Coach Kevin Ritsche has always told me since the WSSU baseball program was restarted in 2011 that the high-school talent around these parts is very good.
And Ritsche has done well recruiting in this state and it shows with his latest recruiting class.
The Rams, who ended their season at 30-20 earlier this month, will head into fall ball in good shape with plenty of new talent.
In this latest recruiting class the Rams signed three from our area in outfielder Nick Tiller of North Davidson, pitcher Layton Helms of North Stokes and pitcher/catcher Avery Cain of Ledford.
Ritsche also signed out-of-state players with one from Virginia and a junior college transfer from Florida.
Here is the information on the recruiting class from WSSU's sports information office.
The Winston-Salem State Rams baseball will welcome a stellar class to carry on its fine tradition. Head coach Kevin Ritsche has announced the 2018 recruiting class, Thursday. By signing twelve newcomers for next fall, the Rams will look to build upon its rich tradition of success on the diamond. This group will help fill the shoes of a talented class of seniors, including Emilio Abreu, Seth Reeves, John Garcia, Landon Biggs and Brandon Ford; who all played major roles on last year's CIAA Championship team that made it all the way to the NCAA Atlantic Regional Finals.
"This is an exciting time to be a Ram and a great day for our program", WSSU baseball head coach Kevin Ritsche said. "So many coaches have played a role in this class over the last 18 months including the diligent work of our recruiting coordinator Enad Haddad and all of my assistants" (Rob Woodall, Tyler Rost, Mark Nales and Trey Ayecock). "It's exciting to see how the culture of our program has created the ability to recruit top high school talent in the state of North Carolina as well as surrounding states."
The 2018 class will mark the beginning of the ninth season in Rams baseball history since its resurrection in 2011. The incoming class will mark the largest incoming freshman class in Rams baseball history with twelve signees. Overall, nine hail from the state of North Carolina, while two come from Virginia, one from Florida and one from Ohio.
Class of 2018 WSSU Baseball Recruits
Avery Cain (C/RHP, Thomasville, N.C./Ledford)*
Connor Garcia (LHP, Durham, N.C. / C.E. Jordan)
Chris Shepherd (C, Durham, N.C. / C.E. Jordan)*
Nick Ward (INF/RHP, Statesville, N.C. / West Iredell)*
Layton Helms (RHP, Sandy Ridge N.C. / North Stokes)*
Tyler Daniels (INF, Pikeville, N.C. / Charles B Aycock)*
Hunter Radford (C/1B, Blacksburg, Va. / Blacksburg)
RasRan Amon (INF/RHP, Rolesville, N.C. / Rolesville)
AJ Thomas (UT/RHP, Pickerington, Ohio / Pickerington Central)
Christian Silvero-Jones (OF, La Grange, N.C. / Arendell Parrott Academy)
Nick Tiller (OF, Lexington, N.C. / North Davidson)
Dezmen Howard (1B, Suffolk, Va./ Nansemond River)
Edgar Nunez (UT, Tampa, Fla./ St. Petersburg)
*Denotes early Fall 2018 signee
Chris Shepherd (Catcher from Durham, North Carolina/Jordan HS)
Four year letter winner and was an all-conference selection as a junior…Hit .329 with 14 RBIs and 2 HRs in 2017…Threw out 57% of would be base stealers…#12 ranked catcher in NC by Perfect Game….2018 MLB/USA Baseball Dream Series Invitee….Plays under head coach Aaron Brown…Academic standout with a 4.0 GPA…Plans to major in Sport Management…Enjoys playing basketball with friends.
Coach Ritsche on Shepherd: "Chris is an outstanding competitor and has some of the best tools behind the plate that we've recruited at his level. He has great footwork and an above average arm. He's a dream student-athlete that excels in the classroom and has big expectations for himself."
Connor Garcia (LHP/OF from Durham, NC/Jordan HS)
Four year letter winner for head coach Aaron Brown…Currently carries a 5-1 record on the mound with a 1.81 ERA…Has thrown two 1 hitters during his HS career…Hitting .414 with 27 hits this season…A standout in the classroom with a 3.98 GPA…Plans to major in Marketing…Is a nominated Elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church.
