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@AStateBaseball Adds 11 to Program

January 27, 2020

JONESBORO, ARK. (1/27/20) – Arkansas State head baseball coach Tommy Raffo announced that 11 student-athletes have signed National Letters of Intent to play baseball for Arkansas State in 2021.
“I would like to acknowledge the time and effort of our recruiting coordinator, Rick Guarno, and pitching coach, Rowdy Hardy, for an outstanding recruiting class,” said A-State head Baseball coach Tommy Raffo. “They have spent countless hours on the road identifying and evaluating the right young men to become Red Wolves.” 
Infielder Jared Toler, pitcher and infielder Will Gross,  outfielder Sam Fagan, pitcher Max Charlton, pitcher Brandon Hudson, pitcher Walker Williams, pitcher, infielder Jaden Woolbright, pitcher Griffin Miller, pitcher Will Gilmer, pitcher/infielder Jacob Hager and catcher Brandon Hager.
“These young men bring a skill set and “want” to win championships in the Sun Belt. These signees are the second outstanding class that our recruiting coordinator, Rick Guarno, has put together for the baseball program that will be replacing eleven impactful seniors,” Raffo added
Jared Toler | INF | 6-1 | 210 | Benton, Ark. | Harmony Grove High School
Toler prepped at Harmony Grove High School where he was a four-year letter winner. Toler earned all-conference honors in 2017, 2018 and 2019 as he led the squad in homeruns. In 2019, Toler earned all-state tournament team honors as he was ranked the No.1 first baseman in the state. He led the team in RBIs for three consecutive years as he earned a .320 avg., 471 obp., 80 hits and 81 RBIs. He also registered a .941 fielding percentage over 81 games.  
“Jared is a left-handed hitter that just flat out hits, Guarno added. “He’s got an advanced feel at the plate with the ability to drive the ball out of the park. He anchored a Harmony Grove lineup that won the state title last year, and also plays summer baseball with Sticks Baseball.”
Will Gross | RHP/INF | 6-0 | 215 | Mountain Home, Ark. | Mountain Home High School
Gross prepped at Mountain Home High School where was a three-year letter winner. As a junior, he earned all-state honors as he finished the season with a .341 avg, and a .993 fielding percentage. On the mound, his junior season, he tossed 54.1 innings registering a 1.56 ERA and earned 83 strikeouts. In 2018 he received a Perfect Game top-500 ranking by Prep Baseball Report. Gross earned all-academic honors for three-consecutive years.
“Will has the ability to contribute immediately on the mound for us next year,” Guarno added.  His stuff will play well in a variety of roles, and it’ll be interesting to see how it plays out for him. Will comes to us from Mountain Home HS coached by Tim Carver. He also played with Sticks Baseball, a nationally-recognized summer program.”
Sam Fagan | OF | 6-3 | 205 | Jonesboro, Ark. | Valley View High School
Fagan prepped at Valley View high school where he received two-time all-state honors and was named “The Best Under the Sun” twice by the Jonesboro Sun. 
Sam is a quintessential corner outfielder who has the ability to be a run producer down the line,” said assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Rick Guarno. “He is a local product of Valley View High School, coached by former Arkansas State baseball alumni, Josh Allison and Dustin Jones. He plays for the Rawlings Tigers during the summer.”
Max Charlton | RHP | 6-1 | 185 | Lenexa, Kan. | St. James Academy
Charlton prepped at St. James Academy where he was a three-year letter winner. His junior season, he received all-state honors as he was ranked third in the state on the mound.
“Max comes to us from Lenexa, Kansas, where he pitched for St. James Academy a very good Building Champions summer program the last few years, said Guarno.  “Max is college-ready and will be expected to compete for a starter’s role immediately.” 
Brandon Hudson | RHP | 6-5 | 170 | Roland, Ark. | Joe T. Robinson HS | Northern Okla. College
Hudson prepped a Northern Oklahoma Community College where he pitched 53.0 innings over 18 appearances. In 2019 he had 48 strikeouts against 35 walks as he averaged 8.15 strikeouts per game. Opposing batter registered a 3.52 against Hudson as pitched to a 6.11 ERA.
“Brandon is an Arkansas kid who went to high school at Joe T. Robinson HS in Little Rock and who currently pitches at NOC-Enid for Head Coach Scott Mansfield,” Guarno added. “NOC-Enid won the D2 NJCAA National Championship last year, as Brandon went 2-0 in the World Series and closed out the last 3 innings of the National Championship game. He’s a competitor and an innings eater who will vie for the weekend rotation next year.”
Walker Williams | LHP | 5-10 | 150 | Springdale, Ark. | Shiloh Christian High School 
