Aggie Baseball Announces Early Signees

Written by: NMSU Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - New Mexico State head baseball coach Rocky Ward announced the rest of his early signing class which includes 17 players from around the country.

Including Justin Cooper, a New Mexico native who was signed on the very first day of the early signing period, a total of 17 players signed National Letters of Intent to attend school and play baseball at NMSU.

"It's probably the best recruiting class we've had in a long time and it's definitely the largest," Ward said. "It was really a full staff effort and assistant coaches Chase Tidwell and Gary Ward did an excellent job. It's a good young class and should add some depth."

Signees include Matt Flores (Robstown, Texas), Royal Good (Carson City, Nev.), Jared Jordan (Moreno Valley, Calif.), Michael Sodders (Moreno Valley, Calif.), Kyle Decater (Sammanish, Wash.), Troy Burki (Gig Harbor, Wash.), Travis Jones (Dallas, Texas), Nathan Wood (Missouri City, Texas), Bo Lybeck (Selah, Wash.), Tyler Owens (Poulsbo, Wash.), Tomas Gutierrez (Albuquerque, N.M./La Cueva HS), Adam Salazar (Riverside, Calif.), Ben Harty (Bellevue, Wash.), Jesse Stokke (Kent, Wash.), Matt Anderson (Scottsdale, Ariz.), and Kyle Wuestenfeld (Meridian, Idaho).

"We hit the northwestern part of the country because these kids appreciate what NMSU and Las Cruces has to offer," Ward said. "These kids tend to have a good experience here and NMSU."

Flores is left-handed hitting shortstop that hit .378 for Alvin Community College in 2007, and was voted All-Conference as freshman.

"Flores is a solid defensive shortstop with a very strong arm and will bring left-hand hitting and balance to the left side of the infield," Ward said.

Good is a left-handed hitting outfielder who comes to NMSU from Cerro Coso Community College where he earned rookie of the year honors in the Foothill Conference. Good played for Ron McNutt and Steve Cook at Carson High School from 2003-06 where he helped his team qualify for state in 2003.

"Good is a versatile player that can play all outfield positions and brings a top of the lineup caliber offensive game with him," Ward said.

Jordan is a left-hand hitting catcher/first baseman. Under the direction of Aggie head coach Rocky Ward's brother, Roger Ward, Jordan hit .227 at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College. Sodders is a third baseman that hit .344 with seven homeruns as a freshman at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College where he also plays for Roger Ward. Sodders added 41 RBI and seven stolen bases, which helped him earn All-Bi-State Conference honorable mention honors. They both helped the team to a conference championship.

"We've had a lot of success from getting kids from that area especially from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, because there's an easy transition for these kids," Ward said. "My brother, Rodger teaches the same type of things we do. If you can't trust an evaluation from your own brother, who can you trust."

Decater is a left-hand hitting outfielder that hit .364 for Bellevue Community College in the wood bat NWAACC. He is a solid defender that brings a very good offensive game with him. Decater was a key figure in the Bulldogs winning the NWAACC Championship in 2007. Burki is a left-handed pitcher who had a 2.58 ERA and held opponents to a .142 batting average for Bellevue Community College in 2007. He is a solid pitcher with a mid to upper 80's fastball that will bring left-handed balance to the pitching staff.

Wuestenfeld is a left handed pitcher out of Wenatchee Valley College. Ward mentioned that he brings a lot of experience and can be a starter or a reliever. Wuestenfeld also helped the Bishop Kelly High School Knights to a third place conference finish and a runner-up finish in the state of Idaho.

"Wuestenfeld has a mid 80's fastball and will be counted on to be versatile as a left handed pitcher," Ward said.

Stokke is a left-hand hitting outfielder that hit a team leading .319 for Tacoma Community College in the NWAACC, which is a wood bat league. He also added 30 runs, 37 hits and an on-base percentage of .436.

"Stokke can play all outfield positions and is versatile enough to hit anywhere in the lineup," Ward said.

Ben Harty comes to NMSU from Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Wash. where he hit .346 with six home runs and was named second team all-conference. He was first in the NWAACC in RBI and home runs, which helped him to a First Team Northern Division NWAACC honor.

"Harty is a big powerful first baseman," Ward said. "He will be counted on to supply right handed power at first base and designated hitter."

Tyler Owens is an athletic third baseman who can also catch and will do so for Green River Community College in 2008. He helped his team to a 34-18 record and received NWAACC All-Tournament honors.

"Owens is a very versatile player on both sides of the ball and will be counted on to fill a void at third base in 2009," Ward said.

Bo Lybeck is a left-handed hitting catcher that hit .289 with 27 RBI at Community College of Southern Idaho in 2007. He has transferred to Lower Columbia College for the 2008 season. Coming out of high school, where he played at A.C. Davis, he was rated the No. 35 player in the state of Washington as he hit .395 with 18 doubles and 31 RBI.

"Lybeck will be bringing a wealth of experience behind the plate and has an offensive game that can be used anywhere in the lineup," Ward said.

Travis Jones is a right-handed pitcher from Dallas, Texas and Highland Park High School. He throws in the upper 80's and has good mound presence. Under head coach Sam Roberson, Jones helped his team to a 33-10 record and a Region II Bi-District Championship and a Region II Area Championship in 2007.

"Jones will be expected to come in and compete for a spot in the rotation in 2009," Ward said.

Nathan Wood is a right-handed pitcher who has already played three years at Hightower High School in Missouri City, Texas. Under head coach Eddie Youngblood, Wood helped his team to a 22-10 record as a sophomore and a Bi-District Championship.

"Wood has a fastball that can reach the low to mid 90's and will be counted on to bolster the end of the bullpen and pitch late in games," Ward said.

Tomas Gutierrez is a third baseman coming in from La Cueva High School in Albuquerque, N.M. He helped the Bears to a district championship, city championship and a state championship in 2006, while he helped them to a 20-7 record and a city championship in 2007. He earned all-district honors as a third baseman in 2006-07.

"Gutierrez brings an offensive game that has a lot of power potential and will be counted on for years of right-handed power," Ward said. "He has the potential to be a very quality player."

Adam Salazar is that rare combination of a right-handed pitcher and catcher. He has a upper 80's to low 90's fastball with a quality breaking pitch and will be expected to compete for a spot in the rotation. Behind the plate, he possesses a consistent 1.9 pop time and brings an offensive game that is very versatile.

Matt Anderson is a right-handed pitcher from Saguaro High School in Scottsdale, Ariz. Anderson has a fastball in the upper 80's and a plus breaking ball.

"Anderson has the stuff to be a starter and the versatility to be a starter or reliever," Ward said. "Overall this is a good young class that should add some depth to the team."

The Aggies will begin their season Friday, Feb. 22, 2008, when they take on New Orleans for a three-game series. Fans can go to www.nmstatesports.com to see the schedule in its entirety, which includes 33 home games.