AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas baseball program and head coach David Pierce announced today the signing of 10 student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2018 season.
Pierce, along with assistant coaches Sean Allen and Philip Miller, bolstered their future roster by adding four junior college players and six high school signees.
“First, I want to recognize the entire athletic department for its efforts on campus to give all of our recruits a Texas welcome,” Pierce said. “The tireless work from our academic department, our compliance department and all our support staff made for an easy process for the recruits to get a true picture of The University of Texas.”
“Our recruiting coordinator Sean Allen and assistant coach Philip Miller spent countless hours on the road to secure an incredible recruiting class,” Pierce continued. “Their tireless efforts will pay great dividends for the future of UT baseball as our class is well-rounded with five pitchers, two two-way players, one catcher, one shortstop and one outfielder, all potential needs for any recruiting class. Congratulations and welcome to all those heading to the 40 acres.”
“I really felt like we did a great job of Identifying our needs and went out and filled those needs with some very talented and great young men,” Allen said. “We wanted to make sure we got some JUCO pitchers to help impact our team next year and I truly feel like we signed the three best pitchers from Texas junior colleges.”
“The high school pitchers are kids that you can develop a pitching staff around for the next several years,” Allen continued. “I’m really excited about the position players because they are all very athletic and they aren’t one-dimensional. This group will help continue the tradition that all the great players before them have set.”
The recruiting class includes eight student-athletes from within Texas and two international newcomers, one from Italy and one from Canada.
The Longhorns added six right-handed pitchers: Matteo Bocchi (Odessa College/Parma, Italy), Donny Diaz (San Jacinto JC/Kingsville, Texas), Kamron Fields (Lakeview Centennial HS/Garland, Texas), Bennett Inoff (Episcopal HS, Houston, Texas), Landon Leach (Pickering HS/Pickering, Ontario), and Cole Quintanilla (Cedar Park HS/Cedar Park, Texas).
Fields also comes to Texas as an all-state outfielder for Lakeview Centennial while Inoff also plays the infield.
Fayetteville, Texas native Blake Pflughaupt (Galveston College) is the signing class’s lone left-handed pitcher.
In addition to Fields and Inoff as position players, Pierce’s staff has also inked catcher Turner Gauntt (Episcopal HS/Houston, Texas), infielder Masen Hibbeler (Odessa College/Cypress, Texas), and outfielder Tristen Lutz (Arlington Martin HS/Arlington, Texas).
Texas Baseball Signing Class (as of Nov. 9, 2016)
Matteo Bocchi | RHP | R/R | 6-4 | 200 | Parma, Italy (Odessa College)
Personal: Son of Adele Comino and Roberto Bocchi…would be the first Italian-born student-athlete to play baseball at Texas…threw a nine-inning shutout for Team Italy in its win over the Czech Republic at the 2013 Under-18 World Cup.
I chose Texas because: “…I like the coaches, the facility, the players. I think that Texas is the best place for me to get better and achieve my goals.”
Allen on Bocchi: “Matteo is just an awesome young man. He is a tireless worker and an extremely smart and motivated young man. He’s another tall, lanky righty that pitches from two arm slots. He can reach 93 and I think he is just beginning to tap into his talent.”
Pierce on Bocchi: “Matteo is from Italy and will transfer to us from Odessa JC. He should be an impact arm immediately. He has deception and great stuff.”
Donny Diaz | RHP | R/R | 6-0 | 225 | Kingsville, Texas (San Jacinto Junior College)
Personal: Son of Cynthia and Donicio Diaz Jr.…full name is Donicio Diaz III…played at H.M. King High School prior to San Jacinto Junior College.
I chose Texas because: “…it was my childhood dream.”
Allen on Diaz: “We wanted to make sure we signed someone who we felt like could close games and Donny has the stuff to be a shutdown bullpen arm. A mid-90s righthander with a low 80s swing-and-miss type breaking ball. He is a very calm and quiet kid that really competes. He will have the ability to shorten the game for us.”
