2007 Recruiting Class Rated Fifth In The Nation By Collegiate Baseball

Sept. 25, 2006

LOS ANGELES -- The 2007 USC baseball recruiting class has been rated as the fifth-best in the nation by Collegiate Baseball. USC's class is the highest rated class in the Pac-10 Conference as well as any program on the West Coast.

South Carolina was ranked No. 1 by Collegiate Baseball, followed by Miami, Florida and Oklahoma. Other notables include: Cal State Fullerton at No. 8, Arizona State at No. 12, UCLA at No. 18, Stanford at No. 19 and California at No. 24. Defending national champion Oregon State is rated at No. 39.

Incoming freshmen include pitcher Brad Boxberger (Tustin/Foothill HS), catcher Keith Castillo (Huntington Beach/Mater Dei HS), pitcher/utility Kevin Couture (Coronado/Coronado HS), infielder Grant Green (Anaheim Hills/Canyon HS), outfielder Michael O'Neill (Riverside/Riverside Poly HS), pitcher/infielder Hector Rabago (Riverside/Riverside Poly HS) and pitcher/catcher Robert Stock (Westlake Village/Agoura HS).

Boxberger was named 2006 Player of the Year by the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register, as well as 2006 CIF-SS Division II Player of the Year. His father, Rod, went 12-1 with a 2.00 ERA and earned College World Series most valuable player honors for the 1978 USC national championship squad that went 54-9.

Green and Rabago both earned 2006 All-CIF Division I honors. Green was a 2005 AFLAC All-American and member of the U.S. Junior National Team while Rabago was the 2005 Los Angeles Times/Inland Empire Player of the Year. Castillo was a 2006 All-CIF Division I second team selection while Couture is a two-time San Diego Union Tribune second team honoree. O'Neill, along with Rabago, led Riverside Poly to the Division I semifinals in 2006.

Stock was a late surprise and the final piece of the puzzle for the Trojans. The 2005 Baseball America Youth Player of the Year played in the 2006 Aflac All-American Classic on Aug. 12 in San Diego where he was the starting pitcher for the West squad and allowed two unearned runs in one inning before striking out the side. He showed his hitting prowess later in the game with a solo home run to center field.

As a junior last season at Agoura High, Stock batted .456 with six home runs and 25 RBI while posting a 5-3 record with a 2.69 ERA. On top of his fastball which has been clocked as high as 95 miles per hour, he committed just one error and threw out almost 70% of base runners as a catcher.

The other freshmen players are outfielder David Morgan (Bossier City, La./Airline HS), outfielder/pitcher John La (Glendale/Hoover HS), pitcher Chris Murphy (Santa Barbara/Bolles HS), pitcher Ben Rowen (Rancho Palos Verdes/Palos Verdes HS) and outfielder Joe Gibson (Chicago, Ill./Brother Rice HS).

Along with the incoming freshman class, USC has added several transfers to the roster including sophomore left-handed pitcher/outfielder Anthony Vazquez (San Antonio, Texas) from Texas A&M. Vazquez went 0-1 with a 3.78 ERA and two saves. In 23 appearances with the Aggies, he threw 33 1/3 innings, allowing 37 hits with nine walks and 25 strikeouts, along with batting .231 (3-for-13) with two RBI.

Redshirt junior outfielder Will Rice (Houston, Texas/Tulane University) played in 36 games for the Green Wave the past two seasons while sophomore outfielder Nick Buss (Clinton Township, Mich./San Diego Mesa JC) was a 35th-round selection in June by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Buss led San Diego Mesa last season with a .382 batting average (66-for-173) and 21 stolen bases, adding 22 RBI.

Junior outfielder/first baseman Darren Gemoll (San Jose/College of San Mateo) batted a team-leading .427 (67-for-157) with 16 stolen bases and 37 RBI. He transferred to CSM from Stanford after his 2005 freshman season where he had three at-bats for the Cardinal. His older brother, Justin, played two seasons for USC (1999-2000) and was the starting third baseman for the Trojans' 2000 College World Series squad. Junior outfielder/first baseman Derek Perren (Chatsworth/L.A. Pierce College) batted .318 (57-for-179) last season with seven home runs and 44 RBI.

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

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