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Dirtbags Add Nine Players in Early Signing Period

Long Beach State welcomes in a talented signing class for the 2017-18 school year. Pictured above (L-R): Johnny Kuhn, Jr., Adam Seminaris, Chris Jimenez, Trace Eldridge, Leonard "LJ" Jones, Karlos Morales, Jake Lopez, and Alex Verdugo. Photos by Andrew Fischer.
Nov. 16, 2016

LONG BEACH, Calif. - Dirtbags Baseball has officially welcomed its incoming 2017 recruiting class, with nine student-athletes signing a National Letter of Intent (NLI) with Long Beach State during the early signing period. All nine players hail from the state of California and will bring a varying skill set to the program starting in the 2017-18 academic year.

"We are very excited about this 2017 class as it addresses the future needs of the program," said Troy Buckley, who is entering his seventh season as Dirtbags head coach. "(Assistant coach) Greg Bergeron deserves a lot of credit for his work with this class, and I would also like to thank Zach Miller and newly hired pitching coach, Dan Ricabal, for their efforts as well. We are confident that the members of this class are solid culture fits, and that they want to be a part of adding to the rich tradition of this program."

Here's a player-by-player breakdown of the 2017 signing class, with a quote from Coach Buckley describing what each player can bring to the Long Beach State program:

Clayton Andrews, OF/LHP, Cabrillo College (Aptos, Calif.)
Photo by Kevin Johnson - Santa Cruz Sentinel

Andrews is the lone junior college transfer in the class, coming off a terrific freshman campaign for Cabrillo College. The lefthanded-hitting outfielder was the 2016 Coast Pacific Conference Player of the Year, posting a .410 batting average, a .461 on-base and .566 slugging percentage. He recorded 71 hits and stole 17 bases in 40 games. He was named first team All-State by the California Community College Baseball Coaches Association (CCCBCA) and first team ABCA/Rawlings All-American in the Pacific Division. He also won an ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove as an outfielder.

Over the summer, he made the California Collegiate League All-Star Team, and was named the California Collegiate League's Best Defender by Perfect Game.

In high school, Andrews played both baseball and basketball at Carrillo High School in Santa Rosa, Calif. He was named All-State by Cal-Hi Sports in both sports as a senior in 2015. During his senior season, he was a .396 hitter on offense and posted a 0.58 ERA as a pitcher, striking out 77 batters in just 48.2 innings.

Buckley: "Clayton is a dynamic two-way player who will be an immediate impact player in center field and on the mound."

Trace Eldridge, SS, Valencia High School (Santa Clarita, Calif.)

The lefthanded-hitting Eldridge batted .375 as a junior at Valencia High, recording 36 hits in 29 games played. He scored 23 runs and drove in 25 more with three home runs and 10 doubles. He was also a perfect 6/6 in stolen base attempts. Following his junior season he was named first team All-Foothill League.

Buckley: "Trace is an athletic middle infielder that has a very good feel to hit with an above-average run tool."

Chris Jimenez, C, Etiwanda High School (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.)

Jimenez hit .370 in his junior season at Etiwanda, hitting four home runs and nine doubles in 26 games for a .619 slugging percentage. He scored 29 runs and drove in 19 while stealing 11 bases. Defensively, only seven runners tried to steal off Jimenez in 2016, with only two of them stealing successfully.

He has twice been named first team All-Baseline League and was invited to the 2016 Inland Empire/SGV High School All-Star Game. Earlier this year, he was also named a third team Preseason Underclass All-American by Perfect Game. Jimenez also plays summer ball for CBA Marucci.

Buckley: "Chris is a very instinctual and external player that is very advanced with his skill set both defensively and offensively." VIDEO

Leonard "LJ" Jones, 3B/OF, Eastlake High School (Chula Vista, Calif.)

Jones has played in consecutive CIF San Diego Section Open Division championship games, winning in 2015 with Rancho Bernardo High School before reaching the finals with Eastlake High as a junior in 2016. As a sophomore, Jones did not record an error in 231 defensive chances. He also hit .275 with three home runs and 19 RBIs as a 10th grader.

