Eight Players Sign For 2011 Season.

    July 21, 2010

    LOS ANGELES -- Eight players have signed a national letter-of-intent or a financial aid agreement to play for the USC baseball program in 2011, head coach Chad Kreuter announced today.

    The signees are: outfielder Omar Cotto-Lozada (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico/Bonneville HS); right-handed pitcher James Guillen (Covina/Damien HS); catcher Jake Hernandez (Rancho Cucamonga/Los Osos HS); outfielder Joc Pederson (Palo Alto/Palo Alto HS); left-handed pitcher Kyle Richter (Santa Margarita/Santa Margarita HS); shortstop/right-handed pitcher James Roberts (Cupertino/Archbishop Mitty HS); left-handed pitcher Bobby Wheatley (Villa Park/Orange Lutheran HS) and right-handed pitcher Austin Wood (Niceville, Fla./St. Petersburg College).

    "I am very excited to get this group of student athletes on campus at USC," said Kreuter. "All are committed to receiving a great education and wanted to make the USC experience part of their lives. All of them could have easily bypassed college and pursued professional baseball by indicating their signability to the MLB scouts on and before Draft Day. Most of this class could have been selected in the first seven rounds of the MLB Draft. Their strong commitment to USC speaks volumes. All are committed to each other and the idea of having a major role in the future success of the program."

    "I would like to thank everyone at USC who have helped us add so many quality student athletes to our program," said Kreuter. "Behind the scenes, the athletic department administrative staff, Student Athlete Academic Services, the admissions office and our strength and conditioning department. All played a huge role in the recruiting process. Without their efforts, we definitely would have seen more of these student athletes go pro. Of course, my coaching staff consisting of Doyle Wilson, Frank Cruz, and Tom House are the backbone of the recruiting process, identifying our needs on the field and then recruiting the right fit of student-athletes to fill those needs."



    Here are brief biographies on the key players:

    Omar Cotto-Lozada, OF, 6-0 180 (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico/Bonneville HS) -- Cotto-Lozada was drafted in the 12th round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. He was named team most valuable player in his senior season and served as class vice president. He was recently timed by running a 6.29 60-yard dash.

    Kreuter on Cotto-Lozada: "Omar is an exciting player from Puerto Rico who might be one of the fastest athletes on the USC campus come fall. As he matures, he will be a huge contributor in the Trojan outfield. He brings an array of major league tools that made him a much sought after player both collegiately and professionally. Omar will be a great Trojan both on the field and in the classroom."

    James Guillen, RHP, 6-1 170 (Covina/Damien HS) -- Guillen earned All-Sierra League honors in his senior season and also played quarterback at Damien HS.

    Kreuter on Guillen: "James is a two-sport athlete from Damien High School and comes to USC with the promise to be an extremely successful Pac-10 pitcher. He has excellent command of his breaking ball and the promise of an even bigger arm as he matures. James is very competitive and a confident pitcher who knows how to challenge hitters and he lets his defense work by attacking the strike zone. We feel he will be a great pickup to round out a strong group of pitchers."

    Jake Hernandez, C, 6-2 190 (Rancho Cucamonga/Los Osos HS) -- Hernandez was drafted in the 22nd round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Detroit Tigers. He was rated No. 77 in the nation among high school players by Baseball America after earning All-CIF first team and Rawlings High School All-America honors as a senior. He also earned All-Inland Valley and All-Baseline League honors.

    Kreuter on Hernandez: "We are excited to get Jake Hernandez on campus. We expect him to be a force behind the plate and immediately add depth to arguably one of the most important positions on the field. Jake does a great job receiving the ball and consistently throws at MLB times to second base. He will be an intimidating foe at the plate and he has a polished swing with gap power."

    Joc Pederson, OF, 6-1 185 (Palo Alto/Palo Alto HS) -- Pederson was drafted in the 11th round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers and was selected to the 2010 Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game. His father, Stu, played for USC (1980-81) as well as for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1985 as an outfielder.

    Kreuter on Pederson: "We are very excited to land such a premier athlete as Joc. His savviness and baseball smarts coupled with his skills should make him an impact player in the Pac-10 immediately. Joc displays major league quality bat speed and uses the whole field to intimidate opposing pitching. He will hit for both power and average. He is a Trojan and it will be interesting to see how he impacts our season. We are happy to keep him in the Trojan Family."

    Kyle Richter, LHP, 6-5 205 (Santa Margarita/Santa Margarita HS) -- Richter was drafted in the 44th round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Colorado Rockies.

    Kreuter on Richter: "Kyle is a left hander who has the promise of becoming a complete pitcher as he matures into his body. Kyle commands three pitches and flashes plus velocity. He shows the ability to consistently attack the strike zone and can do all the little things to be a top pitcher. He is another prospect that we are excited to have as a Trojan."

    James Roberts, SS/RHP, 6-2 190 (Cupertino/Archbishop Mitty HS) -- Roberts was drafted in the 42nd round of the 2010 MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants and was selected to the 2010 Hawaii Collegiate Baseball League All-Star Game. He was named 2010 West Catholic Athletic League most valuable player and earned All-San Jose Mercury News section first team honors. He was a member of the Archbishop Mitty High squad that won the 2010 mythical national championship by finishing first in the RivalsHigh Top 100 High School rankings.

    Kreuter on Roberts: "James is a top flight two-way player whose solid defensive skills and big power arm make him an immediate contributor on defense. His hands and feet work well together making him a very athletic shortstop. His size makes him an offensive threat as he consistently makes great passes through the ball using the gaps as his playground. On the mound, he flashes up to 92-93 mph fastball. He will be a weapon with his two-way strengths."

    Bobby Wheatley, LHP, 6-4 205 (Villa Park/Orange Lutheran HS) -- Wheatley was named 2010 Trinity League Pitcher of the Year and named to the Orange County All-Star Team while earned All-Trinity League honors.

    Kreuter on Wheatley: "Bobby is a completely polished left-handed pitcher with room to grow. He has demonstrated that he is a winner both on the football field and on the mound at Orange Lutheran High School. We are excited to have Bobby and expect him to be a top-flight contributor. Bobby fills the zone with strikes with all his pitches. He is extremely competitive with a huge upside to be a shut down pitcher in the Pac-10 Conference."

    Austin Wood, RHP, 6-4 220 (Niceville, Fla./St. Petersburg College) -- Wood was drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Tampa Bay Rays and was selected to the 2010 Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game after posting a 3-0 record with a 0.58 ERA for Cotuit. He had a 3-4 record with a 4.81 ERA last season at St. Petersburg College (43 IP, 45 H, 23 ER, 21 BB, 42 SO) after transferring from Florida State for his 2009 freshman campaign. He had a 6.35 ERA in nine games with five starts while at FSU (22 2/3 IP, 24 H, 16 ER, 25 BB, 13 SO).

    Kreuter on Wood: "Austin has a big power arm from Florida. We are excited to get him in our program. We expect lots of great innings from him. Austin has the prototypical pitcher's body. He flashes 97 at times with his fastball and commands two off speed pitches. He has a huge upside and as he learns to control his body and repeat his mechanics, he will be a major contributor to USC baseball."