Baseball Signs Five to National Letters of Intent
Nov. 17, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Head Coach Tracy Smith and the Indiana baseball staff have signed five players to National Letters of Intent, the team announced today. Michael Basil (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier), Jonny Hoffman (Oceanside, Calif./El Camino), Micah Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind./Park Tudor), Jerry Kleman (Mesa, Ariz./Desert Ridge) and Mike McKinley (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) have all signed on to join the Hoosier program in the fall of 2009.
"We feel this is another strong class for Indiana Baseball," Smith said. "We anticipate losing a lot of talent after this season with graduation and the draft, and these are all players that could step in and be productive right away as freshmen.
"As you can see, this class is made up of players from all over the nation," he added. "I think that is a result of the quality of our institution and the exposure we get from the Big Ten Network. I think we had six nationally televised games last season and that allows kids from all over the country to see the quality of our program and the caliber of Big Ten baseball."
Basil will join the Hoosiers after a strong career for Bill Slinger at St. Xavier playing at both shortstop and third base. As a junior in 2008, he hit .473 with six home runs, 15 stolen bases and scored 46 runs in being named first team all-Greater Catholic League, first team all-city and second team all-state. He also played summer baseball for the Cincy Flames, where he was a three-time Travel Ball Select All-American. Basil also comes from a baseball family, as two of his older brothers - Jason (Georgia Tech) and Adam (Eastern Kentucky) - played Division I college baseball.
"Michael is a kid who has been around baseball all of his life, with one brother playing at EKU and one at Georgia Tech, so he understands and appreciates the game," Smith said. "He's strong offensively, has a very good body and is going to get even stronger and he plays in a competitive conference. We're glad to add him to the Hoosier family."
Hoffman is a right-handed pitcher from Oceanside, where he played for Joe Gonzales at El Camino. The righty was named his team's pitcher of the year and defensive player of the year in 2008. He became just the sixth player in greater San Diego history to throw two no-hitters in the same season when he did so during the 2008 campaign for El Camino.
"Jonny is one of the top guys in southern California," Smith said. "He throws in the high 80s to low 90s with his fastball and he has three solid pitches. He's a kid who flat-out understands how to pitch. I think he will compete for conference innings right away."
Johnson is one of the top players in Indiana heading into the 2009 season. He can play both infield and outfield and was named all state as a junior for Courtney Whitehead at Park Tudor after hitting .561 with a .963 slugging percentage. The speedy Johnson scored 40 runs and stole 14 bases in addition to hitting 13 doubles, four triples and eight homers as a junior. He played his club baseball with the Indiana Bulls, where he helped the team finish as the national runner-up and was recently tabbed as Indiana's best athlete in the 2009 class by MaxPreps baseball.
"We've often preached that we want the top players from Indiana to come to IU and Micah is definitely one of top in-state guys," Smith said "He'll bring some speed that we will likely need to fill next season and is a guy that is going to help us immediately offensively. He will instantly produce runs on the bases."
Kleman joins the Hoosiers having played the last three years at Desert Ridge, where he will be in his fourth year as a starter in Patrick Herrera's infield. Last season, he hit .468 and was 15-for-16 in stealing bases en route to first team all-region honors. He was selected as a captain for a Desert Ridge squad that went 28-8 and was a semi-state finalist. He also played for the Arizona Rays at the Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association Championships in Jupiter, Fla., in 2008.
"Jerry is solid defensively and is a very athletic kid," Smith said. "We love his ability to move and his actions defensively. He may need some work on the offensive side, but his defense in the middle infield is certainly a strong point that should allow him to compete for playing time right away."
McKinley joins the Hoosiers after a stellar 2008 season for Robin Renner at Neuqua Valley. The righty went 14-1 with a sparkling 1.89 ERA and helped the team to a third place finish in Class 4A. He had one of his best performances in a clutch situation, retiring all six batters he faced in the third place game to earn a save and finish off Neuqua's season at 33-7. In his sophomore campaign, the squad finished as the AA state champions in Illinois.
"Mike has an outstanding breaking ball," Smith said. "I saw him in the state championships in Illinois and instantly fell in love with his `stuff.' He has a good fastball and is a competitive kid who will help us immediately on the mound."
The Hoosiers will begin their 2009 campaign against West Virginia in the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge on Feb. 20 in St. Petersburg, Fla. IU will also play Georgetown and South Florida in the three-day event.
Check back soon