When Georgia Regents announced the signing of Jason Eller as the new head baseball coach, it marked a possible turnaround for a program that has struggled in recent years. Eller's first signing class during the early period is an indication that the program is back on track.
The early class includes a majority from the Atlanta and Augusta areas, two strong areas that nearby college programs feed off.
Brent Alford, a senior from McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Ga., rates as one of the best prep catchers in Georgia. He played in the 2013 WWBA World Championship in Jupiter and was clocked at 83 on the mound during an underclass showcase in 2012. I already had Alford on my follow list, which is impressive that Georgia Regents managed to pull someone of this level this early into a coaching transition. Alford should lead the Jaguars behind the plate right away in 2015.
Any time Georgia Regents can pull talent from Parkview, things are going in the right direction. Jordan Kelly is a 6-1 left-hander who has room to grow and add velocity. He was most recently clocked at 79 in a showcase, but he has ramped it up as high as 85 in the past. He shows the ability to command three pitches and throw strikes. If he can add muscle and velo, this should be an excellent signing.
The Jaguars also pulled Jim Wagner from Parkview. Wagner is a middle infielder with a lot of showcase experience in the Atlanta area.
Nick Rau could end up being the top signee from this class. He's an athletic infielder from the East Georgia program who played at Thomson while originally signing with Georgia Southern. Rau was clocked at 86 off the mound in 2010 and displays a plus arm. Eller said he will play middle infield and should be one of the team's top run producers. Shortstop seems likely, as his arm should be on the left side and the Jaguars aren't committed long term to a shortstop right now.
Matthew Buckalew is also up there with Rau and Alford. He's listed at 6-5, 200 pounds, and was clocked at 88 during the 2013 WWBA Worlds. He adds a developing curveball and a changeup that comes and goes according to feel. Buckalew could become one of the most physically gifted pitchers in the program in quite some time.
Georgia Regents will bring in Thomas Kubiak from another strong program in Lambert. Kubiak is a small left-hander who throws strikes and shows pitchability. He clocked 78 in a 2013 showcase while pairing a curveball.
Phillip Anderson comes out of the East Georgia program while playing his prep ball at Thomson. He's lean and projectable at 6-3, most recently throwing 82 in a 2010 underclass event out of high school while pairing it with a good curve.
Andrew Gomez and Blue Sanderson are outfielders who will compete for spots. Both are athletic with good builds and sport showcase experience. Eller said Sanderson is a JUCO product who could hold an outfield spot right away.
David Hagelston is staying home after signing with Georgia Regents out of Westside High School in Augusta. Hagelston is physically gifted at 6-4, 205 pounds, and has a strong frame with some room to grow. He clocked 87 at a 2013 showcase and will probably help the Jaguars right away with his advanced velo.
Gage Patton is an infielder from Baxley, Ga., the same program that recently produced No. 1 prospect Byron Buxton. Patton profiles as a scrappy infielder who will compete for a spot.