Byron Buxton, who is the nation’s top-rated prospect, along with Morgan Bunting, Joe DeCarlo, David Gonzalez and Matthew Taylor are the latest additions to the baseball recruiting class after each signed a national letter-of-intent to attend UGA, coach David Perno announced Wednesday.
Here is a look at the newest Dawgs who will be joining the program for the 2013 season:
A 6-2, 170-pound right-handed hitting outfielder from Baxley, Byron is the son of Carrie and Felton Buxton. He is the number one ranked high school prospect in the country by Baseball America. The newspaper’s top 100 is based on future pro potential after getting input from dozens of scouts and college coaches. Buxton attends Appling County where he plays for coach Jeremy Smith and summer baseball with Round Trip coached by Braxton Jeffers. Buxton also plays quarterback for the Pirates. He has participated in various showcase events and been named an All-American by Baseball America and Under Armour.
“Byron is a five-tool prospect and the top-rated recruit in the country,” said Perno. “His speed and arm strength are exceptional and his power is developing plus he is throwing 93-94 miles per hour. He will be one to watch in the pro draft.”
A 6-1, 205-pound right-handed hitting third baseman from Glenn Mills, Pennsylvania, Joe is the son of Susan and Michael DeCarlo. He is ranked No. 57 on Baseball America’s Top 100 High School Prospects list. A first team All Delco (Delaware County) selection, DeCarlo also made 1st Team All Central as a standout infielder for the Garnett Valley Jaguars and coach Rudy Shiller. He has started since his freshman year when he batted .340 with five home runs. DeCarlo comes from an athletic family featuring his father who played football at the University of Delaware, brothers Nick and Mike played baseball at William & Mary, his sister Alissa played lacrosse at Virginia and his sister Natalie plays Special Olympics basketball.
“Joe is one of the better third baseman we’ve come across in quite some time,” said Perno. “He has a power bat, he’s very strong and one guy we’ll have to battle with when it comes to the professional draft.”
A 6-3, 180-pound left-handed hitting first baseman from Atlanta, Morgan is the son of Suzanne and Paul Bunting. He batted a team-best .474 with 10 home runs as a junior for the Woodward Academy War Eagles and coach Jim Minor. Last season, he led them to a 29-5 mark, a 5-AAA region title and the school’s first-ever semifinal appearance in the state playoffs. He was named MVP. He has played summer baseball with the East Cobb Astros and Braves and earned First Team Perfect Game USA All-America honors in 2011.
“The decision to sign with UGA was not hard; Coach Perno and his staff presented a family-oriented environment that really appealed to me,” said Bunting. “I knew that this is where I wanted to spend my college career.”
“Morgan moved to first base from third this summer and has a tall, rangy body and good power from the left side,” said Perno. “He’s got a lot energy and good makeup.”
A 6-1, 200-pound right-handed pitcher from Gainesville, David is the son of Nydia and J.P. Gonzalez. He is a two-way threat for the Gainesville Elephants and coach Jeremy Kemp. A three-year member of the varsity, he went 7-2 with a 3.48 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 52.1 innings as a junior to earn MVP honors. Also, he batted .369 with eight home runs and 29 RBI. As a sophomore, he posted a 7-1 mark, 3.38 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 47.2 innings plus batted .289-4-26.
“I chose UGA because of the great coaches who are very supportive and the university has a great reputation,” said Gonzalez.
“David is a power right-hander who is throwing around 94 miles per hour,” said Perno. “If he throws strikes consistently, he’s going to be very good.”
A 6-3, 185-pound right-handed hitting utility player from Fitzgerald, Matt is the son of Lisa and Harvey Taylor. A two-sport standout for the Fitzgerald High School Hurricanes, he plays shortstop/pitcher/catcher for coach Jason McDonald. He batted a team-best .462 with four home runs and 32 RBI plus 19 stolen bases as a junior and won five games on the mound with a 2.81 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 69.2 innings pitched. He was named the All-Region utility player, All-Middle Georgia catcher as well as All-Region punter.
“I am excited about the opportunity to play for UGA, and I look forward to representing UGA not only as an athlete but also a student,” said Taylor.
“Matt is an athlete; he can play all over the field, a true utility player,” said Perno. “He has a lot of potential with his bat, and it will be exciting to see him develop as his best baseball is ahead of him as he grows in to his body.”
Georgia is close to wrapping up its early recruiting class as the signing period comes to an end.