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Coach Jay Johnson announces Arizona baseball 2021 signing class

Paul Dye/Arizona Athletics

Branden Boissiere bats during an Arizona baseball game at Hi Corbett Field.

Arizona baseball coach Jay Johnson held a press conference announcing the 2021 signing class. Here is what Johnson had to say about each individual player. 

Kris Bow, RHP, College of Southern Nevada

“Kris [Bow] is a really good story, has really developed in this last year — this last six months tremendously — and will be a very important part of our team next year,” Johnson said. “His fastball has been up to 96 miles per hour, throws all of his pitches for strikes, highly competitive, highly intelligent and I don’t see a long learning curve for him. He’ll be a guy that we expect to impact our pitching staff in 2022 immediately.”

Ryan Campos, C/INF, Red Mountain HS (Mesa, Ariz.)

“In my opinion, Ryan [Campos] is the best player in the state of Arizona for the class of 2021,” Johnson said. “Typical left-handed hitter, you guys know my affinity for left-handed hitters, and when I went to recruit [Campos], I swear he had 13 or 14 hits in a row over the course of three or four games and has not slowed down through his high school time. Classic swing and his versatility is really important. I think he is a great catcher, can also play very well in the infield and athletic enough to play in the outfield. I think he’ll be one of those guys that is in the middle of a lot of offensive rallies in future years.”

Matty Clark, OF, Damien HS (Upland, Calif.)

“[Matty Clark] committed to us as a freshman like three years ago, so to watch his development into one of the best players in Southern California,” Johnson said. “Very classic Arizona type offensive player — fast, athletic, strong, can hit with power, solid hitting skills and a player that plays for a really good high school program that will position him well to make a positive contribution here and very excited to coach him and seeing his development over the last few years gives me great optimism for where we’re headed with [Clark].”

Chris Cortez, RHP, Silverado HS (Las Vegas, Nev.)

“Very excited about Chris [Cortez]; I think he’s just scratching the surface of his potential and has a chance to be a dominating pitcher for us in our program,” Johnson said. “Terrific athlete, terrific arm and used to be an infielder. That athleticism is something that we’re always looking for. I think working with coach [Nate] Yeskie, the sky will be the limit for [Cortez] and certainly a big piece of this group that we’re bringing in.”

Ethan Gourson, SS, Point Loma HS (San Diego, Calif.)

“Really athletic, can run, big time defensive skills in terms of his glove and his arm strength and a very quick bat,” Johnson said. “I think [Gourson] is a player that has unlimited potential. I think another one [is] that when you look at him one year from now, two years from now, you all will say, ‘Well, we certainly see why you guys recruited him hard.’ I think he is one of the best shortstops on the west coast and can certainly be athletic and play really any position on the field but is definitely an infielder, and somebody we’re really excited to have.”

Eric Orloff, LHP, Glenbrook North HS (Northbrook, Ill.)

“Went out to Illinois to get a left-handed pitcher, Eric Orloff, who we got this summer during the pandemic,” Johnson said. “A lot of video, watched literally like three or four appearances in a row, and the thing that really stood out was the ability to fill up the strike zone with all pitches and get hitters off timing and command his fastball to both sides of the plate.”

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Josh Randall, RHP/C, Capistrano Valley Christian HS (San Juan Capistrano, Calif)

“Unique skillset of a right-handed pitcher and a catcher,” Johnson said. “Josh [Randall] really has developed in the last year. He is one of the best players in the country, big time arm strength; I think he has been put up to 95-96 miles per hour. Real hard power curveball, really good mound presence, physically strong — which is where the catching piece comes in, has power in his bat. He is very unique, and he can impact the game in a lot of different ways and has the sustainability to be a two-way player at this level.”

Reed Schaefer, LHP, Desert Oasis HS (Las Vegas, Nev.)

“Big time arm strength for a lefty,” Johnson said. “I think the best has yet to come for Reed [Schaefer], has really made a jump over the last year, and I think there’s an exciting thought of him getting here, getting with coach Yeskie and we’re getting him probably at the exact right time in terms of how he’s been developed and is developing, and we’re excited to have [Schaefer] as another left-handed pitcher.”

David Shackelford, UTIL, La Habra HS (La Habra, Calif.)

“[Shackelford] is a guy that performs, you know, has been all-league player very early on in his high school career and can play multiple positions,” Johnson said. “Outfield and is experimenting playing in the infield a little bit as well but a guy who will put a lot of pressure on the defense in terms of hitting skills, speed, some developing power and really intelligent. He is a guy that is going to take all of the things development-wise that we’re going to want to do with him and turn himself into a really good player.”

Tommy Splaine, RHP/C/1B, Los Gatos HS (Los Gatos, Calif.)

“Very unique, also a pitcher and hitter two-way player,” Johnson said. “[Splaine] has been behind the plate and can also play on the corner infield. One of the best high school changeups that I have frankly ever seen, has the type of body that makes us believe he will continue to project to add velocity, throws a ton of strikes and a very good competitor. Then on the position player side of things, a swing that generates a lot of power and also a very good defensive catcher as well and the athleticism to move to the corner. So [he’s] a player that can add a lot of value. It will be fun with a lot of these two-way guys to see how they end up impacting our team and we feel like we have a good template of how to do that.”

Anthony Susac, RHP, Jesuit HS (Sacramento, Calif.)

“One of the best pitchers in the country, in my opinion, in this class,” Johnson said. “Very good fastball and very good off-speed stuff, I think [Susac] has strikeout potential which playing in the Pac-12 is really important with the caliber of competition that we see on a daily basis. He is a great competitor, elite worker, in tremendous shape and is somebody that has all the makings of somebody that can impact the program early and be a headliner in terms of leadership and a headliner in terms of performance as he moves along in his career here.”

Luis Tuero, INF, Florida Southwestern 

“[Tuero] was at the University of Miami last year,” Johnson said. “He was the second leading hitter at Miami, left-handed hitter and a high performer no matter where he’s been. I remember several years ago, he was the shortstop on the 15 and under national team, played with Branden Boissiere on that team who is one of our best players. He committed to Miami very early, had some success last year, chose not to go back and we were fortunate to get involved with [Tuero] in the summer time and again, a player that I think has the right type of maturity to obviously make a positive impact and look like he has been here for a long time from the time he steps foot on our campus. So that was a big win for us, getting [Tuero] here.” 

Noah Turley, RHP, Yavapai College 

“Tremendous physical specimen, tremendous arm strength, pitches with a lot of intent is how I would say it and a guy that I think when you look and turn on the T.V. and look at pitchers in the major leagues, just physically that’s what they look like and very excited for [Turley] to get here and evolve on the mound and at the plate,” Johnson said. “After being at Yavapai this year, it is a great program up there and with their coaching staff, I think we’ll be very well poised to make a significant impact on our team next year.”

Tyler Whitaker, UTIL/RHP, Bishop Gorman HS (Las Vegas, Nev.)

“The first player we had committed in this class,” Johnson said. “[Whitaker] actually committed as an eighth grader and it is cool to finally have him here or be on the doorstep of having him here. One of the best players in the country, and it’s fun to get a chance to see that and look at Tyler and how he has evolved. He could certainly stand alone if he was just a pitcher and early on, maybe that’s what I thought he was going to head to, and now he’s one of the best players in the country in terms of being a right-handed hitter with power and speed. I legitimately think probably other than catcher, which we wouldn’t need him to do, he can play every single position on the field and play it well.” 

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