Coach Ritsche on Garcia: Connor has shown his ability to get outs and master control of some quality pitches in high school. He's thrown a few 1-hitters this spring already and we expect him to log a lot of innings for us in 2019 as a freshman due to his deception and ability to throw off-speed for strikes. Having fellow WSSU signee Chris Shepherd catch him as a freshman will only add to his comfort level and we expect he will assimilate into our pitching program immediately."
Hunter Radford (C/1B from Blacksburg, VA/Blacksburg HS)
Four year letter winner…Hit .357 and slugged .587 with 2 HRs and 14 RBIs as a junior…Awarded Offensive POY honors in 2017…September CTE Student of the Month…2015 Defensive POY…Carries a 3.5 GPA and plans to major in Motorsports Management…Enjoys hunting, fishing, and hanging out with family.
Coach Ritsche on Radford: Hunter has really impressed us throughout the recruiting process. He has a big body but is agile and shows good footwork and body movements at first base as well as behind the plate. We project him to be a run producer and hit for some power early in his college career as he will see time at both positions as well as DH in 2019 as a freshman."
Christian Silvero-Jones (OF from Kinston, NC/Arendell-Parrot Academy)
Varsity letter winner in football, basketball, and baseball…Currently batting .313 with 13 RBIs, 3 HRS, and 6 stolen bases…All-conference selection as a junior under head coach Robert Kravitz…Starred on the gridiron racking up 1,047 all-purpose yards and scoring 10 touchdowns…Scholar-athlete with a 3.8 GPA planning to major in computer science…Enjoys playing video games in his spare time.
Coach Ritsche on Silvero-Jones: "Christian is a phenomenal athlete and was a two-way star at Arendell-Parrot Academy. We believe he has some big tools that will help replace our entire outfield in 2019 due to graduation and the MLB draft. His bat is his best tool and as he develops physically, we believe he will have the ability to be a dual threat offensively at the plate and on the base paths. We have always had guys that can burn at the top of our lineup and we're excited to have Christian as a freshman impact player. He has a beautiful swing and the bat jumps off his bat. He will be an exciting player to watch over the next few years.
Tyler Daniels (INF from Pikeville, NC / Charles B. Aycock HS)
Varsity letterwinner in baseball and football….currently hitting .320 with 21 stolen bases……played for Coach Allen Thomas at Charles B. Aycock HS……holds a 3.925 GPA and plans to major in accounting at WSSU…..member of the National Honors Society and was the November 2018 National Technical Honor Society Student of the Month…..enjoys playing "MLB The Show" and spending time with family and friends.
Coach Ritsche on Daniels: Tyler is an all-american type kid from an area loaded with talent in NC. He's another guy with the ability to be a dual threat offensively at the plate and add speed to our lineup. It's a bonus that he swings it from the left-side and has a high baseball IQ. We like that fact that WSSU is his first choice and he shows a passion for our program."
Avery Cain (C/RHP from Thomasville, NC / Ledford HS)
2018 All-Conference selection at Ledford HS……hit .455 in conference and .395 overall….played for Coach Chris Adams…….Perfect Game All-Region Honorable Mention…..plans to major in special education at WSSU…enjoys spending time with family and going to church.
Coach Ritsche on Cain: Avery was an early commit and what we originally thought of as a very good pitching prospect. However, he has turned into one of the best hitters in NC high school baseball this season. We plan to develop Avery as a unique two-way player as a catcher and a pitcher. His ability to control the bat will give him the opportunity to be an impact player as a freshman offensively behind the dish in addition to logging innings for us in 2019. He's been catching one of the top pitching staffs at Ledford HS since his sophomore season so he will have valuable experience coming into college as a freshman that we think will speed up the transition at the next level."
Layton Helms (RHP/INF from Sandy Ridge, NC / North Stokes HS)
As a junior, the right-handed pitcher struck out 97 batters and carried a 3.6 GPA in the classroom……also played infield and slugged 6 home runs on his way to earning all-state honors in 2017…..currently hitting .392 with 9 doubles and 1 HR and 10 stolen bases in 2018….also has a 2.20 ERA with 93 strikeouts and 5 saves in 57 innings pitched in 2018…..
Coach Ritsche on Helms: "He's a grinder and we love the fact that he's not afraid to play the game hard. Layton has struck out over 200 hitters the last two seasons of high school baseball and already has a fastball that consistently sits in the upper 80s with plus off-speed. He has #1 stuff that could easily propel him to the Friday night starter early in his career, especially after a year of adding some body mass. Additionally, he's an athlete and swings the bat well with some pop so he may also see some time as a positional."
