Four In-State Players Highlight Baseball Class of `06
Nov. 10, 2005
NORMAL, Ill. - Continuing on his philosophy to recruit some of the best baseball players in the state of Illinois, Illinois State head baseball coach Jim Brownlee and staff have signed four in-state high school stars who will become Redbirds in the fall of 2006. With only four seniors on this year's roster, these four recruits will look to fill the vacant spots immediately in 2006.
Ryan Copeland (Des Plaines, Ill.), Anthony Ruffolo (Wheaton, Ill.), Josh Schultz (Mt. Zion, Ill.) and Dan Weston (LaGrange, Ill.) have all signed national letters of intent to continue their education and their baseball careers at ISU. Brownlee believes that the quality of this class will take care of the lack of quantity of the class.
"Even though we did not sign as many recruits as we have in the past, the quality of the four we got is outstanding," said Brownlee. "This recruiting class really fills the needs of the four seniors that will be graduating and of the possible junior draft picks that we could have this year.
"It's very unusual to have three players in the same class that can be two-way players and contribute immediately for us. But, all of these guys will be able to be aggressive on the bases and make some things happen on the offensive side, which is something this coaching staff stresses."
Brownlee, who is in his fourth season at the helm of the Redbird baseball program, now has a team completely made up of players he and his staff recruited. With the recent signing of these four players, Brownlee and staff have continued to bring in some of the best players in the state of Illinois to the program.
"That's our goal as a staff; to bring in some of the best players in the state who will help us bring ISU baseball to the next lever," said Brownlee. "Our recruiting coordinator, coach Tim Brownlee, and our pitching coach, Seth Kenny, have done that with the class of 2006. These players are very athletic and have a great knowledge and love of the game of baseball. This is our fourth class and we are just as excited about this class as the previous three."
Brownlee said that there is a still a possibility to bring in three or four more players in the future.
The Redbirds open the season in Arlington, Texas, at the UT-Arlington Tournament beginning February 17th, 2006.
2006 Illinois State Baseball Recruits
Ryan Copeland ... Des Plaines, Ill. (Elk Grove High) ... 5-10 ... 170 ... R/L ... LHP/OF
- Had a 5-7 record his junior year, but had a 1.43 ERA
- Excellent strikeout ratio of 103 strikeouts to 26 walks
- Hit .375 with 26 RBIs as a junior
Brownlee on Copeland: "Ryan will be an immediate difference-maker on the mound for us and in the field also. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is outstanding and having another left-hander on the mound will give us some depth at that position. What really impresses the coaching staff about Ryan is his knowledge and love of the game. That's something that we really look for in our recruits."
Anthony Ruffolo ... Wheaton, Ill. (Wheaton Warrenville South) ... 6-2 ... 180 ... L/R ... 3B/1B
- Hit .406 for Wheaton Warrenville South as a junior, with 16 stolen bases and 25 RBIs
- 1st team all-conference as a junior
- Hit .526 during summer baseball for the Norwood Blues before his senior season
Brownlee on Ruffolo: "Anthony's a left-handed hitter that will eventually turn into a good home run hitter from the left side for us. As his body continues to develop and mature, he'll be able to use his 6-2 frame to be a physical force in the box for us. He also has good speed and athleticism and could play at either one of the corner spots for us."
Josh Schultz ... Mt. Zion, Ill. (Mt. Zion) ... 6-2 ... 170 ... R/R ... RHP
- Was 7-5 his junior season for Mt. Zion, but had a miniscule 1.32 ERA and 143 strikeouts in 74 innings
- Combined to throw a no-hitter for Mt. Zion junior year
- 1st team all-area and unanimous 1st team all-conference selection as a junior
- 8-1 with a 1.29 ERA and 88 strikeouts as a sophomore
Brownlee on Schultz: "Josh is a great sign for us. He is going to be a two-way player for us and is very fast on the base paths. Our philosophy is to steal a lot of bases, and Josh will have the ability to do that for us. On the mound, Josh has one of the best curveballs I have ever seen, in high school or in college. He will definitely be a difference maker for us immediately and in the future for this program.
Dan Weston ... LaGrange, Ill. (Lyons Township) ... 6-0 ... 170 ... R/L ... OF/LHP
- Compiled a 9-1 record as a junior at Lyons Township, with a 1.50 ERA and 79 strikeouts
- Batted .365 with three home runs in 121 at-bats his junior season
- All-West Suburban Conference selection as a sophomore and a junior
Brownlee on Weston: "Dan is the fourth player from Lyons Township to sign with us in the past few years. That program continues to produce outstanding baseball players and is continually one of the best programs in the state. Dan is a proven winner and shows that on the mound and in the field. On the mound, Dan has the ability to throw strikes and locate his pitches as a left-hander and could be one of the best centerfielders in the state when he plays the field. His athletic ability allows him to be a solid two-way player for us in the future."