Locals key to roster building - Albuquerque Journal

Locals key to roster building

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First-year UNM baseball coach Tod Brown makes no bones about wanting to see top local players in New Mexico uniforms.

“New Mexico is our first priority for recruiting,” Brown said. “We’ll definitely recruit Texas, Arizona, Colorado and the junior colleges, but it always starts at home.”

That was music to the ears of Jaren Jackson, a Rio Rancho native and Cleveland High alum currently pitching for Arizona’s Pima Community College. Coming off a strong freshman season, Jackson had Division I options including at Arizona State. Jackson opted for a homecoming in 2022-23.

“UNM was my best option,” Jackson said in a phone interview. “My visit was awesome and I feel like the coaching staff knows what they’re doing and really wants to win. Now my family can come watch me pitch and hopefully be part of something special.”

Brown and his staff have lured some former and current New Mexico prep standouts for the 2023 baseball season.

Three recent commits are Jackson, former Grants pitcher Isaac Gallegos and St. Pius alum and infielder Josh Lackner, all of whom will play junior college baseball in the spring of 2022.

Current La Cueva High senior Matthew Dinae (LHP/1B) also verbally committed to UNM via Twitter on Friday. Dinae posted a 2.16 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 16â…” innings for the state champion Bears last season. He joins teammate Akili Carris (SS), who verbally committed in September.

New Mexico also had holes to fill this season and picked up some key additions from the Division I transfer portal.

They include Kamron Willman (SS/2B) from Kansas State, Braydon Runion (IF/OF) from Texas Tech and Jeffrey David (IF/OF) from Dallas Baptist.

Here’s a quick look at some of the Lobos’ additions:

• Jackson, LHP, soph. – The former Cleveland High standout went 7-2 in 12 starts for Pima CC last season, striking out 67 in 65â…” innings.

• Lackner, IF, jr. – A 2019 state champ at St. Pius, Lackner played a season at Incarnate Word before transferring to Pima, where he is now Jackson’s roommate.

• Gallegos, RHP, soph. – The former Grants Pirate went 3-5 pitching as a starter/reliever for Trinidad State, fanning 80 in 54â…” innings.

• Willman, IF, sr. – Willman hit .295 for Kansas State playing shortstop and second base. He hit six doubles, three triples, three homers and 23 RBIs.

• Runion, IF/OF, soph. – Runion appeared in 18 games at Texas Tech, going 8 for 41 at the plate.

• David, IF/OF, soph. – A freshman All-American at DBU in the shortened 2020 season, David had a career .269 average over two seasons in Texas.

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