Utah Valley University baseball coach Eric Madsen announced the signing of six players to National Letters of Intent during the early signing period.
Pacen Hayes (Blackfoot, Idaho), Drew Hill (Mayfield, Utah), Kevin McConnell (Walnut Creek, California), Ethan Payne (Benicia, California), Drew Sims (Winchester, California) and Devin Smith (Lehi, Utah) round out the signings. All six are currently high school seniors.
“I am really pleased with this signing class. We have some guys who can make a difference in this program and come highly regarded,” Madsen said. “We’re looking to build on the momentum after winning the WAC Tournament and getting to our first regional last season and the ability of these players is a good indication of that.”
Hayes, a right-handed pitcher, attends Blackfoot High School and during the summer was rated the No. 1 prospect in the state of Idaho according to Baseball Northwest. He led his team to a state championship in 2015. Hayes received Perfect Game Underclass honorable mention in 2015 and Perfect Game Underclass high honorable mention in 2016. He played club baseball for Baseball Northwest and also participated on the Kansas City Royal area code team.
Hill has recorded impressive prep numbers while attending Gunnison Valley High School, where he is a three-time Region MVP. He has 367 career strikeouts along with a career ERA of 1.30 with an opponent batting average lower than .200. He’s also thrown a pair of no-hitters while also sporting a career .515 batting average himself. In 2016, Hill struck out 143 batters in 83.2 innings. He played club baseball for the Utah County Prospects and the Salt Lake Gulls.
McConnell attends Acalanes High School in Lafayette, California, the same school that produced current Wolverine Jake Berry. Acalanes went 26-2 in 2016 and was ranked No. 15 in the entire state of California and No. 5 in Northern California. The right-hander sported a minuscule 0.85 ERA while going 4-0 with six saves as a junior. He struck out 33 and walked just six while limiting opponents to a .120 batting average. He played club baseball for the Zoots.
Payne, a catcher, preps at Benicia High School in Benicia, California, where he helped lead his team to the SJS Section Championship in 2016. He was named to the Bay Area World Series Top 10 Prospect list and to the NorCal World Series All-Tournament Team. Payne was also named the BHS Offensive Player of the Year in 2014. He played club baseball for the De La Salle Oaks and North Coast Reds.
Like his father Mike, who caught in the Marlins organization and for Cal State Northridge, Sims is also a catcher and has thrown out 80 percent of would-be base stealers. Sims was named to the Perfect Game West Coast Top Prospect Team and to the West Coast Top Prospect List. He played club baseball for CBA.
Clint Burgi is the associate athletic director for communications and marketing at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.