from the first time we saw him.
Heâ??s got a great throwing arm behind the plate and is very good defensively.
He is also versatile and can play 3B as well. He can hit for average and occasional power.
We look forward to seeing Wyatt in a Truman jersey!â??
Ryan Franklin (5-9, 154lbs, R/R, RHP)
Dardenne Prairie, Mo. (Fort Zumwalt West)
Franklin posted a 7-2 record with a save and a 1.49 ERA while earning Legion All-Star status in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
He has been an honor roll student throughout high school and was named Academic All-Conference last season.
Fort Zumwalt West HS Coach Eric Gough on Franklin: â??Ryan is a competitor.
He sets the tone on the hill with his bulldog attitude.
Ryan mixes his pitches up well and does a great job locating pitches down in the zone.
Most importantly, he is a team guy and a baseball junkie.â??
Franklin on why he chose Truman: "I chose Truman because of the great academic programs offered along with the extensive academic support that will give me the best foundation and opportunities to fulfill my academic interests.
I am impressed with the respect given professionally with having an education from Truman.
I chose Bulldog Baseball because I was very impressed with the coaching staff along with the program the coaches have in place.
I feel I will be given every opportunity to contribute and succeed under the direction of the coaching staff. Having played with and against current Bulldog players,
I know I am coming into a great team atmosphere along with a very talented group of players."
Davis on Franklin: â??We are excited to have Ryan join the pitching staff next year.
Heâ??s a pitcher who commands the zone from a lower arm angle that gives his fastball some great arm side movement and sink.
We see Ryanâ??s best days in the future, he should battle for innings as a true freshman.â??
John (J.J.) Guenther (5-11, 190lbs, L/R, 1B)
Wildwood, Mo. (Saint Louis University HS)
Guenther hit .424 with 26 RBIs and eight extra base hits for the Eureka Varsity Legion team this past summer.
He was selected to the Missouri All-Star team that played in the Missouri-Illinois game and is a three-time District 10 All-Star first basemen.
His freshman legion team won the state championship.
Saint Louis University HS Coach Rob Huckstep on Guenther: â??Guenther hit in the cleanup spot last summer and led his team with a .424 batting average.
He also had a team high 26 RBI over the 36 games played.
Guenther is a true competitor, always wanting extra work to better his game.
His attitude and approach to baseball is contagious and makes him a clear cut leader in the dugout.â??
Guenther on why he chose Truman: "From an academic standpoint, I chose Truman because of the strong education program.
From a baseball standpoint, the organization was friendly from the start and I wanted to opportunity to be a part of something special.
I think Truman will be a great place to grow as a person and baseball player."
Davis on Guenther: â??We are excited to have JJ on the team in the future.
We werenâ??t really looking to sign a first baseman this year but when JJ visited campus, he was impressive.
We can see JJ developing into a very good hitter for average and occasional power.
Heâ??s a good defensive first baseman and we look forward to watching him develop in the program.â??
Ben Hachten (6-0, 195lbs, L/R, C/1B)
Louisville, Ky. (DuPont Manual HS)
Hachten was a region and all-district all-star in 2012 with a .357 batting average, 24 RBIs and 16 doubles.
DuPont Manual HS Coach Joshua Wolff on Hachten: â??We are very excited for Ben to have the opportunity to continue playing at the next level.
Ben is an extremely hard worker who is always trying to maximize all of his potential.
He is the first one to the field and last one to leave each day.
I wish I had more players with his desire for the game and drive that fuels his competitive nature.â??
Phenom Baseball Academy Coach Mike Clark on Hachten: â??Ben has been a consistent player throughout high school. He is either on base with a hit, walk, or hit by pitch.
He is a great 2-strike hitter that understands the strike zone.
On the defensive side, he has shown he can get the fast runners out trying to steal.
He has the ability to call his own game and keeps his pitchers in a good tempo.â??
Hachten on why he chose Truman: "I chose to play baseball for Truman State for many reasons.
