The University of Minnesota Crookston baseball program announced the signing of five student-athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2020 season. The Golden Eagles have inked Tyrique Alston (OF, 5-11 190, Ewing, N.J./Erasmus Hall H.S.), Taylor Brayton (RHP, 6-1 195, Prentice, Wis./Iowa Central Community College), Brad Morris (OF, Auckland, New Zealand/Riverland Community College), Yadiel Ortiz (IF, 5-9 190, Patillas, Puerto Rico/Riverland Community College), and T.J. Wagner (RHP, 5-8 165, Cottage Grove, Minn./Itasca Community College).
“We are excited about our most recent signees,” said Head Coach Steve Gust. “We feel we have some talented guys who can help us in a multitude number of ways. Our recruiting class is shaping up nicely. We feel we brought in a number of freshmen who will make a long-lasting impression on this program, and now we have added some junior college guys who are excited to be a part of this program. We are still recruiting a couple of more impact student-athletes, but we feel this class is definitely one of our best.”
The five signees join the early additions to the Minnesota Crookston baseball program that inked in the Fall. They join Trace Brayton (LHP/OF, 6-1 186, Prentice, Wis./Prentice H.S.), Aaron Cantu (RHP, Raisin City, Calif./Caruthers H.S.), Conner Fonger (OF, 5-9 172, Superior, Wis./Superior H.S.), Jake Hjelle (3B/OF, East Grand Forks, Minn./East Grand Forks H.S.), Jake Osowski (RHP, 5-10 175, East Grand Forks, Minn./East Grand Forks H.S.), and Parker Stroh (C, 6-0 175, Grand Forks, N.D./Grand Forks Central H.S.).
The Golden Eagles currently have 11 signees for the 2020 class featuring a well-rounded group of student-athletes as they have signed five players with the ability to pitch and seven players who can play a variety of positions in the field.
Minnesota Crookston currently boasts a 7-7 mark on the 2019 season, as they are looking to continue to build on the success of recent seasons. UMC went 24-27 last season.
Tyrique Alston (OF, 5-11 190, Ewing, N.J./Erasmus Hall H.S.)
A two-sport athlete, that is coming in as an outfielder for Minnesota Crookston and is the eighth-best recruit in New York. He will also play football for the Golden Eagles. Alston was a two-sport athlete at Erasmus Hall High School. Hit .333 in 2017 with one double, and three runs scored. “Tyrique is a tremendous athlete,” Gust said. “He has tremendous speed and has tools that are impressive. He is also a very good student. We believe he has a future to be good for years to come.
Taylor Brayton (RHP, 6-1 195, Prentice, Wis./Iowa Central Community College)
Brayton played at Iowa Central Community College with current Golden Eagle Brock Reller. He pitched one inning last season. He played football, basketball, and baseball in high school for Prentice H.S. Brayton was a First Team All-Conference quarterback in high school. He was Second Team All-Conference for basketball at Prentice H.S., and was a First Team All-Conference selection for baseball. He was also named Conference Player of the Year in baseball. As a senior at Prentice H.S., Brayton went 61.2 innings with 110 strikeouts and a 1.25 ERA. Brayton is the son of Jeremy and Trisha Brayton. He was born April 30, 1999. Brayton plans to major in exercise science and wellness. His dad Jeremy Brayton played football at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. His brother Trace Brayton has also signed with Minnesota Crookston to play baseball. “We are excited that Taylor decided to join his brother on next year’s team,” Gust said. “He will provide some depth to our bullpen. He has some mechanical issues to figure out, but we feel he has what it takes to be successful.”
Brad Morris (OF, 6-3 200, Warkworth, New Zealand/Riverland Community College)
Morris joins his teammate Yadiel Ortiz as signees for the Golden Eagles. In addition, he joins his former teammate at Riverland Community College Mason Ruhlman at Minnesota Crookston. Riverland Community College also produced former Golden Eagle Kenny Perez, who was an All-NSIC Second Team pick in 2016, and was named D2CCA All-Region Second Team in 2016. Morris hit .382 as a freshman at Riverland Community College with 15 runs scored, three doubles, one home run and 22 RBIs. He had two stolen bases. Morris was named to the New Zealand Domestic All Star Team in 2017. He was a 2020 New Zealand Olympicz qualifier for the prospect roster. He was the 2017 New Zealand Nationals MVP. In 2017, Morris was the U-21 New Zealand Player of the Year. He earned Player of the Week for Riverland Community College in the MCAC in 2018.
Morris is the son of Christine and Wayne Morris. He was born Dec. 6, 1996. He plans to major in Marketing. Three of his cousins play for the New Zealand All Blacks, an international power on the world rugby scene. He has a cousin who plays rugby for the Blues Rugby Team in Auckland. His other cousin played for the New Zealand athletics team at the commonwealth games. Morris has represented New Zealand in shotput and discus. He did not play high school baseball. Morris came to the United State to play summer baseball and was picked up by Riverland after two years of amateur baseball in New Zealand. “Brad is a dynamic player with multiple impact tools,” Gust said. “We feel he will make an immediate impact on our program. He still has room for development, but he is a very talented and versatile player.
Yadiel Ortiz (IF, 5-9 190, Patillas, Puerto Rico/Riverland Community College)
Ortiz joins his teammate Brad Morris as signees for the Golden Eagles. In addition, he joins his former teammate at Riverland Community College Mason Ruhlman at Minnesota Crookston. Riverland Community College also produced former Golden Eagle Kenny Perez, who was an All-NSIC Second Team pick in 2016, and was named D2CCA All-Region Second Team in 2016. Ortiz helped Riverland to a 23-6 mark as a freshman. He hit .287 as a freshman with 24 runs scored, eight doubles, one home run and 19 RBIs. Ortiz walked nine times, had a .339 on-base percentage, and a .396 slugging percentage. Ortiz had four stolen bases. He was a 2016 Caribbean Top Prospect. He was named to the All-Tournament Team for the 2015 16U Perfect Game tournament. He was named 2017 Perfect Game Preseason All American and All-Region.
He is the son of Marcial Ortiz Garcia, and Rosalia Rivas Vazquez. His full name is Yadiel M. Ortiz Rivas. He was born March 23, 1999. Ortiz plans to major in biology.
“Yadi has a passion for the game and a strong desire to help our program,” Gust said. “He possesses the skills necessary to provide some much needed depth for us in the infield and has the potential to be a very good hitter. Yadi is just an all-around solid player.”
T.J. Wagner (RHP, 5-8 165, Cottage Grove, Minn./Itasca Community College)
Wagner went 3-0 as a freshman for Itasca Community College. He pitched 31.1 innings with one save. Wagner had 13 strikeouts during his freshman season. He posted a 6.03 ERA. He lettered in baseball for North High School. He also was on the B honor roll, and lettered in academics.
Wagner is the son of Eric and Diane Wagner. He plans to major in natural resources-law enforcement. Wagner was born July 6, 1998.
“Brad is a dynamic player with multiple impact tools,” Gust said. “We feel he will make an immediate impact on our program. He still has room for development, but he is a very talented and versatile player.”