Dec. 1, 2010
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -
Third-year Head Coach Jason Gill and the LMU baseball program recently announced a stellar 2012 recruiting class consisting of seven student-athletes. Listed alphabetically, the signing class is made up of Joey Boney (INF - Cypress College), Sean Buckle (LHP/OF - Wilson High School), Tanner Donnels (OF/1B - Tesoro High School), Mitchell Esser (OF - Madison High School), Cullen Mahoney (INF - South Mountain CC), Kyle Raubinger (INF/C - Arroyo Grande High School), and Colin Welmon (RHP/INF - Foothill High School).
"We are extremely excited about the players that we signed for 2012," Gill said. "Our class on a whole does a good job of filling voids we will likely have at the conclusion of this season. I think Bryant Ward and Ted Silva did a great job of going out and finding athletes - guys that can do more than one thing. One thing that we have needed to improve upon for the past few years has been our left-handed hitting situation, so they went out and signed a number of hitters from that side. We also aimed to target more athletic and more versatile players, and I think we have a number of guys that can play more than one position very well."
Joey Boney - Cypress College (INF - R/R)
Boney, who will finish up his second year at Cypress College this spring, will look to make an impact for the Chargers hitting near the top of the order and manning a spot in the middle infield. A two-year letterwinner at Canyon High School, he earned Century League Championships as a junior and senior. Boney garnered first team All-Century League and second team All-CIF as a senior. Named Best Offensive Player and Team MVP in his final campaign, the right-handed hitting infielder batted .356 with 15 RBI. A Century League and Orange County All-Star in high school, he also played in the Southern Junior College All-Star Game this past fall.
According to Gill, "Joey brings experience to our middle infield, which is a spot on the field that we will likely need to fill next year. He is a solid middle infielder for one of the best junior colleges in the country at Cypress. Boney will bring experience that we will need right away in the middle. He is a very good defensive player and can play all three positions. Given his solid skills with the bat, and an ability to bunt and move guys along, I project Joey to hit toward the top of our lineup. As we are with all of our signees, we are very excited to have Joey in our program."
Sean Buckle - Wilson High School (LHP/OF - L/L)
Buckle, a member of the Wilson American Legion Area 4 and State Champions last summer, hit .438 and posted a 4-0 record on the mound to help his team to the Western Regional Tournament - where he punched-out a career-best 13 in a complete-game shutout. The left-handed hitting two-way player, who has also been a member of the San Gabriel Valley Arsenal travel team, was honored by his high school team as the Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman. Off the field, he has been in the Distinguished Scholars Program at Wilson High School for each of the last four years, and will graduate with a Classical High School Diploma and a Medallion Award in 2011.
"Sean is an extremely dynamic player," Gill said. "He is one of a few very athletic two-way players we have coming in as part of this class. Buckle just started pitching this last summer, and we have been very impressed with him on the mound. He is a left-hander that throws in mid-to-upper 80's with a sharp breaking ball and a fresh arm given that he is new to the mound. Sean has impressive strikeout stuff, especially for a player who is still learning the art of pitching. Not only did we find a pitcher in Sean, we also saw a guy that could play centerfield pretty well, and a player who handles the bat well at the plate. Sean is a true baseball player from a baseball family. He is extremely mature for his age, and he has the ability to serve a number of roles for us here right away at LMU."
Tanner Donnels - Tesoro High School (OF/1B - L/L)
Donnels, whose father was a standout baseball player for LMU from 1985-87 before embarking on what would eventually become an eight-year career in the Major Leagues, hit .329 with 24 runs scored, 11 RBI and nine doubles as a junior last year. The left-handed hitter had a stellar summer last year, batting .504 for Team Rawlings Elite. A third-generation Lion, in addition to his father, Donnels' mother and grandfather also attended LMU.
"Tanner is a left-handed hitter whose dad had impressive careers at LMU and at the Big League level," Gill said. "As Tanner continues to grow and mature physically, he has the potential to develop into an extraordinary baseball player. He has a really good swing that works well for him right now, and his approach at the plate is excellent. Our coaching staff has seen him turn around fastballs in the low 90's, and he has a really pure swing - similar to that of his dad. We foresee Tanner becoming a middle of the lineup left-handed bat for us in the future."
Mitchell Esser - Madison High School (OF - L/L)
Esser, a four-year varsity starter at Madison High School, garnered second team All-Western League recognition after guiding his team to runner-up finishes at the CIF Championships in each of his last two seasons. As a freshman in 2008, Esser claimed first team All-Central League honors en route to being named Team MVP. As a sophomore, the left-handed hitting outfielder earned San Diego Section Division IV Player of the Year and a second team All-CIF selection. He hit .479 with 49 runs scored, 27 RBI, 11 doubles, 11 triples and six home runs in that season. In 2010, Esser batted .347 with 33 runs scored, 23 RBI, seven triples, three doubles and two home runs. Outside of the classroom, he garnered Union Tribune All-Academic Team honors at the conclusion of last year. Esser currently holds the CIF San Diego Section records for triples in a season (11) and triples in a career (21) with his senior year yet to be contested.
