Nov. 16, 2011
By Scott Gierman
CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois baseball coach Ken Henderson has announced the signing of five recruits for the 2013 season. The class is comprised of catcher Matt Jones, catcher/first baseman Zach Stoner and right-handed pitchers Bryce Sablotny, Anthony Shimkus and Jacob Williams.
“With only four current seniors,” Henderson said, “we knew this would be a small class, but a critical one. We obviously believe these guys are talented, but more importantly they all have great makeup. We tried to target players who would fit into our vision of where we want the program to be. That is they are high-energy guys and intense competitors and have a true passion for the game. Coach Finigan and Coach Strain deserve a great deal of credit for this class, as they worked extremely hard in identifying and recruiting these young men.”
Jones is a 6-foot, 180-pound sophomore at one of the premiere junior college programs in the nation, Central Arizona Community College, which was the 2011 NJCAA World Series runner up.
“Matt is a gifted athlete with a great baseball IQ,” Assistant Coach Ryan Strain said. “He is a hard-nosed player with a great work ethic. He has great upside with a strong arm and all the tools to be a very good catcher. He is an above average hitter who we expect to step in and have an impact right away.”
Originally from Arvada, Colo., Jones began his college career at Northern Colorado where he started 19 games as a true freshman and led the team with a .420 average. In 14 conference games, he posted an amazing .524 average.
“Matt has already proven that he can hit D1 pitching,” Henderson said. “He has an extremely strong arm and will be a great addition to the program."
Stoner, listed at 6-foot, 4-inches and 200 pounds, is the only left-handed hitter of the class. He is currently a senior at Boylan Catholic High School in Rockford, Ill. and rated the No. 12 player in the state by Prep Baseball Report.
“We believe Zach is one of the true elite hitters in our area,” Henderson said. “He should be able to step in and immediately fill some voids in the middle of the lineup."
After hitting over .500 with eight home runs and nine doubles this past spring, he was recently selected to the all-tournament team at the prestigious World Wood Bat Championship in Jupiter, Fla., which features many of the nation’s most talented high school players.
“Zach is a strong, athletic player with a great work ethic,” Strain said. “With his smooth, left-handed swing and good power potential we expect Zach to be an impact player from his freshman year on."
Sablotny is 6-foot, 2-inches and 195 pounds. He posted a 7-1 record and a 4.22 ERA this past spring as a freshman at Lincoln Land Community College.
“Bryce is an immediate impact guy that will challenge to be a part of the weekend rotation from Day 1,” Pitching Coach P.J. Finigan said. “He has the ability to throw strikes with three pitches and really attacks hitters. He is growing into his own, and we are excited to get him here."
A native of Glenwood, Ill., Sablotny pitched for Chatham High School, one of the most respected high school programs in the state. He helped them to the IHSA 3A State Championship as a senior and state runner up as a junior. As a senior he posted a 9-1 record and a 1.73 ERA.
“Bryce has the ability to be a major contributor,” Henderson said. “He will pound the zone with all his pitches and is a battler on the mound."
Shimkus is 6-foot, 3-inches and 175 pounds and comes out of Chicago’s DeLaSalle Institute where he was first team all-conference in the Catholic League the last two seasons.
“Anthony has had great success pitching in arguably the best high school league in the state,” Henderson said. “He is a good fit for us in that he is a tremendous competitor once he steps between the lines."
In each of the past two seasons he has helped lead his team to the 4A Regional Final. As a junior in 2011, he went 6-4 with 72 strikeouts against just 25 walks. He also hit .400 with a .500 on-base percentage.
“He is a very projectable kid who is a competitor,” Finigan said. “He’s a great athlete who can pitch and also play the infield. On the mound, he has an advanced feel for a solid fastball and an above average change-up. Anthony’s high baseball IQ will allow him to be successful as soon as he steps foot on campus."
Williams, who is 5-foot, 10-inches and 170 pounds, sat out his junior season with an arm injury, but recovered to pitch summer ball with the Decatur Commodores.
“Jacob was one of the first kids we targeted as a staff,” Henderson said. “He had a set back with arm problems last year, but is now completely healthy. He is an extremely hard worker and a guy who loves to play the game."
As a sophomore he went 7-1 with a 0.74 ERA and 124 strikeouts for Monticello (Ill.) High School. He was a preseason Under Armour All-American going into his junior season last spring.
“He has an extremely quick arm, and his deceptive fastball gets on hitters in a hurry,” Finigan said. “He has a closer mentality and is a tough kid who has tremendous makeup. He throws a hard curveball that is a true out pitch. Jacob is another kid whose makeup and stuff projects to be a huge asset right away.”