Nick Tiller (OF from Lexington, N.C. / North Davidson HS)
Three year letterwinner at North Davidson HS in Lexington, NC……played for coach Matt Griffin…..part of the 2016 4A state champions……holds a 4.4 GPA and plans to major in Exercise Science at WSSU.
Coach Ritsche on Tiller: "Nick has some above average tools that will provide us with an opportunity to not miss a beat in the outfield in 2019. He's been part of a winning program at North Davidson and we like guys that know how to win so we are excited to have guys like Nick join our program."
Nick Ward (INF/RHP from Statesville, NC / West Iredell HS)
Letterwinner in baseball and basketball at West Iredell HS….two-time team MVP…..currently hitting .348 with 6 doubles and also has a 2.2 ERA in 9 starts….struck out 51 hitters in 47 innings pitched….. Carries a 3.9 GPA and plans to major in biology at WSSU…. is a two-time team MVP….enjoys playing golf, blitz-all and video games.
Coach Ritsche on Ward: Nick has played every position on the field except for first base and left field. He's another grinder that can play multiple roles for us in 2019. Adding another left-handed stick to our lineup card is a big plus and gives us lots of options with guys like Nick that can help us in so many different ways. We have always been a big fan on pitchers that were positionals in high school as we try to carry that athleticism over to the mound."
Edgar Nunez (UT from Tampa, F.L. / St. Petersburg)
Currently has 39 hits with 6 doubles and a triple at St. Petersburg CC in FL……was a member of 2016 Gaither high school state champions where he played for coach Nelson North…..graduated high school with a 2.8 gpa…majoring in sports management…..
Coach Ritsche on Nunez: "Edgar is a switch-hitting utility player that could easily find his way in the outfield or the infield in 2019. The lone junior college transfer in the 2019 recruiting class, we will lean on Edgar to provide valuable experience to a young team in 2019."
RasRan Amon (INF/RHP from Rolesville, N.C. / Rolesville HS)
Four year letterwinner in baseball and lettered two years in football at Rolesville HS……played for coach Jake Gross…holds career high school record for hits (79) and triples (5)….also is 8-2 on the mound with 123 strikeouts in 4 seasons…..named academic all-conference in '15 and '17…named 2017 Greater Nuese all-conference selection…2017 team MVP…..is a 2018 Perfect Game Preseason All-American Atlantic Region HM…. carries a 3.1 GPA……plans to major in business administration at WSSU….enjoys writing and playing dodgeball.
Coach Ritsche on Amon: "We are very excited about the projection of RasRan. He has the tall, lanky body that is well suited on the left-side of the infield and has proven that he can hit on his level. Again, he's another two-way player that we expect will compete for a job in the pitching rotation as a freshman as well. With a fastball that currently sits in the mid-to-upper 80's, a fall in the weight room could propel him to a big-time pitching prospect for us in the future."
Dezmen Howard (1B from Suffolk, V.A. / Nansemond River HS).
Two-year letterwinner at Nansemond River HS….played for coach Mark Stuffel…carries a 3.4 GPA…intends to major in computer science at WSSU…enjoys hanging out with friends and dancing.
Coach Ritsche on Howard: "Dezmen is a sleeping giant. His size will fool you. He moves like a guy half his size and shows great actions around the bag at first base. He already has obvious pop in his bat and shows good contact. We feel he could materialize into a big-time run producer in the middle of our order without having to sacrifice the speed that we covet."
A.J. Thomas (INF/RHP from Pickerington, OH / Pickerington HS)
Two year letterwinner in baseball at Pickerington HS for coach Ray Noe….carries a 3.69 GPA…..plans to major in justice studies at WSSU….currently hitting .450 with 4 HR. Enjoys watching movies and being with friends….
Coach Ritsche on Thomas: "What interested us in AJ was that he reminded us so much of Randy Norris as a high school player. He has above average speed and probably a better bat right now then Randy as a freshman. As he physically matures, we plan on matching his abilities to a position that suits his skillset best but for now, he flashes soft hands in the infield with good footwork through the baseball and will provide a great replacement for Emilio Abreu at third base."