ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The UNC Asheville baseball team signed six players in the early signing period to national letters of intent.
They are right-handed pitchers Nick Boyles, Alex Eubanks, Tyler Hughes and Jesse Juday plus catcher Riley Smith and third baseman Danny Sullivan.
“We are very excited with the results of our early 2014 recruiting class. Coach (Jeremy) Plexico and Coach (Brent) Walsh were able to go out and address our biggest needs: impact arms and athletic position players who have a chance to come in and compete right away,” stated Bulldog coach Tom Smith. “In this early class, we have four pitchers and two position players. We can’t wait to see these guys put on a Bulldog uniform.”
Boyles will join the Bulldog program from West Forsyth HS in Clemmons, N.C. He has enjoyed an outstanding career for West Forsyth and his Travel team, the North Carolina Baseball Academy Spikes. As a junior at West Forsyth, he struck out 51 hitters in just 35 innings of work. With his traveling team, he was named as a Perfect Game 2013 Honorable Mention.
“Nick is a travel baseball teammate with Jesse Juday for the North Carolina Baseball Academy Golden Spikes where he was also fortunate to play for former MLB pitcher Scott Bankhead,” declared Smith. “He has a very live arm and features a fastball that is already in the low 90s. We think that he has tremendous potential and are excited to see what he will do in a Bulldog uniform.”
Eubanks has excelled at Byrnes HS in Duncan S.C., and for his travel team, the Diamond Devils out of Charleston. His high school career record entering his senior season was 11-3 with a 2.54 ERA and an average of nine strikeouts per start. Eubanks has twice been named as an Under Armor Preseason All-American while also earning a spot on the 2013 Perfect Game All-Tournament team. He has helped Byrnes to three consecutive Upper State championships. With the Diamond Devils, he has compiled a career mark of 15-2 with a 1.02 ERA.
“Alex has played travel baseball for one of the best programs in the Southeast, if not the nation, in the South Carolina Diamond Devils,” stated Smith. “He stood out to us because of his competitiveness and ability to command all of his pitches at such a young age. He’s a true three-pitch mix guy who will compete for quality innings for us very quickly. Alex is as competitive of a pitcher as we have ever recruited.”
Hughes plays at Marist HS in Tucker, Ga. He has been a three-year starter at Marist and has helped lead the program to a fourth-place finish in the state in 2012 and a runner-up finish last season. As a junior, he appeared in 17 games with a 2-1 record and eight saves. His travel team is the Ninth Inning Royals for which he compiled a 9-2 record with a 2.35 ERA last summer. He was named a 2013 SE Top Prospect.
“Tyler comes from a very good baseball program. He should come in and compete to be a weekend rotation arm right away,” admitted Smith. “Tyler is a right-handed pitcher with a 6’3, 170-lb frame with tons of room to grow. His fastball should be in the upper-80s to low-90s range when he steps on campus. Tyler has a very clean arm slot with huge upside.”
Juday is another North Carolina product who played at Northwest Guilford HS in Greensboro. As a junior, he struck out 63 in 56 innings. Juday made the 2013 Pitt County Spring Break All-Tournament team plus earning a spot on the All-Conference team. He plays for the North Carolina Baseball Academy Golden Spikes and struck out 40 in 34 innings last summer.
“Jesse has a very live arm and a plus low-80s slider to go with an upper-80s fastball,” commented Smith. “His delivery creates some deception, and his ability to pound the strike zone will allow him to compete for important innings out of the bullpen right away. Jesse has upside as a future closer.”
Smith attends Alexander Central HS in Taylorsville. He has posted a .443 batting average during his prep career and earned defensive awards for his play behind the plate. Smith plays for the Heat Baseball club in the summer.
“Riley is a very athletic catcher with an above average arm and a very quick release behind the plate,” stated Smith. “He also has upside with the bat and is a plus runner for a catcher. We expect Riley to come in and compete for time behind the plate right away.”
Sullivan will join the Bulldog program from Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory after having played at East Lincoln HS in Denver, N.C. While at East Lincoln, Sullivan was a two-time All-Conference performer along with winning a Gold Glove Award as a senior. In his junior year, he hit four home runs and drove in 31 runs, earning first-team All-Region honors. He also played for the Lincoln County Post 455 team where he hit .469 last summer and drove in 42 runs. Sullivan was the Area IV Player of the Year as he led the league in batting and RBIs.
“We expect Danny to come in and compete right away. He will play a vital role in our lineup,” said Smith.