Coach Dan Davis has a great vision for the program that includes winning championships.
Also, the players were really welcoming when I was on my visit. The school has a lot to offer academically and athletically, so it was a perfect fit."
Davis on Hachten: â??We canâ??t wait to get Ben on campus and start working with him.
He is a very good defending catcher but is very capable of playing first base when needed.
As a left-handed hitter, Ben has the ability to hit with power and should contend to be in the middle of our line-up as a freshman.
We look forward to a future with Ben in the program!â??
Joe Landers (6-0, 200lbs, R/R, RHP)
Smithville, Mo. (Smithville HS)
Landers earned first team all-district honors and all-Midland Empire conference honors last season.
He posted a 7-2 record in 47 innings pitched and had a 1.64 ERA with 57 strikeouts and a 1.13 WHIP.
He has been a varsity starter since his freshman season and participated in the International World Series in Crystal Lake, Ill. Landers is a member of the National Honor Society, National English Honor Society, Student Council and Eagle Scout.
Smithville HS Coach Jeff Cain on Landers: â??Joe Landers is a very talented pitcher.
He will be a great addition to the pitching staff at Truman State.â??
Landers on why he chose Truman: "To me, Truman was always a goal, marvelous people, extraordinary academics, a superb baseball program, immaculate campus, and the community feel that I have been searching for.
The experience for me is surreal; I could not be any more ecstatic than I am with my decision and Iâ??m proud and honored to be a Bulldog."
Davis on Landers: â??We are very excited to have Joe in the program in the future.
After seeing Joe pitch, we knew he had a bright future. He throws a heavy ball and can get his fastball in the mid to upper-80s.
His breaking ball is going to be a good out pitch for him in the future. We look forward to seeing Joe in Bulldog purple!â??
Samuel Reuter (6-3, 200lbs, R/R, RHP)
Dunlap, Ill. (Illinois Valley Central HS)
Reuter was an all-NCIC pitcher last season with a 7-2 record, a save in 52 plus innings pitched.
He had a 3.19 ERA with 54 strikeouts. Reuter was selected to play in the Greater Peoria Baseball Association McDonalds All-Star, Illinois Crossroads Baseball Series and Illinois Suburban Baseball tournament.
He is a member of the National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society.
Illinois Valley Central HS Coach Jerry Rashid on Reuter: â??Sam has a big boned body and is physically very strong who is young for his year in school.
He has a great upside and is a very strong competitor with an above average fastball with a sharp breaking ball.
He has control of all three pitches and is only going to get better with concentration on one sport in college.â??
Reuter on why he chose Truman: "Truman is a well-respected Division II baseball program that competes at a high level.
I am also excited about Truman joining the Great Lakes Valley Conference, which ensures the Bulldogs will continue to see great competition.
I am eager to play for Coach Dan Davis and believe he can help me take my pitching to the next level. I hope I can make a contribution to Truman right away.
Truman has an excellent academic reputation. I believe this school will provide me a solid educational foundation for my future.
I also liked the size of the school and its commitment to a strong liberal arts education.
Finally, the teammates I met at Truman were outstanding and very welcoming.
I got the sense there is a great camaraderie among players, and I look forward to being part of the team.
Davis on Reuter: â??Samuel was very impressive on his visit and workout with the team.
His coaches are very high on his abilities on the mound but even more impressive are how competitive Samuel is and what kind of work ethic he brings to the team.
He is a big strong person who has the chance to really take off in our system.
We truly look forward to watching Samuelâ??s progress in the program and canâ??t wait for him to become a Bulldog!â??
Kyle Smith (5-9, 150lbs, R/R SS)
LaGrange, Ky. (Oldham County HS)
Smith is a three-year varsity starter and broke the stolen base record at Oldham County High School.
He was selected to the all-district team and was chosen to participate with the Under Armour All-American team at Pirate City in Bradenton, Fla.
Oldham County HS Coach Scott Gerlach on Smith: â??Kyle Smith has been a great student-athlete at Oldham County High School.
