VMI baseball announces 11 commitments for Class of 2016

vmiVMI baseball announced its recruiting class of 2016 Friday, a class that is comprised of 11 athletes who hail from four different states.

“This is a class that we are very excited about to add to our program because they meet the needs that we identified,” said VMI head coach Jonathan Hadra. “Everyone needs pitching but we really wanted to add some depth on the mound and we did that with three of them being left handed. We lost a lot of team speed with this past couple graduating class so we wanted to add some guys to the lineup that could create offense with their legs.

“All in all, our staff did a great job of identifying the quality of player that we are looking for but also adding high character players to our locker room.  We are looking forward to the impact that this class will have on our program.”


Josh Hollifield, SS/3B, 6-3/200, R/R, Weddington, N.C./Weddington

Three-year letterwinner at Weddington HS, where he is currently a two-time all-conference and all-county selection…played on Weddington’s 2013 N.C. 3A State Championship team…high school coach: Travis Poole…ranked as the #11 shortstop in North Carolina by Perfect Game, which also tabbed him among the top 150 SS’ and 500 players in the nation…played for Dirtbags Showcase program for three seasons…played for North East Baseball (Ayer, Mass.) in 2015 Perfect Game/Evoshield National Championship and was named to the all-tournament team…suited up for Atlanta Blue Jays during fall of 2015, a team that was selected by the New York Mets to participate in the Metropolitan Island Games, held in Puerto Rico…2014 Southeast and National Underclass Showcase Top Prospect Team…2015 Perfect Game WWBA Southeast Qualifier All-Tournament Team…travel coach: Ryan Falcon…intends to major in economics and business.

Coach’s Quote: “Josh is your prototypical collegiate left-side infielder that possesses a physical 6-3 frame, plus arm strength and a right-handed swing with plus power that will play very nicely at Gray-Minor Stadium. Josh is a player that we saw early in the summer and watched him grow into one the top players in the southeast region and feel he has a great chance to see a lot of playing time early in his career here at VMI.”


Ryan Hatten, OF/1B, 6-5/200, R/R, Hendersonville, Tenn./Pope John Paul II

Four-year letterwinner at Pope John Paul II HS…ranked as the #2 1B and #25 player overall in the state of Tennessee by Prep Baseball Report…#3 first baseman in Tennessee according to Perfect Game…also played on the Royals-Mets Scout Team for Knights Baseball…travel coach: Ryan Walsh…high school coach: Michael Brown…lettered four years in basketball as well…intends to major in economics and business.

Coach’s Quote: “Our staff saw Ryan at our Fall High School Showcase here on campus and we were all blown away by the show he put on during batting practice and during the game.  Ryan brings with him a 6-5 frame that creates a ton of bat speed and strength with his swing and arm strength that will allow him to play all three positions in the outfield.  Ryan has a great shot to see at-bats for us in the middle of the line-up as a freshman and we are beyond excited to add him to this recruiting class.”


Quinn Smith, C/RHP, 6-3/195, R/R, Rocky Face, Ga./McCallie School

Four-year letterwinner at the McCallie School in Chattanooga, Tenn…ranked as the #4 catcher and #28 overall player in the state of Tennessee (Prep Baseball Report)…all-state selection as a junior and won a state title in 2014…drove in 27 runs as a junior…Coach’s Award…MVP of travel team Chattanooga Cyclones…National Honor Society…Day Student Advisor…WWBA Perfect Game…2015 17U Perfect Game Evoshield Classic participant and all-tournament selection…travel coach: Danny Prado…high school coach: Greg Payne…intends to major in mechanical engineering.

Coach’s Quote: “Quinn was the first commitment in our 2016 recruiting class and helped to get our class off to a great start and set the trend for the other impactful commitments that followed. Quinn is a versatile player that we are pumped to add to our program because he possesses a real chance to contribute both behind the plate and on the mound during his career. Quinn is a physical right-handed hitter that has a plus skill set behind the plate and a fastball that reaches into the upper 80’s. This combination gives Quinn a great chance to be a special player at the Division I level.”


Brady Watts, LHP, 6-2/190, Lowgap, N.C./North Surry

Three-year letterwinner at North Surry HS…ranked as the #4 LHP in the state of North Carolina by Perfect Game…listed among the top 500 players in the nation by Perfect Game…all-conference selection…Kansas City Royals Scout Team…State Games Senior and Jupiter, Fla. Perfect Game participant…former State Games Junior champion…also lettered three years in basketball and one in cross country…high school coach: Tony Martin…travel coach: Les Mayhew…intends to major in business and economics.

Coach’s Quote: “Brady is a young man who we stayed in contact with throughout the summer and into the fall and we feel he is one of the most dynamic left-handed arms in the Mid-Atlantic region. With Brady, we are adding an electric left-handed pitcher to our staff that has a chance to be a top tier pitcher in the Southern Conference. Brady has a fastball that will top out in the upper 80’s and a slider/change-up combo that gives him a great chance to get right-handed and left-handed hitters out at any level.”


Austin Kunde, RHP, 6-4/205, Arlington, Va./Bishop O’Connell

Three-year letterwinner at Bishop O’Connell HS…listed as the #29 RHP in the state of Virginia by Perfect Game…posted a 2.46 ERA and a .322 batting average…played for Mid-Atlantic Dirtbags travel team…currently has made honor roll eight times…travel coach: Matt Darnell…high school coach: Kyle Padgett…intends to major in economics and business.

Coach’s Quote: “Austin is another physical arm that we have been able to add to our pitching staff. Standing at 6-4, Austin carries a physical presence on the mound and attacks the zone with his stuff.  Austin is a right-handed pitcher with a high ¾ slot, a fastball that we saw reach 88-89 this summer and wipeout slider that will play nicely against right-handed hitters. Austin projects as a pitcher that will continue to improve and has a chance to throw very hard and pitch some very significant innings for us at VMI.”


Jonathan Clines, LHP/1B, 6-2/190, McLean, Va./McLean

Four-year letterwinner at McLean HS…First Team all-conference as a LHP…three-year member of the Richmond Braves National Team…17U Impact World Series Champions…16U Tournament of Champions Winner…three-time winner of McLean’s Athlete-Scholar Award…member of the National Senior Honor Society…travel coach: Tommy Mayers…high school coach: John Dowling…aunt played basketball and competed in track and field at West Point…intends to major in economics and business.

Coach’s Quote: “Jon is a very athletic left-handed pitcher that possesses a high ceiling on the mound with a mid-80’s fastball and a plus slider that will give him an opportunity to fill many different roles on our pitching staff as a freshman.  We watched Jon pitch and play first base for the Richmond Braves this summer, one of the state’s premier travel baseball organizations, and are extremely excited to add him to our program.”


Zak Kent, RHP, 6-3/175, Heathsville, Va./Northumberland

Three-year letterwinner at Northumberland HS…listed as the 33rd-best RHP in Virginia by Perfect Game…finished with Second Team all-conference honors as a third baseman…also earned all-academic honors…member of Richmond Braves travel team…Perfect Game USA All-Tournament Team…Battle of the Borders Most Outstanding Pitcher…Triple Crown All-Star Team…2014 1A State Champion…Beta Club…hit .315 and posted a 1.96 ERA in 2014…returned the next season to strike out 50 in 34 1/3 IP…travel coach: Meade Langhorne…high school coach: Johnny Mothershead…lettered three years in football and one in golf.

Coach’s Quote: “Zak is yet another commitment of a long line of players coming to VMI from the Richmond Braves organization over the past 10 years.  He is a tall, lanky right-handed pitcher with a loose arm action and a very fast hand.  We followed Zak closely this summer and watched him continually improve every time he took the mound.  With a frame that will continue to fill out, a loose arm and a plus 12-6 curveball, Zak has a great chance to develop into a dynamic arm during his tenure.”


