November 16, 2004

Baseball Announces 2005 Recruiting Class

Nov. 16, 2004

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Santa Clara baseball head coach Mark O'Brien announced his 2005 recruiting class today as eight high school seniors signed National Letters of Intent to attend Santa Clara University in the fall of 2005. The class consists of five Californians, including three Saint Francis High School students, along with natives of Nevada, Arizona, Oregon and Washington.

Mark Willinsky of Las Vegas, Nev., Justin Kuehn of Laguna Nigel, Calif., Sean O'Neill of Tucson, Ariz., Jared Lansford of Santa Clara, Brady Fuerst of Atherton, Calif., Matt Long of Los Altos, Calif., John Irby of San Jose, Calif., and Jeff Lombard of Woodinville, Wash. round out the SCU baseball recruiting class for 2005.

"We tried to put an emphasis on bringing in quality pitching with this recruiting class," said O'Brien. "We signed pitchers who have had quite successful high school careers, thus far. These young men can come in and make an immediate impact for us as freshmen. They have put up big numbers over the summer on competitive teams in very competitive environments. As a class, I feel they each have good pitchability and can throw strikes with several pitches."

"As far as position players go, we just didn't need to bring in that many numbers," O'Brien continued. "However, the position players that we did bring in will be very solid college baseball players, who can also make an immediate impact. Both the infielders and outfielder are strong defensively and can also swing the bat well."

"Overall, we are very excited with the players who have committed thus far," O'Brien concluded. "We are excited to welcome them into the Santa Clara family. They are each outstanding young men, who perform well in the classroom and on the field. Our assistant coaches did a great job with this class. Our recruiting coordinator, Mike Oakland did a great job at identifying the players and Mike Zirelli helped to bring in a strong core of pitchers. Together with Matt Mueller, the coaching staff was tremendous in assembling the 2005 SCU recruiting class."

The Broncos are looking to have a strong season prior to the addition of these eight players as the 2005 season kicks-off on Friday, January 28th against UC Riverside. SCU returns eight starting position players and Second-Team All-American Anthony Rea on the mound as the Broncos aim towards a WCC title and a berth in the postseason.

Santa Clara Baseball 2005 Signees

Mark Willinsky
Willinsky, a right-handed pitcher, joins the Broncos from Cimmeron Memorial High School in his hometown of Las Vegas, Nev. While at Cimmeron Memorial, Willinsky became one of the premier pitchers in the state, as Baseball America ranked him the second among prospects in Nevada. Willinsky led the state with 94 strikeouts in his junior season, notching the total in only 74 innings of work. He also posted an 11-3 record on the mound with a 2.80 earned run average.

Willinsky also participated in some of the premier showcases as he was invited to the Los Angeles Dodger Elite Games in the summer of 2004. He was also invited to try out for Team USA in Joplin, Missouri and took part in the Area Code Games and Perfect Game Showcases.

"Mark is a very talented right-handed pitcher," said O'Brien. "Not only has he shown that he can throw with velocity, as his fastball is in the upper 80's to low 90's, but he has a very solid second and third pitch. Both his breaking ball and split-finger fast ball are outstanding."

Justin Kuehn
Kuehn is also a strong right-hander who will bring a wealth of competitive experience with him to SCU. A native of Laguna Niguel, Calif., Kuehn will graduate from Aliso Niguel High School in the spring of 2005. Baseball America rates Kuehn 45th among the top high school seniors in California. During the 2004 season, he posted a 6-5 record with a 1.75 ERA.

A First Team All-Seaview selection, Kuehn also competed in the Area Code and Team USA try-outs this summer. He was also invited by the Anaheim Angels to take part in the team's Elite Games and participated in the North-South Game.

"Justin has a very live arm," said O'Brien. "He has worked very hard to upgrade his secondary pitch to compliment his fast ball. He is also a very good competitor. We will love to have him on the team because he has shown that he loves to win."

