OU Baseball: Sooners Reloaded With 22-Player Roster

University of Oklahoma head baseball coach Pete Hughes announced the arrival of a 22-player incoming class on Monday afternoon. Hughes’ first full class of commits to OU consists of 13 freshmen and nine junior college transfers. Among the class’ top recruits are three 2015 MLB First-Year Player Draft selections and two Louisville Slugger All-Americans. In July, Perfect Game rated the class as the 10th ranked incoming class in the country.

“The 2015 class had to be pivotal in the growth of our program and the overall picture of our plan to return to Omaha,” stated Hughes. “It was really late to recruit a Big 12-worthy class at the time of my hire. We had to do a great job with the 2015 class since this is our signature class. It fulfilled all of our recruiting needs and goals in one class.”

The class is comprised of 12 pitchers, three catchers, three infielders and four outfielders. Eight student-athletes stayed home in Oklahoma to pursue their college baseball career, while six come to Norman from Texas and the remaining eight are from seven states stretching from New Jersey to California.

“This recruiting class really shows how powerful the OU brand is. It exemplifies our inside-out recruiting philosophy. We want to get the top kids in Oklahoma and then take advantage of the power of the OU brand. These kids are not just from Oklahoma; we got the Gatorade Player of the Year from Colorado and the only high school player drafted out of Minnesota. This class is our recruiting model. Collectively, they’re talented enough to replace everything we lost in our draft class.”

Right-handed pitcher Ryan Madden is the Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year, one of two such honorees in the class. He was the highest drafted Sooner signee as the 1,037th overall pick in the 35th round by the Colorado Rockies. Right-hander Jake Irvin was also drafted by his home state organization as the 1,100th pick in the 37th round by the Minnesota Twins. Right-handers Chris Andritsos, of The Woodlands, Texas, and Oklahoma Gatorade Player of the Year Kyle Tyler, from Westmoore High School, who each went undrafted due to their intention to attend OU, earned Collegiate Baseball News Louisville Slugger All-America.

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“The depth of this class, pitching wise, is as talented as a class can get and we need to have that with what we lost. We knew that when we constructed the class. We knew we were going to have a lot of kids leave the program. We lost a super-populated draft class and knew what was going to exit so we needed to bring in guys that could replace all of the innings walking out the door. You’ve got to recruit talented kids and we did.”

Remaining pitchers from the high school ranks include; RHP Connor Berry, RHP Dylan Grove and RHP Austin Hansen. From the JuCo ranks, Oklahoma added RHP Alex Daniele, LHP Austin Kerns, RHP JB Olson, RHP Brayden Young and RHP Joey Zurawik.

Behind the dish, the Sooners welcome Domenic DeRenzo, Renae Martinez and Hunter Southerland. DeRenzo was drafted by the Chicago Cubs with the 1,193rd overall pick in the 40th round. Martinez started his career at UC Irvine before playing at El Camino-Compton. Southerland, an All-State Large West selection, is a local product out of Westmoore that adds a versatile option to the mix with the ability to play the outfield.

On the infield, Oklahoma picked up Jack Flansburg, from Cypress College, Texas All-State selection Cade Harris and Oklahoma All-State Large West selection Thomas Hughes, out of Norman North. Hughes, the oldest of coach Hughes’s five children, will also seek innings on the mound as part of the Sooner pitching staff.

Brought in to patrol the outfield are Oklahoma All-State Large West selection Blake Brewster, out of Moore, and Texas All-State pick Steele Walker along with juniors Ben Hollas and Reggie Wright. Hollas joins Oklahoma from Hill College, while Wright comes to Norman from Eastern Oklahoma State.

The 22 newcomers were brought on to replace 18 total losses, including 11 Major League Draft picks back in June. The 11 selections was the largest draft class in the country and tied for the most in program history. To the draft, the Sooners lost seven pitchers, including starters Adam Choplick and Robert Tasin along with back-end relievers Jacob Evans and Ralph Garza Jr. From the lineup, lead-off hitting center fielder Craig Aikin, three-hole hitting infielder Kolbey Carpenter and clean-up hitting catcher Anthony Hermelyn moved on to the professional ranks.

“That’s what happens at Oklahoma. You get drafted and, as a staff, you better be prepared to bring guys in to replace those players and that’s what we did.”

Fall ball gets underway September 1. Throughout the fall season, SoonerSports.com will go position-by-position with a deeper look at all 22 members of the incoming class.

/// SoonerSports PR

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