The Minnesota baseball team has signed Kyle Crocker, Michael Handel, Robert Juan, Donald Snelten and Thomas Windle to letters of intent according to Head Coach John Anderson. All five players will eligible to compete during the 2011 season.
Crocker is a 6-1, 180 pound infielder who will graduate from Brainerd High School where he is a three-sport standout. As a sophomore Crocker started at second base for the Warriors. He hit a team-high .419 with 22 runs, 15 RBIs, two doubles, a triple and just four strikeouts in 62 at bats. He also was 8-for-9 in stolen base attempts.
Last spring, he again led the team in hitting (.451) with 25 runs, 15 RBIs, four doubles, three triples and three home runs. He was 11-for-16 in stolen bases. In addition, Crocker was the Warriors' top pitcher last season with an 8-2 record and 2.04 ERA. He had 37 strikeouts and walked just six in 48 innings. Opponents hit only .196 against him.
Handel is a 6-1, 170 pound shortstop from Sun Prairie High School. As a junior, Handel was named Honorable-Mention All-State, First-Team All-District and All-Conference. He batted .397 last season for a team that went 18-9 and finished third in the Big Eight at 9-6. Handel was also named Second-Team All-Big Eight as a sophomore in 2008.
This past September, he also played in the Wrigley Field Classic which was an amateur tournament with some of the top prospects in the nation. Handel and his team, the Midwest Blazers, went 3-0-1 in the tournament.
Juan is a 6-1, 200 pound infielder/outfielder from Central High School in LaCrosse, Wis. As a junior, Juan was named Second-Team All-State, First-Team All-District and All-Conference. He batted .444 last season, and was a key player for a Central team that was ranked No. 1 in the state for most of the year.
He batted .418 as a sophomore, and has knocked in 68 runs in 53 games between his sophomore and junior seasons. Juan is a quarterback, plays basketball and has been one of the top players for the baseball program during his time at Central High School.
Snelten is a 6-5, 210 pound left-handed pitcher from Lake Community High School in Lake Villa, Ill. He was named All-Conference as a junior. In his junior season, Snelten went 5-3 with a 2.64 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 50 innings. Snelten's performance helped lead the Eagles to the NSC Prairie Division crown.
This past summer he pitched for the Kenosha Indians. In September, Snelten threw a no-hitter with 12 strikeouts against the Norwood Blues at Augustana College. Snelten's older brother, John, pitched a Valparaiso.
Windle is a 6-3, 190 pound left-handed pitcher from Osseo High School in Maple Grove, Minn. He went 3-1 and struck out 29 batters in 29 innings for Osseo's Legion team. Windle also played in the Siebert Fall League. He is also amulti-sport athlete who plays on Osseo's hockey team as well as baseball.
His identical twin brother Sam committed to play at North Dakota State the same day Tom signed his NLI to come to Minnesota. Windle is also a high school teammate of current Golden Gopher Kevin Kray.
"We knew that based on our current team with two seniors and 13 juniors that this would be a small class," said Anderson. "I think overall we wanted to add some quality left-handed hitting and pitching and that is exactly what we did. Bobby (Juan) and Kyle (Crocker) are high quality lefthanded hitters who could end up in the middle of the lineup. They are also very talented multi-sport athletes who really wanted to come to the University of Minnesota. Michael (Handel) was recruited by schools around the country. He is a very good shortstop, who is an excellent athlete and can play anywhere. I think the two lefthanded pitchers are both great athletes who will have an impact on the program. In Snelten's case especially, working with Todd Oakes was a big draw. This class has a lot of athleticism, and really met our needs as a program. This is a group of highly talented kids who can be the core of our team down the road."
Recruit Pos. B-T Ht. Wt. Hometown (High School)
Kyle Crocker IF L-R 6-1 180 Brainerd, Minn. (Brainerd HS)
Michael Handel SS R-R 6-1 170 Sun Prairie, Wis. (Sun Prairie HS)
Bobby Juan OF/IF L-R 6-1 200 LaCrosse, Wis. (Central HS)
DJ Snelten LHP L-L 6-5 210 Lake Villa, Ill. (Lakes Community HS)
Tom Windle LHP L-L 6-3 190 Maple Grove, Minn. (Osseo)
Minnesota Assistant Head Coach (Recruiting Coordinator) Rob Fornasiere on Kyle Crocker: "Kyle is a Very talented hitter with athletic versatility. He played shortstop in high school, but projects most likely as a second baseman or leftfielder. Kyle is a smooth and effortless athlete at Brainerd as he is top wide receiver and kick returner on his team as well as a 1,000-point scorer in basketball. He may be the best position player prospect in Minnesota in 2010."
Minnesota Assistant Head Coach (Recruiting Coordinator) Rob Fornasiere on Michael Handel: "Michael is an athletic infielder with pure shortstop skills. He was a highly recruited infielder during the recruiting process. Michael is very athletic, and projects as a shortstop for the Gophers. He also has shown a strong bat, arm strength, strong glove habits and running speed. Michael played for an elite summer team called Midwest Reds out of Wisconsin. He also played for the same high school program that produced former Gophers Danny Thompson and Chris Guetzlaff."
Minnesota Assistant Head Coach (Recruiting Coordinator) Rob Fornasiere on Bobby Juan: "Bobby is a very strong hitter with excellent power and bat speed. He is also a three-sport star at Central starring as a quarterback, along with playing basketball in addition to being a four-year starter in baseball. Bobby projects as a rightfielder or third baseman in college. He has a very strong arm and good speed. This is a top flight recruit who may be one of the best senior athletes in Wisconsin."
Minnesota Assistant Head Coach (Recruiting Coordinator) Rob Fornasiere on DJ Snelten: "DJ is a solid left-handed pitching prospect with 86 to 90 mph velocity, a sharp curveball and a good changeup. He was recruited by several Big Ten and Missouri Valley schools. DJ has a big upside and will not turn 18 until May 2010."
Minnesota Assistant Head Coach (Recruiting Coordinator) Rob Fornasiere on Tom Windle: "Tom is a lanky left-handed pitcher with 84 to 88 mph velocity and a well-developed changeup. He played in the Siebert Fall League in 2009, and projects as a three-pitch strike thrower with potential to be a starting pitcher."
Pitching Coach Todd Oakes Passes Away At 55
Minnesota assistant baseball coach Todd Oakes passed away today after a courageous and public battle with leukemia. Oakes, who coached the Minnesota pitching staff, was 55.
Gophers Drop Out of B1G Tournament
Minnesota falls to Michigan 3-2 in an elimination game on Thursday at TD Ameritrade Park
Minnesota Falls in B1G Tournament Opener
Gophers play at 1 p.m. in an elimination game tomorrow afternoon against either Michigan or Ohio State