Pierce on Diaz: “Donny has that closer mentality you want. He pitches the same no matter what the score. He has an explosive fastball and can really spin the breaking ball.”
Kamron Fields | OF/RHP | R/R | 6-3 | 185 | Garland, Texas (Lakeview Centennial High School)
Personal: Son of Deon and Katrice Fields…his cousin, Jerrika Chapple, was a sprinter at Texas from 2004-2008 where she was a four-time Big 12 Champion, a three-time All-American and was named All-Big 12 9 times…Kamron has been the starting quarterback each of the last two seasons at Lakeview Centennial.
I chose Texas because: “…I felt right at home the first time I stepped on campus. Texas used to be highly known for baseball so my class and I plan to help bring life back to Austin. It will be a great honor to represent the University of Texas in the College World Series in Omaha.”
Allen on Fields: “Kam is probably the best athlete in the class. He is one of the top quarterbacks in the state and across the nation. He turned down several Power-5 scholarships to play football to come play baseball at Texas. Kam was an all-state outfielder last year as a junior. He plays center field very easily and has plus range. He will also pitch for us and will only continue to get better once he devotes all of his time to baseball. He is also an outstanding student and leader.”
Pierce on Fields: “Kam is an electric athlete. He has a great attitude and has a chance to play and pitch as a freshman. He will be an impact player.”
Turner Gauntt | C | R/R | 5-10 | 165 | Houston, Texas (Episcopal High School)
Personal: son of Robert and Kristin Gauntt…his father played first base for the Longhorns from 1982-84 while his grandfather, Paul, was a second baseman at Texas from 1956-58.
I chose Texas because: “…I feel honored to have the opportunity to represent my home state. Secondly, I’m excited to be part of a diverse community that has a lot to offer academically, athletically, and culturally. Lastly, I’m grateful to be a third generation athlete from my family to attend and play baseball for the University of Texas”
Allen on Gauntt: “Turner is full of energy on the field and brings with him a very infectious attitude, one we look forward to having behind the plate. Turner is a plus defensive catcher that will be a very productive offensive player. He is a very smart player and takes great pride in making pitchers better while he is catching. Turner is also a great student.”
Pierce on Gauntt: “Turner is the son of Robert Gauntt, a former UT baseball letter-winner. He is an excellent student that chose Texas over many academic schools. Turner is a plus defender behind the plate.”
Masen Hibbeler | INF | R/R | 6-0 | 190 | Cypress, Texas (Odessa College)
Personal: Son of Bernice and Darren Hibbeler…attended Cypress Ranch High School prior to Odessa College.
I chose Texas because: “…I've always dreamed of being an athlete and a Texas Longhorn at the same time. Beautiful campus, amazing facilities.”
Allen on Hibbeler: “Masen is that fast, athletic, defensive shortstop that you are always looking for has a coach. A plus defender that continues to grow and get stronger. He will be a top-of-the-order kind of hitter that could be a great table setter and steal bases.”
Pierce on Hibbeler: “Masen is a kid from Northwest Houston that choice to go to a JC to get bigger and stronger and play every day. He has excelled and will compete in the infield for the Horns in 2018.”
Bennett Inoff | INF/RHP | R/R | 6-2 | 200 | Houston, Texas (Episcopal High School)
Personal: Son of Darren and Jessica Inoff…both of his parents graduated from Texas…he is a member of the National Honor Society and the National Spanish Honor Society…has earned highest honor roll and is an AP scholar.
I chose Texas because: “…it has always been a dream of mine to play there. Having parents that attended UT, I’ve always rooted for the Horns. The combination of a prestigious baseball program and strong academics made it an easy choice for me.”
Allen on Inoff: “Bennett is a very physical, very athletic two-way player. He brings a power bat that we are always looking for and on the mound, Bennett is a very competitive kid that has good stuff. He will continue to develop on both sides of the ball and has a very bright future ahead of him.”
