Baseball
    USC Signs Six High School Players For 2008 Season
    Chad Kreuter's first recruiting class for the 2008 season includes high school All-America third baseman Mike Moustakas
    Chad Kreuter's first recruiting class for the 2008 season includes high school All-America third baseman Mike Moustakas

    Nov. 22, 2006

    LOS ANGELES -- Six high school players have signed national letters-of-intent to play for the USC baseball program in 2008, head coach Chad Kreuter announced today.

    The signees are: infielder/utility Joe De Pinto (Sunland/St. Francis), right-handed pitcher Jeff Grijalva (San Clemente/San Clemente HS), right-handed pitcher/first baseman Jordan Hershiser (Dallas, Texas/St. Mark's School), right-handed pitcher Chris McCaffery (Hillsborough/St. Ignatius HS), third baseman Mike Moustakas (Northridge/Chatsworth HS) and right-handed pitcher/outfielder Vinnie St. John (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS).

    "We bring four new arms to a pitching staff that will be very deep," said Kreuter. "We know that success for this program must come through our pitching depth. I'm very happy with the job that our coaching staff did in order to secure such a high-quality recruiting class. We feel this class will help us in our annual goal of getting to the College World Series."

    Here are brief biographies on the key players:

    Joe De Pinto, IF/UT, 6-1, 180 (Sunland/St. Francis HS) -- De Pinto earned 2006 All-CIF Division II second team and All-Mission League first team honors in his junior season. He led St. Francis to the 2006 CIF Division II Championship game where the team lost to Foothill High (and current USC freshman pitcher Brad Boxberger). He was named All-San Gabriel Valley first team by the Pasadena Star News. He batted .454 last season with a .522 on-base percentage, along with 13 doubles, 27 RBI and 28 stolen bases. De Pinto was rated No. 19 in the California Baseball Zone Southern California Top 50.

    Kreuter on De Pinto: "Joe is a Trojan who grew up at our camps. He is a coach on the field, underrated as a hitter and excels at several infield and outfield positions. He has a head for the game and his versatility provides plenty of options to get him on the field early in his career."

    Jeff Grijalva, RHP, 6-2, 190 (San Clemente/San Clemente HS) -- Grijalva went 7-2 with a 1.46 ERA last season at San Clemente (Calif.) High. In 52 2/3 innings, he allowed 42 hits and walked 26 while striking out 53 batters. Grijalva will compete in the upcoming Goodwill Games for Team USA in Australia.

    Kreuter on Grijalva: "Jeff could be one of the biggest contributors of this group and one of the great Trojan pitchers. He is tenacious, possesses an advanced sinker and could be a workhorse for us."

    Jordan Hershiser, RHP/1B, 6-8, 230 (Dallas, Texas/St. Mark's School) -- Hershiser, the son of former Los Angeles Dodgers' pitcher Orel, will provide the Trojans with a two-way player that possesses major league lineage.

    Kreuter on Hershiser: "Trojan fans will think of his father and his career with the Dodgers. After some work in the weight room, he will begin to make his own name. We expect him to produce, especially in his sophomore and junior seasons. He has a high ceiling."

    Chris McCaffery, RHP, 6-3, 180 (Hillsborough/St. Ignatius HS) -- McCaffery batted .420 with four home runs, 20 RBI and a 1.40 ERA last season as a junior, earning All-WCAL first team honors He was selected to the California North/South Game and earned the honor as the top pitcher at the Bay Area World Series. He also played on the St. Ignatius High football team as the starting quarterback, earning 2006 WCAL Player of the Year honors. McCaffery was rated No. 37 in the California Baseball Zone Northern California Top 50.

    Kreuter on McCaffery: "Chris is a great athlete and fierce competitor. He has proved that in two sports as a pitcher and quarterback in one of the Bay Area's most competitive high school conferences."

    Mike Moustakas, 3B, 6-2, 190 (Northridge/Chatsworth HS) -- Moustakas earned 2006 Louisville Slugger High School All-America honors by Collegiate Baseball and played with the U.S. Junior National Team. While batting cleanup for Team USA, he led the team with nine runs scored and seven RBI in a second-place finish at the IBAF Junior World Championships in Cuba. Last season at Chatsworth (Calif.) High, he named as City Section Player of the Year after batting .427 with 14 home runs and 47 RBI along with a .979 slugging percentage. He also earned Los Angeles Times and Daily News first team honors. Moustakas was rated No. 10 in the California Baseball Zone Southern California Top 50.

    Kreuter on Moustakas: "Mike is one of the premier hitters in the nation. He proved that hitting cleanup for Team USA in Cuba. We feel just as strongly about his leadership and character in the dugout and clubhouse. He is well-schooled and a product of the tradition-rich Chatsworth High program. We expect him to continue the legacy of Trojan greats who have had successful college and professional careers like Fred Lynn and Jeff Clement."

    Vinnie St. John, RHP/OF, 6-2, 180 (Newport Beach/Corona del Mar HS) -- St. John earned All-CIF second and all-league first team honors in his junior season at Corona del Mar High. He batted .400 on the season and tied for the Division III and league lead with 16 stolen bases.

    Kreuter on St. John: "Vinnie is a hard worker and exceptional athlete. The combination of a strong arm and great speed provides options for our team. He has a chance to contribute on the mound or in the outfield."

    USC will open the 2007 season on Jan. 30 against Cal Poly at Dedeaux Field.