Blue Hawks sign 16, including Seiler
Jason Watson believed his late start to recruiting coming into his first season as head baseball coach at Dickinson State led to some shaky moments once the Blue Hawks began playing this spring.
He's not about to let that happen again.
Watson has announced the signing of nine incoming freshmen and seven college transfers to NAIA letters of intent.
Among the signees are 10 pitchers, including Dickinson's Eric Seiler. He's one of four left-handers signed by the Blue Hawks.
"You need to have arms, guys who recover quick and want the ball," Watson said. "That's definitely a weakness that we had this year, was lack of roster in general."
While Watson said some of the players will redshirt their first season at DSU, he believes many can have a positive impact immediately.
"The one thing we lacked this year was depth," Watson said. "With me taking over late, we didn't really have a recruiting season. I feel that hurt us, big time, coming down the line."
Seiler, a 2010 Dickinson High School graduate, spent the past two years at North Dakota State.
The 20-year-old was a Class A all-state selection and a starting pitcher on the Dickinson Roughriders' American Legion team that reached the Central Plains Regional Tournament in 2008 and 2009.
"I just missed it so much, I had to get back into Dickinson and play again," said Seiler, who added he has been working with Watson to get his arm back into game shape.
Five of DSU's pitching prospects are coming from high school. They include: James Kost, a right-hander from Bismarck Century; Scott Held, a righty from Great Falls, Mont.; Jeff VanCleave, a lefty from Miles City Mont., who doubles as a first baseman; Josh Burke, a left-hander from Regina, Saskatchewan; Tyler Garner, a lefty from Sperry, Okla., who will also play in the outfield.
Held, who also plays infield, was a Montana Northern A all-conference selection last season, Kost had a 2.09 earned-run average this spring for the Patriots, Garner pitched for one of the top teams in Oklahoma's Class 3A and VanCleave has an ERA around 3.00 for the Miles City Outlaws summer league team.
Aside from Seiler, all the transfers are right-handers.
Joey Hendricks, a transfer from Williston State College, struck out 50 with a 5.71 ERA this spring with a 4-2 record.
Sean White comes from Colorado State-Pueblo, where he redshirted.
Jordan Thompson and Andy Hopson come from Dawson Community College in Glendive, Mont.
Thompson was 4-1 with 29 strikeouts last season, but an 8.75 ERA. Hopson had a 2-7 record with 25 strikeouts.
Their catcher, Jake Loundagin, is also coming to DSU. Watson describes him as a defensively-sound player.
"That's really want I want out of a catcher," Watson said. "If they can hit, that's a plus. If you can block it and throw guys out, that's what I'm looking for."
This summer, Watson is coaching the Casper Cutthroats of the Mountain Collegiate Baseball League, an eight-week, four-team wood-bat summer league for college players.
Hendricks, Thompson and Loundagin are all playing for the Cutthroats.
The Blue Hawks' final transfer is Dustin Palmer, an outfielder from Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids, Minn.
Adding to the mix out of the high school ranks are T.J. Porter, a sought-after hitter from Missoula, Mont., who is batting close to .400 in the summer American Legion season. He will also play football.
"I'm very excited to get him," said Watson, who called the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Porter an all-around athlete. "Those are the kind of guys we want."
Another dual-sport recruit is Miles O'Donnell of St. Anthony Idaho. The first baseman hit .459 as a senior and is also playing football.
Mike Severson, a 6-foot, 210-pound catcher from Livingston, Mont., is batting .452 in Legion ball.
Marty Etchemendy is a 5-7 speedy infielder from Miles City who batted .392 with 36 RBIs last season for the Outlaws.
"I'm looking forward to fall baseball," Watson said. "Last year, with me coming in, it was very little instructional. We scrimmaged a lot because I needed to know what I was working with, what we were good at and what we struggled at. Last year was not as instructional as fall ball should be. This year should be different."
Dickinson State baseball recruits
Josh Burke, LHP, 6-0, 185, Regina, Saskatchewan, Thom Collegiate Secondary School
Marty Etchemendy, IF, 5-7, 150, Miles City, Mont., Custer County High School
Tyler Garner, LHP/OF, 5-11, 180, Sperry, Okla., Sperry High School
Scott Held, RHP/1B, 5-10, 175, Great Falls, Mont., Great Falls High School
James Kost, RHP, 5-10, 175, Bismarck, Century High School.
Miles O'Donnell, 1B, 6-1, 190, St. Anthony, Idaho, South Fremont High School
T.J. Porter, IF/OF, 6-2, 190, Missoula, Mont., Big Sky High School
Mike Severson, C, 6-0, 210, Livingston, Mont., Park County High School
Jeff VanCleave, LHP/1B, 5-11, 200, Miles City, Mont., Custer County High School
Joey Hendricks, RHP, 6-0, 190, Williston State College, West Jordan, Utah
Andy Hopson, RHP, 6-0, 175, Dawson Community College (Glendive, Mont.), Ogden, Utah
Jake Loundagin, C, 5-10, 220, Dawson Community College (Glendive, Mont.), Casper, Wyo.
Dustin Palmer, OF, 5-10, 170, Itasca Community College (Grand Rapids, Minn.), Nampa, Idaho
Eric Seiler, LHP, 5-10, 175, North Dkaota State, Dickinson, Dickinson High School
Jordan Thompson, RHP, 6-2, 200, Dawson Community College (Glendive, Mont.), West Jordan, Utah
Sean White, RHP/Utility, 5-11, 190, Bellflower, Calif., Colorado State-Pueblo