Brent Doyle, OF, 6-3/180, R/R, Nokesville, Va./Kettle Run

Three-year letterwinner at Kettle Run HS playing for Ty Thorpe…had a breakout junior season that saw him hit .443 and earn numerous honors, including Player of the Year in the 3A East Region…ranked as the fourth-best outfielder in the state of Virginia by Prep Baseball Report…also earned all-state honors…earned all-conference honors for the second straight year…did not make an error during the campaign…two-year member of the Richmond Braves travel team and the national 16U Mayers team in that program…won the 16U triple crown USANU and 17U Impact World Series while playing for Richmond…made the A/B honor roll in each of high school years…travel coach: Tommy Mayers…intends to major in economics and business.

Coach’s Quote: “Brenton was one of our earliest commitments in our 2016 recruiting class and we feel we have truly found a gem.  Brenton is the third member of this class from the Richmond Braves organization and one of the most athletic baseball players inside the state of Virginia.  With a 60 time just shy of 6.6 and an arm that we have clocked up to 94 mph from the outfield, we see him filling a very important need for us in centerfield in the upcoming years.”


John Fuqua, LHP, 6-0/160, Chesapeake, Va./Indian River

Four-year letterwinner at Indian River HS…listed as the #9 LHP in Virginia by Perfect Game…First Team all-conference as an outfielder…played four years for the Evoshield Canes travel program…17U WWBA all-tournament…recognized by the Virginia Pilot for ranking #4 in his freshman class…Air Force Junior ROTC Tuskegee Airman Award…MOWW Award of Merit…American Legion Scholastic Award…travel coach: Sean O’Connor…high school coach: Steve West…intends to major in mechanical engineering.

Coach’s Quote: “Left-handed pitching was a huge priority for us in this class and we think John is another great left-handed addition to our class.  John comes to us from one of the nation’s strongest travel baseball organizations, the Evoshield Canes, and we are super excited to add his arm to our already strong bullpen next season.  John has a sneaky fastball and a left-handed curveball that we graded out as one of the best in the region and believe that he has the ability to develop into a special pitcher over the next four years.”


Luke Orr, IF, 5-11/165, R/L, Huntersville, N.C./Hopewell

Three-year letterwinner at Hopewell HS…ranked as the #8 third baseman in North Carolina by Perfect Game…three-time all-conference honoree…hit .460 with a .570 on-base percentage as a junior…2016 Demarini Stars (NC) travel team…finished third at WWB Tournament in Florida…Perfect Game honorable mention…Eagle Scout…member of National Honor Society…travel coach: Jeff Shaefer…high school coach: Chet Greeson…intends to major in biology.

Coach’s Quote: “When we defined our needs for the 2016 recruiting class it became clear that infielders would be a priority for our program, with this graduating class, and Luke certainly adds some quality depth to our infield. We have recruited Luke for over two years now, through our camps and high school/travel baseball games, and have been impressed with his continued development and we think his best baseball is still yet to come. He is a valuable addition for us because he has the skill set to play all three infield positions and adds a left-handed stick to our infield depth.”


Jordan Ebersole, OF/LHP, 6-0/195, S/R, Vienna, Va./James Madison

Three-year letterwinner at James Madison HS…Second Team all-conference selection as a sophomore…has the rare ability to throw with either hand…Greater Vienna Babe Ruth League…MVP Terps…Great Falls Nationals…primary summer team was the Demarini Stars…home run derby champion at Babe Ruth World Series…Scott Rawson Sloan Life Award…high school coach: Mark Gjormand…travel coach: Carson Carroll…athletic honor roll member…also lettered four years as a wide receiver in football and earned first team all-conference honors…intends to major in economics and business.

Coach’s Quote: “Jordan is a tremendous two-sport high school athlete that comes to VMI from one of the most well-respected high school programs in the state of Virginia. Jordan brings to the baseball field a tough, hardnosed football mindset that separates him from most other players and helped to lead James Madison High School to a Virginia State Baseball Championship last spring. Jordan is a physically gifted athlete with plus speed that gives him the ability to track down a lot of baseballs in outfield and fits perfectly into our aggressive style of play on offense.“


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