TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama baseball team and head coach Mitch Gaspard have announced the signing of eight student-athletes as part of the 2011 recruiting class. This year's class includes four position players and four pitchers.
The 2011 class includes six high school players and two junior college transfers to that will join the Tide in the fall of 2011. Six of the eight players joining the Tide hail from Alabama, while the other two come from Louisiana and Illinois.
The position players joining the Tide squad include AJ Cole, Windham Jackson, Ben Moore and Cameron Carlisle while Jonathan Keller, Taylor Guilbeau, Jake Hubbard and Ian Gardeck will be added to the pitching staff.
"Our motto here is 'Play Hard. Get Dirty,'" Gaspard said. "The first thing we want is a guy that plays with passion and plays with an attitude. We feel like all of these guys are blue-collar, hard-nosed players that are going to fit into our system of what we're trying to do."
All of the players signed fit well into the Alabama baseball program, which was a goal for the coaching staff during the recruiting process.
"It's a very good recruiting class that filled our needs very well," assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Dax Norris said. "This was an effort by our entire staff in the recruiting process. This class has been committed for a year and all these guys committed right away once we offered them, which means they clearly want to be here."
AJ Cole – A native of Huntsville, Ala., Cole comes to the Capstone ranked as the No. 4 player in state by Perfect Game USA.
"He's probably the best player in the state position-player wise. We feel like he can play shortstop and third base for us. He can really swing the bat," Norris said of Cole.
Windham Jackson – A native of Grove Hill, Ala., Jackson joins the Tide ranked as the No. 18 player in Alabama. He attended Jackson High School where he caught, played first base and also played in the outfield.
"He can really run and he's got some power in his bat," Norris said. "He's another kid that plays the game the right way; a blue-collar kid. We're very happy to have him."
Ben Moore – A native of Cullman, Ala., Moore comes to Tuscaloosa after a highly decorated high school career. He was the MVP of Cullman High School's 2010 varsity squad and was named the 2010 Area Player of the Year. Also during the 2010 season Moore tied the school's home run record with 15 home runs. Moore, also a member of the football team, is currently second all-time on the CHS single-season rushing list, scurrying for 2,036 yards this past season.
"He's a tough kid and we're looking for a lot from him," Norris said.
Cameron Carlisle – A native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., Carlisle returns home after playing one year at Central Alabama Community College. Carlisle dominated the JUCO circuit, hitting .375 with 42 runs and 38 RBI in only 45 games. Prior to attending CACC, Carlisle graduated from Hillcrest High School.
"He is one of the top JUCO hitters in the state and probably in the South," Norris said. "He brings a veteran bat to add in with the young guys."
Jonathan Keller – A native of Maylene, Ala., Keller signs with the Tide ranked as the No. 6 player in the state according to Perfect Game USA. The lefty was named a preseason Perfect Game USA Third-Team High School All-American entering his senior year at Thompson. Keller was also named the 2010 Birmingham News All-Shelby County Pitcher of the Year, a year in which he struck out 51 batters in only 41.2 innings.
"He's one of the top left-handers in the state," Norris said. "He's been up to 92-93 mph and will be a frontline guy for our staff."
Taylor Guilbeau - A native of Zachary, La., Guilbeau, also a left-handed pitcher, was Zachary High School's top pitcher this spring, going 10-3 with a lowly 1.40 ERA.
"He's one of the top arms in Louisiana," Norris commented. "He's a left-hander who is really good. We're very excited to get him and to go into Louisiana and take one of the state's top guys."
Jake Hubbard – A native of Birmingham, Ala., Hubbard comes to Alabama after a strong career Oak Mountain High School. He was a 2010 Perfect Game USA Underclassmen Preseason All-American Honorable Mention selection and is also ranked by Perfect Game USA as the No. 16 prospect in the state. The right-handed pitcher also participated in the Alabama Coaches Association Showcase the past two seasons.
"He fits what our pitching staff's philosophy is: taller guys who can throw strikes," Norris said. "He's a top arm in the state."
Ian Gardeck – A native of Lake in the Hills, Ill., Gardeck comes to the Capstone after spending his first year of collegiate baseball at the University of Dayton and last season at Angelina Junior College in Lufkin, Texas. Coming out of high school, he was ranked as the top right-handed pitcher in the state of Illinois by Perfect Game USA. This summer with the Danbury Westerners, Gardeck was ranked as the eighth-best prospect in the New England Collegiate League by Baseball America. Gardeck is also ranked as the No.1 JUCO prospect by Perfect Game USA.
"He's the No. 1 prospect in junior college and everybody was on him," Norris said. "He's one of the last guys that we got to sign to help shore-up a good recruiting class."
"All these guys fit what we're trying to do," Norris added, commenting on the class as a whole. "They're blue-collar players that can hit for power, can run a little bit and they really fit our system well. We're very pleased with the class that we have."