Utah Baseball Signs Seven to National Letter of Intent

Published on November 09, 2017 at 06:46PM

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah head baseball coach Bill Kinneberg has announced the signing of seven student-athletes to National Letters of Intent. The signees will join the Utes for the 2019 season.

Three signees hail from California – Christian Almanza (St. Mary’s HS/Stockton, Calif.), Nick Caviglia (Clovis North HS/Fresno, Calif.) and Ben Guess (Maranatha HS/Arcadia, Calif.). Out of Utah, Tyler Thompson from Lone Peak HS (Highland, Utah) first signed in 2015 before going on an LDS mission. The future Utes also come from Oregon (Briley Knight/Crescent Valley HS), Colorado (Jay Onken/Pine Creek HS) and Arizona (David Watson/Mesquite HS).

The signing class includes four pitchers.

Utah head coach Bill Kinneberg credited associate head coach Mike Crawford and assistant coach Jay Brossman for their hard work in signing the class.

“This a really good class that Mike and Jay have put together,” Kinneberg said. “It will pay big dividends for us in the future.”

Christian Almanza 1B L/L St. Mary’s HS Stockton, Calif.

Kinneberg on Almanza: Christian is a big-bodied, athletic left-handed hitter who will have a chance to hit in the middle of the lineup at some point in his career here.

2017 Area Code Games … Tri City Athletic League Most Valuable Offensive Player as a junior at St. Mary’s HS … led the league with a .467 batting average … also had 42 hits, 27 RBI, 16 doubles, three home runs, nine stolen bases, a .565 on-base percentage, .744 slugging percentage and 1.309 OPS … CalHiSports.com All-State Underclass, first team NorCalPreps All-NorCal team and second team Maxpreps All-Northern California as a junior … team finished runner up in the 2017 CIF Sac-Joaquin Section South Tournament … hit .360 as a sophomore with 25 RBI, 10 doubles, a .424 on-base percentage and a .505 slugging percentage … also played football.

Nick Caviglia LHP/DH L/L Clovis North HS Fresno, Calif.

Kinneberg on Caviglia: Nick is an athletic left-handed pitcher who can spin a breaking ball. We feel his velocity will jump when he is just concentrating on one sport.

Hit .227 as a junior at Clovis North HS … pitched three games (3 IP) with five strikeouts … played in the NorCal World Series … also plays football.

Ben Guess OF/RHP R/R Maranatha HS Arcadia, Calif.

Kinneberg on Guess: Ben is an athletic outfielder with a plus arm. He is being brought in as an outfielder, but has gotten up to 92 on the mound. Similar to Andre Jackson, he will be given a chance to do both.

Three-year varsity player at Maranatha HS … hit .253 as a junior with seven RBI, four doubles and a home run with 11 walks and was 9-of-9 in stolen bases … .420 batting average as a sophomore with 20 RBI, nine doubles and three triples and 9-of-11 in stolen bases … played in 13 games as a freshman with a .214 batting average, going 10-for-12 in stolen bases.

Briley Knight C L/R Crescent Valley HS Corvallis, Ore.

Kinneberg on Knight: Briley comes from a baseball background and has a high baseball IQ. He is coming in as a catcher, but is athletic enough to play in the outfield as well.

First-team all-state as a junior at Crescent Valley HS … 2017 Mid-Willamette Conference Player of the Year and first-team all-MWC … hit .493 with 46 RBI, 14 doubles, 17 stolen bases and seven homers … Crescent Valley finished third in the state in 2017 … second-team all-CIF San Diego Section and first-team all-Central League as a sophomore at Coronado HS in San Diego … hit .351 as a sophomore with 27 RBI, five doubles, five triples, four home runs, 20 walks and a .484 on-base percentage … Coronado won the CIFSD Division III title and set a record for wins in school history (29) in 2016 … hit .224 as a freshman on varsity with 10 RBI, six doubles and four triples … also played football … 2017 all-league (first-team kicker, HM receiver and kick returner) … threw for 1,561 yards and 17 touchdowns with just four interceptions while rushing for 663 yards and nine scores as a junior … Coronado finished second in the state in Division VI-AA in 2015 … father Brooke is the head coach of the West Coast League summer team Corvallis Knights and played at Oregon State … served as a bat boy for the Knights for several summers.

Jay Onken RHP Pine Creek HS Colorado Springs, Colo.

Kinneberg on Onken: Jay is a two-sport athlete who is very athletic, and we are excited to see his development when he is only concentrating on one sport. He has gotten up to 91 on the mound.

Second-team CHSAA all-state as a sophomore at Pine Creek HS in 2016 … 2016 Colorado Springs Metro League Player of the Year and 2017 first-team all-league … 2017 Colorado Rockies High School All-Star/Features game … 2016 MaxPreps Underclass All-America and All-USA Colorado Baseball Team … three-year varsity player … 5-1 with a 3.35 ERA as a in eight appearances with 30 strikeouts as a junior … also hit .410 with 24 RBI, three doubles and three home runs in 2017 … 1.91 ERA with a 5-0 record and 45 strikeouts and just 13 walks as a sophomore … .538 at the plate in 2016 with 36 RBI, 13 doubles and eight home runs … Pine Creek HS won the Colorado Springs Metro League in 2015 and 2016 … also played football.

David Watson RHP Mesquite HS Gilbert, Ariz.

Kinneberg on Watson: David is an athletic right-handed pitcher who has a three-pitch mix and will compete immediately for significant innings. We are excited to see his development when he is only concentrating on one position.

Went 1-2 with a 1.75 ERA in eight appearances with 18 strikeouts as a junior at Mesquite HS … also hit .317 with 20 RBI, six doubles and two home runs.

Tyler Thompson OF L/L Lone Peak HS Highland, Utah

Kinneberg on Thompson: Tyler is a true centerfield who is a leadoff-type hitter. He is a hard-nosed player and can really play defense.

Originally signed in 2015 before serving an LDS mission in Panama … two-time all-state at Lone Peak HS, including first team honors as a junior … three-time all-region, earning first-team honors as a junior … two-time All-Valley including first team as a junior … 2015 National High School Baseball Coaches Association All-District selection … hit .378 over 17 games with eight RBI and five doubles as a senior, missing part of the year with an injury … hit .489 with 28 RBI, 14 doubles and seven stolen bases with a .800 slugging percentage as a junior … hit .357 with 20 RBI as a sophomore and was 1-0 on the mound with a 3.75 ERA and seven strikeouts … 2016 UHSAA Academic All-State.