Williams prepped at Shiloh Christian High School where he was a four-year letter winner. On his career, he struck out 194 batters through 101 innings pitched as he registered an impressive 1.19 ERA. Williams was awarded all-state honors last season and was also named the NWA Democrat Gazette Player of the Year. In 2018, he was named the NWA Democrat Gazette Newcomer of the Year. 
Walker is a polished LHP who has pitched big games over the course of his high school career—both for his HS, Shiloh Christian, and his summer program, the Arkansas Prospects, said Guarno. “Walker is the definition of a winner, and we expect him to continue that here at Arkansas State.”
Jaden Woolbright | RHP/INF | 6-2 | 200 | Benton, Ark. | Benton High School 
Woolbright prepped at Benton High School as he was a four-year letter winner. He was awarded all-conference honors in 2017, 2018 and 2019 as he was a two-time state runner-up in 2018 and 2019. Last season, he was ranked 13th in the state by Perfect Game as he was also ranked top-500 in the nation. More recently, Woolbright received MVP honors at the PG West MLK Tournament after he went 8-18 (.444) with five doubles, 10 RBIs and three walks. He also picked up the semifinal win on the mound after pitching three innings, earing four strikeouts and only allowing one hit.
“Jaden has the most upside of any incoming freshman in this class,” said Guarno “He has had the opportunity to develop at a great high school program coach by Mark Balisterri at Benton as well as two very successful summer programs in the Arkansas Prospects and Nebraska Prospects. He’ll show plus stuff on the mound and has light tower power at the plate. It’ll be fun to watch him progress as he matures.”
Griffin Miller | RHP | 6-2 | 200 | Milan, Tenn., | Milan High School 
Miller prepped at Milan high school where he was a three-year letter winner. His senior year, he earned All-district and All-tournament honors as he was also awarded pitcher of the year accolades. His senior year he pitched to a 1.81 ERA over 52 innings as he earned 60 strikeouts. Miller also earned all-academic honors.
“Griffin comes to us from Dyersburg CC, a strong junior college program in west Tennessee headed by Coach Robert White, said Guarno. “He’s got plus stuff and projectability, with an extremely high ceiling. He will be an impact arm in the Sun Belt next year.” 
Will Gilmer | RHP | 6-0 | 215 | Sikeston, Mo. | Sikeston High School
Gilmer prepped at Sikeston high school where he was a three-year letter winner. On the mound, his senior season, he tossed 50.1 innings registering a 2.09 ERA as he earned 51 strikeouts. Gilmer redshirted last season at Jefferson Community College.
“Will is coming to us next year from Jefferson College, where he pitches for Head Coach Kevin Moulder,” Guarno mentioned. “He will arrive on campus with 3 years of eligibility remaining. As we look to replace 7 seniors on our pitching staff, he will be squarely in the mix to throw important innings next year in a variety of possible roles.”
Jacob Hager | RHP/INF | 6-0 | 215 | State Pueblo, Colorado | Lutheran High School South
Hager prepped at Lutheran High School where was a three-time letter winner. He became the first player in program history to be inducted into the Rising Star amateur Baseball Hall of Fame after leading the state with 11 homeruns. Hager has also registered 41 RBIs and 8 triples which are both school records. 
Jacob comes to us from Lutheran High School South in St. Louis and the St. Louis Naturals summer program, said Guarno. “He’s a physical player who has the potential to play multiple infield spots as well as pitch. He shows a nice blend of contact and power that will allow him to vie for time early in his career.”
Brandon Hager | C | 6-0 | 215 | State Pueblo, Colorado | Lutheran High School South
Brandon prepped at Lutheran High School where he was a three-year letter winner. The three seasons at Lutheran High School he registered a .419 average, .538 on base percentage to go along with a .839 slugging percentage. He also earned first team all-conference honors and second team all-state allocates.

“Brandon is a prototypical catcher with big time power at the plate,” Guarno said. ‘He has strong hands behind the dish and a very good arm. He attends high school at Lutheran High School South and plays for the St. Louis Naturals summer program.”
For the latest on A-State baseball follow the team by logging onto the Arkansas State Baseball Facebook page or by following the team on Twitter (@AStateBaseball) and Instagram (arkansasstatebaseball).

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Original article source: | Article may or may not reflect the views of KLEK 102.5 FM or The Voice of Arkansas Minority Advocacy Council

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