Nov. 11, 2010
PITTSBURGH - Pitt Head Baseball Coach Joe Jordano announced on Thursday that seven student-athletes have signed letters of intent to continue their academic and baseball careers at the University of Pittsburgh. Four of the seven signees hail from the Keystone State and the signees are as follows: Justin Bianco (Peters Twp HS; Venetia, Pa.), Eric Hess (Erie Cathedral Prep; Erie, Pa.), Pete Macke (Creighton Prep; Omaha, Neb.), Elvin Soto (Xaverian HS; New York, N.Y.), Boo Vazquez (Cardinal Mooney HS; Youngstown, Ohio), Dylan Wolsonovich (Ford City HS; Ford City, Pa.) and Dave Yakopec (Burrell HS; Lower Burrell, Pa.).
"I am very pleased to announce this class," Jordano said. "As the Big East continues to improve its reputation nationally, it is imperative that we continue to recruit the best possible student-athletes available. My staff, led by Coach Danny Lopaze, has done a terrific job at identifying players that fill specific needs for us that also meet academic and character criteria that we expect from all of our team members. Arguably, this may be the most talented and highly-rated recruiting class we have ever signed. Although rankings and potential do not win championships, I feel strongly that this class, as well as the current team we have in the house, are committed to doing what it takes to be the best we can possibly be. I look forward to leading this group!"
Below is a detailed list of the class:
Justin Bianco is a left-handed hitting outfielder from Venetia, Pa. He is currently rated nationally as the #156 best player in the country and 4th best prospect in the state of Pennsylvania for the 2011 class by PerfectGame.org. In his junior year at Peters Twp, he hit .406 with an on-base percentage of .494 and a slugging percentage of .594. In 69 at bats he tallied 28 hits scoring 22 runs and knocking in 10 runs with four doubles, three triples and one homerun. He went the entire spring without committing an error in the outfield along with six assists. He was a AAAA All-Section player his sophomore and junior seasons as well as All-District his junior year. He has participated in the East Coast Pro Showcase in Lakeland, Fla., Tournament of Stars in Cary, N.C., and the Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif. He has also made the honor roll every year in high school. This past summer Justin played for the Steel City Wildcats for Coach Mark Saghy and plays for Fred Albert with the Allegheny Pirates during the fall. Justin's parents graduated from the University of Pittsburgh; his mother Chrissie was a Cheerleader and his father Matt played baseball.
Jordano on Justin Bianco: "We are pleased that Justin is going to continue in the Bianco legacy and attend the University of Pittsburgh. He comes from a great family and he's as close to a five-tool player as you will see. He runs a 6.5 60 yard, hits for both average and power, has a plus arm and covers a ton of ground in the outfield. We feel that he will be able to contribute immediately and make an impact in our lineup and do great things at the University of Pittsburgh. He's played all over the country and done well at every setting and we feel that he
Eric Hess is a left-handed hitting first baseman from Erie, Pa. He is currently rated nationally in the Top 1000 best players in the country and in the Top 25 best prospects in the state of Pennsylvania for the 2011 class by PerfectGame.org. In his junior year at Cathedral Prep, he hit .440 with four homeruns and 32 RBI. He was an All-Region 7 selection his sophomore and junior years, First Team All-District 10 his junior year and Perfect Game Pre-Season All-America honorable mention last year. Hess ranks in the top five in his class academically at Cathedral Prep carrying a 3.95 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society. Hess also serves as a volunteer Little League Coach. Hess plays for his father Dave, who is the head coach at Erie Prep.
Jordano on Eric Hess: "Eric is exactly what we look for in potential student-athletes at the University of Pittsburgh. He excels in the classroom, on the baseball field and even finds time to volunteer as a Little League Baseball Coach. Eric plays the game the right way and is a great teammate, which is what we preach to our players. He has one of the sweetest swings we've seen on the recruiting trail and can hit for both average and power and does an outstanding job around the bag at first. We feel that he has the ability to make an immediate impact in our lineup and we're very excited for Eric's future as a PITT Panther!"
Pete Macke is a left-handed pitcher from Omaha, Neb., who is currently rated nationally in the Top 1000 best players in the country for the 2011 class by PerfectGame.org. He was 5-1 last year at Creighton Prep with a 2.47 ERA. This past summer he pitched for PI Midwest Legion and went 8-0 with 68 strikeouts in 51.7 innings with a 2.17 ERA, while opponents hit a meager .162 against him. For his accomplishments, Macke was among the state leaders in wins and strikeouts. He ranks in the top ¼ of his class and is a "Big Brother" in Creighton Prep's Big Brother Program. He was also invited to the National Youth Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C.
Jordano on Pete Macke: "Pete is an outstanding young man and we are privileged to have such a quality individual in our program. Pete is an extremely talented left-handed pitcher that we feel has one of the best pitching arsenals in the Midwest. He throws four above average pitches for strikes. His fastball ranges anywhere between 83-89 mph, which presents harder due to his outstanding extension and loose, athletic arm. He is also not afraid to throw a change-up at anytime in the count as he is confident the change of speeds will disrupt the hitters timing. Pete has a good curve ball that when it's on, serves as an out pitch, but he has a great slider that he uses to put hitters away. Pete has the ability to contribute immediately. I believe Pete, being from Omaha, represents that our program is beginning to have a national reputation to it. We couldn't be happier that he is a PITT Panther!"
