With 16 seniors currently on the roster, the UCSB baseball team will be reloading with a strong recruiting class of seven high school players that have a chance to play right away for a young Gaucho team.
“We’re hoping that they are going to contribute,” Head Coach Bob Brontsema said. “We graduate a lot of players, and there will be some great opportunities for the young guys to come in and contribute right away.”
Austin Pettibone, a right-handed pitcher from Esperanza High in Anaheim, chose UCSB over other schools including Pepperdine, Riverside, and Santa Clara. He has a chance to take over as a starter or take on a role in the bullpen, as UCSB will lose nine pitchers to graduation.
Chris Paul is a versatile shortstop and right-handed pitcher out of Laguna Beach High School and currently holds a 10-1 record as a pitcher. He recently led his team to a first-round playoff victory as the starting pitcher but is expected to play infield for the Gauchos.
“Austin Pettibone and Chris Paul are probably the two guys that we think might be able to come in and help right away,” Brontsema said. “Quite frankly, they’ve all been given an opportunity and they’ll all have a shot.”
Top returners for the Gauchos include junior third baseman Ryan Palermo, junior right-handed pitcher Matt Vedo and junior left fielder Joe Wallace.
“You would certainly think that the guys who return that were starting this year would have a pretty good chance at starting next year,” Brontsema said. “If there is a freshman coming in at those spots, they’re going to push them. The guys that we think will help us the most will get the starting spot.”
The second infielder in the class is Steven Fisher from San Marcos High School near San Diego. Fisher, who can play all over the field, chose to come to UCSB over USC, Riverside and Irvine among other schools.
Campbell Ware, out of Point Loma High, arrives as a right-handed pitcher, choosing UCSB over Riverside and San Diego State.
Griffin Paul from Newbury Park High in Thousand Oaks is a right-handed pitcher who sat out his junior year due to injury but returned this season to help his team to the second round of the playoffs.
“The Pac-10 is quite a draw,” Brontsema said. “Even Fullerton loses a lot of battles to the Pac-10. It’s definitely a challenge to get players over those types of programs.”
Rounding out the class is a pair of left-handed pitchers: Andrew Vazquez out of Los Osos High School and Colin Reed from St. Francis High School in Mountain View.
Competing schools are not the only reason the Gauchos have roster spots to fill.
“If your guy is good enough to get drafted [to the MLB], that means you’re potentially recruiting the right guys,” Brontsema said. “That’s a good problem to have … sometimes.”
UCSB continues its season on today when it hosts Loyola Marymount in the team’s final single-game series. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium.