Joe King, Matt Sullivan and Shane Willoughby have each signed a National Letter of Intent to continue their academic and baseball careers at Youngstown State University starting in the 2013-14 season, Penguins head coach Steve Gillispie announced.
King is a left-handed pitcher and first baseman from Woodbridge, Va.; Sullivan is an infielder from Centerville, Ohio; and Willoughby is an infielder from Lawrence, Kan. King and Willoughby are both high school stars while Sullivan is currently a sophomore at Sinclair Community College.
"The fall signing class has significantly helped us address the needs that are being created by graduation and the upcoming Major League Draft," Gillispie said. "Coach Neal, Coach Smallcomb, and Coach Stanford have worked extremely hard since coming on board late in the summer, and I believe we have added to our program with young men who are very talented from a baseball sense, who are excellent students, and who are off of the charts when we evaluated their character and make-up."
King is a 6-foot left-handed pitcher and left-handed hitter who could contribute both on the mound and in the batter's box. King batted .345 while posting a 1.40 ERA as a junior last season at C.D. Hylton High School in Virginia. As a sophomore, he hit .402 with two home runs while only striking out twice. King has twice been named second-team all-district and earned the Coaches Award his sophomore year as the team's most-improved player. Last season, King helped C.D. Hylton to a regional championship and a berth in the state semi-finals.
"Joe will initially give us depth in our pitching staff from the left side," Gillispie said. "He has shown us the ability to command the strike zone with an average college fastball and above-average off-speed pitches. As a position player, he has very sound swing mechanics and above average defensive ability, and he has been an integral part of the success C.D. Hylton High School has had in that past several years. Joe also projects quite well from a physical standpoint, and we were extremely impressed as a staff with his passion for the game."
Sullivan is a 6-foot-4, right-handed hitting infielder who Gillispie projects to be a third baseman. As a freshman at Sinclair Community College in 2012, Sullivan batted .317 with 16 extra-base hits in 52 games. He scored 30 runs and drove in 27 while stealing eight bases and posting a .366 on-base percentage. As a senior at Centerville High, he was the Greater Western Ohio Conference Player of the Year as well as a First-Team All-Area selection at pitcher by the Miami Valley Baseball Coaches Association.
"Matt stood out to us right away when we first were able to evaluate his physical skills," Gillispie said. "He profiles quite well as a corner infielder, and the fact that he was a shortstop in high school leads us to believe he will be an above average defender at the Division I level. He possesses more than enough arm strength to play third base, and he is also gifted with a unique blend of being able to hit for average as well as for power. His success at Sinclair provides experience that we hope to draw upon heavily when he gets to campus next fall."
Willoughby has played shortstop, third base and pitcher for Lawrence High in leading the Lions to a regional championship in 2012. He was a second-team all-state selection at Class 6A and a second-team all-conference pick as a junior third baseman, and he earned a spot on the USA Baseball Midwest 17-and-under team in August.
"Shane's commitment to YSU was extremely exciting for us as we look to the long-term development of the program," Gillispie said. "He graded out for us as above average in three of the five baseball skills, and his awareness of how to win gives him a chance to be a major contributor right away. His foot quickness and running speed allow him to impact the game from both an offensive and a defensive perspective, and his hands and arm strength definitely stand out at first glance. It was no wonder to us that he has been a go-to guy at Lawrence High during his time there."