Middle Tennessee State announced the signing of eight high school and junior college talents to National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, a crop of talent that includes the likes of Jesuit High School standout Ryan McCullers and right-handed pitcher Nate Hoffman from Madison College.
“This is an outstanding signing class,” head coach Jim McGuire said. “It has a very good balance of high school and junior college players. It fills what we need for the 2015 season. This outstanding class would have not been possible without the assistance from Scott Hall, Skylar Meade and Brandon Nolen.”
Ryan McCullers has been around the sport of baseball for his entire life, as his father Lance Sr. played professional ball for four different teams in the 1980s and 90s, while his older brother Lance Jr. is currently one of the top pitching prospects in the Houston Astros organization. However, Middle Tennessee will serve as the prime platform for Ryan to make a name for himself.
“I think this is a really good moment for me to really kind of put myself on the map and show that I can also play, too,” McCullers said. “I can try to go to college and do what my brother did, but in my own way.”
McCullers was rated as the 260th best overall prospect in the country and an Underclass High Honorable Mention by Perfect Game USA in 2013. His strong .428 batting average and 26 RBI helped keep Jesuit amongst the top-ranked high schools in the nation last spring, but it was his superb defensive skills behind the plate that made the difference and garnered national attention.
McCullers garnered strong recognition for his defensive prowess as a catcher at the Perfect Game USA National Showcase this past June, which would ultimately lead to his oral commitment to Middle Tennessee a month later in July.
McGuire had this to say of his future catching stud: “Ryan comes from a great baseball lineage. His father Lance Sr. placed in the majors for seven years and his brother was first round pick in 2012.
He is an excellent leader and great receiver behind the dish. He provides some command behind the plate that we are looking for in our back stops. His swing is a solid, level approach that should work at our level immediately.”
As for Nate Hoffman, the right-handed pitcher from Madison College will surely bring a seasoned presence to the Blue Raiders pitching staff in 2015, as the crafty right-hander was able to help guide his team to a third place finish at the NJCAA World Series this year.
As a freshman in 2013, Hoffman pitched his way to First Team All-Conference honors in the North Central Community College Conference and was named to the NJCAA All-Tournament team. Hoffman also excelled in the classroom, as he was given Academic All-Conference honors.
Hoffman was a three-year letter winner in high school, wherein he tossed three no-hitters and helped his Sun Prairie High School team capture the WIAA Divison 1 State Championship in 2012.
Hoffman will look to improve his already strong arsenal of pitches that includes a fastball with solid late action and off-speed offerings that he is able to mix in with great effectiveness this coming spring with Madison, as Middle Tennessee will be eager to receive his talented arm in 2015.
McGuire has this to say of his future starting pitcher: “Nate is first off an A+ kid. He has been a winner his whole career through high school and into his time at Madison under Coach Davenport. He competes with three pitches and is not afraid of pitching to contact. He throw at a velocity of 86 to 89, and mix plenty of offspeed. In the end, he is going to win with his fastball that provides plenty of late life.”
Middle Tennessee will be moving to Conference USA ball in 2014 after previously playing within the Sun Belt Conference. They will be joined by Florida Atlantic in the move to C-USA.