PITTSBURGH – With summer ball winding down and players getting ready to report to campus for fall ball, we revisit baseball’s first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference. On Tuesday’s for the next month, we will conduct a five-part series that starts with an overall review of the 2014 season. Beginning next week, we will break down the position performance – pitchers, infielders and outfielders. Our final installment will take a look at the incoming freshman for 2015.
August 5: 2014 Season Review
August 12: Pitchers
August 19: Infielders
August 26: Outfielders
September 2: Incoming Players
The Pitt baseball team looks to refresh and reload with a number of young guns set to join the team in 2015. To be exact, there will be an astounding 18 fresh faces joining the program for the 2014-15 season.
The incoming class includes a balance of eight players transferring into the program with prior collegiate experience and 10 high school standouts. Priority for the Panthers coaching staff was on pitching after losing three guys to the MLB Draft in early June and a fourth pitcher who was recently signed as a free agent. In total, 11 of the 18 players have pitching experience while four more can bring depth to a depleted outfield and will challenge for playing time right away. Two of the new additions are catchers and the five more can play around the infield.
Here is a look at Pitt’s incoming players and where they are expected to contribute:
Rich Condeelis – As a freshman two years ago with Florence-Darlington Technical College, Condeelis batted .254 with three doubles, 11 runs batted in and 11 runs scored in just 24 games. Condeelis, a 2012 graduate of Tunkhannock High School, northwest of Wilkes-Barre, Pa., was a Perfect Game 2011 Underclass Honorable Mention and 2012 Atlantic Region Honorable Mention. He will look to work his way into the lineup in both the field and on the mound.
Aaron Sandefur – Sandefur, a Bellevue, Wash. native, has spent the last two seasons at Bellevue College in his hometown. In two years, Sandefur compiled a 10-4 record, along with a 3.38 earned run average, and 94 strikeouts in 19 appearances, including 15 starts. After posting a 5.13 ERA as a freshman, Sandefur dropped his total to 1.56 last year on his way to being named to the NWAACC Sophomore Showcase.
Charles LeBlanc – Although coming out of high school in 2014, LeBlanc, a shortstop from Laval, Quebec, was drafted a year earlier by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 33rd round. Not only was LeBlanc one of just 16 players drafted from Canada in 2013, but he was also the youngest to be chosen. LeBlanc has plenty of International experience in his young career, having represented the Ontario Blue Jays and the Canadian National Team the past two summers. Recently, LeBlanc played in 12 games for the Watertown (N.Y.) Rams of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, hitting .226 with five RBIs and a pair of doubles in 31 at-bats.
Marc Berube – Another Canadian import, Berube will see plenty of action on the mound with the Panthers in 2015 after transferring in from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College. In 12 games, with five starts, Berube was 3-1 with a 6.28 ERA and 39 strikeouts in 38.2 innings as a sophomore. As a rookie, he went 3-2 in seven starts and nine overall games with a 6.10 ERA.
Matt Renck – A submarine hurler, Renck graduated from Council Rock North this past June. According to Perfect Game, he was a 2014 Atlantic Region Honorable Mention. Renck possess three primary pitches, a mid-80s fastball, a change-up and a slider.
Isaac Mattson – Making the trek two hours south from Erie is Mattson, who is a product of Harbor Creek High School. The righty will look to compete for mid-week starts as a freshman and could also serve as a reliever on the weekends. During the regular season in his final year at Harbor Creek, Mattson was 6-1 with a 0.67 ERA to go along with a .508 batting average with five homers and 25 RBIs at the plate.
Joe Cominsky – Thanks to former Pitt player and MLB draft product Nick Evangelista, Cominsky will be suiting up in a Panther uniform in 2015. Cominsky played for Evangelista at Hamburg and as a junior, was 7-4 with a 1.26 ERA and 115 strikeouts in 78 innings, helping his club to the Berks League semifinals and the District 3-AAA quarterfinals.
