Augustana Vikings Athletics

11/26/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 11/26/2019 13:15

Augustana Baseball Signs Nine For 2021

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- The two-time regional defending champion and 2018 national champion Augustana baseball team had nine student-athletes sign their National Letters of Intent to continue their athletic and academic careers at Augustana, head coach announced on Tuesday.

'The signees in this class show that players all over the country are excited about what is going on at Augustana and within our baseball program right now,' head coach said. 'Not only did we find some really good baseball players from near and far, but also a group of guys who are awesome fits for Augustana and very bought in to our process.'

Meet The Class

Jason Axelberg | 6-2 | OF | Monticello, Minnesota | Monticello HS
Axelberg enjoyed a fantastic junior season at Monticello High School where he hit .389, scored 26 times, tallied 28 hits and drove in 15 runs. He helped lead Monticello to a 19-7 record and its first state appearance in baseball history. For his efforts, Axelberg won the team Gold Glove and Most Improved Player awards and was named the Defensive MVP of his conference. Axelberg was born on Sept. 13, 2001 to parents Jason and Jenny Axelberg. He will graduate from Monticello High School in May of 2020 and major in Finance at Augustana.

Huber on Axelberg:'Jason is long, lean and a very athletic kid, he has some impressive physical tools but that isn't what intrigued me the most with him. Talking to one of his coaches, Augie baseball alum Ryan Nett, I heard so many good things about Jason before I ever saw him play. Then after watching him play the game so hard and hustle on and off the field, I knew I wanted him to be a part of our program. He already does so many things well but also has so much upside with his frame. I've never recruited a position player with as much arm strength as Jason (96 from the OF). We see him as primarily a position guy for us but will see if we can help him unlock some of his arm strength on the mound as well.'

Mitch Casperson | 5-9 | IF/RHP | Le Sueur, Minnesota | Le Sueur Henderson HS
Casperson was named to the All-Conference team his freshman through junior seasons and was All-Section his sophomore and junior year. He hit over .400 during his sophomore and junior year seasons and hit a combined 11 doubles, 5 triples and 3 home runs. As a junior, on the mound, Mitch threw 55 innings, struck out 92 hitters and had a 1.27 ERA. Casperson was born on Nov. 30, 2001 in Mankato, Minnesota, to parents Troy and Brooke Casperson. He plans to graduate from Le Sueur Henderson High School in May of 2020 and major in Business at Augustana. Off the baseball field, Casperson like to travel, bike and spend time with his friends.

Huber on Casperson:'Mitch has been our top target at the shortstop position in his class for a long time. He has great arm strength, runs well, and hits from the left side. The only thing missing right now for Mitch is size and strength. With the trust we have in our development process, we think we can help get him physically prepared to play early on for us. After we lose this spring to graduation, we will have a big hole to fill following his 4 years as a starter at the shortstop position. I'm hopeful Mitch or Max (Mosser) will be ready to help right away as freshmen. Mitch will also see some time on the mound for us. With his quick arm and already well above average arm strength, we are excited to see how he develops as both a position player and pitcher.'

Adam Diedrich | 6-3 | P | Billion, Wisconsin | Hilbert High School
Diedrich lit up the stat book during his junior season of high school. Offensively, he hit .448, scored 19 times, drove in 13 runs, stole 14 bags, and hit two home runs. On the mound, he went 4-2, notched two saves, pitched 43 innings, and struck out 72 hitters. For his efforts, he was named WBCA All-District honorable mention, first team all-conference and his team's MVP Pitcher award. Diedrich was born in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, on Apr. 11, 2002 to parents Stan and Tara Diedrich. He will graduate from Hilbert High School in May of 2020 and enjoys fishing and collecting sports memorabilia when he isn't playing baseball.

Huber on Diedrich:'One of the things we like about Adam is how much he and his family really wanted to be a part of our program. He is the exact type of guy we have seen blow up in a good way after a couple years of added strength and development. He was a bit under the radar because he is just starting to focus more on being a pitcher only. At 6-3 and only 155 pounds, with a clean and loose arm action, he is sure to see impressive growth over the next few years. He is a strike thrower with low intent in his delivery and has a good starting point to develop a solid slider. Once we get some weight on his frame and get him to throw with more intent he has a chance to be really good.'

Colton Kucera | 6-0 | IF/OF | Phoenix, Arizona | Sandra Day O' Connor High School
As a junior, Kucera hit .371, had a perfect fielding percentage and stole 12 bases. He was named first team all-district, led the district in stolen bases and led his team in hits and on-base percentage. He also hit .379 as a sophomore and did not make any errors. Kucera was born on Jan. 15, 2002, in Phoenix, Arizona, to parents Ken and Anastasia Kucera. He plans to graduate from Sandra Day O' Connor High School in May of 2020, major in Finance at Augie and minor in Entrepreneurship. His career goals include owning his own business, becoming an entrepreneur and playing baseball past college.

Huber on Kucera:'Colton is the type of talent we look for when recruiting position players. We aren't sure exactly what position he will play but he runs very well and his bat tool is advanced. He reminds me a lot of one of our current players, who has started each of his first two years, playing outfield as a freshman and third base as a sophomore. Colton is a faster version, but like Ryan did, we expect him to come in and challenge for early playing time because of his ability to hit and grind out at bats. Colton got into the line-up in the middle of his sophomore year and started the rest of the games on a team that won the state championship in the biggest class in Arizona. He has played second base, third base and outfield and we see a similar role with us.'

