In-State Standouts Headline UVA Baseball’s True Freshman Class

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Brian O’Connor ~ Matt Riley of VirginiaSports.com

Despite losing three top flight prospects to the 2016 Major League Baseball Draft, head coach Brian O’Connor’s true freshman class is still a talented one that includes nine scholarship players and some potential immediate impact performers. Here is a look at the group just under two months shy of the start of the 2016 season.

BY THE NUMBERS

33: This is the national ranking UVA’s 2016 Class received from Perfect Game. Note that this list includes UVA football player Cole Blackman, who as of yet is not on the Cavalier baseball roster. Blackman and another Cavalier wide receiver, Joe Reed, were very good baseball players in high school.

3: The amount of UVA signees who were drafted and signed with professional teams. Left-handed pitcher Joey Wentz was drafted no. 40 overall by Atlanta. Third baseman Nolan Jones signed with the Chicago Cubs, who selected him with the no. 55 overall pick. And right-handed pitcher Max Kranick signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates after being drafted in Round 11.

10: Virginia has 10 true freshmen on its 2016/2017 roster. Nine are on scholarship. Teddy Paisley, a 6’0”, 170-pound right-handed pitcher, is a walk-on out of Hidden Valley High School in Roanoke (VA). Read more on this outstanding student athlete — in addition to earning first-team All-Conference 32 honors his senior year, Paisley graduated with a 4.5 GPA and plans to major in Aerospace Engineering — in this Roanoke Times piece.

6: The amount of scholarship true freshmen who hail from the state of Virginia. Two players attended Charlottesville’s St. Anne’s-Belfield. The Cavaliers also signed one recruit from California, one from Michigan, and one from Ohio.

Positions: There are five scholarship pitchers — three righties and two lefties — in this class. There is also one catcher, one catcher/infielder, one infielder, and one outfielder.

First Year Class: The Pitchers

NOAH MURDOCK, RHP, Colonial Heights (VA), 6’8”, 170 pounds
The headliner of this group, Murdock was rated the no. 125 overall prospect in the MLB Draft by MLB.com. Adamant about his desire to attend UVA, Murdock was not drafted until Round 38, when the Washington Nationals selected him with pick no. 1144.

MLB.com produced the following report on Murdock. See MLB.com’s video of the Cavalier freshman by clicking here.

A 6-foot-7 athlete who is also an All-State volleyball player, Murdock’s size, projection and stuff make him a very intriguing high school prospect. Murdock has a feel for his three-pitch mix and can throw all of his offerings for strikes. His fastball will be up to 93 mph at times and he uses his frame well to throw it downhill and with late life. With added strength, there could be more in the tank. Murdock’s slider has the chance to be above-average eventually, flashing depth and good bite, while his changeup could give him a third at least Major League average offering in time. He throws it with deception and it shows occasional drop. There’s a lot to work with here, including good arm action and a clean delivery.
Perfect Game described Murdock as a “low 90s RHP who really projects.”

Per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Murdock posted a 2.34 ERA and struck out 58 batters while compiling a 5-2 record as a senior. Baseball America covered one of games this past May. This Baseball America game report on the current Cavalier last season is a worthy read.

BOBBY NICHOLSON, RHP, 6’3”, 215, STAB (Charlottesville, VA)
Perfect Game ranked local product Bobby Nicholson as the no. 4 high school prospect in the state of Virginia and no. 145 overall in the nation in the 2016 Class. He came in at no. 15 in Virginia according to Baseball America’s 2016 Draft Map, a listing that ranks the top high school and college draft prospects in each state. Baseball America tabbed the Commonwealth’s 2016 Draft Prospect Class as a “banner group” with a rating of four out of five stars.

Click here to view MLB.com’s draft preview video on Nicholson.

JACKSON TEDDER, LHP, 6’0”, 180, Beavercreek (OH)
Baseball America ranked the state of Ohio’s 2016 draft prospect class on the 3-star level, which means BA feels the state had “solid, not spectacular year” for draft prospects. Tedder was no. 19 on the list. He won eight games as a senior, striking out 80 batters and carrying a .70 ERA over the course of 53 innings pitched (stats per Greater Western Ohio Conference). Tedder, who also played outfield, was the GWOC Athlete of the Year in 2016.