Jones plays summer ball for CBS Marucci and is a two-time Perfect Game Preseason Underclass All-American honorable mention selection.

Buckley: "LJ is a mature, physical right-handed-hitting outfielder who has high-end raw and in-game power."

Johnny Kuhn Jr., RHP, St. John Bosco High School (Bellflower, Calif.)

Kuhn is a local product from nearby St. John Bosco High, where he plays for Long Beach State's all-time leader in batting average, Don Barbara. Kuhn has a 2.64 ERA in his two seasons with the Braves, including a 2.48 mark in his junior year.

He is ranked No. 14 among righthanded pitchers in California by Perfect Game, and is a 2016 third team Perfect Game Underclass All-American. Playing for CBA Marucci, Kuhn was named co-Most Valuable Pitcher of the 2015 Perfect Game/EvoShield Underclass National Championship while leading his team to victory. He is also a two-time Junior Olympic champion at the 14U and 17U level.

Buckley: "John has all the ingredients to be a quality pitcher at our level. He displays repeatable arm action and delivery." VIDEO

Jake Lopez, RHP/1B, Villa Park High School (Orange, Calif.)

A pitcher and first baseman at Villa Park, Lopez could contribute in multiple ways for the Dirtbags. His best numbers have come on the mound, where he posted a 2.31 ERA last season on the hill, striking out 36 batters in 42.1 innings. He tossed two complete games as a junior, including a 10-strikeout performance in a win over Long Beach Poly.

Lopez was a 2016 Perfect Game Underclass All-American high honorable mention and has earned the scholar athlete distinction all three years at Villa Park.

Buckley: "Jake is another two-way player who has a lot of upside. He has tremendous raw power and we very much value his competitiveness."

Karlos Morales, LHP/OF, South Hills High School (West Covina, Calif.)

Morales is the second South Hills player in as many seasons to sign with Long Beach State, joining current Dirtbags lefty Ryan Mauch. South Hills HS is also the alma mater of Dirtbags great Jason Giambi. The 6-foot-3 Morales hit .330 in his junior season with the Huskies, helping his team to a 26-7 record and a CIF-Southern Section Division 2 championship. The outfielder drove in 20 runs while scoring 22, hitting three home runs and stealing six bases and was a second team All-Palomares League selection as a junior.

Morales plays summer ball for the SGV Arsenal and made the All-Tournament team at the 2016 WWBA World Championship.

Buckley: "Karlos is a very athletic baseball player. We are looking forward to his development as a pitcher and he is also an impactful position player that can play multiple positions." VIDEO

Adam Seminaris, LHP, Ayala High School (Chino Hills, Calif.)

Seminaris was a workhorse for Ayala during his junior campaign, making 12 starts and throwing 70.1 innings. The southpaw racked up 68 strikeouts and posted a 2.09 ERA, pitching four complete games with a pair of shutouts against Troy HS and Claremont HS. He was named first team All-Palomares League and was invited to play in the SGV All-Star Game. Pitching for CBA Marucci Navy, Seminaris was named to the 2015 16U WWBA All-Tournament team.

Buckley: "Adam is a quality left-handed pitcher who has multiple pitches that he commands, and he will be an excellent addition to next year's pitching staff."

Alex Verdugo, RHP, Bonita Vista High School (Chula Vista, Calif.)

Verdugo made 11 starts as a junior starter at Bonita Vista, finishing with a 2.44 ERA. The tall, lanky righthander recorded four complete games and a shutout. He allowed just 52 hits in 63 innings pitched and struck out 44 batters. Won a CIF-SDS Division II championship with Bonita Vista his freshman year and was named first team All-Mesa League as a junior.

Verdugo was a 2016 Perfect Game Underclass All-American high honorable mention selection and plays summer ball for CBA Marucci.

Buckley: "Alex is a loose, projectable right-handed pitcher that has very good feel for pitching and has quality weapons to attack hitters." VIDEO

The 2017 Dirtbags season begins Feb. 17 at Blair Field with Oklahoma in town for a three-game series on opening weekend. Season tickets are on sale now.



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