State Fair Community College baseball scribed a pair of verbal 2017-18 commitments to ink Wednesday in Sedalia.
Gavin Jones and TJ Bies signed letters of intent to play for Roadrunners baseball to applause from family and 40-plus members of the State Fair baseball team and staff at the Fred E. Davis Multipurpose Building.
Jones, a senior at Smith-Cotton, hit .317, drove in 25 runs for State Fair head coach Jud Kindle at Smith-Cotton last season. The high school shortstop said he was pleased to confirm one of the biggest decisions of his life — one that kept him in his hometown Sedalia.
“Just, being home,” Jones said. “I love being here, so I don’t mind staying here for another couple of years.”
Kindle, who coached Jones for three years at Smith-Cotton, said he’s watched Jones develop into a good player — good enough to stick at shortstop.
“My goal is to get him to the next level,” Kindle said. “He’s good enough to play shortstop at this level. I truly believe that. A lot of people project him as a third baseman but, laterally, I think he can get it done at shortstop. He’s got a great glove.”
Bies, a 6-foot-7, Plano, Texas native, is a right-handed pitcher from Prestonwood Christian Academy. He is recovering from Tommy John surgery, but should be working off the mound again by February 2017.
After a surgery to reconstruct his ulnar collateral ligament derailed a more conventional road to professional baseball, Bies said he was relieved to find a college suitor. To maximize eligibility, he did not play baseball his freshman year of college.
“It’s been a rough path,” Bies said. “Having Tommy John surgery and not knowing what my future holds, baseball-wise, just being able to lock this down and be able to call this place home next year is nice. I’ll be able to come back from surgery knowing I’m going to be able to play baseball again.”
Kindle said the righty has No. 1 starter talent.
“With TJ, he’s probably a one-and-done for us,” Kindle said. “We can understand that. He’s coming off a UCL tear, but that’s extremely popular nowadays, and you usually come back stronger. He’s 6-foot-7, he’s 225 pounds, he’s upper 80s, low 90s guy. He’s looking to come in and be one of our guys, or, our guy right off the bat. We expect special things from him.”
The duo committed verbally last week, and formalized the agreement on campus. Roadrunners baseball begins its first spring season since 1988 in February.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2