Gopher Baseball Signs Seven Newcomers

Nov. 20, 2013

University of Minnesota baseball coach John Anderson has announced the signing of seven student-athletes. Alex Boxwell, Micah Coffey, Lucas Gilbreath, Toby Hanson and Fred Manke have each signed a National Letter of Intent to join the Golden Gopher baseball program, while Jeff Fasching and Luke Pettersen  have signed an Acceptance of Admission. They will be eligible to compete during the 2014-15 season.

"Assistant head coach Rob Fornasiere heads up our recruiting efforts and once again, he and pitching coach Todd Oakes did an outstanding job of identifying these talented student-athletes that matched our needs in this class," Anderson said.

"There are a lot of two- and three-sport athletes in this group and athleticism rings pretty strongly throughout this recruiting class. This group is strong in left-handed pitching and in left-handed hitting, which was our goal as we prepare for departures from graduation and possibly the draft in 2014.

"Our last two recruiting classes have been impressive from what we've seen to date. I believe this is another very strong class of young man who will give us additional talent in the areas where we have need.  I'm a believer in trying to identify kids who are strong matches for your program and institution academically, and who want to be here for the right reasons. This group of recruits gave us the impression from Day 1 that they had a strong interest in Minnesota. When you have young men who really want to be at Minnesota, you can then consistently accomplish many of the goals of your program. I believe they made their decisions based on solid criteria that will put them in position to accomplish their goals as student-athletes and leave prepared for the next 50 years of their journey. Our staff is looking forward to working with this outstanding group student-athletes as we work together to carry on the proud tradition and history of Golden Gopher Baseball."

Alex Boxwell (Coon Rapids, Minn.) - Outfielder | 6-2 | Bats Left
Boxwell is an All-Northwest Suburban Conference athlete in both baseball and football, as well as a letterwinner in basketball at Coon Rapids. He batted .430 during the regular season last year and helped the Cardinals advance to the Minnesota Class 3A state semifinals. Boxwell played summer ball for the Coon Rapids Post 334 Legion team. He hit .379 with 33 RBI, seven doubles, five triples and four home runs during the 2013 season. In the classroom, Boxwell is an honor roll student.

Boxwell said: "I chose the University of Minnesota because it was a great fit for me and the university. There is a great coaching staff and the U is a very prestigious academic school. I can't ask for much more than that. I am truly honored to be a part of this program."

Assistant head coach Rob Fornasiere said: "Alex is a multi-tool player that performed very well for the excellent high school and summer programs in Coon Rapids. He is a strong hitter, speedy runner and has a very good throwing arm. Alex showed a strong interest in the Gophers from the beginning of the recruiting process and we feel fortunate to have him be part of our future."

Micah Coffey (Batavia, Ill.) - Infielder | 6-2 | Bats Left
Coffey, a three-sport star at Batavia, was named the 2013 Kane County Chronicle Male Athlete of the Year and Daily Herald Area Baseball Player of the Year. He batted .395 with 12 doubles, three triples and three homeruns in leading Batavia to a school-record 27-6 season. A versatile player, Coffey has started games at seven different positions. He has been an All-Upstate Eight Conference and all-area selection twice in baseball, twice in football and once in basketball. Coffey is the quarterback for the Bulldogs' team that is currently preparing for the Class 6A state semifinals. He played summer baseball for the Illinois Indians. Coffey is a high honor roll and academic all-state student, and is a member of National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society.

Coffey said: "Every interaction that I have had with the U of M has been positive and it has been everything I look for in a program. They focus on family and building great men, not just great baseball players. I'm coming to be a part of a great baseball team but I also know that I'll be a better son and friend because of this decision. All signs seemed to point to Minnesota and I couldn't be happier."

Fornasiere said: "Micah is a very versatile athlete that has excelled at three sports in a very competitive conference in Illinois. He is an outstanding student that has also shown great leadership skills in his high school. Micah has played all over the diamond, and we plan to start him out in the infield. Micah is a great all-around athlete that could have played other sports in college. We feel he is a great fit for this University and our Baseball program."

Jeff Fasching (St. Cloud, Minn.) - Left-Handed Pitcher | 6-0 (Signed Acceptance of Admission)
Fasching was an all-state selection and the 2013 St. Cloud Times All-Area Player of the Year as a junior at St. Cloud Cathedral. He followed up an 8-0 sophomore season and 1.20 ERA with a 9-0 record and 0.66 ERA in 2013. Fasching has twice garnered All-Granite Ridge Conference and all-area honors, and was part of the Crusaders' Minnesota Class AA championship team. He played summer Legion ball for the St. Cloud Chutes. The son of St. John's football coach Gary Fasching, he was also an all-conference quarterback for the Crusaders.

Fasching said: "I picked Minnesota because I really felt like the coaches cared about the players, and the team structure and relationship was a lot like my high school team. I also like how my family will be able to come watch me play."

