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Lobo Baseball Signs Seven to National Letters of Intent
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  11/20/2009
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

Nov. 20, 2009

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.--University of New Mexico head baseball coach Ray Birmingham has announced the signing of seven future Lobos to the Lobo baseball team. Coach Birmingham and his staff have brought in some of the nation's best players from around the country and from the state of New Mexico. UNM has received national letters of intent from Chance Bragg, Jake McClasland, Eli Freese, Andrew Schugel, Jose Sierra, Sam Wilson and Justin Zumwalde.

"This is a very outstanding class," said coach Ray Birmingham. "Every single one of them are difference makers. This class has the chance to go to Major League Baseball. All of them could go in the top-10 rounds someday. We have had two really good recruiting classes in a row."

Chance Bragg • RHP • 6'2" / 190 • Vernon Junior College • Abilene, Texas
Named 7-3A all-District in 2007 and 2008 at Abilene Wylie High School... earned Utility Player of the Year in '07 and Defensive MVP in '08... played for the Blacksox in the Connie Mack League... coached by veteran coach Kevin Lallmann at Vernon Junior College.

Coach Birmingham on Bragg:
"Bragg is another big arm. He's touched 94 miles per hour . He has a chance to be a big arm on a great pitching staff. He was recruited by Texas Tech, Kansas and Kansas State."

Jake McCasland • RHP • 6'2" / 215 • Piedra Vista HS • Farmington, N.M.
Hit .483 with six homeruns as a junior... posted a 9-1 record with a 1.41 ERA... also saw time at first base... two-sport letterwinner in football and baseball and named all-State in both sports... played for the Four Corners Thunder, who made a trip to the Connie Mack World Series... champion of Connie Mack World Series Home Run Derby in 2009... played in Area Code games in Long Beach, Calif.... participated in WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla... ranked in the top-100 prospects in the western United States... chose UNM over LSU, Arizona, Oklahoma and Hawaii.

McCasland ESPN interview

Coach Birmingham on McCasland:
"Jake McCasland has one of the biggest arms in the southwest. His potential is through the roof. He could be a number one draft pick out of Lobo land. He's got a big arm and he is a big hitter."

Eli Freese • INF • 6'4" / 210 • Farmington HS • Farmington N.M
Named 4A all-district as a designated hitter... a member of the National Honors Society... earned a leadership position in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes student group... played for the New Mexico Yankees club team.

Coach Birmingham on Freese:
"He's a New Mexico kid and my commitment to New Mexico kids is huge. This is a kid who has the same ability and the same potential as the rest of the Farmington kids that play for us. Eli will be a big pro prospect very soon."

Andrew Shugel • INF/P • 6'1" / 185 • Central Arizona College • Highlands Ranch, Colo.
Named to the 2007 5A all-State team in his senior season at Mountain Vista High School... lettered in baseball and hockey... named to the Dean's List in the spring of '09 while at Central Arizona... played for the Thunder Bay Border Cats in the Northwood League with current Lobo Adam Courcha... top-10 in Northwood League in doubles and RBI... father Jeff Schugel played for the Minnesota Twins from 1983-86... chose UNM over Arizona and Arizona State.

Coach Birmingham on Schugel:
"Shugel has dual potential as well. He's got a chance to play third base and swing a bat and he is a 92 miles per hour on the mound. He comes from Jon Wente at Central Arizona College who does a great job getting kids ready for division one."

Jose Sierra • Catcher • 6'1" / 210 • Tolleson HS • Tolleson, Ariz.
Named first team all-region in 2009... selected to play for Team Arizona in the Junior Sunbelt Classic and was named to the all-tournament team... played for legendary high school coach Scott Richardson at Tolleson.

Coach Birmingham on Sierra:
"Jose is probably one of the best catchers in the southwest. He played for the Arizona Junior Sunbelt team. I know this is saying a lot but I think he has the chance to be the best catcher in Lobo history. With Neda here, that's saying a lot. Jose chose UNM over Arizona, Arizona State and six other California school."

Sam Wilson • LHP/OF • 6'2" / 195 • El Dorado HS • Albuquerque, N.M.
Four-year letterwinner for head coach Jim Johns... named all-State, all-District and all-Metro in his junior season... played for the 5-5A district champion El Dorado High School team... Member of the 2009 Cincinnati Reds Area Code team in Long Beach, Calif.,... was awarded an Outstanding Achievement award in the field of science and was a member of the Continental Math League... ranked one of the top hitters in the country by Baseball America... was recruited by several Big-12, PAC-10 and SEC teams.

Wilson ESPN interview

Coach Birmingham on Wilson:
"Sam Wilson is an outstanding young man. He is a dual threat on the mound and as a hitter. He was ranked by Baseball America as one of the best hitters in the country. Will be a great Lobo soon."

Justin Zumwalde • OF • 6'3" / 225 • Pima Community College • Tucson, Ariz.
Named all-region and all-CCAC in 2009... two-sport letterwinner in baseball and football while at Sabino High School in Tucson, Ariz.... named first team all-Sonoran Region in 2007... earned Louisville Slugger All-American honorable mention, first-team 4A all-state and first-team all-Kino Region in 2008... played club ball for the KFC American Legion and the Great Falls Golden Eagles... was recruited by Arizona, Arizona State, California and Oregon State.

Coach Birmingham on Zumwalde:
"Zumwalde is a big time hitter. He is probably one of the most physical athletes I'll ever coach. He could end up leading the country in home runs eventually."

Lobo Baseball opens up the 2010 season at College World Series Runner-Up Texas on Feb. 16. For more information visit www.GoLobos.com.

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