COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State baseball program has signed 10 new recruits for the 2019 season, head coach Greg Beals announced Thursday. Eight signees are Ohioans, while two are from Indiana; the 2018 recruiting class brings in six pitchers, two infielders, one outfielder and one catcher.
“The strength and depth of our pitching staff is the key to this recruiting class,” Beals said. “The position players are highly skilled prototype prospects. The needs of the program have successfully been met with this group and we believe they have the ability to make an immediate impact. The one thing I like about this group is that they all have been very successful in highly competitive high school and summer programs. They are high academic, high character young men with high expectations. This group has a chance to do something special here at The Ohio State University.”
The 2018 signing class includes: TJ Brock (RHP/INF, Cincinnati, Ohio), Garrett Burhenn (RHP, Indianapolis, Ind.), Nolan Clegg (OF, Toronto, Ohio), Zach Dezenzo (INF, Alliance, Ohio), Keegan Fish (C, West Chester, Ohio), Mitch Milheim (LHP, Powell, Ohio), Cole Niekamp (RHP, Versailles, Ohio), Will Pfennig (RHP, Mason, Ohio), Bayden Root (RHP/1B, Kokomo, Ind.) and Mitchell Smith (INF/C, Pickerington, Ohio).
“The tireless work on the recruiting trail is evident with this group,” Beals said. “Thanks to the efforts of our entire staff including our academic coach Shaun Swearingen and our strength and conditioning coach Dean Hansen.”
TJ Brock – RHP/INF – R/R – 6-1, 175
Cincinnati, Ohio – Cincinnati Country Day School
Brock is the son of Kathy and Thomas Brock and plays high school baseball for head coach Tim Dunn … plays summer ball for Florida Travel Ball and coach Julio Figueroa … preseason All-American, All-Conference, IMG batting champion, high school athlete of the year and Perfect Game All-Tournament Team selection … batted .425 with 37 RBI and 14 stolen bases … had a 0.98 ERA on the mound with an 8-0 record … would like to major in business.
“I chose Ohio State because I knew if I wanted to be the best student-athlete I could be, being a Buckeye would give me that opportunity. I want to thank my mother for playing whiffle ball with me and my siblings all these years. I want to thank my dad for teaching me the game of baseball and throwing BP to me anytime without reservation. For my friends, coaches, mentors, I thank you for making me stronger as a baseball player and student. I would also like to thank Jeff Ruby, Asif Shah, Tim Dunn, Tim Raines Jr., James Houser and Christopher Milmoe and the entire Cincinnati Country Day community for being a part of my life.”
Coach Beals on Brock: “TJ is a fast-twitched athlete who has shown explosive strikeout stuff on the mound.”
Garrett Burhenn – RHP – 6-3, 200
Indianapolis, Ind. – Lawrence North H.S.
Burhenn is the son of Heather and Dave Burhenn and plays high school baseball for Richard Winzenread … plays summer ball for Indiana Mustangs and coach Mike Farrell … 2017 all-conference and all-county selection and 2016 WWBA PG most valuable pitcher … posted a 1.76 ERA with 88 strikeouts … would like to major in neuroscience.
“I chose Ohio State because I felt comfortable with the coaching staff and I know Ohio State is a good fit for my education. I’m excited to begin my collegiate career at Ohio State and strengthen my skills as a player and as a student.”
Coach Beals on Burhenn: “Garrett is a prototype power pitcher. He has confidence in his fastball which is in the low 90’s right now.”
Nolan Clegg – OF – R/R – 6-3, 200
Toronto, Ohio – Toronto H.S.
Clegg is the son of Aaron and Korey Clegg and plays high school baseball for Brian Perkins … plays summer ball for Bo Jackson Elite and coach Cory Valentine … first team all-state selection as a sophomore and junior … all-eastern district player of the year as a junior … second team all-state as a freshman … 107 hits, 82 RBI, 18 doubles, six triples, three home runs, 41 walks for a .508 batting average with 90 runs scored and 52 stolen bases … would like to major in aviation.
“It was always a childhood dream of mine to play for The Ohio State University. I got to know the staff and I knew it was the place for me. I believe that Ohio State can turn me into the best ball player I can be.”
Coach Beals on Clegg: “Nolan is a physical athlete with power in his bat and arm. His competitiveness will serve him well as a Buckeye.”
Zach Dezenzo – INF – R/R – 6-4, 195
Alliance, Ohio – Marlington H.S.
Dezenzo is the son of Rachel and Steve Dezenzo and plays high school baseball for head coach Mike Farrell … plays summer ball for Bo Jackson Elite and coach Cory Valentine … 2017 all-conference and all-county selection … 2017 team offensive player of the year and team MVP … batted .420 with five doubles, six triples and one home run.
“I have always had a dream of playing baseball at the division I level and Ohio State exceeded all of my expectations during the process of choosing a school. The coaching staff treats you like family and I am very proud and excited to start working with them. The program under coach Beals has experienced success in past years and I am looking forward to help taking it to the next level in the near future. The academics and student life on campus are second to none. I am extremely grateful and excited to continue playing the game I love and be a part of the Ohio State family. I would like to thank all of my coaches, teammates, teachers, friends and family for the continued support and effort they have put into me to allow me to be where I am today.”
Coach Beals on Dezenzo: “Zach is a complete player with size and skill offensively and defensively to compete immediately.”
