Air Force Academy Announces Baseball Recruits for 2014

Mike Kaplan

The Falcons always have to wait on their announcements as they have to show up on campus first. They are always a bit behind but they appear to have some quality to announce.

USAFA Recruits for 2014 Announced

This is my third recruiting article for the MWC. Air Force announces their recruits late as I was told they don't announce until they show up for basic training. Boy, that's different. This is the third article that will cover the whole of the MWC baseball programs. San Jose State and New Mexico have been posted previously.

As I said the Falcons do things a bit differently. They don't announce their signings until they show up on campus for, get this, basic training. Ah, yes, I remember those days and I wasn't at an academy. I was at Fort Ord in California and that's another story for another time. The academies also have other hurdles to jump as their recruits must be good if not great students and grade high on the character charts. As the photo shows they do learn to salute properly and I want you to compare that with television and movie salutes. I wander again. You'd think it would be tough row to hoe with that and it is. With that being said, I'd have to say the following list of recruits is actually pretty darn good. Will they help take the Falcons out of the cellar of the MWC? Only time will tell on that front but this does look promising.

Sam Ashey, LHP, Cinco Ranch HS, Katy, TX
Sam was 6-2 and 1.64 for an average high school team (17-13). That always means a gold star for me when a pitcher does really well for a team that doesn't help much. He had 63 strikeouts in 59 innings as it says 76 on the Falcons' website so he can strike out batters but the 3 walks is a misprint as he walked 17 which is still good. The error was Maxpreps and not the Falcons'. No biggee. He gave up 38 hits to go along with the 17 walks which results in a WHIP below 1.00 and that is always good.

Andrew Butler, IF, Waynflete HS, Lewiston, ME
Andrew was a finalist for the top player in Maine so he can play. He also pitched. At 6'3" he's a bit big for a shortstop but if he can cover the holes, so what. He also made an all-state team.

Anthony Denkinger, IF/OF, Dowling Catholic HS, Windsor Heights, IA
Anthony was considered the 34th rated shortstop in the US by at least one blogger. Didn't say much about him but he made the list which did say something about him.

Jacob DeVries, LHP, Medina Valley HS, Castroville, TX
Jacob was recruited as a pitcher but he could also hit. He was 7-2 and 1.20 in 52 IP. He had 95 strikeouts in those innings with only 24 walks. That's a bit too many walks but he reeks of power with the strikeouts. He gave up only 37 hits so think how he could have done if he hadn't walked many. The walks kicked up his WHIP to over 1.00. Find the strike zone, kid, and you could be somebody.

John Gamble, RHP/OF, Santa Fe Christian HS, San Diego, CA
John was 3-6 and 3.15 for a 15-15 club. He had 53 strikeouts in 53 IP. Not bad. However, the 33 walks did him in as he gave up 47 hits. He and DeVries are going to need to work on command. He received some AA notice in the preseason for both the 2013 and 2012 seasons. I guess what I'm saying is he has been noticed as a talent but the numbers don't seem to be there. He might develop.

Adam Groesbeck, IF, Turlock HS, Turlock, CA
There are lists and there are lists. When I view these lists, my eyes tend to glaze over. Adam made the PerfectGame preseason All-Region Team as an honorable mention. OK, so that means he's noticed by someone as a shortstop. But, it's preseason and I saw two other teammates make the same list. See what I mean? Then again, he hit .392 with 4 homeruns for a team that went 28-3. He appears to be a late bloomer to me.

Jordan Hanlin, C, Jesuit HS, Rocklin, CA
I always seem to find conflicting information on players. I found a news article stating that Jordan hit .315 this past season for Jesuit. I then had to do a bit of searching and found some stats on MaxPreps which had him at .329. I'll go with that and the one homerun. He's a little on the slight side for a catcher at 5'10" and 175 but I've seen much smaller guys at the position that perform their duties well.

Bradley Haslam, IF, San Marino HS, San Marino, CA
The MaxPreps site have him listed as a 3B and shortstop. He hit .355 and 1 for a team that went 15-11. He's another of a long line of southern California players as that area is loaded with talent and there is plenty to go around. Didn't find much more on him.

Griffin Jax, RHP/IF, Cherry Creek HS, Greenwood Village, CO
Griffin gets a little more than a gold star for being recruited by the Falcons. He's a local kid and that's always a nice touch. He also garnered the top player in Colorado award from Gatorade. That's high praise indeed. He also got drafted in the 12th round by the Phillies but decided on a hell of a future instead. An opposing coach said he's the top hitter in the state so that begs the question whether he will be a pitcher (and he's a good one) or a position player. He's 6'5" so I suspect he plays third. Enough of the accolades, he's a good player and I think he'll start - somewhere.

Tyler Jones, IF, Coppell HS, Coppell, TX
Projects as a 3B as he has good size at 6'1" and 190. The only thing of note I could find is that he was a participant in a home run hitting contest which says a lot even without the results. Oh, he hit four with the longest at .413. Careful, here, as you know most coaches hate it when players enter these things. It can ruin swings. But, he does have power.

Travis Neubeck, C/RHP, Hill-Murray HS, Hugo, MN
Travis made the All-USA All-Minnesota team as an honorable mention as a catcher. Got some interest from Arizona, Boston College, Michigan, and Minnesota before signing on with Air Force.

Nathan Stanford, RHP, Harding Academy HS, Memphis, TN
Nathan makes All-State his junior year and received a bunch of pre-season awards. He lived up to the accolades and possibly could start for the Falcons. At 6'5" and 170 he is a bit thin but I'm sure he'll fill out. This kid has my vote for dark horse freshman for the Falcons.

Russell Williams, IF, McKinney Boyd HS, McKinney, TX
Russell is another big infielder (6'3" 185) coming in to the program. Touted for his defense and was rated highly in Texas. That's high praise indeed as there are many teams in Texas and they all take baseball seriously.

The Falcons have had their problems the last few years but they keep coming back to prove their worth. Will this worth prove enough to get them out of the cellar? Only the playing field will show that. The best of this lot appear to be Russell Williams, Griffin Jax, and Sam Ashey. Hard to choose as there were some good ones. My choice for hidden gem is Jacob DeVries; he's a lefty.

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