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Breaking down Arizona baseball’s 2020 recruiting class

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-Arizona vs Coastal Carolina Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Despite the fact that the Arizona Wildcats haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2017, head coach Jay Johnson has seemingly had no problem luring talent to Tucson.

Both the Wildcats’ 2018 and 2019 recruiting classes were ranked in the Top-25 nationally by respected outlets Perfect Game and Baseball America, and that trend continued when Johnson announced the UA’s 2020 class Wednesday afternoon on National Signing Day.

Headlined by top-10 prospect Chase Davis, the Cats’ 11-man class is currently ranked 11th in the country by Baseball America and 23rd by Perfect Game.

“This is a really good day for our program,” Johnson said. “I feel like we’ve had a couple good ones in a row, but I don’t know that any have been as strong as this.”

The class is comprised of five pitchers, four position players and two guys who are listed as both, and while there is always a chance that some of them might opt to go pro if they are selected high enough in next year’s MLB Draft—Arizona’s class features three top-100 players—Johnson is excited at the foundation that he and his staff have built.

“It’s development that attracts players and on the hitting side and offensive side I really believe we have one of the best products in the country, at any conference, at any school.” he said. “So coach (Marc) Wanaka doing a good job developing our players has allowed us to have a reputation to bring in four or five of the best position players in the country in this class. Then obviously adding (pitching) coach (Nate) Yeskie, and what he brings to the table, from a development standpoint, a reputation standpoint, we really closed extremely well on the pitching side of it and for our program that was a big deal.”

Johnson went on to add that the recruiting process is not yet over and that he hopes to add another player or two before everything is all said and done.

Here’s a deeper look at the class with some analysis from the Wildcats’ skipper himself.

Chase Davis, OF

  • Hometown: Elk Grove, Calif.
  • High school: Franklin
  • Bats: Left
  • Throws: Left
  • Rank: Perfect Game Top-10 Prospect

Johnson’s take: “To be honest, Chase is one of the most physically gifted players that I’ve ever recruited. His ability to hit, run and defend in the outfield are all extremely high level and on top of that he has a great personality that lends itself to success. I believe he has a limitless future in this game and we will certainly fight extremely hard to keep him from professional baseball.”

Daniel Susac, C

  • Hometown: Roseville, Calif.
  • High school: Jesuit
  • Bats: Both
  • Throws: Right
  • Rank: Perfect Game Top-60 Prospect

Johnson’s take: “Daniel is one of the elite players on the West Coast, and has the potential to be a great offensive and defensive player here at Arizona. He is regarded as one of the top defensive catchers in the country and has limitless potential as a hitter. He will also make our program better because of his elite makeup at a position that requires it. We’re obviously anticipating losing both Austin (Wells) and Matt (Dyer) this year at the catching position and to get Daniel this summer was a big deal. Luckily the relationship piece is something that is really important in recruiting and I coached his brother Matt at Nevada, and Coach Yeskie coached his brother Andrew at Oregon State several years ago and just the connection with their family was really strong. We’re really excited to get Daniel here.”

Nick Yorke, IF

  • Hometown: Campbell, Calif.
  • High school: Archbishop Mitty
  • Bats: Right
  • Throws: Right
  • Rank: Perfect Game Top-100 Prospect

Johnson’s take: “Plain and simple, no matter who is out there, this player is always the best player on the field in my opinion. He just makes everybody around him better, and his was a very highly contested recruiting battle, that when we were in it I did not get much sleep. He has a complete skill set that includes hitting ability both for average and power, plus defense, a tenacious attitude, and a will to win. We’re very excited to add Nick to our program, and that’s a name that I know that that Wildcat fans will be hearing a lot of over the next next few years.”

