UCF Baseball Announces 2019 Recruit Class

ORLANDO, Fla. ( – With Fall practices officially underway at John Euliano Park, Head Coach Greg Lovelady has announced the 20-member 2019 recruiting class on Tuesday.

The Black and Gold had 20 departures, including 10 graduating seniors, and three players taken in the Major League Baseball Draft in June; Jordan Spicer Jordan Spicer (24th Round, Colorado), Garrett Westberg (26th Round, Seattle) and Tyler Osik (27th Round, Chicago White Sox). Two Knights inked free agent deals over the summer – Matthew Mika with the Milwaukee Brewers and Chris Williams with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Lovelady and the Knights' recruiting class features seven pitchers, 13 position players – including three catchers or utility players. Seven of the 20 new faces come as transfers and bring some collegiate playing experience to John Euliano Park.

"Really ecstatic about the kids in this class." Head Coach Greg Lovelady had to say about the incoming student athletes. "In regard to the high school guys, this is the first real class since my arrival here and it's exciting to see the talent, work ethic, leadership and competitiveness from them all.  You can see how bright our future is after hanging with them for a brief amount of time. With the transfers they can fill some major holes immediately that we needed to help us win this year while pushing and being pushed by the freshmen. I love the mix we have right now and have been impressed with what the new guys have brought to our program so far."

Meet the new Knights:

#2 Matthew Archer
Fr. | IF | 5'9 | 179 | Long Island, N.Y. | St. Thomas Aquinas HS

  • Two-year letter winner at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Miami, Fla.
  • Hit .462 at the plate his senior year, with 20 RBI and scored 38 runs
  • Two-time Miami Herald First-Team All-County and Miami Herald Broward County Player of the year his senior season
  • Named St. Thomas Aquinas Team MVP after earning First Team All-American
  • Played in the 2019 FACA State All-Star game

#3 Benjamin Chestnutt
Fr. | RHP | 5'11 | 195 | Debary, Fla. | TNXL Academy

  • Four-year letter winner at the TNXL Academy
  • Earned District Pitcher of the Year and Team MVP during his junior season
  • Posted a 1.48 ERA with 99 strikeouts his junior year and a 1.61 ERA with 133 Ks his sophomore season.

#4 Gabriel Cabrera
Fr. | OF | 5'10 | 207 | Parkland, Fla. | Stoneman Douglas HS

  • Two-year letter winner at Stoneman Douglas High school
  • In 70 at bats, collected 20 RBI, one homer and six doubles with a .271 batting average

#5 Trent Taylor
Jr. | UT | 6'0 | 185 | Merritt Island, Fla. | Merritt Island HS/Daytona State College

  • Four-year letter winner in Baseball and two-year letter winner in football at Merritt Island High School
  • Played two seasons at Daytona State College, where he played 77 games for the Falcons
  • Hit .304 in his two-year career at Daytona State, while driving in 33 runs.
  • Played for the Sanford River Rats in the Florida Collegiate Summer League where he finished second in the league with a .347 batting average, first in the league with 31 stole bases and had 11 multi-hit games.
  • Trent Taylor comes to UCF as a third generation Knight

#6 Thomas Josten
Jr. | IF | 6'2 | 200 | Palatine, Ill. | William Fremd HS/Marshalltown Community College

  • Two-sport athlete at William Fremd High School and played a single season at Marshalltown Community College
  • Played in 45 games for the MCC Tigers
  • Hit .308 at the plate, while slugging 11 home runs with 33 RBI in 2019
  • Named Second-Team All-Region in the ICCAC Region in 2019

#7 Jakob Runnels
Fr. | C | 5'9 | 208 | Winter Haven, Fla. | Auburndale HS

  • Four-year letter winner in baseball, two-year letter winner in football at Auburndale High School
  • Slugged eight home runs while maintaining a .510 batting average and driving in 31 runs
  • Graduated with high honors and a GPA of 3.75.

#10 Colton Gordon
Jr. | LHP | 6'4 | 223 | Bradenton, Fla. | Lakewood Ranch HS

  • Played a season at Hillsborough Community College and redshirted a season at the University of Florida
  • Started 13 and appeared in 15 for Hillsborough Community College last season, tossing a total of 88.2 innings
  • Completed his HCC career with a a 2.44 ERA and a 7-4 record with 86 strikeouts
  • Ranked No. 51 overall in Florida by Perfect Game and the No. 6 LHP in Florida coming out of high school
  • 2017 Perfect game/Rawlings High Honorable Mention Preseason All-American

#13 JJ Gonzalez
Fr. | IF | 6'3 | 195 | Haines City, Fla. | Plant City HS

  • Four-year letter winner at Plant City High School
  • Two-time Perfect Game Underclass All-American
  • Earned Hillsborough County All-Star honors
  • Finished junior season with a .379 batting average and three home runs, and hit .397 with one home run his senior year.

