Brennan Angel

Collegiate Baseball Newspaper has ranked the Cal Poly baseball team’s recruiting class the 20th best in the nation.

It marks the first time Cal Poly’s recruiting class has been ranked by the newspaper in 24 consecutive years of rankings.

“It just says that we had a good group of athletes coming in to work for us,” Cal Poly head coach Larry Lee said. “It’s a step in the right direction for the program.”

The 2006 Mustang recruiting class consists of 10 freshmen, six of whom were on the final 2005 All-Area Code Team, and four junior college transfers. Of the 14 total players, five have already been drafted by major-league teams.

Luke Yoder, a business major from Liberty High of Bakersfield, is one of the draftees. He led Liberty to a 10-0 record for first place in the Southeast Yosemite League and a 25-6 overall standing. In his junior year at Liberty, he hit .459 with 11 doubles, a triple and nine home runs.

Another draftee, communication studies major Daniel Berlind of Calabasas High, was selected to play on the Dodger Elite Team and Perfect Game Nationals. He is a right-handed pitcher.

From Hartnell College in Salinas comes another right-handed pitcher and draftee, Marc Nobriga. In his freshman year at Hartnell, he received Junior College All-American honors. The Texas Rangers drafted Nobriga, a social sciences major, in 2004.

Cal Poly pitching coach Jerry Weinstein had some positive thoughts on the recruited pitchers.

“The depth of the pitching is the thing that stands out because on this level, you’re only as good as your starting pitching,” said Weinstein, who was Director of Player Development for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2000-01. “I think we have some power arms and they’re all strike throwers. We expect to be very, very competitive.”

Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine, both from the Big West Conference, also made the top 40. Cal State Fullerton came in at No. 8 and UC Irvine is No. 22.

Cal Poly is coming off a 29-27 season and was 36-20 in 2005, a year in which the Mustangs were controversially left out of the NCAA Tournament.

“(I expect) to be able to make postseason competition and knock down that barrier to allow the program to continue to go in the right direction,” Lee said.

Lee also noted that his team will not know how the new players perform until he sees them in a game, but he is hoping this class will set the foundation for the next three to four years.

“We’re hoping that a number of them will have an immediate impact on the program,” Lee said.

The top three in the newspaper’s rankings are South Carolina, Miami and Florida. It is South Carolina’s third time in the last four years at No. 1. Miami and Florida State are the only other schools to have won three recruiting titles in the past 24 years.

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