Salukis reload, sign 12 recruits in fall signing period

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    Nov. 20, 2012

    By Scott Gierman

    CARBONDALE, Ill. - With nine seniors on this year’s squad, Saluki Baseball is preparing to reload as SIU signed 12 recruits, the largest class in recent school history, for the 2014 season during this week’s fall signing period.

    This year’s signing class features five pitchers (Jack Granath, Aaron Hauge, Austin McPheron, Kyle Pruemer and Chad Whitmer), three infielders (Will Farmer, Drew Harper and Ryan Sabo), two outfielders (J.C. DeMuri and Josh Johnston) and a pair of catchers (Tanner Murphy and Nick Rybarczyk). It is also a young group with 10 current high school seniors and only two junior college transfers.

    “Although we always try to sign the most talented kids possible, our goal with this group went beyond that,” head coach Ken Henderson said. “We wanted to make sure we signed players who fit into our vision for Saluki Baseball, kids who will play hard and love to compete.  In addition to their outstanding physical abilities, I think we accomplished that.  A great deal of credit for this recruiting class needs to go to Coach Finigan and Coach Strain. They worked extremely hard and made sure we got the right kids.” 

    -J.C. DeMuri
    DeMuri is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound outfielder and is ranked the 10th best overall player in Missouri by Prep Baseball Report.

    “J.C. is one of the top rated position players in the state of Missouri,” Henderson said. “He is a big physical outfielder who can really swing the bat. He has the potential to be a middle of the lineup type of hitter.”

    DeMuri has been named All-Conference each of the past two seasons at Parkway West High School in Manchester, Mo. and All-District in 2012. He hit .324 as a junior this past spring and posted a .418 average for the Longhorns his sophomore year.



    “I chose to play baseball at SIU because I like the coaching staff and the school’s atmosphere,” DeMuri said.

    -Will Farmer
    Farmer is a 5-foot-11, 180-pound infielder who hit .374 with a .476 on-base percentage as a junior in 2012, helping Mundelein (Ill.) High School to a 34-5 record.

    “Will is a young man that Coach Finigan has known for a long time,” Henderson said. “He has the ability to be very good at any of the infield positions. Will is a tough, hard-nosed kid who plays the game the right way.”

    He was named Mundelein’s best defensive player and led the team with 36 RBI as he was named first-team All-Conference and All-Area.

    “I can’t wait to step on that field as a Saluki,” Farmer said. “I’m glad I get to play for such a great program with such great coaches, and I am thankful to be part of this  Saluki recruiting class.”

    -Jack Granath
    At 6-foot, 6-inches and 180 pounds, Granath is a right-handed pitcher at Hononegah High School in Rockton, Ill. A two-time All-Northern Illinois Conference selection, he recorded 69 strikeouts in 57 innings in 2012 and led the conference with a 1.23 ERA.

    “We are excited to get Jack in the program,” Henderson said. “He has very good command, good off-speed stuff and really knows how to pitch. At 6-6, he is long and loose and has as much potential as anyone we’re bringing in.”

    He helped Hononegah to a 2012 regional championship and finished second in the conference MVP voting.

    “I made my decision to sign with SIU because I really liked the campus, all the athletic facilities, the coaching staff and the new baseball facility that is coming in the next year,” Granath said.

    -Drew Harper
    Harper is a 6-foot-2, 210-pound infielder from Sikeston (Mo.) High School and was rated the 18th best player in the state by Missouri Prep Baseball Report.

    “Drew is another of the highly rated position players out of Missouri,” Henderson said. “He is going to be a very good college hitter, but the thing we like most is the way he approaches the game. He loves to play and has tremendous instincts and baseball knowledge.”

    He was an All-Conference Honorable Mention each of the last two seasons and a member of the All-Missouri team powered by Under Armour.

    “I chose to attend SIU because of its atmosphere,” Harper said. “I feel like it is a good fit for me. The coaching staff made me feel like I was already one of their guys.”

