GREENSBORO – As he enters his third season, North Carolina A&T head coach Joel Sanchez announced the singing of nine players who can help bring the Aggies to the top of the MEAC. Soon.
Perry “A.J.” Hunt (5-10, 190, INF/OF, Chesapeake, Va., Indian River HS), Alec Brown (6-2, 230, RHP, Mount Kisco, N.Y., Fox Lane HS), Jerry Liang (5-9, 160, SS/RHP, Bronx, N.Y., Manhattan Center For Science and Mathematics), Evan Miranda (5-11, 205, LHP/INF/OF, Ormond Beach, Fla., Father Lopez HS), Jason Gifford (6-0, 210, RHP/1B, Warner Robins, Ga., Northside HS), Marquis Edwards (5-11, 205, LHP/1B, Daytona Beach, Fla., Mainland HS), Nigel Hester (5-10, 160, OF/INF, Monroe, N.C., Piedmont HS), Myles Sowell (6-1, 165, OF/INF, Greensboro, N.C., Westchester Country Day) and Erik Montero (6-0, 185, OF, Miami, Fla., Florida Christian) will proudly wear the Aggie Blue and Gold in 2015.
“The recruiting class overall has given us the depth we’ve been looking for,” said Sanchez. “In particular, we wanted to add corner infielders (first and third basemen). We’ve met that need so far because we’ve signed some guys who are going to contribute as freshmen.”
Hunt plays for the Tidewater Orioles Scout Team. He bats and throws right. He batted .429 (6-for-14) with nine RBI, five runs scored and four walks at the 2012 WWBA 17-and-under National Championship Tournament. He has been recruited as a middle of the lineup guy who may play at third base. Hunt is ranked as the 86th best third baseman in the country by perfectgame.org.
“He is a guy who can do a lot of things on a baseball field,” said Sanchez. “He can run, he can hit and he is pretty good in the outfield. There was a lot of competition out there to sign him, so we believe we picked up a really good player.”
Brown is a burly right-handed pitcher with a fastball in the mid 80’s according to baseballprospectus.com. He will also mix in a curveball in the 70’s with solid shape. Brown comes is ranked as the 537th best recruit in the country by perfectgame.org.
“I think he has the potential to come in and be a weekend arm for us early,” said Sanchez.
Liang is a shortstop and a right-hander. His fastball has been clocked as high as 87 mph. He also throws a curveball and a changeup. He batted .270 at the 2011 Youth World Baseball Classic. According to perfectgame.org, Liang is the sixth best shortstop in the state of New York and 246th best in the country.
“He should be able to compete for a starting position right off the bat,” said Sanchez. “He is a plus defender who swings the bat well from both sides.
Miranda is a left-hander who can also play first base and the outfield. At the 2013 18-and-under BCS finals, Miranda pitched six innings, striking out eight without surrendering a run. His fastball has been clocked as high as 88 mph. He throws three pitches for strikes and is also ranked as the 116th best left-handed pitcher in the country by perfectgame.org.
“All of the pitchers we signed have the ability to come in and pitch for us on the weekend for years to come,” said Sanchez. “Miranda is no different. He gives us a pretty good left-hander with movement on his pitches.”
Gifford throws a fastball in the mid 80’s with a cutting action. He also possesses a curveball, slider and changeup. He is also a first baseman who is described as a line drive hitter with pull strength and power. Gifford is ranked by perfectgame.org as the 49th best right-handed pitcher in the state of Georgia and 585th nationally.
“Gifford is another young player who I think can be beneficial to us once he steps on campus,” said Sanchez. “He is a smart baseball player with a lot of tools.”
Edwards is a left-hander who can also play first base. Defensively, he has good footwork around the bag at first. Edwards also has good hands with good strength in his swing. There is good velocity with his curveball and his fastball is clocked in the mid 80’s. Edwards is considered a to have good control and can throw all three of his pitches for strikes in any count.
“He was a young man we got out of Florida,” said Sanchez. “It is big for us to be able to get young men from that area. He could come in and contribute right away.”
Hester is one three Sanchez recruits from North Carolina. He throws and bats right. He was named to the 2013 All-Charlotte Observer baseball team after leading Piedmont to the Class 2A state title. Hester hit .429 with five triples, 23 RBI and 14 stolen bases. Hester is ranked 186th nationally and ninth in the state of North Carolina as an outfielder by perfectgame.org.
“He has a very high ceiling,” said Sanchez. “He is a guy who could come in and develop into an outstanding player for us. He is a two-hole (bats second in the lineup) with a lot of tools.”
Sowell is the lone recruit from Greensboro. He throws and bats right and can play second base and the outfield. He is an All-Triad Athletic 2A performer who could steal a lot of bases for the Aggies during his career. He can 6.61 in the 60-yard dash and ranked is ranked as the 11th best outfielder in the state and 244th in the country by perfectgame.org. He has good bat speed and makes contact to the middle of the field but also possesses the ability to pull the ball.
“He is another outfielder with speed,” said Sanchez. “He has a good arm, but the speed is the thing he brings. He is a freshman who can steal a few bags for us. He is another guy who is capable of coming in and competing for a starting position as a first-year player.”
Montero is listed as a corner infielder who can bring power to the Aggies lineup. He can hit the ball to all sides of the field. He also runs well and should improve the Aggies’ defense with his glove. He is a middle of the lineup type of guy who is considered by the coaching staff to have an extremely high ceiling and will bring a very mature hitting approach to the Aggies in 2015.
“He is another corner infielder/outfielder,” said Sanchez. “He’s got a plus bat, and he can play pretty much anywhere. But he’s here for his bat. We’re expecting some big things from him as a freshman. "