Pierce on Inoff: “Bennett may have as much as upside on the mound and as a position player as any player in the recruiting class. He is a student of the game and will compete for playing time as a freshman. He has a relentless work ethic and a great student as well.”
Landon Leach | RHP | R/R | 6-4 | 215 | Pickering, Ontario (Pickering High School)
Personal: Son of Tracey and Robert Leach…has played baseball in Cuba and the Dominican Republic while playing for Team Canada…hit his first ever home run in Cooperstown in 2011…speaks fluent French.
I chose Texas because: “…the pride of University of Texas athletes and students is very well known and the Longhorns name has always represented a highly respected baseball program. As a Canadian, it will be an incredible honor to wear the Longhorns uniform and I look forward to stepping on the mound in front of a crowd of Texas fans!”
Allen on Leach: “Landon is the best right-handed pitcher in Canada. We have been following him very closely for a couple years now and he was a top priority for our staff once we came to Texas. Landon has pitched in some big games for Team Canada throughout is youth. He has a great pitcher’s body and pitches well into the 90s with a plus breaking ball. We are extremely excited to bring him to the 40 Acres.”
Pierce on Leach: “Landon is one of the top pitchers in this year’s recruiting class. Coach Allen and Coach Miller’s persistence recruiting Landon will definitely pay off. UT fans are in for a treat. He is big and has great stuff.”
Tristen Lutz | OF | R/R | 6-3 | 205 | Arlington, Texas (Arlington Martin High School)
Personal: son of Bill and Linda Narcho, Jeff Lutz and Sandy Franks…has started and lettered in each of his three seasons so far at Arlington Martin…is an honor roll student who is involved in community service.
I chose Texas because: “…I have always been a UT fan and wanted to attend and play sports at UT for as long as I can remember. I chose UT Baseball because of the history of the program. UT is providing me the ability to not only play for the best baseball program in the country, but to get my education at one of the top universities in the country.”
Allen on Lutz: “Tristen is arguably the best outfielder in the state of Texas and is a Top-100 player in the country. He is your prototypical corner outfielder—he has a big, physical body, can flat out hit and can also steal bases. He really has the chance to impact our team in a major way once he arrives on campus.”
Pierce on Lutz: “I spoke with Tristen this summer on the phone and then had my first look at him at the California Area Code Games in August. He is physical and he can run. He can do multiple things on the field.”
Blake Pflughaupt | LHP | L/L | 6-0 | 210 | Columbus, Texas (Galveston College)
Personal: Son of Kerry and Craig Pflughaupt…attended Columbus High School prior to Galveston.
I chose Texas because: “…I have always been passionate about baseball and have wanted to play college ball at the D-I level…UT baseball has given me this opportunity.”
Allen on Pflughaupt: “We have a need for left-handed pitching and after talking with scouts and coaches we knew Blake had a chance to be a guy that could step in and help us right away. Blake is another pitcher that pitches well into the 90s with a plus breaking ball.”
Pierce on Pflughaupt: “Blake played middle linebacker for his high school football team so you know he’s tough. He really fills a void as a left-handed pitcher with great stuff.”
Cole Quintanilla | RHP | R/R | 6-4, 210 | Cedar Park, Texas (Cedar Park High School)
Personal: Son of Johnny and Connie Quintanilla…pitched to a 0.65 ERA in 53.67 innings during his junior season and was named Cedar Park Pitcher of the Year…earned Academic All-District his junior year.
I chose Texas because: “…I felt that this is where God wanted me to play baseball. It felt like I was home.”
Allen on Quintanilla: “Cole is a pitching coach’s dream. Tall and lanky with a great arm. He is a big time strike-thrower with very good stuff. Cole typically pitches 88-92 with a plus slider and I actually saw him up to 95 at the end of this summer. We will look for Cole to make an immediate impact to our pitching staff.”
Pierce on Quintanilla: “Cole is an Area Code Pitcher with tremendous upside. He is a local product that truly wants to compete for Texas. I love guys that want to be here.”