Keegan Fish – C – S/R – 5-11, 185
West Chester, Ohio – Lakota West H.S.
Fish is the son of Keitha and Kelly Fish and plays high school baseball for head coach Greg Leurck … plays summer ball for the Cincinnati Spikes and coach Trent Hanna … second team all-conference as a sophomore … missed junior year due to injury … would like to major in exercise science.
“On my very first visit I fell in love with the campus and overall atmosphere of the university. I seemed to gel with the coaches instantly, especially coach Beals. With him being a former catcher, I know he will push me to my limits and make me not only a better baseball player, but a better person, as well as the rest of the coaching staff. I cannot wait to become a Buckeye and represent my state in the Scarlet and Gray.”
Coach Beals on Fish: “Keegan is a gifted baseball player. A switch hitter with advanced skills behind the plate.”
Mitch Milheim – LHP – 6-1, 185
Powell, Ohio – Olentangy Liberty H.S.
Milheim is the son of Christine and Dave Milheim and plays high school baseball for Ty Brenning … plays summer ball for Triple Crown Royals and coaches Josh Moss and Dan Winter … second team all-district and first team all-league selection… 13-5 with a 2.27 career ERA … would like to major in engineering.
“The engineering program is excellent and I felt that OSU offers the best opportunity for my growth as a pitcher. I have a lot to learn and a lot to give to this team and I can’t wait to get started.”
Coach Beals on Milheim: “Mitch has really developed over the past year. His fastball has grown to compliment a very good breaking ball.”
Cole Niekamp – RHP – 6-2, 195
Versailles, Ohio – Versailles H.S.
Niekamp is the son of Diane and Stan Niekamp and plays high school baseball for head coach Ryan Schlater … plays summer ball for Bo Jackson Elite (2017) and Ohio Elite (2016) and coaches Cory Valentine, AJ Bush, Woody Wallace and Justin Brown … helped guide team to the state Final Four as a sophomore in 2016 … 1.56 ERA in 45.0 innings pitched in 2017 … 5-1 with a 2.77 ERA in 2016 … would like to major in business.
“I chose Ohio State not only because I loved the baseball program, but what the academic program provides. I also felt like I had a strong connection with the coaches from the very beginning of the recruiting process. I feel honored to become a part of Buckeye Nation and it’s what I’ve always dreamed of.”
Coach Beals on Niekamp: “Cole is a great competitor with sinker-slider type stuff. The command of his breaking ball is his strength.”
Will Pfennig – RHP – 6-0, 170
Mason, Ohio – Mason H.S.
Pfennig is the son of Diane and Greg Pfennig and plays high school baseball for head coach Curt Bly … plays summer ball for Cincinnati Baseball Club and coach Kirk Beermann ... Green and White award in 2016 and rookie of the year in 2015 after posting a 0.36 ERA … 6-2 with 47 strikeouts in 36.2 innings pitched … played fall ball with the San Francisco Giants scout team and Keegan Fish was his catcher … would like to major in chemical engineering.
“My family has always been Ohio State fans and when I stepped on campus I knew it felt right. I really enjoyed the coaches and love the tradition here. It’s been a goal of mine to be a Buckeye and I’m so excited to finally join the program and represent Ohio State.”
Coach Beals on Pfennig: “Will has really come on over the past year and has emerged as an elite pitcher. He possesses a swing and miss breaking ball.”
Bayden Root – RHP/1B – R/R – 6-3, 195
Kokomo, Ind. – Kokomo H.S.
Root is the son of Debbie and Derek Root and plays high school baseball for head coach Sean Swan … plays summer ball for the Orlando Scorpions and coach Matt Gerber … first team all-conference … batted .328 with two home runs and 38 RBI in 2017 … 5-1 with 56 strikeouts and 2.28 ERA on the mound … would like to major in economics.
“Ohio State provides a great opportunity to pursue a top of the line degree and pursue my dream of playing in the MLB. I am extremely excited to represent my family as well as Ohio State on and off the field. I look forward to bringing a championship-chasing mindset to the baseball program and putting Ohio State at the top of the Big Ten.”
Coach Beals on Root: “Bayden is a very talented two-way player who will have a chance to contribute both on the mound and with his bat.”
Mitchell Smith – INF/C – R/R – 6-0, 190
Pickerington, Ohio – Pickerington North H.S.
Smith is the son of Tiffany and Kevin Smith and plays high school baseball for head coach Tim Thomas … plays summer ball for Ohio Elite and Bo Jackson Elite for coach Cory Valentine … four-year varsity starter … has played seven different positions during career … 2017 preseason underclass All-American … 2017 WWBA 17U national championship all-tournament team selection … member of 2016 Team Ohio at PBR Future games … 2016 WWBA underclass world champion all-tournament team selection … voted team pitcher of the year for 2017 … two-year captain … member of the 2016 state championship team … would like to major in actuarial science.
“Ohio State offers incredible opportunities athletically and academically, so it was an easy choice for me. I wanted to be a part of an environment that would challenge me to become the best player and person I could be and I know I’ve found that in Ohio State. Joining Buckeye Nation is a dream come true and I can’t wait to get started. I’m looking forward to continuing to play the game I love at such a prestigious and well-respected university.”
Coach Beals on Smith: “Mitchell is a versatile athlete defensively to go along with what we believe high-end hitting skills.”
Six Buckeyes Named to All-Big Ten Teams