As 3-year varsity starter, he has shined in the field and at the plate. His speed on the base paths has really been a great weapon for us because he changes the way other teams approach hitters when he's on base.
We are very excited that he will be able to continue playing baseball in college and we wish him all the best.â??
Phenom Baseball Academy Coach Mike Clark on Smith: â??Kyle has worked hard the past four years to take his great athletic ability and turn into a baseball player.
His arm is what gets him most of the attention. When he gets the feet planted, he lets it go 100% every throw.
He has made some ESPN top plays many times with a slide to his backhand side and a throw or a diving play to take a hit away.
Offensively, Kyle does a great job of using his speed to get on base and score runs. His best baseball is still ahead of him.â??
Smith on why he chose Truman: "I am very excited to be a part of Truman Baseball and very excited to attend Truman as a student.
Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of your family. I promise Iâ??ll show you that you made a good decision and I will give you 110%. GO BULLDOGS!"
Davis on Smith: â??One of the biggest needs for the Bulldogs in the future was in the middle infield.
We feel like Kyle has the ability to come in right away and contend for the starting spot at short stop.
He has very good feet, soft hands, and a great arm. Kyleâ??s speed is an asset to him both offensively and defensively.
He fits right into our offensive system and we can see him hitting anywhere from lead-off, two-hole, or 9-hole in the future.
We look forward to seeing him make plays in the future!â??
Austin Tinsley (6-0, 185lbs, R/R, RHP)
Eureka, Mo. (Eureka HS)
Tinsley had a 5-1 record with a 1.85 ERA in 2012 and faced 129 batters while walking just five to earn second team all-Suburban West conference honors.
He is a three-year varsity letterwinner and was part of a state championship legion team as a freshman.
Eureka HS Coach Jim Daffron on Tinsley: â??Austin is one of our top pitchers here at Eureka for the past two years.
Austin will be our go to guy this year against big teams when we need a win.
More importantly Austin is a leader on and off the field, great citizen, and a high level student. Austin has a bright future ahead of him.â??
Tinsley on why he chose Truman: "I chose Truman State University to further my education and baseball career because of the many strengths in both academic and athletic areas.
Coach Davis and the players on the team made me feel very welcomed and I knew this was a place I wanted to play for the next four years."
Davis on Tinsley: â??We are excited to add Austin to our pitching staff next year. He was very impressive on his visit to campus.
Austin is a pitcher who isnâ??t overpowering but has great command of all his pitches and is a fierce competitor.
We see Austin coming into his own in the Bulldog program.â??
Michael Venturella (5-9, 175lbs, R/R, SS/2B)
St. Louis, Mo. (Christian Brothers College HS)
Venturella hit .310 and had a .956 fielding percentage at shortstop for CBC and has been a three-year starter.
He was a 2012 second team all-MCC performer helping the team to the conference title.
His team won a District championship in 2011 and a state championship in 2010.
CBC HS Coach Mason Horne on Venturella: â??Michael is a gritty â??old schoolâ?? type of player who made our program better ever since he stepped on campus.
He is a leader by example not only on the field but in the classroom as wellâ?¦he will be missed not only for what he brings to the field but his leadership skills as well.
We wish him all the best as he continues his academic and athletic career as such a fine institution as Truman.â??
Venturella on why he chose Truman: "I chose the Truman baseball program because I think that itâ??s a perfect fit for me.
When I went for my visit, I really enjoyed being around the guys and the atmosphere Coach Davis had for an everyday practice.
The move to the GLVC made the program even more appealing. The academic reputation of Truman was my final deciding factor."
Davis on Venturella: â??We are extremely pleased Michael has chosen to join the Bulldogs next year.
We were very impressed with him at our winter camp this year. He is a very savvy baseball player who just plays the game right.
He is a very good defender on the middle infield and hits for a high average offensively. We look forward to working with Michael in the future!â??
Courtesy Truman State University