AKRON, Ohio – The University of Akron baseball program and coach Rick Rembielak announced that eight players have committed to join the program next fall Wednesday.
The class features five pitchers and three position players. Six of the players are from Ohio, with one coming from New York and one from Florida.
"We addressed specific areas of need in the early signing period this year," Rembielak said. "We are extremely excited with these young men and cannot speak enough of the high level of character and academic background each one brings to our program."
The eight players who have committed to join the Akron baseball program next fall are:
RHP Nathan Allen – Richfield, Ohio/Revere High School
RHP Jonathon "JT" Brubaker – New Carlisle, Ohio/Tecumseh High School
1B Cale Giddings – Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington North High School
C/RHP Evan Jensen – Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington Central High School
RHP Matt LaRocca – Stony Brook, N.Y./Suffolk County CC
INF Kris Simonton – Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Scioto High School
RHP Michael Steensen – Granville, Ohio/Granville High School
LHP John Valek – Parkland, Fla./Stoneman Douglas High School
Nathan Allen – RHP, 6-3, 193, Richfield, Ohio/Revere High School
Notes: Went 6-0 as a starter for the Northern Ohio Hurricanes this past summer with a 3.63 ERA ... was named to the All-Suburban League Second-Team at Revere last spring ... owns a 3.25 grade point average and is a member of the merit roll ... son of Phil and Lisa Allen.
Coach Rembielak on Allen: "Nathan will be a strong body pitcher who will have very good endurance as he gets older. Nathan possesses a strong arm and three quality pitches. He is a student of the game who was taught pitching by NE Ohio legendary pitching coach, Dick Schoonover."
Jonathan "JT" Brubaker – RHP, 6-2, 170, New Carlisle,Ohio/Tecumseh High School
Notes: Pitched for a mark of 6-1 during his junior season at Tecumseh ... threw a no-hitter and ended the season with an ERA of 2.08 ... struck out 43 batters in 47 innings ... was named first-team all-conference as an infielder and also earned all county and Springfield News Sun First-Team honors ... plays summer ball for the Miami Valley Wolverines ... son of Frank and Theresa Brubaker.
Coach Rembielak on Brubaker: "We see tremendous upside with JT. We feel he'll develop into a very good pitcher as he matures and gets older. JT possesses excellent mechanics, which enables him to repeat his delivery for success. We feel there is so much more to his development and that he is just tapping into his talents."
Cale Giddings – 1B, 6-2, 215, Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington North High School
Notes: Batted .301 with nine doubles as a junior to help lead Pickerington North to the OCC-Ohio Division Title ... plays summer ball for the Ohio Elite ... was selected by Perfect Game/Rawlings as a Pre-Season High School Honorable mention All-American ... a member of the National Honor Society, Distinguished Honor Roll and Sunny Side Up Leadership Program ... Son of Eric and Lora Giddings.
Coach Rembielak on Giddings: "Cale's aggressive bat caught our attention immediately and it was something we just couldn't ignore. He possesses a simple swing that makes him a very difficult out each time up. Plays the game with a high level of passion and enthusiasm, which is something we always look for. Cale is a selfless individual who is an ultimate team player."
Evan Jensen – C/RHP, 6-1, 225, Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington Central High School
Notes: Named first-team all-conference and first-team all-district as a junior last season ... lead Pickerington Central in batting (.470) and on-base percentage (.620), taking team MVP honors ... plays summer ball for the Ohio Elite ... a member of the National Honor Society ... son of Erik Jensen and Pam Light.
Coach Rembielak on Jensen: "Evan fulfills the need at catching for us in this class and has a very aggressive and powerful bat. Evan's main emphasis for us will be behind the plate, but he could provide innings on the mound if necessary. He is a very good two-way athlete."
Matt LaRocca – RHP, 6-2, 220, Stony Brook, N.Y./Suffolk County Community College
Notes: Had an ERA of 2.33 ERA with a 4-1 record last season at Suffolk County ... struck out 43 in 38.2 innings ... batted .353 and drove in a team-high 37 RBIs ... also led the team in doubles (11) and triples (6) ... was named first-team all-region and second-team Junior College World Series ... a 2012 junior college Pre-Season All-American ... was 5-1 with a 1.50 ERA as a senior at Ward Melville High School ... son of Andrew and Connie LaRocca.
Coach Rembielak on LaRocca: "Matt is a two dimensional player as he'll provide immediate experience on the mound in addition to a very good bat. He plays first base at Suffolk as well and will get an opportunity to swing for us. Matt throws a 'heavy' fastball with good run and sink, and an excellent changeup and slider. With the loss of 5 pitchers from this year's team, he provides immediate experience in his first year for us."
Kris Simonton – INF, 6-3, 190, Dublin, Ohio/Dublin Scioto High School
Notes: Hit .493 and got on base at a .588 clip as a junior at Dublin Scioto ... named First-Team All-OCC and first-team all-district ... has a cumulative grade point average of 3.9 and is a member of the honor roll ... competes for the Ohio Elite during the summer season ... son of Rick and Debbie Simonton.
Coach Rembielak on Simonton: Kris has great game instincts and plays the game at a high intellectual level. On top of the athleticism he brings defensively, he is an excellent baserunner with 'plus' speed and instincts. His knowledge and skills of hitting will enable him to adapt immediately to Division I pitchers with high success."
Michael Steensen – RHP, 6-1, 185, Granville, Ohio/Granville High School
Notes: Had an era of 2.49 over 140.2 career innings at Granville ... struck out 120 and threw 14 complete games ... named First Team All-MSL Ohio ... plays his summer ball for Ohio Elite ... son of Eric and Evelyn Steensen.
Coach Rembielak on Steensen: "Michael possesses three quality pitches, including a 'plus' slider. He shows excellent focus and competitiveness on the mound and has a high aptitude in learning how to pitch to hitters."
John Valek – LHP, 6-0, 175, Parkland, Fla./Stoneman Douglas High School
Notes: Was Stoneman Douglas's staff ace last season when he went 6-0 ... earned first-team all-district honors ... has played the past two summers in the 18U Connie Mack League in Orange County, California for Philadelphia Phillies scout Bobby Gould ... an honors student with over 275 hours of community service ... son of John and Betty Valek.
Coach Rembielak on Valek: "We like John's pitchability. He possesses great command and has consistency in his delivery. His very fluid mechanics enable him to have excellent control and endurance. His command of three pitches, especially of his changeup, adds to his projectability for us."