The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may have cut some seasons short, but the Dons will return in the fall — and alongside our returning athletes will be a class of new recruits.
This week, the Foghorn will be reporting on the newest additions to the USF baseball team.
Following the departure of 10 seniors (including four from their pitching rotation), the Dons retooled its baseball team with a massive 12-man signing class. This week, we focus on the six position players signed to the Dons roster for next spring. In an interview with the San Francisco Examiner, head coach Nino Giarratano said, “We’re probably going to have a good eight players off this recruiting class that will make an impact on next year’s team.”
Disclaimer: Stats were pulled from the 2019 high school baseball season, which was the last full season of play each player had due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nick Naccarato, Outfield/Utility player, Carlsbad, California, Sage Creek High School (5’11″, 168 lbs.):
With strong defensive abilities and a knack for getting on base, Naccarato joins the Dons as one of their top recruits. He boasted a .375 AVG last season, strengthened by a .446 OBP, projecting him to be one of the Dons’ leadoff or secondary hitters in the lineup. But Naccarato does more than carry a big stick — he plays excellent defense, and this skill was on full display at the 2019 West Academic Showcase. He finished in the top 10 for both 60-yard dash time and outfield velocity for all students competing in the showcase, being named to the Showcase Top Prospect team. He was also named to the Perfect Game (PG) Preseason All-American and All-Region teams for 2020.
Luke Keaschall, Shortstop/Middle infielder, Watsonville, California, Aptos High School (6’0″, 165 lbs.):
Another strong player with a quick bat, Keaschall made an impact on his high school team his junior year, leading the team in batting average, RBI and extra-base hits (including three home runs), and steals, swiping 25 bases on 25 attempts. Another member of the PG Preseason All-American and All-Region Teams, Keaschall joins the Dons with a high baseball IQ and the ability to be an impactful starter from day one.
Tyler Imbach, Catcher, Palos Verdes Estates, California, Palos Verdes High School (6’1″, 180 lbs.):
Having committed in May 2019, Imbach finally will join the Dons this fall and has the inside track to become the team’s starting catcher after the matriculation of Robert Emery and Chase Hodkinson this year. The team would be in good hands, however, as Imbach carries a career .330 batting average and .409 OBP to the Hilltop. The strong left-handed bat collected five home runs in his junior season while driving in 19 runs. A member of the PG All-American and All-Region Teams for 2020, Imbach will be a strong producer for the Dons for years to come.
Cameron Faris, Shortstop/Third Base, Castro Valley (6’1″, 185 lbs.):
An offensive savant with a strong defensive acumen, Faris joins the Dons competing with Keaschall for the starting shortstop position. According to Associate Head Coach Troy Nakumara, “[Faris] has the ability to change the game with his glove, arm, and bat. His athleticism and versatility can place him at second base, third or shortstop for us.” Faris posted a .353 batting average with a .441 OBP during his junior campaign while also collecting the Player of the Year award from the Bercovich Foundation. (He played for the Bercovich 24 Athan program while not playing in high school.)
Mario Demera, Third Base/Outfield, San Mateo, California, St. Ignatius College Preparatory (6’1″, 185 lbs.):
Despite a broken hand taking a month of his junior season, Demera still posted solid numbers across his appearances. He turned in an impressive showing during the PGWorld Series in Arizona. During the series, he went 9-15 with a triple and two doubles. Demera also carries impressive accolades to the Hilltop, including being a 2020 California All-Region Second Team Selection from PG and a top 500 ranking from them.
In a press release from the athletics department, Giarratano said, “We are very excited to land a local superstar from Saint Ignatius Prep. Mario is an outstanding athlete that will have a wonderful opportunity to help us with his bat, speed, and defensive versatility. He has the opportunity to be a middle-of-the-order hitter that can play all over the field. We are proud and honored that Mario chose USF.”
Jared Breedwell, Outfield, Vacaville, California, Vacaville High School (6’0″, 180 lbs.):
Following a coaching change at Oregon State, Breedwell switched his commitment from the Beavers to the Dons and brought a strong bat with him. With a clean .400 batting average and .518 OBP bolstered by .532 slugging percentage (and 14 RBIs), Breedwell brings an impact bat to the Hilltop. As previously mentioned, there are several graduating players in the outfield who need to be replaced, and with a rocket arm and fielding discipline, Breedwell projects to be in the right field sooner rather than later. Assistant Coach Mat Keplinger confirmed this, saying, “Jared is a leader and a winner. He has been a catalyst at the top of the lineup for the Vacaville Bulldogs, who have won back-to-back Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championships. Jared also plays for NorCal Baseball, which is one of the most elite programs in the country. Jared has a strong arm and will look to have an immediate impact to play right field for the Dons.”