Sean O'Neill
O'Neill marks the class' only left-handed pitching as the southpaw joins the Broncos from Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson, Ariz. Baseball America rates O'Neill 11th in the state of Arizona heading into his senior season. Along with three other Bronco signees, O'Neill participated in the Team USA try-outs in Joplin, Missouri over the summer, while also taking part in the Area Code Games.

During his junior season, O'Neill struck out 115 batters and walked only 17 in 63 innings of action at Salpointe Catholic. For his efforts, O'Neill was named to the 5A Southern Region First Team in 2004.

"Sean is a left-handed strike thrower and anytime you can throw strikes as a left-hander, you can be successful, said O'Brien. "He comes from a very athletic family. He is an outstanding student and competitive by nature. We are very happy that Sean has chosen Santa Clara."

Jared Lansford
A native of Santa Clara, Lansford will not have to travel far when he joins the team in the fall of 2005. One of three Bronco signees who attend Saint Francis High School, Lansford will bring a legitimate two-way threat to SCU. Lansford is a right-handed pitcher and infielder who earned First-Team All-Western Catholic Athletic League honors last season. He hit .414 a year ago with six home runs, while recording a 3-1 mark with eight saves.

The son of Carney Lansford, Jared also participated in both the Area Code Games and Team USA try-outs last summer. Baseball America rates Lansford 29th in the state of California.

"Not only can Jared swing the bat well and play second and third base, but he is also a very solid right-handed pitcher," said O'Brien. "We feel we have signed a strong two-way player, whose emphasis will be in the infield. However, we definitely feel he can help us on the mound as well."

Brady Fuerst
Fuerst will also join Santa Clara from Saint Francis High School. A native of Atherton, Calif., he was also honored by the WCAL as a Second-Team selection last season. A skilled infielder, Fuerst has the ability to play second, third and shortstop at the college level.

In his junior season, Fuerst hit .300 as the starting shortstop at Saint Francis, helping it to a 23-game winning streak and a national ranking. During the summer, he also participated in the North-South Game.

"Brady is what I consider a very solid all-around baseball player," said O'Brien. "He does everything right. Every time the ball is hit to him, he makes the play. Brady will be a very consistent, steady and intelligent college player."

Matt Long
Long is the third 2005 signee from Saint Francis High School. A native of Los Altos, Calif., Long is the lone outfielder among the group of eight. As part of the nationally-ranked Saint Francis squad of a year ago, Long hit .412 with three home runs and 30 runs driven in.

Also prominent in local showcases, Long participated in the North-South All-Star Game. He was also honored for his play during the high school season, picking up Second-Team All-WCAL honors.

"Long put up some big offensive numbers in high school," said O'Brien. "As he gets bigger and stronger, he will continue to get better offensively. He is also a solid defensive outfielder, who runs well and has an outstanding arm."

John Irby
Irby is another local product, coming to Santa Clara from Valley Christian High School in San Jose, Calif. Another right-handed pitcher, Irby was a First-Team WCAL selection in his junior season. Last year, he tallied a 12-4 record to improve his high school mark to 20-4.

Last season, Irby posted a 2.40 earned run average at Valley Christian. He also recorded 90 strikeouts in only 73 innings of action.

"John is just scratching the surface on how good he can be," said O'Brien. "We look for big things from him. He can also come in an make an immediate impact. He already has an out pitch with his slider and we look for the further development of his fast ball."

Jeff Lombard
Lombard will head to Santa Clara in the fall of 2005 after spending this season at Columbia Basin Junior College. A native of Woodinville, Wash., Lombard graduated from Woodinville High School in June of 2004. A right-handed pitcher, Lombard will fine tune his skills prior to coming to the Mission Campus.

As a senior at Woodinville, Lombard went 5-2 with a 1.97 earned run average. He posted 73 strikeouts in 65 innings of work in his final high school campaign.

"Jeff is a very well-rounded pitcher," said O'Brien. "Jeff will continue to gain experience this year by getting a year of college experience under his belt. By his sophomore year, we feel Jeff can make a solid impact on our pitching staff as well."