Dave Serrano: 'All our needs were met' in Vols' baseball signing class

Knoxville, TN - NOVEMBER 15, 2012: catcher Ethan Bennett #21 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the preseason photo shoot with the Tennessee Volunteer Baseball team. Photo By Donald Page/Tennessee Athletics

Photo by Donald Page/Tennessee Athletics, University of Tennessee Athletics

Knoxville, TN - NOVEMBER 15, 2012: catcher Ethan Bennett #21 of the Tennessee Volunteers during the preseason photo shoot with the Tennessee Volunteer Baseball team. Photo By Donald Page/Tennessee Athletics

Local prospects Lane Thomas and Kevin Steen were among 11 baseball signees announced by Tennessee on Tuesday.

“In terms of numbers, this is the smallest class we have brought in to date,’’ coach Dave Serrano said in a UT release. “Yet in terms of player rankings, this may be the strongest yet.

“All our needs were met in a very high standard.’’

Thomas, an outfielder from Bearden, and Steen, a right-handed pitcher from Oak Ridge, will continue the local flavor at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.

The highest-rated prospect in the class is Benny Santiago, a catcher from Pembroke Pines, Fla., who is No. 68 overall and the No. 8 catcher, according to Perfect Game.

Dominick Cammarata of Asheville, N.C., is a second catcher in the class.

Joining Steen as right-handed pitchers are Richard Jackson of Atlanta and Steven Kane of Cypress Community College in California.

Left-handed pitching comes from Zach Reid of Montgomery, Ala., and Aaron Soto of Miami Lakes, Fla.

Brodie Leftridge is a speedy center-fielder from Highland, Md.

Brett Langhorne of Mechanicsville, Va., is a shortstop and Jake Westphal of Sioux City, Iowa, is listed as a utility player.

Serrano, who is beginning his third season at UT, credited new recruiting coordinator Aric Thomas for overseeing the class.

“We added two future catchers, middle infield help, two polished center fielders and some advanced pitching, which includes left-handed arms,’’ Serrano said. “We strengthened with reinforcements right down the middle of the diamond.’’

Steen is the No. 3 prospect in Tennessee, according to Perfect Game.

“He pounds the zone with a fastball that tops out around 91 or 92 mph,’’ said UT’s Thomas. “The great thing about him is he is still a little raw and is just starting to reach his potential.’’

Kane was the California junior college pitcher of the year after a 13-0 season at Cypress College. He was also a 28th-round pick of the Cleveland Indians last summer.

“Steven adds winning pitching experience to our staff,’’ Thomas said. “He throws three pitches for strikes and is another guy that can run his fastball in the low 90s.’’

Bearden’s Thomas is the No. 2 ranked prospect in Tennessee and the No. 74 prospect nationally by Perfect Game.

“He possesses the unique combination of speed and power that gives him a chance to be a very special offensive player,’’ UT’s Thomas said.

Tennessee 2014 baseball commitments

Dominick Cammarata, C, 6-3,, 210, Asheville, N.C., T.C. Roberson

Richard Jackson, RHP, 5-11, 200, Atlanta, Woodward Academy

Steven Kane, RHP, 6-3, 195, Sunrise Mountain, Ariz., Sunrise Mountain Cypress CC

Brett Langhorne, SS, 6-2, 185, Mechanicsville, Va., Lee Davis

Brodie Leftridge, OF, 6-1, 160, Highland, Md., Saint John’s Catholic Prep

Zach Reid, LHP, 5-11, 165, Montgomery, Ala., Trinity Presbyterian

Benny Santiago, C, 5-11, 175, Pembroke Pines, Fla., Coral Springs Christian Academy

Aaron Soto, LHP, 5-10, 170, Miami Lakes, Fla., Archbishop McCarthy

Kevin Steen RHP 6-2, 165, Oak Ridge, Oak Ridge High School

Lane Thomas, OF, 6-0, 180, Knoxville, Bearden High School

Jake Westphal, UTY, 6-1, 195, Sioux City, Iowa, East

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Columbo writes:

Maybe the diamond vols can make the SEC tourney this year. It sure is tough to be a vol. fan. No NCAA tourney for bb vols the past two years, no SEC tourney for diamond vols in several years, and still no bowl game. I'm getting depressed as I type this.

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