Texan baseball adds eight for 2016




STEPHENVILLE (April 28, 2016) – Tarleton Baseball has announced the addition of eight players – five junior college and three high school – who have decided to continue their playing careers and education at Tarleton State University next fall.

“This spring signing class represents the continued relentless effort that Coach (Ben) Buck and Coach (Eric) Dorton have brought to our program,” said head coach Bryan Conger. “As a staff, we are extremely pleased with the overall length and athletic ability of this group.

“From a position player standpoint, we have been able to increase, not only our physicality but, our overall team speed,” he continued. “On the mound, we have been able to add guys that have arm strength and the ability to generate swings and misses, which will pay nice dividends in the future. Along with the young men we signed in the fall, this class is shaping up to make a tremendous impact next year.”

This group brings Tarleton’s recruiting class to 15 this year after the coaching staff announced seven additions – Dylan Lemons, Nathan Hickey, Luis Rivas, Colby Fowler, Easton Brown, Keaton Denzer, and Elijah McLane – last November.

Here’s a look at Tarleton’s newest signees:

Alex DeBell | RHP | Lakewood, Colo. | Lamar Community College

DeBell is set to come to Tarleton after an All-American career at Lamar Community College.

“Alex generates a lot of swings and misses with his lower 90’s fastball and two other pitches that combo it,” said assistant coach Ben Buck. “In combination with his ability to win, he has been averaging 12 strikeouts a game in his two years at Lamar Community College – a junior college powerhouse.”

A 6-1, 200-pound right-hander from Bear Creek High School in Lakewood, Colorado, DeBell won 10 games as a freshman for the Lopes – boasting a 1.64 ERA in 76.2 innings of work, over which he struck out 102. His inaugural college campaign earned him Honorable Mention All-America honors and first-team all-region recognition. He has struck out 66 batters over his first 12 games of this season.

He went to Lamar CC after a second-team all-region season at Bear Creek High School, during which he set his school record for lowest ERA and opponent batting average. In his debut season at Lamar, he finished top-10 in the nation in ERA (1.64), strikeouts (102), and wins (10). He also earned the ‘Excellence in Pre-Calculus’ award at BCHS and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa at Lamar.

Colt Nelson | IF | China Spring, Texas | China Spring HS

Nelson is set to continue his education and playing career following his graduation from China Spring High School.

“Colton is a highly athletic high school shortstop that stood out on a very competitive Waco Storm Club Team,” said Buck. “He is hitting leadoff for China Spring and we have seen his ability to do a lot of things on the field that can help the offense go. Defensively, he uses his length and arm strength very well.”

The 6-3, 165-pound middle infielder is set to become a Texan following a three-year varsity career at China Spring High School where he was a team captain. He has posted back-to-back all-district seasons, including a second-team nod as a junior. He is currently looking to build on his own school record for triples (8).

Conner Fletcher | RHP | Henrietta, Texas | Vernon College

Fletcher will join the Tarleton pitching staff following his second season of pitching for Vernon College.

“Conner is a highly competitive and athletic pitcher with a mid-80’s sidearm fastball and a Frisbee slider,” said Buck. “He has been a bulldog for Vernon Junior College, averaging a 2-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio and eight strikeouts per game.”

A 6-2, 175-pound right-hander from Henrietta, Fletcher has pitched in 26 games thus far into his junior college career and boasts 92.1 innings of work – including a team-high 64.0 innings so far this season. He has 81 career strikeouts for Vernon, including 56 so far through his sophomore season.

He went to Vernon following a standout athletic career for Henrietta, where he lettered in baseball, football, and basketball while serving as a team captain in all three sports. Fletcher was a three-time first-team all-district selection in baseball while racking up all-district honors in football and basketball as well. In his final season of baseball for HHS, be boasted an ERA of 0.90.

He was also a member of National Honor Society and FFA at Henrietta High School.

Eddie Avila | RHP | Fort Worth, Texas | Vernon College

Avila is set to join the Texans following his sophomore season at VC.

“Right now, Eddie might have the hardest fastball of the recruits we have coming in – throwing in the low-to-mid 90’s,” said Buck. “He has electric stuff and, combined with his desire to compete, we are excited to have him for next year’s team.”

Avila hurled a team-leading 56.2 innings and struck out a team-best 56 hitters as a freshman for Vernon College last season. Thus far as a sophomore, the 6-0 right-hander has struck out 33 in 30.0 innings of work in seven games.

He continued his career at VC following a three-year varsity career for W. E. Boswell High School where he was a team captain. At Boswell, he was a first-team all-district pitcher following his senior season.

Francisco Rodriguez | OF | Punta De Mata, Venezuela | Vernon College

Coming to Tarleton alongside his junior college teammates, Francisco Rodriguez will join the Tarleton outfield after his sophomore season at Vernon College.

“Francisco is a big time addition to next year’s team,” said Buck. “His physical makeup, combined with his 6.3-60 speed, gives him the ability to offensively produce in a number of different ways. His work ethic and competitiveness should make him a very special player at this level.”

The Venezuelan outfielder is having a dominant season for NJCCA Division I Vernon College with a team-leading .390 batting average and 17 stolen bases. He is slugging .671 with seven home runs, seven triples, and seven doubles to go along with 32 RBIs. He also leads the team with 64 base hits and his seven triples ranks him 10th in the nation this season.

All of this coming after a freshman year where he hit .273 with five home runs and 23 RBIs.

Hayden Stanford | RHP | Venus, Texas | Venus HS

The only high school pitcher of this group of signees, Stanford will join the Texan pitching staff after his graduation from Venus High School this spring.

“Hayden is a winner – plain and simple,” said Buck. “Every time we’ve seen him throw, he goes out and competes and wins. We are very excited to have a player that competes like that and gives everything he has to give his team a chance to win.”

Stanford is a four-year varsity letterwinner and a team captain for the Bulldogs’ baseball team. He earned back-to-back all-district honors during his freshman and sophomore seasons before claiming the District MVP award as a junior in 2015. Stanford helped his team to the 4A Regional Finals last year and opened his senior campaign as a 4A State pre-season Top-40 prospect.

He was also an academic all-district selection last season.


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