National Signing Week: Talented Prep Class Signs On The Dotted Line

See also: High School Top 25 Prospects With Commitments
See also: High School Class of 2007 Top 300 (Prospects Plus subscribers)

As the NCAA early signing period wound down, it was clear that many of
the nation’s most powerful college baseball programs took advantage of
their clout.

Arizona State, Cal State Fullerton, Clemson, Georgia Tech and UCLA, as
well as last year’s College World Series finalists, North Carolina and
Oregon State, were among the schools that secured commitments from
multiple high-profile prospects from the deep and talented high school
Class of 2007.

Whether or not the best of those players ever see campus is an
obvious caveat when it comes to analyzing recruiting classes at this
early stage in the process. Often, most of the nation’s best high
players sign with the
professional team that drafts them, but some do wind up at college, and
it’s too early to know which players will fall into which category.

If everyone came to school, though, Arizona State would be in
business. The Sun Devils’ class is loaded with several of the top pro
prospects in the prep Class of 2007. Signees such as outfielder Michael
(Hillsborough High, Tampa) and infielders Josh Vitters (Cypress, Calif.,
High) and Justin Jackson (Roberson High, Asheville, N.C.) all
rank in the most recent top 10 of Baseball America’s Prospects Plus
top 300 national rankings.

Burgess has outstanding power from
the left
side of the plate, Vitters is an advanced hitter coming off an
outstanding summer, and Jackson is a
smooth-fielding shortstop who played for USA Baseball’s junior national
team, and was a high school teammate of Tigers prospect Cameron Maybin.
All three could be drafted in the first
round in June, provided they remain healthy between now and then.

Catcher Danny Rams (Gulliver Prep, Miami), first baseman Andrew Lambo
(Newbury Park, Calif., High) and righthander Seth Blair (Rock Falls,
Ill., High) also signed letters of intent with Arizona State, which has
a new recruiting coordinator in former Miami and Louisiana State
assistant Turtle Thomas. All three are similarly
considered potential high-round draft picks out of high school.
Outfielder Matt Newman (Brophy Prep, Phoenix) and righthander Kyle
(Marcos De Niza High, Chandler, Ariz.) are less likely to be enticed
with six-figure signing bonuses and could be the meat of Arizona
State’s class when fall practice begins in 2007.

The Tar Heels have locked up commitments from a bevy of the class’ top
pitchers, including the top two overall prospects–righthanders Matt
Harvey (Fitch High, Groton, Conn.) and Rick Porcello (Seton Hall Prep,
West Orange, N.J.). Lefty Madison Bumgarner (South Caldwell High,
Hudson, N.C.) was ranked No. 20 in the nation and could join Harvey and
Porcello in the first two rounds of the draft. Righthanders Patrick
Johnson (Saint Stephens HS, Conover, N.C.) and Greg Holt (West Forsyth
HS, Clemmons, N.C.) don’t presently offer the professional upside of
that trio and are more likely to find their way to Chapel Hill, where
they could serve impact roles for UNC, Holt as a potential two-way

Carolina recruiting coordinator Chad Holbrook said the Tar Heels were
able to take an aggressive approach after landing a deep and talented
freshman class in 2006.

“Obviously we had some momentum from
Omaha, and the way (2006 UNC pitchers) Andrew Miller, Daniel Bard and
Robert Woodard have developed and grown and gotten better here was
obviously intriguing to those young pitchers,” Holbrook said. “We were
very aggressive, because they have expressed a desire to attend
college. Even though they have that first-round potential, they do have
that chance of coming to college, or we wouldn’t have signed them.

years we would not have recruited all of those guys because of the
draft, but they were committed to being part of our program and wanting
to go to college. We wanted to seize the momentum from Omaha, and I
think we did.”

Oregon State has done likewise, locking up a pair of Top 25 pitchers in righthander Greg Peavey (Vancouver, Wash.) and lefty Tanner Robles (Salt Lake City), as well as Peavey’s Team USA junior national teammate Tim Alderson (Phoenix), a 6-foot-7 righthander.

UCLA coach John Savage has generated plenty of momentum at UCLA as
well, and has put together the Bruins’ third consecutive strong
recruiting class. Outfielders Jason Heyward (McDonough High, Henry
County, Ga.) and Brett Krill (Aliso Niguel High, Aliso Viejo, Calif.),
middle infielder Ryan Dent (Wilson High, Los Angeles) and righthander
Erik Goeddel (Bellarmine Prep, San Jose) are all top-40 prospects.
Bruins recruiting coordinator Brian Green secured their commitments,
but Savage knows the trick is getting them to school.

got to do your homework, got to have a little bit of a crystal ball,
have a little luck,” Savage said. “You win some, you lose some, just
want to make sure you’re in that 90 percent range, keeping nine out of
10 guys, or eight out of 10 at the worst. You don’™t want half the class
to disappear in June.”

One advantage schools will have next year is the comfort of knowing which players are going to come to school and which are
going to pursue their pro careers by Aug. 15. Major League Baseball’s
recent Collective Bargaining Agreement included Aug. 15 as a uniform
signing date for all drafted players.

Until then, schools like Arizona State and North Carolina are cautiously optimistic.

The signing period, which began Nov. 8, ends Nov. 15.