Nov. 14, 2002
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - The Santa Clara University baseball program continued to make waves on the national recruiting scene Thursday as it announced its recruiting class for 2003. After landing the nation's 17th-ranked class in 2002, the Broncos appear to be on their way to one of the top recruiting classes in the country as second-year head coach Mark O'Brien announced the signing of five players National Letters of Intent to attend Santa Clara University next fall.
The class includes pitchers Jared Hughes and Tyler Duran, catcher Steve Lerud and outfielders Robert Perry and Nathan Faulkner. Baseball America ranks four of the five signees in the top 300 in the nation and all five have a GPA at or above 3.20, making them one of the top student-athlete recruiting classes in Bronco Baseball history.
Hughes is the third-ranked prospect overall and the top-ranked high school pitcher in the United States by Baseball America. The 6-foot-6 right-handed pitcher from Santa Margarita High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., has had his fastball clocked in the mid-90's and was voted the second-best prospect in the nation at the 2002 Area Codes National Baseball Tournament.
"Jared is a very special athlete," said head coach Mark O'Brien. "He is one of those special kind of players that you know will make good things happen. His size and velocity are of the likes that not many people have seen and I believe that he will have a huge impact on not only this program, but on the entire West Coast Conference and West Region."
Faulkner is the 179th-ranked high school prospect in the country and is an outfielder that plays his high school ball at Temecula Valley High School in Temecula, Calif. He participated in the Junior Olympic Team tryouts this past summer, an invite that was sent out to only 100 players in the country.
"Nathan is a great all-around player," said O'Brien. "His strength lies in his speed and instincts when running the bases. At 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, Faulkner is expected to come in and compete right away for a starting position at one of the corner outfield spots."
Perry is a local prospect and and attends nearby Archbishop Mitty High School where he is ranked as the 203rd-best high school prospect in the country. The outfielder from Sunnyvale is an outstanding two-sport athlete, earning All-Northern California honors last season as both a running back and an outfielder. This past summer he played for the Giants Area Code team and was named to the Power Bar Top 50 All-Tournament Team. He batted .471 with six home runs, seven double, five triples and 29 RBI during his junior year at Mitty. He also went 3-1 on the mound with four saves en route to being named the San Jose Mercury News Junior of the Year. He also earned first team All-Central Coast Section and first team All-West Catholic Athletic League honors.
"Aside from his overall athleticism, Robert possesses the internal make-up that sets him apart from other players," said O'Brien. "His maturity and dedication to perfection is unparalleled."
Lerud is considered one of the top catchers on the West Coast and is ranked as the 253rd-best prospect in the country. Through his first three years Galena High School in Galena, Nevada, Lerud has a .509 batting average with 39 home runs, 37 doubles, three triples and 133 runs batted in. He is currently only three home runs shy of breaking the Nevada state high school home run record. He played for the Giants Area Code team and was selected to be a part of the Area Code Goodwill Series Team that traveled to Japan in June 2002.
"Steve's biggest asset is his offensive potential," said O'Brien. "He also possesses tremendous defensive skill at a position that is so critical to a team. I have no question that he will have a huge impact on this team and on this campus."
Duran is another local kid from Archbishop Mitty High School who is teammates with fellow signee Robert Perry. The 6-foot-2 right-handed pitcher from Sunnyvale will have a huge impact on the Mitty squad during his senior year on both the mound and at shortstop. His fastball ranges from 88-90 MPH, and his baseball genes run deep as his father is a former Major League Baseball player and his brother played for O'Brien at De Anza College. As a junior he posted a .420 batting average with six home runs, 12 doubles and 28 RBI in only 21 games. He earned first team All-WCAL honors and was a member of the 2002 Palomino World Series Championship team with Perry.
"Tyler will be a legitimate two-way player for us," said O'Brien. "He is already a solid infielder with the potential to be a dominant collegiate pitcher. He has a fantastic arm and his fastball can get up to 90 MPH."
The early signing period for NCAA baseball began on November 13 and runs through the 20th.
The 2003 baseball season begins at home on January 25th against Stanford. For a complete look at this year's schedule please click here.