According to Gill, "Mitchell is a very athletic outfielder who can play all three outfield positions. He is another quality left-handed bat that we've brought in for the 2012 season. Mitchell is a physical player who swings the bat hard and who plays with a lot of energy. We are very excited about Esser joining us because he does a lot of things very well - he runs above average, he hits above average and he has some power that we think will eventually be above average. He also plays the game hard and at the right speed, which really attracted us to him. I think Mitchell will fit in right with the group we currently have in place, and I think he has a chance to make an impact right away as a freshman."
Cullen Mahoney - South Mountain CC (INF - L/R)
Mahoney spent the 2010 season playing for the University of Nevada, Reno, where he hit .317 with 33 runs scored, six doubles, four triples, five home runs, and 24 RBI. A WAC Academic All-Conference selection as a freshman, he prepped at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Ariz. Named to Collegiate Baseball's Outstanding Infielder list out of high school, he helped his team to a pair of Desert Valley Region Championships. The left-handed hitter batted .355 with 35 runs scored, 10 doubles, a triple, 19 RBI and nine stolen bases on 11 attempts in his senior campaign. After transferring from Nevada, Mahoney will spend his 2011 season playing at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix, Ariz.
"Cullen was recruited by us a bit out of high school, but he chose to go to Nevada as a freshman," Gill said. "After transferring out of Nevada, we had a second chance with Cullen, and we are extremely happy that he decided to come to LMU. Our coaching staff thinks he is going to surprise a lot of people. He is a proven Division I hitter who hit well on the West Coast. He is a tough player who we will rely upon as a middle of the lineup type of the hitter right away. Mahoney can play shortstop, third base or second base, and will help in filling the void that may be left in the middle of our infield in 2012. Cullen has a chance to make an impact on our team not only with his abilities on the field, but also with his leadership abilities."
Kyle Raubinger - Arroyo Grande High School (INF/C - L/R)
Raubinger enters his senior year at Arroyo Grande High School after hitting .417 with 31 runs scored, 30 RBI, 11 doubles and five home runs as a junior. Equally impressive on the mound, the right-hander sported a 9-1 record with a 1.78 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 59 innings of work. Raubinger garnered second team All Pac-7 honors as a sophomore before taking home first team recognition and a spot on the All-CIF squad last year. For his efforts, he was awarded Pac-7 Pitcher of the Year and first team All-County honors as a junior. A member of the Milwaukee Brewers at the 2010 Area Code Games, he also participated in the 18U Tournament of Stars this year.
"Kyle is a high-profile player and a big left-handed hitter with a huge upside and some true power," Gill said. "Raubinger plays third base and will step into the middle of our lineup right out of the gate. He is a physical kid who has worked a little behind the plate, and we will try him at first, third and catcher. We will want to have his bat in the lineup, so he will likely see time at a few different spots. We are fortunate and very happy to have him coming into our program, as he will fit in well with our personality and team chemistry."
Colin Welmon - Foothill HS (RHP/INF - L/R)
Welmon, a four-year varsity starter at Foothill High School, has claimed All-Sea View League recognition in each of his first three campaigns. Named All-CIF in 2009, Welmon also took home an All-County and Cal Hi Sports All-State selection that year. A two-way player who bats left-handed and toes the rubber right-handed, he sported a 5-1 record with a 2.27 ERA and 27 strikeouts over 37 innings of work as a junior last year. At the plate, he hit .250 with 25 runs scored, 13 RBI, five doubles, a triple and a home run. As a sophomore, Welmon posted a 9-2 record with a 1.86 ERA and 62 strikeouts over 69.1 innings on the hill. A standout athlete, Welmon was also a member of the Angels Elite Scout Team.
According to Gill, "Colin got overlooked by a lot of people for reasons unbeknownst to me. He is a frontline Division I pitcher that could make an impact for any school in the country. He is another two-way guy that we think has a legitimate chance to succeed in multiple roles at the collegiate level. He is a power left-handed bat that can spray the ball around the field, and we really liked him on the mound. Welmon sits around 89-92 on the mound with a really good changeup. His motion is very fluid and easy, he is very competitive, and he throws a lot of strikes. Colin is a legitimate Division I player who has a chance to not only make an impact on our program, but on the West Coast over the next three to four years."
"Overall I think we did a better job of addressing our needs this year than we have in the past couple years," Gill stated. "We went out and got competitive athletes that wanted to be part of our program - these players wanted to be Lions. When you have someone who wants to be part of your family and program, I think that is a great start to a good relationship. Even more, I think that is a winning formula."
The 2011 Lions begin their campaign on February 18 at home versus UC Riverside.