Aaron Schnurbusch – A two way player that pitches and plays in the outfield, Schnurbusch developed the past two years at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kan. Last season, Schnurbusch was one of Johnson’s top hitters and pitchers. At the plate, he batted .365 (66-181) with 55 runs, six triples five homers and team-highs of 18 doubles, 63 RBIs and a .494 on-base percentage. On the rubber, Schnurbusch logged a team-best 107.2 innings, going 12-2 in 16 starts with nine complete games with a 2.42 ERA. He struck out 102 batters compared to just 26 walks. His successful sophomore season came off a strong rookie debut that included a 2.11 ERA in 59.2 innings and four wins to go along with a .306 average and team-highs 44 hits, 21 RBIs and 13 stolen bases.
Jacob Wright – Wright, a speedy left-handed hitting outfielder, was a two-year player at St. Petersburg College in Florida after graduating in 2012 from Melbourne High School where he was a Perfect Game 2012 Florida Region Honorable Mention and 2011 Underclass Honorable Mention. Wright was third on the squad in 2014 with a .306 batting average (53-173) and added seven doubles, two triples and 23 RBIs. In his first year, he only appeared in four games.
Ryan Campbell – Hailing from Carmel High School in Indiana, Campbell, a right-handed pitcher, was a Perfect Game 2014 Central Regional Honorable Mention and 2013 Underclass Honorable Mention.
Zachary Gakeler – Gakeler, a big southpaw, comes to Pitt from Northern Burlington County Regional High School in New Jersey after earning 2014 Northeast All-Region Region Second Team from Perfect Game. During his junior campaign, Gakeler got the job done on the mound and in the field. As a hurler, he went 9-1 with a 1.76 ERA, striking out 77 in 58 innings. Gakeler also hit .443 with four homers and 29 RBIs while playing first base too. That year he was a Second Team All-South Jersey pick.
Alex Kowalczyk – Originally a catcher at Old Dominion in 2013, Kowalczyk spent last year at Pitt Community College before enrolling at Pitt. In his first year of collegiate baseball, Kowalczyk played just 17 games with 15 starts, batting .208 with three doubles and five RBIs at ODU. Last year though, the Perfect Game 2012 Atlantic Region Honorable Mention, was the top player at Pitt Community College. He was second on the team with a .356 average, first with 14 doubles and three home runs, second with 39 RBIs and third with 33 runs.
Garrett Wrambel – A power right-hander with two years of college-ball experience at Lackawanna College, Wrambel can be a starter of late-game reliever. In 2014, he started 10 games, going 3-2 with a 1.56 ERA in 52 innings, both team highs among starters. He struck out 47 and allowed just nine earned runs all year. He played at Alvernia College as a freshman in 2012 and was 2-2 with a 4.63 ERA in five starts.
Ron Sherman – Another product of Lackawanna College and teammate of Wrambel, Sherman joins the Pitt program this year. A natural shortstop, Sherman ranked at or near the top of every category at Lackawanna last year. In addition to team highs of 54 hits, six homers and 42 RBIs, Sherman also ranked highly with 37 runs (3rd), 10 doubles (3rd), three triples (2nd) and 11 stolen bases (2nd) while batting .360. He was just as solid as a freshman, with a .393 average on 33 hits, to go with four doubles, three triples and 14 RBIs.
Sam Proctor – Proctor has a prototypical pitchers body and possesses the tools to make an impact right away. He racked up a number of accolades from Perfect Game throughout his high school career, most recently 2013 Florida All-Region Second Team. He was a 2012 Underclass Honorable Mention as just a sophomore in and was promoted to Underclass Second Team in 2013.
Jawan McAllister – As someone who has the potential to play up to six positions – virtually anywhere in the infield or outfield – McAllister has a surprising pop for his size and game-changing speed. In his final year at St. Joseph’s Prep School in Philadelphia, McAllister was First Team All-Catholic as an outfielder and Perfect Game 2014 Atlantic Region Honorable Mention.
Ben Snyder – Snyder makes the trip across the state to join Pitt as a catcher. He was very productive as a junior at Red Land High School, batting .308 with 20 runs scored and 16 RBIs. Behind the plate, he gunned down nearly 40-percent of would be base stealers, while swiping seven himself.
Joseph McHugh – McHugh is a local product from nearby Jefferson Hills and can play both infield and outfield. Perfect Game named him a 2014 Atlantic Region Honorable Mention for his stellar play, primarily at shortstop for Thomas Jefferson High School. He was also recognized by the WPIAL All-Section Section 4 team for Class AAA after being named a key player to watch at the beginning of the season.