Baseball inks five signees
South Dakota State University baseball coach Dave Schrage announced that four high school standouts and one junior college player recently signed a National Letter of Intent, indicating they plan to enroll at SDSU and compete for the Jackrabbits starting next fall.
The signees include:
• Ryan Froom, 6-1, pitcher, Crystal, Minn.
• Derringer Huff, 6-4, 190, pitcher, Troy, Mo.;
• Matt Johnson, 6-1, 200, third baseman/pitcher, Ankeny, Iowa;
• Ethan Kenkel, 6-5, 215, pitcher, Storm Lake, Iowa;
• Austin Kost, 6-1, 170, pitcher, Sioux Falls
"Our coaching staff did a great job of bringing in another solid recruiting class," Schrage said. " This class is dominated by pitching and really meets our needs for the 2014 season. We have brought is some power arms and a power bat that will help us reach our goal of a Summit League championship."
Froom combined to go 6-0 with two saves during his sophomore and junior seasons at St. Louis Park High School in the Twin Cities metro area. The team's most valuable player as a junior, Froom also batted .420 with six doubles and a home run while serving as the regular starting shortstop. An all-North Suburban Conference selection, Froom was selected to play for the Minnesota Blizzard Blue varsity elite traveling team in the summer of 2013. In addition to baseball, Froom has been an honorable mention all-conference selection as a goaltender for his high school hockey team.
"Ryan is a pitcher whose fastball has been clocked in the 90s," Schrage said. "He has great upside with the ability to be a solid starting pitcher.
Huff has yet to play collegiately after redshirting during the 2012 season. He is slated to play the 2013 campaign at Lincoln Land Community College in Springfield, Ill.
"Derringer is another power arm who will be able to step right in at this level," Schrage said. "He has an excellent slider and good command of three pitches."
Johnson helped lead Ankeny High School to a 43-2 record and the Iowa Class 4A state championship during his junior season in 2012. At the plate, he batted .438 with 13 home runs, 14 doubles and an .867 slugging percentage. He led the team with 56 hits and 51 runs batted in, while also compiling a 7-1 record and 1.52 earned run average on the mound in earning first-team all-state honors as a utility player.
"Matt is one of the top power hitters in the Midwest and his bat is ready to hit right away," Schrage said. "He is also a winner and versatile player. It is nice to bring in a left-handed-hitting third baseman who can also pitch."
Kenkel has earned all-district honors three times and was an all-state selection last season at Storm Lake High School after compiling a 6-2 record while striking out 75 batters in only 52 innings. He limited opponents to a .142 batting average while compiling a 1.08 ERA. In addition, Kenkel has qualified for the Iowa state track and field meet three times in the discus, and has been honored as an all-district football player and all-conference basketball player.
"Ethan is one of the top power arms in the Midwest," Schrage said. "He is a big, strong, durable pitcher who has been clocked in the 90s. He also has a good slider and is very competitive."
Kost put together a strong junior season as a member of the Washington High School and Sioux Falls Post 15 American Legion programs. During the high school season, Kost compiled a 4-2 record with a 1.77 ERA, striking out 49 batters in 36 innings. He went on to post a 6-3 mark with a 3.30 ERA with five complete games in first season of American Legion ball. He threw a no-hitter versus Coon Rapids (Minn.) in the Upper Midwest Classic. Although recruited as a pitcher, Kost batted .370 and played eight different positions last season.
"Austin is one of the top pitchers in South Dakota and we want to keep the best players in the state playing for the Jackrabbits," Schrage said. "He is a three-pitch pitcher with solid command of his fastball, curveball and changeup."
South Dakota State is scheduled to open the 2013 campaign Feb. 18 with a doubleheader against Waldorf (Iowa) at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.