#14 Billy McKay
Jr. | RHP | 6'1 | 195 | Plant City, Fla. | Plant City HS/Polk State College

  • Three-year letter winner at Plant City High School. Spent two seasons at Polk State College
  • McKay led the Eagles in ERA in 2019 with a 3.45 ERA with 35 game appearances and tossing 75.2 innings.
  • Made 27 appearances for the Kenosha Kingfish of the Northwoods League, striking out 38 batters in 36.2 innings with a 2.70 ERA
  • Won seven games a senior in high school, tossed a no hitter and carried a 1.53 ERA
  • Received Second-Team All-Conference in the Suncoast Conference

#16 Hunter Patteson
Fr. | LHP | 6'4 | 170 | Vero Beach, Fla. | Vero Beach HS

  • Four-year letter winner at Vero Beach High School
  • Tossed 51 innings and tallied 81 strikeouts his senior season for Vero Beach
  • Ended his senior year with a 6-1 record with a 0.91 ERA on his way to being named First Team All-Treasure Coast for the fourth straight time
  • Participated in the FACA State All-Star Game

#17 Nick Romano
Jr. | 1B | 6'3 | 234 | Tampa, Fla. | Hillsborough HS

  • Four-year letter winner at Hillsborough High School
  • Spent the last two seasons at St. Johns River State College
  • Played 51 games last season and hit 10 home runs on his way to collecting 57 RBI
  • Tallied a .348 batting average on the season

#21 Noah Orlando
Jr. | IF | 6'0 | 177 | Winter Park, Fla. | Edgewater HS/Palm Beach State College

  • Three-year letter winner at Edgewater High School
  • Appeared in 34 games at Palm Beach State College
  • Averaged .318 at the plate with 42 hits and 17 RBI

#22 Jack Duffy
Fr. | IF | 6'2 | 205 | Sarasota, Fla. | Sarasota, HS

  • Three-year letter winner at Sarasota High School.
  • Won a state championship his sophomore season, and helped his team return to the state championship game his junior year.
  • Played small forward for the Sarasota High School basketball team for two years.

#24 Major Posey
Fr. | RHP | 6'4 | 200 | Tallahassee, Fla. | North Florida Christian School

  • Four-year letter winner at North Florida Christian
  • Played on three state championship runner-up teams, and earned three All-Big Bend First-Team honors
  • Also earned second and third team All-Big Bend honors as a four year starter on the North Florida Christian basketball team

#26 Andrew Brait
Fr. | IF | 5'8 | 176 | Melbourne, Fla. | Viera HS

  • Four-year letter winner at Viera High School
  • Appeared in 30 games for Viera his senior season
  • Hit a .363 clip with a .508 on base percent for the 2019 season.
  • Ranked 500 nationally by Perfect Game among 2019 high school seniors
  • Earned Viera High School MVP

#29 Pablo Ruiz
Fr. | IF | 5'9 | 190 | West Palm Beach, Fla. | Forest Hill HS

  • Name Palm Beach County Player of the Year and Sun Sentinel Player of the Year in 2019
  • Ruiz led Palm Beach County in batting average, doubles, stolen bases and tied for the lead in runs scored.
  • The senior hit .563 (36 hits in 64 at-bats) and had an on-base percentage of .670 (reaching base 59 times out of 87 plate appearances). Also put up at slugging percentage of 1.016 by hitting 12 doubles, four triples and three home runs.

#31 Elijah McCormack
Fr. | RHP | 6'2 | 180 | Coppell, Texas | Coppell HS

  • Three-year letter winner at Coppell High School in Coppell, Texas
  • Tossed 45 innings and accumulated 70 strikeouts in 2019
  • Perfect Game Preseason All-American for the 2019 season

#33 Keegan Pulford-Thorpe
Fr. | LHP | 6'2 | 206 | Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. | Newmarket HS

  • Selected in the 33rd round of the 2019 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft
  • Represented Canada on the bronze-winning COPABE U18 Pan Am Championships in Panama in 2018
  • Perfect Game Preseason All0American Canada/Puerto Rico – All-Region First Team
  • Ontario Hockey League draftee to the Sudbury Wolves in 2017 as a defenseman

#35 Nicholas Gottilla
Fr. | LHP | 6'0 | 176 | Davenport, Ia. | Davenport Assumption HS

  • Won seven letters across baseball and football at Davenport Assumption High School
  • Two-time state baseball state champion in 2017 and 2018 and four-time All-District as a football player
  • Went 9-1 on the bump as a senior, tallying 95 strikeouts with a 1.31 ERA. Also carried a .365 batting average with five homers and a six triples
  • Earned First Team All-State, Elite All-State, First Team All-Iowa, Conference Player of the Year his senior season

#44 Joshua Crouch
Jr. | C/UT | 6'1 | 200 | Sebring, Fla. | Sebring HS/State College of Florida

  • Spent two seasons at the State College of Florida in Bradenton, Fla.
  • Earned the Highlands County Baseball Athlete-of-the-Year award and participated in the 2017 FACA State All-Star game
  • Slashed a .290 batting average in 101 games for SCF. Crouch drove in 65 RBI and hit 12 homers in his two seasons playing junior college baseball.

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