JORDAN DOSEY, LHP, 6’6”, 215, Yucaipa (CA)
Perfect Game ranked Dosey as the no. 255 left-handed pitching prospect in the nation, the no. 265 overall prospect in California, and the no. 25 LHP in California in the 2016 class.

HUGHES PAGE, RHP, 5’10”, 155, Episcopal (Alexandria, VA)
Page also played for the Evoshield Canes team. Canes GM Dan Gitzen said the current Cavalier “consistently made velocity jumps to what is now a 90 mph fastball. Combined with a wipeout slider and an athletic approach on the mound, Hughes should be a great addition to [UVA].”

Page earned honorable mention Washington Post all-metro honors as an infielder his senior season.

First Year Class: Positional Players

CAYMAN RICHARDSON, INF, 6’2”, 175, Hanover (Mechanicsville, VA)
Richardson helped Hanover’s Hawks claim three state championships in the past four years. He was rated the no. 16 prospect in the state in Baseball America’s 2016 Draft Map as well as the no. 204 high school prospect in the nation (no. 5 in the state) by Perfect Game.

The 4A all-state shortstop selection hit .470 and drove in 24 runs for the Hawks, who defeated Liberty Christian Academy, 13-12, in the 4A state title game. Richardson’s on-base percentage was .607 during his senior season.

“Cayman Richardson comes from a high school program that is very, very good, Hanover High School,” O’Connor told Andrew Ramspacher of the Charlottesville Daily Progress in this report from October 2016. “Charlie Dragum is the coach there. They’ve won multiple state championships. And Coach Dragum runs their high school program like we run our program here at UVa.

“So it’s no surprise that Cayman Richardson has poise, that he can handle the pressure. He can handle the pressure every day at practice because that’s how he’s been practicing in high school.”

JALEN HARRISON, CF, 6’3”, 210, St. Anne’s-Belfield (Charlottesville, VA)
Jalen Harrison, a native of Palmyra, Virginia, is an outfielder with good size and athleticism who played football, basketball, and baseball at St. Anne’s-Belfield. Perfect Game rated Harrison as the no. 339 overall prospect in the nation and the no. 11 prospect in the state in the 2016 class, noting that he has “tools” that “really project.”

Harrison played three sport at St. Anne’s-Belfield. He’ll play baseball at UVA. ~ Chris Horne

DREW BLAKELY, C, 6’2”, 190, Gull Lake (Galesburg, MI)
An all-conference performer four straight years and all-state selection as a senior, Blakely batted .467, had 139 RBIs, and scored 67 runs in an illustrious high school career. He earned an invite to the Michigan All-Star Classic.

Blakely played for his father, Bill, at Gull Lake. The family moved to Charlottesville to support their son, though.

WILL ALLOCCA, C/INF, 6’0”, 200, Collegiate (Richmond, VA)
Allocca helped Collegiate capture a Division 1 state championship as a senior, earning first-team all-state honors for his performance. He also played football at the Richmond prep school, serving as the team’s starting quarterback.

Orange & Blue World Series

Virginia’s annual intrasquad competition took place in October, with the Orange team defeating the Blue squad. The event included two 3-game series and then a deciding game seven. Orange took the first 3-game series. Blue rebounded to win the second before Orange captured game seven.

Will Allocca, Drew Blakely, Jordan Dosey, Jalen Harrison, Noah Murdock, and Cayman Richardson made some notable contributions.

– Allocca (Orange) – Double, 2 RBIs, 1 run in Game 3

– Blakely (Blue) – Five hits combined in Games 2 and 4. He smacked a homerun in Game 4. According to the Charlottesville Daily Progress, Blakely hit .375 in the series.

– Dosey (Orange) – Teamed with Derek Casey and Tommy Doyle to hold the Blue team to one run in an 8-1 Orange victory in Game 3.

– Harrison (Blue) – Harrison had an RBI single in Game 1, scored a run in Game 3, and collected two hits and two RBIs in Game 6.

– Murdock (Orange) – Pitched two innings and allowed one run to get the win in Game 5.

– Richardson (Orange) – Had two hits in Game 2, scored a run in Game 5, and had an RBI groundout in Game 7.

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