Bulls get two sluggers from juco champs
After scoring four runs in four games at the Big East tournament, USF needed to upgrade its hitting to be more competitive in seeking an NCAA Tournament berth in 2008. The Bulls have landed two bats to help that cause in catcher Trey Manz and outfielder Brian Hobbs, who helped Chipola College to a national junior college championship and will play for USF next spring.
"The program has nothing but good things in its future, and I like that we have a chance to step in and make those things happen ourselves," said Manz, a left-handed hitter from Columbus, Ga., who batted .315 and ranked second on Chipola's roster with nine home runs and 50 RBIs as a sophomore.
Hobbs, from Preston, Md., hit .320 with four home runs and 21 RBIs, and had eight home runs as a freshman, with he and Manz flip-flopping between the No. 5 and 6 positions in Chipola's lineup. Chipola coach Jeff Johnson said Manz is just beginning to find himself as a catcher -- he threw out 19 of 44 would-be base-stealers last season. He said Hobbs has "as much tools as any kid I've ever coached," a guy with 6-2, 225-pound size but 6.8 speed in the 60 meters (football measures 40 times, baseball does 60s, and a 6.8 is solid).
We'd known that Prado had two junior college catchers coming in when he let both of his catchers from this spring go, and now we know Manz is one of them. He's turned to Chipola for catchers before, getting Fernando Isa from there when he was at Louisville. Read Isa's bio from Louisville and his first season under Prado, and he sounds a lot like Manz: "Hit .310 with 12 doubles and 26 RBI, while starting 59 games behind the dish. Nailed a C-USA high 25 of the 76 baserunners attempting to steal, including 10 of 26 in conference games."
-- One more baseball update: sophomore pitcher Shaun Sanford nearly earned a spot on the U.S. national team, which leaves today for international play in Brazil. Sanford made two appearances for the U.S. team in New England exhibitions last month, earning a win and compiling a 3.86 ERA in 4.2 innings. He didn't make the cut from 30 players to 22, but just pitching with that team is a promising indication.