Elvin Soto is a switch-hitting catcher from New York, N.Y., currently rated nationally as the #163 best player in the country and the #1 top best prospect in the state of New York for the 2011 class by PerfectGame.org. Soto was named the Bronx Player of the Year in 2009 as well as a 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year nominee. Prior to the start of his junior season at Xaverian Soto was named an Under Armour Pre-Season All-American. He has been a three-year varsity starter at Xaverian where he hit .352 with seven homeruns, 14 doubles, six triples, 26 walks and 51 RBI. For his efforts last year at Xaverian he was named All-Borough, All-City, All-Conference, All-State and was named a Third Team 2010 Underclass Rawlings All-American. He has participated in the East Coast Pro Showcase in Lakeland, Fla., Tournament of Stars in Cary, N.C., and the Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif. He was asked to play for the 18U Team USA this past summer and started in 13 games, ranking among the top 20 catchers in the country for the 2011 class by PerfectGame.org. In addition to his athletic awards he is Vice President of the Latin American Club at Xaverian where he also takes part in the Big Brother program mentoring incoming freshman. He has twice been named Student of the Year at Xaverian. For the past three years, Soto has also found time to take part in his community by assisting with a canned food drive and has also helped with a soup kitchen by serving food to the homeless and washing dishes for the past two years.
Jordano on Elvin Soto: "We are very fortunate that Elvin has chosen to continue his academic and athletic career at the University of Pittsburgh. Elvin is as good as it gets on the field but even better of a person off the field. His dedication is second to none. He has gone to great lengths and personal sacrifice to attend Xaverian so he could get a great education and finds time to work on his baseball game daily. He was a highly recruited player and had the privilege of playing for Team USA this past summer. Elvin is a tremendous defensive catcher with pop times at 1.8 and possesses outstanding receiving skills. He knows how to handle a pitching staff and we know he will do tremendous things at the University of Pittsburgh. Elvin must contribute immediately both in the clubhouse with his leadership qualities as well as on the field behind the plate."
Boo Vazquez is a left-handed hitting outfielder from Youngstown, Ohio. He is currently rated nationally as the #227 best player in the country and fourth best prospect in the state of Ohio for the 2011 class by PerfectGame.org. Between the spring season with Cardinal Mooney, summer season with the Midland Redskins and fall season with the Midwest Redbirds he hit a combined .516 at the plate including a .526 clip with 13 walks in the CABA 18U World Series which Midland won the National Championship and Boo was named to the All-Tournament Team. Vazquez was voted to the All-Area (NE Ohio) Team by ESPN RISE Magazine in April as well as Perfect Game USA Pre-Season HS Underclassmen All-America Honorable Mention. He participated in the East Coast Pro Showcase in Lakeland, Fla., this past summer alongside fellow Panther commitment Justin Bianco. He's been a member of the Spanish and Astronomy Club since his freshman year at Cardinal Mooney and a National Honor Society member since his junior year. Vazquez actively participates in Christian Service class five days per week in which he visits and serves community agencies including nursing homes, food banks, preschools, inner-city elementary schools and at-risk schools for youth with ADHD and Autism.
Jordano on Boo Vazquez: "Like Eric Hess, Boo fits the mold of what we look for in potential student athletes. He ranks near the top of his class and ranks among one of the best players in the country. He is a high character individual who has his priorities in line and he will do great things at the University of Pittsburgh both academically and athletically. Boo is a strong left-handed hitting outfielder that hits for both average and power, runs well, throws well and does a solid job on defense. He has the make-up to make an immediate impact in the clubhouse with his leadership qualities and on the field with his abilities. We are ecstatic to have Boo Vazquez in our program!"
Dylan Wolsonovich is a right-handed hitting middle-infielder from Ford City, Pa. He is currently rated nationally in the Top 1000 best players in the country for the 2011 class by PerfectGame.org. Wolsonovich was named to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette All-Section Teams in 2009 and 2010, All-Area Pennsylvania All-Star selection in 2009 & 2010 and was voted 2009 Team Defensive MVP as well as 2010 Team MVP for Ford City HS. Wolsonovich has started every game and batted leadoff since his freshman year totaling 66 hits and a .404 career batting average. He played for Jory Cochenour's WPEBL White Sox team and Kevin Green's Milita team at All-American Baseball this past summer, hitting eight homeruns for the Milita.
Jordano on Dylan Wolsonovich: "One word comes to mind when I think of Dylan and its `gamer.' He plays the game the right way and does the all the little things that result in winning championships. He is a strong hitter at the plate with outstanding barrel control and can hit the ball hard to all fields. He also has great hands in the field with solid range side-to-side and has an above average arm. He grew up a huge PITT Panther fan and we're fortunate to have somebody like Dylan who bleeds Navy and Vegas in our program. He has the ability to contribute early in his career at the University of Pittsburgh!"
Dave Yakopec is a left-handed pitcher from Lower Burrell, Pa., who is currently rated nationally in the Top 1000 best players in the country for the 2011 class by PerfectGame.org. He was 6-2 with 76 strikeouts last spring and was named to the First Team All-Section in 2009 and 2010 and First Team All-District for 2010. He was named to the PA East West Legion All-Star Team in 2009 and was also a standout wide receiver for the Burrell football team, actively recruited by several D-I programs. Yakopec participated in the Tournament of Stars in Cary, N.C., this past summer and is a Distinguished Honors Student at Burrell HS. Both Dave's parents Cheryl and Steve, are PITT Alums.
Jordano on Dave Yakopec: "Like Justin Bianco, we are thrilled that Dave is going to follow in his parents' footsteps and continue his academic and athletic career at the University of Pittsburgh. Although he runs a 6.5 60 yard dash, Dave will pitch for us at PITT. He's a very athletic and talented pitcher who commands three pitches for strikes. Dave throws from a high three-quarter arm slot with a fastball ranging between 84-87 mph with good arm side run and throws two different breaking balls with his change-up being his out pitch. Dave has a high upside and we are very pleased he chose to stay close to home and pitch for the Panthers!"