An influx of talent is ready to play for the baseball team starting in 2008. Five highly touted high school seniors made their commitments official when they signed National Letters of Intent last week during the early signing period.
The quintet of Jordan Cannon, Rafael Cordero, Byron McKoy, Ben White and Steve Young will don Temple uniforms for coach Rob Valli.
“All five of these guys are really not that far away, a year if anything, from coming in and having an immediate impact on our ball club,” Valli said.
Valli and recruiting coordinator Casey Fahy, heeding the advice of the old adage “good pitching beats good hitting,” added two hurlers to the pitching staff.
Cannon, a powerful left-hander from Reading, Pa., and White, a savvy right-hander from Parkesburg, Pa., have been lighting it up at the high-school and Amateur Athletic Union levels throughout their careers.
Pitching at Exeter Township High, Cannon has averaging one strikeout an inning throughout his first three seasons. Last fall, he maintained a 1.69 earned run average while pitching for the Berkshire Red Sox.
“It is immensely important to have a good left-hander in your rotation,” Valli said of Cannon.
“Jordan has all the tools to develop into a top-notch pitcher in the Atlantic Ten [Conference].”
In signing White, Valli said, the Owls get an experienced right-handed pitcher, who could grow into a star. White led Coatesville High to the District I Championship last season, going 5-0 with a 1.67 ERA.
“Ben is simply an all-around good pitcher,” Valli said.
“He throws a fastball in the mid-to-upper 80s, has really good command on his breaking ball, and locates all his stuff very well.”
Valli notched three position players as well.
Cordero, a shortstop from Colonia, N.J., earned Second Team All-County honors last season playing for John F. Kennedy High.
“Rafael is good enough to play defense for us right now as a senior in high school,” Valli said. “He has the fielding capabilities and arm strength to make a huge impact on our team’s defense.”
The Owls are also adding speed to the outfield as well as at the plate. McKoy, a centerfielder from Charlotte, N.C., has coach Valli excited to get him into a Temple uniform.
“Speed is something that shows up everyday, and Byron possesses pro-style speed,” Valli said.
“He is someone that we can build both our offense and defense around. He is a truly must-have defensive player and is someone that can do a great job for us in the leadoff spot.”
In Young, the Owls found a heart-of-the-lineup hitter, Valli said. Young hit .473 as a sophomore and .397 with three home runs and 17 runs batted in as a junior at Spring-Ford High in Spring City, Pa.
“Steve has shown that he can flat-out hit at the high school and AAU levels,” Valli said. “He has the potential to become a 3, 4, or 5 hitter in our lineup.”
Valli said all five recruits have the abilities to have an immediate impact, but might need time to harness their abilities.
“I am really excited about the fact that when they are freshmen, they will all be slotted behind experienced seniors at their respective positions,” Valli said.
“The seniors, along with the coaching staff, can help mould them into fine ball players and allow them to take over those spots as sophomores. But don’t be shocked if you see them in action as freshmen.”
Mike Fiscus can be reached at email@example.com.