Nov. 27, 2012
Long Beach, Calif. - Long Beach State baseball has received commitments from six players to join the Dirtbags for the 2014 season, as announced by head coach Troy Buckley. The Dirtbags signed two pitchers and four position players in the fall period.
"This recruiting class fills our specific needs as we continue to add the necessary players to compete in our conference and also on the national stage for collegiate baseball," said Buckley. "Jesse Zepeda and Shawn Gilbert worked hard in putting this class together to ensure that these players will be able to contribute and succeed here at Long Beach State."
Long Beach State has signed two junior college pitchers who will help add depth to the staff immediately upon their arrival after transferring from Division I colleges.
Christian Belleque made nine appearances out of the bullpen as a freshman at Fresno State, and will spend the 2013 season pitching for Fresno City College after going 6-1 with a 1.82 era in the Alaska Summer League.
"Christian is a highly competitive right-handed pitcher that has four weapons, leading to above-average pitchability," said Buckley. "He has a repetitive delivery that will lend itself to consistency and present stuff with his pitches that will translate into starting fiber."
Cameron Pongs made five appearances for San Diego State as freshman after graduating from Chino Hills HS, and will pitch for Mt. SAC this season as a sophomore. "Cameron is an athletic, physical lefty that has above average arm speed and a tremendous upside," noted Buckley. "He is a good fit for us, in that he has the stuff to win now as well as good projection for the future."
For the position players, Long Beach State turned to four high school players, including two outfielders in Jason Martin and Tristan Mercadel, catcher Daniel Jackson and one infielder in Garrett Hampson.
Martin is already familiar with Blair Field, having been selected for the Area Code Games, a scouting event for high schoolers held annually in Long Beach, and was named to the Perfect Game World Wood Bat All-Tourney team. The MVP of the CBCA South Team, Martin led Orange Lutheran in hits as a junior and had the most stolen bases in the Trinity League.
"Jason is a very athletic lefty bat in the outfield that fills a need for us in center field as well as a top of the lineup table-setter," said Buckley. "He has above-average speed and has had a very solid summer and fall playing against high level competition. He has a chance to be an exciting player - he is still developing and will continue to improve the more reps he attains."
The Dirtbags add one more outfielder in Mercadel. Playing for Patriot High School last season out of Riverside, Mercadel earned first-team All-Sunkist League selection after hitting .449 and being a perfect 12-12 on in stolen base attempts. Mercadel will spend his senior season playing with Riverside Poly.
"Tristan is an athletic outfielder that fits well into our program both offensively and defensively as a left-hander," said Buckley. "He is a solid defender and has an understanding and foundation of the short game, yet also has a swing with rhythm and bat speed that will lend itself to being productive at the plate."
Behind the plate, the 49ers will add Daniel Jackson, who hit .311 with the Danville Hoots over the summer in Connie Mack Baseball, leading the team in doubles. Jackson was also a second-team all-league selection at Amador Valley HS.
"We are excited to add DJ as a catcher to our program," said Buckley. "He is a physical right-handed hitter with solid catch-throw skills to go along with a tremendous work ethic. Offensively, he has a repeatable, on-line swing that should lend itself to being a middle of the order type hitter as his career matures."
In the infield, the Dirtbags welcome Garrett Hampson, an all-league selection from Reno, Nev. Hampson hit .569 over the summer with 53 RBI for his American Legion team, and .395 with four home runs and 36 RBI for Reno High School.
"Garrett is a very exciting and dynamic infielder that comes to us from a tradition-rich program at Reno High School," stated Buckley. "He possesses outstanding, usable speed and plays the game at a high level with his legs, bat and glove. He will be very versatile and make an immediate impact in his first year. A tremendous instinctual player in all areas of the game, he adds the winning element of being a fierce competitor."
Long Beach State begins the 2013 season on the road at Vanderbilt on Friday, February 15, before opening the home season at Blair Field on February 19 against defending champions Arizona.
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