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Tech Baseball Signs 11 In Early Period

Nov. 17, 2003

ATLANTA – Eleven high school seniors, including nine of the top 115 prospects in the nation according to Perfect Game USA, have signed National Letters of Intent to play baseball at Georgia Tech next year, head coach Danny Hall announced.

The recruiting class, assembled under the direction of assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Scott Stricklin as well as associate head coach Bobby Moranda, includes five pitchers, three infielders, two outfielders and one catcher.

Georgia Tech’s in-state commitments, which includes six of the top 16 prospects in Georgia, are pitcher Eddie Burns (Hiram, Ga./Hiram HS), infielder/outfielder Brad Feltes (Alpharetta, Ga./Chattahoochee HS), pitcher Brian Futral (Newnan, Ga./Newnan HS), pitcher Tim Ladd (Marietta, Ga./Kell HS), outfielder Danny Payne (Canton, Ga./Sequoyah HS), infielder/outfielder Eddie Prasch (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton HS), pitcher Brad Rulon (Columbus, Ga./Columbus HS) and pitcher John Michael Vidic (Marietta, Ga./Lassiter HS).

Tech’s three out-of-state signees – infielders Blake DeWitt (Sikeston, Mo./Sikeston HS) and Michael Fisher (Nashville, Tenn./Montgomery Bell Academy), and catcher/pitcher Matt Wieters (Goose Creek, S.C./Stratford HS) – are all ranked among the top three prospects in their respective states.

“We’ve got a tremendous group of players, but it’s also a tremendous group of students,” said Hall, who owns a 440-190 record in 10 years as Tech’s head coach after leading the Yellow Jackets to their second Atlantic Coast Conference championship in the last four years in 2003. “It’s a year where we are planning on losing a bunch of players and we are counting on many of these guys to be able to step in right away and hopefully keep our program at an elite level.

“You always need pitchers, and I am very excited about the pitchers that we have signed. The interesting thing about some of the position players is that they are very versatile guys, and even a few of them could end up helping us on the mound. Anytime you can get guys who are capable of playing another position, then that makes your club have a lot more depth. We are excited about some of the possibilities for these guys.”

Eddie Burns, a 6-7, 220-pound right-handed pitcher, is rated the No. 4 high school prospect in the state of Georgia and the No. 20 prospect in the nation. A four-year starter at Hiram High School, Burns earned all-region honors in both 2002 and 2003. He spent the summer of 2003 with the East Cobb Yankees, posting an 8-1 record and a 1.69 ERA in 57.2 innings and helping the team win the Connie Mack World Series.

“I think Eddie Burns is one of the most talented pitchers in the country,” said Hall. “He is a good athlete, and he was the top pitcher on the East Cobb Yankees this summer. He’s also a great student, and I think he is a guy that is very committed to going to college even though he may be a very high draft pick. He’s one of the elite pitchers in the country.”

Blake DeWitt is rated the No. 2 prospect in the state of Missouri and the No. 93 prospect in the nation. The 6-0, 185-pound infielder set a Sikeston High School record with 14 home runs, 56 RBI, 15 doubles and 31 extra base hits last spring. A two-time all-state selection, the left-handed hitting DeWitt enters his senior season with a .472 career batting average, 15 home runs and 117 RBI. He has helped Sikeston win conference championships in each of the last three seasons.

“Blake DeWitt may be one of the best hitters in the nation,” said Hall. “He played shortstop in high school, and we project him more as a second baseman or third baseman. Our coaches compare his bat a lot to a guy like Jeremy Slayden. We are counting on him to be an impact player for us, and we see him as a three-hole hitter.”

Brad Feltes, a 6-1, 190-pound infielder, hit .388 with seven home runs and 24 RBI as a junior at Chattahoochee High School. He enters his senior season ranked among the school’s all-time top ten in runs, hits, RBI, home runs and walks. Rated the No. 24 prospect in Georgia and the No. 255 prospect in the nation, Feltes spent the summer of 2003 with the East Cobb Astros team that won the Perfect Game/Baseball America World Wood Bat Association Fall Championship.

“I compare Brad Feltes to a guy named Brandon Hensley, who was a great player for us in the early 1990’s,” said Hall. “He’s a guy who we think can play some in the infield as well as the outfield. But his biggest tool is his bat, he can really hit. We are excited to have him in the program. He’s a great student as well, and he’s a guy who will represent Georgia Tech well.”

Rated the No. 3 high school prospect in Tennessee and the No. 91 prospect in the nation, Michael Fisher is an all-state selection as a shortstop in baseball and a quarterback in football. A four-year starter on the diamond, the 6-2, 190-pound Fisher hit .378 for Montgomery Bell Academy in 2003, while he is also considered the top high school quarterback in Tennessee. The switch-hitter hit .489 with his summer team in the Greater Nashville Baseball Association in 2003.

“Michael Fisher is one of those extraordinary athletes,” said Hall. “He’s the quarterback on his high school football team. He’s a switch-hitting shortstop, but he has never really devoted himself totally to baseball. It’s exciting for me to know that when we get him for full-time baseball, he has a tremendous upside.”

Brian Futral, a 6-3, 175-pound right-handed pitcher, is listed as the No. 5 prospect in Georgia and the No. 24 prospect in the nation. A four-year starter at Newnan High School, Futral owns a 23-7 record, a 1.47 ERA and 270 strikeouts in 206 innings in his first three years of competition at the high school level. A three-year member of the all-region and all-county teams, Futral struck out 17 batters in a seven-inning game last year.

