Baseball commitments from the class of 2014 seem to roll in daily. Wichita State has 10 after Norman (Okla.) pitcher Bradley Kinsey became the latest to say he will sign in November with the Shockers.
I don’t know what it means to have 10 commitments on Aug. 25. It’s a faster pace (slightly in some cases) than in past seasons. That is expected when coach Todd Butler looks at a roster with eight seniors and nine juniors.
The most important development appears to be that the Shockers are continuing to keep the best local players in black and yellow. It is hard to think of top Wichita-area players who escaped to another college and made a big impact – the Batys at Kansas leap to mind. Valley Center pitcher Nate Williams is doing good things in two seasons at Kansas State. Campus outfielder Justin Burba played little at Oklahoma in 2013 as a freshman.
The new staff (including old staffer Brent Kemnitz) must build that same kind of expectation for local kids – the only place to play is at WSU. In my mind, that made Bishop Carroll catcher Taylor Sanagorski and Circle pitcher Garrett Hutson (from the class of 2015) critical guys.
Sanagorski took a strong look at Kansas and Kansas State before deciding on WSU. Hutson appears on track to be drafted in June 2015. To allow another school to poach those kids from the shadow of Eck Stadium sends a bad message. If area Big 12 schools wanted an opening, now is the time. Kansas State is coming off a super regional. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are what they are. Kansas is a solid program with a recent history of battling WSU even on the field. Meanwhile, the Shockers slipped competitively and changed coaches.
Midwest Warducks coach Jason Arrowood called the recruiting battle for Hutson among WSU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State a feeding frenzy. In his mind, WSU put all its efforts into Hutson. “To have him right there in their backyard is a pretty good thing,” Arrowood said. “They didn’t want to lose him.” Late Sunday (the day Hutson committed), Butler tweeted “Huge Day!!!” We don’t know those events are connected, but Butler has tweeted 10 times since July 17, twice remarking on the hugeness of Sunday.
Hutson won’t play for WSU until the 2016 season. A lot can change. That is one of the dangers of early commitments and one reason WSU didn’t do much of it in previous seasons. The trend is changing, for better or worse, and the Shockers are jumping on.
What’s not trendy is keeping the top players from this part of the state at WSU. The new coaching staff appears as if it is off to a good start keeping that part of the routine.
Butler’s first class will attract attention because it’s his first. We know WSU got a late start on recruiting 2014 graduates because of the coaching change. We know the new staff will do some things differently. They appear to be offering a little earlier and a little more quickly. They will hit some different geographic areas, especially Texas.
How does 10 commitments compare to past seasons?
In 2012, WSU had six on Aug.9 and ended up with 10 signing in November (the current group of newcomers). In 2011, WSU had three commitments on Aug. 22 and signed six in November. In 2010, WSU had six commitments on Aug. 19 and signed 10 in November. In 2009, WSU had five commitments on Aug. 15 and signed seven in November.