Pitching coach Todd Oakes said: "Jeff is an excellent athlete who also plays quarterback on the football team. He is a young pitcher that will continue to develop and physically mature on the mound. He has an efficient delivery that will allow him to be a three-pitch strike thrower and gradually increase his velocity and the depth to his breaking ball. Jeff will help fill a need for left-handers on the Gopher pitching staff. He is an excellent competitor with positive makeup as well as a very strong student, which makes him an excellent match for the U of M and Gopher Baseball."

Lucas Gilbreath (Westminster, Colo.) - Left-Handed Pitcher | 6-1
Gilbreath led Colorado Class 5A with 93 strikeouts in 48 innings as a junior in 2013. The left-hander held a 2.19 earned run average and posted a 4-2 record, throwing three complete games for the Lightning. Gilbreath earned All-Front Range League, all-region and second-team all-state accolades in 2013. He played fall and summer baseball with the Diamond Club and the Rockies Scout Team program. Gilbreath is an honor roll student selected to the academic all-state first team.

Gilbreath said: "I chose Minnesota because of the atmosphere on campus as well as on the baseball field. I really liked the coaches and their personalities and absolutes sold the program for me."

Todd Oakes said: "We started recruiting Lucas late in the summer and we had nothing but great reports and evaluations on him from coaches and professional scouts. Coach Anderson saw him pitch in the Arizona Fall Classic in October and saw a great foundation and upside with Lucas and his pitching ability. He will fill a void on the pitching staff for left-handed pitching. Lucas has a sincere interest in academics and was intrigued by the U of M's engineering department. We think Lucas will come in and be an impact-type pitcher early in his career."

Toby Hanson (Delano, Minn.) - Catcher | 6-2 | Bats Left
Hanson led the state with seven homeruns in 2013. He batted .547 with 34 RBI as a junior. Hanson is an honor roll student in addition to being an All-Wright County Conference performer in baseball, football and basketball. He has played in three baseball state tournaments. Hanson quarterbacked the Tigers to the 2013 Minnesota Class 4A state football semifinals. He has also played in a basketball state tournament, and is just 136 points shy of becoming Delano's all-time leading scorer with 1,121 career points entering his senior year. Hanson played summer baseball with Delano's Legion and town teams.

Hanson said: "Ever since I started playing baseball, I wanted to be a Gopher. The University of Minnesota has such a great baseball tradition. After meeting with the coaches, and understanding their philosophy, it was an easy decision. They not only want to develop you as a baseball player but develop you as a person so you are ready for the next step in your life -- with or without baseball."

Fornasiere said: "Toby is an outstanding three sport athlete at Delano HS who has excelled in Baseball as a hitter and defensive player.  He will help fill the hole we will have with the graduation in 2014 of current starting catcher Matt Halloran.  Toby comes from a long line of very good Baseball players in his family and the Delano community.  He is a great fit for the Gopher Baseball program on all fronts."

Fred Manke (Lodi, Wis.) - Right-Handed Pitcher | 6-2
Manke helped Lodi High School win the 2013 Wisconsin Division 2 title. The three-time All-Capitol Conference selection, and conference player of the year as a junior, has a high school pitching record of 15-0. He led Lodi with a .620 batting average and 0.30 ERA as he compiled a pitching 5-0 record in 2013. Manke played his summer baseball with Team Pro Player and Lodi's American Legion squad. He was also a two-time all-conference honoree in football, and a hockey player for Lodi.

Manke said: "I chose Minnesota because I felt at home with everyone I talked to. I liked the family atmosphere that I saw and felt with the coaches, and that really stood out from all the other programs I saw. I also chose Minnesota because of the distance from my family. I will be within driving distance for my parents whenever they want to come up and watch a game or two."

Oakes said: "Fred was a pitching recruit that grew on us during the late summer and fall. He attended our Gopher Prospect Camp in August and made a positive impression on our coaching staff. Fred is a three-sport athlete playing football and hockey as well. We love Fred's character, work ethic and ability to compete. We feel like he will continue to develop and add quality depth to our pitching staff."

Luke Pettersen (Minnetonka, Minn.) - Infielder | 5-11 | Bats Left (Signed Acceptance of Admission)
Pettersen batted .350 with a .466 on-base percentage on his way to All-Lake Conference honorable mention recognition as a junior in 2013. He helped Minnetonka advance to the Minnesota Class 3A state semifinals. After the Skippers won the third-place game, Pettersen was named to the all-tournament team. He played summer baseball with Excelsior Legion, batting .386 with a .480 OBP in 2013. Pettersen, a perennial honor roll student, is the younger brother of former Gophers' shortstop AJ.

Pettersen said: "It has been a dream of mine to be a Golden Gopher for a number of years. There is no other coaching staff I would rather play for. They treat every player and family with respect, while expecting the same in return. It is a program that creates a fun atmosphere to play in and teaches valuable life lessons through the game."

Fornasiere said: "Luke won us over with his hustling, aggressive style of baseball and his high baseball IQ. He is a terrific defender in the infield and an action player at the plate. We hope he can follow in the footsteps of his brother AJ and help us win in any way he can. Luke is an outstanding student and a great match for the University of Minnesota."