SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – UC Santa Barbara's incoming group of student-athletes was ranked as the No. 19 recruit class in the nation by Collegiate Baseball on Wednesday, making the Gauchos the top-ranked Big West institution in all three major recruit rankings to have been unveiled this summer.
Just last week, the Gauchos came in at No. 22 in Baseball America's prestigious rankings, the only Big West program to make the cut. UCSB also checks in at No. 34 in Perfect Game's rankings, the only league school inside the top-50.
By making these lists, the Gauchos have now secured nationally-ranked recruiting classes in five of the past six seasons under head coach Andrew Checketts and recruiting coordinator Eddie Cornejo. This also marks the third time in the Checketts era that a UCSB recruit class has been ranked in the top-20. The Gauchos' 2016 squad was ranked No. 9, a program record, while the 2012 class came in at No. 12, eventually producing early-round MLB draft talents such as No. 4 overall pick Dillon Tate and Justin Jacome.
UCSB's 2017 recruiting class is headlined by a quartet of players who were selected in this summer's MLB First-Year Player Draft but opted to forgo professional baseball for the time-being in order to play Division I ball.
The highest-selected of those four was third baseman Jason Willow out of Lambrick Park High School in Vancouver, British Columbia. The 6-2 infielder was taken in the 24th round by Baltimore after slugging .634 as a high school senior and spending time with the Canadian National Team.
The Gauchos will also be bringing in a pair of high school pitchers who were selected by MLB teams: left-hander Jorge Arellano and righty Ben Fariss.
With a senior season that saw him log a 2.53 ERA while striking out 51 in just 38 2/3 innings for Downey High School in Bell Gardens, Calif., Arellano was dubbed a Perfect Game All-American before being drafted in the 36th round by Cleveland.
Fariss meanwhile parlayed a 1.088 OPS (on-base plus slugging) and a fastball that has been clocked in the 90's into First Team All-Foothill League honors as well as a 39th round selection by the Toronto Blue Jays. The Valencia High School alum has the chance to join Robby Nesovic and Greg Mahle as recent two-way players to make sizable contributions to the Gauchos' on-field fortunes.
Last but not least, outfielder Cole Kleszcz was chosen in the 40th round by Cleveland after earning Western State Conference Player of the Year honors at the College of the Canyons in Valencia, Calif. where he put up a gaudy .410/.495./810 slash line with a league and California-high 18 home runs.
Stay tuned to UCSBGauchos.com over the summer and fall months for further announcements on UCSB Baseball's 2017 recruiting class.
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