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Wednesday November 15, 2000

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UA baseball receives 10 national letters of intent

By Maxx Wolfson

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Head coach Stitt said prospects mark best recruiting class in last 5 years

Recruiting is the key to a team's future.

If the 2001-2002 Arizona baseball recruiting class is any indication of what's to come, things look good for the Wildcat baseball team.

Head coach Jerry Stitt announced yesterday that the UA has received 10 national letters of intent in the early signing period.

"It is a great class, one of the best we have had in the last five years," Stitt said. "Last year's class was pitcher oriented, while the class this year is filled with position players. The class has great diversity."

The recruiting class includes four infielders, three pitchers, a catcher, an outfielder and an infielder/pitcher.

The Wildcats' biggest recruit might be Tucson's J.J. Hardy, rated as the 15th-best high school prospect in Baseball America's Top 100 listing.

"(Hardy) obviously brings a tremendous amount of experience to our team," assistant coach Victor Solis said. "He does a lot of things well and is an exceptionally good infielder and pitcher."

Hardy, currently a senior at local Sabino High School, can play shortstop and pitch.

Jason Snyder, rated No. 48 overall by Baseball America, is a right-handed pitcher who brings a lot of potential to the Wildcats.

Right-handers Chris Saenz and Will Miller round out the remaining pitchers.

Saenz, a junior college transfer from Pima Community College, should bring experience to a young UA team.

Miller, who is a 6-foot-3 prospect from Poway High School in Poway,Calif., is a "dominating type pitcher," according to Stitt.

"We got a small number of pitchers, but they are really good," Stitt said. "Hardy is as good as there is and Chris Saenz is the diamond in the rough. He is a hard thrower who can throw 90 plus and he could develop this year into a really good pitcher."

The Wildcats could face problems come June though, when all 10 players will likely have a legitimate chance of being drafted in the 2001 Major League Baseball draft.

"Hopefully for our sake, none of the players are taken in the draft," Solis said. "Though realistically, we are expecting to lose two or three of them."

Three of the 10 UA recruits come from the Tucson area, a region Solis feels is crucial to the Wildcats' success.

"Getting players from Tucson is a really important part of our recruiting efforts," Solis said. "Coach Stitt wants to get every good player out of Tucson."

Jesus Cota, a Tucson-native and 14th round selection of the Arizona Diamondbacks after his freshman year at Pima, should bring a powerful left-handed bat to the Wildcats.