    -Aaron Hauge
    A native of Homewood, Ill., Hauge is a left-handed pitcher transferring from Heartland (Ill.) Community College and will be a junior for the 2014 season. He is 6-foot and 185 pounds and was a third-team NJCAA Division II All-American at Heartland.

    “Aaron will actually enroll at SIU this spring,” Henderson said, “but due to NCAA rules, can’t compete until next year. He is a tremendous competitor on the mound and certainly has the talent to be in our starting rotation.”

    At Heartland he holds the top two career spots for most strikeouts in a single season. In two seasons, he went 20-3 with a 2.41 ERA and 197 strikeouts in 145.1 innings.

    -Josh Johnston
    Johnston is a 6-foot, 1-inch, 175-pound centerfielder out of Crowder (Mo.) College. He is a left-handed hitter and will join the Salukis as a junior for the 2014 season after taking a medical redshirt last spring. 

    “Signing a true centerfielder who could step in and make an immediate impact was a top priority,” Henderson said. “Josh is certainly capable of being that guy. He has good size and exceptional speed, and the fact that he swings it from the left side is a big bonus.”

    A native of Tulsa, Okla., he helped Victory Christian School to a district title as he hit .549 with a .611 on-base percentage as a senior. He also hit eight home runs and drove in 42 with a 1.183 slugging percentage in 24 games.

    “I chose Southern Illinois because not only was it a great fit for me athletically, but it is also a great fit academically,” Johnston said. “The addition of the new facilities is the next and final step that SIU needed to take to not only compete, but win at a national level. I’m excited about bringing my talents to Carbondale in the fall to help the Salukis bring home a championship. I’m extremely thankful for the coaching staff at SIU for giving me the opportunity to become a part of such a great tradition.”

    -Austin McPheron
    McPheron is a 6-foot, 4-inch, 230-pound right-handed pitcher from Johnston City, Ill. With a 19-4 record over the past two seasons, he already holds the JCHS school record for career wins as well as the single season strikeouts and wins records.

    “Austin is a local kid that we have been able to follow for a couple of years,” Henderson said. “He has all of the physical tools, including size and arm strength, needed to be a very good pitcher at this level. It will be fun to watch him develop.”

    McPheron has been an All-Black Diamond Conference selection and SIBCA All-Star each of the past two seasons.

    “I have always wanted to play Saluki baseball ever since I was a little kid,” McPheron said. “I really like the direction the program is headed and it felt like it was the best fit for me.”

    -Tanner Murphy
    Murphy is a 6-foot-2, 215-pound catcher out of Malden (Mo.) High School and currently rated the sixth best player in the state by Missouri Prep Baseball Report. He has been a first-team All-Conference and All-District selection each of his first three seasons of high school and was first-team All-State the last two years.

    “Tanner is a tremendous athlete with all of the skills needed to be a big time college catcher and hitter,” Henderson said. “According to Prep Baseball Report he was the No. 1 rated player in Missouri during his junior year. Tanner loves to play baseball and is a great addition to the program.”

    A right-handed hitter, Murphy has hit well over .500 in each of his three years playing varsity and has hit 28 home runs with 82 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 60 games over the past two seasons.

    “I chose SIU because I really like what Coach Henderson and all the staff have done with the program,” Murphy said. “I really feel like that was the best fit for me as a player and a student. I am overjoyed with my decision and am very excited about my future seasons there.”

    -Kyle Pruemer
    A 6-foot-5-inch, 240-pound right-handed pitcher, Pruemer comes to SIU from Teutopolis (Ill.) High School. Prep Baseball Report has ranked him the 30th best prospect in the state of Illinois. He pitched for Teutopolis’ 2A state championship team in 2011 and helped the school back to the supersectional in 2012.

    “Kyle is big physical pitcher with a good arm,” Henderson said. “He comes out of an outstanding high school program and knows how to pitch. He is a tough kid and competes extremely hard when on the mound. Kyle has the talent to make a big impact as a freshman.”