TJ Nichols, P/IF

  • Hometown: Roseville, Calif.
  • High school: Oakmont
  • Bats: Right
  • Throws: Right
  • Rank: Perfect Game Top-120 Prospect

Johnson’s take: “TJ is somebody that I spoke a lot about, and I mean we went really hard to get him. He was committed to another school actually, and once when we found out he wasn’t going to be going to that school we really got on him and we developed a good rapport because he wanted to come to a place with warm weather. His fastball is up to 95 mph with swing-and-miss off-speed stuff, and he has the athleticism and drive to compete as a position player as well. He makes everyone around him better and will be a mainstay in our program in the coming years.”

Jacob Berry, 1B/3B

  • Hometown: Queen Creek, Arizona
  • High school: Queen Creek
  • Bats: Both
  • Throws: Right

Johnson’s take: “In my opinion, Jacob is the best player in the state of Arizona for this 2020 class. He has a tremendous hitting ability and he’ll likely be a middle of the order hitter at Arizona very early on in his career. He has incredible bat speed, power and plate discipline. I mean he really checks all the boxes hitting wise and has really improved as an infielder.”

Kyle Kasper, P/OF

  • Hometown: El Cajon, Calif.
  • High school: Valhalla
  • Bats: Right
  • Throws: Right
  • Rank: Perfect Game Top-40 Outfielder

Johnson’s take: “Kyle Casper is an outfielder and right handed pitcher from the San Diego area, and again he’s tremendous athlete, tremendous skill set, one of those guys that you can’t wait to coach. I mean he really has it all in terms of baseball tools; arm speed, bad speed, running speed and a guy that I believe his best days are in front of in front of him.”

Riley Cooper, LHP

  • Hometown: Fresno, Calif.
  • High school: Clovis North
  • Throws: Left
  • Note: Perfect Game Preseason All-American

Johnson’s take: “I mean I have one note here, and it’s winner. He is one of the more polished left-handed pitchers on the West Coast and I believe he has the ability to be a high-level contributor here and especially at our our park, being that it’s big. His ability to mix pitches and keep hitters off balance gives him a chance to have a lot of success at Arizona.”

Ryan Kysar, RHP

  • Hometown: Castiac, Calif.
  • High school: Valencia
  • Throws: Right
  • Note: Perfect Game Preseason All-American

Johnson’s take: “Ryan has a really fast arm, a really good curveball, really good pitching ability and swing and miss stuff too. He is coming into his own and has weapons that he can use to collect outs in a conference full of really good hitters.”

Javyn Pimental, LHP

  • Hometown: Honolulu, Hi.
  • High school: Kamehameha
  • Throws: Left
  • Rank: Hawaii’s Perfect Game No. 1 LHP

Johnson’s take: “We just got Javyn this weekend when he came on an official visit. He’s a very athletic left handed pitcher, which, if you’re following the trajectory of our team and program, you know left handed pitching is a big need moving forward to be able give teams different looks. This guy’s body looks like he’s going to be coming into his own in the next couple years and I’m proud of him with the time difference, he signed in time to be announced in this press conference, so that was a good start.”

Chase Silseth, RHP

  • Hometown: Farmington, New Mexico
  • School: College of Southern Nevada
  • Throws: Right
  • Note: 2018 Perfect Game Preseason All-American

Johnson’s take: “Chase is a four-year, two-year transfer. He was at the University of Tennessee before transferring and has the makings of a potential starter right off the bat. He’s one of those guys when you go and watch him pitch it’s like, ‘man, I wish we had him this year’, and that’s that’s really exciting. He’s a highly confident kid and just the mound presence really screams, ‘I’m gonna win’.

Mason Millett, RHP

  • Hometown: Tucson, Arizona
  • School: Pima Community College
  • Throws: Right
  • Note: 2017 Perfect Game Preseason All-American

Johnson’s take: “Mason is from just right down the street at Pima College. He’s a right handed pitcher, originally went to Gonzaga and has developed physically since then. He’s up to 95 MPH and I really got to give a tip of the cap to Coach (Ken) Jacome over there because he called me one day this summer and he was like, ‘hey man, you need to get here like now, or you’re going to lose him because a lot of his development happened pitching in the summer’ so Coach Lawn hustled over there and we got him to campus the next day.”