Nov. 23, 2007
HOUSTON -- The Rice baseball program has signed 11 recruits in the early period who will join the team for the 2009 season, announced head coach Wayne Graham. The latest Rice baseball class is composed of eight high school standouts and three from the junior college ranks. Ten are from the state of Texas and five are from the greater Houston area.
The signees include pitchers Andrew Benak, Anthony Fazio, Trey Haley, Matthew Reckling, Jared Rogers and Taylor Wall. There are also infielders Brock Holt and Anthony Rendon, outfielders Jeremy Rathjen and Steven Sultzbaugh, and catcher Dave Peterson. The signees officially enroll at Rice in the fall of 2008. Their first baseball season with the Owls would be in the spring of 2009. Coach Graham had nothing but praise for the Owls' latest class and his assistant coaches.
"We're all very excited about this class," Graham said. "They are all very talented and athletic with a lot of potential. I don't think you can ever have too much pitching and (the signing class is) particularly strong up the middle. I want to thank (Rice assistant coaches) David (Pierce) and Mike (Taylor) for doing another great job with our recruiting. They helped identify the best players from all over the country who addressed our needs and who can meet our standards. This class has a chance to be the best class we've had at Rice."
The incoming trio of Holt, Rogers and Sultzbaugh are all experienced veterans from junior colleges. Sultzbaugh is a 6-3, 200-pound Austin native from Weatherford College who played centerfield in the Texas junior college all-star game. He was selected in the 20th round of the 2006 Major League Draft by the Florida Marlins. Rogers, a prep star while at Duncanville High School, was a 36th round selection by the New York Yankees in 2006. Holt is a middle infielder from Navarro College and the 2006 4A defensive player of the year while playing at Stephenville High School.
Five of the remaining eight signees are pitchers. Fazio is a 6-foot-1, 195-pound, right-hander from Kelly High School in Beaumont. Haley is a 6-foot-4, 190-pound right-hander from Central Heights in Nacogdoches. Both are ranked among the Top 25 high school players in the state of Texas according to Inside Prep Baseball
Wall, Reckling and Benak are all local prep pitching stars who can continue their careers in front of hometown crowds. Benak is 6-foot-5, 210-pound right-hander from Langham Creek High School who played in both the Houston and Texas ABCA all-star games. Reckling is a 6-foot-3, 185-pound, right-hander from The Kinkaid School who struck out 14 batters in a six-inning game last season. Wall, a versatile pitcher and outfielder, has the distinction as the only left-hander in the signing class. Last season the 6-foot-2, 175-pound, southpaw earned all-state and all-Greater Houston honors as a junior at Westside HS.
Rathjen and Rendon are a pair of local standouts who both played in the Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif., and were named among the Top 25 players in the state according to Inside Prep Baseball. Rathjen is a 6-foot-4, 175-pound, outfielder from Memorial High School in Houston. Rendon is an infielder from nearby Lamar High School who led the greater Houston area with 14 home runs as a junior.
Dave Peterson is the lone out-of-state player and only catcher in the class. In addition to first team all-league honors in 2006 and 2007, the 6-foot-0, 190-pound, catcher from Servite High School in Anaheim, Calif., was selected to the Under-16 U.S. Junior Olympic Team trials in 2006. He hit .592 at the NABF World Series in 2007.
Last season the Owls compiled a 56-14 record and reached the semifinals of the College World Series in Omaha. The 2008 season begins with the program's biennial varsity-alumni game on Feb. 2. The official season-opener is a big three-game weekend series on the road against Long Beach State beginning on Feb. 22.
2007-08 Rice Baseball Signees
Name Pos. B-T Ht. Wt. Hometown (Previous School/High School)
Andrew Benak RHP/1B R-R 6-5 210 Houston (Langham Creek)
Anthony Fazio RHP R-R 6-1 195 Beaumont (Kelly)
Trey Haley RHP R-R 6-4 190 Nacogdoches (Central Heights)
Brock Holt IF L-R 5-9 170 Stephenville (Navarro College/Stephenville)
Dave Peterson C R-R 6-0 190 Villa Park, Calif. (Servite)
Jeremy Rathjen OF R-R 6-4 175 Houston (Memorial)
Matthew Reckling RHP R-R 6-3 185 Houston (Kinkaid)
Anthony Rendon IF R-R 5-11 170 Houston (Lamar)
Jared Rogers RHPP R-R 6-6 190 Duncanville (Navarro College/Duncanville)
Steven Sultzbaugh OF/P R-R 6-3 200 Austin (Weatherford College//Westwood)
Taylor Wall LHP/OF L-L 6-2 175 Houston (Westside)