    Pruemer was an All-Area and All-Conference first-team selection as a junior at Teutopolis in 2012.

    “I decided to sign with SIU because they have a great baseball program and atmosphere, quality agriculture program, and it was a great fit for a small town kid,” Pruemer said.

    -Nick Rybarczyk
    Rybarczyk is a 6-foot-3, 200-pound catcher out of Addison Trail (Ill.) High School. He helped Addison Trail to 23-13 record in 2012 and was selected to participate in the prestigious Stevenson Showcase representing the West Suburban Conference.

    “Nick is another physical kid with the potential to be a good college hitter,” Henderson said. “He is aggressive at the plate and plays extremely hard. Nick has good athleticism, and we are excited to have him in the program and to watch him develop.”

    Rybarczyk has played summer ball with the Schaumburg Seminoles each of the last two years. In 2011 he hit .451 and threw out 78 percent of potential base stealers.

    “Once I stepped foot on campus and met the coaching staff, I knew SIU was the place for me,” Rybarczyk said. “There was no other school I could imagine myself spending my next four years.”

    -Ryan Sabo
    Sabo is a 5-foot-11, 185-pound infielder from Ravenwood (Tenn.) High School where he hit .337 with a .526 on-base percentage as a junior.

    “Ryan is an outstanding hitter with the ability to play many positions,” Henderson said. “He is another one of those guys that has great passion for the sport. It is exciting to go into a new recruiting area for us and sign a young man with Ryan’s talent.”

    In 2012 he was Preseason Under Armour All-American and a member of Team Tennessee, which features the top 20 players in the state.

    “I am very excited to have signed with SIU,” Sabo said. “There is a definite commitment to the development of players both on and off the field, which is something extremely important to me. It is obviously a very exciting time for SIU baseball, and I am honored to be joining such a highly competitive Division I program.”

    -Chad Whitmer
    Whitmer is a 6-foot, 2-inch, 200-pound right-handed pitcher from Penn (Ind.) High School. He is rated the 15th best player and the fourth best pitcher in the Hoosier State. He helped the Kingsmen to back-to-back sectional championships and a spot in the regional final in 2012.

    “Chad is another big physical pitcher, with a good arm and great upside,” Henderson said. “We feel as if he has the ability to make an immediate impact and can eventually be a weekend starter for us.”

    Whitmer posted a 1.44 ERA as a junior and has earned All-Conference honors each of the past two seasons.

    “I felt SIU was the right fit for me,” Whitmer said. “I really like the coaches, and I also wanted to play in a good baseball conference such as the Missouri Valley. Also the climate will be a little warmer, and academically they offer a good sports administration program.”

    Name B/T Ht. Wt. Pos. Hometown Previous School
    J.C. DeMuri R/L 6-3 200 OF Manchester, Mo. Parkway West HS
    Will Farmer R/R 5-11 180 INF Mundelein, Ill. Mundelein HS
    Jack Granath R/R 6-6 180 RHP Rockton, Ill Hononegah HS
    Drew Harper R/R 6-2 210 INF Sikeston, Mo. Sikeston HS
    Aaron Hauge L/L 6-0 185 LHP Homewood, Ill. Heartland CC
    Josh Johnston L/L 6-1 175 OF Tulsa, Okla. Crowder CC
    Austin McPheron R/R 6-4 230 RHP Johnston City, Ill. Johnston City HS
    Tanner Murphy R/R 6-2 215 C Malden, Mo Malden HS
    Kyle Pruemer R/R 6-5 240 RHP Teutopolis, Ill. Teutopolis, Ill.
    Nick Rybarczyk R/R 6-3 200 C Addison, Ill. Addison Trail, Ill.
    Ryan Sabo R/R 5-11 185 INF Brentwood, Tenn. Ravenwood, Tenn.
    Chad Whitmer R/R 6-2 200 RHP South Bend, Ind. Penn HS