“Brian Futral is right there with Eddie Burns as one of the top pitchers in the country,” said Hall. “He can really pitch right now, and he can throw three different pitches for strikes. I think he is one of the top prospects in the country and he is definitely one of the top prospects in our state.”

A 5-11, 175-pound left-handed pitcher, Tim Ladd is listed as the No. 9 prospect in Georgia and the No. 48 prospect in the country by Perfect Game USA. A standout at Kell High School, Ladd posted an 8-0 record and a 1.13 ERA for the East Cobb Yankees summer team that won the 2003 Connie Mack World Series. The southpaw struck out 74 batters in 56 innings and allowed just 36 hits in 17 appearances.

“Tim Ladd is an outstanding left-handed pitcher, and he reminds me a lot of Cory Vance,” said Hall. “The biggest thing about him is that he likes to compete. If there was a game that we needed to win, he would be a guy that I would like to have on the mound.”

The left-handed hitting Danny Payne rates as the No. 11 high school prospect in Georgia and the No. 70 prospect in the nation. The 5-10, 185-pound outfielder is a four-year starter at Sequoyah High School and a three-year member of the all-county team. Playing for the East Cobb Yankees summer team, Payne was named the MVP of the 2003 Connie Mack World Series. For the summer, he hit .468 with five home runs and 34 RBI in 158 at bats while also stealing 52 bases.

“Danny Payne is a phenomenal athlete,” said Hall. “He is Lenny Dykstra – a left handed hitter who can really run and play center field and be a great leadoff guy. He’s a great competitor and has great instincts on the bases.”

Eddie Prasch, a 6-1, 180-pound infielder/outfielder, is rated the No. 16 prospect in Georgia and the No. 111 prospect in the nation. A three-year starter and multi-talented athlete at Milton High School, the left-handed hitter has played shortstop, third base and the outfield. Prasch has spent the last three years in the East Cobb summer program. In 2003, he was named the MVP of the Perfect Game Junior National Championship as the East Cobb Braves won the title.

“Eddie Prasch is another one of those athletes,” said Hall. “He plays shortstop at Milton, but he can probably play just about any position on the field. He does everything well, and he is one of those versatile guys that you like to have on your team.”

Brad Rulon, a 5-11, 180-pound left-handed pitcher, is a four-year starter at Columbus High School. He posted a 9-1 record and a 1.11 ERA with five saves in 2003, striking out 97 batters in 63 innings. An all-Bi City selection by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Rulon helped Columbus to a region championship and a state runner-up finish last spring.

“Brad Rulon is another Brian Burks,” said Hall. “He is not the tallest guy in the world, but he competes better than anybody. He plays in one of top programs in the state at Columbus High School. He has very good stuff and he knows how to pitch.”

Ranked No. 15 in Georgia and No. 110 in the country by Perfect Game USA, John Michael Vidic missed the 2003 high school season after undergoing elbow surgery. As a sophomore, he went 11-1 with a 1.09 ERA and then went 12-1 with a 1.12 ERA in the summer with the East Cobb Yankees as they won the AAU National Championship. The 6-4, 215-pound right-handed pitcher went 5-0 with a 2.02 ERA as a freshman.

“John Michael Vidic may have been the best pitcher in the state if he did not have Tommy John surgery last spring,” said Hall. “He is a guy that two years ago was the best pitcher on his East Cobb team. We are counting on him to have a full recovery, and if he does he will have a great future.”

Matt Wieters, a 6-4, 205-pound switch hitting catcher, is rated the No. 1 prospect in South Carolina and the No. 60 prospect in the nation. A four-year letterwinner at Stratford High School, he helped lead his team to the region championship in each of the last three seasons. Wieters hit .380 as a junior and .387 as a sophomore, and he ranks in his school’s all-time top 10 in career RBI.

“We were looking long and hard for a catcher, and Matt Wieters is a guy that we really locked on to,” said Hall. “He is great behind the plate, and he is a switch hitter who can swing the bat. Lately he has been going 90-plus on the mound. I know that he is ranked highly as a catcher, but a lot of people have great interest in him as a pitcher. But again, he is a great student and we feel very strong that he is committed to coming to school.”

2004 Georgia Tech Baseball Early Signees

Name         POS     B-T     HT      WT      Hometown (High School)Eddie Burns     P       R-R     6-6     220     Hiram, Ga. (Hiram)Blake DeWitt    IF      L-R     6-0     185     Sikeston, Mo. (Sikeston)Brad Feltes     IF-OF   R-R     6-1     190     Alpharetta, Ga. (Chattahoochee)Michael Fisher  IF      S-R     6-2     190     Nashville, Tenn. (Montgomery Bell Acad.)Brian Futral    P       R-R     6-3     175     Newnan, Ga. (Newnan)Tim Ladd                P       L-L     5-11    175     Marietta, Ga. (Kell)Danny Payne     OF      L-L     5-10    185     Woodstock, Ga. (Sequoyah)Eddie Prasch    IF-OF   L-R     6-1     180     Alpharetta, Ga. (Milton)Brad Rulon      P       L-R     5-11    180     Columbus, Ga. (Columbus)John Michael Vidic      P       R-R     6-4     215     Marietta, Ga. (Lassiter)Matt Wieters    C-P     S-R     6-4     205     Goose Creek, S.C. (Stratford)


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