Max Mosser | 6-0 | IF/P | Omaha, Nebraska | Elkhorn South High School
Mosser hit .390 during his junior season, drove in 20 runs, hit one home run, pitched 43 innings, had a 2.12 ERA and struck out 42 hitters. Mosser was born on Feb. 14, 2002 in Omaha, Nebraska, to parents Matt and Jen Mosser. He plans to graduate from Elkhorn South High School in May of 2020, major in Biology at Augie and minor in Spanish. His career goal is to become an orthopedic surgeon.

Huber on Mosser:'Max is a very intriguing two-way player. He is a plus student and a great fit for our school and the more we got a chance to see him the more we liked him as a player. He continued to show different tools each time and as a left handed hitter, was really important to add in this year's class. We originally thought he would be a middle infielder only for us until we saw him pitch a couple times. The velocity isn't quite there yet but he has already shown mid 80s with a frame that will definitely add some good weight. We are excited about the life and high spin on his fastball. Even more impressive was the breaking ball that was a really good pitch with a well above average spin rate. His arm works well and has some quickness. He is definitely a great addition, capable of helping on the mound as well as the middle infield.'

Ethan Sannes | 6-6 | RHP | Nisswa, Minnesota | Brainerd High School
Sannes pitched with the Minnesota Blizzard in 2019 and had a 1.68 ERA in the four tournaments that he played in. For his efforts, he made the Perfect Game All-Tournament Team. Sannes was born on Aug. 31, 2001, in Brainerd, Minnesota, to parents Jay and Brenda Sannes. He plans to graduate from Brainerd High School in May of 2020 and major in Business Administration at Augie. Off the baseball field, Ethan enjoys spending time and travelling with family, being outside, exercising, being a member of his church group and playing with his Golden Retriever, Wrigley.

Huber on Sannes:'Another long and lean right handed pitcher, Ethan's best years are ahead of him. We expect a big velocity jump as he matures and develops. The arm works really well and he has a great pitchers frame. He is already working hard to develop and wants to be good. We have seen an impressive amount of improvement from him just from summer to fall. He just learned to throw a slider and we were impressed with how it looked. We look forward to seeing how much improvement Ethan makes over the next handful of months and to continuing the building process once he gets to campus.'

Kai Taylor | 6-0 | RHP | Chandler, Arizona | Perry High School
Taylor's high school team went 15-11-1 during his junior year and he garnered AIA Scholar-Athlete honors. Taylor was born on May 3, 2002, in Las Vegas, Nevada. Taylor lives in Arizona with his mother Donna and sister Madison. Taylor will graduate from Perry High School in May of 2020 and major in Political Science at Augustana. Off the baseball field, Taylor's hobbies include volunteer work, video games and chess.

Huber on Taylor:'We are very excited to have Kai join us next fall. He has excellent velocity and stuff; the type of stuff we don't get a chance to get all that often in a freshman. He has already shown upper 80s fastball velocity, has plus arm action, and a quick arm. He is not just a high school guy with a good arm, he also has two different breaking balls that are very different with potential to be very good pitches. When we first saw him this fall he struck out all 5 hitters he faced at an all star game in Arizona and was named MVP. He has made big strides this past year because of his approach to training and development. He is a great fit for us with the type of training we do with our pitchers. He believes in and is very excited about our development process. Kai has a chance to come in and be an immediate impact guy for us on the mound.'

Clayton Thompson | 6-6 | LHP | Seattle, Washington | Lamar CC | Seattle Prep HS
Thompson was born on Sept. 27, 2000, to parents Jeff Thompson and Kristin Flor. He graduated from Seattle Prep High School in 2018 and played his freshman season of college baseball at Whitman College. He is now in his second year of college baseball at Lamar Community College.

Huber on Thompson:'From our first talk we had on the phone, to the day he committed, I was amazed at how great of a fit we are for Clayton. I think it is safe to say that both our staff and Clayton are equally as excited to be working together next year. Clayton is very invested in his development, intense in his pursuit of excellence, and very competitive. His story is an interesting one. He grew 3 inches and gained over 40 pounds in the past year. He saw his velocity climb from under 80 mph in high school to topping at 90 this summer and fall. He is now a 6-6 left handed pitcher with a huge ceiling. His breaking ball is an above average offering and he shows signs at times of the change up being very serviceable as well. Clayton is an excellent student, plans to major in exercise science, and will no doubt add a dynamic presence to campus next fall on and off the field.'

Ryan Jares | 6-2 | RHP | Windsor, Colorado | Scottsdale CC | Windsor High School
During his freshman year of college, Ryan went 3-0 in 50.2 innings pitched and posted a 3.20 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 18 appearances. He garnered NJCAA All-Academic Third Team honors during that season. During his senior year of high school, Jares went 7-1 with a 1.57 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 44.2 innings pitched. He was named First Team all-conference, Runner Up Pitcher of the Year, Second Team All-State and Academic All-State that year. Jares was born on Aug. 5, 1999, in Jacksonville, Florida, to parents Tim and Jayne Jares. He graduated from Windsor High School in May of 2018 and is currently in his second year of college baseball at Scottsdale Community College in Arizona. He plans to earn a General Business Associate's Degree from Scottsdale in 2020. Jares plans to major in Marketing at Augustana and minor in Entrepreneurship. He also has two older siblings: Caleb and Mitchell.

Huber on Jares:'Ryan pitched a lot of big innings in a good Arizona juco league as a freshman. He made a jump in velocity this summer and now has upper 80s velocity, is a strike thrower, and can really pitch. We are really excited to be able to add a pitcher with the proven success Ryan has had. I really think he has more in the tank as well and we look forward to helping him reach his ceiling. He should slide right into a top starter role on our staff.'